The assignment for today is 5 challenges of living with diabetes and then 5 victories or things that keep me going!
Anyone who lives with T1 diabetes will tell you that the challenges are many! For myself I think the number one challenge is that T1 diabetes is a disease of constant change! You can eat the same number of carbs, bolus the same amount of insulin, have the same basal program for a week in a row and get 7 different numbers. It is SO FRUSTRATING! Humans by nature sort of like things to be status quo! We don’t want our world rocked around a lot. Yes you can learn to deal with it. But it is tiresome! It wears on you! Sometimes you even wonder “If this is what my life is going to be like, is it worth it?” Tough place to be as the person in it and even tougher to an outside observer who loves the person with T1! I can’t believe I am even writing about it but it is true…sometimes in that deep dark place inside of us…we get so tired that we question whether we REALLY WANT to live this way! We search and pray for a CURE or at the very least something that will ease the burden of the everyday crap of living with the disease. We try EVERYTHING suggested and yet sometimes the numbers don’t add up. We might even be accused of “not trying” hard enough! We live with our back up to a wall! Every stinking day! The day I found a small victory with this was the day I turned and really took a good look at the wall that was holding me up…the wall that had my back. That wall was composed of love and care of friends, family, a AWESOME diabetic team, and of course Bravo, Radar, and every other diabetic alert dog that I have helped raise or foster! I realized by not looking at the wall I was being very selfish and very self-centered. I have been caught in the “poor me” mentality and realized that I was falling “victim” to this disease! Sometimes it takes my “wall” booting or nipping” me in the backside to get me to see JUST HOW LUCKY I REALLY AM!
Challenge number 2 of this disease is the numbers. Almost every aspect of this disease is about numbers. How many carbohydrates? How much protein? How many calories? What does this food weigh so I can figure out how to bolus? How much do I bolus? How much are my basals? How much does one unit of insulin normally drop my blood glucose? How many carbohydrates does it take to raise my blood glucose? The numbers seem to never ever end! My diabetic friends when we are together make a game out of the carb counting. Meters on table and pumps in ready…we then play the “What are you shooting up for?” Looking back other patrons might think we are CRAZY! We are laughing and joking and in general having a good time. We KNOW who is going to overshot the insulin and have a low! We are pretty sure of who is going to be high at 2 hours. But we laugh and sometimes we get it right! Sometimes we don’t but it is the laughter, the knowing we tried, that makes the 2-hour mark bearable no matter what the outcome!
The third challenge of living with diabetes is that it is NEVER CONVINENT! It is always right in the middle of something I consider important when low or a high blood glucoses strike! Right when I am having the most fun or when I am most focused! I don’t want to stop what I am doing to deal with the low or high! As a normal human being I want to feel like I have “it” together. I wasn’t to feel that I am a valuable and contributing member of society! As a T1 diabetic in the middle of one of those inconvenient and sometimes life threatening low or high blood glucoses I feel like a FAILURE, I feel like I am bothering others when I need their help, and most of all I am frustrated and stupid that I had to stop what I was doing to deal with business. We ll have crap to deal with and I get that but sometimes once again I JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN or FINISH A JOB WITHOUT INTERUPTION. There are 2 things that help me when the convenient factor arises! The first is I think about what Bravo has done for me and what he has given up. Bravo LOVES to retrieve and his favorite thing to retrieve is birds. Yet I have been out hunting with him and seen him MAKE A CHOICE to offer alerting behavior over retrieving! That is how much he knows his job! The other thing that helps is HUMOR! It isn’t always funny in the middle of a low blood glucose but after it I can guarantee a good laugh or two! Thank God I don’t usually remember too much about the specifics of the lows! One of my many funny stories happened when I was deer hunting in Missouri! I had a bad stubborn low that wasn’t responding to treatment. I was in the timber in a fairly remote area of the farm. In the fog of the low blood glucose the only thing I knew was to call my friend Kim! I called her in Utah to find out if she knew where I had parked the truck in Missouri! It is good to have friends that “get it”.
The forth challenge of living with the diabetes is simply the amount of “stuff” we have to carry as a T1 diabetic! Holy cow my alert dog also has to be a pack mule! Lets see in my d-bag I carry….
Low BG treatments
Batteries for pump and meter
Emergency Contact Numbers
Small sharps container
Big Bottle of Glucose tabs
This is just from memory without dumping the bag! A trick that Kim taught me..SET ORGANIZED and KEEP IT STOCKED! When you use something REPLACE IT!
Lastly and this is another DARK THEME……how about the challenge of going to sleep and not sure at all that morning will come! Sometimes it is downright scary to go to sleep. Usually this happens when I have had a really bad day or couple of days of lows! All I can do and will continue to do it to do MY BEST when it comes to self care. What is IS and what will be WILL BE! It is all in God’s hands! If I do my part I figure He can handle the rest. I have to remember that! Tomorrow is never guaranteed so I do my best to make sure that THIS DAY was as good as it can get. I can’t change most things about diabetes but I can change my attitude !
I know this post is fairly long and has moments of darkness, but it is truly what some of the challenges and victories of living with T1! If you can’t have a good day at least have a good attitude!