One decade later.
When I was thirteen years old, I wanted to be Miss World. I weighed less than 50 pounds. All the other girls were going through puberty. I got teased (in good humour) about being all skin and bones, all the time. It was okay though, because I was blessed with sass that made me walk around like I owned the place.
February 19, 2007, through an unfolding of events, we found out I was diabetic. Picture this 13-year-old girl, trying to walk into her school for morning class after just having left the phlebotomy clinic, having overheard that she had a medical condition she knew very little about. I kept it together for the first few steps because I didn’t even know what I should be scared of yet. Turns out that, in itself, is terrifying. Lucky for me, Papa never leaves a driveway before he sees me enter the building, and he was still there as I turned around and ran back to the car.
We went home, and we all held each other, and we cried. I knew nobody else with Type 1 diabetes.
Why did this happen? Did I do something wrong? Does God not love me? Is it going to hurt? Can somebody help? Please?
We were moving to Canada in four months. Grade 8 was the first year we got to go on overnight school camps. Ours was leaving in 2 days, and it was supposed to be my first and my last with my school friends. Turned out I couldn’t go, because I had to learn to take insulin injections. From the very first needle, I did it myself.
This hurts, this hurts so much, and I have to do it multiple times every day till the day I die.
Cut to today. February 2017. 23 years and a bit. Second year of medical school (didn’t quite make the height requirement for Miss World), on an insulin pump (so no, baby, you don’t have to inject multiple times every day), friends who remind me to check my sugar (and check it for me when I am… indisposed), a support system who makes my blood glucose spreadsheets for me (you are my motivation), a family that still rushes to the next city over to reach me my supplies when I screw up, and lots of experience explaining insulin pumps at foreign airports.
This isn’t about me patting myself on the back for having triumphed my circumstances. To be honest, it has very little to do with me today. Today, ‘Diabetes’ is a nickname I actually respond to, and I have no self-pity — I have bad days, and sometimes it’s inconvenient, but it is so integrated into my daily life that I barely notice it or remember a time without it. Everyone has issues, and this is one of mine.
But, my goodness. That little girl. She used to be me. Today, 10 years in, all I want is a time-turner. I want to go back, and find her as she cries into her pillow, and hold her, and tell her that she’s okay.
I want to be beautiful. You will be, you are.
Why does it have to be me? You will never have to do it alone.
What is wrong with me? Nothing at all.
My life is never going to be the same.
You have nothing to be afraid of. This is not going to define your life. I know, right now, it’s hard to look past this day. In the next few days, it’s going to be scary. People will respond to your disclosure with “At such a young age? Ate too much chocolate?”, and you will want to punch them. (Don’t.)
I’m not going to lie, there will be days that suck. Bad stuff happens if you don’t take the diabetes seriously. You’re going to be really lucky because there’s going to be so many people watching your back.
I know that isn’t enough to make it feel fair, and I’m not going to say, “it could have been worse” — you’d bite my head off. I am so sorry for how much this hurts right now, and I’m so sorry that nobody is able to make it go away.
I’ll just tell you this. You have been so graceful, even if you feel like a mess. I am so proud of you — you are showing the kind of strength 23-year-old Muskaan will be in awe of. If I could show you just how okay you’re going to be exactly 10 years from this day in 2007, you’d fall asleep with a smile on your face.