I was diagnosed with diabetes on February 2nd, a day etched forever in my memory. My world came crashing down and the weight of it put me in a depression that lasted for months. It wasn’t until a year had passed and I went to my first diabetes conference and met other women with diabetes, and then visited my fourth doctor (who finally properly diagnosed and treated me) that I finally started to realize I could live a “normal” life with this condition. That diagnosis was five years ago, which means that I just celebrated my five year “diaversary.” Congratulations to me!!!
This is a big deal for me not only because living with diabetes is challenging and doing it for 1825 days is praise worthy (go me!!!), but because of something that happened at that first conference. If you’ve been to a DiabetesSisters Weekend for Women, you know that we celebrate each other’s time with diabetes. We do this at other conferences as well – like guessing the number of beans in a jar, we guess how many years of experience we all have living with diabetes. For me – and for most of us I think – the day we get diagnosed is significant. It marks at hard line between before and after diabetes. People constantly ask me “how long have you had diabetes?” It’s a date most of us remember and one that some of us celebrate. It’s something like another birthday. So at that first conference, as we were celebrating each others’ achievements, I was in awe of the women around me – some had lived with diabetes for 20 years, 25 years, even 50 years. But for some reason, I was really struck by a woman nearby who had lived with it for 5 years. Maybe because it’s easier for me to imagine my future 5 years from now rather than my future in 20 years. I also remember that there was one woman at my table who talked about celebrating her diaversaries by taking special vacations. I thought that was a great idea. So sitting there surrounded by so many years of experience, I quietly promised myself a great celebration for my 5 year diaversary.
As February 2nd approached this year, I thought a lot about what I would do to celebrate. I realized perhaps a bit too late that I had not done any planning for a big fancy vacation. So that idea was scrapped. I thought about throwing a big party, but February is still kind of cold and dreary, and I prefer outdoor parties, so I scrapped that idea. Coincidentally, the UNconference was scheduled for mid-February and since I planned to attend, I decided that I could kill two birds with one stone – attend a great conference (which I would do anyway), and celebrate my diaversary surrounded by wonderful folks who also happen to have diabetes. So that was it – I registered for the conference got a plane ticket and booked a hotel room. As simple as that. But the funny thing is that by the time February 2nd rolled around, I didn’t really feel compelled to celebrate. In fact, for days beforehand I was afraid that I would completely forget and not even give myself a pat on the back on Feb 2nd. As it happens, all that worrying paid off and I did remember, late in the day. But on the whole, my five year diaversary was pretty much like any other day with diabetes. After so many years of anticipating what it would be like to live five long years with diabetes, it was anticlimactic. Yep, there were no bells, no whistles, no streamers, and no confetti. I did not feel a sense of accomplishment as if I had attained a long term goal or finished a five year project. It was just an ordinary day, which, I guess, is a good thing. It seems that living with diabetes has become “normal” or least, routine. Getting through a day, or a week, or a year, or five years to be exact, is no longer the herculean task it was back in my first year. So my 5 year diaversary was low-key and my celebration was little more than a pat on the back. And that was all ok. Nevertheless, I’ve already started dreaming about what I’ll do when I reach 10.