Editor’s Note: Kerri Sparling is our featured guest blogger for March. We love the frank and hopeful way she chronicles her experiences living with type 1 diabetes at SixUntilMe.com.
Recently, I was asked to answer a few questions for a company that was looking to better understand people with diabetes. I expected a list of questions ranging from "What color meter do you prefer?" to "List all medications you are taking to treat your diabetes, and why."
Instead, the questions were more touchy-feely than I had anticipated. And a few of them were hard to answer. The one I struggled most with was, "If you could change one thing about living with diabetes, what would it be?"
My first response was to shrug. "Everything? I'd change everything?"
Then I regrouped a bit. But still, an answer wasn't jumping into my head as easily as it had for the prior questions. Somehow, "What or who serves as your motivation or inspiration?" was much easier.
I'm only guessing, but I think if diabetes comes into your life when you are older, there's a distinct "before" and "after" to your life timeline. You remember when insulin injections or pumps or glucose meters weren't part of the equation. You know what it's like to drink juice purely for pleasure. You have a sense of what you're missing, of what's changed. I'd imagine that concept makes a diagnosis both easier and infinitely harder, on so many levels.
Diagnosed as a kid, I don't have many pre-diabetes memories at all. I'm not feeling sorry for myself, but it's just a fact. I don't remember life without any of this medical stuff, and there is no "before." Just "after." Only the after part isn't this big dramatic change—it's just "life."
So when asked what I'd change about living with diabetes, I don't have enough life without it to lay claim to a quality answer. I don't give a lot of thought to the meters or the pumps or all the physical trappings of diabetes. I don't mind because I don't know any differently.
But I wish I could lessen the emotional impact of diabetes on my life, and on the lives of the people I love. I wish diabetes wasn't such a fickle mess, and that my mother could safely assume that I'll wake up just fine every morning. And that my husband wouldn't view the Dexcom as his safety net when he travels without me. And that I wouldn't have seeds of concern when I'm alone with my daughter. I wish this stupid disease didn't come with so much worry, and I really would love to change how that worry bleeds into the lives of my loved ones.
If I could tie diabetes to a balloon and let it soar out of my life, I totally would. If I could flush it down the toilet like a goldfish, I'd do that, too. I'd let a bear maul it. I'd allow my diabetes to stick a fork into a plugged in toaster. And if I had the opportunity to shove it in a microwave like a Peep at Easter, I'd do it in a second.
I'm not a fan of this disease, especially when it makes people worry.
So I guess my first response was sort of right. "I'd change everything." ... only I'd add balloons, microwaves, and bears.
If you could change one thing about your life with diabetes, what would it be?