Tag Archives: diabetes

Journal Entry: Day of Diagnosis

 

Today, I’ve had diabetes 16 years.  Below is my journal entry from November 4th, 1994 when I was 11 and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes:

 You might understand more if you read the previous journal entry one month before.

Well God, I’m mad at you.  I just saw Ana check her blood sugar and it’s 168.  I’m in the hospital right now because I’m diabetic now, too.  That’s right, Diary.  I have diabetes.  I hate it already because it hurts to prick my finger and get shots.  I hate it because today Hale was coming over to ask me out and instead he had to call the hospital room to ask me over the phone.  So I guess today wasn’t too awful.  But, I feel really depressed because now Ana and I have this disease and I don’t see how they will cure it so fast like they say, in 10 years.  It just seems too hard to fix.  The doctor said I can’t eat any more sugar.  I have left my favorite Halloween candy for last! 

Whatever, the shots are the worst part.  And the complications.  The doctor says I will have to take care of my blood sugars or bad things could happen.  I know about those things, I read about them in a book when Ana was diagnosed.  I have to be here for days.  I just want to go to school and pretend this isn’t happening.

<words smeared by tears>

Anyway, other than this I’m fine.  I think I’m fine.  I’m going to be fine so Ana doesn’t see me upset and feel bad, too.  I don’t want mom and dad to worry so I’ll just act fine.  Stupid diabetes…

<blood smeared on the page>

 

This entry makes me think all sorts of different things.  It shows me how doctor’s recommendations keep changing for type 1 diabetics.  It shows me how much emotion I kept inside as an 11 year old.  I remember going to school the week after diagnosis and telling everyone I was fine and that diabetes wasn’t a big deal.  I was trying to tell myself that, mostly. 

This entry also reminds me that this November isn’t just my diabetes anniversary, it is the anniversary of my friend Hale’s death in a tragic car accident when he was only 17.  Back then, if you had told me that I would live longer than Hale I would have not believed you.  He was perfectly healthy and didn’t have diabetes like me.  

I’ve always hesitated celebrating another year with diabetes for fear it will lash out a complication on me as a sort of “oh no you don’t” warning.  But, in honor of Hale and all of those who leave us so soon I think I WILL celebrate this day because it signifies another year I’ve been privileged enough to see. 

Diabetes can kill so easily… making it another year should be considered a big deal.

 So toast with me to that!    <cling!>

Journal Entry: One Month Before Diagnosis

 

 

I have written in a diary or journal since age 9.  I dusted the cover of my first diary the other day and found an entry for October 4th, 1994, exactly one month before I would end up in the hospital with type 1 diabetes at age 11.

Today I’m thinking about Halloween and because it makes me think of costumes, it also makes me think about what I want to do when I grow up.  I think maybe I want to go to Egypt and be an archaeologist.  Or maybe an ice skater.  Or a professional soccer player.  Then again, I really like helping people so maybe I’ll grow up to be a doctor or teacher.  I don’t know.  All I know is I like to help people, especially diabetics like Ana. 

I wonder if God remembers our deal?  I hope he knows I’m serious about having Him give me diabetes as long as he takes it away from Ana.  She is only 3, I’m 11, and a good sister should take the hardship away from her little sister right?  Anyway, I keep praying my plan will go according to plan.  Talk to ya next time, Diary.

Watch This Video and a Child Will Get a Week of Life-Saving Insulin

The eye of a doctor looking at a droplet on a ...
What would you do without this?   looking at the needle from Crestock Photos

 

The Big Blue Test, was started by the Diabetes Hands Foundation last year and entails encouraging all people with diabetes to test their blood sugar on World Diabetes Day, November 14th at 2pm.  Here is how it works:  Test your blood sugar, do 14 minutes of any type of activity, test your blood sugar again and then share your results here!

