"Thirteen years, huh? Well, this is the longest five years I've ever seen."
That's what my mother told me on Thursday when I reminded her that my thirteenth anniversary was in two days.
I don't remember that much about my life before being diagnosed. I have a few scattered memories here and there, but nothing that really makes a huge delineation between being a "child" and a "child with diabetes." All my memories could have very well happened with diabetes.
When I think about it like that, most of my memories could have essentially happened with or without diabetes. Of course, I wouldn't have gone to Washington D.C. for Children's Congress, or Orlando for the CWD Friends for Life, but I think all the things parents look forward to their children doing, I've done.
Went to prom, got a driver's license, graduated from high school, went to college, made friends, got A's (and some B's and C's for good measure).
I did all the things parents probably don't look forward to their children doing.
Drank alcohol, lied, got a speeding ticket, moved away from home, fought persistently for things that probably didn't matter all that much.
Hopefully, someday in the future, I'll have a job (with health insurance), get married, have a baby, travel the world.
Diabetes makes these things harder, but it doesn't stop me from doing any of them. I suppose that's why people always say "it could be worse." I don't like diabetes and I don't enjoy any of the mental and manual labor, but, as I'm learning in Biology of Cancer, there are diseases out there that could have stopped me a lot earlier in my life.
To me, thirteen years isn't a very long time. Not compared to how long I will have it if we don't find a cure. While new technology and research certainly helps us understand and manipulate the disease more effectively, I know the way I think about living with diabetes is vastly different than it was five years ago, and I'm sure it will be different yet again in another five years.
No matter how I feel about having diabetes, what I hope doesn't change is the fact that I am still collecting the memories I would have without diabetes. Memories of laughter, and love, and excitement. Even if it diabetes shapes them, that's alright. Because when the "five years" are over, I don't want it to look like I was waiting for it to end.
Life comes first, the cure comes second.
And we are very lucky that we can have it in that order.