I walked out of my weekly grocery shop the other day looking at my cash receipt and it struck me: this is why at 55 years old (yes, you know that now) and 36 years living with diabetes, I’m in the shape I am. This list is how I eat, and it’s one of the sides that forms my diabetes Teepee: half my diet is vegetables, then whole grains, fruits, fish, low-fat dairy, nuts, dark chocolate and red wine. Yes, there’s a cup or two of coffee a day and the odd treats, but my basic diet never wavers and hasn’t for nearly the last decade. And, I’ve learned to love it. There is no sense of sacrifice here.
My daily hour walk constitutes the second side upon which my diabetes house leans and the third is being responsible with my medication: testing, calculating and correcting. At times a pain in the royal butt, ’tis true, but I prefer to know where I am most of the time to keep myself on course.
The fourth side of my teepee is more like a small deck–and that’s managing my mind. When it all gets too much, when I can’t bear the little red dots all over my abdomen, when I resent I have them because I’ve taken so many injections for so many years, when I’m merely walking to meet a friend or from the subway and I’m going low–before my thoughts scramble completely–I think, “Why do I have to live like this???” And then I just accept that I do, and that I can handle this.
I can’t say it’s ever fun, I can’t say there aren’t times I don’t throw a pity-party (usually I’m the only guest) because I work like a dog maintaining my health on top of the work the rest of my life takes. But I can say at 55 almost everyone I know has something: cancer, parkinsons, obesity, aphasia, and I wouldn’t trade “mine” for “theirs.” Over the years, diabetes has helped me become even healthier than I would have been without it–and not many people with an illness can say that. Look, it’s written all over my grocery receipt.