I am a Mother, but Not a Martyr
Knowing when to ask for help.
By Deanna Glick
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!
February 2008 — Women seem to have trouble asking for help. And mothers appear to be the worst at it. I don't know if the phenomenon is rooted in nurture or nature, but that's for another story. All I know is, nobody likes a martyr, especially a cranky, diabetic one. So I've tried to become a mother who asks for help.
Before sitting down to write this, a close friend and neighbor whisked my daughter away in a wagon with her own child of the same age whom my daughter adores. I am racing against the clock to meet deadlines and pack before getting on a plane to California for an alleged family vacation in a few days. I probably could have finished everything without help. But I chose not to, for more reasons than wanting to avoid the martyr label.
Having diabetes and controlling it means one has to fit more into life than one without a chronic illness that requires such a high level of self-management. There are the pump site changes, insulin cartridge refills, blood glucose monitoring, doctor visits, hypoglycemia episodes and carbohydrate counting. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but you get the point. The minutes add up and pretty soon the collective tasks take quite a bit of time. But it's the added burden on my brain, along with all the usual life responsibilities, that affects me more. I have found the key to everything required for my diabetes management is stress management. So, even if I finished all I have to do in the next few days without help, I would not be a success. I would be a stressed out, uncontrolled diabetic in a bad mood on an airplane with a 2-year-old for six hours. My poor husband!
And, so, I ask for help.
I don't always ask for help when I need it. Hell, I want to keep my friends and if I offload my toddler on them every day, they're likely to bolt forever. But I'm better about it than I used to be. And, since becoming a mother, I've noticed people are more willing as well. Before I had my daughter, no one was offering to do my dishes or laundry, cook my meals, pick up groceries, or anything else. Once my daughter was born, all of that happened and more. Several times. Many times at the hands of my own mother.
Now, I live 12,000 miles away from all of our family members. But I've been fortunate to find myself surrounded by a community of women with whom I exchange friendship, support, and childcare. And even a little cooking, dishwashing, and grocery shopping. (We've yet to volunteer laundry services.) My friends and neighbors may not manage a chronic illness, but they don't need to. They know what it's like to keep putting food on the table, earn a paycheck, play with the kids, nurture their marriage, and all the other basics amid a crisis.
And, so, they help.
Being a mother means I've taken on a lot more, but it also means I've gotten a lot more. I am proud to be part of that caring group of women we call mothers. Funny thing about them: they have trouble asking for help, but they are so willing to give it with a heaping dose of empathy on the side, whether you have diabetes or not.
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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