D-Blog Week: At Least It's Not ...
Today's D-Blog Week prompt is: "If you could switch chronic diseases, which one would you choose to deal with instead of diabetes? And while we’re considering other chronic conditions, do you think your participation in the DOC has affected how you treat friends and acquaintances with other medical conditions?"
This prompt makes me think of this: "Type 1 diabetes? At least it's not [insert other health condition here]."
I am not comfortable with this prompt. Mostly because it makes me feel lucky for how things are, and at the same time apprehensive about how they make shake out. And I can't reconcile those feelings; I can't bake them together into something I can swallow.
I feel lucky that, of all the chronic illnesses that I could be living with, I have type 1 diabetes. "Lucky" actually feels like a dirty word, the wrong word, and I wish there was a word that would better exemplify that it's not "luck," but thankfulness for treatment options, coupled with thankfulness that I was born and raised in a country where my educated, employed parents had access to not only the drug I needed to stay alive, but also the means to provide education that would help me make choices and decisions that contributed to improved health outcomes. This thankfulness comes part and parcel with an appreciation for how invisible type 1 diabetes can be, and how I don't look, or feel, very sick on a day-to-day basis. I'm grateful that, even though my immune system has buckled in that one sense, I can survive. I feel lucky. This disease requires a lot of effort every day simply to hit stride with "normal," but most of the time, it's not something that keeps me from having a good day.
And exactly at the same time, every day is laced with an apprehension that I can't quite put my finger on. While low blood sugars are brief in duration, sometimes they are so intense and honestly scary that they leave me nervous for hours, or weeks, afterward. Sometimes the threat of a low is enough to kick apprehension into gear, like when I'm cramming extra glucose tabs into my Spibelt when I go for a run, picturing myself a few miles from home and wandering, disoriented and severely hypoglycemic. Before I go to bed at night, every single night, I check the IOB on my pump and the graph on my Dexcom and I try to calculate the probability of an overnight hypoglycemic event that might be easy and quick to treat, or that may be the moment that changes everything. And while high blood sugars aren't comfortable while they play out, I am apprehensive about what that 150, 190, 250 ... 300 mg/dL does even during it's brief visit. Even though my body appears to work and seems healthy, this disease makes my body unable to self-manage blood sugar levels, and sometimes the worry about what is happening to the actual cells of my body is enough to fill my mind with troubling thoughts about what may happen, despite my efforts. This apprehension now is without my dealing with marked complications, without other health conditions in play. And that makes me more apprehensive about how the future may unfold.
This disease is a mental bowl of marbles, some black with worry, some white with hope, but mostly filled with gray ones of varying shades, where worry and apprehension and hope and fear and joy and life mix together. "At least it's not [insert other health condition here]." But isn't that every health condition? Doesn't everyone who is living with a chronic health issue, or taking care of someone with one, deal with a very constant and unique thread of chaos and comfort, braided tightly?
I wouldn't want to switch with anyone. And I wouldn't want anyone to have to switch with me. I don't like anyone's body being compromised in any way. But at the same time, everyone who is managing a health "something" becomes part of my extended community. Through diabetes, I hope I am learning about empathy, and hope, and not only other people's health conditions, but the human condition.