Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grabbing Back That Balloon.

Maybe it's a result of all of the statistics shared on World Diabetes Day - the number of people living with it, and dying from it. The monetary costs. The images of who this disease impacts. The reminders that while this can get more managable, we're still a long ways from a biological cure. The fact that each time we find that another person has died from type 1 diabetes, our hearts break and our fists clench.

Maybe it's because I've been listening to the Smashing Pumpkins on repeat for the last hour.

In any event, my frame of mind is a little bit on the brooding side today.

Diabetes (and especially type 1, where the symptoms are so sudden and so severe) can make you hyper-aware of your own mortality. There are moments where I can't shake the feeling that I'm living on borrowed time; I think about the reality that if I had been diagnosed before 1922 I would have died as a six year old child. (Or, if I had been born when I was, but just in a different part of the world.) There's that little voice in the back of my head, saying you shouldn't still be here. You've cheated death. You're so lucky to be here.

I think this recognition can shape us one of at least two ways. It can mold us into cautious, tip-toeing beings who avoid risks because we already feel as though the ice is thin beneath our feet. We let the statistics become more than numbers; we personify them in what we choose and what we do. We let the "what ifs" take us over. We let go of dreams, like balloons released into the wind.

And for some, this idea of borrowed time translates to a feeling of freedom and fearlessness. The idea that we're here when we "shouldn't" be liberates us; a gratitude for the life we have propells us towards accomplishing the big; the daunting; the impossible. We want to make the most of this time we've been given. We want to have an impact on someone; something. We want to see change.

There has to be a reason we're still here. There has to be a purpose for what you and I have been through, to get to this point.

I've been in both places, and still go back and forth a bit. Lately, however, my pancreas heart seems to be leaning towards the latter - and at some point, I'll have to let it do an all-out freefall. I don't know what shape that will take or what that means exactly.

What I hope for myself and for you is that we'll use this time we have to do something that matters. Let's look past ourselves and think about what we can do for others. Let's turn the crappy hand that life dealt us into something good.

Let's chase back those balloons.


  1. Well said! I have been type 1 for 43 years and I am so tired from tip-toeing on thin ice but I know I am here for some reason.
    I call my good and bad days, green light or red light days. On red lights I can barely function,it is hard to get out of bed, get dressed, daily living can be torture. But on a green light day watch out I am chasing those balloons!


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