Happy World Diabetes Day everyone! Instead of writing about something that everyone is writing about right now (something along the lines of “What Diabetes Day means to me”) I decided that I would open up about something completely different.
I haven’t written about this and it might be because I was afraid to. Sometimes when I think about the issues that I face, health-wise, I get upset. Upset, agitated, bitter—basically, everything that a person with diabetes goes through on their own without any other issues on top of it, yeah. That’s normal for people like us. Diabetes has become part of my normal life. It’s a part of me that I have grown up with and have adjusted to. But what happens when you develop something else, later in life, that you have to actually cope with?
I feel like I never really had to “cope” with diabetes because it was always there. I knew no difference. But when I recently started developing vitiligo, it worried me. What is vitiligo you ask? Well, it is a skin condition where you turn white. Remember Michael Jackson’s skin condition? Yeah, same one. It’s not contagious, it happens slowly, there are no other health repercussions because of it, but it is considered an autoimmune disease.
The doctors love to throw at me like this: It’s an autoimmune disease and you have Type 1 diabetes so, it kind of makes sense. And I come back with: No, it doesn’t because I have Type 1B which is not autoimmune diabetes, so learn to ask questions and get your facts straight before you assume. OK, that’s not how I responded but it’s how I would have LOVED to.
Earlier this year, approximately in May, I noticed the skin around my mouth lightening. I originally thought it was just dry skin so I started putting moisturizer on more often. However, little by little, I noticed other areas of my face lightening as well.
Then the summer came full blast. And you know what happens when the summer gets here? I get toasty. I’m a tan person, if you’ve ever met me and I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I could soak up the sun like a sponge and display the golden color all throughout the winter months.
Well, when it comes to my face, that is no longer. People have tried to make me feel better about it, saying they don’t notice it or that it doesn’t change the way I look. But initially when it was spreading (which it does very quickly within the first few months), I couldn’t stand the sight of myself. I looked weird. I couldn’t go outside without makeup on. And something started to happen that hardly ever happens to me– I started feeling sorry for myself.
A few months later, I realized, “Well, who am I to be pissed off? If God thinks that I don’t need a working pancreas or a solid colored face, well then, I don’t need it.” I got over the issues that I was facing. Quite literally. The fact that I wasn’t going to be able to get an even tan during the summer didn’t phase me any more. It was just my face. It didn’t change my personality, my insight or my drive or ambition. I was the same person, regardless of what color my skin was. This isn’t even a racial issue!
I have little spots on different parts of my body now. It’s not spreading too terribly fast either. I decided to Google vitiligo the other day and found another completely different community. It was overwhelming. But nevertheless, the fact that I have diabetes also helped me to get over it. I have worked so hard on keeping myself healthy that a skin condition with no deathly repercussions wasn’t going to phase me. In fact, it showed me how vain I was.
Looks mean absolutely nothing and if I was too conceited or vain or worried about my looks, I can’t be now. Friends have told me that I’m still pretty, others have said they don’t notice it and I think the best comment was, “When I look at you, I see beauty. That’s all I see.” Well, I can’t argue with that, now can I?
I still have to be careful in the sun. I’ve seen a dermatologist for the vitiligo and they suggested that I try light treatment that my insurance is fighting with me to pay for. Yeah. That’s never going to get old. I’m also using an ointment for my skin. As much as it might scare some people, it doesn’t take priority in my life. It just doesn’t. I have more important things to worry about, like blood sugar levels, thinking like my pancreas and living life.