“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I don’t know who originally said this quote, but Kelly Clarkson is bringing it on nearly every radio station all day long lately. I love her rendition of it, and I’ve been hanging on to the song and the quote quite tightly lately. Belting it out at the top of my lungs right along with Ms. Kelly feels really good.
You see, living with type 1 diabetes is dancing on the edge with a killer, 24/7. That sounds really melodramatic and cheesy, and I don’t mean it to sound that way. That’s just how it is. From the moment I was diagnosed with type 1 in ketoacidosis at age 7, right before I fell into a coma for 4 days, both me and my family were inundated with information about the potential ways diabetes could (would?) kill me. As if the coma weren’t enough of a slap in the face, no, there was plenty more to heap upon us about how dangerous my new existence was.
There were the warnings/discussions/guilt trips about “diabetic complications.” The longer we live with type 1, the more likely we are to experience problems with our eyeballs, our kidneys, our blood vessels, our joints, our gums…. Those warnings were (are?) often used as pressure to fix or change my behaviors doctors determined were “bad.” It didn’t work, in my case. I spent many, many years out of anything close to control of my BGs. Denial? Maybe. Normal teenage rebellion plus pissedoffedness at a broken pancreas? For sure.
It’s another delicate balance between keeping blood sugars in the so-called “normal” range of 70-130 mg/dl and bottoming out to 30-40 mg/dl, becoming unconscious, having a seizure, getting hurt, not waking up. I’ve only had one experience where I was unconscious and had a seizure; I’ve had several where I needed someone else to help me. Many more than several. A sad consequence of me getting my BG into “good” (really tight) control is that I’ve lost any sensations of low blood sugar that would warn me at 70 or 60 mg/dl and prompt me to get some sugar by myself. Awesome. The risk of dying from low blood sugar is always there.
Oh, blah. My point with loving this quote is that enduring all that type 1 diabetes is trying to do to kill me, for the last 31+ years, has made me strong–much stronger than I would be without type 1. I’ve learned to manage the dancing on the edge, even when the edge moves and the killer plays dirty. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m thankful to diabetes, but I’m smarter than it is (even when I don’t feel like it), and stronger because of it. I’m dancing, all the time.
It’s been almost 32 years, t1d. Bring it. I’m still dancing. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.
This post is in response to the wego Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge Day 2 prompt. Quotation Inspiration: Find a quote that inspires you (either positively or negatively) and free write about it for 15 minutes.