Living with a chronic disease can be challenging on many different levels. Life can be stressful enough under the best of circumstances, am I right? Most of the time, I am a bit of a control freak. A prepper. A list maker and plan-aheader. This helps keep me on a fairly routine schedule and avoid potential diabetes-related issues. Since my diagnosis, the potential to “lose control” is one of my biggest stressors. I don’t want to appear “vulnerable” or make anyone uncomfortable. I’m also a caregiver and pride myself on being able to assist others in need. I’ve never had to think of my own vulnerabilities before. Despite my diligent toting around of assorted snacks and glucose, organized stash of strips, lancets, insulin pump and glucose meter paraphernalia, there is always a low-level of stress related to this invisible disease. To be honest, I feel quite well and have very few issues worth mentioning. I really do have a mostly positive attitude about life, my health and the future.
Recently, I’ve participated in several intense emergency response drills at work. The focus of the drills is to test and fine tune systems in place to ensure that our campus, students and faculty are as safe as possible under horrific conditions and long term lockdowns, injuries, etc. As I was sitting at the event debrief table with 20 colleagues, my glucose meter alerted me to a significantly low blood sugar. I quickly treated it with instant glucose. Two hours later with prolonged hypoglycemia, a depleted supply of instant glucose, no lunch, and mounting anxiety, I realized something very important. Despite my best attempts at being in control in the midst of an emergency, I AM vulnerable and I DO need to accept help from others. That is not exclusive to those with chronic disease, however.
Since the drill, I’ve given considerable thought to things I could do better, routines that could be tweaked, ways to help myself and others in the midst of an emergency – whether it’s an act of nature or any other unexpected situation. I may not have control over the event, but I can help to control the outcome for myself and others, which greatly reduces my anxiety and increases my emotional well-being.