Which Superhero Am I?
After watching my fair share of superhero movies, I started to wonder which character I most resembled. That was followed by the inevitable thought that, having lived with type 1 diabetes for almost 50years, I couldn’t be a superhero at all. But I realized something that changed my outlook: Superheroes have both strengths and weaknesses, just like those who live with this chronic condition.
So which character would I be? Batman could be a contender. He has a utility belt with many neat gadgets. I have similar gadgets on my belt: an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), and an iPhone with an app that collects my glucose data. Plus, Batman drives a tricked-out vehicle—that’s how I see the closed-loop artificial pancreas system I hope will steer my blood glucose management one day.
Or is Captain America, with his need to do the right thing, a better match? I try to do the right thing by exercising and taking my medications. Yet just as Captain America’s good intentions can backfire, I can overdo it. I feel as though all my hard work has been cancelled out when my blood glucose drops and I have to scarf down juice and glucose tablets.
Or maybe I’m Wonder Woman. Just as there are fewer female superheroes than male, there are fewer people with type1 diabetes than type2. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1. And while insulin might not deflect bullets like Wonder Woman’s magic bracelets, it is a lifesaver.
Actually, I think I most resemble Tarzan, as my blood glucose often swings like the king of the jungle through the trees. When my glucose is in my target zone, I act as civilized as Lord Greystoke, Tarzan’s father. But let my blood glucose drop too low and I can be as untamed as Tarzan.
When I was diagnosed with type 1 as a child, I thought of diabetes as a villain. I fought and rebelled against the disease and the treatments. But now, as an adult who has lived with type 1 for all but four years of my life, I realize that diabetes can be a supervillain—but I can also be a superhero.
Anne-Marie Mills is a retired business services coordinator at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte Urban Institute and is beginning her second career as a beach bum in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Now 50, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 4. She is a fan of superheroes and underdogs.
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