Newbie vs. Veteran
When I graduated nursing school at the ripe old age of 22, I was the young “newbie” of the group. I had a good education, great mentors, and worked with a cool group of ladies, so I caught on fast. Yet, I was always still in awe of those nurses who were “old” veterans. More than once, I remember thinking “I can’t even imagine having been a nurse for 15…20…30 years.” (I also remember thinking one nurse who had five children was insane, but that’s another blog entirely!) It sounded so far off to me. I still had so much to learn, so much to experience, and so much growing to do. (Go Horned Frogs!)
16 years later (don’t do the math there; that’s not nice!), I’m no longer the young one… no longer the newbie. I’m the “old” veteran now. Been there, seen that, have the battle wounds (and stories) to prove it. I’m the one they come to with questions, to get that hard stick, to hear the war stories. However, I'm not naive enough to believe I know it all. There's still more to see, experience and learn. The newbies probably look at me and can’t imagine themselves “so old”. They’ve got so much to learn, so much to experience, and so much growing to do.
I’ve been at the Diabetes game for 18 months now. Part of my coping is to educate myself and read about others who are in my shoes (or worse shoes). I read two blogs regularly: Death of a Pancreas by the incredibly witty and clever Joanne (www.deathofapancreas.com) and Our Diabetic Life by Meri (www.ourdiabeticlife.com).
When I really want to feel sorry for myself for having two sons with Type One Diabetes, I remind myself of Meri who has three…and a recently deceased young husband. I only have to serve as two pancreases and my husband is alive, kickin’ and sexy! Diabetes sucks and life's not fair, but I digress!
Recently while reading Meri’s blog, I read her post, “15”. (http://www.ourdiabeticlife.com/2013/08/15.html)
Meri did a beautiful job showing how her oldest diabetic son (who was diagnosed in infancy) has grown and thrived 15 years with Diabetes. He has refused to let Diabetes define him or bring him down. FIFTEEN YEARS. Fifteen. Fifteen years she’s dealt with this craptastic disease, had two more added to her plate, then lost her husband. Fifteen.
As I did in nursing school, I stand in awe at this “old veteran”. Fifteen. We’re barely 15 MONTHS into this crap, and I can’t imagine fifteen YEARS. It makes me realize how much I have NOT experienced. I still have so much to learn, so much to experience, and so much growing to do. Fortunately, like my early mentors, there is a great D-parent community out there to help me be a successful pancreas until my boys can do it on their own (or until a cure is found). There is tons of research and information to help me make the best pancreatic decisions. And, like Meri, I hope I am instilling in my sons that Diabetes is part of them but does not define them. They are beautiful, witty, smart, and funny. They behave at school and make straight A’s. I refuse to let Diabetes interfere with them having a childhood or allow it to bring them down. Like Meri’s boys, they are thriving. Also, I'm sure, despite her veteran status, Meri knows there's still so much to learn and experience, but I know she has great war stories!
As I couldn’t imagine touting my fifteen years of experience when I was a mere 22, I now can’t imagine saying my family has been dealing with Diabetes for 15 years. 20 years. Or, as in the case of my father-in-law….50 years. It’s a ridiculous thought to me. And, hopefully, a cure is on the horizon and I will be able to say, “They were diagnosed 15 years ago, but they are cured now.” In the meantime, I’ll embrace my “newbie” status again (at least I’m young at something), and learn, experience and grow.