Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What It Is Really Like

Many days I play a review game with my students called fact or fiction.  I'll say things that we have been studying in various subjects and then they'll have to say if what I said is a fact, or fiction.  In many ways, the game fact or fiction can be applied to some areas of my life, mainly, diabetes. 

Fact: There is no cure for diabetes.  Although technology has improved a great deal recently, people who are diagnosed with type 1 will have it until they die.

When many people find out that I have diabetes, the next questions is typically "do you have type 2 or that other one...type 1?", and then "how long have you had it?"  Living with diabetes for practically my entire life - over 22+ years - has not always been easy.  I only have one memory of not being diabetic, which, ironically, is the day I found out I was.  All my life I have always known "check your blood sugar" "take insulin" "count your carbs" and so on.  Often times, I have wished that my diabetes would just magically disappear into thin air.  However, that has never happened. 

Sometimes I have gotten into the trap of thinking if I don't care about my diabetes, it will disappear.  In actuality, that makes my control a lot worse.  Diabetes does not take a break.  It is with me every moment of every day.  Sometimes it behaves itself and doesn't require much attention.  Other days, though, are the extreme opposite and I want to put it in "time out."  But, that doesn't really work either. 

Diabetes is something that I have to deal with every single day.  There are no breaks, or nights without it.  I really can't take a vacation from it.  I cannot have some medical procedure done to get rid of it. 

Sometimes people say "I can imagine and understand that it is hard to live with diabetes."  It is a lot of hard work if you want to live successfully with diabetes.  It is not necessarily hard, but manageable.  And, yes it is true, you really don't have a clue what it is like. 

So...what is it like?

Going low is like running a marathon.  You had half a slice of toast for breakfast and did not fuel beforehand.  During the course of the race, you didn't take GU or drink Gatorade.  Now, it is mile 24.  How do you feel?  If you have run a marathon, you know how you feel at that mile marker.  Without any fuel, that is what my low blood sugar feels like. 

Having  a high blood sugar is harder for me to explain.  You are in a walking in a desert for an entire day.  You've been out in the sun, but have not consumed any water.  You most likely feel exhausted and incredibly thirsty.  Now, try to eat GU.  It would get stuck in your mouth.  That awful feeling is me with a high blood sugar. 

But, there is another aspect of having high or low blood sugars: personality.  I am not my normal self.  When I have a high blood sugar, I am incredibly moody.  When I have a low blood sugar, I get sad.  Having one of these blood sugars is like a mask is put over me.  I am not my normal self.  I do not try got high or low - it just happens.  It is part of living with diabetes.

  Although diabetes has its fair share of overall crapiness, it has taught me a lot of things, brought me to experience various things, meet new people, and be a a stronger person.  And although it sucks, takes time and effort, and can get int the way, it will not define and tell me what I can and cannot do. 

I am stronger than it. 


  1. You said it perfectly people can't think how it would be to have but we have to live with it no matter what. When I was younger I would act like I was not diabetic and I always wound up getting into issues with off the wall numbers.

  2. Diabetes makes us different people. It differentiates us from the rest of the population in a way that only we can understand. I don't think there is a disease out there that is more mentally demanding than D.
    I understand the sad lows and the moody highs.
    and the tightrope that is the happy middle.
    good post.