Diabetes is hard to manage.
The medical side is an astonishingly hard amount of work and having the ignorance of most people placed on top of that workload is just unnecessary. It's not really an individual's fault if they are not well-versed on diabetes. The media pushes loads of misconceptions and, most of the time, the information is just false.
Many people's only interaction with diabetes is an overweight, elderly relative. I have had diabetes for almost nine years, and in those nine years, I have learned so much more than I ever thought (or wanted) to know. Here are 10 things that, if people knew, would make diabetes management that much less stressful.
1. T1D is an autoimmune disorder
Put super simply, your immune system attacks the insulin-producing (beta cells ) in your pancreas and kills them — hence your body cannot make insulin. No special diet, exercise, or herb can bring DEAD cells back.
2. My brain is never resting
Let's look at a typical morning's thoughts.
What's my blood sugar? What am I eating for breakfast? Does it have a lot of protein/fat? Should I give the full dose — I'm going to the gym later? But sometimes weight lifting increases my blood sugar? But the 20-minute walk there and back may decrease it? Oh but I have an exam later that I'm kind of stressed about that might make me go up? Oh but I'm on my period so I have different ratios than normal...
All of these thoughts within 30 minutes of waking up. Now we know why I like to drink so much coffee.
3. It can take a while to recover from a severe high/low
A severe low, a severe high, or being high for a while all take a while to fully recover from. It's so frustrating when people expect you to feel better the minute you are back in range. A high, especially with high ketones can take hours, sometimes a day or two in order for the body to fully recover.
4. You can do literally everything right and still get undesirable results
Listen, my blood sugar is high, I'm already feeling like absolute crap — the last thing I need from you is a reminder that I am not in range or an interrogation of what I did. I could do the same activity, eat the same thing, and give the same amount of insulin and STILL get different results one day to the next.
5. I can eat that
Yes, I can eat that pizza, ice cream, whatever...I may sometimes choose not too depending on my health and how I am feeling but that is a personal decision so please stop asking if "I should be eating that." Yes, I can eat that, I just have to give insulin.
6. I am so grateful for the technology but it is NOT a cure
I am SO grateful for my CGM (continuous glucose monitor), insulin pump, basal IQ, etc. It makes it easier to manage and to have better control over my glucose but it is not a substitute for having a working pancreas. I am still constantly having those thoughts (see No. 1), feeling the symptoms of highs and lows, having to inject myself with needles on a daily and weekly basis.
7. It's not contagious
It's almost laughable that this is still a concern in 2019 but some people still ask this.
8. It has brought me some of my best friends in life
Some of my closest friends are people I have gone to diabetes camp with. It is amazing to see what people who are dealing with all of this still go on to do inspiring things every single day. My camp friends are truly one of my biggest sources of inspiration and support.
9. It's expensive as heck
I'm sure most of you have seen pictures of the rising insulin costs which are LITERALLY KILLING people that cannot afford it. However, that doesn't even take into account all the equipment that makes it possible to lead a normal, long life — test strips, CGM, sensors, insulin pump, pump supplies, ketone meter, ketone strips, extra syringes, the list goes on. We need real reform and fast so that diabetes is no longer a deadly disease.
10. Diabetes can put up some heavy roadblocks, but I'm determined to succeed
Despite all the challenges listed above, I love my life and I am actually grateful for my situation because it has brought me some of the people I love so deeply and has inspired me to work as hard as I can in order to become a nurse. My nurses helped me so much at diagnoses and I just want to be able to help someone else like that.