Diabetes makes me inconvenient. I know this; it is a fact. I don’t say that to blame anyone or feed into some idea that this is an injustice of a chronic illness. It’s simply a fact.
See, diabetes doesn’t care. It is demanding in a way that makes Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada seem warm and maternal. Diabetes doesn’t care that I’m out with friends; that I’m standing in my best friend’s bridal party, that I’m the adult in charge of thirty minors in my care. It doesn’t care that my parents are trying to care for my elderly grandparents and therefore cannot be expected to care for me too. It doesn’t care that it’s Christmas day and I’m surrounded by friends and family who all just want to celebrate a beautiful, religious, holy day. It doesn’t care that I met the love of my life and had a terrible low blood sugar on our fourth date and needed assistance (where we were celebrating his thirtieth birthday). It just doesn’t care.
Because it doesn’t care; because it has a list of demands and needs that must be met immediately, and because it is a huge part of who I am, I am inconvenient. It’s not just my disease; it is me. I have to follow the eating and exercising schedule; I have to take the medication; I have to stop and check my blood sugar. If I don’t do these things, I have to deal with a shorter life span and feeling incredibly ill while I’m living my everyday life. When I travel, I have to take double the amount of supplies for the actual amount of time we’re there, which means I either have to pack an extra bag or give up some of the creature comforts I’d prefer to have when traveling. Diabetes is an “I have to” disease.
It is not lost on me that I have a good attitude about a lot of it. But again, even this is an “I have to”. Not because that is expected; everyone I know would probably applaud if I allowed myself to break down and scream into the wind after all of these years. Instead, my attitude reflects the understanding of what an inconvenient life means for me.
An inconvenient life means that
I’ve spent a lot of my life not talking about there are some things you can’t control, so instead you choose to be flexible and find the light in every situation. It means identifying that feeling sick and miserable is worse than just feeling sick. An inconvenient life means having to be confident that the rest of your person is good enough to be worth knowing. An inconvenient life means remaining positive because if you were angry and spiteful and applied the effect of “why me?”, you might lose the people in your corner. They might leave you, because who wants to be in someone’s life that is not only miserable, but also inconvenient? this part of chronic illness, but as year twenty-six of this life approaches, it seems important to get really honest about how I got here. As my body ages faster than the time I’m on Earth, it’s more important than ever to share with others the experiences I’m having; to not only crack jokes at my faulty organs’ expense, but then to share the genuine reasoning behind it.
I’m fortunate to be in really good health, considering the twenty-six years of progressive damage caused by type one diabetes. If I’m honest, I attribute some of this health to my attitude towards it; towards my understanding of “have to” and flexibility. I stopped praying for a cure for diabetes a long time ago. I’m able to recognize that some day that will come, and in the meantime I’ll keep being flexible and choosing to be happy despite the inconvenience of it all.
People ask me all the time why I’m so happy; why I’m chipper about having this disease. It’s because it’s inconvenient. I’ve lived almost my entire life being an inconvenient person to befriend; to be related to; to love. The inconvenience has showed me the importance of perspective; of the real meaning behind “life and death” situation. I get up every day and keep going because I choose too, regardless of how bleak it looks.
Inconvenient doesn’t mean bad if we don’t let it ruin things. It’s just a different type of structure. This life has shown me the importance of choice; the importance of knowing yourself and what you need. We can be upset that it’s raining, or we can be thankful for the drink. We can be bothered that it is windy, or we can decide to build a sail boat and move on. This perspective comes from a lot of effort and years and heartache. It has been a battle hard won, but I’d do it again. I wouldn’t change my perspective for all of the convenience in the world. Fortunately, I can confidently say the people in my life wouldn’t trade me either; no matter how inconvenient it is to have me around.