Oh hey, you made it! Amazing! SO nice to see you! How was the journey? Can I get you a tea?
Thought so. You didn’t get here by accident.
You’ve reached my corner of the Internet through a single click of a button, probably. Which is incredible, because you likely live a really long way from my little flat in East London.
I do hope that now that you’re here, you’ll stay just a wee while. At least take off your coat and give me the illusion that you’re sort of getting comfy. There’s no need to look so worried; I won’t keep you too long and I almost certainly don’t have any bodies in my basement.
Mostly because I don’t have a basement.
Today is World Diabetes Day. It’s a bit weird that ‘we’ get a ‘day’ but I’m going to run with it. By ‘run’, I mean chill on this sofa and write some words. No actual running involved, although Jogging ‘n’ Blogging is probably the next big timesaving lifehack. While any concept that rhymes is particularly seductive, the risk of smashing headfirst into a pram and/or tree during the creative process makes me somewhat wary.
Thanks to the Internet, World Diabetes Day really *is* something that we can celebrate globally, in 140 characters, or via email, or with a hashtag. Little markers of solidarity, of acknowledgement, of defiance, rapidly rippling across the globe and slowly but surely generating real world outcomes that are making differences to people’s lives.
I wanted to use this Day (capital D. Let’s get the red carpet out while we’re at it) to tell you personally that whether you’re type 1, type 2 or not diabetic at all, that I think you’re great.
Not just any old great. Tap dancing, glitter canons, show tunes great. No matter where in the world you are, no matter how insignificant you perceive yourself to be, or how ‘wrong’ you think you’re getting it all. That brokenness or isolation or overwhelmingness (I’m not sure that last one is a word but I just went and did that anyway – come and get it spelling police) can be overcome, and while it can be tricky to see, you’ll be all the more interesting and wonderful for it.
I actually think you’re a fantastical jazz-handed, sequin-waistcoated lion (probably with a handlebar moustache because that’s kind of a requisite now that you’ve made it to East London) striding through your kingdom with Beyonce’s Flawless unashamedly blaring out of the ghetto blaster that you have delicately balanced on the tip of your tail coz you own this LIKEABOSS.
There’s probably a martini in your left paw or something. Too far? Too far.
Why am I intent on turning you into the Liza Minnelli of the animal kingdom? Because handling a chronic life-long auto-immune condition that requires constant and unrelenting self-management makes it really easy for you to give yourself a hard time. But my message is in no way reserved exclusively for those with a defunct pancreas. This thing that we’re all finding our way through, you know, LIFE, with its minxy, tricksy, funky ways, makes it really easy for us all to give ourselves a damn hard time.
Yes, having type 1 diabetes is an absolute nightmare, sometimes. But it’s not all that you are. Don’t you dare think that for a second. Look at that tap-dancing lion. No-one’s looking at the insulin pump strapped to his mane just now, are they? We’re all too busy being mesmerised by his sass.
That, plus the fact that he’s a lion that can tap dance, and that’s probably going to make someone, somewhere a whole load of cash.
A lot of the time I wish I didn’t have type 1 diabetes, but it also just makes me pretty hot damn kick-ass for navigating its stubborn and ridiculous ways 24/7, 365. It’s an invisible illness as much as it’s a visible one, and that makes it twice as real, and also twice as hard. When intent on disrupting my day for no reason whatsoever other than being clearly jealous of all the attention I’m giving to something else, for once, I like to surprise my type 1 diabetes with a proverbial roundhouse kick. Or a finger snap. A twerk is a possibility if I’ve had a couple of gins and I’m wearing stretchy trousers and I really feel like entertaining a crowd.
But among the thousands of blood tests, hundreds of hypos and dozens of miscalculated doses for that extra piece of cake/cheese/chocolate/cocktail (apparently the good stuff begins with a c), my ‘type’ isn’t just type 1.
My type is having friends who make you the ugliest you’ve ever been because they make you laugh so hard you temporarily lose all control of your facial muscles. And apparently the down below muscles too, as you realise when a little bit of pee comes out at the same time and takes you by surprise. When you become a contorted, dribbling shell of yourself you know you’ve got good friends.
My type is to sing Little Mix songs really loudly in my flat even though I’m 28 because they really do make good pop music.
My type is not to dwell on the few things I can’t do because of my type 1 (which yes is annoying, because I’m pretty sure I would have made a great Maverick given the chance AND I would have been able to play Kenny Loggins tunes on repeat because that’s just my theme music so deal with it), but everything I’m doing in spite of it.
My type is an unwavering belief that kindness wins, always.
My type is getting in at midnight having promised myself I would only go for one glass of wine because it’s Wednesday and I should know better by now.
My type is pulling some really questionable facial expressions at any given opportunity and not giving a shit because it’s much more fun than pouting your way through life.
My type is knowing that cheese will always be the reason I’ll never lose that final 7lb, but I’d actually rather die full and happy having dived headfirst into a Jen-sized receptacle filled with oozing, gooey brie before anyone could stop me. People would be sad about the resulting cheese drowning, but able to take comfort from the fact that it’s what she would have wanted.
So if you are worried right now that you will never be anything because you have type 1 diabetes, or that you are different because of it, or that you are alone in trying to tackle it, I’d like to tell you, dear virtual friend somewhere across the globe, that you, as you are, right now…
You are Just. My. Type.
You’re not alone. Happy #WDD.