Race Schedule and Results

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The unexpected guest

** This week marks the 8th "anniversary" of Tom's diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes.  I wrote a little letter to our unexpected guest.**


Dear Type 1 Diabetes, 

Some days I just want to tell you to “Suck It”. 

You entered our lives eight years ago.  We don’t know why… we didn’t invite you.  Heck, you were a stranger to us at the time and I was always taught to never let strangers into my house.  I remember Tom saying he couldn’t see things, and that he was going to the bathroom all day long, but you didn’t even cross my mind.  At the Urgent Care, they told us that his blood sugar was 300, but that was as high as their meter went.  And blood sugar, what’s that?  At the ER, they were even more vague, although the blood sugar thing was even higher.  They hooked him up with IV’s, ran some tests and gave us some papers telling us that your cousin was visiting because of Tom's age… Type 2 diabetes.

I went home and cried, but only after stopping for lunch and not knowing what to order – how could you control us in just the first few minutes of us knowing you?

The next day we went to a different hospital, saw a family friend who was an endocrinologist, and he was the one that introduced us and said that we’d be living with you forever.

You were the unexpected guest we never invited and couldn’t send home.

I was mad.  Tom was mad.  We were both scared.  We weren’t even married, yet our happy household went from three (Buddy was around then) to four.  We didn’t have room for you. But we had no choice.
Since you’d be staying with us forever, I wanted to do a background check on you.  What were you going to take from us?  What were you going to ask of us?  How would you living with us change our lives? Commonly you live with young kids (you are cruel I tell you).  Sometimes you live with grownups.  Sometimes you choose your new home when you have already visited people that live there.  In our case, it was a totally random visit.

Thanks.

There were many months where I wanted you to pack up and leave.  You might have been primarily hanging out with Tom, but you were affecting all of us.  You caused Tom to get hooked on drugs that calmed you down.  You ruined many workouts.  You gave us many sleepless nights.  You left us wondering, “why did you choose us to come visit?”.

But you know what, now that you have been with us eight years, you aren’t that bad. 

Yes, there are still days when I wish you would leave and think that you have overstayed your welcome.  Those three a.m. wake-ups to Tom’s continuous glucose meter beeping, telling me that his blood sugar levels are plummeting as I look at him drenched in sweat are no fun – it’s like you are partying when we want to sleep.  When we are out on a run and he starts arguing with me for no reason, telling me he wants to give up, only to find that he’s low… or high…  That’s your fault too.  I find test strips in the weirdest places (hello… Tom doesn’t even test his blood in my closet), glucose tabs in every pocket of my purse.  Our life has definitely changed because of you.

But in good ways too.  You have helped Tom see that he has a voice and that people want to listen to it.  He has learned not to hide you, but to introduce you to others so that they get to see what it’s like to live with you. You have introduced both of us to some amazing people of all ages that are living with you as well.  We all share the fact that you were invited into any of our lives, but we are all too welcoming and will take care of you forever.  You were the biggest reference used to help him get on Team Type 1, and he’s gone from an athlete, to a director and now a manager within the organization. You have encouraged Tom to run across the United States with the Team Type 1 running team, bike across it twice with the Team Type 1 Elite team (setting the world record which still stands), toe the line of 5 Ironman distance races, P.R. at every distance of every race he’s entered since having you in his life, and continue to strive for excellence.  You’ve taught him to not settle, but also that you are a guest and that he’s in control.

And you’ve taught me a lot to.  Patience is the first thing that comes to mind.  Yeah, you have definitely taught me a lot about that.  And unconditional love.  When you moved in, I could have moved out. But I think you helped convince Tom to propose to me a month after you moved in and that I was worth keeping around, so thank you.  I actually like company and I wanted to work to make sure that you weren’t too much of a burden on the one person I loved more than life itself.  You have taught me that even if I don’t always like you, and I want to tell you to leave us alone, that you aren’t going away.  You can be tamed.  We set the boundaries for our guests. 

I am not at the point where I will say that I’m glad you’re here, but I will say, you aren’t nearly as bad as I thought you’d be.

With (dare I say it?) love,
Your host mom

41 comments:

Wes said...

way to kick ass.

Matty O said...

Great perspective on this!!!

Always look through the worst and see things for the better. Because of this he is changing so many other people's lives for the better. :)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I like your take on this

Robin said...

I grew up with a sister with Juevnile (sp?) diabetes ... it can be controlled and living a happy and healthy live is there for the taking. Good luck and many well wishes as it won't be easy ... but it is doable! www.dashingdiva.net

Jeff Irvin said...

You both are so inspiring with how well you deal with diabetes. Tom and the other guys from TT1 do so much good in spreading this positive message and by showing everyone that they are in control!

Carolina John said...

That's a good approach! Deal with it and roll through the good times.

Allison said...

You are both an inspiration to others with this disease!

Jen Small said...

awesome.

Rebecca said...

Honestly I knew nothing about Type 1 until I met you guys. It is so great to see how you turned devastating news and circumstances into a positive goal-oriented lifestyle. :) Great post.

Matthew Smith said...

That was powerful, Colleen! I don't understand at all, but it is obvious that you two have won the battle and continue to win it every day! Keep it up!

Kristen said...

