Thirty years of diabetes means thirty candles blown out with the same secret wish.
Truthfully, it’s not really a secret and it’s not a wish. A lot of us keep our eyes on that prize and work damn hard for the day that we get to have a different answer as we stand over a cake and someone jokingly asks: “What did you wish for?”
August 12, 1983
Thirteen. It is my first birthday with this disease and I’m already over it (the disease, not the birthday). I think we went the Carvel ice cream cake route that year, as it was deemed acceptable to have a 1/2 cup of plain vanilla ice cream as a special treat. I wished for this disease to take a hike and for me to make new friends at school. A year later, I headed off to boarding school. (Yes, boys and girls. Less than a year and a half after my diagnosis, I was off on my own. I was responsible for my diabetes management during that entire year and what did I learn? That I was not a responsible teenager. Can we say DKA, everyone? Sigh.) I came home after freshman year and didn’t go back. I continued to be irresponsible.
August 12, 1993
Twenty-three. I don’t remember a cake, but I do remember alcohol (vaguely and hazily), good friends and making that secret wish. I had come to grips with diabulimia (after being called to the carpet) and the damage that I had been inflicting on my own body. My slow path back to health started then. It was a steep path and a little rocky at times. I slid down the mountain over that decade but did manage to grab hold and scrabble up. I got on an insulin pump and began sprinting toward the summit.
August 12, 2003
Thirty-three. An unhappy time in my life, with a miserable person in my home who could have cared less about my diabetes. It was an inconvenience to him. My family was the bright spot, so I was able to celebrate with them and my cake of choice was carrot. (Gotta get my veggies somewhere.)
I had been busting my ass to get my A1Cs down to that “magic number” as my ex-husband had uttered the “We should probably have kids before we’re too old…” statement. (This came as a shock to me, as he was vehemently opposed to having offspring for most of our relationship.)
Nine months after he said that, he abruptly announced that he didn’t want kids. (Irony? It was the day I came home from the endo with “good news”. My A1C was 5.5 %.) I decided that I loved myself way more than he did – and I wanted children more than I wanted him. Six weeks after his announcement, I was divorced. (When I have a goal, I’m pretty motivated.)
August 12, 2013
Forty-three. Who cares about age, right? It’s been a hell of a decade, with finding the love of my life and my best friend all conveniently packaged in a two-for-one deal. Vacations and new technology and cancer scares and surgeries and infertility issues and then… it all fell together. A gorgeous curly-haired toddler. A new house near family. New opportunities. I’ve never been happier. Or more grateful. This year, it was a red velvet cake with fondant flowers lovingly handmade by my phenomenal Rena (my übermommy) with two candles placed on top. My daughter and I blew them out together.
I still made my secret wish on one. The other? I’m not telling. That one is really a secret.