Wednesday, November 09, 2005

She still smiles.

It was six years, until me.

I didn’t know her before my arrival, but from what I hear, she was a good kid. Running all over the place. Devouring every book she could find. This kid even read in the shower when she was that small. Bloated, damp books strewn about the bathroom. She tortured her sister relentlessly. She tried to play the games her older brother taught her.

She smiled a lot. And laughed out loud.

I’m not sure when I was called out to stay with her, but I’ve been told it was when she was sick as a little kid on her sixth birthday. She had a fever that lasted for days. Lethargic little thing, under the careful watch of her ever-vigilant mother. I remember visiting her then, settling gently into her tiny body and making it my home. No one knew I was there. They wouldn’t know for six more months.

Six months until me.

I didn’t mean to embarrass her. But she started to wet the bed after I arrived. Just over six years old and wetting the bed again. She also had a ratty little pillow she needed to cuddle with when she fell asleep. I made her bloodsugar so high in the middle of the night that she couldn’t help it: she would wet the bed. And nothing, not the encouragement of her parents, the dreaded pee alarm, or the shame she felt, could make her stop. So she quit that cuddle pillow cold turkey. “If I can’t stop wetting the bed, then I’m going to stop this!” I felt bad. I had no intention of making her feel so frustrated.

She doesn’t remember much of her own diagnosis, but I do. I remember when they found me. I remember when she peed in the cup at the doctor’s office before she started second grade and they detected the ketones. They called her parents. Her mom and dad brought her in for follow up bloodwork. And then they found me. September 1986.

She didn’t cry much. Her mom and dad brought her to the hospital, where she stayed for two weeks. Her parents bought her a stuffed Kitty that she toted around everywhere… the doctors became used to her little face and the presence of the stuffed animal. She said that Kitty was diabetic, too, and both Kerri and Kitty received injections. The fabric of the animal became a little stained from injecting saline, but it made her smile again. She didn’t feel alone.

And she grew up. Even though I was there. She competed in spelling bees. She tap danced for 15 years. She played soccer, albeit badly. (But I had nothing to do with that.) She kissed a boy. She drove her car. She battled with her parents and confided in her friends. She wrote stories. She keeps a journal, still. She went to college. She moved out on her own. She succeeded. She failed. She adopted too many cats. She fell in love. She dreamed. And then she fell in love again.

She had six years, until me. People thought I would change her life, make her sad. Make her sick. Make her angry.

But instead, I’ve made her strong. I’ve made her fearless. And I’ve made her appreciate everything she has, everything she fights for. She hasn’t let me make her choices. She refuses to let me own her. She controls me. When she is in her last moments, whether sixty years from now or today, she will know, with certainty, that she has Lived.

Really lived.

She still smiles a lot. And laughs out loud.

42 Comments:

At November 09, 2005 12:30 PM, Anonymous IamBatman said...

How proud of you I am.

 
At November 09, 2005 12:58 PM, Anonymous AmyT said...

Happy D-Blog Day (Nov. 9), Kerri!

How can you write so beautiful about something so essentially ugly? You awe me.

Would you kindly pay me a visit on D-Blog day at www.diabetesmine.com? This is my rare chance to ask for some reader feedback.

Thanks!! And thanks for the OC site.
- AmyT

 
At November 09, 2005 1:05 PM, Blogger Kassie said...

You, Dee, and AmyT have inspired me to take the leap. Thanks for the great stories, diabetes and otherwise.

 
At November 09, 2005 1:06 PM, Blogger Sandra Miller said...

Wonderful, beautifully-written post, Kerri.

You truly are an inspiration to all of the O.C...

Sandra

 
At November 09, 2005 1:08 PM, Anonymous Nicole said...

This is an amazing piece of writing, Kerri.