One thing is for sure, you two have definitely shown your "guest" who is boss, and it sure as hell is not the guest! Love to you both! X o x o x o x o

Heather-O said...

Awesome! Way to see the positive from all of this!

TriMOEngr said...

Having lived with this "guest" all of my life until my father died from its presence almost 2 years ago, I don't know life any different. I don't remember a day I didn't know what blood sugar was or how it could affect my hero. I wish sometimes that in his 56 years with the disease he could have learned the lessons that Tom and you have learned in just 8 short years. I pray for all of the TT1 guys every day that this disease won't ever take so much from them. As much as I knew about it, I was surprised to find out this summer how old some of the guys were at their diagnosis. It never occurred to me that I might still be at risk. My dr runs blood sugar as part of my physical for a reason I suppose. This was beautiful and made me tear up. You guys amaze me everyday! Love and hugs to you and your entire family (even the unwanted guest).

Shannon (IronTexasMommy) said...

This is a great post Colleen and I know that it will be one that is searched and helpful to many that are in your situation. I hope that Team 1 considers publishing this somewhere on their site. It's a great perspective on the situation.

I agree with Rebecca, I knew nothing about Type 1 until "meeting" you both, so you have educated me too and on what is possible. You both are amazing.

Karen said...

Love this post. Such a great outlook on the diagnosis. I had no idea you get diagnosed with type 1 later in life. I guess I always assumed it was something you carried with you from childhood. Tom is lucky to have such an awesome support system :)

Teamarcia said...

Ha! This was fabulous! Perspective and how we react to adversity makes all the difference.

Kristin Deaton said...

You and Tom are awesome! I love both of you for how strong you two are. A-Maz-ing.

Danielle said...

Love this! My partner of over 3 year left just last month because he felt resentful of my diabetes and it was too much of a burden on him. Just dx'd a year ago (at age 39) and as a mom to a 20yo T1 (dx'd at 9 mos), this gives me hope that there are people who understand and that are supportive to those with T1. Thanks for giving your perspective :)

Danielle said...

Also forgot to mention, that I have been a competitive mountain biker for 5 years now. While it has been a struggle to manage T1 and racing, Team Type 1 is a HUGE inspiration! I CAN get back to where I was, and maybe even be better!

Cotter Crunch said...

wow, i had no idea. I think writing these letters are a great release and yes, now you both are in control! a great inspiration of health!!
LC

Kiersten said...

Awesome post, Colleen.

Ironman By Thirty said...

This is truly amazing Colleen! What a positive takeaway from a life changing event. The work you and Tom have done sharing your stories along with the TT1 work is inspiring.

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

what a great way to look at it. You two are awesome!

misszippy said...

Love your attitude! Way to control it and not the other way around.

PJ said...

Great post, Colleen. Heh - the test strips everywhere. My hubs LOVES that one. We definitely find them in the strangest places!

Aunt Nan said...

Your uninvited guest had some nerve choosing your home. But from the 1st day he stepped inside your door, you've shown him who was in control...and it wasn't him! Having seen Tom's passion these past 8 years in educating and spreading the motto of TT1, he is an inspiration to everyone who comes in contact with him. I'm so proud of him and just as proud of you, as his wife, for being at his side every step of this incredible journey. I love you both, Mom xoxox

Lindsay said...

loved this post. i'm a dietetics student and am fascinated by diabetes. i feel like everyone is talking about type 2 all the time because of the obesity epidemic but it was interesting to read about type 1. kudos to you and your husband for making the best of it.

Elaine K said...

Inspiring, honest, and somehow incredibly positive :)

I wish you both the best!

Alisa said...

Powerful! And like I said a must read.

Kudos to you and to TOM for taking control of your lives and using a scary/terrible/unfair thing to new places that aren't scary/terrible...yet, still unfair.

Chloe said...

What a powerful post! Thanks for sharing!

Jill Poon said...

Lovely, lovely post Colleen! You guys are amazing! Congratulations on all that you have accomplished together :D Can't wait to meet you guys!!

Jennie said...

Both of you= amazing!

Alili said...

You two kick ass.

Jason said...

What a tremendous message to those that are living with diabetes and are afraid and don't know where to turn.

Better yet, what a tremendous message to those living in fear of anything.

There is always light at the end of the tunnel....we just need to know where to look.

Carole Sharpless said...

I'm not sure if I continue to be more happy that you have Tom - or that he has you.

I'll be content not being sure. :)

xo.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Thank you Colleen, not only for this great post, but for all that you do to help Tom.

For those of us that live with diabetes, our circle of caregivers is just as important as our insulin.

Balut said...

wow! you are a very inspiring person. your ramblings are mostly inspirational. keep it up :)

Molly said...

I love how you have learned from this unwanted guest, but still show it who the real bosses are!

Coy Martinez said...

Diabetes is such a horrible thing. I'm glad that you guys have been able to get through it together! I know many who have it and it seems so unfair!

Great letter!

adena said...

This may be one the best posts I've ever read. Thanks for your honesty. Most of my family has type 2 diabetes and I'll be passing this around as a positive example rather than the 'poor me, who cares, let's eat ice cream' approach my family often takes.
Thank you

Anne-Marie said...

I'm behind on blog reading again...

This is a really moving post! I love how you took something that was negative and looked for the good in it. More people need to have an outlook like this!

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