The Same, Only Different
We've all heard it before: People with diabetes can do whatever they want. We are the same as every other kid, teen, and adult. I've given out this mantra numerous times myself. But is it true? Are we the same as everyone without diabetes? And can we do whatever we want?
The answer, it turns out, is not so cut and dry. It is more complicated than the blunt YES that I usually tell myself and other people when they ask. When it comes to being just a regular person and doing the things that everyone else does, we are the same--only a little different.
I recently spent the weekend at a family camp program for newly diagnosed children. While sitting in during one of the parent sessions, one mother said something that particularly struck me. After incessantly telling her son that he is just like any other boy, like we all tell ourselves or people we love wtih diabetes, he replied "But mom--I'm not." Every other child didn't have to stop during sports to test their blood sugar or treat a low. Every other child doesn't have to pause before eating to count their carbs. Hearing this was both heartbreaking and enlightening. Because this young, but wise, boy does have a point. As people with diabetes, we are different. We do have to make certain accomodations and put a little extra effort into what other people consider routine activities. But is this necessarily a bad thing?
For me, the answer is no. Because what human being isn't different? We are all unique, we all have that something in our lives that makes us fight a little harder and struggle a little bit more. And if we don't, I personally would think that a life without struggle would be quite boring. Hardships build character. Having type one diabetes will force you or your child to put a little extra effort into their everyday activities, which will over time build discipline. Life with diabetes is all about finding balance. Balance between doing what every other person does, but doing it our own way. A way that keeps us healthy and able to do those things.
So as I said before, the answer is complicated. Yes, people with diabetes are the same, and we can do what everyone else does--just not always in the same way. We are different. Unique. And in my opinion, being different from the crowd (and having diabetes in particular) builds immense character. Besides, who wants to be the same as everyone else anyway?