Thriving while progressive chronic illness does its thing.


I didn’t use to believe in healing. Medicine? Yes. Treatment, management? Yes. Cures? Well, they never seemed to apply to anything wrong with me, but yes. Healing…that was for hippies, retreats, mental illness, people who don’t really have anything wrong with them but want the romanticized version of illness. To say the least, I’m converted.

Over the past year as my diabetes (11 years old last month) brought me multiple complications that changed my life in irrevocable ways, I could no longer deny its profound affect on my mental health, my motivation, my relationships. For every moment I “got religion” about diabetes and its capacity to holistically lift up or destroy, they couldn’t add up to this one. I was getting so sick, I couldn’t stay out of the hospital, I couldn’t keep a job, and I couldn’t stave off the pain of not having received the care I needed as a child diabetic. Every hospital trip wound itself inside another until I was a pulsating ball of burden that need to be punctured and released.

I had done a brief, logic-lacking, cost-benefit analysis and it was just so simple. Of course I’m too much for my world.

I wrote this in my journal when I was in the ICU the day after I took a lethal overdose in a suicide attempt.

As I fell asleep last night and tried to wriggle myself into a comfy spot, maneuvering around the EKG wires, arterial IV drip, and oxygen monitor, I remembered the first time I had to fall asleep amidst tubing. I felt and saw and smelt the bed in the ER trauma room at CHOP in October, 2000 at my type 1 diabetes mellitus diagnosis. I heard people talking words I didn’t know, yet words that were my own modifiers. It was surreal, painful and terrifying.

I was shattered then. As I was shattered 11 years prior. But healing means remembering what I knew instinctively at age 12; I am still whole. The stories I have gleaned from this experience and many before and since then are too instructive, too funny, too good to lose the storyteller.

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