It;s National Diabetes Week here in Oz. I'm very happy that yesterday I got to kick it off in one of the best ways possible.
I had the great privilege of sitting among some of the most inspirational people that the Diabetes world has ever seen. The Kellion Victory Medal recipients. I was invited along by Diabetes QLD to attend with my husband.
I initially thought about asking another diabetic to join me as my plus one, but my husband had recently made a comment that I didn't invite him to enough diabetes things. I was glad it was him that I bought because the experience of watching people receive their Kellion Award who had lived with diabetes for 50, 60 or 70 years was very emotional. I needed a hand to squeeze to stop me from bawling like a baby (although that may have been the high of 22 encouraging the quiet sniffles).
My husband and I were seated at the table of a proud gentleman who had brought along his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandson. Until the official start of the ceremony we talked among our table, trading tales of old and new technology. Little did I realise that the man who we shared a table with would share one of the most inspirational stories of the day. He talked about the ups and downs of diabetes, of how he hid it from his wife when they 1st started dating, the changes he had seen. He talked about the social advancements in diabetes, and the new stance on discrimination against diabetics in the workforce that he was happy had changed for the better since his time working. And a beautiful tale of motivation. "When my grandson was born" he said, gesturing towards the young man at our table "I made a pact with him, that I had to hang around long enough for him to pour me a scotch on his 21st birthday." At this point he was quite emotional and his voice was cracking, as he stood tall and proud and announced "Well that happens this week."
A 60 year Kellion Award recipient, he was the proudest of the lot, aware of his accomplishments, all made whilst living with a chronic medical condition. The enormity of the effort it had taken him to reach this milestone was not lost on me. By the end of his speech I was almost certain that one of my greatest goals in life would be receiving my own Kellion (in 46 1/2 years time!). Not only is the Kellion a great way to recognise that you've managed to drag diabetes around for 50, 60 or 70 years, but a great way to recognise all of your achievements in life. Perhaps because of the mortality that diabetes represents, we may tend to recognise smaller and more everyday accomplishments as being such important parts of our lives.
I could probably write a small book on attending the Kellion awards and the inspiration I felt. How lucky I am to have been diagnosed in a time when a blood glucose level can be obtained in 5 seconds, instead of by heating urine over a burner for 10 minutes. Especially how lucky I am to have access to technology like insulin pumps. Knowing that other people survived, for 50 or more years, without access for a long time to the advancements we have today.
There was one statement said which summed everything up nicely for me. "Diabetes is about having to do things you don't like, but getting on with it and just doing it anyway". Nothing about diabetes is fun and enjoyable. But I will happily trade the mere seconds it takes to care for myself each time for the many more years I will enjoy if I take that time to look after myself. The longer I have diabetes, the less I think about the strange things I have do to my body to survive. Happily, diabetes takes a back-seat to my life and the brief moments of pain or discomfort are quickly forgotten. The Kellion Medal Recipients were living proof that you can have any life you want, diabetes or no diabetes.
Reasons Why I'm Hypo: Not Hypo, but I somehow managed to concentrate and soak in the awards ceremony sitting on a BGL of 22. There was no foreseeable reason for the 22 other than the fact that I didn't sleep well (if at all) the night before.