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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!

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Sara(aaaah)

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.

Comments

I think there are times when we can wrap our lives too much around diabetes. Sometimes, it's good to take a break, step back, and reevaluate where we need to stand. I have run into situations where I had absolutely nothing else to talk about with people other than diabetes because I was so wrapped up in it. That's when I realized that internet time would be strictly diabetes (so I could get my "fix"), and other time with family or work would be for family or work. Sure, I still test and bolus and all the needed things, but conversations and such do not revolve around Diabetes like they used to.

And by the way, there are many ways to say the name "Sarah" or "Sara". My family is so country-fied with it, it's pronounced "Saay-rah". My husband's family sounds like they're saying "Ser-ah". Heck, my pastor says "Sae-ree" and I have NO clue where that comes from! I've just given up on correcting anyone on pronunciation! Hahaa!

That's an awesome post, and I'm glad I (kinda) met you. Thanks,
Yes, we do get wrapped up in our own little diabetic lives, don't we? But that's not necessarily a bad thing, we could have a lot worse habits (like the ones I used to have).
So thanks again, and write more, it's meaningful.
Daniel

Great post, Saraaaaaah. :) I was exactly the same as you till I brought my daughter home last April...It took that huge shake up for me to realize how skewed my priorities were. My CGMS graph, which used to look like a pretty lake tide, these days looks more like a mega-tsunami. But I look at it while I'm holding Anna Lily, make a face at it and then go on with my day. It matters, but there's so much that matters more...

I love this post. It's important to maintain perspective on life's bigger picture, and it's not easy to do when succeeding at D requires such time and attention. No, it's not easy at all.

This hit the mark for me, Sara. Balance: we can all use a healthy dose or at least a reminder.

Thanks for sharing!

what a wonderful post, sara! it's such a challenge to come to terms with and live with this disease (i too was diagnosed a little later on, at age 25), and it's so easy to fixate. but remembering that there is more out there is equally important.

Thanks for hosting me here today Kerri! I am enjoying reading the comments.

You must not have met too many people though if I am one of the nicest you've met!! :)

Great post Sara! Even more, I love your pic in the post. You look like you love life and that's a fantastic quality!

Sara-

Great post! I diabetes use to be an obsession for me but not any more.

Sarah...i so appreciate this post! i remember reading something from you about changing perspective about that bg number on the meter. it's information...don't look at it as good/bad...just info to help you make decisions. don't ask why, ask what now? (i'm sure i'm slaughtering this paraphrase) but this has helped me tremendously when C's numbers are soaring or plummeting. YOU have helped us. thank you!!

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