― Michael Scott, The Sorceress
When people start talking "experiences," they generally mean that you got stuck with something you never really wanted, and are now in the position of making the best of the otherwise unfortunate situation. It's really a question of belief on the part of the individual, and whether a person chooses to take an experience and create a meaning that disempowers them, or whether they decide to use that same event as an offering to others.
Today is World Diabetes Day. It's a campaign that draws attention to the global diabetes community, and celebrates the experiences of the 285 million people all over the world impacted by some form of the disease - the people who never wanted to be living with diabetes, facing its risks and complications, waking each day with finger sticks and hypos and carb counting and an endless array of doctor visits and trips to the pharmacy and, yes, confronting the fears and the unknowns of a life blunted with the impact of this condition. All those moments when I have been caught in the net of low blood sugar, and wondered if I would be beckoned back...if I would have a seizure...if I would suddenly have to rely on someone else for help.
Diabetes has changed the way I see the world. At the time of my diagnosis, I was faced with an overwhelming litany of details, all of which were designed to keep me healthy, and to keep me alive. More importantly, the force of this disease has made me want to prove that I can do anything. Accomplish anything.
The first time I gave myself a shot of insulin, I was sitting on an exam table covered in white paper. "Now, you know not to go home and get on your bike, right?" admonished my doctor. I smiled. Shut the door behind me as I walked out of his office. I drove home, and I got on my bike. I rode 50 miles, all alone, frightened the whole time. More important than the fear of going too low on a solitary road, however, was the unabridged terror of having someone tell me that I couldn't do something, and the notion of having a limitation suddenly thrust upon me.
I was driven, in those early days, by fear.
Now, all these years later, I know I can do anything. I've run marathons and climbed mountains and raced some of the toughest events in the country with diabetes at my side. Fear is no longer part of the equation. My experience with diabetes has allowed me to tap untouched strengths and talents, and to let those once hidden gifts rise to the surface. So much of who we could be remains idle within us, shackled by our beliefs until something - some experience - sets free those attributes. We can either be prisoners to our fear and those things we never wished to happen, or we can use those elements to set free our true potential.
Diabetes was a visitor I never wanted, but it has given me armor plating to go into the world, share my experience with others, and find the unbound courage to push forward.