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Life Awaits You
When I was 17, I was diagnosed with type; 1 diabetes. When I was 32, I was diagnosed with celiac disease [an autoimmune digestive disease, triggered by the gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye]. Both are chronic conditions. That means,
absent a cure, I’ll have these diseases for the rest of my life.
Needless to say, such a state of affairs can be extremely
challenging. It can be depressing and frustrating, inconvenient and
stressful. It can be downright scary, too. But in the years since my
diagnoses, I’ve found it to be something else as well: educational.
One would never wish for a chronic disease, of course, let alone
two of them. But if there’s a silver lining, it’s this: By learning to
live with my conditions, I have learned much more than just how
to live with diabetes and celiac disease. I have learned a lot about
life. And in the process, I have learned a lot about myself. I learned
to think of my diseases not as a hindrance but as a lifestyle change.
There are as many different lifestyles as lives. Everyone has
his or her own way of living, problems and dif;culties to live with
and manage, burdens to carry. When diagnosed with a chronic
condition, you now have a different set of circumstances in your
life to deal with. But with time and patience and the right mindset,
you can ;nd ways to not only deal with your new circumstances—
your new lifestyle—but to ;ourish.
Every day is new and every day brings fresh challenges. Every
day also brings fresh opportunities and new learning experiences.
Living with a chronic condition, or more precisely, learning to live
with a chronic condition (or two) is an ongoing process. Even after
all this time, I still have days that are hard emotionally, if not
physically. And I always will. Each day has to be considered in its
own right; life starts anew every morning.
Making choices—smart choices—is all
a part of the bigger picture of properly
managing your condition—managing it
physically as well as managing it
emotionally. And managing is the best
you’ll be able to do. There is no “controlling”
of your disease. Part of the acceptance
process is understanding this. It’s natural to
want to think you can control your disease
and ultimately be its master. But eventually
you realize how exhausting this way of
thinking is. It becomes intimidating and
frustrating and hopelessly discouraging.
When you decide to let go of the idea of
controlling and instead focus on managing,
life become a lot easier. Managing is
realistic. Managing is something you can
In the end, I’ve learned that living with
chronic conditions is best approached in the
exact same way in which anyone needs to
approach their life, with or without a
chronic condition: one day at a time. By
focusing on what’s before you today, you
can make this day special. Tomorrow, you
can do the same thing. Put a few days
together and you’ve got a week and the
weeks roll into months and the next thing
you know, you’re not living with a chronic
condition, you’re ;ourishing. Life awaits
you, with all of its wonders.
All you have to do is decide that, just for
today, nothing’s going to stop you!
GINA MEAGHER lives in Golden, Colo., and self-published There Is Something About Gina—
Flourishing With Diabetes and Celiac Disease
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