To tell you the truth, I always walk away learning more and taking more from those in attendance than I ever come close to giving.
It truly is a blessing.
One of the questions I get asked asked almost everywhere I go is " Did Diabetes make you who your are, or were you already you and you just so happened to get Diabetes".
Damn hard question to answer.
The truthful answer is just a simple "Yes."
The sheer blunt force impact of the diagnosis of Diabetes will shift your way of thinking. Your entire mindset. Your way of life.
There is just no way around that.
The new patient, with this new, as of now, life long companion, is faced with an altered reality. A world of carb counting, sliding scales, insulin therapy, endless finger sticks, hypers, BG readings, 504s, ketones, countless doctor appointments, hypos, and, primarily and overwhelmingly an abyss of unknowns and fear.
It's a simply overpowering litany of details of the utmost importance to keep us, or a loved one, alive and healthy.
The disease, over the course of my life, has made me want to prove - primarily to myself - that I can do anything. The sheer unabridged fear of in some way having a limitation forced on me due to diabetes makes me try extraordinarily hard to not be.
I have picked the biggest races & most ludicrously trying events on the entire planet to test myself with.
The more I hear "It cannot be done" or "No one with T1 Diabetes has ever attempted that before" the greater the fuel to go do it.
It's all completely driven by unbridled fear. Just fear.
I'm more afraid of finding a Diabetes forced limitation than I am of being of being injured.
After dealing with all the aspects of Type 1 for 35 years, and completing the vast majority of goals I set for myself, I believe, at the absolute core of my being, I can, indeed, do anything.
Each and everyone of us with diabetes can.
We. Can. Do. Anything.
So yes, in some very major ways, Diabetes has indeed forged who I am.
On the other hand, the disease simply forces the hidden inner strengths and talents in all of us touched by it to rise to the surface.
All people who have been affected by Diabetes, whether themselves or a loved one or child, find their soul does indeed contain a ferocious warrior, wizard, mathematician, writer, engineer, teacher, field General, and medical professional.
We ALL find our complete compliment of full armor plating.
Our unbound courage.
Our unyielding resilience.
Our razor sharp scimitar.
Our endurance athlete.
Our never ending compassion and understanding.
All of those amazing characteristics were shackled in our souls, mostly sitting idol the entire time.
We are just lucky enough to have found them & let them loose.
Not that we have to deal with Diabetes each and everyday, but we have found those specific traits that enable us to just that.
And these properties spill over into the non-diabetes related parts of our lives.
So, on the flip side no. I was indeed this same person all along.
Hence, I will always just continue to answer that complex question with a smile, and a simple "Yes."
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