I like to think about things in terms of pros and cons. For example, the pros of running are: it helps me stay fit, it makes me feel good, I get time to myself, running spurs my imagination, I enjoy the scenery, all I need are a good pair of shoes, and it’s good for my blood sugar levels. The cons of running are that sometimes I don’t feel like going, it depends on the weather, the same trails can sometimes become boring and sometimes I get running injuries. On most days, the pros outweigh the cons and I look forward to putting on my running shoes and heading out the door. Running is just one area of my life that I think about, or measure, in terms of pros and cons, diabetes is another. Unlike running, most of the times with diabetes, the cons outweigh the pros. Who among even the most idealistic thinkers, can name even one pro of living with diabetes?
It’s taken me a long time (I’ve lived with diabetes almost a quarter of a century) but I’ve finally come up with a pro about living with a chronic illness and it has to do with running. It occurred to me this morning after I returned from my run (dripping in sweat thanks to August in the South.) I realized that I run, eat well, go to doctors, get a good night’s sleep, arrange time to myself, read books, etc. etc….because I have diabetes, because taking care of myself is a priority.
Lately, I’ve been noticing that many of my female friends talk about not having enough time to exercise, read, take a nap, get their haircut, go for a bike ride, or whatever it is they enjoy doing. I used to feel guilty that as a stay at home mom, I did (or do) have time to exercise and read…but now I realize that I would read and run no matter what. Having a chronic illness has taught me the absolute necessity of taking care of myself. I can’t not attend to my physical needs, and accepting this has allowed me to place value on my emotional needs as well. If I wasn’t eating well, taking insulin, and monitoring my blood sugars, I would feel bad, just like it I wasn’t reading, writing and running, if I was spending all my time taking care of my family, I would feel bad, my life would be out of balance.
Constantina Tomescu-Dita runs because she is an athlete, an Olympian, but I would like to believe that she started running because it made her feel good, and I bet she continues to run, as a 38-year-old mother, because it adds balance to her life.
I wish for my mother friends to have time to go for a bike ride or to get their haircut, and I don’t think it’s a matter of time or money, I think it’s a matter of accepting that their needs are just as important as the needs of their family. It’s a life and death matter.