Today’s Diabetes Blog Week topic is What Brings Me Down:
May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?
When I saw this topic, I laughed. What Brings Me Down? What doesn’t bring me down? In all seriousness though, dealing with diabetes is tough. For the majority of my life, I was scared of low blood sugars. Growing up, my pediatric endocrinologist told my mom it was better to have high blood sugars than low blood sugars so I spent my entire adolescents comfortable in the 200’s or even 300’s. I considered 120 low. This translated into a fear of low blood sugars. I think fear was one my biggest emotional issue. At some point over the last few years something changed. I’m not sure if it was the addition of my CGM or the thought of trying to get my body ready for baby making but I started to become less scared of the lows. My 7, 14 or 30 day averages used to be anywhere from 190-240. Somewhere along the lines the fear subsided some and my averages became in the 120s-150s’. I still remember feeling complete shock when I saw an average under 150.
The fear of lows transforms into the fear of complications. Because I spent so much of my time in the higher region, I worry about what lasting effects I have done to my body. I don’t know what my A1Cs were growing up but in my 20’s I was able to get them into the 8’s so I’m hoping that is good enough control to keep some complications at bay. So far (knock on wood), I haven’t had any complications from my 20 years with diabetes but I know that could catch up to me at any moment.
Besides fear, diabetes brings me down because it is so gosh-darn annoying. I get so annoyed having to always think about carbs. Every single meal I worry if I’m eating too many carbs or if I’m bolusing enough for those carbs or if I bolused too much for the carbs or if I pre-bolused enough minutes. I also can’t eat whatever I want with diabetes. Sure, I technically can eat whatever I want and bolus accordingly but eating 100 carbs won’t exactly do amazing things for my blood sugar, even if I use the correct insulin to carb ratio. I can go out to dinner with my husband and he can order the carbiest meal ever and top it off with dessert without even batting an eye. If I were to do that, my insulin pump would go into shock. In fact, a few weeks ago at Panera, I ordered a cinnamon crunch bagel which has 80 carbs and my bolus wizard said I needed 12 units of insulin but my insulin pump only wanted to administer 10 units at a time (I know there is a way to change that but I don’t normally eat that much).
Diabetes is annoying. Besides having to think about carbs all day long, I also get extremely annoyed having to change my infusion set or my CGM sensor. When I was growing up, I would go 6 sometimes 7 days without changing my infusion set, which definitely isn’t ideal. Another annoying thing about diabetes is the lack of sleep I get from it. Pretty much every night my CGM alerts me to a high or low. Usually if I’m low, the low alert goes off about 10 times per night. I can’t recall many nights where I’ve gotten a full night’s sleep. Any night where I can get a full night’s sleep without hearing an alarm is a huge success. I realize I could change my limits but I’m trying really hard to have good control right now. It’s usually the low alert that goes off more (even if I’m not low sometimes) but I am grateful to have the warning.
You know what else brings me down? High blood sugars, low blood sugars, having a CGM that turns into a “gusher”, knowing that a cure isn’t right around the corner, hearing misconceptions and trying to educate those that say them, being told I can’t eat something, having to search for a new endocrinologist when moving, dealing with insurance companies, not knowing what will be covered when I switch insurance companies, spending more money on diabetes related things then clothes or entertainment or house products, and on and on and on. I could literally list a TON of things related to diabetes that brings me down. Sure, the fear and the annoyance are the main two issues for me but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s be honest, diabetes sucks. (Don’t worry tomorrow will be a happier post as I discuss what I do to overcome what brings me down).
Click to find other posts from DBlog Week participants on today’s topic: What Brings Me Down.