People often don’t take into consideration the very essence of one’s will. The human body is more than just a sophisticated machine, it’s an almost perfect machine, despite our many imperfect uses for it. For the most part, we depend on modern medicine and doctors to fix our problems and rarely take into account our body’s ability to mend and heal just about anything that life has to throw at us.
First, I should start by pointing out that I’m not taking anything away from the people who have suffered and even succumbed to the the effects of any illness. Despite the point I’m trying to make here, sometimes the body can only take so much. And I’ve seen a lot of that in my life.
For the past twenty years, I’ve been friends with a guy who is about ten years younger than I am. His father, who was also Type 1 Diabetic, was about ten years older than I am. A bit of a strange scenario, as it kind of puts me in range to have a reasonable friendship with either party.
The father spent his life living with nothing but positivity in his heart. He and his wife had only the one son, and he spent his life living the way he wanted to. However, he suffered from many complications normally associated with Type 1 Diabetes. He had heart problems, vision problems and suffered amputations on both of his legs.
On the negative side, he was a very sedentary man… Reasonably overweight, never exercised, ate like a trash can, smoked and drank heavily; none of which are good components for healthy Diabetes management.
Towards the end of his life, he had lost both feet, suffered severe failure to his eyes and cardiovascular systems and no longer had any measurable control over his Diabetes or his life. Sadly, he passed away in 2014. I don’t know what the exact cause of death was, but given all his complications it could have been anybody’s guess. Such is the Diabetic life…
The passing of my friend’s father was devastating, not only to him but for the fact that it’s usually an awakening to people with Type 1 that perhaps they need to take a look at themselves and examine what they’ve been doing to maintain their health. So, what makes me different from the many folks who seem to struggle and fight so hard against the ravages of this condition?
I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes in 1982, right around the time I started kindergarten. Although insulin and other therapies were in existence in the early 80’s, I was lacking in several key areas that could have changed the course of my life from the very beginning. I had just joined the Beavers (before anyone decides to be funny, the Beavers are a pre-cursor to the Scouts) and my school life was still raw and new.
My teachers did what was expected of them, they explained to the class that I was “special” and that if anyone saw me acting strangely or appearing to be ill, she should be told immediately. Great. Thanks, teach! You just set me apart from the pack and ensured I was a loner for the foreseeable future. Fantastic. I had to drop out of Beavers because I was still in a stage where I didn’t have control and proper management of my blood sugars and I was left vulnerable.
If I hadn’t taken my life in hand and started taking steps towards improving my health, I likely would be in same boat as my friend’s father. Certainly, I suffered from insulin resistance and a number of Diabetes comas. But at some point early on, I decided to make some drastic changes, even at a young age. I started to focus on fitness and health. I got into the martial arts. I studied and got on board with nutrition and eating better. I made a difference in my own life.
Through my own will, despite being told I wouldn’t live beyond my teens, I improved my health and have managed to reach my 40’s without any loss of neural function, clean cardiovascular system and strong blood glucose management. Am I so different or better than anyone else? Of course not, I’ve simply chosen not to lie down and let my condition take me. And that’s something any of us can do.
I repeat it in most of my posts, but the important things in life are eating well, exercising often and be willing to always learn something new. New treatments and therapies keep coming out and you have to stay on top of them. Most of us always say that we don’t expect to see a cure within our lifetime, but life is strange. One truly never knows. But how this all plays out is totally in your hands.
Do I acknowledge that my life has been shortened by a decade or more from Diabetes? Do I understand that this condition may debilitate me or render some of my organs useless? Sure, I do. But it doesn’t mean I have to go down easy. If my time comes because of Type 1 Diabetes, it will be because I fought the good fight until the very end.
I encourage you all to do the same. Whether you have Diabetes or not, the lethargy and sluggishness that life breeds doesn’t need to have a hold on you. Through your own strength of will, you can change the course of whatever may have a hold on you. ☯