Invisible Illness Week is between September 13-19 2010. Diabetes is considered an invisible chronic illness.
I’d like to say that these invisible illnesses aren’t so invisible at all. It’s just that we ignore the frowns or strains on our fellow human’s faces. We ignore the moody girl next door, the grumpy man at work, the depressed gal from class. When someone we know complains of ongoing fatigue or an overall feeling of sickness we think they just don’t eat right, are weak or dramatic, or are even making it up.
The best thing we can do for those suffering is to be more compassionate, observant, better listeners, less self-centered, and more open-minded. We need to open our eyes. Why would someone lie about feeling miserable all of the time? Can you imagine how hopeless and sad one might be to feel miserable all of the time, not know how to feel better, and then not gain any sympathy? It’s heartbreaking. If we just pay more attention these “invisible illnesses” might be more “visible” and thus better understood and better treated.
What do you say?
I’m going to fill out the following “meme” about my invisible illness. Maybe you’ll want to answer each of these questions for us or yourself as well.
30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know
1. The illness I live with is: Type 1 Diabetes
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1994
3. But I had symptoms since: About two weeks before being diagnosed
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: To suddenly have to worry about something every second of every day knowing that if I neglect it, the results could be fatal.
5. Most people assume: That type 1 diabetes is not too tough to live with. They couldn’t be more wrong.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: Every now and then I wake up with really high glucose despite going to bed with a really good reading. It feels unfair because while sleeping I can’t stay on top of my diabetes the way I can when I’m awake.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: Grey’s Anatomy because it is so goofy and doesn’t make me think about my diabetes.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My glucose meter. I really like knowing what is going on with my blood sugars.
9. The hardest part about nights are: Often setting alarms in order to test in the middle of the night.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. I take krill oil and allergy medicine daily and vitamin D in the winter.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: Feel that for many diabetics in the world, a very healthy lifestyle could really bring some positive changes to their state of health. I also know that every diabetic has a different situation going on and that alternative treatments vary widely. And obviously completely insulin dependent diabetics like type 1 diabetics are at this point in time unable to consider alternative therapies for the diabetes. But, I as a type 1 am all for using alternative treatments such as saline solution for sinus infections instead of antibiotics, for example. This is because antibiotics do not support my diabetes control-they make it more difficult by messing with my gut. So I use all sorts of alternative treatments in order to compliment my diabetes management :)
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or a visible one I would choose: Here is the thing…I believe diabetes is highly visible. Especially when out of control. We’re just not keen on the signs. I wouldn’t want to choose between two negative things anyway.
13. Regarding working and career: I hope to write about diabetes for a very long time.
14. People would be really surprised to know: That after four auditions I was offered a job acting in an Independent Film based in Hollywood but, turned it down because I needed insurance to afford my diabetes supplies and at the time had really out of control blood sugars. I felt kind of defeated by diabetes after this experience. I probably could have gone but, felt as if I couldn’t go through the experience and manage my diabetes at the same time.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: That the chances for complications is going to probably go up instead of down with each new year.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Carry healthy twin babies after 15 years with diabetes (10 years of which I had out of control diabetes)
17. The commercials about my illness: I don’t watch commercials about diabetes. They are for things I don’t want. I keep the same meter until it breaks and I ignore all of the “maybe you need this prescription” messages out there. I hope to never get on a diabetes related medication. Fingers crossed.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Not feeling so much constant and sometimes debilitating worry. And just experiencing everything being easier. Oh and running outside without any supplies, without feeling ill, without worries. I remember being 10 years old and jumping out of bed most mornings feeling happy and healthy and energetic. Since being diagnosed I wake up so much slower…
19. It was really hard to have to give up: part of my childhood. I spent the latter part of my childhood feeling sick most of the time-and yet no one knew it.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: I was 11 when I was diagnosed. Surprisingly I haven’t taken up anything new. I still like the same things-such as writing, reading, soccer, and learning new things.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Just one day? If it was just for one day I wouldn’t take it.
22. My illness has taught me: Compassion for others no matter what their situation is.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: I just don’t like it when people assume they know something. I prefer the ignorant person who asks questions to the one that is confident in what they “know”.
24. But I love it when people: Learn about diabetes and spend some time putting themselves in my shoes.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “You are what you think you are.” This reminds me to think positive thoughts about myself such as “I’m healthy” “I’m great at taking care of my diabetes”.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Be the master of your own diabetes. Learn all you can about every detail and take notes. Over time you’ll see how this allows you to do more than you ever dreamed possible. Oh and don’t be a victim. Your diabetes isn’t to blame. Your future and how it turns out is in your hands. Hang in there.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: It doesn’t get easier over time. And that it can be quite easy to feel depressed-something I fight on a constant basis-but feel I’m winning the battle against.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Listen to all I had to say, time and time again.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I think we’ll all be better off if we are more aware of people suffering from these illnesses-which are in fact very common. Chances are you know someone who is suffering and perhaps they need you in a way you aren’t aware of.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: very grateful and if you want to email me yours or put it on this site-feel free. I’d be honored to read it.