Today is World Diabetes Day.
I get the World (some days).
I get the Day (sometimes).
But I don’t get Diabetes, not really, especially my type of diabetes. It’s called Type 1. I don’t know where it came from (spoiler alert: there’s no family history). The post-diagnosis tests revealed no evidence of an autoimmune disorder (that’s when the body attacks itself with no real motive).
Halloween is a surreal holiday. It’s my favorite holiday, but it is also a reminder of how much life with an incurable chronic condition affects my perception of positive childhood memories. I’m lucky that I could grow up with trick or treating without Type 1 diabetes, but I am also cursed in that I will never relish in the same devilish appetite now that I have a disease that negates sugar.
So, it seems appropriate on this almost All Hallow’s Eve and in preparation for November — National Diabetes Awareness Month – that I should write about what it’s truly like to live a day in the life of someone with Type 1 diabetes. A few weeks ago, I took an ordinary Monday (well, as ordinary as a Monday can be) and tracked every time I thought about my diabetes – every time I checked my blood sugar, every time I calculated carbohydrates for a meal, every time I felt something was “off,” and every time I administered insulin to keep my body alive.
Even I was amazed at how much managing diabetes has become a part of my everyday life. With advancements in technology, I’m able to do more, and I’m able to have more variety in the foods I eat. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it any less. That doesn’t mean I can take a break from being there for my body.
So, here’s one example of one day (because no day is the same) with Type 1 diabetes (there are no days off). It’s a long one, so bear with (just keep in mind that this is really how much I think about diabetes on a daily basis – believe me, it sucks). Continue reading
I’m 30. People said my metabolism would slow down the closer I got to this milestone. But it’s not just being 30. There’s something else I have to contest with – something called Type 1 diabetes.
I don’t have the energy I had when I was 22 or 25 or even 27. Something has changed in the past year. I’m exhausted all the time. I’m lucky when I can work out more than three times a week. Hell, I’m lucky when I can manage to do weights after a 10-hour work day.
Any kind of physical activity is a struggle. I want to be in shape. I don’t want to be overweight when I age, but over the last year, I’ve gained 10 pounds. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s hard for someone who used to have to body image issues to tell herself it’s okay I’m a little heavier. Continue reading
Today, the Senate proposed a revised version of a new health care bill that makes me want to run for some hidden woodland area and never return. I literally had the thought that maybe it would actually be better if I killed myself than live through another four years of health coverage trauma.
Don’t worry. I’m not having suicidal thoughts, and I definitely want to see what else life has to offer. But I do worry about my well-being. A few years ago, I was focused on the planet and what we could do for the environment for the sake of public health. And while I’m still passionate about those issues, it’s hard to be focused on the Earth when I can’t even guarantee my own life’s safety. Continue reading
This past week, I visited my endocrinologist. My lab results looked good. I had an A1C of 6.0 (126 mg/dl – this is the target for those with Type 1 diabetes).
An A1C blood test provides insight into a person’s average blood sugar levels over a three-month period. Anything over 7.0 (154 mg/dl) usually means a risk of diabetes. When I was diagnosed with Type 1, I had an A1C of 16.0 (420 mg/dl). The fact I hadn’t gone into complete renal failure still astounds me.
Six months ago, I switched jobs so I acquired new health insurance. And for the first time in four years, I was excited to ask for a new prescription for my test strips and insulin. I no longer had to go through Optum-Rx, a mail-delivery service, to receive 90-day supplies of my medical needs. I could finally return to the wonders of CVS.
A few days later, CVS notified me that my test strips were ready for pick up, but when I checked my online account, I saw that my insulin was listed as a “new prescription on file.” So, I called the pharmacy. Apparently to fill my order of Humalog insulin, my new insurance required I get a prior authorization from my doctor. Well, that was new. Continue reading
This past weekend, by all accounts, should have been a wonderful weekend. And in many ways, it was. I spent some quality time with cool friends, and I met some even cooler people. I finally visited the Big Apple and learned that Broadway is a street, not a place (this one may haunt me for a while).
But while I was gallivanting through New York City completely overwhelmed yet in awe of Central Park, Times Square and the darkness of the skyscrapers, others were hurting. On Sunday, I received some heartbreaking news, and out of respect for the parties involved, I will not disclose here. But needless to say, it’s the kind of news that brings someone like me to tears on the spot.
And on that same day, a woman at a gas station banged a bathroom door into my head (on accident, of course, but it hurt like hell – I still have a tender bruise). The weather was raining and overcast, and we were at the beach. Mother Nature couldn’t have been crueler (okay, I suppose a hurricane would have done it). My blood sugar levels were all over the place — from severe highs to severe lows.
Physically, I felt depleted and weak. Emotionally, I was hurting. And I was fortunate I was surrounded by such amazing people who let me process my emotions in my own time and even acknowledge that while I wanted to blame myself, I had done my best to be the most supportive friend I could be, and that was enough. When I returned to the sunny skies of DC on Monday, I received more bad news. Continue reading
Last week I wrote about the “art of practicing nothing” aka being present in the present moment. I’m sure there are folks who spend a lifetime mastering this skill, but as a recent neophyte to the practice, this is an almost impossible task to achieve. Even without my to-do lists and email/social media on my phone, I still found myself distracted by the littlest worries.
But nevermind the littlest worries. It’s hard to force myself to enjoy the “present” when I have 24/7 anxiety about my ability to survive in the coming years. And post-traumatic stress from previous failures at surviving. I read about suicides and drug overdoses on the daily, and then I read about another Type 1 diabetic dying from complications of the disease.
My life is on the line every day. I never get a day off from this disease. And sometimes it’s easiest to just ignore it so I can live my life, but then that’s when I’m most at risk. So where’s the balance? Where’s the fine line between safety and insanity? Continue reading