I am NOT my diagnosis
By: Shaily Parmar
“You don’t look diabetic?”
“Did you eat too much sugar as a kid?”
“So does your sugar stays high or low?”
“Can you eat that?”
“But you’re not even fat!!!?”
“You should try alternate therapy”
“Please don’t do that in front of me!”
“I thought only kids have type 1!” (Seriously?!)
“I don’t know how you puncture yourself several times a day/I could never be a diabetic …”
Like we could make the choice not to have it!!
Being a type 1 diabetic, you must have probably heard one or more of the above things and many more other responses when you tell someone for the first time that you are a diabetic.
I was 21, when I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic with a BG of 553. So I have spent more time with my active pancreas than my other type 1 friends who were diagnosed at a much early age. I know it’s a huge amount to take in when you’re newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The memory of the moment of the diagnosis is a profound one. The moment that distinctly sep the past and the future. A choice is made for you without your consent. It’s usually a huge shock and we wonder how we’re going to cope with such life-altering news.
Most of us are misinformed, have little or no idea about this auto-immune disease. It’s not unusual. I, for one, had absolutely no clue about type 1 diabetes prior to being diagnosed. I was hospitalized for a week.
After I was discharged, I tried handling this new world of diets, medications and monitoring blood glucose levels. Life style changes that I made were not so difficult but they were not so straightforward either.
It could be overwhelming and terrifying and naturally one would feel that: ‘Now my life will be limited. This disease will weigh me down’, but fortunately I felt no such hindering emotions.
I don’t know why but from the moment I was diagnosed I accepted the fact that this is happening and I needed to readily accept it to control it before it could control me and my life. I knew this was life’s reality. I had to do what was required and I did. There is no escape, especially not by repeatedly asking, ‘Why me?’
There is denial first, then there is bargaining, then comes acceptance and then finally the peace of acceptance.
The faster you accept it, the easier it becomes to live with it. I wouldn’t say to get over it because you cannot get over it. But yes eventually it becomes easy to carry it with you. We all come to terms with having diabetes in our own way and at our own pace.
There are challenges everyday in living with type 1, injecting yourself with insulin and pricking your fingers to check your blood sugar multiple times a day being the most challenging and painful(yet tolerable). You’ll hear this remark from others from time to time: “How could you do this to yourself every day? I could not.”
But I say, “Yes, you could.” It takes 15 seconds to take one insulin shot. Four times such shots adds to one minute. It takes probably 8 seconds to check blood sugar. Doing it (at least) three times takes 25 seconds. So that sums up to only a minute and half in your entire day.
I think I can manage that because I love my life and want to keep living it.
I know it isn’t just one day. Its going be everyday for the rest of your life until a cure is found. No breaks. No vacations. Wherever you go diabetes will ride along with you. But isn’t your life worth it?
Taking timely insulin shots, eating healthy and following a decent exercise regime should ensure good control; still it is highly possible not to get normal blood sugars. But hey that’s why you’re called a diabetic!
The thing is that even after doing everything right sometimes you won’t get perfect blood sugars. It’s not easy and it’s tricky but don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t live up to those expectations. Give yourself some room to make mistakes.
Managing diabetes is a huge learning curve. A curve that never stops teaching. So be a constant learner.
Higher the mountain, treacherous the path. There will a lot of blood sugar swings which can and will get your emotions messed up. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t go as you planned.
It is a progression over time. Gather as much knowledge as you can. We are all trying our best and we can’t let diabetes get the best of us. Just remember there are bigger problems than a 4mm needle.
I thought I have got it all sorted out. Eat right (and by eat right I don’t mean give up your favorite food). Count carbs. Take your shot. Check blood sugar. Too high? Take correction dose. Check again. Too low? Have a snack. Be physically active. Don’t take stress. Sleep well. Repeat. Day after day it’s a silent battle. No finish line. So is that it? Sounds simple! But that’s an oversimplification.
It is far more complicated than I could precisely explain because food and taking insulin are few of the hundred other things that affect blood sugar.
The other hundred things play a huge part and they are hard to calculate. Of course we are required to be consistent in our efforts but that doesn’t guarantee a consistency in blood sugars.
I have been a diabetic for almost 5 years now and I am still learning. You change one factor and then there is a whole new curve to learn. Some good days everything is so smooth and simply a part of routine, like brushing your teeth. And on some not-so-good-days, diabetes is determined to break our spirits. And in days like these, the fear of long term complications haunts us.
Although this fear never quite eludes us. There can be too much negativity and darkness in battling with type 1. Please don’t let one cloud obliterate the whole sky.
Diagnosed with non- preventable, irreversible disease is a life-transforming event. It could take you on a roller coaster of emotions. In the blink of an eye, your life is changed. Your ambitions, desires and priorities need re-adjustment. Those spontaneous plans you used to make, now needs planning ahead and always being primed to avoid the worst simultaneously being prepared if things don’t go as predicted.
Doing the same thing a hundred times and getting different results. Living just like others with school, jobs, and sports but with just a few extra hassles. Looking just like everyone else knowing we are not just like everyone else. Why? Because when diabetes allotted us the task of performing the job of an internal organ, it also gave us adequate strength to be one.
Diabetes gives us tears, yet it also makes us proud of ourselves. If diabetes has given you a huge responsibility, it has also made you mature beyond your age. I have never met an immature diabetic! It scares you but also gives you courage and hope that you’re not alone. Hope that a cure will be found.
Yes, my life has changed. I believe it has changed for better.
I have a wonderful life. A loving family. Amazing doctors and fantastic friends. I have not lost my dreams to diabetes. I have obtained a significant knowledge about diabetes. Education and encouragement are what we need to live longer and better lives. You’re NOT your diagnoses. You’re a fighter. You have a mission and a purpose. And if despite all these, I am here and if I can do it then you can too.
Let me conclude this with a quote from Mary Anne Radmacher, especially for those who are newly diagnosed, and for those who are struggling with diabetes and looking for inspiration-
“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”
After all, we have tomorrows for a reason!