Yep, it’s another Thanksgiving blog. I know, I’m getting a little tired of the phrase, “I’m most thankful for…” too. Not that it’s a bad phrase, mind you. Giving thanks is a wonderful thing to do, something we probably ought to do more of. It’s just that it becomes like a jingle you’ve heard over and over and over again — after a while, it just starts to lose meaning.
Nevertheless, as someone who’s been kept alive by one of the greatest medical miracles of the past century for 18 years now, I think a little giving thanks is in order. So, here goes:
I’m thankful for Frederick Banting and Charles Herbert Best, the Canadian scientists who first managed to isolate and purify insulin to treat diabetes in 1921. Had I been born before their miraculous discovery, I would have died at the age of 15 from this disease.
I’m thankful for modern blood glucose meters. I go through most of my days without giving it so much as a second thought, but those little beeping machines really are miraculous. The ability to monitor our glucose hour to hour — minute to minute if we choose to — has changed the course of this disease for millions of people.
I’m not a Bears fan, but I’m thankful for Jay Cutler, the NFL starting quarterback who has shown us that living with Type 1 diabetes doesn’t need to dictate what you can and cannot do with your life. Think of how many young people with diabetes have been given a sense of hope for the future by his example.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to write this blog, to share my experiences with so many of my fellow Diabetians each week. It’s still new to me, but it is quickly becoming one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, reflecting and writing.
I’m thankful for the many lessons this disease has taught me. It’s taught me about balance, deep listening, how to understand living systems, empathy, and so much more. I remember saying once to my mother, years ago, that I wouldn’t have asked for diabetes, but if someone came along and said I could have a do-over, I wasn’t sure I’d give it back, either.
I’m thankful for generosity of so many people who support ongoing research into better treatments and, someday, a cure for this disease. I’m grateful to have so many organizations, educators, doctors, and medical teams devoting their talents to better understanding and treating this disease.
I’m thankful for my family, particularly my mother, who supported me every step of the way when I was first learning how to handle living with this disease. Knowing I was never alone in facing this challenge has made all the difference in the world. I am thankful for the support, love and kindness of my wife, who makes every single challenge I face that much easier.
Lastly, I am thankful for the simple gift of life. I am thankful to be a human being living on this abundant planet. We can lose sight of how fundamentally lucky we are, particularly when something like diabetes comes along and knocks us around. But each breath is a gift, and should be treated as such. No living being knows when its end will come, and we are no exception to that rule.
And so, to conclude my Thanksgiving blog, I want to offer a simple suggestion for all of us (myself most certainly included): Let us always be thankful for the fundamental gift of this moment. When our challenges overwhelm us, when our accomplishments over-excite us, let us remember to let go and return to a feeling of gratitude for this moment. Because none of us are guaranteed more of them in the future; none of us can remove any of them from our past; all we have is this moment, and we owe it our gratitude.
So I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of good food, good friends, and love. I hope your blood glucose levels, like mine, are recovering. And if you happen to run into some of our Canadian neighbors, tell them “Thanks for the insulin.” Happy Thanksgiving.