Insulin therapy means I’m on borrowed time. In the spring of this year, I’ll have lived 9 years more than I would have when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Within the last two years, microvascular heart issues, a common development for women who have Type 1 diabetes, have set in. In addition to worrying that when I have a huge downward swing in blood glucose (at this point undoubtedly caused by hormonal changes in my pre-menopausal state), I could die from hypoglycemia, lately I am now aware that in fact, it’s very possible that I could die from a heart attack instead. In addition to being the number one killer of women, heart issues are also the number one killer of Type 1 diabetics.
I try to take care of myself the best that I can, considering that my own life is not the only life I take care of. My greatest fear is to not be around for my children long enough for them to be young adults, at least. They’re still very young.
Every day I live is a gift, a chance to be a worthwhile person in the lives of those I care for, to be a comfort, an inspiration to be positive and strong, and use my talents as an opportunity to engage with others in a life-affirming way, plus many other non-material things that are important to me to pass on before I am physically gone.
Since I was diagnosed, I feel the clock ticking. Every time I have a hypoglycemic attack and recover, I feel the clock ticking. And now, every time I have chest pain which causes me to stop what I’m doing, take nitroglycerin tablets, and hope to feel well enough to continue with the rest of my day, I feel the clock ticking. People try to downplay what I am going through, try to tell me everything’s going to be alright, but I know that I am walking a balance beam, one foot carefully in front of the other, as time passes.
There is no way to downplay the knowledge that the only thing that is keeping you alive is medicine. You stare life in the face, squarely, and see it as a path with an ending which is definite. You try to make the most of it because you don’t know when that ending’s coming. This is what life is like when you’re acutely aware that you are living it on borrowed time.