This year, Roche Diabetes Care has teamed up with Diabetes Hands Foundation to try and get at least 100,000 views of the Big Blue Test promotional video.  Every time someone watches this video, Roche will make a donation (up to $75,000) 

Then, Diabetes Hands Foundation will be using the money to aid the Life for a Child program, run by the International Diabetes Federation, and Insulin For Life.  According to AskManny.com (the man behind the Diabetes Hands Foundation), these two global, humanitarian organizations provide diabetes medication and supplies to children in the world’s poorest countries.

I’ve long stated that although I wish for everyone to be able to afford diabetes pumps and a CGMS, my greatest concern is the many diabetics out there who don’t even have regular access to insulin and syringes.  This is a way to help those who are much less fortunate.  All you have to do is spread the video so we can get all the views we need to send all the help we can.

Visit BigBlueTest.org to watch the video (or watch it below):

 

Empathy 101 for Diabetics

The best way to open a closed door.      Photo Courtesy of Nuttakit
The best way to open a closed door.     Photo Courtesy of Nuttakit

 

While I would consider myself no expert on the subject of empathy, I would say that it is a natural quality of mine (unlike so many other things lol).  Not something I take credit for, just something I was born with it seems.  Today it’s all about the greatness of empathy and how you and I can put it into practice more frequently.

What is empathy?  You know that saying, “walk a mile in another man’s shoes”?  Well…it’s like that.  Empathy is imagining how someone is feeling and you can even learn to anticipate how someone will react to something.  I was in an empathy training for work years ago.  We had a series of questions to answer and then we reviewed everyone’s answers.  Out of 30 people only two of us had “acceptable” answers.  It led me to believe that many people may be a bit out of touch with using empathy.

Or maybe it’s not that we don’t know to use empathy.  Maybe we only use it with loved ones.  This is a big problem because often, people who could really use our empathy are acquaintances, or even people we don’t like or know.

Don’t feel you owe anyone empathy because you’re suffering a lot?  Well then consider that your actions dictate how others will treat you.  You want understanding don’t you?

Well, here are ways to get into an empathy giving habit:

Imagine what someone may really be feeling/thinking.

When that “diabetes police” says “Geez, your blood sugar is high again!” imagine what that person might be feeling.  Perhaps frustration in loving you and knowing that a high blood sugar doesn’t mean good things for you?  Or maybe this person is just surprised or confounded by your blood sugar being high even though you seem to do really well and they are frustrated with your misfortune to have diabetes-not with you necessarily. 

Change your choice of words.

You know how mothers act when their child does something daring (like jumping off the deck or roof of a house)?  A mother will run to her child and instead of hug him in relief of his being ok, she’ll scold him at the top of her lungs and tell him ten different ways he’ll suffer if he ever scares her so badly again.  What mom really meant was, “I love you so much and if something ever happened to you I don’t know how I’d go on so please don’t do this again-you might get hurt.”

This is how many of us are.  It is natural for our fears to shake us up and make us speak in harsh or demanding tones when really we just feel worried about someone.  So a great thing to try is to change our words.  Tell your loved one, aka personal diabetes police officer, that you’d appreciate it if they’d instead say something like, “Oh no, your blood sugar is high again, you probably don’t feel well.  How can I help?”

Look around you and put yourself in another’s shoes.

When you’re in line to buy groceries and someone ahead of you is a very old woman taking what you’d swear is a million years to write a simple check, stop yourself and imagine being her.

She is hunched over and so you figure her back must not feel so good.  Her mind isn’t as quick as it once was so she is looking up at the monitor to make sure she got the amount correct on the check.  You notice her fingers trembling just a tad and so imagine her fingers are having a tough time grasping the pen.  And maybe she doesn’t feel well.  Some days you don’t either and you’re not her.  Perhaps she feels really awful and just wants to lie down.  Instead, she is at the store by herself and is trying to just pay for her food and go home.  Maybe the walk to the car won’t be easy…

You get what I mean.  That was an easy example.  What about when you get angry with the infamous (in the diabetes community) Halle Berry.  Yes, her.  You might be frustrated because she hasn’t done the amount of diabetes awareness work you’d like her too.  You might be angry because years ago she said she turned into a type 2 diabetic from a type 1 with diet and exercise.  And you might be frustrated because she doesn’t seem to have an understanding about the different types of diabetes and how her words impact so many.

