As a diabetic, I've become accustomed to most of the terminology associated with the disease. I am a PWD (person with diabetes). I have an A1c done every 3 months (blood test which gives an average blood glucose over the last 3 months) - translation - I can not cheat on my diet! And, if I did cheat, who would I really be hurting? The doctor? I think not.
When you're first hit with a diagnosis of T2D (another cleaver set of letters and numbers we use to shorten our jargon), it's very scary indeed. My doctor did not diagnose me, but my best friend, a diabetic educator did. Because she is my best friend, she did not pull punches with me. She laid the whole sad disease process out in front of me and then held me as I cried on her shoulder. It was a vague and uncertain prognosis. I am very paranoid about what this disease could do to me. Even today I cannot say for certain what will happen next - and it's very frightening indeed!
I'm the sort of person who wants everything neatly stacked and in plain sight. I don't like things that are hidden from me and I hate surprises. When I find out that one food likes me and keeps me in control one day, it may not work the next day. I get one small complication cleared up and "surprise", there's a new challenge the next day. What a roller-coaster ride! It can make an otherwise organized individual crazy!
What most non-diabetic people don't understand is the variables associated with this disease. Blood glucose is dependent on so many different factors. We have to test not only when we've eaten too much food, but also: when we're sick, when our meds change, when we feel stressed, when we're getting ready to exercise, after we're done exercising, at bedtime. There's not a single thing that does not directly affect blood glucose levels - therefore, there is not a single thing that is not affected in our bodies when our levels are out of whack! I wish I could get this one point across to ignorant non-diabetics: It's not just about the amount of food we eat!!! That's certainly one small piece of the puzzle, but for people to have the notion that it's the sum total of it, well, that's just not true. That is ignorance!
Does it ever frustrate you to hear people say they know someone who is diabetic, but "They don't take care of themselves like they should"? I always want to say, "And you know this - how?" Most of us don't parade up and down main street as we test our blood sugar. I test mine in the privacy of my own home. How I manage my disease is a very private and personal journey. I don't make a public spectacle of it. Well, I write about it - but I haven't posted myself testing on YOU TUBE or anything!
And people judge every morsel I put in my mouth! It makes me absolutely nuts when I'm having a low and reach for a small wedge of watermelon or a small glass of orange juice. If anyone around me knows I'm a diabetic, you should see the glares of disapproval I receive! No one else has to "justify" what they eat! It's crazy! I want to scream, "Would you rather I just faint dead away right here in front of you, because that could be arranged!?!?!"
Most of the time I try to be as positive as possible. It's a matter of doing the best I can with the cards I've been dealt, really. We always hear we should lose excess weight in order to maintain better control. We hear we should exercise not only to lose the weight but to help blood pressure and mood and attitude. So - I exercise.
I know I'm not going to live forever. Diabetes is a progressive disease, but a very frustrating one as well because you just don't know what is going to change or when it will change. About the time you figure out what works, then later on the same things don't work anymore. The rules in this game called diabetes are always changing. One day we hear:
Eat more protein - then it's, oh wait, eat more carbs.
Then there's the occasional... oh, wait... hop on your right foot 20 times while tugging on your left ear with your right hand. What??????? There are some ridiculous claims that some make and call them a "cure" for type 2 diabetes. Let me state for the record - there is NO cure for diabetes of any type! We manage it as best we can - that's all we can do!
Non-diabetics seem to have a very simplistic view of T2D - that if we will not eat as much food, eat the right kind of food, exercise a whole bunch and never ever ever eat sugar again for the rest of our lives - then "poof" we will be all better... this is quite frustrating to those of us who have to live with it!
In my own experience with this monster, T2D, I celebrate the small victories! That's all I can do, because tomorrow I might find that a new complication has cropped up! So far I've just battled a few minor infections and have lived on antibiotics for a while, but I'm scared to death of a worsening kidney problem in the future. I've also developed a core in my left palm and frozen shoulder which messes with my quality of life big time. I have neuropathy in my right leg. But I won't give up the fight and I try to help others to hang in there as well. Support in the diabetic community is key. I love the DOC.
I believe that non-diabetics just need to be better educated regarding diabetes! There are so many misconceptions and plain out and out lies and the only way to dispel them is to educate the ignorant once and for all.
One thing I feel very good about is getting off of my insulin pen! I've lost enough weight and have been having frequent "lows" and was told that I no longer need to continue taking my insulin! I can't let down though - I can't stop exercising or I'll be right back on that pen quicker than you can say "Whoops!" I wish I could encourage non-diabetics to see the positives and celebrate the victories with us instead of focusing on all the negatives - they say you're... you know - - diabetic?" And they whisper the word, diabetic - like it's an ancient curse or something - as if they would "catch" it if they were to say it in a normal tone of voice.
While it's not my intention to just rollick through life with a "devil may care" attitude, I don't want to focus too much attention on the "what-ifs" of the future. There's a temptation to go there, but I have to do the best I can with what I have right now. I have now - and when it comes down to it, none of us are guaranteed anything beyond that, are we?
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present. - Babatunde Olatunji
Please listen to my friend Nick Faulkner talk about his journey with type 2 diabetes.
Today is also OPERATING ROOM NURSE DAY!!! Celebrate with your favorite nurse!