“You have diabetes”…. and I heard my mother gasp out aloud!
It was 2nd of January, 2009. I was 13 years, 9 months and 3 days old. I was a mid fielder in the football team and we were about to play our first game on the 5th. I had complained of feeling excessively thirsty and was losing weight – symptoms I attributed to my arduous practice schedule. 2nd morning, I underwent a blood test. 2nd afternoon, the doctor called my parents and told them that I had to immediately be admitted to the Intensive care unit – that my blood sugar was 1050mg/dL. None of those numbers meant anything till then..I was never very good in math!
On the 1st , I was Jazz Sethi…mid fielder, literature major, dancer, fries addict, injection phobic and stress surfer!
And then it all changed. Overnight!
As I reflect on this blog – I can’t help but wonder how my life would have been shaped had it not been for my ‘illness’, my ‘disease’. But then again, postmortems for the living are often futile pursuits.
We are now inexorably intertwined, diabetes and me – there are times my mind wins over the body, and other times, the body takes over – like some strange, twisted, beautiful dance. The metaphor helps me find meaning, humor and strength to find my way out of despair, self pity and darkness to a life of light, agency and possibilities.
It’s ironical, but this very ‘illness’, this ‘disease’ ( two very negative words ) has been hugely instrumental in shaping me to the person I am today. I know that till 13, I took life with attitude rather than gratitude. Things came easily to me, be it academics or the creative fields. I was brusque with those who ‘could not’ and flippant with those who ‘did not’. I mistook popularity for respect and found that the more I did to ‘out do’ someone else, the less I got in return.
When did it change – I cant say – but change it did! I still remember how my bouts of ‘why me’ slowly and steadily transformed into a lens of ‘what if’. Suddenly, it was not what I could not do, but what ALL I could do. I started actively taking notice of my friends and their lives. I started listening with my senses. I wanted to remove any ‘limitations’ that diabetes brought with it. And it felt good. Good to give back – to both – diabetes and life.
I decided to bungee jump into life – dance became not only a metaphorical release, but a literal one. It was only about 10 years later, did the circle take full shape. (blue circle pun completely intended). It took me a decade to truly make peace with my diabetes, and in turn with the life I was living and would continue to live. I thought I wasn’t afraid of permanence, I have 18 tattoos and all that jazz, but a tiny portion of me, thought maybe life would be different. That changed, when I made the decision to start Diabesties. I found comfort in making another Type 1 Diabetic smile, I felt satisfaction in holding the hand of a family member who was scared, I felt proud of creating a community that is built on empathy, courage and strength. I wanted to start Diabesties as a YouTube channel, thats all I wanted - how we became a foundation, with several projects and activities, god only knows. But the greatest thing that diabetes gave me, was my purpose..
I am aware that this might read like a movie script – born again and all that stuff – but that is not the case –in truth, the last 11 years have not been easy. I can’t eat fries without injecting, I need to have a needle in me at all times, excessive stress upsets my sugar readings and I don’t know what long term effects will take a toll on my body.
But I know one thing for sure – its not the quantity of life you are given, but the quality of life that you live that makes it worth it!
Today, is my 11th Diaversary. The road is long, the needs are greater than myself. There is a lot to do… but we will.