Redefining Normal

“All I want to be is normal,” I whined to my husband.

I was feeling sorry for myself shortly after I had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The nurses and Doctors who initially helped me had explained that, “you can live a normal life” and “you’re lucky there is all this technology to help you live a normal life.”  So, after several months of pricking my finger, taking injections, watching my diet, worrying about hypoglycemic episodes and most of all, trying to figure out how to live the rest of my life with a chronic disease, I was wondering how I would EVER be able to live a normal life. My husband listened to me a few minutes and then said something to me so simple and yet so profound. It helped shape my whole vision of who I would become. He said, “when you figure out what normal is, let me know so I can be normal too.”

Wow! That is so true! I had been looking outside myself to determine what was normal. We all do this. We watch T.V.to see the stars and hold ourselves to their “normal” and are disappointed with ourselves when we don’t measure up. We listen to our peers and their biases to tell us what is normal and what doesn’t measure up. We also look to our physicians and nurses to tell us what is normal, when actually, the normal for each of us is different.

Is there really such a thing as “normal?”

I once read an article about a young girl on her wedding day. She had type 1 diabetes and had her wedding dress made especially to have her insulin pump on the outside of her dress rather than hide it. She was proud of who she was and the pump was a big part of that. Her “normal” was wearing a pump and living with diabetes boldly. She also used her humor to help others feel comfortable with her disease by telling everyone she was wearing a cell phone just in case her old boyfriend called.

We have choices to decide what our “normal” is going to be. My “normal” over the course of the past 32years with diabetes was not what I had originally envisioned for my life. Accepting my life and making it my “normal” was the best thing I did to help me accept my disease and move forward.

Catherine Van Hove

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