Before & After

Do you remember your life before diabetes?

I was thinking about the Bionic Pancreas the other day. What it does and how life is different for the few days that people are on it. How they can eat what they want and do what they want and they don’t have to think about numbers or symptoms or back-up plans. The idea that, for the most part, life on the bionic pancreas means just being. I know that a bionic pancreas is not a cure. But it made me think about what it could be like to have life almost without diabetes.

I thought about what it would be like to eat a meal and not check my blood sugar, count carbs, take insulin, and wonder if what I did would be enough. I thought about it and I realized that I’d never really done it before. Of course, having been diagnosed at eight and half years old, there were plenty of meals where I ate without thinking about what I was doing. Hundreds of meals, actually.

And I don’t remember any of them.

I have only the faintest memories of life before diabetes. I remember playing in the sprinklers at day care. I remember the day my brother was born. I remember throwing up in my elementary school’s hallway when I was six (it was quite traumatic). I remember my second grade teacher reading stories in his funny voices. I remember… There’s not much before diabetes.

But I remember diabetes.

I remember the weeks leading up to my hospitalization. I remember the persistent thirst, waiting in line at school for a drink of water and then going to the end of the line for just one more. I remember my third grade teacher pulling me aside, commenting on my pale skin and dark circles, asking if everything was okay. I remember waking up three, four times a night to pee. I remember my dad sitting in my desk chair in the middle of the night, waiting for me when I got back from the bathroom. I don’t remember what he said, but I remember it scared the shit out of me.

Then there’s the day I was diagnosed. I remember the fluorescent yellow lights of my pediatrician’s bathroom as I peed into a cup. Oddly enough, I remember my reflection in the mirror. I remember waiting for the phone call. I remember my mother telling me I had diabetes. I remember the drive to the hospital. I remember throwing up all over myself. I remember feeling very small in the Intensive Care Unit.

My strongest, most vivid memories begin with diabetes. And I carry diabetes with me through all the memories that came after. Many wonderful things have happened since being diagnosed with diabetes, but the truth is that diabetes was there for all of it. Prom, graduation, learning to drive, moving away, college, moving away again, traveling, getting married. My memories are not only about diabetes, but diabetes was still there.

There is so very little before diabetes. But maybe someday I will have an After.



11 thoughts on “Before & After

  1. I don’t remember much of the pre D stuff either (anything before 6 yrs old) but I have such incredibly vivid memories of my hospital stay, absolutely LOVING my hospital art class and crying every night on a payphone when my parents said goodnight. I’m with you on the AP. It would be amazing not to have to think about all this other stuff. xo

  2. I was 18 when I was diagnosed. I remember life vividly before diabetes came along and truthfully I wish I didn’t. It makes me sad sometimes. I ache for the days when my world wasn’t numbers, carbs, insulin. Or maybe I should be thankful? I don’t know I’m still trying to figure it all out actually. Thanks for sharing this though.

  3. My son was dx at 16, and my husband at 42. We have plenty of “before” memories, but even so it’s hard to remember what it was like. How we ate without calculating and injecting. How I slept through every night without worrying if they would be there in the morning. We live life, and it’s a good life. But sometimes the “before” creeps in and makes us kinda sad.

  4. I was 11 when I was diagnosed, but I still feel like I don’t remember much of “life before”. Obviously I do remember my first 11 years, but I don’t feel a big “with diabetes” or “without diabetes” distinction. I just feel like it’s always been there.


  5. You know what I find weird? When I think back to moments in my childhood — riding my bike around the neighborhood, playing in my friends’ backyards — and I remember some of those events clearly. But I can’t remember if I had diabetes yet or not. Maybe that’s because the “burden” of diabetes was so much less then than it is now… both physically (in terms of what I carry with me) and mentally (in terms of the responsibilities delegated to my parents).

  6. I’ve always wondered what I would have done with the extra time that I would have had w/o testing BG, being low, being high, going to Dr.’s appts, dealing with insurance, etc. What is wonderful is that your age group will most likely benefit from the artificial pancreas even if you don’t see a cure:-)

  7. Yep, same here. Not much memory before that time came at age 5. Really like Scott’s point though about not having all my memories flooded with D-aspects — they weren’t, Most weren’t, even though I have some distinct ones where it was all about or because of diabetes. But I think it’s also a change in times. Like you, hopefully there will be an after D (not just after diagnosis) and that it will have many years to live on that note. Thanks for writing this post and overall just for all your BS whispering (wait — let me rephrase that…). Yep. you know. Thanks for blogging. :)

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