I can’t remember a life without diabetes. Which isn’t entirely true: I can remember one party, when I was six. The day was sweltering (which was unusual for my British Columbia hometown). I was at a party, and there was bags of chips and cherries, and cake with the unbelievably sweet storeboight-cake sugar icing. I wasn’t feeling that well, and didn’t eat a ton (but, obviously, still ate cake). I was so thirsty though, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t kick it. I remember cups of orange soda, and the 2L bottles lined up in a row. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes shortly after.
That scene sounds exactly like a documentary intro into Type 2 diabetes. But for anyone who knows, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are completely different diseases. I understand that they were grouped together because they had similar symptoms, but they have completely different causes, impacts, and treatments. When I was diagnosed, it was still “Juvenile Diabetes” and “Adult-Onset Diabetes”. How times have changed.
You never realize how lonely and isolating diabetes is until you find out that it doesn’t have to be. I spent years dealing with it on my own (with my parents, but both non-diabetics). My parents are the greatest supports, and my brother and friends aware amazing, but it’s not the same. You spend forever looking for someone with that connection, another “Diabetic”. When you find one, it’s like internal elation – someone like me! – but then the conversation is just awkward:
“Hi.” “Hi.” “… you’re diabetic too?” “Yeah …” “Type 1 or Type 2?” “Type 1.” “Cool …”
Or at least, those were child/teenage me conversations. It’s only made more difficult by the encouraging adults standing near by saying, encouraging you in, to be friends, to be supports. But you’re a kid. What more are you going to talk about from there?
It’s only as an adult I’ve realized that there’s other people out there like me. Not just a diabetic, but someone who has trouble managing it, who struggles with it, who has highs and lows and days where you feel like he’ll but have to go to work/school anyway. Where you pretend everything is fine but all you want to do is crawl into bed, cover your head, and sleep until everything’s better.
I’ve realized now that this community is out there. And I believe there must be other Canadians out there, too. I want to find them, but also anyone – everyone – who has to deal with this too. I know we’re stronger together … it’s just a matter of reaching across time and space to find the “we”.