This past Saturday, I had a party with some of my closest friends and family to celebrate my 20 years of living with diabetes. It was awesome. I felt so loved and blessed. Food was great, weather was gorgeous, the company was even better. That day, I felt like a stuck a steak with a flag attached to it in the ground, claiming a victory. I thought I'd share my "speech" I had waited 20 years to give.
Yesterday, I was in line to check out with the plethora of food and flowers sitting before you when it sunk in…I am buying this for MY 20 years of living with diabetes. At least I could pass off the tears as a “pregnancy” moment.
I was eight years old and sitting in my pediatrician’s office, feeling sicker than a dog, peeing all of the time, eating constantly, absolutely zero energy, and having lost 30 pounds in a little over 2 months, when he told me I had diabetes. I remember asking very bluntly if I was going to die. When they told me I wasn’t, I knew I’d be okay. I accepted the challenge without much hesitation…”IT IS WHAT IT IS.” Or so my favorite phrase goes.
Twenty years has entailed a lot. I did some calculations…
• 25,550 insulin shots
• 51,100 finger pricks
• 2,310 insulin pump site insertions
• And 40,000 hours of talking on the phone with insurance and medical supplies companies
But you know what else it’s brought me?
• 8 summers at the magnificent diabetic camp, Camp Sweeney…where the animals were diabetic, we sang songs like “My Blood Sugar was 59”, Condor Man delivered sugar-free gum from airplanes if we danced in the field to catch his attention, and my first kiss with my first “real” boyfriend named Chris Madsen who happened to be a full foot shorter than myself
• An occasional excuse to quit running suicides during basketball practice because I was “low”
• The best Texas Tech Rush story ever…
o When I first got my insulin pump, Nurse Ginger told me I could wear it in my bra so it wouldn’t show. Well, I’m not very gifted up to, so in order to wear my pump in one side, I had to buy a gel insert to place in the other side to even things out a bit. Flash forward to Chi Omega Rush in 2004. I am dancing front and center stage during a skit. I feel something start slipping, and no, it’s not my insulin pump. It’s the gel boob. And quickly grab it, hide it behind my back, and attempt to throw it behind the wooden train that is our backdrop…where it proceeds make a loud bang, stick on the side of the train, and slide down in front of 80 girls. Thank you, Ginger. That was a great idea. Won’t make my pump obvious at all. The fact that 80 girls now think I stuff my bra steals all of the attention.
• Being asked my a woman as she whispered with bloodshot eyes at Sam’s where I got my morphine pump because she had been looking into getting one for herself
• Having people think I’m really important with such a ginormous pager
• Falling deeper in love with my boyfriend who then became my fiancé when I was highly intoxicated on my 21st birthday, as he woke me up to test my blood sugar and bring me juice since I had a night off from being “Responsible Meagan”
• A love for helping people…which led me to fundraising for children’s hospitals and eventually, to become a nurse
• The opportunity to sit in a patient’s room who became diabetic while pregnant, find out she didn’t want to take care of herself because she didn’t feel like she was “worth it”, hug her, listen to her, reassure her, and watch her start testing and writing down her blood sugars for the first time ever
• Have a mom at church come up to me because she knew I was diabetic and ask me to go talk to her 8 year old diabetic son because he started crying the night before because he felt “different”. I got to tell him that “sure, we’re a little different…but no less special than anyone else.”
• A deeper appreciate for a healthy child…and utter joy in being pregnant with a second one that a lot told me I would never have
• An intricate walk with Jesus that I would not have without the path He has placed me on. I used to be a highly anxious person…thinking I had to be a close to “perfect” as I could get in order to have Him bless me. There has been much of my 20 years as a diabetic that have been far from perfect…some because of my leniency and some because of the nature of the beast, yet he has chosen to bless me with health and healthy children.
Thank you for coming today to celebrate this victory with me. Diabetes is an integral part of who I am. It is not something I can run from or hide from, ignore or despise. It never goes away. I don’t get a day off from it. Yet, it is part of my beautiful journey. And honestly, I would have it any other way.
So, to my parents, thank you for your dedication to making the best decisions you could for me. For your countless hours of care, devotion, and money spent to give me the best life possible. You set the foundation of health for me.
To my brothers and my closest childhood friends Waverlee and Jen - thanks for not making me feel weird or that you were ever embarrassed of me. It’s not easy feeling “different” as a kid…and you made me feel normal, accepted, and wanted.
To Sherril, thank you for helping me love me as I am and teaching me how to hear Jesus.
To Erin, Alli, Sarah, Katie, Danielle, Ashley, Jennie, both Megans, and Caroline, you have helped me heal emotionally from my diabetes and really, life in general, in more ways than you can imagine.
To Ben, you have loved me, insulin pump with all of the awkward moments it brings, and all. Thank you for your encouragement, hugs, and empathy.I could not have married a more real and loving man.
To the rest of my precious friends and family here, just like the invitation said…You are my favorites. Thank you for supporting me, loving me, and being my friend. You are all so precious to me.
And, as any speech concludes, I want to give a shout out to Jesus. Your plan for me far surpasses what I could have come up with on my own. Thank you for pursuing my heart. For never giving up on me. I can hear Your voice and feel Your presence more closely than ever before.
So raise your glasses with me…
To beautiful friends and the next 20 years.