You forget sometimes the gifts of this disease -- the strength it bestows (even if you don't realize it when you're being strenghtened), the math skills you inherit (even those of us who live primarily in the World of words can't help but learn SOME math in our years with diabetes), the appreciation that it gives you for every day (challenging as those days might be, they're still more time to make our marks on this place), the laughter it can sometimes gift us with (I mean, who can't laugh at the thought of a grown woman with her arms crossed across her chest refusing to even acknowlege that she might be low... It's funny, in its own sick sort of way), and especially the friends it helps us to find (people who, like us, live in a world filled with all the normalcy we can muster mixed with a unique set of extraordinary challenges, beautiful victories, and agonizing defeats...)

I hope this is a snippet of what we'll see in your book. I owe you an email with some thoughts -- and we still haven't had that cup of coffee!

Nicole

 
At November 09, 2005 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And with this post you have made your Mother cry. Love you!

 
At November 09, 2005 1:45 PM, Blogger Kelsey said...

So beautiful Kerri! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights.

 
At November 09, 2005 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! My son was diagnosed at the age of six this year and I pray that someday he can feel what you have expressed. Please keep sharing your beautiful attitude.
Viv

 
At November 09, 2005 2:31 PM, Blogger Tekakwitha said...

Thanks for that Kerri. Here I am sitting at work, listening to Kanye on my iPod, and then I have to go and read your blog...

I can't wait for your book. :)

Tek

 
At November 09, 2005 2:31 PM, Blogger Martha O'Connor said...

What a beautiful post, Kerri. So beautifully written, and so heartfelt. Were you always strong like this? Was your attitude always this way? I am in awe.

I quote you in my blog today, btw. http://www.marthaoconnor.blogspot.com. Yes, you ARE an inspiration. Six until me. At last, I get it. {{{hugs}}}

 
At November 09, 2005 2:32 PM, Blogger Martha O'Connor said...

Ditto, I can't wait for the book either. Let me know if I can help out in any way. XO

 
At November 09, 2005 2:46 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Wow. I'm blessed to have come across your blog Kerri. I will never forget the words you wrote me in mine months ago when my daughter was first diagnosed. I love how YOU control Diabetes - it does NOT control you. I want my little girl to grow up to be like you Kerri. YOU are an inspiration. Thank you so much.

 
At November 09, 2005 3:08 PM, Blogger d double e said...

Marissa-
You're the queen of "The O.C."

- Cohen

 
At November 09, 2005 3:30 PM, Blogger Jay said...

I am always amazed at how well you write. It almost makes me forgive you for making me cry at work....almost. It's one of the most emotionally powerful posts I have read.

 
At November 09, 2005 3:34 PM, Blogger Andrea said...

Kerri-

DITTO to what everyone has said...you are such a wonderful writer. I'm also anxious to read your book- so please keep us posted.

Also, thanks for reminding us that, despite the frustration and problems that come along with this disease, we can still smile and have a positive attitude about things and life in general. I can tell that you are a strong person and a fighter. Thank-you for inspiring us to do the same. :)

 
At November 09, 2005 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An amazing piece of writing from an obviously amazing person. Best wishes...

 
At November 09, 2005 3:44 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Thank you guys so much for the positive response. This whole d-blog network (who am I kidding ... THE O.C.) really does make the day to day easier. Thanks for being out there. And coming in here to visit.

Besides, I figured it was time to explain the title of the blog. :)

 
At November 09, 2005 3:48 PM, Blogger julia said...

Incredible.

 
At November 09, 2005 3:54 PM, Blogger Allison said...

Kerri- I hate you.

Nah, I love you, I just envy your incredible gift with words.

You're awesome, and you know it. Which makes you even more awesome.

Thanks for explaining the title. I knew you were diagnosed at age 6, but I never understood why you refered to diabetes as "me". But now I get it. So good job.

peace, love & hope for a cure,
Allison

 
At November 09, 2005 4:15 PM, Blogger Johnboy said...

That was both beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

 
At November 09, 2005 7:56 PM, Blogger mdmpls said...

Kerri - What an amazing piece of writing! It made me think back to my diagnosis and helped me realize all that I have been through too! Thanks for posting this!

