Who Would I Be Without Diabetes?

I was reading Riva’s fascinating article on Diabetes Daily, partway into the article she asks,

“Who would you be without diabetes?”

I immediately stopped reading to think about my answer.

I’ve lived with diabetes a little more than 4 years. Many adults with type 1 diabetes were diagnosed in childhood and had type 1 as a companion growing up. My pancreas failed at age 22 giving me a vastly different perspective on who I am with diabetes in the equation and with diabetes out of the equation.

Although I’ve met some wonderful people through having diabetes and learned a lot about my own body and truly being healthy, I would not hold onto this awful disease if I could give it up. I wouldn’t hold onto bruise finger tips, devices attached to my body, risk of damaging my kidneys, eyes, nerves, etc, and the possibility of not waking up every morning, just because some part of me feels defined by having a non-functioning islet cells.

I’m a really healthy sick person. Having a chronic illness pushes me to take excellent care of myself, yet still I can’t get anything more than a standard life insurance policy because the numbers say I’m more likely to die young. I’d rather just be a really healthy person and drop the “sick” part all together.

I’ve worked very hard to not let my diabetes become my identity. I was Rachel for 22 years, then diabetes entered the picture, and I was (and am) still Rachel. I have a really crappy health condition and if I could give it up in a heartbeat, I absolutely would.

Diabetes is like having a second full-time/on-call job that costs me a ton of money and frustration to manage.

If I could give up diabetes, I would be Rachel. A really healthy person.

Who am I right now? I’m Rachel, a really healthy sick person. I’m a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, communications professional, blogger, coffee lover, etc. I think if this one facet of my life were removed, I’d be just fine. I wouldn’t have an identity crisis. I’d be able to carry a smaller purse too.

I came to terms with the fact that there is no cure for diabetes. I accepted that I would probably have type 1 diabetes for the rest of my life. But within the past year, more advances and trials for a cure (functional and absolute) have been in progress, making it possible to hope that I, and others with this disease, could one day live a “normal” life without it.

It would be super cool to be able to say that I used to have type 1 diabetes.

Is there an aspect of your life you’d give up, even though it’s taught you some valuable lessons?

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