The Biggest Change
Nothing in this life is as constant as change.
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!
September 2008 —My middle daughter asks the best questions – the kind that really throw you off. Not long ago, while I was attempting to navigate our minivan through some nasty traffic, she leaned in and hit me in rapid succession with: "Mom, did dinosaurs have ears?", "When are horses teenagers?", "What are teeth made of?" And to top it off: "What does God look like, anyway?" I nearly crashed the car. Lately she's taken a more personal tact. As we walked hand-in-hand towards the entrance to our local library, she looked up at me with those big hazel eyes and asked, "Mom, what was the biggest change in your life?"
"Oh… becoming a mother," I stumbled, adding: "It's totally different just being a single person on your own, and then suddenly bringing new little people into the world who are dependent on you."
"Us?" She looked skeptical. "And what else?"
"Oh, definitely the diabetes, Sweetie."
"The diabetes was a change?"
"Oh yes, the biggest change…"
Surprisingly, she left it at that. But I couldn't stop thinking about it.
Type 1 diabetes. Diagnosis five years ago. Change. A new life.
I am one of a growing number of adults suddenly struck with Type 1 diabetes in their late ‘30s — a condition called latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA). I've never been overweight or had any major health problems in the past, so I was completely blindsided. I landed in the hospital for a week, dehydrated and near starvation. I was terrified.
The diagnosis changed everything. It opened my eyes to my own mortality. Sure, I'd experienced the deaths of older family members and even some acquaintances before, but everything is different when it's your own life that seems to be hanging by a thread.
It changed my sense of self: am I "broken"? Can I still ride my bike up a mountain, or go camping with family? Or row in a kayak? Or even take over-the-counter medication for the sniffles without putting myself in danger?
It changed my appreciation for the carefree life I used to lead. Because all those things that normal people do without thinking about them, such as eating and exercising and driving a car, suddenly became pretty complicated. Suddenly, I had to have this glucose meter constantly at my side and had to plan diligently for every move I would make.
It changed the way I view social situations. Because eating carefully to avoid glucose spikes is never harder than when people around you are indulging in ice cream and cake. To this day, I prefer to eat alone or with my immediate family, where I never feel deprived.
The truth is, I sometimes lie awake at night thinking maybe it's all a mistake — maybe I could simply stop taking all the medications and using all these devices, and my body would just go back to doing what it used to do. Maybe it was just a blip, like a bad cold or a rash that hung on so long you almost believed it was permanent. But I know that's not the case.
Sometimes when I have a really bad day, like when my blood sugar plummets to 50 and later soars to nearly 300, the anger and frustration are hard to reign in. I know it's the disease that's making me moody, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier. I'm just so furious and sick of it all.
But then I know tomorrow will be a new day. A better day. Because nothing in this life is as constant as change.
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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