When I was diagnosed, I knew as little as an 11-year-old girl can possibly know about diabetes. My mom obviously knew more, as she'd at least recognized the symptoms before it got to the "throwing up on your death bed" stage. Needless to say, the three days I was in the hospital were a huge learning curve. Needles (oh so many needles). Science (anatomy and physiology before I'd taken Biology or Chemistry. woo). Technology (so I just put the blood into this bit of plastic and the machine tells me how much sugar is in it? ....wat?). Emotions (they seriously need to cover this better).
My parents decided to kind of split up the duties, make everything easier. I use the term easy loosely, obviously. Dad took over the numbers in a very engineering fashion. He figured out how much insulin I needed, recorded my blood sugars, dealt with the doctors. My mom took over nutrition, counting carbs and planning meals.
The one thing that was most important to my parents, however, was to maintain normalcy. They believed whole-heartedly that the best way to handle this was to bulldoze over it and laugh in its face. This was great for me, because I hardly felt like I'd really been diagnosed with a disease. In fact, the extra attention was kind of cool.
And then that Christmas I got a pity laptop. All was well.
Looking back, though, I kind of wish we hadn't pretended that everything was still normal, that nothing had really changed. While emotionally it was certainly a lot easier, I think I still try to convince myself that I'm normal.
"No, I can definitely have three bagels in the morning. That's fine."
"You're having a CUPCAKE PARTY? Yes, please."
"You guys are going to go play soccer for 6 hours? Sure, let me just leave my juice and tester in my room, far away from the field."
I know us diabetics say we can do everything anyone else can do. And that's true. But I always forget the asterisk: I can do everything, but it's sure as hell going to be harder. We say we can have cake at the birthday party, that we can play in all these varsity sports, that we can go abroad and travel. We can. But not without giving ourselves a lot of insulin and hoping it will be enough, or profusely testing out blood sugars with a gallon of juice on hand, or packing an entirely separate suit case for all of our supplies.
I think my main struggles with diabetes are tied to my inherent belief that I can do all these things. I really think I can eat whatever I want.
I've come to the decision that yes, in theory, I can. But practically I know the bagel is going to make my blood sugar 300 later in the day no matter if I give myself 3 units or 30. My parents tried so hard to let me believe that nothing can hold me back, and they were right. But it's taken me a long time to learn the responsibility that comes along with wanting to do everything.
I'm not "normal." I'm just not. Fact is, when I eat food, unlike everyone else, I give myself insulin. When I run, I carry a juice with me. Every three days, I do an infusion set change. Ignoring these things and pretending they don't change anything has been hurtful to my health. I'm different. I'm diabetic. And so help me god, I just can't eat bagels, no matter what my stomach thinks.