I remember being in the den at my parents house, I must have been 8 or 9 years old. Flipping though the channels on the TV, I saw a telethon. I loved telethons, I don’t know why. Seeing people helping “the sick children” at St. Jude or Strong Hospital made me feel good. I always wanted to call in and pledge my weekly allowance. It never once dawned on me that someone would have a telethon for me.
I was stopped in my tracks when I heard “children with juvenile diabetes…” suddenly I could not work the remote. I was in shock to think that, diabetes, which I always just associated with life, was telethon worthy.
“But, I have diabetes” I remember thinking to myself. “I’m not sick.”
It got worse. I kept listening to Mary Tyler Moore as she recited the horrifying facts that are the complications from diabetes.
..."Many children diagnosed just decades ago would not have seen their 30th birthday.”
I turned off the TV and began to cry. I never told my mom what I saw because I was supposed to be playing outside, not watching TV.
“So, I have to do it all before my 30th birthday. Man, does that stink.” I remember thinking. Although, 30, to an 8 year old, seemed like a long time.
All of the realities that would come with not living to 30 started to sink in. Why go to college, why get good grades? I’ll have to marry young….
Luckily though my experiences with good doctors, camp and the ADA, it was reinforced that it “was” the case, “years ago” that children with diabetes mellitus would not live till 30. That is no longer the case today.
It is restaurant week in Boston. Where the top restaurants in the city offer a fixed menu for a discounted price. I love restaurants. I love going to eat. It is in fact, my biggest guilty pleasure.
My 30th birthday is Friday. Every night this week, my husband, various friends and I are going to 6 different top restaurants. A celebration of 30 years. I could not be happier.
Last night Ryan and I went to restaurant number one. We had an excellent meal, above expectations. We talked about houses we had seen that day and that maybe we’d think about kids a few months sooner.
He asked me if I was ok being 30. Hearing the clanking of the dishes in the kitchen, the subtle music in the background, and savoring that last bite of dinner. I stopped. And as my eyes welled up with tears, I said that I am just grateful that I made it. I thought about my telethon watching self and was happy for the child I was, confident in the woman I had become, and excited about the mother I hope to be.
With each bite of food, each course that passes by, the laughter and company of my closest friends, I will remember how I got to be so healthy and happy at thirty. I will remember the good and bad of having diabetes. I will silently pay tribute to the countless shots and blood tests. The hours spent feeling sorry for myself, and the years I worked making sure no one ever felt sorry for me. Just like so many things with diabetes, no one but me will know what I am thinking and feeling. I prefer it that way. This week, when asked, I will joyously toast to my age and smile.
I can’t wait to see what life has in store for me in my next 30 years.