 
At November 09, 2005 9:19 PM, Anonymous gina said...

kerri you inspire me to write even though im not good at it! check out my post after i read yours

 
At November 09, 2005 10:12 PM, Blogger Val said...

Wow, I'm glad I didn't read this one at work - if she saw me crying my office mate would probably force a juice box on me. Beautiful writing, and I had wondered about the name...

 
At November 09, 2005 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Kerri, pretty inspirational! I like the creative approach you took writing it too.

 
At November 09, 2005 11:21 PM, Anonymous Marissa said...

I don't know you...but I'm 18 and have had diabetes since I was two and I really appreciate your story...it was very sweet! Hope all is well!

 
At November 10, 2005 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well written post. Clever. "How's the going for you? Being clever?"
--Tyler Durden

 
At November 10, 2005 9:39 PM, Blogger Kerri. said...

Just hanging out, making some soap. With the dog...

 
At November 11, 2005 7:55 AM, Anonymous terrilynn said...

You made me cry this morning, Kerri. What an absolute gift of grace.

 
At November 11, 2005 1:30 PM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a terrific post! I was on Terrilynn's blog and when she mentioned this I came because my brother has Diabetes. This is truly wonderful and I'm going to e-mail him your blog address. Thank You very much.

 
At November 11, 2005 10:53 PM, Blogger d double e said...

-30-

 
At November 14, 2005 10:07 AM, Anonymous Aleida said...

Hi I've never done this before - my daughter gave me your website this morning. My granddaughter (22 months) was daignosed with type 1 in July & it has scared the liver out of me but your blog was so well done & made me feel better about the life Danielle can have if she wants to. I thank you for the comfort. Aleida in Minitonas,Mb Canada

 
At November 14, 2005 9:53 PM, Anonymous Darrell said...

By humanizing the disease, you take away its mystery, its foreboding, and the conceived notion that diabetes is actively working towards ruin.

It simply is not so, it is simply a challenge.

Diabetes has given you each courage, strength, hope and most importantly - each other.

 
At November 15, 2005 10:27 AM, Blogger Shannon said...

Aw shit, you had to go and make me cry.

You are what I plan to raise my son to be like (minus kissing boys and other girlie stuff)...I mean living with diabetes.

 
At November 17, 2005 9:20 AM, Blogger mytime79 said...

Wow, that was really great. I've been away from the blog scene for awhile, but I think this post just brought me back.

 
At November 27, 2005 6:04 PM, Anonymous Paula Adams said...

My son was born sept. 11, 2002 and was diagnosed with Type 1 at 17 months. We are getting ready to try the pump now. I loved what you wrote. It is an inspiration. thank you.

 
At November 29, 2005 10:03 PM, Blogger Violet said...

K,

I'm late to the game here, but ditto the crowd, this is beyond lovely. Look at all the people you've touched and endowed with hope. That's a kind of generosity the world needs more of.

V.

 
At December 09, 2005 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is beautiful.
my sister just got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes yesterday.

she'll be so touched to read this.

many thanks,
-tia.

 
At November 14, 2008 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found you and you've already made me laugh and cry. My beautiful 16 year-old son was diagnosed on Halloween of 2004. He has resisted the pump until he had a scare while (BMX) biking. He promised to give the pump three months. John has frequent migraines and headaches. I pray the pump makes a difference.

 
At December 07, 2008 8:04 PM, Blogger Amanda said...

so glad i found your blog. ive had liver disease since age 5, so i can relate. this is one of the most beautiful posts i've read in my life. xoxo

 
At October 24, 2010 8:16 PM, Blogger The Milots said...

I am not sure how I stumbled upon your blog... but I am so glad that I did. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 6 years old too. Reading this mad me laugh and cry... and it has certainly inspired me. You have a great gift!

 
At January 22, 2012 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why I don't always mind this disease. Without it, I wouldn't have come across this beautiful, piece of work. This is one of the best things I have EVER read! I can't tell you how many times I have read it. This truly inspires me to keep my motto of turning setbacks into oppurtunities alive.

 
At July 10, 2013 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just what I needed to read. Thank you

 

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