On this day in 1923, insulin became commercially available.
Fast forward 75 years to 1998, and on this day, I was given a shot of insulin as I sat in the offices of an endocrinologist. That morning, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
As I watched the doctor quickly and proficiently inject my arm, I had no idea just how precious, effective and dangerous this magic elixir could be. And I had no idea just how lucky I was.
I am not lucky because I have diabetes. Despite being one of those eternal (and annoying) glass-half-full types, I struggle to see the positives in being diagnosed with diabetes.
But I am lucky that if I have to have diabetes, it is here in Australia where I am afforded the luxury and ease of access. Getting insulin is as simple as asking a doctor for a prescription, calling the pharmacy to order it in and the next day picking up a couple of months’ supply for the grand cost of $40, after which I take it home, leave it in my refrigerator and use it as I need.
I have been doing this now for 18 years. My diabetes has come of age. It can drive, vote and drink (three things I should definitely not do if my glucose level is low.)
Diabetes is not a blessing. I don’t think I have ever hated something more and doubt I ever will. I despise the way it has intruded into my life and has eaten away at things I once took for granted. I detest that my loved ones have had to become experts, and are now fluent in the language of ‘diabetese’. I loathe the fear and terror that it has caused me at times.
On this day in 2016, I am thinking about having lived with diabetes for a significant part of my adult life. I am thinking of how it has shaped me, the times it has forced my hand, the way it has influenced the direction my life has taken. I see how it has made me think certain ways, re-evaluate aspects of my short- and long-term decision making and made me advocate for something in which I once had no knowledge (or interest).
But mostly, I am thinking about how I get to celebrate my diaversary as a day of success and triumph. And that many do not. My privilege is starkly obvious as I celebrate with a piece of cake, and, coincidentally, pick up a waiting insulin prescription from the pharmacy up the road.
So, today, I am making a donation to T1International to commemorate this day and those far less fortunate when it comes to living life with diabetes. If you have a spare few dollars – perhaps even just 18 of them – maybe you could, too.