Diabetes For The Day: Round Four
This past Monday and Tuesday, another dLife coworker volunteered to be "diabetic for the day." (We'll call him Johnny CoWorker for the purposes of this post.) He wore an infusion set (sans needle), a "pump," and tested his blood sugar throughout the day. But in addition to the physical hardware of diabetes, I spoke with Johnny CoWorker about the emotional aspects of diabetes, citing how vulnerable highs and lows can make us feel, what the feelings/food conundrum is like, and what it's like to manage a chronic condition not just for the day, but for a lifetime.
He asked a lot of questions. And he listened. This is his feedback about his experience with diabetes for the day:
Kerri: You wore a “pump” and tested your blood sugar throughout your day with diabetes. How did you feel about these devices?
JC: The pump was not an issue for me, it was slightly weird getting used to it and when I had to decide what to wear for work. Other than my kids asking me what the wire attached to me was, I didn’t notice it.
I got the hang of testing after a little bit, and was very interested in how working out or what I eat affected my numbers. A couple of times I got a bleeder and it stung and then one time I had to prick my hand four times to get enough blood to get a reading (rookie!). I felt in tune with my body and was intrigued to learn my numbers each time.
Kerri: You wore the pump all day and overnight. Was it comfortable? How was sleeping with something attached? Showering? Was it difficult to dress for? Did you almost drop it into the toilet at any point?
JC: Definitely the decision of what to wear was interesting – a button down shirt tucked in where the wire would be sticking out of my shirt or a sweater where the wire can easily go into my pocket. I choose the sweater to avoid the tugging of the wire. Relaxing, sleeping, and showering was much more comfortable than I expected. When I bent over to tie my shoes, I caught the injection site the wrong way and it pinched, I can only imagine what that would of felt like with a needle injected.
Kerri: How did testing your blood sugar affect the way you thought about food? Did you find the blood sugar testing to be painful? How comfortable were you with the process?
JC: I ate healthy all day so no big swings high or low, but I was very cognizant of testing before I ate and then two hours after to see what affect the food had on my numbers.
A couple of times it was painful. Initially when I first started I thought if I had to do this all the time I wouldn’t mind. But as the day wore on I found it to be more of a burden to do and was struck with the realization that this was a 24 hour experiment for me vs. a lifetime for many others.
Kerri: How did the blood glucose numbers make you feel? Did any of your results make you raise an eyebrow?
JC: Luckily no, I exercised and ate well all day so my numbers where in a range of 83 – 121, which I was pleased with.
Kerri: Do you feel as though you have a better idea of what life with diabetes is like? What else would you want to know? What are you grateful for not knowing?
JC: I think I do, but I don’t know that I can truly appreciate what it would be like for others unless “I had” to do all of this. I would be interested in learning more about if I had a heavy carb meal (like my favorites – pasta or pizza) and what that might of done to my numbers. I am grateful that I don’t have to know how food, exercise, or stress effects how I feel on a daily basis.
Kerri: Did this experiment make you appreciate your health any more? Less?
Kerri: As the sibling of a sister with type 1 diabetes, did this make you think more about what your sister has experienced over the years?
JC: This process definitely made me think about what she has experienced over the years. We never really talked much about her diabetes until I joined dLife three years ago and I think this experience can only add to our conversations we have in the future.
Kerri: Do you think other people who are close to diabetes, but aren’t diabetic themselves, should spend a day as a diabetic?
JC: Absolutely – at a bare minimum a day, I would suggest a week. This was a great experience, and I think it will help me both personally and professionally relating to people who are managing this disease on a daily basis.