Diabetes is a wry one, a wily one, conniving, and, at times, confusing. You can do the same thing day in and day out, eat the same foods at the same times, do the same activities, and take the same medication doses. Yet one day your blood sugar will be normal, and the next it’s running high or low. Why? Because there is more to diabetes and blood sugar than just these three things.
Life with diabetes can be lived many ways. I used to be the kind of diabetic who chose to ignore my diabetes. The only time I put any thought to it was when I took my shots. Otherwise I ignored it. It was always there, though, at the back of my mind, and living in every health issue I had. Showing its ugly face in my chest pain, leg pain, poor vision. I knew I was hurting myself by not working at controlling my diabetes, but I just didn’t want to face the fearful demon, I didn’t want to deal with all the work…and I didn’t want to be a failure.
If I tried and failed…
I just ignored the fact that not trying at all was worse than trying and failing. I was already failing.
Then I became the type of diabetic that actually tries to put the disease in its place. I’m in control, not my diabetes! There is less stress and worry in doing things right and healthy than there is in not trying and watching diabetes ravage your body.
For me, growing up, the anger, frustration, and rebellion I lived in was rooted in the fact that I thought diabetes was a prison sentence. I thought I was being denied the freedom to eat as I pleased, to live a “normal” life. The psychology is common among diabetics. The thought that diabetes is restricting, demanding, that it strips you of freedom, choice, and normality.
Yes, diabetes requires one to live a different life. Shots, finger pricks, labs, doctor visits, and a more structured and counted diet. But it’s far from a prison. I have lived on both sides, rebellion and harmony, and I say with absolute certainty that harmony is easier, happier, and healthier.
Living in harmony with diabetes is not always wonderful,though. No matter what, life brings both good and bad with it. One thing I continue to struggle with, and probably always will, is the feelings of failure. No matter how hard I try, no matter how good I do, there is the occasional setback that sends me into a spiral of doubt, frustration, and the undeniable feeling that I just can’t get it right.
Maybe my hormones are acting up and that’s why my blood sugar is running higher. Maybe I gave in to temptation and didn’t bolus properly for that root-beer float. Maybe the dawn phenomenon got the best of me last night. Maybe I’m coming down with something.
Maybe I accidentally took too much insulin…
There’s always the occasional unexpected set-back. But there’s always a reason. Blood sugar doesn’t just fluctuate for the fun of it.
I look in the mirror and think about all the complications of diabetes I suffer. Heart disease, retinopathy, neuropathy, frozen shoulder, possible gastroperisis, possible PCOS. You name it, I probably got it. Dealing with all these complications only feeds my feelings of failure. I didn’t do anything to control my diabetes for the first 25 years I had it. And in 25 years time I simply, painfully, fell to bits.
Because trying ensures better health. Yes, you may still develop complications at some point. But taking as good care of yourself as you can will ensure that if those complications do happen it will be much farther down the line and to a lesser severity. And they might never happen at all. But if you don’t take care of your diabetes, then you are guaranteed to have complications. Mine began when I was only 17 years old. I still didn’t care and by time I was 25 I was living with severe leg pain. And by time I was 34 I had to have open heart surgery.
If I had taken care of my diabetes all these years I would be scar free and have much better vision and probably no leg pain.
Am I a failure? If I am it is only myself I have failed.
Am I a failure? Maybe I was once, but now that I am trying…there is no failure in trying. Not trying is the only failure.
Am I a failure? Only if I stop trying.