Hold on | Diabetogenic

I stumbled across a book the other day called Women Holding Things. The author and illustrator, Maira Kalman referred to it as ‘love song to those exhausted from holding everything’. It’s quite gorgeous, with beautiful illustrations of all the things women hold – both literally and figuratively.

And I thought about what people with diabetes hold and just how weary and drained the weight of carrying diabetes and all that comes with it can be. I can’t draw, but here are my words that highlight some of the things we hold. It’s a love letter to the strength people with diabetes have gained through holding things, even when we want nothing more than to put it all down.

We hold on because we have no other choice but to do so.

We hold bags carrying around diabetes supplies – right now as I wait to board a flight, I have a separate bag with nothing more than sensors and pumps and alcohol wipes and spares of everything. I will hold it through airports, as I climb on planes, on ground transfer to hotels, and around with me through every step of my journey, a constant companion in my travels.

We hold cups of coffee because sometimes it feels like the only thing that will get us through the day.

We hold a fear of the future and what it can be, a shadow that sometimes stretches longer than we’d like.

We hold emergency hypo snacks ready for those unexpected moments. Or expected… (see: airports).

We hold guilt for some ridiculous reason because we shouldn’t and it is heavy and we would be so much lighter if we could let it go. But it’s there. We hold it.

We hold hope so close to our hearts, trying to balance up the fear or at least make a dent in its weight.

We hold insulin bottles and glucose monitoring supplies and all the little things that are needed to be replacement pancreases. 

We hold anxiety and worry, and at times, a quiet uncertainty about what the next day, the next week, the next year holds.

We hold our diabetes friends close because they understand without needing explanations, and we hope that by being there for them as they hold us close, somehow there is a magic law of reciprocity that means we’re all holding less a little less diabetes.

We hold other diabetes stakeholders to account when they fall short of our expectations or fail to understand the nuances of our lived experiences, or underestimate our expertise. Or when they unleash a campaign that instils more fear.

We hold a steady gaze at research to see what our future life with diabetes might hold.

And we hold onto the promises, even the five-more-years promise that we know is a joke, but perhaps, just perhaps if we hold onto it tightly it might, it just might come true.

We hold our heads high as we advocate for better care, more understanding, and greater awareness.

We hold bottles of cinnamon, not because we know it’s a cure, but because it tastes great in the apple cake we’re holding onto for afternoon tea. 

For those of us who can remember a before time, we hold on to memories about what life was like before we had to hold onto and carry diabetes.

We hold the hands of those whose diagnosis came after ours because we’re so grateful to those who came before us and held our hands.

We hold the key to lived experience and with it, we hold a unique perspective that must be listened to. Because we hold onto the belief that #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs

We hold a wealth of knowledge that comes from being a world class expert in our diabetes.

We hold a firm grip on the reality of life with diabetes because if we let that slip the consequences are too great to imagine.

We hold an inner strength that often surprises even ourselves.

Sometimes we hold back nothing as we tell our stories and and advocate for what is right.

We hold the power to change perceptions, influence policy, and inspire others.

We hold our spirits high when we feel we’ve had a win because holding onto those small victories carries us on through times where we feel we’re dropping the ball.

We hold our loved ones close, sometimes to protect them, sometimes to draw strength from their support.

We hold the courage to face each day, each challenge, with a bravery we often don’t credit ourselves for.

We hold a steady pace, because we know that diabetes is a marathon, not a sprint.

We hold onto the belief that it will be okay, that we will be okay. Because otherwise, there is nothing at all to hold onto. And that…that is just too heavy to contemplate.

Holding onto mottos like this one.


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