Fair enough.  But, I suggest we try hard at being as kind as we say we are.  Try to give her the benefit of the doubt.  She has helped raise money for diabetes and shows up at events, maybe she doesn’t want to do more because of some unknown struggle in her life?  When she made the incorrect statement years ago about no longer having type 1, I think, well someone might have misinformed her.  Not everyone does research on their own and maybe she thought that since she could afford a top doctor that he or she would be trustworthy.  Why would someone say they went from type 1 to type 2 diabetic?  I believe her understanding of the correct info was somehow lost somewhere.  Maybe she didn’t understand what a doctor explained to her.  Maybe a doctor gave her incorrect info.  In later interviews she has said that she manages her long time type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise and that she used to use insulin-but doesn’t anymore.  So it sounds like she has come closer to understanding her condition.  She appears healthy so I can’t say she looks like she doesn’t know how to take care of herself.  I guess time will be the one to really tell us.  I wonder if she has a hard time with the constant media attention.  I wonder if she hasn’t learned more about diabetes because it scares her and talking publicly about it might be depressing (hey, I know some people like this).  I’d like it if we had her as a force on the diabetes awareness scene because she is so well-known.  But, she isn’t required to do this and for us to act like she is, is wrong.  

We’re in the same boat and sending her more rude messages than we send others who we wish would do more is also wrong because remember, diabetes is hard on everyone!  If you think her life is easier than yours then you are still fighting your own ignorance.  Besides, all the negative attention on a celebrity reinforces the thinking that celebrities are better than us or somehow above us non-celebrity folk.  They’re not.  We criticize when others make celebrities more than what they are.  Then we turn around and bash them for mistakes that anyone might make.  We say that because they’re famous they have greater responsibilities.  I understand this.  I also understand that if Halle Berry got online and read what everyone said about her in regards to her diabetes, she might steer clear of advocating for diabetes.  You know, to steer clear of all the angry, hateful words and criticism.  I wonder how may of us might to do the same, in her position.  Maybe if we’re nicer and call out for her help…maybe then we’d get it.

So with that said, I’m proposing everyone try to empathize with those you find it hard to empathize with the most.  I admit it’s not easy but, I’ll keep trying and you keep trying and together we’ll find that the Diabetes Online Community and the world is a much nicer place.

What’s with all the blue?

 

worlddiabetesday

 

All my colored tabs have turned blue!  Why?  In honor of and for awareness of World Diabetes Day which is this November 14th, 2010. 

If you or a loved one has diabetes, remember that more awareness about the disease equals more help, support, and funding for a cure.  Isn’t that what we all want?

So do your part.  Everyone has a different talent, a different way they can best help.  For some, this may be inviting new people to a local diabetes support group, for others, writing about diabetes, and for still others, it could mean simply educating one misinformed person about diabetes. 

You get my drift.

Let’s make sure World Diabetes Day doesn’t go unnoticed this year.

Oh and make sure you participate in the Big Blue Test this year!

Which Diabetes is Worse?

It's a journey for both.  Photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev
It’s a journey for both. Photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev

 

David Edelman started a very interesting conversation at Diabetes Daily.  He eventually made a late edit saying he started it to show how unproductive the subject matter is to talk about.  I wish he hadn’t said this because I don’t think communication is unproductive.  I think anger and fear and ignorance is unproductive.

“Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind.”

-Aristotle

The subject matter is probably one of the most debated subjects surrounding diabetes.  Here is what I have to say about the subject regarding which diabetes is worse, type 1 or type 2.

I have had type 1 diabetes for almost 16 years now.  I have family with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, type 1.5 or LADA ,and even pre-diabetes.  I think that having any type of diabetes is difficult.  I think every human being has their own difficult journey in life.  We are all human beings and we all have different reasons for which life might be challenging.  If a pre-diabetic feels suicidal for whatever reason, then do I have the better diabetes?  We can’t answer these questions for each other because we are not in each other’s bodies.

