Today is my birthday. I will eat cake–perhaps even some coconut milk ice cream. Special occasions deserve special levels of insulin.
Today, in the first year medical school curriculum, also marks the Introduction To Type 1 Diabetes lecture. Quite the comical coincidence.
On the day of my birth, I get to hear about the chronic disease I know most intimately. The disease that permeates my thoughts by the minute. I know about insulin. I’ve read the convoluted hypotheses on the cause, linked with autoimmunity. I can recognize the signs of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. I definitely know how to treat them. I’ve felt the link between epinephrine and cortisol, causing that random high blood sugar. If there were one lecture this year, that I probably won’t have to look at again, it’s this one–a real savings in time! That is a cool gift, but there’s more to it.
Throughout our lives, we want to be validated. Deep down, we want everyone to know what our struggle is like. It sounds selfish, and probably only half true, but we crave that empathy that too often we are left to internalize. In the past, today would have been a day that I really looked forward to for that very reason. Just for sympathy.
Now, I understand that everyone has their own shit, to be frank. Diabetes happens to be my thing. In class, I have the chance to paint a separate picture outside of my own suffering. My goal is not to enlighten my class on how bad diabetes sucks, but instead instill the idea that a type 1 diabetes diagnosis can be a launching point. This diagnosis develops strengths, like independence, creativity, and the ability to handle uncertainty. I can contribute to the attitude we all deserve as patients. Not only can people with diabetes live a good life, but they can live their best life.
So today, I enter into the first diabetes lecture as a medical student. The challenge is to keep an open mind, the beginner’s mind, even though I am the expert. Who knows, maybe I’ll even learn something.