It’s a question that I struggle to find an answer to every day. The old When life hands you lemons adage was one that I heard ALOT during the early years of my T1. I can only assume it was my grandma’s, or my aunt linda’s, or uncle herb’s attempt at consoling a 12 year old kid that was trying to understand something that they only vaguely understood themselves. But despite all those who tried to help me make my own batch of lemonade I just couldn’t do it.
For one thing I spent a large part of my younger years growing up in Latin America where they don’t even grow lemons (I actually spent the first 23 years of my life thinking lemons were the green ones). So right off the bat I was culturally ill-equipped to be turning my T1 into any sort of lemonade, which in my head was actually limeade. And another thing: lemons/limes and diabetes are hardly the same! In the beginning I always associated my T1 with insulin so I couldn’t imagine making anything remotely worth eating given how disgusting the stuff always smelled. And, to add insult to injury, I didn’t have any sugar I could add to my betes lemon/limeade to make it any more palatable than it already wasn’t. That last part was actually true. In the beginning of my T1 my parents would barely let me look at anything that had sugar in it let alone keep any of it in the house. Sorry gram, aunt linda, and uncle herb, but no. My T1 was going to stay T1 no matter how many lemons, limes, or sugar, that I wasn’t even allowed to have, was added to it.
And that was my attitude for the majority of my now 13 years as a Type 1 diabetic. I didn’t try to turn it into anything pretty, or tasty, or whatever. My T1 was annoying and terrible and I didn’t want anything to do with it. So I ignored it as best I could. But of course that didn’t make it go away. If anything it just added on to the lemon/lime-adelessness of though the whole thing. Not ONLY did I have T1 but then I insisted on hiding it from the world. It was a burden on top of an already mountainous burden in and of itself. It wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I learned something invaluable: I have T1 diabetes. T1 diabetes doesn’t have me.
It took me over a decade to realize it but it’s true. I have a condition that forces me to monitor my sugars, take shots, count my carbs, be mindful of what and how much I eat, and blah blah blah BUT that’s not all my life is about. I like to row and bike and play the guitar and eat pizza and sing in the shower and SOOOO many other things other than just having to worry about my T1 or who might find out about it. The only reason why it was over shadowing my life before was because I was letting it. No matter what I did or how many people I didn’t tell about it, it was always going to be there. ALWAYS. FOREVER. And if I’ve learned anything from married people and those with lifetime prison sentences, it’s that forever is a VERY long time.
SO instead of wasting all that time and energy avoiding my inescapable lifetime friend forever T1, I have recently decided to accept that what is, is and to acknowledge that I am so much more than just a person with T1. I’ve biked across the United States! I’ve lived in New Orleans and been to Mardi Gras! And EVEN got to see a coffee house concert with the original lead singer of Wheatus and got his autograph! (It’s alright, you can be jealous). In any case, I imagine that finally letting go of all my T1 baggage won’t be the easiest thing in the world. BUT I find comfort in the knowledge that despite my gorgeously curly hair (that’s a direct quote from my mother and several hair stylists so it’s OBVIOUSLY true so you haters can hate) I am only human and therefore NOT perfect. It’ll take some time but at 25, I think I’ve got a few years ahead of me (he stated as he promptly crossed his fingers).