February marks the month of my diaversary. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s the anniversary of my diagnosis. (For those of you unfamiliar with my diagnosis, two things: A) what are you doing here? and B) you can read the whole dang thing from the beginning here.)
February 26 will be two years since I got officially diagnosed. Ay. As I come up on two years, I have a lot of thoughts. In one sense, I feel like I’ve never not had diabetes; it’s now so fundamentally wedged itself into my daily routine. In another sense, it still feels brand spanking, gut-shatteringly new.
It wasn’t real when I was hospitalized. Of course. It was just This Crazy Thing that was happening, this thing that was so heavily dramatic and insane that it temporarily paused the rest of my life, forcing me into a sort of anti-vacation, where I had escaped my everyday environment and gone to one where all I was thinking about was this crazy diagnosis and what it meant. Not what it meant for my life, just like, literally what it meant.
And then I went home. And still it was new, so new that I couldn’t see what it was in a big picture sense yet — all I could see was how embarrassed I was, how fat and useless I felt, what an imposition my sudden, distracting illness was on those around me and those who cared for me. It still carried an air of Unreal—my brain shifted imperceptibly into survival mode, blocking out the truth of it in favor of the minutiae — and oh my god does diabetes provide minutiae in spades. My world became one of insurance battles (such an easy punching bag, insurance, so deserving, such an obvious crap show!), trying to get approved for a Dexcom, trying to get approved for a pump, trying to get my copays down, trying to figure out if mail order saved me any money, hours on the phone with my insurance company, with every goon they farm their diabetes supply management out to, with my doctors’ offices.
And of course, I focused on learning All About Diabetes—I readily acknowledged how much I had to learn, studying, observing, taking notes.
I slowly acquired a basic understanding of the disease, and then an intermediate one, and now, I daresay it, almost two years in, my knowledge is pretty expansive. I understand insurance better. The unreal gleam of this disease has faded. I now know more about it than, I daresay, some of my (non-diabetes) doctors, as well as many/most non-diabetics.
The beginning is over.
And with it, the sickening realization that somewhere, in the back of my brain, I expected to come back from my anti-vacation. Because that’s the thing about vacations: they end. And then you get to go back to your everyday life.
Except I still have diabetes.
I pause at that sentence. I re-read it, then re-read it again. I feel a wealth of emotions: bafflement, shame at my bafflement, fury at its profound, simple truth. Grief. A sort of loopy, hysterical humor at its absurdity: its utter, utter absurdity.
Why am I still fighting this?
Will I fight this forever?
Is it bad if I never stop fighting it?
Is it bad if I do?
Still, two years in, still, it hits me like a punch to the gut. Oh my god I still freaking have diabetes I still freaking have to deal with this. I’ll be, like, walking in the street, thinking about anything but diabetes, and then it crashes into me. Damn It.
Kugler-Ross puts shock and denial squarely at the beginning of the stages of grief. And yet, though I have felt them all—anger, bargaining, depression—shock and grief refuse to die. They cycle back, monthly, weekly. I’ll struggle with my blood sugar for a day, two, three in a row where I can’t keep from spiking to the 300s, and suddenly I’ll feel like a small, wailing spoiled kid, screaming WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS?! THIS IS SO UNFAIR!
I think of every post I’ve written, this is my least favorite. I’d rather tell you guys my weight again than bare my stupid, petty self-pitying self any longer. I picture you, scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and seeing my post about this blog post. You read the title, you skim whatever quote I’ve chosen to share. You grimace. “Is she still on about this?” is what you think to yourself. You can’t help it. Try as you might to drum up enthusiasm for my endless posts about How Hard This Crap Is, you’re kinda over it.
Because I should be over this, I should so be over this—or at least, I should have a grudging acceptance of how comparatively easy I have it. Forget medalling—I haven’t even been invited to compete in the Olympics of suffering. There are so many ways I have it so freaking good. And for 26 years, I could happily include my health on that list. So for 2 I’ve had this little extra challenge. Big effing deal, Jessie. Get over yourself.
The other day at work I had one of those moments I had sort of hoped would never come up at work. I suddenly realized I was in the middle of a conversation—during a meeting—but I wasn’t sure of what I was even talking about, who I was talking to. I was crazy, and I think I was trying to tell someone that I didn’t understand the way some system worked, but I wasn’t even really aware I was doing it, because I was crazy low. So then I stopped talking, because I had that moment where I realized I was crazy low, and I sort of sat there and thought “hmm… what to do?”
So I did what I usually do these days, which was to suddenly say “Hey, I’m really sorry, I think my blood sugar may be tanking,” and then I took a drink of coke (at 10:30 in the morning. Disgusting). And even as my co-workers reacted with placid bemusement, and I felt lucky to work in an environment where I can just say that and not be like, fired or disciplined for saying that, I also wanted to launch the glass I was holding at the nearest window and throw a chair against a wall because it is so incredibly unfair that I have to deal with this at work.
I guess…I dunno. I dunno what the point of this post is, except to faithfully record where my head is at, and, you know, maybe to share my personal belief that no matter who you are, and what you’re going through, I think it is completely acceptable to throw your head back at any given moment and have a huge temper tantrum because this is so hard. So many things. Are so effing hard. Diabetes, for sure, but like, also Insert-Thing-You-Are-Facing. I’ll throw in a few more: being social is hard, jobs are hard, feeling sad with no cause is hard, waking up in the morning is really hard, self-criticism is hard, loving yourself is hard, creating work is hard, being generous is hard, being good is hard.
It is so freaking hard you guys, and we are still alive. And not just alive – like, doing things! Succeeding! Having jobs and lives and putting on clothes in the morning and brushing our teeth and like, interacting with people. That’s freaking amazing and we all deserve a medal for it. Because for all of us, with zero exceptions, things are hard, and you are facing them in a body that feels a huge range of emotions, including self-pity and frustration and shock and denial, and if those feelings are coming, just, you know, feel them. That has to be the message, because if it’s not, this is some bullshit. Then I got nothing else.