Here it is, the last day of Diabetes Blog Week. Thank you so much, Karen, for proposing this online extravaganza. Today’s topic is a fitting valediction: Life after a cure.
I’ll just get this out of the way up front: I’m of two minds on a cure.
I very much want a cure for diabetes. It’s a complete pain in the ass. It affects millions of people worldwide. Even in the most developed nations, it’s a costly illness that shortens life expectancy and makes so many things more difficult. But it’s a disease that knows no borders; and despite being reported in the press as “a disease of prosperity,” it affects the rich and the poor alike. Throughout Diabetes Blog Week, I’ve read a lot posts by parents of children with diabetes; even more for them than for myself, I want a cure.
And yet, I know that patients who accept the facts of their chronic illnesses tend to have better health outcomes than those who cling to hope for a cure. The absence of a cure is the way things are, and the best that I can do for myself and those who care about (and for) me is to do my best everyday with no expectation of ever being free of diabetes. It’s a harsh, pessimistic mindset that I can’t completely buy into, but on a certain level it’s the way I have to think. Yet, I’m new enough to this disease — only eleven years — to occasionally become deliriously hopeful when I hear about some promising-sounding results from JDRF, Joslin, and other research groups.
And then, of course, there’s The Cure.
Given my ambivalence, how do I address Karen’s hypothetical proposal?
We are all given a tiny little pill to swallow and *poof* our pancreases are back in working order. No side effects. No more insulin resistance. No more diabetes. Tell us what your life is now like. Or take us through your first day celebrating life without the Big D. Blog about how you imagine you would feel if you no longer were a Person With Diabetes.
I hope that being free of diabetes wouldn’t change me in fundamental ways. I think I have sufficiently internalized the lesson over the last year that eating a reasonable amount and exercising regularly are good parts of our family’s lifestyle. I hope that I would still keep in touch with all of the people I’ve met in the diabetes online community. And I don’t feel like there’s anything now that I can’t do.
But I do think things will be much easier. I will be able do things (like going for a ride or a run. . . or to the dentist) without worrying about how much insulin is floating around and whether my blood sugar is high or going low. It will also be nice to be free of concern over complications — supposing that I haven’t already done the damage. And I’d love to banish those ever-present concerns about whether I guessed the right amount of bolus, whether my basals are right, whether I’m going to go low overnight, etc. After eleven years, I wonder if it will even be possible to get rid of those feelings; perhaps they’re an indelible part of my personality now.
Whatever happens, I can promise you this: I will continue to do everything I can to make sure that everybody worldwide has access to that magic pill.
Update: Oh! I would also go to Kelly’s beach party.