Tag Archives: daily life with diabetes

The Time I Realized Diabetes Occupies Too Much Head Space

Years ago I suffered from a 9 millimeter kidney stone that had to be laser zapped into pieces. The procedure was deemed “successful” but left me with a torrential avalanche of small kidney stone pieces that sent me right back to the hospital in extreme pain later that same day. It was the type of pain that makes you lose the will to live because in the moment, you need anything to come between you and that pain.

Luckily, after a few hellish hours, my nightmare was over. I was sent home with strong pain medicine to take over the next few weeks while more kidney stone fragments made their way down my ureter.

I kept feeling twinges of pain so each day I took one of my pain pills. I knew that if the pain got too bad before I took medication, that the medication would be almost useless at that point and since I was traumatized from the pain I took my precautions against it.

I took the daily doses for about two weeks before I decided to chuck the remainder of the pills in the garbage.

I did this because those two weeks were among the best of my entire life. Let me explain.

During this time, I was coming out of a period of poor diabetes management so I was healing from some diabetic nerve damage in my feet, healing my depression and was also in the process of working on improving my issues with anxiety surrounding my diabetes.

The strong pain medication didn’t allow me to feel my foot nerve pain and it seemed to completely remove my anxiety about my diabetes. I lived temporarily as someone who, about half of the time, forgot she had diabetes in the first place.

This was wonderful to experience (though I don’t and can’t recommend it to anyone, of course). I became the opposite of my uptight self who was always paying attention to symptoms and was worried about blood sugars. I dare say I was the most pleasant version of myself I’ve ever witnessed. This isn’t to say that people with diabetes are uptight–but some of us are because it is the only way we have come to cope with trying to manage our condition. I truly admire those who can take good care of themselves without becoming a little neurotic. It is true too, that I may have been feeling so great partially due to not being in pain after being in tons of pain and the stark contrast left me in a type of momentary heaven.

My mind felt free to interact fully with those around me because I wasn’t stuck in my internal dialogue regarding my worries about insulin, blood sugar, complications and carb counts.

So how did I manage my diabetes during those two weeks? Really well, actually, because I was in the habit of checking my blood sugar levels and so that still continued like clock-work. I kept giving insulin like before and I kept eating low carb foods as usual. I was aware that I may not feel highs and lows on a strong pain medication so I threw in more blood sugar checks and even these were easier because I didn’t feel apprehension about the results. I am pretty sure I also did less anxiety eating and made better food choices, too.

I realized that my feeling so wonderful about life had everything to do with an illusion however, so I knew that before I became addicted to the pills, I needed to get rid of them for good. It hurt but I threw them in the trash, felt an impulse to rescue them and then threw the trash out in the garbage can.

It was a major bummer but my lesson here was that my goal would be to continue doing what I needed to do to manage my diabetes while somehow managing to turn off the perfectionistic and unhelpful demands and worries I was living with. Those two weeks proved that I didn’t need all that to manage my diabetes well.

It has been 11 years and I don’t think I’ve had a happier consecutive two weeks since. I’m still working on toning down my bouts of negativity and anxiety. I may not have achieved what I would have liked to but I’m hanging in there and am regularly picking myself off the ground and I suppose that counts for something.

I can live with myself as long as I keep trying.

The Sushi Pushers

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My husband gets sushi at the same place every time.  The guys at the sushi bar know him and enjoy chatting in their native language with my husband each time he stops by.  Sometimes we stop by together and they always wonder why I don’t get sushi, too.  I have always brushed it off saying I just don’t want any when the truth is that I love sushi, but I avoid rice because it makes blood sugar management a little too complicated for me.

The other day I went to this place alone and was thinking of getting my husband some sushi.  I got him the usual when I got asked the usual question in Spanish, “Why aren’t you getting any for yourself?”  I said, “No, I just don’t want any, thanks…” Then they offered me a free sample to eat on the spot from a little bowl.  For something like this I’d typically give insulin and wait a few minutes before eating.  So I didn’t take the sample.  They asked again, “Really!  Try it!  It’s got shrimp and avocado and onions!”  I have witnessed them doing this to all the customers that stopped by and rarely did anyone refuse a sample.  That all sounded delicious to me but those little sushi rolls still had rice so finally, thinking about how I’m supposed to be a diabetes advocate, I explained to the guys the real reason.  “I have type 1 diabetes and must give insulin before eating anything and I don’t want to do that right now.”

Silence.

“But you’re young and you look healthy.”  “Well, I am young and healthy.”  Then I explained what type 1 diabetes was and they asked me about how I give insulin.  I explained that I give insulin shots as needed to bring down my sugar and to cover the carbs in any food I eat.  One guy said, “I didn’t know healthy people could get diabetes…”, shaking his head slowly.  Another nodded enthusiastically and said, “Good for you, you seem very happy for a person with something so serious.”

I thanked them for listening, they assured me they would no longer push me to sample sushi, and we said “adios”.

There really are countless opportunities to advocate for our condition.  We should take these opportunities, even if someone has been rude, because if not us, then who?

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