Putting Diabetes In Its Place
By Deanna Glick
I have to admit, diabetes actually fit pretty well into my life at first. Upon diagnosis almost 16 years ago, I was the model patient. Diabetes educators, doctors, and dieticians were amazed at my penchant for regular meals consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains as well as my love of hiking, dance class, yoga class, and swimming. My attention to detail and organizational ability allowed me to navigate my new medical equipment, calculate insulin dosages, and manage my diet to achieve beautiful blood glucose control.
Then, I graduated college, began my career and the honeymoon ended, literally (all of my islets eventually died) and figuratively. Diabetes became the scratchy wool sweater that you need to keep warm but want to take off anyway to relieve your skin from agitation. It got in the way of the erratic hours that newspaper reporters keep. It required attention at inopportune times such as business meetings or interviews. Ignoring its cues led to embarrassing consequences including angry words at a co-worker or emotional breakdowns at my desk. Some things couldn't be helped, such as the extreme lows suffered during pregnancy because of the tight control required made maintaining a sunny disposition at my office job difficult at best.
I eventually found a way to get comfortable again via new employment options and opportunities and technological advances in diabetes care, including an insulin pump and insulin analogs that don't require the precise timing of meals and snacks I managed years ago.
Nonetheless, fitting this disease into family life has been my biggest challenge yet. It isn't so simple or clear. It's never comfortable. When it comes to my kid, it's really tough to find a balance between wearing my disease as proudly as I did my wedding dress and covering it up like I do my bathing suit.
I try not to hide it, but find it inappropriate to flaunt it like a Louis Vuitton on Park Avenue. I'm fine with testing or changing sites in front of my daughter. I've told her when Mommy doesn't feel well and "needs medicine." But I also find myself not wanting to take time away from her to go to the doctor. Or let my high blood sugar prevent me from sharing a cookie with her at the coffeehouse. These days, diabetes seems like the proverbial muddy shoes on white carpet. I'm struggling to find a middle ground between slamming the door before it steps inside and welcoming it with open arms despite the mess.
Sometimes, it needs to be shown the door.
Like the other day when I subjected my daughter to a finger prick to test her blood sugar recently when she was tired, cranky, constantly hungry, and thirsty and appeared to be losing a little more baby fat. The meter read 93 and I was both elated and angry. I let diabetes take over. It was like muddy shoes along with an ugly disposable poncho.
And sometimes, you let it in.
Like when my daughter declared recently that she wanted a "pink pump." And I just smiled and was silently relieved that the statement was nothing but evidence of imaginative play.
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.
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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...