November 14th: I am thankful for insulin
This gorgeous photo is of me and my lovely Erin, bestie and former roommate extraordinaire, and was taken during our college days. Don't we have "serious students" written all over us? Anyway, the reason why I'm treating you to this blast from the past is that today is World Diabetes Day, and Erin has diabetes.
You can read more on her blog here.
Before we were roommates, I didn't know all that much about diabetes. I mean, I knew that it meant that your body didn't produce insulin, and that you had to give yourself insulin shots to compensate. I knew that you shouldn't eat sugar (not technically true), and I knew that you could go into something called a diabetic coma.
(My spell check just tried to correct that to "diabetic roman.")
Then I met Erin. Erin spoke German, painted pictures, owned a Mac before they were cool, played the flute and the piano, liked Indian food and double-stuffed oreos, double-majored in psychology and anthropology, and loved Sting with a fiery passion. And she had diabetes.
I could say that Erin's diabetes didn't matter. But it became part of our lives, because it was part of her life. She had an insulin pump attached to her body at all times, tested her blood sugar many times a day and always carried a test kit with her. You could find stray test strips anywhere within a one mile radius of our house. Erin got loopy when her blood sugar was low, and grumpy when it was high. She kept insulin in the fridge, and a bin of pump supplies in her room. In spite of all of this, diabetes never, ever defined who Erin was or what she did.
The summer before I got married, Erin packed up her diabetes and moved to Ghana for three months. I'll let you read all about it here but think power outages (remember insulin has to be kept cold!), eating goats, being stranded in Burkina Faso and fixing a moped with a hair tie, oh, and crocodiles.
Clearly I am grateful for Erin and the influence she's had on my life. But I am also so grateful for the simple existence of insulin that has taken diabetes from a death sentence to a chronic illness. And that has given me one of my best friends.