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first times

i've been thinking a lot recently about my 'firsts.'  not the big life firsts, but my firsts as a diabetic.

one of the hardest things in the beginning was treading on new territory as a diabetic.  and, since it was the beginning, everything was new territory.  my first day of work with diabetes, first time traveling with diabetes, first time drinking with diabetes, first meal at a restaurant with diabetes, etc. were all quite daunting.  but once i realized that i could do all of these things just as a had before (with a few major/minor adjustments), i felt ok.  and, as time went on, there were fewer and fewer firsts to be had.  life with diabetes has become the norm, and i often forget that i ever wasn't diabetic.

...except for when another first comes around.  as much as it may feel like i've had diabetes forever, i have only had it for 6 months.  there are still a lot of things i haven't yet done with this disease, and in the last few weeks a couple have cropped up.

last weekend was probably the hardest first i've had yet, oddly enough.  it was during a yoga retreat that i went on with my mom.  this is our third year going.  it's a weekend of yoga, yummy (and healthy) food, spa treatments - basically total relaxation.  we both love it, and it's probably the most time we ever get to spend together just the two of us, so it's even more enjoyable for that reason.

this year, though, started out a little differently.  i was nervous.  even though i work out pretty vigorously on a regular basis and have (for the most part) mastered the art of cardio + diabetes, i had not yet done yoga since being a diabetic.  this yoga is not particularly cardio-intensive, but it is still a form of exercise nonetheless.  a regular workout for me is preceded by lots of carbs and no insulin, but i had no idea what to do about yoga.  do i go in high? normal?  if i eat a meal before, do i cover all of it?  part of it?  2/15 of it?  i just did not know.  then i was thinking about the dining room, where we always end up sitting and chatting with random people...how am i going to inject myself discreetly while we're exchanging life stories with people we just met?  am i going to be giving diabetes spiels weekend? all of these thoughts were festering in my head, and they had me everything but relaxed as we made the 1.5 hour drive up to the berkshires.

as we arrived, checked in, and made our way to our room, i remembered our last time there.  i was "normal."  at least my pancreas was.  the words "carb ratio" and "bolus" were completely foreign to me.  i was in my last year of college, looking forward to graduating but unsure of what the future held.  little did i know.

it is in these moments that i have a brief sense of my old life.  i can actually feel it, just for a second.  the life of someone who is not on duty 24/7 to replace her own failed pancreas.  this sensation, coupled with my high levels of anxiety about yoga and eating, left me in tears. 

of course, the weekend was wonderful, even though i had to run out in the middle of our yoga classes and test, and even though i had one 65 mg/dL mid-class that left me shoveling a granola bar.  did any of this really matter?  no.  i still had a great time, and even when i think of it now the blood sugars and insulin calculations are not what i recall the most.  but it was a first, and that made it difficult. 

the hardest part about "firsts" for me is that memory of what life used to be like...the fleeting taste of "before."  i know that i am not done with these firsts.  next year i will go back to school and be a student with diabetes for the first time.  today, against my better judgment, i went tanning to prepare for an upcoming tropical vacation.  while my diabetes had no effect on the tanning experience, i did think "the last time i was here i was not diabetic."  and the tropical vacation, that will be a first too.  i wonder if they will get any easier.

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