Monday, October 09, 2006

Walking the Walk

I keep a gratitude journal. I meditate on the beauty of life. I read motivational quotes every morning. And I'm very proud of the way I've handled some past health challenges, emerging with my essential wholeness intact. But it's such a fragile balancing act - you could knock me off the tighrope with a feather.

My mother, who is 80 years old and lives in a small prairie town 100 miles1 west of here, chats with me every Thursday morning. When she calls at an unscheduled time, I know that something's up.

She phoned early Saturday morning and told me that one of my relatives, also type 1, had had a fatal stroke. My paternal grandmother had 12 brothers and sisters, and each of them had several children. Now the generation of the grandkid's of the 12 has been afflicted with over 30 type 1's, most of them diagnosed at age 9-13. A few are deceased, a few more dealing with serious complications, and the rest of us circling the wagons with the "it's not gonna happen to me" attitude.

Sure, I'm glad that my retinopathy was successfully treated. I'm also glad that my kidney function returned to normal after starting on Avapro. But why am I the lucky one? I was immersed in self-destructive chaos for 20+ years and statistically I should not have made it this far unscathed. What gives? I am feeling guilty that it wasn't me. I am fearful that I will be next(I am approaching the top of the list of those having db the longest.)

I tried to ignore the news all weekend and tonight it got to me, big time. It's cold here today in Minnesota and we may have some snow by mid-week. I don't like the approaching darkness and the time of year when you can't easily busy yourself and run away from difficult emotions.

The person who died did not take care of himself (neither did I). He had already been db for nearly 30 years when the DCCT results were published. I know he had a meter but I think considered the test strips expensive. And I know he did not deserve this. No one does.

I feel that I am deficient in personal integrity. I can talk the talk and even (for a few seconds) convince myself that I value the developments over the years and the access I have to excellent medical care. I can strut around, full of self-pride because I consider myself to have a "good attitude" about living well with chronic illness. But after talking to my mother on Saturday morning, I felt like ramming my fist through a plate glass window, and will probably be crying into the night.

Yet tomorrow I'll get up and go to work, and know that some delightful, unexpected twist in the road will put me back on track. Those are my deepest pleasures. What one waits for, will come.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your relative. As positive as we all try to be, the truth is that this is a very scary disease.

My heart goes out to your family.

Lyrehca said...

I'm sorry about your news, and living with this disease surrounded by relatives who are also living with this disease is quite a reminder of what can happen.

I know it's all based on genetics and the luck of the draw, but you're still here, thirty years later, with better A1cs and better eye treatments and testing. I know you didn't do everything a compliant diabetic did back in the day, but you (sound like you) do it all now. That has to count for something. It does.

Chrissie in Belgium said...

I have had D now for 45 years. Yes, with the pump I am finally doing very well, but there is no way I can say I was THE PERFECT DIABETIC all those 45 years.I TOO wonder why my kidneys are not ruined, why I am doing so dam well?! We even feel guilty about doing well! I am the only one in the family with D. I am really sorry for your loss. It must be really hard having so many D's within the same family!

Scott K. Johnson said...

Oh man MN - I'm sorry to hear that.

And I do understand the feelings of guilt and shame, because I too feel that I talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

I think that it is good of you to reflect on the beauty of life. You are another that has incredible grace in dealing with unexpected and often unpleasant news.

Thinking of you - and be sure to let us know if there is anything we can do.

Anonymous said...

I too am sorry for your family's loss. I wish I could tell you to stop feeling guilty and scared and all of the other emotions you feel but as a mother of a type 1 that would really be me just talking the talk...So I will send you big hugs and tell you no matter what you are never alone in all of this.

Anonymous said...

really, snow is cool, we never get any in england!!!!

Anonymous said...

Yet tomorrow I'll get up and go to work, and know that some delightful, unexpected twist in the road will put me back on track. Those are my deepest pleasures. What one waits for, will come.
I love this! I also love the idea for a gratitude journal! How often do you put entries into your gratitude journal? I’d love to hear more to try doing something like that for myself. It does always seem to be the unexpected things that both tear us heartbreakingly off track, but can also infuse our hearts with joy at another moment and new occurrence. I’m sorry about your family member. I too come from a family of diabetics. T1 diabetes is pretty rampant in our family, as is T2 diabetes among the older crowd in our family. I don’t know exact numbers but I could probably figure it out if I sat down and counted (I come from a big extended family, catholics on my Mom’s side!). I hope that you will find the peace you need to truly experience your next bump in the road, and I certainly hope that the next bump is a pleasant surprise rather than the alternative.

Kerri. said...

I'm sorry about your family member, MN. You guys are in my thoughts and prayers.

And a "gratitude journal" sounds like just the thing to pick up and leaf through when you're feeling crummy. It must remind you of what you work so hard to keep.

cHoCoMiLkRoCkS said...

I'm trying..... thatnks for the comment :o)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the support about Sandis! Ya know, I was at the French Meadow Bakery for lunch on Sunday (and gravely disappointed grrr) and I was thinking about you since I know you are in that area. Have an awesome week yourself!

Anonymous said...

French Meadow, I LOVE their bread, but their cafe really ticked me off. First off, it was ridiculous busy. No tables with more than two chairs. Then you have to wait in line to order, which would be fine if you didn't have 8 million people waiting behind you (prompting you to hurry up and order) and a menu that feels a mile long. All the while trying to reign in a 6 and 3 year old in the ensuing chaos. I ordered the vegetable sandwich, and I SWEAR they SOAKED it in olive oil. I had mixed greens with it and the same thing, but soaked in some sort of vinagrette (sp). I had grease lining my face. Bob had a chicken sandwich ( a tad tastier than mine) and the kids shared a grilled cheese. What is more, 3 sandwiches, none all that tasty, only a thimbleful of salsa with the small portion of chips, and it cost almost 35 bucks! Yikes! I was not happy and I was bummed all day that I came all the way up from saint cloud. They even got my sandwich WRONG, they made it on the wrong bread, but had I sent it back, by the time I got my NEW sandwich, bob and the kids would have been done with their meal. Not cool at all. Maybe I'll try it on a weekday when it isn't as busy.