Many of those that are important to me have been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes; a common pain created a common friendship. I see how many of them handle their chronic illness and I could not be more proud to call them my friends, and I could not be more proud of conquering this chronic illness and surviving the past eight years. You can see the scars it leaves on your stomach and your fingers, you can smell insulin after every injection, you can taste chalky glucose tabs, but you can't hear your diabetes. Though, if you could, the following is what I imagine it would say:
1. You were you before me.
I didn’t change your name, or your hair color. I didn’t change your interests or the way that you love those around you. I know that sometimes it seems like I made you a completely different person, but the way I see it, you are still the same beautiful person as you were before I took shelter in your body. You still flash your contagious smile no matter the day, and you still put others in front of yourself. As much as I would like to take credit for who you are, I didn’t make you. Watching you grow has been a pleasure, even in those moments when you felt like you didn’t belong in your own skin; on those days, I wish that I could have told you that that wasn’t because of me, but it was because you were growing up, just like everyone else. I didn’t turn you into anything that you weren’t, so don’t let anyone else either.
2. I am nothing to be ashamed of.
I know that I’m technically an invisible disease, but I know that you often times feel like all eyes are on you. I say: take that meter out, prick your finger, and let that drop of blood build up before placing it on the test strip. I say: let your insulin pump hang of your belt, that right there keeps you alive — it is the reason you are still breathing and thriving. Give yourself that shot in public; no one is asked to secrete insulin in a private place and neither should you. I did not come along to make you feel ashamed of any part of yourself. Keep your head up and remember there is nothing about diabetes that is ugly — flaunt it.
3. I have made you beautiful.
Look down at your stomach. See those white dots from injections and pump sites? Those are scars that not everyone has. They are not ugly, they are beautiful. You, like a diamond, have survived large amounts of pressure, and with that pressure came something just as beautiful as a diamond: you. Your fingers may be calloused from pricking your fingers and checking your blood sugar, but every time you grab someone’s hand, it is a reminder to them — and to you — that you have a disease that has made you tough, strong and beautiful to those that truly understand what diabetes is.
4. You’re doing okay.
If you are reading this you are alive. Your heart is beating, your blood is flowing and your brain is working. I know that I have not exactly made everything easy for you, but I know that you can handle it all. You may miss a shot every so often, your blood sugar may not always be on target, but you are doing amazing. No one out there fully masters diabetes. It changes every day, and you, like the seasons, need to adapt to this ever-changing disease. Don’t compare yourself to someone else’s diabetes; no diagnosis is the same. I am so proud of you, and I am so proud of how far you have come. I am so proud to be your diabetes
5. I’m not sorry.
I’m not sorry that I made you cry. I am not sorry that I have instilled fear in you, or that some days, have made you hate me. I know that I have made you a stronger person because of all you have been handed. I’m not sorry that I have made you formulate goals, implement a schedule and made you think about a future in ways that you hadn’t before. I am not sorry that I am a part of your life. I know that you hate me, but I have faith in you, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. I know that you don’t always like having diabetes, but I like having you.