Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Diabetes is Great!

Here is an abbreviated version of an essay that I wrote a few years back. I had forgotton all about it, but just recently found it again. I figured I would share it here.

In a World Full of Pain...Diabetes is Great!

"...for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and
sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "

The world is full of pain. There is so much disease in the world that nearly everyone is touched in some way by its hand in their lifetime. Each person afflicted by some disease must learn to accept and deal with that disease. Hating it will not make it go away. In some cases, a disease means certain death...sometimes in a matter of days, other times, months, and sometimes, years. In other cases, a disease may simply mean living a lifetime without "normalcy".

What is "normal"?

When the sun shines, is that good or bad? When the rain falls, is that good or bad? It is a matter of perspective. To the farmer living in a hot, dry climate, rain is a blessing. The rain isn't seen as something to drive people indoors, or ruin a picnic...but it is seen as the provider of life...bringing precious water to starving plants. To that same farmer, another day of sun is another possibility of losing his crops, and his very livelihood.

To another farmer living in a wet climate, another day of rain may threaten his crops, and his very livelihood. That same water may wash away the soil, flood the plants, and lead to rotting. So, the sun nor the rain are bad nor good by themselves. They are simply facts of life that must be accepted and prepared for.

What is "normal"?

It's a matter of perspective. To me--a person living with diabetes--someone is "normal" if they do not have diabetes. But, the same person I call "normal" may look at me and consider me "normal" because I, perhaps, am able to face the future without worrying about whether HIV will lead to AIDS. How about the person living (or dying!) with cancer? Is that normal? I would imagine such a cancer patient would give anything to trade in their tumor for finger pokes and insulin pumps.

Every day each person must wake to the life we are given--with thankfulness. Sure, I can wish I didn't have diabetes and not have to deal with the ups and downs it brings. But, how can I know that my life would actually be better as a result? Perhaps the choices I've made and the directions I've headed in life have been influenced by my disease more than I realize. Perhaps I am where I am today, in other aspects of my life, because when I was nine I was told that I couldn't eat sugar anymore.

For every story that someone can tell of a loved one suffering from diabetes--or even dying--there are so many more untold about those who are not. I think of how blessed I am to live today. Had I been born 100 years ago...where would I have been by the time I reached 30? I would have been buried in the ground, having died probably by the time I was 10 or 11. We've come a long way. Today, I can tell you stories of being able to go to Chili's and eat a hot-fudge covered brownie with ice cream, or eating a candy bar with my children. That is something to celebrate!

What is so bad about diabetes? I will admit, it isn't an easy disease, nor can I lie and say I don't have to be concerned about complications. But, when I think about the world, and what other tragedies may lie in store...diabetes is really just fine! My son has to live a life worried about reacting to people carelessly eating peanuts and touching him...or that he might misread a label, and eat one himself. Is that normal? Is that, somehow, better than diabetes?

Or, what about the millions of people in Africa (and around the world) who are contracting or dying from AIDS every single year? What about the epileptic who can't legally drive a car due to fears of seizures? Perhaps you would rather be the person who suffers a debilitating stroke? Or, how about the perfectly healthy individual who has a chemical imbalance that makes them live in depression 24 hours a day?

Diabetes is no picnic. But in a world full of pain...diabetes is great!


Megan said...

Before I was diagnosed I had a friend I talked to regularly. When I was diagnosed I found it comforting to whine to her about it. I told her how I could never be normal again. Her response- "Just change your definition of normal and you can be."

Penny said...

Thank you for sharing this story. It mirrors my feelings about my son having D. He could have something so much worse and the fact that he doesn't makes me feel blessed.