I was diagnosed with sudden onset Type-1 Diabetes in November. I was perfectly healthy at the beginning of September, when I saw my doctor for my semi-annual checkup, and at the end of November I was giving myself insulin injections every morning, testing my blood daily, and watching what I ate very carefully.
One would think that this was as good an excuse as any for me to sit around and feel sorry for myself for a while, and you'd be right. I was prepared, with a little help from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, to do just that.
But there were more pressing things going on outside of my life, things that weren't as easily taken care of as a non-functioning pancreas: the fiancé of a friend gone missing, and presumed dead, in the Rockies; a local toddler killed when a bullet meant for someone else hit the minivan he was riding in; the friend of a former student murdered by her jealous former boyfriend. In my prayer life, my pancreas could definitely take a backseat to all these issues. They needed God's attention, and the people left behind needed God's care, a whole lot more than I did.
It's funny how a little tragedy in your life can either turn you in on yourself or turn you out toward others. And please, I'm not getting down on the people who initially turn in on themselves; it's a natural part of the grieving process. Perhaps what I should say is that it's funny how some people can turn outwards more quickly than others, and sad that some people never turn out at all.
My little "tragedy" came at a time when others around me were suffering from great ones, and for some reason, known only to God, I was able to think about them first.
I've come to terms with my own little issues. "Shooting up" and pricking my finger have become parts of my daily routine, just as much as running the dishwasher in the morning. Believe me, I'd rather not have to have them as parts of my routine; but somehow this new routine has made me think about others more.
And yet the good news is that you don't have to suddenly be diagnosed with diabetes in order to start looking outside yourself. You can do it right now, even if your life seems to be going just fine.
Although maybe, just maybe, my own little "tragedy" gave me a little more empathy for others.