Today, October 27th, is my birthday. Most people love their birthdays. But this day always holds mixed feelings. 14 years ago on my tenth birthday, my family came home from dinner to a voicemail from my pediatrician: My routine blood work had shown an abnormally high glucose. Chances were, I had type 1 diabetes (T1D). Two days later, I was admitted to Children's National Medical Center and was released on Halloween (great timing, I know).
Today, as I walk into the same hospital I was diagnosed—this time as a research fellow—I can't help but reflect on everything this day means. Mainly, 1) how much my life has changed as a result of my diagnosis 2) everything that went into making these past 14 years happen.
Without my diaversary, I may never have become interested in health. As a result of diabetes, I developed a passion for research, public health, and medicine. I learned the importance of preventative care in both body and mind, which pushed me to become a fitness instructor. Sharing those passions with others has been more rewarding than I could ever describe.
For better or worse, T1D has been a constant reminder that life is fragile...that there are no guarantees. This has given me a greater sense of urgency, but also confidence—if my diabetes is in check, I can do just about anything. Run the Boston Marathon? Sure, why not. Graduate Summa Cum Laude? Yes, I can do that, too. Professional cheerleading, speaking in front of big crowds, go to medical school. Yes, if my T1D is in check, I can find a way to do those things. Furthermore, I can use those things to let other people with T1D know that they can do it, too...whatever "it" means to them (not everyone thinks dancing with pom-poms is fun).
These 14 years...5,110 days and ~30,000 finger pricks reflect blessings and incredibly hard work. I feel blessed to have had those 5,110 days because 100 years ago, I would have been lucky to have 60. Even though they're super annoying, those 30,000 finger pricks are gifts because I know not everyone in this world gets to have them.
And with each day we live with T1D, there are innumerable decisions gone right and support from our care team, family, and friends. No matter who you are, living with T1D is hard work. Some days are easier than others, but no day is smooth sailing. That's why there are awards that celebrate successful living with T1D. And at my 25th, 50th, and 75th diaversaries, I will most certainly be applying for them. This birthday brings me one year closer.
Am I happy to have T1D? No. Safe to say nobody is. But do I feel grateful for the people it has brought into my life and the sense of purpose it has bestowed? Absolutely. And that is a reason for celebration.
How do you celebrate your diaversary? In what ways has T1D changed your life?