In October last year, I went to my twenty-year school reunion. I have no idea where the last twenty years have gone. If you ask me, I’ll still try to convince you that I’m really 23 (not fooling anyone, really!), but the truth is, it was twenty years ago that I last donned the Smurf-blue uniform that I wore for six of my teenage years.

I walked into the room where about fifty of my former classmates stood – chatting, catching up, squealing ‘you look exactly the same’ (liars – the lot of us!) and giggling at forgotten stories of mischief and misadventure.
I was greeted in one of two ways:

  1. ‘Do you still play the flute?’ (Followed by admonishment when I cheerfully answered ‘nope’!)
  2. ‘You are so brave!’ Huh? Then I realised that it was Facebook friends who commented on my apparent braveness. They’d been reading my blogs.

I tried to dismiss the diabetes chatter and change the subject. Because that time is my life BD – before diabetes. It’s a time where I didn’t jab my finger ten times a day, where I didn’t do super-smart calculations to work out the carb content of food (although thanks Mr Tossilini – your maths classes paid off after all!) and where I didn’t know what an endocrinologist was. It was a time where visiting a doctor was because I had a throat infection and I visited the pharmacy to buy lipstick, not insulin.

School days were filled with complaining about homework, stressing about essays, and growing up and through those awkward teenage years. It was when I was trying to get an idea of who I was, who I could be, who I wanted to be. Including diabetes to that time in my life would have added a complexity that would have been one more thing to fumble my way through.

Of course when I am at work, it’s all about diabetes. I get wheeled out as the consumer (or as I refer to it, the ‘here’s one we prepared earlier’). And that’s fine. It’s part of the job and I am beyond honoured to be asked to speak from a living-with-it perspective. I take it very seriously.

But in a room full of people who know me as the nerdy flute player, I don’t want to be known as the diabetes advocate.

I had such a great night with my schoolmates. Six years of shared history, shared detentions, shared being yelled at for daring to walk on the Convent lawn, shared laughing at one teacher who showed up to school one day with only one peacock-blue eye made up makes for a fun night.

My life BD was a different life. I know that the carefree and blithe nature of that time was partly because I was a teenager. The most pressing issue was whether the cute boy on the Glenferrie Rd tram did or didn’t notice that I was wearing my hair differently.

It was fun, so fun going back to that time. At the reunion, as I caught up with my friends and giggled like a teenage girl I forgot. About the pancreas that stopped working; the pump I was wearing, hidden down my top; and that as I ate, it was because I wanted to, not to stop me going low. The time BD seems like a long time ago. But I caught a glimpse of it that night. And I realised how much I miss it.

Strength and Kindliness