It’s Independence Day today -- the holiday that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence waaaaaaaay back in 1776. It’s a national holiday and a national party. There will be speeches, and parades, and fireworks. The History Chanel will probably run some sort of programing to put it all in perspective and remind us what a bold moment it was in human history.
But the day also got us at D’Mine thinking on the deeper meaning of independence, conceptually, and how much independence it’s possible to have for the insulin-dependent, specifically.
Let’s start by blowing the dust off our dictionary and looking up the word independence.
- the state or quality of being independent
- freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others
With type 1 diabetes we can never be free from the control of our medicines, gear, or docs. Not unless we want the freedom of the grave. We are strongly influenced by others: Those who set the price of ever-expensive insulin, the health policies of our government, the formularies of our insurance plans. Nor can we thrive without the support and aid of our loved ones.
So is independence with insulin-dependent diabetes an illusion? Are we forever in bondage to our chronic condition?
It’s a sobering and depressing thought. Not one worthy of a parade, much less fireworks.
But, being optimists (granted -- jaded, dark-ish optimists), we refuse to accept the notion of living as captives in what was created as a free country of the people, for the people.
Therefore, in the spirit of the holiday and those original 13 colonies, here are the diabetes-themed ways we do have independence -- even while living with insulin-dependent diabetes:
One: We have the freedom to choose what to eat. Sure, there are consequences to choosing high-carb foods and drinks, but nothing on the table is banned. That’s independence.
Two: We have the freedom choose our therapy, at least in broad terms. We may want Novolog while our insurance will only cover Humalog, but most of us have the freedom to choose syringe, pen, or pump. That’s independence.
Three: We have the freedom to hide our condition from the world, if we choose to. Unlike, say, oxygen dependence or wheel chair dependence, there are no outward signs that reveal that we have type 1 diabetes. That’s independence.
Four: We have the freedom to manage our diabetes with as much or as little help from our medical teams as we like. The fact that diabetes is largely self-managed is liberating. Liberation is freedom, and freedom is independence.
Five: Likewise, we have the freedom to choose how much help we want from our family and friends. Many of us find diabetes easier with the help and support of others, but if you desire complete independence from all others, it’s possible to run the diabetes show by yourself. That’s near-total independence.
Six: We have the freedom to engage with others of our kind who understand what we experience, what we fear, what we crave. Or you can choose not to. That’s independence.
Seven: We have the freedom to fit our diabetes into our days pretty much wherever we want. There must be a thousand ways to time our medications and blood sugar monitoring. Choosing how to arrange your day? That’s independence.
Eight: We have the freedom to walk, run, or swim. We may have to adjust our insulin, but we are free to move about the country. And the world. That’s independence.
Nine: We have the freedom to kiss anyone we want. Diabetes isn’t contagious. Compared to some other “diseases,” that’s independence.
Ten: We have the freedom to choose our professions, despite our diabetes. There are very few career paths blocked to us. Choosing your way in life? That’s independence.
Eleven: We have the freedom of self-reliance. Diabetes, with its unrelenting 24-7-365 nature, forces us to be self-reliant, even if we crave the help of others. Being able to fend for yourself? That’s independence.
Twelve: We have the freedom of strength. If there’s one thing about diabetes, it’s that it makes us strong. Strength is a form of freedom. And being strong is, in fact, independence.
Thirteen: And, lastly, diabetes makes us brave. So who better to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, than we semi-independent insulin-dependent patriots?
So there you have it. At least thirteen freedoms… independences… from our insulin-dependent diabetes.
Of course, we recognize it's all relative and Your Opinion May Vary based on one's own situation -- especially as it relates to access and affordability, which often make the concept of "freedom" seem unattainable. But again, it's about looking to the positive as much as possible.
As noted, we're never going to be completely free from the need to tend to our diabetes. And we will always be strongly influenced by national health policies and the confines of our insurance plans. Nor can most of us thrive without the support and aid of our loved ones. At least, not until science drafts our own Declaration of Independence.
In the form of a cure.
But until then, even though we are dependent, we are not robbed of all liberty. Within our insulin-dependent world, we remain independent in many ways.