Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm in the Autumn of the Year

Today's Prompt: Dear 18 Year Old Me...

Dear Melissa (version 1998),

So it's your senior year of high school. There's so much I'd love to tell you. Keep working hard on that All-State choir audition - it'll pay off. Enjoy this time at home with your folks and especially with your precious Great Dane, Sheba. She's getting older. After this year, you'll never go back home and there are things about living there that you'll certainly miss.

Tell the choir teacher she can take that role in the musical and suck it. You don't need her to make fun of you for your weight - your weight is FINE. Yes, you're 165 lbs. Guess what, doll? That's the weight you're pretty much going to hold on to for at least the next 15 years. And it's okay. It's a comfortable place for you and you could do a lot worse. You're so pretty and you don't even know it.

This is the last year you'll see your pediatric endocrinologist for your diabetes care. I know he's a smart, interesting man, but there is so much you've missed - so much everyone has missed - in terms of understanding this disease. You're going to start going to a doctor soon who gives you a really hard time. Make it work for you. Don't work so hard to impress him by steering the conversation off of diabetes. Ask more questions about control. Accept that there is a LOT about diabetes you don't know. Don't fight going on an insulin pump for so long. You're going to LOVE it.

Dump that stupid eye doctor with no bedside manner who will tell you this year that you're going to go blind. Your eyes are going to be healthy for many more years and you need to start finding docs who will stand with you and not against you.

You'll get up the nerve to dump the disastrous boyfriend this year, too. You've been meaning to for years. You're miserably unhappy and you don't love him. You're going to meet the most genuinely wonderful man in another 8 years or so. In the meantime, get to know men who make you feel empowered rather than abused, secure rather than doubting. There are lots of great men out there while you're hung up on an idea of what a relationship is supposed to be.

College is going to rock your socks off. But don't let diabetes fall so far onto the back burner. Someone needs to take the wheel and, if you're sleeping, diabetes is driving blindfolded. And it's a crappy chauffeur. There will be a whole month where you stop testing your blood sugar because you've got your mind on other things. Don't let it derail you.

(Speaking of sleeping at the wheel, shorten your commute once you start working. You tend to fall asleep while driving - a costly habit in more ways than one.)

Oh, and when you go to the Czech Republic for the weekend your senior year of college, please bring a bottle of insulin with you. You're never going to hear the end of it if you don't.

If you follow all of my advice though, I have to wonder if you'll end up where I am today. Perhaps I should tell you that all of your bad decisions were valuable tools to help me appreciate where I am today. That you should go ahead and make all of those same mistakes.

Because what I have today is a lovely marriage, the family I dreamed of, a career I adore, and a healthy dose of perspective that I might not have gained otherwise. There isn't a version of me that followed the advice above. Just me. Just as I am.

And to quote a song we learned in the 4th grade, "I like me."

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days:


  1. As you are telling this story, I'm wondering the same things with which you concluded. Who will ever know. But I'm impressed and happy that you've ended up where you are, whatever the means.

    An amazing post, Mel. :)

  2. Nicely done, Melissa. My letter also touched on the fact that the decisions I made during my life have made me who I am today, and I'm just fine!

  3. this letter is absolutely beautiful! we all have things we wish we could go back and change, yet everything we've been through is what makes us who we are. it's interesting to think about. thanks for sharing! :)

  4. I really enjoyed this, nicely done (much shorter than mine! I tend to ramble! LOL)

  5. What a beautiful letter to you. I think I could write some of it to me too. Not the diabetes part. :) That didn't come until much later for me.

    PS - I think you are beautiful and love who you are. You've done a fine job!!