Today is day 6,761 of living with type 1 diabetes. I don’t know why I did the calculations (by ‘did the calculations’ I mean, used timeanddate.com and put in the dates. I didn’t do it myself in my head; that would be weird and impressive), but I did and now I know. My counter is still weighted in favour of days without diabetes, but the difference is slowly but surely eroding.
In the last ten days, I’ve visited houses from my childhood. By some weird coincidence, the house I grew up and lived in until I moved out at 21, and the house my dad grew up in and I spent countless Sunday afternoons with my extended family are both up for sale. I walked through the houses and memories flew around me, launching me back years.
Each day, I drive past the warehouse Aaron and I moved into as students and where we lived for three years, celebrating our independence with a constant flow of friends and dinner parties. Right now, it’s literally a façade and nothing more as it has fallen victim city-fringe developers. No doubt, the eight apartments that were there will be turned into a 15-storey monstrosity with nothing more than the heritage-listed façade to remind us what was once there.
These places are not about diabetes because for all or most of my time there, I did not have diabetes. The 6,761 day counter started after we moved out of our warehouse; I lived in my childhood home for only ten months with diabetes, (when diagnosed, I had moved back home, saving money to buy a house before we got married), and my grandparents’ house also only saw a few years of me living with diabetes. Their day count is heavily balanced in favour of days without diabetes.
And so, these homes are not houses of diabetes. Our apartment never saw a rogue BGL strip on the floor, insulin in the fridge, or a cupboard full of diabetes supplies. There were not huge jars of jellybeans scattered around the house, or empty juice boxes on the bedside table.
The two homes we have owned accommodated diabetes from day one. When we moved into our ‘new’ place three years ago, diabetes moved in too and was given its own space. Just as it has found a pocket of space at my parents’ house now where I open the fridge and see the exact juice box that I use to treat a low in bulk supply (that’s not because I have a billion lows; my parents have always shopped for the apocalypse!).
It settled into my in-laws’ house in the country. We’d arrive at the farm in need of a cup of tea after a long drive and I’d open the fridge for milk to find insulin staring at me. And I’d sigh, slightly startled, as I checked to make sure it was still in date, replacing it with fresh vials from my bag if not.
For 6,761 days, diabetes has moved in with me wherever I live, taking up cupboard space that, let’s be honest, could be far better put to use by housing cashmere sweaters or striped t-shirts. It’s invaded the butter compartment of the fridge which I would prefer to be overflowing with salted Danish butter. It’s littered the floor with BGL strips, the benches with spent pump lines and the rubbish bins with the waste of diabetes consumables.
I wandered around the houses of my childhood and instead of remembering diabetes, I remembered games, and play-dates and hiding places and loud laughter around the table – and stomping, moody teenage years. It’s getting harder and harder to remember the days before diabetes, but as I stood in my old bedroom, I saw the days before the last 6,761, remembering them clearly. And at the same time, not remembering them at all.