An Erratic Condition: Dealing with the Unknowns of Diabetes
How do you cope when your diabetes has a mind of its own? If you live with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, I have a feeling you know exactly what I’m talking about. But let’s take a moment here and educate our non-diabetes loved ones and the non-diabetes medical community on what I’m talking about.
A Well Laid Plan
I think that one of the most important things that most of us with diabetes would tell you is that no matter how much planning we do, no matter how vigilant and consistent we are with our management, diabetes simply doesn’t care. Not one bit. We can plan all we want and sometimes it may work and sometimes it doesn’t. End of story.
And in my case, the only plan that consistently works for me is to be prepared to be caught off guard a lot of the time. Whether I’m traveling, taking a long walk or going about my day, type 1 diabetes just seems to love to pop up at the most, shall we say, inconvenient times. So after 30 years of this little monster, I’ve learned that in order to have some sense of control of the erratic nature of diabetes, I must stay 3 steps ahead of every scenario that could happen. And let me tell you, it’s exhausting. And of course, it doesn’t always work…
My Diabetes Reality
My personal perspective is that diabetes is not just about me and my personal care. For me, it’s also about the people around me and my not wanting them to be affected by this condition. I don’t want them to constantly run around and get me juice or have them wait for me as I bring my sugars up or down. Even though I know for a fact that they would help me in a nanosecond when and if I ever needed it, I don’t want to be the odd one out all the time.
I know that I seriously need to work on that perspective as it is not good for me, but that is one area that I struggle with all the time. It makes me frustrated and mad actually. But as I strive for diabetes perfection, which is in and of itself a non-starter, diabetes is a constant threat to that image. I guess I just feel like I’m always tap-dancing and diverting my personal diabetes challenges when I’m around others. I know, I need to get over it. Maybe someday I will but for now, that is my reality.
I once had a diabetes doctor say to me, “Peg, your diabetes management is going to change the longer you have it.” He and I talked about, even though the end result of stable blood sugar control is the goal, the path to getting there will always be shifting. These were wise words as the longer I have had to live with diabetes, the more this seems to be true. Think of playing laser tag with a cat. Now imagine that diabetes is the red dot and you’re the cat. That’s diabetes management. Yep. There it is. A perfect example.
Pro-active vs Reactive
Typically, I strive to be pro-active about my health and actually, my life in general. And so when diabetes throws me a curve ball, which is most days, I don’t like having to be so disrupted and reactive as it drives home the point that I’m not able to control every aspect of what diabetes is going to do. I’m simply not that powerful. Control freak? Perfectionist? Perhaps but that’s how I feel.
What Helps Me Deal With the Unknowns of Type 1 Diabetes
Now, this may sound a bit strange, but I have found a perspective that has been helping me deal with all the unknowns associated with type 1 diabetes. First of all, I know in my heart and mind that every day, I strive for stable and consistent blood sugars because frankly, I want to feel good, so this perspective works for me.
Anyway, one particularly frustrating day, I was asked how I was doing and I replied, “The body is struggling today.” Notice how I said THE body and not MY body? And suddenly it hit me, my diabetes is not me. My diabetes is a “thing” that has attached itself to my life. And it made me realize that because so much of my diabetes is out of my control and is based on an infinite amount of variables and also, that my lifestyle is just as erratic and inconsistent as this condition, for me, viewing diabetes as a separate entity has taken away some degree of pressure, stress and self-judgment. Taking the responsibility of type 1 diabetes from “me” to "the body" makes me feel less stressed somehow. Does this make sense to you? I’m thinking I should name the diabetes that has attached itself to me….Fred? Ethel? Ha… whatever it takes.
I don’t know if this idea or perspective would work for you, but I just wanted to give you something to think about. Perhaps you could come up with your own perspective that helps ease the burden of the emotional aspect of dealing with such an erratic condition.
Like I said, whatever it takes.
On we go…
About Peg Abernathy:
Peg Abernathy is a writer, activist and spokesperson for diabetes awareness, education and legislative reform. Her media work includes four years as a contributing diabetes columnist on The Huffington Post and three years as producer, writer and on-air talent, Sirius Radio, The Lime Network. Her diabetes sales and sales training corporate career includes early tenure at two successful insulin pump start-ups as well as various blood glucose monitoring companies. She has also served as a consultant in the diabetic retinopathy space. Ms. Abernathy is a current member of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Community Leadership Board, Los Angeles, California and former Chair of the ADA Advocacy Committee, Los Angeles.
Follow her on twitter: @diabetesmedia