Celebrating diabetes diagnosis anniversaries (diaversaries)? What kind of nonsense is that? Why would anyone ever celebrate something as terrible as a diabetes diagnosis?
It’s not quite like that – I hate the diabetes diagnosis itself, but I DO celebrate taking care of myself each year. It’s hard work. We make it look easy. And we should acknowledge that and honor ourselves as often as possible.
I feel lucky to know the exact date of my diagnosis. I was only five years old and can’t remember much about it now. But many years ago, I heard about the Lilly Diabetes Journey Awards program and submitted my application. One part of the application process was tracking down my original diagnosis records. It took some doing, but I was able to get a copy of everything from diagnosis into early adulthood.
Through memory lane
It was a trip reading through my medical chart. It was almost a decade ago now that I applied for the award, and I can still remember feeling afraid of what I’d see in my records before I cracked it open. I was sure there’d be a lot of cold, clinical judgment describing a young man not trying hard enough. And as clearly, I remember the facts I found there which were just the opposite – a strong story describing a highly motivated person pushing my doctors for everything they had. Wow.
That taught me two lessons:
1. perspective is important, and
2. it's hard to keep my head on straight
Like an anchor
I didn’t recognize it at first. But listening to my inner-diabetes-voice quickly showed that it’s one of the most critical and judgemental voices in my life! And diabetes is chock-full of opportunities to critique and judge! If I don’t pay attention and stay ahead of it, that voice inside my head can weigh me down. It can add a lot of mental baggage to the already hard job of managing diabetes.
Create opportunities to counter
So I counter that naggy internal voice by reminding myself that no matter how easy I make it look, diabetes is hard work, and I deserve some credit for that. I try my best to set realistic expectations. I work on progress - not perfection. And I grab any opportunity to celebrate myself for working so hard.
My diaversary happens once a year. That’s not often enough. But it is a powerful reminder to pause, reflect a little, and pat myself on the back for doing a damn good job taking care of myself.
And when I hit the big four-oh in two more years, my wife and I will host a huge party. You’re all invited! We’ll celebrate how much diabetes sucks and how awesome we are for taking such good care of ourselves and kicking ass along the way – because we deserve it!