The Final Lap

Naturally, I turned to Google when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I knew what most healthy people know about the disease: something about insulin, blood sugar, and diet.

But for some reason, I didn’t know about the complications. The list is horrifying: blindness, leg amputation, heart attack, stroke, organ failure, neuropathy, sexual dysfunction, frequent infections, and so on. These are not just problems that, like type 2 diabetes, can arise due to poor diet and lack of exercise. These are the direct results of hyperglycemia, and even the most careful diabetics have higher-than-average blood sugar levels.

I didn’t have to put two and two together on my own. Most websites were kind enough to spell it out for me: diabetes would almost certainly decrease my life expectancy. Or, as this website put it, “[l]ong life with diabetes still has to be fought for and won; it can never be taken for granted.”

Of course, average life expectancy is just that: an average. I didn’t know my actual life expectancy before, and I still don’t. But there’s something devastating about knowing for sure that, barring perfect management of my blood sugar, my diabetes will only serve to reduce it. Neither a death sentence nor a birthday gift.

Which is why my tears welled up a bit when reading this article: The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap. The death of the author’s newfound love is meant to serve as the most poignant and stinging moment in the narrative, but I found myself crying at the mention of carefree days in retirement filled with running, travel, and living large. If I want to experience the calm and peaceful beauty of that final lap with my husband, I will have to fight for it. And fight I will.

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