25 Years With Diabetes: What I've Learned.
What I've learned in the last twenty-five years with type 1 diabetes:
- Some of what "they" said is wrong. It just is.
- There are times when "they" make a good point, and it's up to us as patients to figure out what information we react to.
- The needles don't hurt as much now as they did then. Lancets have become smaller and sharper, syringes can make the same claim. Insulin pump sites, once they're in, usually go without being noticed. Same goes for Dexcom sensors. (But "painfree" is a misnomer and so subjective that medical device advertisers had best just steer clear of that word entirely. All needles pinch at least a little bit.)
- Progress isn't always shown in tangible technological examples. Sometimes progress is being able to look at a blood sugar number without feeling judged by it. Or to look in the mirror without wishing you were different.
- There is life after diagnosis.
- Diabetes is sometimes funny. It has to be. If I didn't find ways to laugh at this shit, I would cry more. And crying leads to dehydration, which is a precursor for ketones, which aren't fun. So ... that brings us back to "diabetes is sometimes funny."
- Diabetes sometimes isn't funny. Sometimes this is the most serious disease in the world. It's a strange balance, acknowledging both aspects of this chronic disease.
- "Comfort food," to me, is a jar of glucose tabs on the bedside table when a blood sugar of 43 mg/dL wakes me up in the middle of the night.
- It's okay to cry about diabetes stuff. It's okay to celebrate the victories, too. This is life, and it's okay to feel all parts of it.
- Food wasn't for fun or nourishment for many, many years. Most of my childhood was spent viewing food as medicine; the means to an NPH peak's end.
- I am grateful that I've learned to eat because I'm hungry. Or because it tastes good. Not just because I "have to."
- Some days I feel like a steel magnolia. Other days I feel like a wilted pansy. Diabetes and flower similes aren't my strong suits.
- Diabetes scares me. To my very core, sometimes. I hate admitting that. I hate fearing something that I have inside of me every day, something I can't shake in any way, shape, or form. It's unnerving, never truly letting down my guard.
- Diabetes scares me most when I think about how it may affect my child. Which gives me a different perspective on what it was like for my parents. Which makes me want to call my mom and dad and say "thank you."
- Diabetes also inspires me. Same; to the core. It makes me work harder, fight longer, love harder, appreciate more.
- Family isn't limited to those in your gene pool.
- Testing my blood sugar is the best way for me to keep tabs on my diabetes. I wish I could say that wearing a pump was the answer, or using a CGM, but those devices are tools. Effective tools, but still just tools. I achieve the best outcomes when I test my blood sugar and actually respond to those numbers, both mentally and physically.
- Everything in moderation. Including platitudes. Turn the other cheek to platitudes.
- It took me a really long time to realize that perfection wasn't an achievable goal. Diabetes isn't a perfect science, and you can't hit the bullseye all the time. Maybe not even half of the time. The goal is to always aim for it, and to keep trying.
- It took me just as long to realize that diabetes-related health complications aren't my fault. Diabetes complications are the fault of diabetes, not of me. My job is to keep trying. (See above.)
- The word "diabetic" hasn't ever bothered me. (Maybe because I'm lazy and I don't want to say "person with diabetes"?)
- The word "complications" doesn't just apply to retinopathy, renal issues, and neuropathy. Diabetes is complicated in so many ways outside of the reach of a test result.
- Emotional health is just as important - maybe more so, to me - than physical health. Diabetes is a disease that requires your head to be "in the game" in order for your health to be optimal. Emotional health needs to be nurtured just as acutely as your blood sugars need to be tested.
- I've learned that I am not alone.
- Let me repeat that: I am not alone. And if I'm not alone, then neither are you. We are in this together. And we can do this.
- Success with diabetes, for me, isn't a perfect A1C. Or a crisp, organized logbook. It's not a week's worth of no-hitters. Success with diabetes, for me, is feeling happy. Despite, because ... whatever. Just feeling happy.
- And I feel like I'm succeeding.
(Thanks for the diaversary cheesecake, CSparl and Birdy. xo to my loves)