Diabetes Immersion Therapy

I think part of the reason I thought a job with ADA would be a perfect fit for me is because I thought that if I was immersed in diabetes than I would really have to get my shit together. Surrounded by diabetes information, advocates and those familiar with my plight, all working towards the same goal there was no way I could be the same slacker. My idyllic plan of diabetes care being all of the sudden easy didn’t’ pan out exactly as I had envisioned.

First of all, the whole job changing/new job thing was a bit stressful and much hard work. I started right before it got crazy busy and then it was full speed ahead. I am now trying to catch up on all the things that are regularly part of my job but got pushed to the side while Walk season was in full swing. This took a toll on my blood sugars and there were some pretty ugly roller-coaster days.

Secondly, just because the people I now worked with got diabetes didn’t mean that they instantly got me or how the disease affects me. I had to show and they had to learn what happens to me when I’m low, how highs make me feel and bottom line they are not my diabetes police. It is wonderful to work every day amidst those who understand diabetes better than most and have a much better idea of what diabetes care entails but each person’s diabetes is so personal and they got that too, so I had to lead the way.

Thirdly, I was embarrassed at my lack of control. A couple of my co-workers seemed pretty excited to have some one board who "got it"; someone who worked hard, lived with diabetes every day and had done something right to stave off the complications. Me? Hell no. I honestly believe that I have made it this far by pure luck. I wanted to be that person they saw me as, but knew I wasn’t even close.

I heard about and saw firsthand those who had not been as lucky as me:

  • A woman my age who had gotten a kidney from her sister in order to live.
  • A name I recognized as someone I went to camp with was blind.
  • Someone’s mother-in-law who was a double amputee.
  • A volunteer who was on a liquid diet and near kidney-failure.
  • A phone call from an old camp friend who had a double bypass (kidney & pancreas) last year and had news of all those MY AGE who were blind, had suffered strokes, kidney failure and amputations.

It was all too much. I took no better care of myself than these people (well except for the never drinking regular pop, even I couldn’t do that) and look at what happened to them. What the hell differnce did it make if I took better of myself? The complications were inevitable. At least I was doing my part by working at a diabetes organization; the rest didn’t matter. This defeatist attitude lasted for a while and then I began getting really sick of feeling sick all the time.

continued in the next post


Minnesota Nice said...

Oh gosh - you could be describing members of my extended famiy - the myriad of distant cousins who exemplified every possible complication, right before my eyes.
It really sounds like a harsh reality. I'll be interested to hear how you dealth with all of those difficult feelings.

Keith said...

Melissa, sometimes I too wrestle with whether complications are inevitable. For the most part I've taken pretty good care of myself, but there was a period of a couple of years plus when I cut loose. I think the body has an incredible ability to heal itself, especially when we're young, so when we get our control back together our bodys' heal themselves or at least attempt to.

So far, with almost 38 years under my belt I am complication free. I've lost track of all my camp bud's so I have no idea how any of them are doing. I don't run into many people who've had D as long as I have so that is probably indicative.

As I'm sure you know, statistically we're much better off keeping those bG's in range and so far it's working for me.

MileMasterSarah said...

It is good to see you blogging again! I was reading your blog but then you stopped, and I missed you! I read about the horrible accident your husband was in, how scary! I've been a diabetic for 15 years, and have recently been diagnosed with gastroparesis. I'm only 28, and although it isn't real bad, It adds a different dimension to my daily diabetes. My daughter is 3 and diabetic, and I think to myself, Imagine her at 18 with gastroparesis and diabetes....Dangerous thought process there. Sometimes it is easiest to just not think about

Scott K. Johnson said...

I also work with many diabetics (type 1), and one of the things I've come to realize in the past couple years is that everyone is different.

Sure, they too have diabetes, and we can pilfer glucose tabs from each other - but what they do in their life is different than mine.

To me, it's just another indicator of how individual we all are - even sharing the common diabetes thread.

Chrissie in Belgium said...

EXACTLY how I always feel.....just LUCKY that I am doing OK. I know I have not been a TERRIBLE diabetic, but hell neither have I been a saint! I just feel lucky. I feel so dam lucky and even a little bit guilty! Isn't that crazy? - that I should be one of the LUCKY ones! Guilt, always the feeling of guilt. But that is why I NEVER feel morally better than another diabetic. I have just been lucky! And my luck and another's bad luck shows how diabetes hits each person so differently. Does anyone understand what I am trying to say here????

Lyrehca said...

I have long thought that genetics has somehow played a role in my type 1. While my A1cs are great now, they certainly weren't back in the late 70s and 80s when glucose testing wasn't even an option. I even have a doctor's note from when I was a kid stating how great my longerm blood sugars were at with readings in the 9s.

ANd yet, I consider myself to have few complications (eyes notwithstanding, but since my vision hasn't been affected by non-proliferative retinopathy, I think myself lucky.) Why do people my age with fewer than three decades of type 1 need dialysis or are blind, while I am not? I ate a lot of crap in college and for years only took two shots a day. I can only attribute it to genetics and luck.

art-sweet said...

I think the scariest thing about luck is that you feel like it could get pulled out from under you at any minute.

I felt a chill go down my spine when I read this: "I wanted to be that person they saw me as, but knew I wasn’t even close."

I can't tell you how many awkward conversations where people find out I have gone 21 years complication free (knock wood) and say, oh you must really be on top of things. What do you say: No, I'm just damn lucky? And have them then be worrying about you and judging you? Or accept the compliment and keep your mouth shut. I don't know.