(We spent my diagnosis anniversary visiting the National Gallery to see the Canadian Biennial.)

I’ve been using an insulin pump for over 16 years but every once in a while I like to take a break from my pump and go back to my old-school habits from the early days after my diagnosis. Going analog in my insulin delivery forces me to examine my habits and tighten up my control. It gives me discipline.

It also gives me nostalgia. Every uncapped needle and manual injection flashes me back to high school. I feel strong, smart and powerful. I feel the control I have over my disease, over my body. I own this and it feels good.

My husband commented the other night, as he caught a whiff, that he likes the smell of alcohol swabs and we realized that for him it’s the smell of a brand new relationship. We started dating as I was going through my diagnosis. He listened to me vent, he helped me with injections, he came to the hospital with me for education sessions, and supported me in a million other ways.

We always take note of our anniversary in February but don’t really celebrate anymore. Our wedding anniversary takes precedence now over our date-iversary. But I always celebrate my anniversary. My diagnosis day. My private birthday. My anti-death day. The beginning of my bonus life.

Each year I celebrate that I have worked hard to keep myself alive and relatively healthy for another year. I buy myself a gift, or I take the day off work. I walk around the art gallery or I eat whatever junk I feel like. I give myself permission to do and to feel whatever I want. And I remember. I remember the taste of the diet ginger ale that I drank while sitting in the hospital watching Disney vhs tapes with my mom instead of the educational videos the nurse had left for us. I remember stopping to buy a purse on the way home because I now had to carry a glucometer, insulin, and of course, jellybeans. I remember my siblings coming to classes where they injected dolls with coloured water and squealed at the oddness of it all. I remember being sad, then angry, and then okay.

It may be unusual but alcohol swabs, orange capped syringes, and diet ginger ale (much like Mmmbop) are part of my teen years and so they’ll always hold a place in my heart.

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