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.