When I think of the number 23, I think about a few things. There’s Michael Jordan. My brother always played basketball, and we grew up watching Michael Jordan play. Jarrod had the shoes, and he always tried to emulate Jordan’s dunking. (Key word there, “tried.”) The number 23 also makes me think about the Psalms. The 23rd Psalm is a passage of scripture most people are familiar with, regardless of where they fall on the religious spectrum. This past year, 23 reminded me of Michael Phelps with his 23 gold medals. I also think about science when I think about the number 23. We’re created with 23 pairs of chromosomes, each made of DNA.
But today, 23 makes me think about diabetes. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on this day 23 years ago. I still remember how that doctor’s office room felt as I sat and waited with my mom. I remember not truly understanding the brevity of the diagnosis at age 11, and I remember my dad testing my blood sugar on his meter at home. I remember that moment with clarity and knowing from my dad’s face our lives were about to change.
I remember moments of life before diabetes. I remember what it felt like to go outside and play without carrying a bag of supplies with me. I remember what it was like before my brother had to keep tabs on me. I remember when a really good hiding place during Hide-&-Seek didn’t make everyone think I was passed out in a closet somewhere. I remember what it was like to go to a birthday party at the skating rink without my own Diet Coke. I remember what it was like to go to church camp without my mom being a chaperone in the corner. I remember what it was like to sit down and just eat.
I remember my first injection. I remember my mom stopped making sweet tea (and my mom makes the BEST sweet tea in all the South.) I remember sleepovers were different. I remember counting what I was going to eat, waiting 30 minutes and then eating that exact amount, whether I was full or still hungry. I remember my first seizure from low blood sugar. I remember being too afraid to go to Auburn after high school because it was seven hours away from home. I remember the boy who broke up with me in college because he didn’t know how to handle diabetes. I remember I didn’t really know how to handle it then either.
But now, 23 years later, I remember different things. I remember the friends’ weddings I’ve been part of because we share diabetes. I remember that time a friend talked me into signing up for a JDRF Ride in Death Valley. I remember when a doctor rambled off a list of things I would likely never do, and how I’ve done them all but one. I remember when someone said I wouldn’t be able to live alone, yet I bought my own house two years ago… where I live alone. I remember the wall in my bedroom covered in medals because I decided to prove diabetes wrong century after century and race after race. I remember that year my friends (YOU) helped me raise $7,500 for T1D research. I remember how much simpler technology has become and how much faster insulin works today versus 23 years ago. I remember that 23 years later, I sit here grateful for this perspective, grateful for research and grateful for my community.
Diabetes has given me so much more than it has taken from me, and that’s why after 23 years of
living with showing this disease who is boss, I’m signing up for my eighth JDRF Ride to Cure today. I’ll be pedaling 100 miles in Colorado come August and knocking a few more National Parks off my bucket list. Come join me and let’s celebrate the good that’s come out of the last 23 years.