Image: Karolina Krawczyk-Sharma (supplied).
It’s funny how the memory works in critical moments of our lives. It’s strange what we remember.
I remember my fingernails being painted vivid blue. I was planning to go to a New Year’s Eve party with everyone else, but here I was in the hospital, dressed up in a medical equipment. My nail polish matched the colour of the hospital walls.
That was 18 years ago and it was the beginning of one of the longest and most impactful relationships of my life, one that taught me a lot. On that cold December day, on the last day of the year, with the air crispy and fresh outside, I heard the word “diabetes” for the first time. I was 15.
This uninvited partner didn’t sound like much fun. I was shocked and scared. Soon, I had to accept my new duties: injecting my body with insulin a few times a day, monitoring my blood sugar, controlling intakes of carbohydrates and proteins and reporting to my doctor every month. It was overwhelming. There are no days off with diabetes. It is your shadow for good (and for bad). Watch Paper Tiger’s introduction to meditation below. (Post continues after video.)
Like most people I had many misconceptions about Type 1. Obesity and ageing are not the its causes. The pancreas can “burn out” for many reasons, not all of them are understood. “Juvenile Diabetes” (its other name) is most commonly an auto-immune disorder that can start in first months of our life, or as late as our 40s. It is defined as an “irreversible metabolic disorder resulting in a permanent lack of insulin production by beta-cells in the pancreas.”
There are two roads we can choose between when confronted with a so called “incurable disease.” It can either be a source of great misery, or a great opportunity. These roads cross at times but neither road is without bumps. (Post continues after gallery.)
I would prefer not to have diabetes, of course, but it has also taught me some of the most valuable lessons in my life. Each day I count my blessings, each day I am presented with new challenges.
It’s a “gift” that has cost me a lot of tears, frustration, exhaustion, confusion, guilt, sadness and anger. My reward however, has been the amazing state of transformation. If that sounds conflicting or bitter-sweet, well, that’s because it is.
Here are some things I’ve discovered on my journey:
1. There are no winners in the “Blame Game.”
I stopped asking, “Why me?”
There is no clear answer to that question anyway. Each one of us has a different challenge in life but life isn’t a competition about who suffers more or who suffers less. “What am I doing about this?” is a much more active and healthy place to live in rather than “Why did this happen to me?”