Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The side of diabetes most people don't see

There's a lot about diabetes you can't see.  It's an invisible illness, yes, but some parts of it are more tangible than others.  Most of you see the Dexcom sensor on my arm, or the Dexcom receiver in my pocket.  Or the glucometer and insulin syringes and vials I pull out of my purse.  Or the glucagon kit I have in 3 different locations.  You can see the graphs and charts and pictures of my daily blood sugar readings.  Diabetes is very much a physical battle.

But diabetes is also an internal battle, and very few people get to see that.  And only if I tell them.  
  • There's nerve damage that occurs when my blood sugar goes over 140 mg/dl.  You can't see it, but I can feel it.  It's like my fingers and toes are on fire.  Pins and needles. 
  • There's mental anguish when dealing with blood sugars that won't respond to insulin the way I want them to.  It's like the insulin is water, useless.  
  • There's frustration when I'm doing everything I can to manage my numbers and yet my A1C climbs up higher than I want it.     
Emotional breakdowns are still a part of my life.  They are less severe and less frequent than they used to be, but they are always going to be a part of my life.  Not only do I have 3 invisible diseases, I also happen to be an emotional, introverted woman and, while I don't try to hide things and keep my struggles bottled up like I used to, I still get overwhelmed with all the different aspects of my life.  Diabetes is 24/7/365.  No breaks, holidays, or paid time off.

The other night I had one such breakdown.  I was feeling particularly down about my numbers, frustrated that my insulin needs had mysteriously dropped one night and raised again the next night after.  I was angry at Dexcom for constantly alerting me that I was high.  I was tired of feeling like I was doing everything right, but had nothing to show for it.  I was worried I'd never be able to get my A1C down to where I wanted it, no matter what I did.  I was scared about my future, about the children we want to have someday.  I was so sick and tired of being overrun by emotional letdowns, I just couldn't hold in my tears any longer.  I'm so grateful my husband was more than happy to just hold me. 

Everyone is fighting a battle, and each battle is different.  We usually don't see the battles other people face unless we're walking alongside them but, sometimes even when we are, there are parts that remain invisible until they decide to bring them to light.  Some days are harder than others.
Let's try to remember we're all fighting different things and we all need comfort from someone in those times.  Diabetes may not control me, but that doesn't mean the emotional struggles aren't real.