I don’t appreciate much about T1D, but I do appreciate these three things that it’s added to my life: perspective, priorities, and clarity.
I was diagnosed at age 21. It was eye opening after diagnosis to see the cause and effect of my lifestyle choices on my blood sugar. I was a self-funded college student with zero safety net who was trying to figure out how I was going to make a good life for myself in adulthood. Which translated into me doing every single extracurricular in my field so that I could find at least one open door upon graduation. I wasn’t the heavy partying type, but I did burn the candle at both ends between all of my school commitments and socializing. Once I was diagnosed, I could quantify how much a lack of sleep impacted my health. Or living on Cheez Whiz and Hot Pockets. Or not exercising. Or being stressed out from over-committing to extracurriculars.
Respecting the natural limiting factors of good health (sleep, hydration, exercise, stress mitigation) has made me soooo much happier and well-rounded since diagnosis. I see people in my peer group who have been their own worst enemy because of how hard they live, and they don’t even realize it. I might have been one of those people were it not for my blood sugar showing me the results of my choices.
I had children wayyyyyy earlier than any of the women I went to college with. When I’ve seen them at weddings since graduation, they’ve remarked, “You were SO young when you had kids! We’re just now ready professionally to have kids.” I figured that with T1D on my plate, pregnancy was only going to get potentially more complicated and riskier the longer I waited, so I had my boys at 26 and 29. Biologically that’s not late. Professionally for most women, that would be way too soon. Fortunately I had earned enough negotiating capital at my workplace that I was able to change my schedule to better accommodate motherhood, but most women don’t have that option that early in their career. I love being the age that I am as my boys grow up. I feel much more capable to have a lot of physical adventures with them that might be much harder had I started having kids 10-15 years later as is becoming common.
Given all of the great tools available today to make LIVING with this disease less cumbersome, I don’t expect that the worst will happen to me. But there is always that little 0.1% when I go to bed wondering if I would feel a bad low if my Dexcom/Sugarmate malfunctioned. And I feel like in some ways that awareness is a good thing in the grand scheme. Knowing that we’re lucky everyday and that time is not forever pushes me (and my husband) to live a lot more life Now. We’ve invested in our goals far more far earlier than we probably would have without this sort of awareness about the precious aspect of life. And we’re much happier for it, because we’re not waiting for tomorrow to do all of the good stuff. It’s a blessing to know how fortunate we are and how good life is.