When I was diagnosed 20 years ago, doctors told me that there would be a cure in “the next five years.” But five years later, there was no cure and my battle with “diabetes denial” began. For two years, I was angry, depressed and noncompliant. Yes, I admit it: I was noncompliant. Sometimes I tested my blood sugar, sometimes I didn’t. Some days I injected insulin, other days I didn’t. I would postpone appointments to see my endocrinologist. I just stopped caring.
Eventually, it all caught up with me and I found myself in a hospital bed, with a new endocrinologist digging deep and learning more about me and how diabetes had affected my life. For the first time, instead of prescribing a “diabetes plan” and then shaking his head when I didn’t follow it, a doctor listened to me and worked with me to figure out how I could take control of my diabetes.
After a few days, I pulled myself out of that hospital bed and began looking forward. Forgotten were the days of noncompliance – I suddenly felt empowered, I finally had a say in my medical care and I could adapt it to my lifestyle.
What a change – where there was once a dark cloud following me, now there was sunshine! Visiting my medical team became a thrill; it became a time to discuss what was working, what wasn’t working, and figuring out a way to continue to make progress toward my overall health.
Once I took control of my diabetes, I took chances I never dreamed I would. I moved over 1000 miles from my family and friends to start a new career; I fell in love, got married, and had a child. I even reached out to other people with diabetes to share my experiences and learn from theirs. The trials and successes of diabetes have taught me to always live my best life, to focus on the positive and to look forward.
I still have bad diabetes days that make me want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head (and I know I always will), but I try to put things into perspective:
- Blood sugar 300 for three hours without a sign of coming down despite giving insulin? Grateful that it came down after three hours and not three days.
- Blood sugar of 50 woke me up at 3am? Grateful that I had a continuous glucose monitor to wake me so I could take care of it.
- Upset that insurance will only cover a portion of my insulin/test strips/infusion sets/etc? Grateful that I can afford to pay the remaining portion due.
- Mad that a diabetes emergency caused my family to be late to a movie/party/event? Grateful that my family supports me and helps during this crucial time.
- Angry that for a trip, we have to pack diabetes supplies in three different bags in case something doesn’t arrive with us? Grateful that I can explore new places and travel with my family.
As ironic as it may sound, I am grateful to diabetes. Diabetes has taught me patience, determination and maintaining a positive outlook.