Do type 2 diabetics have a clue how hard life is for a type 1?  NO.  But, do type 1 diabetics know about the deep, painful and complex struggles of life with type 2?  NO.

Our lives are full of thousands of factors which vary upon each separate individual.  All of these form variables and they are countless.  We can’t possibly speak for another person and say they suffer less than we do.  Scientifically speaking, it’s not possible.

 The only disability in life is a bad attitude.

-Scott Hamilton

My husband is from a tiny town in rural Mexico.  We were talking about how sad the issues with poverty are all over the world in general…I mentioned my depression about certain things and somehow he brought up how he knew some people in his town who were genuinely happy.  They were barely scraping by but, they were happy.  And at that time, years ago, I wasn’t.  It suddenly occurred to me that often, those who suffer the least are those in a healthy frame of mind.  I was allowing myself to feel like a victim and these others, with struggles I couldn’t imagine living, seemed to suffer less because of their attitude.

So now, I’m almost never jealous of those who have a nicer car or home or who have better health than me.  I’m jealous of those who are happier and have a more resilient attitude.  Since we don’t know what life will throw out at us, the best defense is a wonderful and healthy outlook on life.  (I’m not saying this is easy)

I understand many of the points type 1 diabetics had to make about how our type of diabetes is very exhausting and how we could quickly die at any moment with just a small error or miscalculation.  We don’t mean to sound dramatic, this is the truth and we just want people to acknowledge this!  We just want people who are not type 1 diabetics to say, “I don’t know what you’re going through but, it sounds really, really, awful.”  Most of all, we want people to listen and not judge.

Type 2 diabetics want the exact same.  If someone has lung cancer because they smoked too many cigarettes do you deny them sympathy?  Type 2 diabetics want people to understand that no, maybe some of them haven’t always taken the best care of themselves, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t trying, that they aren’t struggling.  It doesn’t mean they didn’t live what they believed was a healthy lifestyle.  It doesn’t mean they didn’t live a truly healthy lifestyle.  Besides, when the government has told us in the past that fat is unhealthy and carbs are good and most of what we find around us is processed, it’s no wonder we have an epidemic.  And I can’t imagine how hard it must be for a type 2 to juggle medications.  Seems like a nearly impossible way to manage blood sugars.  Especially when your doctor gives you your dose and it may not be the exact amount of medication you require.

I’ve read over and over again that unhealthy lifestyle habits can change the expression of our genes, basically switching on genes that predispose us to cancer, type 2 diabetes, a full head of gray hair, and so on.  BUT, the point is that we need to exercise some more sense coated in compassion.  I grew up eating a lot of white bread just like a type 2 diabetic might have.  I got type 1 and they got type 2.  When I got older I ate too much McDonald’s and gained weight.  Just like a type 2 might have.  I don’t get blamed for my diabetes and that type 2 does.  How is that fair?  How dare we do that to them?  My husband asked me the other day, “if you could trade your type 1 for type 2, would you?”  I couldn’t answer him.  I just want neither type.

“Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.”

-Albert Einstein

It’s not fair and every type of diabetes deserves compassion and understanding.  I don’t believe that genes are 100% to blame but, I don’t think most type 2 diabetics believe that either.  I think that type 2 diabetics are struggling to figure out (just like myself) how to eat healthy on a budget, how to exercise after a long work day and commute home, and how to show up at the potluck without brownies so people don’t give you strange looks when you instead bring something “healthy”.  Our entire way of life is very accustomed to some long standing habits that we are now struggling to change.  It doesn’t make things easier when people don’t even agree on what changes we should make.  It also doesn’t help when we tell them they should lose weight (the ones that are overweight).  I mean, I don’t ask my husband if I look fat so he can enlighten me, I ask so he can lie and tell me I’m not.  People know if they should or shouldn’t lose weight.  Some overweight people are healthy and feel fabulous.  They probably don’t need to lose weight but only they along with their HCP can decide on that, not us.  And those who should lose weight?  They just need some support.  It’s hard to lose weight-especially if you’ve had that extra weight for a long time.  And especially if diabetes causes your feet to burn, your mood to plummet, and your wallet to shrink from prescriptions and doctor visits.

