Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Letter Writing Day

You can write a letter to diabetes if you’d like, but we can also take it one step further.  How about writing a letter to a fictional (or not so fictional) endocrinologist telling the doctor what you love (or not) about them.  How about a letter to a pretend (or again, not so pretend) meter or pump company telling them of the device of your dreams?  Maybe you’d like to write a letter to your child with diabetes.  Or a letter from your adult self to the d-child you were.  Whomever you choose as a recipient, today is the day to tell them what you are feeling.

Dear 15-year-old Self,

If this time-machine thing works out as planned, it's January of 1994 and you're sitting in the car on the way to the hospital. Yes, you have diabetes. No, no matter how much you bargain with the ether, it isn't going to go away. You are about to enter a medical system that does not do well with informing young people of what is going on. So, let me give you the heads up on some of the things that are going to happen over the next eight days:
  1. When your parents bring you toileteries from home MAKE SURE THEY BRING YOU SOME DECENT/NORMAL SMELLING SOAP. The Bacto-Stat soap they give you to use in the hospital smells like disease. So discomforting.
  2. They are going to TAKE YOUR BLOOD EVERY FOUR HOURS, EVEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. It will freak you right out the first night, because nobody told you it was coming. 
  3. They are going to WAKE YOU UP AT 6 AM THE FIRST DAY YOU ARE THERE. Since you are still practically in a coma you will do something (that maybe only you ever find) incredibly funny. Enjoy it. 
  4. That first morning they wake you up at 6 am THEY WILL BRING AN ENTIRE NURSING CLASS TO OBSERVE YOU. No one will ask if it's okay. They will just barge right in like it is their right to do so. If you don't want them there, tell them to leave... but not until after you do the incredibly funny thing.
  5. There will be a nurse that comes in to your room. She will not even greet you. Whatever you do, DO NOT LET THIS NURSE GRAB YOUR ARM! She will take something called a Heparin Lock (or Hep-Lock). It will look like a long large gauge needle and she will just shove it in your arm. They will tell you it is so they can take blood from this IV instead of always taking it from your arm, where it will hurt and bruise. BEWARE: This is a lie! There will be only one nurse with the Heparin and she will generally not be available. Then, they will just take the blood from your arm anyways!!! So, for the love of God, I repeat: DO NOT LET THIS NURSE GRAM YOUR ARM.
In general, diabetes will be a lonely disease for a very long time. People will help out (and that will be awesome), but no matter how many are in the waiting room you still have to learn to go into those doctor encounters alone. Growing up people will feel badly for you, they may call you 'brave' or 'courageous'... even though you don't feel sad for yourself, nor brave about any of it. Don't let people treat you like your porcelain or fragile (I know that you won't!) Don't strive to be normal-- it's a bullshit social construct. Do visit the Banting House in London, ON sooner; it will give you a greater appreciation for wonderful it is that you get to finish high school, go to university (ugh, THREE degress... I know), make great friends and love a lot. Most of all feel proud of yourself, because you will handle a complex chronic illness (in combination with the lot of crappy life circumstances you already know about) with grace and determination... and that's all anybody can ask.

Sincerely and with love,
Your 33-year-old self.


    Angela said...

    Great letter!First time I have visited your blog- love your banner! Did you design it? And I clicked over to your photos for diabetes art day- fabulous!Blessings-

    Virtue said...

    Yes! I did do the banner. Thanks for the kind words :)


    The DL said...

    I love how you gave specific examples. I want to know what was so funny that you should enjoy! It's so funny because I know we were both 15, and this gave me such flash backs. It's odd how I am slowly remembering more and more from that hospital stay. I really wish we could have read these when we were 15.

    Crystal said...

    You went through Way too much when you were first diagnosed. :-(
    Love the end of your letter.

    I still want to make it to Banting House. Ya know, after I meet you. :-)

    Virtue said...

    Yes! We can go together :)

    Thanks for your comment <3


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