I've been thinking a lot lately about what diabetes means. Like anything in life, it means something different for everyone. Some of us have type 1. Some have type 2. Others don't have it but know someone who does. And then there are those who know nothing about it, but feel like they should comment on it anyway.
So, here's a little list of what diabetes means...to me.
1. Testing my blood sugar anywhere from 5 to 10 times a day. This means poking my fingers over and over again. With it comes the waiting and the analyzing. Why is it high? Why is it low? Oh, it's normal—yay me.
2. Yes, I actually congratulate myself on my blood sugar. That's what happens when you take over the work of your organ. But this can also mean I get frustrated or blame myself for the "bad" numbers.
2. I favor fingers without thinking about it—until I look at them closely and realize the sides are calloused or have little black dots from all the pokes.
3. Waking up in the middle of the night and having my first thought be, "you should test your blood sugar." Sometimes it's normal. Sometimes it's not.
4. I carry some form of sugar with me at all times—just in case. Even the thought of not having enough glucose tabs or forgetting to grab my juice can make me feel panicked. Having sugar around is like having a security blanket.
5. Constantly reminding myself that it's going to be okay. This is especially true for when my blood sugar is low. "You've had lots of lows. Remember that time your blood sugar was 30? It's only 50 now. That's not so bad. Your glucose tabs worked then, and they'll work now. You'll feel better soon."
6. If I'm alone when my blood sugar is low, sometimes I call my parents. It goes back to feeling reassured—that someone who loves you will take care of you if you can't take care of yourself.
7. The fear of passing out. I've never passed out and hope I never do.
8. I have it pretty good considering how much things have advanced since diabetes was first diagnosed. Sure, things aren't perfect. Insulin is not a cure. But things have come a long way, and I'm grateful for that.
9. I should be more prepared. Every time I hear of a natural disaster or really anything that could be considered a crisis, I think about how I should really have all my diabetes stuff in one place, preferably within a bag that I could easily grab.
10. Sometimes I have to take breaks and ask for help. This is something I'm much better at. For the longest time, I didn't want to be viewed as different. I didn't want anyone to think I couldn't handle something. Now I have to face the fact that I can handle it—I just may need a little break to drink some juice or take some insulin.
11. I pay attention to everything I eat and do. It's not all about sugar, people. It's carbs. It's fiber. It's fat. It's protein. All of those things affect your blood sugar. Same goes for sitting, walking, or running. Being stressed. Being sick. Being on your period. The weather. Taking a hot shower after taking insulin.
12. I think about diabetes a lot. But, I also DON'T think about it a lot. It's hard to explain. A lot of diabetes is second nature. I've been doing this thing for 8 years now. I'm pretty used to it. But because I pay attention to every little thing, and because it's always THERE, that means I'm always taking it into consideration.
13. It's not funny. I'm okay with the half robot jokes. I allow people I know well to make what I will call sarcastic jokes about the diabetes-sugar correlation. But really, I'm tired of that whole joke. There aren't many chronic illnesses out there that get made fun of quite like diabetes (correct me if I'm wrong).
14. Worrying whether anyone else in my family will be affected one day. This includes my future children that I may or may not have. Still on the fence about that one.
15. My life is automatically harder, but it doesn't mean that it's worse. Sure, diabetes can be a difficult diagnosis. There's fear, there's paranoia, there's guilt, there's denial. It's with you all the time. It affects everything and everything affects it. But that doesn't mean everything has to go downhill because of it.
There are so many more things I could get into, but I will leave it at that—a glimpse into the life of a person with diabetes.