Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
December 2010 — A strong sense of my own mortality came soon after my diabetes diagnosis at age 21. I was told that although I'd have an excellent chance of living a long, full life with tight blood sugar control, my illness would likely shave a few birthdays from my time on earth. And, sitting amongst 80-somethings in waiting rooms, it's hard not to admit the harsh truth of illness making death more imminent.
It's a domino effect. Eventually, that mortality of diabetes morphed into an anxiety-ridden drive to accomplish goals in unrealistic timetables. Advancing a career, seeing the world, saving for retirement (if I was lucky to make it that far), becoming a mother, time with those I loved, buying life insurance and estate planning were all emergencies rather than mundane items on life's to-do list.
Meanwhile, I had a husband who, outside of near-death at age 2 from meningitis, had zero health problems. He could count on one hand how many times he'd actually been to the doctor. He's never been overweight, has played on baseball and basketball teams since college and helped me train for a marathon. He likes whole grains and vegetables and loathes fake cheese thanks to a health-conscious upbringing in Northern California.
I've always seen him as "the healthy one." And, with the medical bills, time, energy, and mortality of diabetes that are part of being a person – let alone a parent – with diabetes, I counted on it. At least, I would think, if I was left in a coma from severe hypoglycemia as my dear friend was last year at age 49, my daughter would have a healthy single dad to take care of her.
But the fantasy has died, and reality has taken over.
In the past few weeks, my 37-year-old healthy husband developed a herniated disc in his back, visited the emergency room twice and was diagnosed with hypertension.
I knew it was irrational to believe my husband was immune from health problems by virtue of having a sick wife. The theory, of which I wrote about in a column some time ago, had been proven wrong before. Soon after my diagnosis, I began imagining I, and perhaps my whole family, had reached some sort of disease quota. We had our share of chronic illness and financial contributions to the health care system.
But like most issues I've written about with respect to the mortality of diabetes, I'm able to devise a silver lining, albeit a little tarnished. When we're reminded of our mortality, our passion and appreciation for life can be reignited. Our daughter's smiles are all the sweeter. We're able to inject laughter and sunlight into what would otherwise be long, dark, tearful days. Without the gift of an early sense of mortality, I may not have had the enthusiasm and stamina to spontaneously travel to Europe, quit jobs that made me miserable, complete a marathon, move across the country with an 8-week-old infant and shake it with my best friend on a dance floor filled with people more than a decade younger than me.
Regardless of what's happening today, I am at peace knowing that if death came tomorrow or 50 years from now, I will have lived. I have lived.
Disclaimer dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
Last Modified Date: May 31, 2013
All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
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Janis Roszler MSFT, RD, CDE, LDN
Janis Roszler, MSFT, RD, CDE, LD/N is the American Association of Diabetes Educators' 2008-2009 Diabetes Educator of the Year. She is a certified diabetes educator, marriage and family therapist, and registered dietitian. Her books include Sex and Diabetes (ADA) Diabetes on your OWN Terms (Marlowe & Co) and The Secrets of Living and Loving with Diabetes (Surrey books).
Donna Rice MSW, BSN, RN, CDE
Donna Rice MBA,RN,CDE,FAADE is the 2007 Past President of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She is a registered nurse, diabetes educator and has developed numerous educational programs on sexual health and wellness. She is the co-author of Sex and Diabetes (ADA) and Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction - A Quick ‘n' Easy Handbook For the Diabetes Educator (Bella Vita). Her newest publication is a children's book, The Magic is Me (Searchlight Press).