The Merriam-Webster word for 2020 was, perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘pandemic’. But I do think it could have just as easily been another word that we were seeing absolutely everywhere, and that word is unprecedented. 

I started to despise that word. Everything about the COVID-19 pandemic – indeed the pandemic itself – came with the descriptor ‘unprecedented’. From the (unprecedented) stockpiling of loo paper, to the (unprecedented) times in which we were living, we were firmly reminded at every turn that we had never, ever, ever seen anything like this before. It was all novel.

Which is the opposite of diabetes. Diabetes is always precedented. There is nothing novel about diabetes on a day-to-day basis. Sure there is the occasional curveballs thrown at us, but the normal, daily routine of diabetes is mind-numbingly not new!

Variable glucose levels with no rhyme or reason? Precedented. 

Frustrations at constant lows or stubborn highs? Totally precedented. 

Plummeting glucose levels just before bedtime? Precedented. 

No two days of diabetes the same? Precedented.

An inability to bolus correctly for rice (or whatever your food nemesis may be)? Precedented.

PWD being left out of conversations and decisions about our own condition? Oh-so-precedented! 

Running out of jellybeans when hypo? Precedented. 

A pump cartridge running out just before bed? Annoyingly precedented.

Stigmatising comments about diabetes? Boringly precedented. 

The monotony of diabetes – the complete Groundhog Day of it all – is the antithesis of what we have witnessed over the last year and a bit. 

But whether it is all new (unprecedented!) or mindlessly boring (precedented!) pandemics and diabetes are both pretty damn crappy.

Unprecedented 2020 by Qunadamooka woman and contemporary artist, Megan Cope. Photo taken by me at one of my visits to the NGV Triennial.