To Love, Honor and Cherish

11/16/17
WRITTEN BY: Susan Baumgartner
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While I say, “Bring it!” in many instances, there are some situations where I have no positive, canned acceptance of my Type 1 diabetes. One of those situations relates to my crumpled wedding dress, scrunched deep in the back of a low closet shelf.

The dress, with its soft glitters and fluffy skirt, reminds me of two people: the person I was when I wore it so many years ago, and the man to whom I walked while wearing it.

It was the before time. Before I was diagnosed with diabetes. Before I changed.

My reality was rocked, but that man’s life changed as well. Our promise to “love, honor, and cherish” each other was tested just two months after we officially started our lives together. This condition hits the person and everyone they love. Some relationships deal with it from day one. Others, like my spouse and I, are ambushed midstream. Either way, it’s a huge weight to bear.

What does that mean?

He sees me high, low, and everything in between. He deals with the mood swings, weight fluctuations, high-risk pregnancy, slacker days and fitness crazes. He runs errands for prescriptions and glucose tablets. He watches me travel alone without voicing concerns. He shoves glasses of juice into my resistant grip after finding me nearly unconscious, bathed in sweat and babbling nonsense. He pays the bills, submits the FSAs, and fills out the forms to process the insurance bills and prescription costs.

As a diabetic warrior, I’m grateful for his support, but angry when I feel ignored. I’ve been forgetful of his fears. I’m happy and relieved to have a helper by my side. I’ve tried to share (I tend to hate showing weakness) and I become frustrated when his reaction has sometimes been a self-preserving silence. Deep down, I’ve nursed a very painful wound: guilt at the reality I’ve saddled him with.

We diabetic warriors, together with our spouses, are surprise entrants in this mad contest of survival. When diabetes consumes more and more money and time, I feel a burden that whispers maliciously when I can least resist it: That wedding dress was for a dream life that can no longer be. Now what?

Know what?

I’ve stumbled on something that I consider to be a universal truth. All of us are a product of four things: what life dishes out, the dreams we hold, the opportunities made available to us by others, and the choices we make. The truth is, we all change over time, if we’re really living.

Diabetes was served to me. My dreams have evolved. I’ve chosen a path. And I know that without the support of my husband and a host of others through the last 20-plus years, the life I have now would not be possible. I might still be, but I’d be a different me.

What has life dished out to you? What are your dreams today? What opportunities can you take from or make for others? What choices can you make that support you and those around you?

Weddings are meant to connect us to hope and love. In a brighter light, I remember that and I look at that old dress in another way. We diabetic warriors are deeply grateful to everyone who stands with us, especially those extra-close ones like the guy who knew me before. In our darkest moments, we must reach out to them with hope and love.

They are all battling something, too.



Susan Baumgartner

Susan Baumgartner was diagnosed with T1D in 1994. She moved to Wisconsin four years later with her husband and three cats. She is the author of a guided journal for teachers, Dear Teachers, which is available on her blog, www.verbostratis.com, and on Amazon. When she’s not listening to KPop, reminding her sons to do their homework, or cruising Twitter (@sbaumgartner94) for a chuckle or inspiration., Susan is currently working on a similar book for those with diabetes (this essay is an excerpt of that draft).