This past week, while answering some common diabetes questions from a coworker, she said “you’re so tough.” I look at her and just sort of smile. And again she says, “no, seriously. You’re so tough to do that every day. You’ve gotta be.” I smiled and thanked her, telling her I guess I don’t really have a choice. But still, I didn’t take her words to heart. I am not tough in my eyes. She doesn’t know how often I let it get the best of me. I screw up. My blood sugars are a mess sometimes. I don’t always treat my lows/highs right away. I cry in the middle of the night because I just want to sleep. I get frustrated waiting hours on the phone to fight for approval for my lifesaving supplies and medications. I break often. I am not tough.
Or... am I?
As I looked in the mirror today while getting dressed, I noticed a small blood stain on my t-shirt and as I looked closer I could see hundreds of tiny scars on my belly and back and multiple large bruises on my skin from diabetes devices and that special person’s voice replayed in my mind, “you are so tough.” As I looked at my scarred skin, I thought to myself... you know what? This sucks. Really bad. But, I keep on going. I keep getting up and taking care of myself. I keep battling this disease that likes to throw curve balls. I haven’t given up, ever. I do more in a day to keep myself alive than most people could ever comprehend. Maybe I am tough after all?
If you’re living with Type 1 Diabetes, it’s just life. You get up, put one foot in front of the other, and do life... with diabetes in tow. You poke yourself every other hour. You silence alarms before anyone else even notices them. You eat glucose tablets so quick, no one knows. You count your carbs without even blinking. You do a pump site change in the corner quicker than most people could send a short text message... because your blood sugar is really high, but you don’t want anyone to know. You go through a full work day on very little sleep. You pursue your dreams though you know how much more difficult your pursuit will be. You fight for yourself to have equal oppurtunity. And you do it all, without even realizing how amazing you are.
My friends living with T1D, YOU ARE A WARRIOR. People may tell you this often, but I know that you don’t believe it. You don’t see yourself as a superhero. You don’t get why battling diabetes makes you so special. But next time someone tells you how tough you are, look at your fingertips, your scarred arms, your bruised skin, and respond “Thanks, I think I’m pretty darn tough too.” And those of you who know and love someone with T1D, remind us every now and then that you see our strength. We really need it.
T1D is a beast... but don’t ever forget to remind it who is in charge.