It is fall — the times are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, and diabetes is getting on my last nerves. This appears to occur each year. I know I’ve written similar blog entries several times, and I think it tends to occur around this time each year. So call it the annual emotional cleansing, the annual therapeutic yell in the pillow — it’s time to inform diabetes what I think of it. And while dressing it up as some therapeutic process might be a stretch, it’s not completely absurd, either; it’s essential that we give ourselves the space to just be mad every once in a while. I can say that — I am a former therapist. Let us begin the countdown!
10. Individual pin cushion!
From the grand scheme of things, shots for us Diabetians aren’t bad. The needles are tiny, and a mosquito bite hurts more. Nevertheless, I calculated it the other day, and guessed I’ve given myself near 40,000 shots. 40,000!!! Even if I don’t particularly mind them, it gets the list due to sheer size!
9. Scar tissue.
Connected to shots, scar tissue is number nine in my listing. Scar tissue is what develops when you stab your own body over and over, say, 40,000 days, for example! Scar tissue messes with absorption, and it can turn a seemingly simple meal into a drawn-out ordeal of appetite and high amounts since you wait, and wait, and wait, and wait some more, for that insulin to FINALLY make its way for your system and influence blood sugar!
8. Alone in a crowd.
I composed a complete blog entry about that a few weeks back — diabetes has a unique psychological toll that nobody without diabetes could really 100% gain. I am not wanting to sound too dramatic — we could manage this disorder, and yes, things might be worse. But there is relentlessness about diabetes, particularly when you’re on insulin, that could drive you a little crazy. And explaining WHY it’s so annoying is in my experience, simply not possible when speaking to your non-Diabetian friends. However well meaning and worried they are, they won’t quite understand.
7. The THREAT of poor things.
Diabetes complications are no joke, and they dangle over all of us 24/7. I have not experienced any yet, but I’ve had this disease for 23 years, and I know that the odds are that I will confront some kind of issue. Even the most tightly controlled among us does not have 100% normal blood sugar all the time, and there is a toll on the body we all confront. The menacing “someday-ness” of complications is no fun.
6. Terrible advice.
Diabetes is common enough that lots of people know the hugely abbreviated summary version (the disorder with too much sugar), but infrequent enough that few know what’s really involved. This may result in comments like, “You can not have that cookie; you’ve got diabetes,” or “Why are you drinking that juice? That’s sugar in it!” Or “If you lost some weight, you would not require insulin anymore.” Ah, ill-informed and unsolicited advice — always enjoyable!
5. Stingy rewards.
Diabetes management demands immense brainpower, continuous calculating, serious planning, and mountains of data that have to be sorted through to show patterns of cause and effect. It’s a 24/7 job that you don’t ever get to leave. Along with the reward for all this? Blood sugars that are only slightly worse than non-diabetic levels rather of much worse than non-diabetic levels. When our system is out of whack (due to stress, or as a bug is passing through town, or another reason you may think of), we have to work harder, and also the outcomes inevitably get worse.
4. Bad things.
I talked about the vague threat of complications, but the real complications take number four. It should probably be higher on this list — and it might be later on when I find myself faced with some of them. I’ve been lucky up to now, and that I don’t want to presume to speak for others here. However, following is a partial listing: Nerve damage; increased rates of heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks; kidney failure; damage to your eyes and even blindness; loss of limbs due to circulation problems; and more. So, yeah, diabetes is no joke.
3. Severe lows.
I’ve been taken to the ER twice in my entire life due to acute hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels). As time passes, your sensitivity to low blood sugar decreases, and having had Type 1 diabetes for 23 years, mine isn’t great. I wear a continuous glucose monitor, and that’s been a godsend for me because it will alert me to some low even when I can not feel it coming. But hypoglycemia can come in any time, and even if it does not send one to the hospital, then it will mess with you. Symptoms include sweating, tingling, nausea, confusion, inability to speak articulately, and more. A serious low simply STOPS whatever it’s that you WERE doing, and you can not restart it until the low back.
2. Severe highs.
High blood sugars are maddening, particularly when they don’t make sense. If I eat a donut and that I did not take insulin for this, well I asked for the result. But when blood glucose just starts rising and there is no obvious reason WHY, it may drive you up the$&!!! wall! When you’ve completed everything RIGHT, calculated everything in accordance with your ratios, and you still get that 257 in your meter, it may turn on the inner Hulk!
The number one thing that I despise about diabetes is that: it never stops. I’ve been coping with this disease for 23 years straight. I’ve been monitoring and calculating and recalculating and planning and responding 24 hours a day for 23 years. That is 276 straight months, 8,395 consecutive days, 201,480 directly hours! In all that time I haven’t had one MINUTE in which I could fall diabetes in my mind, from my own awareness. It’s part of each and every breath I take, and will continue to be for the rest of my life, barring a miraculous remedy (and I am not confident). It’s relentless. It never sleeps, it never requires a break, it never stops.
So there you have it my listing of those ten things I hate about diabetes. I hope that I am not bumming everyone out. Anyone out there who is also living with this disorder knows we’re stronger than it’s, and I’ve lived a happy life filled with wonderful times, people, and memories. Diabetes is only part of it. But that does not mean I have to enjoy it!
Wish to find out more about keeping your mental health with diabetes? Read “Coping With Diabetes and Depression,””Reducing Diabetes Stress: Alternative Treatments” and “Relaxation Strategies for Stressful Times.”