I think that part of why the discussion gets so heated is that we all are desperate to claim that our disease is the toughest because if it were, wouldn’t we feel better about ourselves?  If we were each dealing with the most difficult form of diabetes, wouldn’t we feel a bit less like failures and a bit more like champions?  I’m not saying we’re failures, I’m saying we often feel as if we are.

A lot of the negative energy in these comments stems from hurt.  These people have really deep wounds and they want a band aid.  Then we try to tell them how they’re wrong and it puts salt in their wound.  This just causes more illogical back and forth.

How about we all just stop and listen to each other’s stories and sympathize and give support?  Let’s try our best to put ourselves in each other’s shoes.  We need to find a way for you to tell me your story while I just listen (not trying to one up you with my account) and then you listen to me while I tell you mine.

Honestly, I’ve never told anyone about how a typical day of mine goes.  I’ve never told them about how I feel when I wake up until the time I go to bed.  Now that I realize this I also realize I have never heard a type 2 tell me how their typical day is and what they think and feel throughout it.  I really want to know.  Is there anyone out there who will share this with me?  (Since writing this post, a type 2 has shared the experience-read here!)

Some people in the discussion were upset and said they feel we should each stick to working on our own causes.  I think we should unite.  We should all simultaneously support the cause for a cure for type 1 and 2.  At the same time we should all work on ourselves.  Do the best you can eating and exercising and getting your friends to join in.  Read and research how to be healthier.  Use common sense.

And if you’ve been cruel or judgmental, or less than kind, I forgive you, now just forgive yourself and make a personal note to stop or do less of it.  And keep working on this.  (I’m including myself here) Eventually we’ll succeed and find that we inspired many other people to do the same.  This is how change happens.  It doesn’t happen with hateful comments.  So let’s share and listen more and work on ourselves.  And we’ll see what happens.

LADA Awareness Week Oct 18-24 2010

 

Sounding the alarm on a different type of diabetes.  Photo courtesy of Paul.
Sounding the alarm on a different type of diabetes. Photo courtesy of Paul.

 

Did you know there might be a type of diabetes more common than type 1 and less common than type 2?  It’s called Diabetes Type 1.5 or LADA which stands for Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults.  I actually have an uncle who was diagnosed with this around the age of 40. 

The reason we must make awareness on this issue is that many of these LADA patients are often diagnosed as Type 2 diabetics.  Can you imagine how hard it would be to manage your health without knowing you need insulin all of the time?  It’s definitely a struggle for these types, not to mention they go through life feeling fine and then wham!  Lifestyle habits that have gone on much longer than a child’s when diagnosed with type 1 must suddenly be altered dramatically.  I can only imagine the whirlwind that ensues. 

The real tragedy though is again, not knowing one has this until it’s too late.  So I urge you to learn more about LADA through the following links:  (links take you to LADA related info)

TuDiabetes.Org

Dlife.com

Tell everyone you know!  It’s always better to be aware than to learn a lesson the hard way.

Diabetes Juggling Act and Scary Creatures

 

I’m often most frustrated at my diabetes when I’m forced to multi-task between it and several other things.  I am a proponent of single-tasking in order to really give things the proper attention they deserve and in order to provide a greater focus to a task.  However, sometimes life makes you juggle a few more balls than you’d like. 

This week my son has been dealing with strep throat and because he has a twin sister and a diabetic mother, the week has been kind of nutty.  It has been a never ending stream of separating the babies so the other doesn’t get strep and disinfecting everything from the ground up about 3 feet (which is a lot of disinfecting!), trying to remember when pain medicine and antibiotic was given, cooking food for each meal only to find son won’t eat it, and last but not least, trying to keep on top of blood sugars even in the midst of feeling under the weather.

