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.


Addendum to "Dealing with it"

I left out a big part of what helped/helps me deal with all this: music

Music has always marked certain times and places in my life. The songs that meant something to me at that time are tightly tied to those memories. Sometimes it’s a line from the song, other times just the tune. It's a random mix some of it a bit cheesy but it's what touched me.

Here’s the playlist from the past few months:

  • Leave It All Behind – Nya Jade (leave it all behind - the chaos and the fear)
  • My Denial – Nya Jade ("here in my denial I stand trial for what I've done. Redemption..")
  • Too Little Too Late – JoJo (This one brought tears to my eyes just about every time, not wanting to ever have to say I did too little, too late to figth diabetes)
  • Don’t Look Back – Antigone Rising
  • Lucky Denver Mint – Jimmy Eat World ("you're not bigger than this, not better, why can't you see...")
  • All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers (dealing withthe guilt)
  • I Can’t Take It – Tegan and Sarah
  • Live Again – Better Than Ezra (finding the strenght to really live not just get by)
  • All at Once – the Fray ("sometimes the hardest thing & the rigth thing are the same")
  • Let Go – Frou Frou (let go of all the anger at diabetes)
  • Jumper – Third Eye Blind ("cut ties with all the lies you've been living in")