Diabetes in the Driver’s Seat (who is steering?)

I was interviewed this weekend by a journalist for the Toronto Star who is writing a story about diabetes in honor of Diabetes Awareness Month. The story will run on November 11th. While I was talking to the reporter we talked about the difference between managing diabetes as a 40 year old woman versus a 16 year old teen. I told her that I think it’s much easier to manage diabetes now as a mom with 3 kids, then it was when I was in high school and college.

In high school and college, all I wanted was to be just like my friends: I wanted to sleep late on the weekends, I wanted to drink Cherry Cokes, I wanted to change plans at a moments notice and I wanted to eat Ben & Jerry’s after study hall. I resented that diabetes meant I couldn’t do those things and sometimes did them anyway, just because I wasn’t supposed to.

During those self-destructive years I kept my diabetes in the trunk of my metaphorical car. I kept that truck locked up tight for years thinking that if I acted like I didn’t have diabetes, maybe I wouldn’t, maybe my life would go back to normal and I could live free and unencumbered like all my “healthy” friends.

Eventually, as the years passed, and I married someone who (shockingly!) seemed to love me for me, with all the bumps and bruises and high and low blood sugars included, and I let diabetes out of the trunk. We wanted to have kids, so I invited diabetes into the back seat of the car where I could keep a close eye on it and make sure it stayed “in control” for my growing baby. As I neared my 40’s, I began to slowly let diabetes have more room in the car of my life and in turn, was taking better care of myself. I wrote my book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes , and began writing about living with diabetes as a woman.

I realized when I was talking with this reporter that somehow, diabetes was in the driver’s seat, and maybe it was even sitting on my lap steering.

Living with diabetes as a 40 year old mom is much easier than living with it when I was a teenager, and I have a lot of empathy for young women struggling to balance the freedom of adolescence with the responsibility of diabetes management. I’m happy that I am living well with diabetes and working on another book about “Eating Right” with diabetes, but I hope in the future to shift diabetes into the passenger seat. My goal is to ride side by side with diabetes, to have diabetes be my navigator, and for me to do the steering.

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