Ninjabetic – living with diabetes
This week I was asked: “What’s it like to have diabetes?” I wasn’t expecting it. I was caught off guard and I stumbled over my answer a little, but I gave it as well as I could.
It was a doctor who had asked me but he wasn’t one of wasn’t my doctors. No, this was a doctor who worked on the ward where I’m on placement. He didn’t know me, have any relationship with me or my diabetes, nor did he specialise in the condition, yet he was the first person to ever ask me this. He was so casual in his approach and I didn’t know which answer he was looking for. The clinical explanation perhaps… numbers, doses, symptoms, targets etc, or was he showing a genuine interest into the emotional aspects of living with diabetes. Either way, he had shown an interest, I just wish he could see what I see.
How do you articulate to someone the fear and anxiety that is felt when you’re told that you’ve been diagnosed with a life-long medical condition? How do you articulate to someone that those worries never leave your side? Sometimes haunting your dreams and your loved one’s too.
How do you tell someone what it feels like to finally, after years of trying, see an a1c result that is within target? Euphoria and elation being the best feelings in the world as all your hard work self-managing a challenging and relentless condition has paid off.
How do you describe the pain of being admitted to hospital, yet again, with high blood glucose levels? The feeling of being so very ill that all you want to do is to close your eyes and pass out – to let someone else take over for your body, take over from the control that you hang on to so tightly.
How do you reveal that sense of pride and accomplishment when you see a straight line on a CGM, see a run of good numbers in your log book or on your glucose meter? How do you reveal that sense of gratification from knowing that you earned that straight line and that you worked damn hard to get it?
How do you confess the dismay you feel when thinking about what could go wrong? How do you confess those thoughts that we try very hard to push to the back of our mind, but always seem to creep forward, knowing that there is a real possibility that those worries may last a life-time.
How do you express the feeling of self-motivation, empowerment, courage and drive when you realise you’ve jumped over many hurdles, taken on many challenges and come away still standing tall? Often choosing not to stay down when diabetes kicks you, but getting straight back up again, dusting yourself off and giving it another shot.
When I was asked the question, I knew I had around 1-2 minutes to get my personal message across and who knows, that message may be the only one he ever hears from someone who’s living with diabetes. Summing up how you feel about the hand you’ve been dealt is difficult but I’m glad someone asked the question and gave me that chance. I’m also glad I said: “ask me again tomorrow and the next day… see if you get that same answer.”
It would be interesting to know what others would say in that situation.