One year ago today my life changed forever. September 7, 2011 is a day I will never forget. Out of all the "big" days in my life, none of them are as clear as this one was. I can tell you what I had for breakfast (weetabix with milk and a Starbucks coffee) and I can tell you what I was wearing (a grey pinstripe summer dress from H&M, size 0). I can tell you how I felt. Exhausted, exhausted to the point of collapse, stressed, thirsty and hungry. And skinny, way to skinny. Pretty much how I had felt for quite some time.
I will never forget the words telling me I had a serious chronic disease, Type 1 diabetes. My reaction was so calm, I could not move or talk. I was in a dream, a nightmare...instant denial. I will never forget the first injection...so close to getting the needle in and then me breaking down. The sudden knowledge that this was it. Never again would I eat whatever I wanted, exercise whenever I wanted...go to sleep without fear. I had a disease that was eating away at my body - causing destruction that may never stop no matter what I do to prevent it. Each and every day I read of young, seemingly healthy, model Type 1 diabetics who lose their lives to this disease. I read these stories and it scares me to my very core. On that day I was given a life sentence and a hell of a lot of responsibility. My survival is in my hands, it is up to me...and me only. And even then, a lot is left to fate.
I am not quite sure that I can express how I feel today into words. I don't feel that it is a day to celebrate. It was the worst day of my life. Sound selfish? Well it is selfish and that is human nature. Our ultimate instinct as human beings is to preserve our own life...and I can't help but feel that I am failing. The outside world sees a happy girl with a smile on her face, however no matter how hard I work at it, no matter how much I eat well, exercise regularly, no matter how positive I stay and how I carry on with my day to day life, it is there. It is part of me now. It's not leaving and is a serious monkey on my back. I appear to be a well young women but inside no one really knows what is going on and how damn hard this is. I try to explain to others, but get frustrated and then go quiet once again. I have shed more tears in the last year than I have in my entire life. I don't talk about it much and rarely will show this to the ones I should.
The last year has been the biggest challenge of my life. Despite the amazing support I have received, and I mean amazing (you all know who you are) I cannot express in words how it feels to live day to day with this disease. It is always there, always in the back of my mind, it never gives me a break, never leaves. Every decision I make during the day has to take diabetes into consideration. Whether it be the food I eat, the insulin I have to take, the activity I do, the amount of sleep I get, the time of the month it is, the stress I feel...all of it effects my diabetes. Hell, even if all of this is under control, 9 times out of 10 it throws you a curve ball anyway.
So on this day how do I feel? A part of me is extremely glad and grateful that I finally got to the bottom of what was wrong with me. I really don't think that I would be here today if this had not been discovered. I do feel like a different person, some for the good, some for the bad. I am much more aware of my body and what it needs. I have never ate this healthy, ever, it is kind of sickening. I have never appreciated life more. I have stopped taking thing for granted. I look healthier than I have for years (well at least I think so, the stick woman thing did not suit me). I have a ton of energy and feel like my drive to live and accomplish my goals is back. These are the positives.
Mostly what I feel is anger. I thought by now I would have let go of the anger, but I have not. I am angry that I have had to go through all of this, suffer with so many complications, lose my fitness and generally be dealt another blow in life. I feel that I have dealt with enough in my life (that would require an entire new blog to explain my life and I am angry I have been dealt another bad card). With the anger comes frustration to an extreme and unbelievable sadness. In a totally irrational way I feel like I have failed myself, that I am weak. Each and every day feels like a battle, so much self judgement. Every time I check my blood sugars the four second delay sometimes feels like judgement hour. What have I done wrong? Ate wrong? Calculated wrong? So many emotions tied to each and every reading. So many emotions tied to my food decisions and insulin decisions. So many emotions tied to every high and low. I get stages of feeling so grumpy and teary and it almost always is because of wonky blood sugars. I used to be able to get up and run 20km without blinking an eye. Breaks me that now it is just not so easy, never will be. My frustration is huge. I eat better than I could ever imagine, exercise diligently and get great sleep. I have trouble losing weight (which my doctor assures will change as my body adapts) and I cannot go for my beloved long run without ID, glucose, glucose monitor, test strips, medical ID and money just in case. This makes me feel weak and vulnerable. I certainly don't want pity and I definitely know that there are others much, much, much worse off. But this is how I feel.
Perhaps the only bigger thing I feel than anger is determination. I very much want to tell diabetes to F' itself. I have always been stubborn (albeit quiet on the outside, but extremely stubborn and determined on the inside which may surprise a lot of you). I am determined to get the best control that I can, to learn as much as I can, to do the things that many may think I can't...to be me. Sounds cliche but I will not allow this disease to determine who I am. I will run another marathon, I will do a half ironman and goddammit one day I will be an Ironman :)
Where do I go from here? I have to learn to accept that my old way of life is no longer here. I cannot indulge as I did in food, exercise, stress, lack of sleep etc. without the risk of further complications. I have to learn to accept that this is the way it is and stop feeling sorry for myself. I have not only diabetes but celiac as well. I cannot eat a simple sandwich or eat whatever I want...not if I want to be well. I must take my nutrition extremely seriously and educate myself on how to feel well. But....I have the insulin pump coming and this will give me a new lease on life! I know it!
So today all I can do is feel proud for how far I have come...and let go of the life I had. My goal in the next year is to educate people around me and perhaps people who do now know me about what it is like to live with Type 1 diabetes. It is a very serious chronic disease that the public need to know about. They need to know that we deserve a cure...we need a cure.
Today I mourn the old me. I am still me, but different. I have come a long way in a year and to be honest I am not sure how I got through it. There is one person in particular who has been by my side the entire way and he knows who he is. I love you.