Are we growing, or just stretching?

January 10, 2017

How many times must I say this, “I’m a collector- NOT a Man Baby?”


Over the years, I have compiled a wonder emporium (by which I mean cupboard) of anything from the 1950’s classic, Archie Andrews ventriloquist dummy to the clapping monkey. And as of Christmas, I am the proud owner of a ‘Stretch Armstrong’.


The well- muscled latex man wearing only a black speedo (leaving nothing to the imagination) was announced a COMEBACK last year by Hasbro at the New York Toy Fair. It would be 40 years since Kenner designed the 1976 original ‘Stretch Armstrong’.


The same time, I was diagnosed with type one diabetes and ‘comfortably’ living with it, ever since. Like ‘Stretch Armstrong’ I became almost ‘forgotten’ and ‘left behind’ with my studies and activities becoming ever so more impactful of my future whilst my poor health questioned if I had a future? All the more, I proved that I’m not going anywhere!  


I often wonder, if I could have done anything different? Let’s say, I knew it was coming- would I go on a ‘low sugar diet’ or buy a blood glucose sensor or take time off school to adjust?


The big question is, would anything be different?


The average age for diagnosis in teens is 13-14. I would be half way through high school, just preparing for GCSEs in the upcoming year. Sod the studies, it’s a time for boyfriends and girlfriends, parties and clubs, booze and- you get the picture! As for me, it would have been a very harsh comeback into the world- type one diabetes tried to chuck me out of!


In being a teenager- you’re still growing. Day by day, you grow more independent, acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to achieve in the ‘real world’- university, employment… all the way up to retirement. It’s all designed to keep children on track.


For me, I would have grown into an experienced diabetic by the time I was truly diagnosed, at 17. That’s 3-4 extra years and 5’110 more injections (if counting 4 per day) - give or take. Perhaps, these extra years would’ve come in handy?


All I can say is this- I wish it would’ve been sooner! It’s like learning a language or musical instrument in that the younger you are exposed- the better you become in that field. It is much harder trying to do all this when you’re older, say at 17 as you’ve already learnt everything there is to adulthood- you’re able to get a job, able to apply to university, able to move out and only months away from starting bad habits.


Type one for the average teenager is a growing experience, but for anyone older, it’s nothing more than a stretch of what you already know.


So... like ‘Stretch Armstrong’ I can’t grow a few inches without appearing ‘over-stretched’ or even worse, broken. Yet, I can stretch my insight and approach to understand type one diabetes, day by day, injection by injection. After all, if ‘Stretch Armstrong’ could do it for over 40 years, what’s to say I couldn’t?


You see- I’m a stretcher, not a grower.




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