Yesterday I carried both my kids for 30 minutes (50 pounds in total) because they were crying pretty dramatically and finally when I thought my arms would burn off I decided to let them cry on the floor as I tested my sugar.  It was 32.  I’m sensitive to my children’s crying so much so that I separate logic and emotions and sometimes skip a diabetes related task just trying to comfort them.  That 32 snapped me out of that!

Still, I felt immensely frustrated because the diabetes was in the way of my mothering and I didn’t want it to be.  And what if something had happened to me?  I was alone!  Well, later that day Alex came home early to help and my mother came back over (she came by that morning as well).  Three adults and two babies and it was still plenty hectic.  At least I could test at this point without a baby trying to grab my meter and run with it.

Something else has been bothering me this week…I’ve spotted a bug twice in two days that I’ve never seen before (and I’ve lived here well over two decades!)  At first I think, “A spider? no…a giant stink bug? no…an evil praying mantis?”  My husband, whom I affectionately refer to as “animal planet” felt he knew what this was and captured the 1.5 inch long creature in a jar and after a little research we discovered the bug to be a blood sucking, disease carrying, “assassin bug”.  Supposedly these bugs are bed bugs if they get in your house and like to come out every couple days and fill up on animal or human blood for about 15-20 minutes.  I’m confused because why have I seen two in two days?  Husband and wife?  And why in Virginia?  They’re also called “kissing” bugs.  Did they hear Virginia is for lovers?  Apparently they are commonly found in Mexico, Central America, and South America.  In the US they’re found in Florida and Arizona more than anywhere else (which makes sense) but, why have they come way up here?  Doesn’t matter…what matters is this thing is a vampire and looks like this:

Wheelbug, a type of "assassin" or "kissing" bug
Wheelbug, a type of “assassin” or “kissing” bug
Top View
Top View

 

Sleep well tonight…. :)

When you hit bottom there is no where to go but up

 

Something I’ve been thinking about lately has been fueled by reading what fellow diabetes writers/bloggers have been saying.  So many of us feel like we’re living life on the edge and in fact, I would say that living with type 1 diabetes IS the epitome of living life on the edge.  It would be more fun to do by choice like these brave/foolish people but instead we are literally forced to make life/death decisions all day long.  And yes, we could say that we all make those decisions-like when we drive (shall I stop at this red light or continue?) but, the truth is that we’re walking on a tight rope for a living.  It’s a breeding ground for those moments movies like to dramatize the most.  Those moments when we are at our limit.  I think this is when we are our weakest and our strongest.

Sometimes we are spiraling down…down…until something happens and finally stops the spiraling.  Why?  Because we’ve hit rock bottom.  I refer to rock bottom as a way of saying someone has hit a wall, emotionally or mentally.  For example, denial often ends when one finally gets forced to snap out of it and although they’ve now reached a low point, it’s also a turning point and the beginning of healthy and necessary change. 

When our diabetes management routine isn’t working for us we will often go days, weeks, or months plagued by it.  We’ll complain that our numbers are not where we want them to be and we’ll do our best to chase our high and low blood sugars, but we’re not necessarily focused on troubleshooting.  We’re too busy living.  Besides, we’re getting by alright.  But eventually we hit a wall and are finally so intensely frustrated or upset that we break down and have the chance to look at our problem from a new perspective and with a sense of despair and urgency.  This sounds awful but it’s really not.

The idea to write what you read on this website came to me about six years ago after I spent 48 hours being closed up in my room.  I had finally had enough of my high blood sugars and my general state of health and felt so frustrated I cried for oh I don’t know, maybe 4 hours straight.  Funny thing happened afterwards…all my frustration was gone (due to exhaustion) and a sense of calm came over me and I thought to myself “When you hit bottom there is no where to go but up”.  I laid on the floor of my messy room-messy because I threw everything all over the place in a fit of emotional fury and that is when I came up with the idea for a book I would one day want to write.  Thus, the idea for The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes was born. 

