NINJABETIC – Owning our self-worth
Imagine walking along a deserted road, alone, not knowing where you are, how you got there or where you are going. The air is calm and still, and the road appears to be safe, but there is a playful chill nipping at your exposed skin; enough to make you wrap your arms tightly around yourself, protecting yourself with the only tools you have.
Suddenly, branches from trees overhead begin to sway as the wind picks up, causing the most beautiful shadows to dance along the road in front of you, distracting your attention from the safe road ahead. As you follow the shadows, not wanting to take your eyes away from their delicate and graceful patterns, you stumble off the path and into long grass. You are oblivious to your change of direction as the pull of the elegant shadows entice and tease you, daring you to follow them further, daring you to be as beautiful as they are.
Exposed and vulnerable
Suddenly a familiar feeling of being exposed and vulnerable creeps up on you and you start to sense danger ahead, however the temptation to follow the shadows ensures you remain on the now threatening and dangerous path.
You become increasingly lost from the road you once walked on and start to hear noises from every direction, each growing louder and louder, closer and closer. A sudden anxious feeling begins travelling through your body, starting at your toes and moving upwards, dominating your senses and causing you to lose all rational thoughts. Everything you know and trust about ensuring your own safety seems somewhat irrelevant as the shadows slowly take over; no longer beautiful but dark, cold and overwhelming. You know that by this point, it is too late to turn back. You must commit and see it through.
The wind becomes stronger and more forceful, howling as it pushes you in different directions. You feel rough invisible hands pulling and pushing you, forcing you backwards and forwards, shaking you like a rag doll.
Breathing becomes difficult, tight sharp breaths start to make you feel light headed and dizzy as lights sparkle in front of your eyes. A vice like clamp is squeezing the air out of you as the invisible hands bear down, forcing you towards the ground. The shadows grow larger as they close in on you, the howling of the wind is relentless.
And then you open your eyes and fill your lungs as you take a long deep breath.
The air is calm and still, the shadows are statue like, the only movement comes from you as you pick yourself up, smile and breathe deeply once again as you finally begin to make your way back to the safety of the road. You feel strong and you promise yourself you will never go down that path again. But you do, everytime you need to eat, everytime you need to inject.
I am aware that many patients, carers and healthcare professionals read my articles and I am always grateful they do. Being able to reach a large number of people who I would be unable to tell my stories to in real life is a big responsibility, and I do hope I take it on well and deliver what people need and want to know.
Insulin manipulation is never as effortless as not taking it; the physical and emotional consumption can be overwhelming and unbearable at times, and I cannot imagine that anyone would put themselves through the pain and exhaustion of having high blood glucose for no reason at all. There is always a story behind an action and it is for the patient to discover that, with guidance from their healthcare professionals (HCPs).
Thoughts and feelings
When I used to manipulate my insulin I did so for many reasons; fear, anger, sadness, control, rebellion and ignorance, to name but a few. These emotions were then translated by HCPs into numbers which meant very little to me. Numbers overshadowed what I was really experiencing and made my thoughts and feelings seem much less important than they were. My thoughts and feelings were more meaningful and complex than any number, chart or graph; more significant than any test or tick box. If the emotional side of diabetes that a person is experiencing, or in my case struggling with, is not addressed then there really is not much hope of the patient, and those numbers, recovering.
I manipulated my insulin for far too many years and I did so according to my emotional state at the time, however it soon became habitual and my diabetes routine was pitifully non-existent. When I got to the stage where I had already developed complications I decided to pull myself out of the hole I fell in again and again and I can proudly say that I have not looked back for the last five years.
Taking my insulin as I should was the most challenging hurdle I had ever overcome, but it was definitely worth it. It was not the physical side of injecting but the emotional barriers that I needed to influence. For nine years I had convinced myself I didn’t need my life saving medication, that I wasn’t worthy of it and that I would be better off without it, but deep down I knew that was not true. I had tried to assure myself of many reasons as to why I should not take insulin, but the fact that nine years later I was still standing, breathing and seeing showed me that those reasons were distorted and untrue. If I had genuinely believed them then I would not be here now.
It is up to us as patients to see our own self-worth and the uniqueness that we can bring to the world. We are all incredibly special people with wonderful roads ahead of us, why should we deny ourselves happiness? I understand it is not quite as easy as me telling you that, but with time you will come to see it for yourselves that the people we are come from the actions we take.