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
Prior to leaving for my vacation more than a week ago, I wrote about how burnt out I felt, and how much I needed to unplug from the world and its ugliness. Well, I made sure of it. I visited a place where I had no service, and there was no talk of politics or world events.
But when I plugged into Twitter four days later and saw news of Puerto Rico and the Graham-Cassidy health bill, I immediately shut it off. I haven’t read the news since. That doesn’t mean I don’t care; I care too much. That’s why this past year has been tumultuous for my physical and emotional health. The constant tide of health policy warranted that vacation alone.
And that week away from the news helped me find some inner peace again. It reminded me that I could be happy with the “little” wins, that I could still physically thrive in this unsure health landscape, and that I could love among the worst of circumstances. So, when I returned to DC a week ago, I decided I wasn’t ready to handle the news just yet. 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
I’m finally on vacation. I should be excited, right? I was certainly excited leading up to this week. But right now? I’m burnt out.
Ever since I entered the professional 9-5 realm almost a decade ago, I haven’t had more than 10 days of paid vacation per year (and some years, I didn’t even have that). It’s a luxury — paid vacation. But as someone whose independent nature lends itself to a career of freedom and autonomy, the structure of the 9-5 can be a struggle. I mostly stick with it for the benefits (so far, it’s been the only way I can afford my diabetes).
But some things happened this past week that made me question how I’m spending the majority of my time and whether I am actually on a path to self-fulfillment. And then I realized just how exhausted I am from all the pressure — pressure from my body (diabetes), my bank account, my career, my relationships, etc. I know that I will be leaving in a few days to a mountain getaway, free from worldly distractions. Yet, I feel I am losing momentum and motivation. Continue reading
When I was in college, I used to turn my flip phone off for days when I felt I needed to disconnect from the world. I was not depressed or perturbed. There are just moments when being around people and the conflict that comes with it is too much, and I need a recess.
In the day of smartphones, this type of disconnect has proven impossible, especially now that I monitor my blood sugar levels from my phone. Continue reading
I love growing older – there is something about the introspection and wisdom that comes with age that very much appeals to my self-aware self.
With a chronic disease like Type 1 diabetes, getting older also means my body may not be able to manage as well after years of undue stress. The fatigue has been quite noticeable in the past year so much so that I once thought there may be something wrong with my thyroid. But my blood work continues to show positive signs (well, minus the incurable chronic condition).
But diabetes is not the only ailment I’ve had to face in the last 10 years. It’s an issue I don’t often talk about because I am somehow ashamed of its existence. It took me years to feel comfortable telling folks I had Type 1 diabetes. But diabetes, at least in today’s day and age, is somewhat understandable. And there’s scientific proof it exists.
So, what about another incurable chronic condition, that while it has a name in the scientific community, is often dismissed by health care providers because there’s no evidence the pain exists? And just like diabetes, researchers do not know where it comes from or why it exists. But it plagues more than 12 million people in the US (mostly women). Continue reading