June 27, 1985

Cleaning my desk today at home I came across my newspaper debut. Front page of the 2nd section. Human interest story, the topic you guessed it - diabetes. Though much of the articles (there were 2 versions) are in my memory I still read through them. Oh My God - how embarrassing. What a dork I was, but really what 11 year old wasn’t? I wish I had the kind of scanner that would let me scan the entire article legibly so you could see it but I don’t & I’m too lazy & short on time right now to re-type the whole thing. But 2 parts stick out:

"Having diabetes can be a pain....but it can be okay too especially when you get interviewed. Maybe I’ll get famous and make a lot of money." The tears start. What I wouldn’t give to have that naivety of childhood back, even for a day.

Not only is what I (apparently) said in this article but also how the author writes are both hilarious. " With that petite Melissa, who will be a sixth grader throws back her head and laughs. "Ha" she guffaws with a man-sized force that seems to come all the way up from her white tennis shoes and turned downed socks." Near the end the article reads: Children with diabetes must first accept the disease and take responsibility for it. Melissa seems to have done that well. Big drops falling from my eyes now. What the hell happened? Like it is really that easy? Step one: Accept. Step Two: Responsibility and you’ve got diabetes mastered. Yeah right. What happened to that girl who could simply take this disease in stride instead of fighting it every step of the way?

She had only shared her body with diabetes living a life of needles, blood sugars, food plans and urine testing for a little over 2 years. All with the help of incredible parents and an amazing health care team. She was young strong and full of hopes and dreams for the future with a disease that gave her a bit of uniqueness which was fine with her since she liked to stand out.
Would it be too weird to say that I miss that little girls so much? She was so strong, so confident and yes, so innocent.

This was before the seizures from extremely low blood sugars left her barely awake, vomitting for days and often included a late night trip to the ER, and once or twice a visit from the paramedics. This was before the novelty of being different and the not being able to do whatever she wanted when she wanted wore off. Before it wasn’t so cool to be different anymore. Before the 2 weeks out of the year that she went to camp were what she lived for and camp was where she felt most alive surrounded by others like her. Before the combination of diabetes and depression brought her life to a screeching halt (more than once) and led to some scary scenes, serious U-turns and not-so-subtle family interventions. Before she questioned her self every single day because she couldn’t seem to live amicably with this disease.

This was also before a ton of amazing things that she would not undo for anything happened. Pivotal learning experiences, good fortune, awe-inspiring moments, great friends, amazing family and true love that have all made her who she is today but there are parts she wishes she had held on tighter to. The strength, the courage, the faith, and the acceptance that she had as a little girl.


Scott said...

Melissa, this is an incredible post.

Interesting how those glimpses into the past of our thoughts and expressions on living with diabetes can bring such powerful emotions out.

Can you imagine what we will think in 50 or more years from now when we're looking back on our early blog posts?

I've not yet found true acceptance, and I've been told (and believe) that the grieving process goes in cycles. Once you find some sort of acceptance, it doesn't mean you stay there. Know what I mean?

Chrissie in Belgium said...

Great post. I have had D45 years.... I also remeber. In the beginning it is frightening. I so clearly releber being ALONE in the hospital with this new companion and a kid my age diein of cancer next to me! Even then I realized I was "lucky" to have only gotten diabetes. But I was still scared and miserable. That first week home I clearly remeber sitting on the soffa just NOT being able to give myself an insulin shot. JUST IMPOSSIBLE. They certainly were not the cute little syringes of today! My Mom was pretty tough - I did do the shot so I could do it also the next day and the next.... The first hypos, I was looking at the Disney program on TV. Nevertheless, I think maybe the hardest part of D is when you grow up and realize that it is your own battle, you alone have to figure out how you are going to live your life with it. What do I choose to prioritize - family, kids, job, me? Our relationship with diabetes changes as out own life evolves. Each new step means new choices. Each step is hard. Discovering you have it is hard. Dealing with it has a teenager when you just want to have fun like everyone else is hard. Managing a "family" is hard with your D companion. Learning to accept "complications" as they hit you is hard. Each step is hard and there is no book you can read to help you along. You have to figure it out yourself. The feeling that I felt as a child, once I got over the initial shock, that SURE I can manage this - seems a bit naive now. I too wish I could go back and be that kid and have all the confidence I had then.

MileMasterSarah said...

Ya, I don’t think I ever had a problem accepting diabetes. What really got me about this post, though, was not the acceptance of diabetes, but of the loss of the naivete of youth. I wish I had mine back. There is so much of my past that I wish I could take back. There is so much I would never tell anyone. And I too have had the not so subtle family interventions. And I needed them. I wish I could take it back, make better choices.

Chrissie in Belgium said...

God I misspelled a ton in my previous comment. I am hoping you can guess what I was saying.... When I write my thought go faster than my fingers, and everytime I preview, the comment gets stuck. Then I have a temper tantrum. I REALLY liked your post, so I linked to it in my last blog post!

In Search Of Balance said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.