Monday, March 10, 2014

Diaversaries and 174 Years of Diabetes at the Beta Cell Bash

Today marks my 30th year of living with type 1 diabetes.

If you remember, I actually don't know the exact month or day of when I was diagnosed. But we know it happened just after my 5th birthday on Feb. 1, 1984 and a couple months before the family vacation to DisneyLand in California that spring. Not to mention that it was still cold in southeast Michigan. So, March is typically what we've gone with... and about four years ago when I received a new insulin pump on March 10, that became my self-designated diaversary from then on.

With the marking of my third decade, I opted to officially commemorate my diaversary with a few D-peeps here in the Indy area at the annual Beta Cell Bash this past weekend.

Remember that? A yearly gathering is a fundraising event for the local JDRF Indiana Cure Chasers bicycling team, which I first wrote about in 2011 when introducing you to Bash Founder Michael K. Schwab who's a fellow type 1 here in Indy? Mike started the Beta Cell Bash a decade ago, but it only lasted a couple years before taking a breather. And it returned in 2012.

So this was the third consecutive Bash since then, even more special because of the whole diaversary element.

As it turns out, I'm not the only one of the Indy area D-peeps recognizing a diabetes anniversary this month -- there were actually three others, too! Mike's also marking his 41th year with type 1 this month, while two other type 1s are hitting their 20th and 19th years this month.

In total, there were seven of us at the Beta Cell Bash with a total of 174 years of type 1 experience between us. under our belts! Mike wore his "Dia-Badass" shirt while serving as MC, and at one point he announced that all Type 1s in the house should head up to the stage...

Here's a photo that was taken, with five of us PWDs standing there on stage:

IMG_0752

Pictured above:
  • Neal Hoffman, dx'd 20 years ago this month
  • Amy VanDeWielle, dx'd 26 years ago
  • Daniel Bartholomew dx'd 20 years ago on March 15
  • ME, diagnosed 30 years ago
  • Mr. Mike Schwab, diagnosed 41 years ago in March 1973.
That photo includes 136 years of type 1 on stage, and we know there was at least two other type 1s at the Beta Cell Bash who weren't up there with us that added another 8 and 30 years to the total tally -- so really, there was 174 years overall!

Yes, there was beer and a few of us exchanged some "diaversary rounds" while sharing some good laughs and enjoying the Beta Cell Bash, which had a Johnny Cash theme this year. Though it was tough to talk much, we shared some tidbits about life with diabetes over the years, insulin pumping and support we've seen, along with talk about the importance of the Adult D-Community.

I know 30 years feels like a long time to me, but it's all relative -- really, it's a drop in the bucket compared to others who are at their 40th, 50th, 75th or even 80th years of living with type 1. While I still do worry about how long I can last before complications start weaving their way into my life and impacting my daily life, I'm also more optimistic than I am pessimistic these days because of all the inspiration that's out there.

Yes, I have started seeing complications -- retinopathy and neuropathy mainly, and fortunately they haven't progressed to the point where I've needed to do anything really different than just "keeping my blood sugars under control." Uh huh, right. Those are scary, and I do worry about what other damage diabetes has done to my body during these past three decades -- especially as a result of my rebellious teenage years, when my A1Cs hit the mid-teens.

Looking back, I'd have to guess that probably a good decade of my D-Life -- A THIRD OVERALL - was probably in the regrettfully scary vicinity of completely batshit out-of-whack. Blame the "Why Bother?" attitude that hit in the middle of the three decades. But fortunately, through a variety of factors that include growing up, facing my own mortality, the support of my wife and family and Diabetes Community, things started changing about a decade ago.

I've struggled, but have also succeeded and made the most of diabetes. And where I once felt diabetes was a curse and a burden (all the time), I more often see it as a blessing that has helped me improve my life in many ways. Not every day, obviously. There are times I hate diabetes in the moment, where I cringe at how rebellious I used to be and how bleak the future feels when surrounded by Highs and Lows, complications and so on.

But we can't live our lives in regret and dwelling on the past, and we can't be paralyzed by the fear of what may never come to pass. So I've been able to move on most of the time and look forward. There's a lot to be thankful for and continue to hope for, and I'm eager to see where the next years -- however many there may be -- take all of us.

2 comments:

StephenS said...

Happy Diaversary. Looks like a great party. Glad you were around to enjoy it. Here's hoping you'll be around for many, many more.

Karen said...

Happy (very belated) diaversary. What a wonderful way to celebrate!!