This guest post, “47 Years Living the Sweet Life”, was written by Marjorie S. as part of the Share Your Story program.
It was two days before my tenth birthday (47 years ago) and the big joke was that this year it fell on Friday the 13th. The “curse” was that it wasn’t even the 13th and I was feeling horrible. I had bad pains in my legs, I was always thirsty, and I couldn’t stay awake. The good part was that I’d lost some weight and had yet to go shopping for new clothes.
I awoke Thursday morning to my mother telling me I didn’t have to go to school. Was this an early birthday present? No, we were going to find out what was wrong with me. We had a 2PM appointment at The Joslin Clinic in Boston and I had been instructed to eat lightly. Light it was – I ate Jello all day. In those days there was no such thing as “sugar-free” foods or soda. Little did I realize that this would eventually lead to my blood sugar being 660mg at my initial clinic visit.
This was the prelude to my life with diabetes. I went through the early years of my disease being guided by renown physicians like Elliot P. Joslin and Dr. Priscilla White. However, it didn’t negate the burdens of having to boil one’s urine in Benedict’s solution to determine how much insulin to take nor did it alleviate the spurs on the steel needles that had to be boiled weekly along with the glass syringes. There were few choices in foods and fewer choices in insulin regimes.
How things have changed! How lucky to be diagnosed with diabetes today, rather than years ago, with all the knowledge and alternatives presently available. There are food options, pump options, groups to speak with, acknowledgment of a disease one can live with as opposed to one that you die from. The changes that have occurred over the past 47 years are vast and new discoveries present new options to “we” diabetics frequently that were never thought of years ago.
Never did I think that the approach my parents used with my diabetes – acting as emotional outlets as opposed to emotional corks – would lead me into my present position in life. I am a Board Certified Diplomat in Clinical Social Work and counsel many diabetics and their family members as to the psychosocial dynamics of this disease. It’s interesting how the treatment approach to this disease has changed…but the psychological impact hasn’t. This is the dynamic that is so challenging: why is it that some are able to cope and deal while others aren’t? Why is it that some are willing to calculate and bolus while others deny and invite complications? These are some of the questions that have challenged and intrigued me- motivated me to speak with and work along with other diabetics. My belief is that we have choices. My choice in dealing with this disease is to control “it” and not allow “it” to control me. I have two and a half years left before receiving my 50 year medal from the Joslin Clinic. I remember on Day One being told of this medal and what it represents. I believe that all of “us” should strive to achieve a healthy life…a life that is fulfilling and fulfilled. A life that is sweet from life’s gifts rather than sweetened by our body’s deficiencies. We have that choice.