Nearly a decade ago, while at work, I excitedly announced to everyone what special anniversary it was for me. I marched around and celebrated my ‘diaversary’: the yearly anniversary of my T1D’s diagnosis. I was a one woman parade as I showed everyone the blue pin on my chest that read, ‘I love someone with T1D!’ I sang out my excitement on the intercom system and shared the joys of my holiday with the entire building. As I danced down the hallway, my coworker tilted her head, squinted her eyes, and with full befuddlement, asked me: ‘Why…?’ Why in the world would I celebrate a disease?
I had not been asked that question before; from my perspective, it was obvious. From her perspective, I stood before her an anomaly: I was decked out in blue literally from head to toe, including my royal blue hair and cobalt painted toe nails. I was singing and dancing with joy. I paused at her question and forced myself to think deeply before responding to her.
Autoimmune diseases can often cause a domino effect. Tipping that first domino in 1989 has caused me to gather quite the list of medical specialists over the decades. Reciting or explaining my vast medical history often results in confusion by overwhelmed and inadequate medical staff.
Last year was not the first year I’ve had to juggle health issues. #HoneymoonHipChronicles, #TheEyesHaveIt, and #SHINanigans are but a few of my health annals; each of them simmering in their own vat of complex complications due to years of living in a body with T1D. So, why celebrate?
The healing process in the best of situations can be arduous. Autoimmune diseases are an aggressive dance of the body healing while attacking itself simultaneously. This dance can be painful, frustrating, clumsy, and often un-choreographed. At times, even when you get a familiar song and catch the rhythm, it suddenly changes to something you don’t recognize, and you’re forced to improvise to stay alive. ‘Why celebrate?’, she asked again.
‘Because I can’, I finally responded. ‘I celebrate because I can. I don’t mean that in a vivacious way. I honestly celebrate because I am able to do so. So many don’t have the opportunity, the knowledge, the time, the money, the resources, the love, or the support to live this particular life, let alone celebrate and thrive in it. I know a lot of people who no longer have the opportunity to run around celebrating another year in their Earthly bodies. I celebrate because I literally can…and honestly, for that reason, I believe I should.’
She stared at me blankly. She didn’t seem to accept my response but didn’t request clarification.
35 years ago today, I received my very first injection that saved my life. I am grateful. Since that day, the Good Lord has ordered every last one of my steps throughout this journey. As I explained to my coworker, not everyone has access to what I have. I believe that when the Lord blesses us, we are to share what He gives us with others. Whether it’s through art, face to face conversations, social media, or a book, I have been led to share what I have so no one feels alone on this journey. Most important of all, Hope is the salve that I share with every Type I Diabetic I’ve ever met. Don’t give up: Hope is as important as my very first injection 35 years ago.