Sunday, May 20, 2012
My Diabetes Hero
Today's Diabetes Blog Week prompt: Let’s end our week on a high note and blog about our “Diabetes Hero”. It can be anyone you’d like to recognize or admire, someone you know personally or not, someone with diabetes or maybe a Type 3. It might be a fabulous endo or CDE. It could be a d-celebrity or role-model. It could be another DOC member. It’s up to you – who is your Diabetes Hero??
Susan Carver was the only person I knew who had type 1 diabetes when I was diagnosed at age 26. She was a single mom of two who played the organ at our church. She had had diabetes since she was two and didn't know life without this dreaded chronic disease. She was in her forties, but diabetic-wise, she was much older. She had already had one kidney transplant and the rest of her body seemed zapped of color, energy, but not hope. Her husband had left her to live in California, and I don't actually know if they were divorced, but even if they weren't, Susan was a single mom. Her children were smart, articulate, and way too grown up for their teenage years.
Soon after my diagnosis Susan let me know, in a subtle yet powerful way, that I now belonged to her club and I had what it took to deal with my new membership. The twinkle in her eye always let me know that there was more to Susan than met my eyes. Her small stature and quiet ways were a facade for the little rebel who lived inside. She would talk about her illness only when I asked and promised me that we would supply each other with a box of Heath bars in the hereafter. One day I noticed that one of Susan's index fingers was missing the top digit. She told me that she had been holding a car fan belt for her husband when he mistakenly turned the car on and off went the fan belt and part of her finger. It is only now that I realize how long that must have taken her to heal physically and emotionally from that injury. And she was the organist in our church! She always let me know that my diabetes path was NOT the same as hers because mine included a later diagnosis and always improving health care and technology. She knew as we talked that I worried about her future as well as my own and wanted to reassure me.
As Susan's health declined even more after her second kidney transplant I watched as her now grown-up children acted even more grown-up than they had been when they were young and took care of her until the end of her life. Susan was a grandmother at that point, and thought she might never be one before she passed away, but she had not been denied that joy. She continued to smile and joke about her physical shortcomings to me and renewed the promise of a box of Heath bars waiting for me when we met again in heaven, and she said that would be ages away. Yes, Susan is a Diabetes Hero.