Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Hardest Part

Note: This is day two of Diabetes Blog Week, and the topic is The Other Half of Diabetes: "We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk?"

Most people, when they think of Type 1 diabetes, think of the parts they can see. The needles, mostly. Finger pricks a dozen times a day. Insulin shots four to six times a day. Infusion sets every two or three days. Continuous glucose monitoring sensors every week. Blood draws every three months. For most, this is what they think of as the hardest part of diabetes.

But it's not the hardest part. Not even close.

The hardest part isn't the finger sticks, but what's contained in that tiny bead of blood that's squeezed out afterward. Despite all our best efforts, that tiny drop of blood could indicate an emergency that requires us to drop everything and act, and we have to be constantly vigilant for such an event.

The hardest part isn't the insulin injections or the infusion sets, but rather the medication that these devices deliver. We are grateful that it saves our lives each day, but also wary of the fact that, if we're not careful, that same medication can be lethal.

The hardest part isn't the continuous glucose monitor sensor, but rather the monetary price we've paid for the priviledge of accessing such technology. We're well aware that, were circumstances different, this same technology may be out of reach, and we're grateful for being able to wear it.

The hardest part isn't the blood draws every three months, but rather what those blood tests may reveal. We live with a worry that follows us like shadows, never quite leaving no matter how good our control is. Regardless of how hard we try, we may not escape complications in the end.

The hardest part about diabetes isn't anything that's visible. It's all the stuff that's invisible. It's the constant vigilance. It's the daily grind. It's the unending adjustments. It's the interrupted sleep. It's the financial burden. It's the unpredictability. It's the extreme highs and plummeting lows. It's worrying about the future. It's the utterly unrelenting, unforgiving, endless nature of diabetes.

I have no real answers, even after having lived with diabetes for nearly three-quarters of my life. It's mentally and emotionally hard. It will always be hard. I just try my best each day and take things one day at a time.

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