Yet Another Wake Up Call

Having diabetes requires constant vigilance.

IleneBy Ilene Raymond Rush

Sometimes I forget I have diabetes. After all these years of living with Type 2, you would think I would know better, but I'm here to admit that sometimes I don't. Wrapped up in writing a proposal, shopping with friends, deciding to add an extra 15 minute of aerobic exercise on a sunny morning, I can forget that while I may feel fine, look well, and have energy, I also need to remember that, yes, I also need to deal with having Type 2.

But here's the thing about diabetes: it never forgets that it has me.

What do I mean?

Well, recently my dear Aunt died after a month of hospitalization, and I wanted to spend as much time with her in the hospital as I could. And, I did. My sister and I sat with her to the very end, staying up all night until she passed early in the morning.

We both were glad to be with her and despite our sorrow, we headed into the wintry morning satisfied that she had known we were with her until the very end.

But immersed in the month of obviously stressful and sad events before her death, I "forgot" about having diabetes. While I continued to take my meds, my eating and exercise schedule fell apart. A sticky bun from the hospital cafeteria replaced my carefully balanced oatmeal and milk breakfast; I skipped my regular exercise class and stationary biking. Add in a bout of insomnia and the anxiety of losing a close relative and my body was bound to go into revolt.

On the afternoon following her death, as I drove to make arrangements for her funeral, it did just that. Behind the wheel I broke into a cold sweat, and experienced the known, if not familiar feeling of a drop in blood sugar. I reached for my glucose tablets, then remembered that I had had switched purses a few days back and neglected to move them to the one I carried.
Exhausted and scared, I held tight to the steering wheel, focusing on making it my sister's house, luckily only blocks away. I made it, but barely. By the time I arrived I was literally drenched, white and shaking. When my nephew opened the door, my first words were, "chocolate". He searched the cabinets and within minutes I was sipping orange juice and chomping miniature Ghirardelli bars until I felt my sugar rise.

Granted, it was a tough time to worry about anything personal. But the problem is that diabetes doesn't make such distinctions. It simply is. And since that's true, it's up to us to keep on top of the situation, no matter the situation.

Later, in the quiet of my house, I started to mentally list how I might have handled things better. I might have, for example, carried some snacks with me. I should have informed those around me that I had to eat at certain times. The glucose tablets should have been in the glove compartment. And I should have been more vigilant in noticing that my care was spiraling out of control.

The bad thing about having diabetes is that it requires constant vigilance. The good thing is that with that vigilance it responds to regular ritualized care. Most of the time, if you follow your diet, exercise, take your meds, and get enough sleep, it is a chronic condition that can be controlled, if not cured.

If you don't, unfortunately, you can pay the price.

Click here to read more of Ilene's Second Chances columns here.

Read Ilene's blog.

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.



Last Modified Date: May 15, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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