The Cactus Corner

It seems like everywhere I go these days, there’s a cactus. (Or more often than not, cacti.) They appear in practically every form: I’ve spotted t-shirts, erasers, mugs, earrings, pool floats, and even stringed lights bearing the barbed plant’s likeness. The popularity spike of the cactus collided, by total coincidence, with the debut of my blog.

I’ve rapidly amassed a small collection of cactus items in the past year and a half, with no signs of slowing down. It’s certainly made it easier to represent my brand at all times, without even really trying. And it’s caused my family and friends to associate cacti with me – it always makes me smile when someone spots a cactus in their travels and lets me know that it made them think of me.

But even better, the cactus has spurned creativity in some of my friends who have been especially supportive of my blog and its mission since its incarnation.

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I have some incredibly talented friends.

Hence, The Cactus Corner – a little stretch of shelf space devoted to some of the cacti creations that my friends have made for me in honor of my life with diabetes as documented through this blog. There’s a cheerful, polka-dot-potted cactus that my friend hand-stitched in one section, and a painting of a blooming cactus set against a lovely pink background. Also pictured is a painfully cute pin that I’ve attached to my meter case – a portable cactus that I carry everywhere with me, along with all my diabetes supplies, as a reminder of my blog and of the diabetes obstacles I’ve overcome over the years.

The Cactus Corner is small and humble, but it represents so much to me. It is tangible evidence of the friendships I’ve been blessed with in life. It’s also symbolic of how I’ve chosen to embrace diabetes – pricks and all – for what it is.

So as my Cactus Corner continues to grow and thrive, I will, too.

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Christmas Eve and 20 Years of Diabetes

Merry Christmas Eve, to all those who celebrate it! Christmas is one of my absolute favorite holidays. I love spending time with my family and friends, attending mass, baking (and eating) Christmas cookies, and decorating the tree. This time of year is pure magic; a time when I feel most joyful.

This Christmas Eve also marks my 20th year of living with type one diabetes. I don’t remember much from that night in 1997, seeing as I was only four years old. I recall tons of family members visiting me in the hospital and bringing gifts for me. One of the gifts I received was a honey-colored teddy bear that I particularly liked and hugged often throughout my hospital stay.

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Beyond Type 1 featured me on their Instagram Wall of Warriors last year. This is how I #LiveBeyond.

Twenty years with diabetes is a long time. Too long, especially since every couple of years since my diagnosis I’ve been told that a cure would be found “soon”. I’ve come to accept the fact that “soon” just might not be within this lifetime, and rather than dwell on that, I choose to focus on the joy of life itself. How lucky am I to live a full life, surrounded by loved ones, employed full-time, with a roof over my head and food on my plate? How lucky am I to be able to have access to the insulin I need and to have a choice when it comes to the pump and meter I use? How lucky am I to have the knowledge and willpower it takes to manage a chronic illness every second of every day?

I’m extraordinarily lucky. I’m blessed.

That’s what I’m focusing on joy on this significant diaversary. I’m embracing the spirit of the season and recognizing the good in this life. Diabetes takes things away from me sometimes – a full night’s sleep, an occasional dessert, a missed trip to the gym – but I refuse to let it take my joy.