Letter to a Diabetic (Or I Understand What You’re Going Though)
I want you know that you’re not alone. I want you to know that there are a lot of other diabetics out there that get what you’re going through. They feel what you feel. They understand. I understand. And I’m writing this in the hopes that someone will see it and get some comfort from it, and know that they are not alone.
My name is Melissa Ratner. I am 32 years old. Last summer I discovered that I have adult onset Type I Diabetes. My pancreas decided to strike. Every day I have to check my blood sugar a minimum of 7 times. I have to inject myself with insulin a minimum of 4 times for a minimum of 11 needles per day in my fingers and injections sites. I’m covered in bruises and track marks at my injection sites. I have to count every carb. I have to record every number, injection, and reaction. I live my life 2 hours at a time (at most). I am aware of the complications and increased health risks associated with Diabetes. I went through fear, anger, depression, empowerment, confusion, and finally gave in to feeling completely overwhelmed. I broke down. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t feel anything but the anger and the injustice and the frustration. I hated people for eating. I hated people for not having to hurt themselves to have a meal. I hated people for not having a diseased body. I understand what it means to live with an invisible illness that few understand or take seriously. I understand that my life expectancy has shrunk, and that my quality of life is severely challenged. Everything is different now.
And here’s the most noteworthy thing I can say about my life right now. I can laugh. I can smile. And I think that there are some jokes about diabetes that are so funny I almost pee my pants. Some people think it’s poor taste to joke about diabetes but I need to laugh. Some days that’s all I got.
Look, diabetes is a disgusting, progressive, incurable disease that makes every day a pain in the ass and bitch slaps your sense of security. Even if you’re not afraid of dying, sometimes a diabetic thinks of the inevitable outcome. And why wouldn’t they? Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States. Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. I’m taking these stats straight from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet which you can find a link to on the American Diabetes Association website.
But some good things have come from it. I’ve dropped from a size 16 to a size 8. I can run without getting winded. The new diet has gotten rid of 95% of my GI issues. All the exercise I have to do has helped reduce my menstrual cramps dramatically, and sex? Waaayyyy easier (and a lot more fun). Fat and fatigued…not sexy.
Diabetes doesn’t take a day off and neither can you. So you have diabetes. You can still live. You can still love. You can still laugh. And you can still play. It’s NOT a death sentence. It’s a change. It’s a big, scary change…that you can handle. You can. Really. Take control of your diabetes management. And research, research, research. Education is your best weapon.
A few fun facts before I close. I want to drive home that you’re not alone. At the time that I am writing this, there are 313,601,744 people in the United States and there are 25,800,000 children and adults in the US with Diabetes. That’s more than 8% of the population. A lot of good people are surviving and thriving with this disease every minute of every day.
Here’s the thing. Life is always uncertain. It’s not usually easy. And with diabetes, it’s definitely going to be a challenge. But like my brother always says about life and how to get through it…buy a fuckin’ helmet. Cause it’s gonna be one hell of a glorious ride.
With love and understanding,
Just Another Diabetic