Most of us don’t want to have diabetes for so long that we can be considered a veteran of the disease. But my friend Jess, whom I wrote about meeting last week, has a different take on the term.
A Guest Post by Jess Buchanan
During the recent long holiday weekend, my fiance and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Allison & her husband while we were all in Boston. It was fabulous for me because I have only met a handful of the DOC in person. Even then it was because one person works in my endo’s office and the others aren’t even on Twitter — I met them through Insulindependence activities.
Allison was one of the first people I really chatted with on Twitter as I was discovering the DOC a few years ago and not only am I thankful for all that she’s taught me but also for a guest post she wrote for my diaversary. So here I am returning the favor (although I think she’s doing me another favor by allowing me to write here but that’s not the point).
I had originally planned to write about triathlon training. You see, I signed up to participate in a sprint triathlon the final weekend in July and I’ve been talking about it on my blog as well as for my local hospital. I really felt like that was the most important thing going in my life right now. But Allison said something at our meeting that’s been weighing on my mind and I thought, “What better place to talk about it than her blog?!” So here we are.
We met at a tequila bar at Faneuil Hall Sunday evening before we headed off for separate dinner plans (Boston Beer Works for me and a North End Italian place for Allison & her husband). Naturally, most of the conversation was about diabetes. I explained how thankful I was for the DOC, yet how I still feel like I am finding my way not only within that community, but with the disease as a whole. She naturally had much info to share because not only is she studying to become a CDE, she’s had diabetes for almost 20 years. Her response to my feelings? “Well you’re not a newbie anymore, but I wouldn’t consider you a vet either.” Well, that makes sense! You see, I found out I had diabetes for 6 years ago. Therefore I have a handle more or less on the day to day needs of diabetes but I haven’t had it for even one decade, let alone several, so I’m not really a veteran either.
But then I got to thinking about this conversation later, I found it nagging at me. Not because she said something that was untrue, or even hurt my feelings, but because she was one hundred percent correct! You see, I have recently found myself trying to better my D management and wading into the, “How do you care enough without caring TOO much” territory. I mean, diabetes is frustrating and exhausting but paying close attention to readings and patterns is essential to good management. On the other hand, there is so much more to me than diabetes.
I began to wonder, “Do I really want to be a veteran PWD?” Well of course I do, because it means I have persevered and learned. But it also means spending a decade or two or seven (hopefully!) dealing with carb ratios, temp basals, overnight lows, ketones and all the other d-related jargon I wish I didn’t have to be familiar with. But I keep coming back to one thing. It will mean I have SURVIVED.
Much like a cancer patient upon completing treatment and being declared in remission, by growing older and becoming a veteran PWD, I have survived. There’s no end of the road which I think is the hardest thing for me to accept. This is my job every day for the rest of my life. It is my number one priority until my last breath. So I accept this challenge. I will fight every day for what my body needs and I will go against anyone who tries to tell me they know my body better than I do (I know I’m not the only PWD that struggles with this!). I will proudly declare my PWD status to any who ask and educate the ignorant and the curious as often as I am given the opportunity. If in the end this makes me a Veteran PWD, then I will accept that badge with pride. Especially considering the alternative is nowhere near as glorious.