Tag: diaversary

22 Years

It’s that time again. The official day that I sit and reflect on my life as a person with diabetes. I say ‘official’ because this is something I think about daily (no special anniversary needed). It has now been 22 years since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 3. To avoid sounding redundant, I’ll skip the details about the struggle of attempting to manage some kind of control over my body. Instead, I’ll share some exciting things that I’m doing right now and have been doing that relate to art and diabetes.

Diaversary 2016 Collage

  1. Children’s Book. Writing a children’s book has been a dream of mine since I was a kid myself. I’ve always loved reading and drawing and writing and thought “why not create a book of my own?” It’s taken a while to get to this point (I have many unfinished stories), but it’s real this time and I’m determined to publish it within the next year. The reason I’m mentioning the book in this post is because the book I’m writing/illustrating is meant for kids who are growing up with diabetes. I don’t want to share too much information yet, but I’ve been working on this since September and still have a lot of work left. I’m SO excited to share it soon. You can see peeks if you follow me on Instagram @anamoralesart.
  2. Thesis Work. For my MFA I have to complete a written thesis as well as create work for a thesis exhibition this summer in Chicago. Both are influenced by my experiences living with diabetes and the work that I’ve made about diabetes over the past six years. My goal is to document both processes over the next several months and share them here and on other social media platforms. I’m making plans for the steps I will take post-graduation, and that includes sharing my work broadly and figuring out how I can bring it into non-art spaces as well.
  3. Diabetes Study. This doesn’t directly relate to my art practice, except that it’s kind of like research. I’m currently participating in a 16 week study conducted by The Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Science at The University of Virginia. The purpose of the study is to test an Internet-based program for use with women with Type 1 diabetes who plan on one day becoming pregnant. The goal of the program is to help these women learn how to regulate their blood glucose levels for pregnancy. It is almost like taking a refresher course on how to manage my numbers, plus I’m learning lots of new information and making a greater effort to notice symptoms of high and low blood sugar.
  4. Education. While I don’t have much time to do anything else, I’ve still been thinking about what the next step is for me. In addition to being an artist, I am also an educator and I think there is great value in using visual art to spread information that encourages empathy. I am interested in any opportunity to bridge the gaps between people who are suffering in isolation and between doctors and patients. I want to talk to students, doctors, patients, parents, and partners about the power of art in the realm of medicine. Last month, my work was part of a display by Art in CME at the 41st Annual ACEhp Conference (Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions) and I hope to participate in more things like this in the future.

Stay tuned for updates and more documentation of my progress. Thanks for reading! xoxo

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20 Years

PWDPWD
Oil
30″ x 40″

Today is a big day for me. 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. That makes today my 20th “Diaversary”. I’ve talked about my diabetes on several occasions here, but if this your first time visiting, just know that I was only three years old when I was diagnosed so I don’t remember a life without it. You should also know that my diabetes became a prominent subject in my artwork pretty recently (about 3 years ago). Explore the site a little and you’ll see what I mean.

February 28th is really no different than any other day for me. It’s not like I forget about my diabetes the other 364 days of the year. No, diabetes is constantly on my mind. This day, however, is a reminder of how far I’ve come and the things I’ve conquered in spite of my chronic invisible illness. It’s also a reminder of the long journey ahead of me.

The self-portrait pictured above is my first painted self-portrait, and while it may seem pretty ordinary to you, it kind of makes me want to cry when I look at it. I started the painting back in December and intended to include it in my portfolio for my grad school applications. I finished it just in time for the deadline, but it didn’t look right to me so I didn’t use it. I decided to come back to it this week so that I could finish it in time for today. I finished it last night and I have mixed feelings about it. Since it’s a pretty large (and not totally accurate) rendering of my face, I’m nervous to hear or read what anyone will say about it. The painting itself reminds me of my relationship with my diabetes. It’s not totally figured out and it somehow makes me feel both good and bad at the same time. Satisfied and also really unsatisfied. My expression is calm, but kind of unsettling. The thing is that I didn’t plan for any of those things, it just turned out that way.

PWD (detail)

Initially, I planned on creating a really expressive portrait of myself using loose strokes and lots of colors. However, the more I worked on it, the more I focused on getting it to look just like me and the more frustrated I became when it didn’t. Anyway, the point is that the process was definitely a learning experience for me and I plan on doing more self-portraits in the future. Now back to my diaversary.

While I’ve always been aware of the short-term complications of diabetes, going through the process of making artwork about it has kind of forced me to really confront the possibility of long-term complications. Yes, it’s hard for me to think about those things sometimes, but the nice thing is that when I’m painting, I’m sort of temporarily escaping my reality (even when I’m painting it). Does that make sense? It’s like I think about these complications and risks without getting too emotional or becoming really sorry for myself.

Having this disease completely sucks, but I have a lot of people and things to be thankful for and it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t think about them today. My plan is to continue with this series of work (probably all the way through grad school!) and show it to as many people as possible. I’m also playing around with the possibility of putting all these paintings in a book someday. We’ll see. As always thank you for reading :]

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19 years

19 years ago today, I was 3 years old and in a hospital being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Of course, since I was only 3, I didn’t really know what was going on and I can’t recall what I was thinking about the whole situation at the time. Sometimes I wish I could remember what was going through my little head as I sat on a hospital bed getting poked with needles, although I’m ultimately thankful that I don’t remember feeling any pain. I don’t remember how my parents or any of my siblings reacted to the news. The only thing I do remember about that eventful day is that I received two gifts. I got a tiny weird looking stuffed bear, and my brother gave me (or maybe he just lent me) some of his ninja turtle figurines, which I thought was a huge deal because he loved the ninja turtles.

Since I was diagnosed early on, I don’t know what a life without diabetes is like. Thinking about all the things I’ve gone through because of diabetes and the fact that I always made it out okay makes me really proud of myself. I spent many years of my life not trying to hide my condition, but really trying not to make others feel uncomfortable. I hated pricking my fingers and giving insulin injections in front of people and I still feel very self-conscious about it.

It’s hard and scary living with a chronic disease that affects so many different parts of my body. My dentist recently told me that my bloodsugar levels are increasing my risk of developing gum disease and my eyesight has been slowly on the decline since I was in second grade. I already suffer from poor blood circulation and giving injections is starting to hurt more and more because of the amount of scar tissue I have. I wear myself out so much just worrying about all these things, but I’m a worrier, so it’s hard for me to not do that.

Despite my diabetes, I’ve done very well academically and I’m graduating with honors from JMU this May (where did the time go??). I know I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, but I usually don’t give myself enough credit for that. Today, I am celebrating my accomplishments, not in any big way, but just by allowing myself to feel good about where I am at this point in my life instead of worrying about the next step.

I’ve been student teaching in a high school for the past 8 weeks and this week I did a fabric stamping lesson based on personal symbols. For my example, I chose symbols based on diabetes: a beta cell, test strips, and a blue ring, which is the national symbol for diabetes. Here’s my outfit for today in honor of my “diaversary”:

28-1DSC00804

If you know anyone who is suffering from diabetes or any other disease, show them your support and love. Sometimes you don’t need to understand what’s going on. Just being there for someone who is suffering is enough. A million thank you’s to the people in my life that have been there for me. Who knows where I would be without you <3

 

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