Goodbye Normalcy, Hello Emotional Roulette
Living with diabetes day-to-day.
with Amy Tenderich
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
October 2006 —They say you don't know what you've got ‘till it's gone… So who among us can remember the days before our diabetes diagnosis? Back when we were "normal" -- meaning we could eat and do as we liked without a single thought involving glucose, carbohydrates, medications, or complications? My, don't those days seem like ancient history now!
To quote a favorite fellow blogger, "losing my ‘normalcy' to a chronic disease has brought on a veritable ‘salad of emotions'… which I can sometimes appreciate just for the crunch." Or to use a different analogy, the emotional roulette wheel keeps a'spinning, and I never know just where it's going to land.
Sometimes I feel very resentful. Just last week I watched a woman at Starbucks order a thick, whip-cream-topped frozen mocha along with a hefty scone, which she bit into on the way to her table, causing a large chunk to fall to the floor. She barely noticed as the tip of her shoe sent this chunk of luscious scone-cake substance ricocheting away. I could have screamed! I could have jumped up and grabbed that scone chunk and shoved it down her throat!
Indulging in this forbidden treat (on several levels; since diagnosis I've also developed an allergy to wheat products) obviously meant nothing to this woman. She clearly has no idea how very fortunate she is to be "normal" enough to walk into a Starbucks and freely order away.
Then there was the corpulent couple at the wedding I attended last year, who would not stop complaining about the choice of wedding cake; they don't like chocolate, you see. I had to clench my diabetic and cake-allergic fists to keep from smacking them for their insensitivity. The cake looked so good it made my eyes water.
On the other hand, I do sometimes feel like a winner, for several reasons. First and not to be underestimated although it can be quite taxing the diabetes forces me to live a healthy life. I am very careful indeed about what I eat, and about getting enough sleep and exercise. I certainly don't always achieve perfect glucose control, but I'm not in any kind of ongoing pain or discomfort. I feel pretty darn good most days, and I wouldn't dream of pulling an all-nighter or drinking till I puke or any of the self-destructive escapades that seemed so … well, normal, before my body made itself heard with the diabetes.
The other point I like to think on is that "normal" is also a synonym for "ordinary." And the many people I've met who've succeeded in this life despite their diabetes are anything but ordinary. Quite extra-ordinary, in fact!
Actually, I've always believed that living outside the confines of "ordinary" makes a person strong. Maybe like me, you were also different even before the diabetes; growing up Jewish in a Christian world forced me to realize early on that "different" can be hard, but also very rewarding. You think more deeply about the value of life. You have a special empathy for others outside the mainstream. You don't take anything for granted. You really know how to savor it when things go well.
Still, yesterday as I stood in a supermarket line struggling to balance my glucose meter atop my purse to take a quick reading (sweating and getting blood stains on my shirt), I was definitely having one of those "for-God's-sake-why-can't-I-just-be-normal?" days! The emotional roulette wheel spins on. And the one space it ain't going to land on with this disease is "normal."
Read more about Amy Tenderich.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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I had a work dinner last night with some leadership from my office. I always find diabetes etiquette at these things to be kind of tricky. It was a four course meal, with salad, soup, entree' and dessert and coffee. There was also a selection of gluten free and non-gluten free dinner rolls. I felt way too full of questions for waitress... "Could I get my dressing on the side? How much sugar is in it?" A course later...