Dear Diabetes Guilt:
You’ve been with me and by my side almost daily since my diagnosis.
I first experienced you when I looked into my parents’ eyes when I was diagnosed and saw the sadness that was looking back at me. I was child number 6, diabetic child number 3.
My diagnoses hurt my parents so much. All I could say was “I’m sorry”- and then I did my best to make them laugh.
The guilt was next me as I snuck Christmas Cookies from the freezer and blamed the cookies disappearance on my sister- child number 3, diabetic child number 2.
Diabetes, your guilt made a 10 year old little girl run laps around the block to burn off contraband Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
You were next to me as I'd steal cookies from my friends kitchen and eat them in the bathroom so no one would see.
Diabetes guilt (and the look of disappointment and fear in my parents eyes) made me lie to them regarding my urine testing and blood sugar results.
It wasn’t the high numbers I was afraid of- it was making my parents sad, scared and angry that made my 11-year-old self fudge my numbers.
I'd cry when my Endo told me I wasn't trying hard enough. I was 13 and doing my best.
Wanting a few cookies every now and then shouldn't have equated a trip to confession and 13 "Hail Mary's".
In high school you mocked me to be part of the crowd - but I couldn't ignore diabetes.
Between the hell that was high school and being a PWD, it was a long 4 years.
In college I felt your guilt daily. I wanted too fit in and be “normal, ” and having diabetes was a foreign routine on campus.
I used my humor to win friends and they accepted both diabetes and me, as is.
I flourished with friends and success.
Your guilt didn’t just affect me-It damaged my family as a whole.
Your guilt cursed my sister- She strived for normalcy – which eluded her because back in the diabetes dark ages, normal was never an option.
I felt diabetes guilt because my sister with diabetes was dying and I was angry with both her and the world.
I didn’t understand how sick she was or how much the guilt of diabetes drove her down a self-destructive path.
I just knew she was sick and that I spent so many of much of my high school and college years taking care of her with my parents.
I didn’t understand and I hate to admit now, but I blamed her for not taking better care of herself.
I was a kid, she was 14 years older than me, and I didn’t understand what a restrictive world she and her diabetes were brought up in until I was well into adulthood.
If my other sister (child number 1, diabetic number 1) could live good life and have three healthy sons, why couldn't she?
I felt diabetes guilt for not always understanding, and for always being fearful that it could have been me.
I wanted to be a full time college student. Not a full time college student who was a PWD and a caretaker as well.
Even thought we fought as only siblings can, I never thought that diabetes complications would actually kill her.
I felt guilt for not having patience and for not always being kind.
My diabetes guilt stood beside me as I gave her eulogy.
I felt your guilt whenever people spoke of how much my sister suffered.
I felt your guilt whenever I got my own test results back.
I felt your guilt in my mid twenties when I was scared into becoming a good patient.
In my mid twenties and early thirties I worked hard on my diabetes management and had the numbers to prove it.
But still, your guilty presence made me want to apologize all the time- even when I was doing nothing wrong.
When I contemplated a cupcake, I felt guilty. Even when I tested, counted crabs, and bolused accordingly.
I apologized whenever my numbers would go up or down for no apparent reason.
I became defensive whenever a friend would ask: Kel, should you eat that?
I’d feel guilty that I don’t excise enough and I’d feel guilty when I exercised to much and would run low because I’d miscalculated my temporary basal rate.
Over the past 15 years I’ve learned to only concentrate on one number at a time.
I owe that attitude (in part) to you.
Because I became so tired of having you as a companion and a partner in my diabetes management.
So I’ve learned (and am still learning every day) to let go of you.
I accept that you exist and I will admit that you’ve done some good.
But I’m tired of having you as the anchor I wear around my neck.
So, I've removed you from my world on a daily basis - and while you still make your presence known from time to time, I no longer say I’m sorry for being a human with Diabetes.
I've lifted your anchor of guilt, hitched up my sails in the wind, and let my diabetes flag fly!
I have my good numbers and my bad.
I have great test results, and some not so great ones from time to time.
But I always try, and try again.
When I fall off the diabetes wagon, I get up and get back on.
Instead of anchoring on to the guilt, I use those numbers and results as a GPS in my diabetes management.
I take it one number at a time and I always do my best.
I own my diabetes, diabetes doesn't own me.
I’m still sorry that diabetes exists in the world.
But I am no longer sorry for being a person with Diabetes.