A month ago, I was planning a trip to the Caribbean.
And when that fell through, I was planning a trip to see my brother in San Francisco.
And when that was put on hold, I started planning a trip to visit my cousin in Dallas to celebrate the Kentucky Derby together.
And then the next day coronavirus (COVID-19) arrived in DC.
Today, there are 114 cases in Virginia (20 hospitalized and 2 deaths). That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s more than double than what we had five days ago (and this is just based on who’s been tested).
There are Two Types of Diabetes
I have Type 1 diabetes (T1D) – an autoimmune disorder in which the body no longer produces insulin, a hormone needed to digest food into energy for survival. There is no cure, and this type of diabetes cannot be changed with diet and exercise. Since I was diagnosed at 22, I’ve known that I will be stuck with diabetes for life.
This makes living a little bit different. Every day is a risk. I’m not sure people besides those with Type 1 realize that. But one wrong move, one variable unaccounted for, and my life could be in danger. It could happen that fast. It almost has. But I try not to think about that. With access to insulin and the advancement in technology and medical supplies, and a little bit of faith, I have a found a way to manage.
Diabetes and Coronavirus
Having Type 1 diabetes doesn’t necessarily make me more susceptible to catching COVID-19, but the repercussions if I do contract it are severe.
It’s something my family doesn’t quite understand (in their defense, I was 22 when I was diagnosed, so they did not grow up with me having T1D). They think I am young and therefore resilient.
I am, in a lot of ways. I have relatively good blood sugar control (my last A1C was 6.0). I never get sick (my friends call me the “carrier”). I’ve never had the flu, even prior to my diagnosis. I work out and try to maintain a healthy diet.
But I also have never had a fever with Type 1 diabetes – one of the telltale signs of COVID-19. And in a feverish state, I don’t know how I would best manage my diabetes alone. Blood sugar levels rise with infection, and if they get too high for too long, the body goes into something called diabetic ketoacidosis – a serious condition that can lead to coma or even death.
This is life-threatening. So, yeah, I want to have faith in my body and my resilience. But there’s a valid reason I am on that high-risk list.
A Contingency Plan
I’m taking all the necessary precautions. I was a bit of a germaphobe before this new virus arrived. I’ve taken that control to a whole new level (including disinfecting the new cardboard boxes that enter my apartment), but at the end of the day, there is only so much I can control. I’ve been self-isolating for the last week with the exception of leaving my apartment to grab a few essential supplies.
I have been making an effort to drink more fluids and continue with my strengthening and conditioning routines to keep my health and resilience up. But the truth of the matter is I am going to have to go outdoors again at some point. And who knows when all of this will let up?
So, a good friend and I made a pact – if either of us gets sick, we will create a schedule, so that we are always checking in on one another (we both live alone). And we will have an emergency plan in place in case I am not able to care for my diabetes, and complications get serious.
Because if I do get sick, there is still no cure. Just like Type 1 diabetes. The best I can do is manage. And hope in the worst of circumstances (because I have already faced so much with one disease) that I can prevail. So, I remind myself to breathe and focus on the things in life that still bring me joy, like this blog and my books and Norm and coloring to episodes of Murder She Wrote.
Life at Home Indefinitely
On a less morbid note, minus the anxiety and stress of working in the communications field right now, I am thoroughly enjoying my new schedule. As a creative person (and a bit of a procrastinator), the 9-5 schedule never really worked for me long-term. It pays the bills but is not conducive to my actual creative needs. And now that I have the flexibility to re-create that schedule, I have a myriad of ideas and limitless creative energy.
And because I spent so much time this past winter re-conditioning myself to enjoy spending time alone and breaking up with my phone, I am not going stir crazy without social interaction. In fact, I actually wake up excited to start the day and see what unfolds (that is when I’m not panicking about work or coronavirus).
I honestly don’t know how I will ever go back to life pre-COVID-19.
So, in the meantime, I obviously want to spend more of my time on creative endeavors. I haven’t spent much of the last year writing about diabetes on this blog. Last year was full of other distractions — finding a romantic partner, losing a job, finding a job, losing a romantic partner, gaining a new social network, losing more romantic partners, and then Norm.
April 24 marks my 11-year-anniversary with Type 1 diabetes. So, in the weeks leading up to that anniversary, I plan to post a little more on this blog, in honor of life and community and the fact that I am still here. Norm is sure to make an appearance, too. So, stay tuned, for #AGoodLife.
In unrelated news, there’s a planet that rains liquid iron.