It’s a long time ago. I am lying in a bed. I’m sore, the nurse is trying to find a vein to get blood. She’s resorted to my bony feet; it hurts and I’m crying wet tears into my pillow, wanting my Mum.
It was so real, but I must dredge it up as a memory now, digging deep in slipping sands to find a reality that once was. It’s a past tense. The memory of the pain is still there but it’s OK to remember.
The nurse used to say that to me after I was diagnosed: “It’ll be OK.” They’d all tell me that, nurses, consultants. I hated it. They had no idea, they hadn’t had their world turned upside down, like a snow globe in the hands of a tantrum. I hated they could see my world after the snow globe had settled, when I couldn’t even see past my next meal, next injection or my anger. Hated that they dared to see into my future. There was no way it would be OK.
And it was far from OK. I’d take insulin for something I shouldn’t have, like the time I took too much for my Baked Beans, or I’d go shopping just as my insulin was working hardest, and end up hypo on the floor in the shops, with a two-year-old running about, amid the jelly babies and test strips. “It’ll be OK. You’ll find out what works for you.” IT’S NOT OK, I’d scream inside, sitting on my hands, stifling my voice, trying not to shout in my consultations.
Or I’d end up with high blood sugars for hours and hours because I’d ‘tried’ to eat pizza. “It’s OK. You’ll work it out.” Or I’d ‘try’ to drink beer. Or I’d ‘try’ to walk, or run around with my son, or go on holiday in the sunshine.
They told me I’d learn to manage my Type One diabetes, that I’d learn to look at a plate of food and work out it’s carbohydrate, that it would become second nature. Books told me I needed to learn to see it as something that you can manage, roll with, surf the wave of. They told me that I’d learn to manage.
It so very bl**dy well wasn’t OK.
But you know what, there comes a point with every transition in life where it is OK, or rather, it’s as OK as it can be, and that mostly comes through time. This October will be four years since I was diagnosed.
So, no longer can I remember a time, feel it, be it, live in it, where I didn’t have Type One Diabetes, where I didn’t have half an eye on the trending arrow on my Libre, working out what evasive action might be needed to avoid a high or a low.
No longer can I remember a time where I didn’t have to have a conversation with someone while operating my well pressed pump buttons, or where I didn’t have to calculate carbohydrates, while navigate through every day actions, like walking or cycling, or shopping.
No longer can I remember what it’s like to live without being attached to a machine 24/7, 365 days a week.
Or where being sick wasn’t just a case of sleeping but also implementing a set of Sick Day Rules to manage your diabetes when all you really want to do is sleep.
No longer can I remember when life wasn’t a daily juggle (and sometimes a struggle), because acting as one of your internal organs is really f&*king hard, not to mention tiring and demoralising at times.
But that’s all OK (mostly through oodles of self-care, meditation, a wonderful consultant, tools like my pump and my Libre and a great family) because it has become my life, it’s become my ‘new’ normal. I’ve learned a lot in the past four years, about my physical, mental and emotional health. There are days where I am not OK, when my diabetes has a mind of its own, or when I’m sick, days when I want to scream loudly, or that I feel terribly sorry for myself, but overall, like the nurses said I am OK.
I may be connected to a machine every day for the rest of my life but it’s a life where I get to enjoy the beauty of the world, be with my family and friends, and most importantly, watch my son growing up. And that’s OK with me.