There's a reason I chose today to do this. February 10 is the day I tend to reserve for minor catastrophes and miracles. Sometimes these experiences choose me; sometimes I choose them. There's a cosmic comedic timing in the universe that seems to collide for different people on different days. February tenth is one of those days.
Last year I wrote about 2.10.01 as Julia day, the day my pancreas died and the day the rest of me lived on. This year the anniversary of my diagnosis as a diabetic has no apparent, overarching, thesis; it simply is. Nine years is long enough that the daily tragedies of testing my blood sugar and adjusting my lifestyle simply aren't unusual anymore. Yesterday, as I was leaving for the radio station, the tubing of my insulin pump looped around my doorknob, and I walked a full three paces before I recognized that vague sting in my abdomen.
Being diabetic has its gifts: at times, I find ways to compartmentalize my body in ways that seemingly remove all its emotional power. My fingers double as pincushions, my stomach is pockmarked with remnants of last weeks' pump sites, my pancreas is an eternal internal mystery. And that's all well and good. The detachment that comes with recognizing you have no overall power in the universe is, in the end, a powerful feeling. There's strength in realizing we're not as strong as we think we need to be.
And yet, there is that lingering essence to this one day a year that will always have some unnameable, unknowable drama to it. It's almost as if this day is the tiniest bit longer or shorter than all the others in the year, and those moments in either direction are the secret to some deeply-protected mystery.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with someone at FasterCures.org. This was part of a larger story we're pursuing at KQED, but I leaped at the opportunity to ask an expert, point blank, why nine years ago, a doctor told me I'd be cured within five years. Is it really fair to make that kind of hypothesis, to someone who has just learned she has a chronic condition?
The scientist, who I'll leave unnamed now, said simply: "I know...is it hope or hype?"
I'll never forget the doctor that day nine years ago, who looked at me and my parents and insisted that "She'll be cured in five--maybe ten--maybe fifteen years!" And I remember thinking, "What happens in the meantime?"
Here's what happens in the meantime: I graduated from high school, then college, lived abroad twice, got a job, went to graduate school, fell in love, acquired a new vocabulary and taste for glucose gel. And who knows, maybe diabetes will be cured next year, or six years after that, or twenty years after that.
Until then, I'll be driving my very first car.