Guest Post: Balance.
Despite the fact that she feels I say her name wrong ("Saraaaaaah" vs. "Sara"), and despite the fact that back at CWD several years ago, the lady at the registration desk thought she was my daughter (ahhhh!), I'm honored to have Sara from Diabetes Daily guest posting today on SUM. :) She's very tolerant of my ball-busting, and I am pretty sure she might be one of the nicest people I've ever met. So thanks, Sara, for lending your words today!
* * *
My whole life has been a competition. I have an older brother so I was always working to be as smart, athletic, funny, and creative as he seemed to so easily be. When I was able to find those things that I was good at, like school, I worked very hard to not only be good, but the best. I’m not just competitive but also a perfectionist.
I was not diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes until my senior year of college in 2003. I think until that point, I could count the number of people I knew with diabetes on one hand, and four of them had Type 2. It was a whole new world for me, and one that I had to quickly perfect.
For example, I was sent home from the hospital after my diagnosis with what was basically an exchange system diet. Since I suddenly felt like I couldn’t control so many things in my life, following that diet was something that I could control. I ate the same thing every day and can remember it even now – an English muffin with peanut butter and a scrambled egg with cheese on it for breakfast, a sandwich on light wheat bread with a banana and two small ‘sugar free’ cookies for lunch, and a piece of baked chicken with vegetables and a piece of toast or small potato for dinner. Every day. I could measure my success by how well I followed that diet, and I followed it well.
In January of 2007, I stumbled upon one of the diabetes forums looking for the answer to a question. Living my life in the online diabetes world quickly became a new measure of success. I went from posting on my blog occasionally to posting almost daily. I was always reading the comments and posting some of my own on all the diabetes message boards. I became almost a nightly visitor in a diabetes chat room. I twittered diabetes and even pushed myself to be one of the first people to successfully finish the diabetes365 photo project. If anyone was going to have an answer to a question, I was going to have that answer and I was going to post it first! Being the best diabetic and, more importantly, the best member of the diabetes online community was my new obsession.
Obsession is not always a bad thing. The pressure that I put on myself gave me excellent control of my diabetes. I got my A1cs consistently in the low 6 range. I always knew about the latest controversy, advocacy, and research. I was taking really good care of myself, but for completely the wrong reasons.
My life had become nothing but diabetes and I didn’t notice anything wrong with that until it slapped me in the face this past October. It was actually what caused me to write this post and follow up with this one. Two people who are a very important part of my life shared with me some very painful things that had recently happened in their lives. I almost immediately felt guilty because I knew that I had been so wrapped up in my diabetes world that I missed my opportunity to prevent even a small part of their pain.
I was suddenly forced with reevaluating my priorities. I don’t blog as much anymore. I don’t tweet as often as I should. I hardly ever visit the message boards anymore and I had to step back from being a moderator on one of them. I dropped out of my second attempt at the diabetes365 project after about two weeks. My perfectionist tendencies want me to call that a failure. But you know what? A bigger part of me is perfectly content with all of those decisions.
Diabetes still requires a lot of my attention. There is not a meal, a bedtime, a vacation, or even a long car ride where it does not make an appearance. And every time I look at my meter I am still reminded of those feelings of success or failure based on the number that appears. But there is so much more to my life than diabetes and I would rather have my life be measured by those moments rather than words or numbers on a screen.