“We are blessed – by Helen May

I live on a steep road which you get to up a steeper road. There are clearly disadvantages with this: any exercise finishes with a tough cycle or run. Even a pleasant night out with friends ends with a walk up a steep hill. However, there are advantages: not least a great view and, anyone who lives in the area is pretty fit.

At the end of my short street is a bench. The hedge in front of the bench is kept trimmed by neighbours. Often, when I pass the bench, I stop and have a chat with an elderly lady. She lives on the steeper road that leads to the steep road upon which I live. Unless it’s raining, she walks up her steep road and up my steep road, stops on the bench, admires the view, catches her breath and walks home whilst her husband makes the tea. I don’t know her age (it’s rude to ask) but I would guess somewhere in her 70s. She always talks when I pass and although we don’t talk about much of any substance (usually the weather or what is on television tonight), she is always positive and  she often tells me how blessed we are living in a free country with so much on offer to us.

“Blessed” is not a word in my every day vocabulary. In fact, before I wrote this post, I looked it up in the dictionary to check I would use it correctly.

1. consecrated; sacred; holy; sanctified
2. worthy of adoration, reverence, or worship
3. divinely or supremely favoured; fortunate
4. blissfully happy or contented.
5. Roman Catholic Church. beatified.
6. bringing happiness and thankfulness:
7. Informal. damned

Although the origins of Christmas are in religion (either Christian or Pagan), I have chosen to think about this time of year as a time to be thankful to others regardless of faith. With this in mind, I think I am blessed in terms of “supremely favoured” when it comes to diabetes.

Don’t get me wrong, I would rather not have a chronic disease. But I am very grateful I have it now and in the UK. I believe I am blessed to be living with diabetes after insulin was discovered; in a time when we have a choice of treatments including diet and exercise (for some with Type 2) as well as insulin pens and insulin pumps; when we have a large source of information about how much insulin to take; in the era of the internet when there is a large online community to share with and learn from; and when there is a desire to find a cure.

Reading news items from America about the rising cost of insulin and the struggles for people without insurance or the challenges of refugees risking so much crossing the Mediterranean with their meagre supplies of insulin, I realise how blessed we are to have the NHS the in the UK. If I was unable to work, I would not have to worry about getting hold of insulin to keep myself alive.

Above all, I am grateful to the existence of the NHS and the wonderful people who work for the NHS. From the GP who first recognised that I had diabetes, to the diabetes nurse who taught me how to inject, to the diabetes consultant who suggested I tried a pump to the anaesthetist who kept an eye on my blood glucose levels whilst I was unconscious during an operation,  I am immensely grateful for their work to keep me alive.

So, whilst I wish everyone a Happy Christmas, I spare an extra thought to the members of the NHS who may be working over this holiday. I hope they too are blessed.

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