An open letter to my friends and well-wishers for sticking through post my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis
Dear Friends/Well Wishers,
When the D- Monster (read diabetes) decided to visit me 4 years ago and (of course) insisted on becoming my best friend, I thought I was going to lose you all. When the initial shock of diagnosis died down and we returned to routine, I would often shudder thinking, where and how diabetes was going to take our friendship. The changes, particularly the ones that kind of regimented my lifestyle were very different. While I HAD to make those changes, you were under no obligation to follow suit. Thinking that it might be a wee bit much work for you guys, I feared losing all of you.
But the rock stars that you guys are, you made it so easy. Almost as if nothing happened. In fact, it’s like you guys welcomed the D-monster into our gang, made friends with it and now we are one happy family that has adjusted to its presence.
Here is a list of things that I am thankful you guys did and continue to do for me as we move along in our lives:
1. Not feeling sorry for me. (And I can’t thank you enough for it!)
This invisible disease works in weird ways. And you guys have seen it first-hand that no two days are same. The initial diagnosis brought with it so much confusion and uncertainty. A few tears, a gazillion warm bear hugs and few bad jokes later, we promised to sail through this together. And you guys stayed true to your words. As hard as I try every day, some days I fail to do a good job (and that is more often than not! I am still learning). And some days I manage to do okay. But your love and support doesn’t change.
What I love and appreciate the most is that your support has never equaled “feeling sorry for me”. Even if it looks like a lot - that insulin shots have to be taken, blood glucose levels have to be checked and then the conundrum of everyday life has to be dealt with, I am never given unnecessary “sympathy” because you guys feel “sorry” for me.
In fact, you guys cut me no slack on anything really. And god forbid, I goof up a T1D related task, however silly. I will not be allowed to go on till I hear no end of it. It’s amazing how you people know where to let me have my way and where to step in. No idea of mine is termed “too much” unlike what I hear from a lot of other people.
2. For redefining the new “normal”
Through the mayhem of (mis)diagnosis, adjusting to regular insulin shots, making my peace with needles, and the very many things that T1 brought, all I wanted was to have a life that still looked like what we had built over the years. I just wanted to become friends with my diabetes and hoped that you would make friends with it too. And you did!
As my everyday activities changed, I saw you guys move around your schedules and activities to make as many adjustments as I did. After I came home post my diagnosis, it was about a month later, when you people had had enough of making visits to my place. You decided it was time to get back to the "real world". I remember you guys googling for “diabetic friendly cafes” for over two days. I got a little worked up because of the unnecessary attention to detail you guys were giving, but not you. You found some random place and I went along still overwhelmed with how it was all coming along just fine.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, every day as I learnt something new about diabetes management, I could sense each one of you adapting to it very slowly, no words said, no questions asked. Its one thing about people being here now, supporting me but you guys watched my back when I found it the hardest to stand. This “normal” that we have today with diabetes featuring in the center, has taken time to build and I don’t know what I would have done without you guys being there every step of the way.
3. Learning the basics of diabetes management (because you didn’t trust me enough to do it myself !)
Okay, let me start by saying this. The start point to diabetes management is being able to read and comprehend numbers and this realization took its time to come. My lack of affinity to anything and all things numbers has been the reason of some really bad jokes in our group for years now. Adding to the misery was diabetes management. I was not on any CGM till last year which meant I was manually logging a few numbers here and there and trying to make sense of it (I swear I have worked way less to pass my 12th standard math board exam than I did to make the slightest sense of my BG readings.) Once the jokes had been cracked and the fun had been made, you guys took matters in your hands. For a large part of my diabetic journey till now, I had no contact with any T1Ds and so you people helped me sail through the sea of numbers.
But its more than that - if I am to ever go into a hypo, I trust each one of you to know what to do. You know the BG ranges - for hypos and high BG levels as well. I would never forget the time we were at Khan Market (Delhi) when I realised my blood sugar was crashing and we checked my levels in the middle of the road! I was at 50 something and dropping when I realised this. So I don’t clearly remember what went down from there. But I remember you guys pulling out my testing meter and then the normal checking drill. (I don't remember teaching you guys how to prick me or put the testing strip in the meter, you just knew!) You knew that I needed sugar and NOT chocolates or other sweets. Things could have gone real south that day, had you guys not been around.
But what I find absolutely adorable is how you guys developed a list of “good and bad food” for me and all our food adventures across the city are basis your need to find "good food ".
As I started interacting with other T1Ds last year and learnt a whole lot about carb counting (we are still figuring that one out) or just basic food nutrition information, I saw you guys adapting to my food and exercise habits requirements more than me. I feel like your choices are more aligned with diabetes management than mine (talk about leading by example). And I absolutely love you guys for it <3
4. Being absolute badass advocates for T1D
If you know me, you probably know how I hate going to the rest room and taking an insulin shot. It started off with me being too lazy to make an entire trip to the rest room to just prick myself. Of course, that changed later when I realised, when you take your shot in public, it opens room for an honest communication about what T1D is.
Over the years, I have seen each one of you become just as passionate about advocating for T1D as I would be.
Every single day, we as a community make umpteen efforts to do our bit in advocating for normalising T1D. I have always felt normalising it requires non-T1Ds to accept it as much as we do within the community. And I can say for certain, you people do your bit to making that happen. Every time I meet one of your work mates or other friends, we make sure that I take my insulin shot right there so as to get the conversation started.
We go about breaking all myths associated with this disease, one conversation at a time.
5. For having my back in the good, bad and everything in between :)
Fun fact. I wouldn’t be surprised to find you walking into one of the events or meet ups organised for T1Ds because you understand (and live) this life just as much as I do!
I am so glad that I have you guys to go back to no matter what the turn of events be every day. Just like old times. But now I get to whine about or celebrate my diabetes with you guys as well, and that’s the absolute best feeling in the world. I guess I was worried for nothing when I thought I would lose you to diabetes. We all gained my friend in this process, instead. And a sweet one, at that! (Pun intended, obviously!)
My Pancreas and me