There have been many of what I call “healthy breakdowns” and they have all led to some substantial improvement in my life.  I think it’s natural for humans although it’s probably a more frequent occurrence for us diabetics than for the rest of the population.  The key, I think is to realize that when you feel your lowest you are standing on the edge of something big.  You are facing an opportunity to face your mistakes logically (instead of emotionally), to forgive yourself, and to choose a different plan of action. 

Many great things in this world have been accomplished by those who have been pushed to their limits and forced to make important decisions.  So as diabetics, maybe we should think of ourselves as people with huge potential…

Does Having Diabetes Make You Shy?

This is another post by contributing author, Ana Morales.

Have you ever taken the well-known Myers Briggs personality test? I’ve taken it a few times and it has never failed to reveal that I’m an introverted person. I’ve known this about myself even before I took the test, however, and sometimes I wonder how much having diabetes has influenced this part of me. Since I was diagnosed when I was only 3, there’s no doubt that it played a role in my development as an individual. While some people may have enjoyed the attention that came with being a diabetic, I didn’t. In elementary school I had to walk to the office every day before lunchtime to check my blood sugar level and report it to one of the staff members. If it was low they would send me to lunch early and I would have to sit with people I didn’t know, so it got to the point where if I was low, I would lie about it in order to avoid going to lunch early.

Outside of school, I was involved in extra-curricular activities such as soccer, choir, dance, and art classes. I often neglected to check my blood sugar during these times because I didn’t want people watching me or giving me that horrified look when I drew blood from my finger. Over the years I’ve met several people who can hardly stand to look at needles or blood, let alone watch me do something to myself that involved both. I became self-conscious and felt that I should prevent these people from feeling uncomfortable around me and just not prick my finger or give my shots in front of them. If there was a bathroom or otherwise secluded spot available nearby, I would retreat there to do what I had to do without any sort of audience. Sometimes this luxury was not available though, and this is where I put others before my own needs and simply waited until I was alone. Not too long ago I finally realized that this is no way to take care of myself. I still struggle with pricking my finger and giving shots in public sometimes, but not nearly as much as I used to.

Even with some of the people who were closest to me, I couldn’t seem to not be shy about my diabetes sometimes. It didn’t help that some of them treated my diabetes like it really wasn’t a big deal at all. This hurt me in a way that I don’t even know how to describe; after all, I’ve been dealing with not just this disease, but the thoughts of what could happen in the future because of it for the past 16 years. Even though it hurt me, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything to them and make them understand because I felt like I would come off as overdramatic and uptight and it would somehow taint the relationship I had with them. I truly regret not doing anything now. As a diabetic, you have to learn to stand up for yourself and not expect everyone to automatically understand what you’re going through. It took me a while to learn that.

As I’ve been writing this I realized that another thing that has prevented me from being less shy about my diabetes is the fact that I’m not as informed about it as I could be. I think that part of it is due to my sister Sysy’s diligence with learning everything she can about it. In a way I’ve taken advantage of this and never looked into the disease myself. As a result I feel that I can’t accurately explain to people what’s going on with me sometimes. While I should’ve started learning about what I have more thoroughly a long time ago, it’s never too late to start. If you’re in the same situation, take the initiative to learn all you can about diabetes because it’s a big part of your life! Reading the articles on this website is a great start :).

I definitely still don’t have perfect control, but it always helps me to think about how taking care of myself now will hopefully ensure a healthier future for me. As a shy person even outside of having diabetes, I have to be extra stern when it comes to doing things that may draw attention to myself and not let that stop me from doing what I need to do. So, what can you do if your diabetes makes you a little shy and prevents you from doing what you need to? Here’s a list to get you started:

1. Become informed! Learn about the disease that you have and share this information with your loved ones and other people in your life whenever you’re presented with the chance. Having the support of others makes dealing with diabetes SO much easier.
2. Keep your priorities straight. To put it simply, learn when you have to put your needs before others’ and when you don’t.
3. Speak up! You know your body better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to sound a little harsh if that’s what going to make someone understand how important it is to take care of yourself. If they really love you, they won’t leave you because of it.

And remember, it’s not a bad thing to be shy, just don’t let fear take over your life! You’ll be glad you didn’t.