Earlier this month was my son’s diaversary. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s basically the anniversary of the day he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Many people celebrate their diaversary or their child’s diaversary. Some people don’t even remember what date it was for them. I am painfully aware of what day it was. I will never forget it, and I will never celebrate it.
Why Celebrate a Diaversary?
There are a couple of reasons people celebrate.
- They are celebrating another year of battling the disease. Diabetes is a difficult disease to manage. It takes patience, hard work and remembering to wear your polka dotted socks on the full moon. Many people want to acknowledge this achievement by celebrating.
- The fact that there is a life to celebrate. It wasn’t too long ago that the outlook for people diagnosed with diabetes was very grim. Less than a century ago, if you were diagnosed with T1D, you were going to die. Children would go into a coma and never wake up. It was a long, slow death caused by a mix of starvation and ketoacidosis. Now, you can eat “normally”, play sports and do pretty much anything anyone else can do. It’s a “diabetes won’t stop me” attitude that they are celebrating.
- Or, in the case of people like Diabetes Dad (click here for his view), the purpose is to “own it”.
How does one Celebrate a Diaversary?
Again, people have their own ways of celebrating. Diabetes is such a personal disease, and each family tackles it’s obstacles differently. Some people celebrate by:
- Throwing a party. Some people basically have a birthday party. They invite friends and family, play games and eat cake. Especially eat cake… because they can.
- Going on a trip. Taking a trip to relax can be therapeutic. It is a great way to unwind while indulging yourself with something that is deserved after everything you’ve gone through in the last year of diabetes management.
- Doing something adventurous. Going skydiving, or mountain climbing, to show that diabetes or not, you are capable and strong and you can do whatever you put your mind to.
But I don’t Celebrate my Son’s Diaversary.
I can’t. May 9th is a horrible day for me. I appreciate that my son is here, I don’t know what I’d do without him. We work hard and he is doing well. He can do anything he puts his mind to and T1D doesn’t even occur to him as an excuse, obstacle or barrier.
But on May 9th, I go back to that day in the doctor’s office. I remember sitting there in that small room, telling the doctor that we thought our son might have diabetes. I remember thinking how crazy it sounded to me. I remember the doctor looking at me like an over-protective parent and trying to reassure me by saying, “he looks perfectly healthy. 9 times out of 10, drinking a lot and sleeping more are just signs of an active toddler.” Then he walked out of the room to test my son’s urine.
And for those couple of minutes, I believed him. I thought it was nothing.
But when doctor came back into the room, I saw the look on his face. I knew before he said a word that we were not one of the 9 times out of 10… we were the other one. And then he sent us to the hospital.
You know those movies…
The ones where the main character comes to an impasse and chooses a path. The movie continues on with the character’s life and it turns out horribly. Then, at the end, you are shown that the whole thing was just a daydream. They’re still at that juncture, they still get to make that crucial choice.
On May 9th, I’m in that movie. I’m that main character. But it’s not a choice I get to make, it’s simply a different answer. I go back to that day, and I wonder “what if”. What if he had come back into that room and told us there was nothing to worry about? That my son did not have diabetes.
We wouldn’t be counting carbs and injecting insulin.
We wouldn’t be worried about seizures and comas.
We wouldn’t even know what DKA or ICR or ISF means.
We would be oblivious to the loud snap of an insertion site.
To the smell of insulin.
To the panic you feel when your child’s blood sugar drops so low and so fast that he starts shaking while sitting on your lap.
A lap that he is supposed to be safe in.
He wouldn’t have to wait to play at recess because his blood sugar is too low.
Or have fingers that look like swiss cheese from all the finger pokes.
Or hear strangers say, “cool fanny pack.” about the life-saving device that is strapped to his little body 24/7.
That’s not something to Celebrate.
I don’t make a big fuss about May 9th. I don’t take pictures or make a cake. He doesn’t even know that it’s his diaversary. But I acknowledge the day to myself. It is my day. My day to think of what happened and what could have been. My day to take a moment and be sad that diabetes is part of our lives.
Is that selfish of me? Maybe.
But I can’t celebrate a day that makes me feel that way.
Give me Something to Celebrate.
So no, I don’t celebrate diabetes, or our fight with diabetes, or our strength in spite of diabetes.
I’ll tell you when I will celebrate diabetes. When a cure is found. The anniversary of the day my son was CURED of diabetes? Now that’s a day I’ll celebrate year after year.
Help find a cure: http://www.diabetes.ca/how-you-can-help/donate-now