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I'm 28. I feel a lot older than I should be. I currently reside with two of the most beautiful children to ever grace God's green Earth (I may be slightly biased though), a strong, handsome, supportive man that lets me live with him in return for love and care and a couple of whack-jobs with four legs that have been crashing on the couch every night for the past five years.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Starting Off

Okay, I know I really don't have that many followers and this blog isn't really anything but a stress reliever- it might as well be a random notepad laying around my house so I probably don't even have to address this, BUT--- if there is anyone out in the big, wide interwebs who actually did like to browse my thoughts from time to time- this little disclaimer is for you. :)
You may have noticed that I changed the title of my blog (and I'm sure if I do have any followers they're shaking their heads wondering what in the hell took me so long). When I first started this public diary experiment called blogging I treated it as one of my real life journals. I'd pop in when I felt "enlightened" and spout off some cryptic lesson that I felt life had taught me. I decided that wasn't the most valuable use of a webpage and it dawned on me that if I'm going to treat it as a journal, instead of being vague and unrelatable, I should actually journal. And in doing so, since this is a somewhat therapeutic process, I could somehow face my demons. In particular, a disease that I have lived with for over two decades.

I have type one diabetes.
I realize that this is not really an earth-shattering proclamation. I don't have cancer, or HIV. I didn't just come out of the closet or announce that I'm running for president. I have a treatable disease that millions and millions of people deal with every day. No, Wilfred Brimley is not my hero, and neither is Mary Tyler Moore. I didn't get this disease from eating too many Hostess cupcakes and I'm not at risk of losing my foot... not yet anyway.
I actually had a relatively normal childhood until I was about six years old. My father was a diabetic and took insulin shots every day but I barely noticed. I was too busy terrorizing our cats or playing with my next door neighbors or planning out my future as the next Mariah Carey to realize what was going on in anybody else's world.
Then one night while my mom was at work and my dad and I were at home (the more detail I try to remember about the before and after of the events that night, the fuzzier they become) he dropped to the floor without warning, clutching his right knee to his chest. His face was twisted in agony and discomfort and he rolled from side to side with tears in his eyes when suddenly it went white and his eyes widened in a panicked realization.
"They're gonna cut it off."
He whispered it into the air and, sitting on the floor, drenched in an anxious fear, next to my daddy, who had been smacked down by some invisible hammer, I tried to comprehend his words. They're going to cut what off? My brain raced with questions and theories as my father pulled himself up and dialed 911.
My memory is choppy, but vivid. The next thing I recall is my big, powerful daddy being strapped down on a stretcher by strange men in white while I stood on the landing of our stairs, looking down at him and being held by my grandmother's shaking hands as he cried over and over again, "I'm sorry, Rach, I'm so sorry."
They removed his leg from the knee down soon after and my father was left with a stump of a limb that I would sometimes pretend was a horse and imagined he was part mythical creature because in my five year old brain, what had happened to my dad was out of my realm of understanding. We were not at war. Regular, every day people with kids and a wife and a house and a dog and a job they came home from every day didn't suddenly start misplacing lower portions of their bodies. My friends dads had legs- both of them. I watched them walk away from the school holding their daughters hands as they picked them up after the last bell. I wondered why they got to keep theirs.
Then one day, I got thirsty. It was an incredible thirst that no amount of liquid could quench and it ran through me like a funnel. I started feeling sick to my stomach and enormously tired. I remember looking in the mirror at my face and seeing dark circles under my eyes that wouldn't wash off. I lost weight. My Mom would look at me with a worried expression and comment on how thin I had become.
After a few days, my dad told me he wanted to check my blood sugar. I'd seen him do this everyday for as long as I could remember. He'd take out the little electronic box with a screen on the front and press a pen to his finger, then- click! It would poke a hole and he would press the blood onto a little tab sticking out of the box. A few seconds later a number would appear on the screen and he would go about getting his insulin ready. I'd seen his friends try it before too- curious about what their magic number would be. I was intrigued and agreed to let him test me. I wasn't worried about the poke- I never really even gave it a thought until that little pen stabbed my finger and the pain was bearable and over quickly. His face showed nervousness as we waited for the number to appear and when it did his expression fell. He turned to me.
"Rachel," he said, "We need to go to the hospital."

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