Friday, September 28, 2012

Battlefield

A short break from the usually not very serious, sometimes quirky posts that are found on this blog.

 Living with diabetes is a constant balancing act: balancing blood sugars, insulin doses, carb counting, site changes, always making sure you have your supplies. I'd be lying if I told you that I had been in control of my diabetes for the past year. I promised myself when I was diagnosed that I would never allow my type 1 diabetes to control me or prevent me from doing what I love. I kept this promise for 9 years, living a healthy and active lifestyle, until this last year. I lost my balance.

As junior year progressed I allowed my blood sugars to slip out of control. I wasn't sleeping well and was stressed over my classes, so I began to forget about checking my blood sugar and giving myself insulin doses. I made it through 1st semester finals, but soon afterwards everything went downhill. Most people think that being diabetic means a few shots a day and a change in diet, when in reality it affects every aspect of a person's life. My blood sugar range was anywhere from 50-600's. To translate, a diabetic nightmare.  Low blood sugars really put a whole new meaning to "being out of it". When you're blood sugars are low, it can be hard to even formulate words or think clearly. I was in the mid-high 600's when I was diagnosed with diabetes. If I wasn't low, my blood sugar was at least 300, and towards the end of the semester it was in the 400's. I felt sick all summer and 2nd semester, and some days even the most simple tasks seemed impossible. It got to the point where I never wanted to check my blood sugar, because I didn't want to see that 600 or HI displayed on my meter. I tried not to eat for a short while, but I eat a low-carb diet anyways and that made little difference. The stomach pains, the irregular heartbeat and low energy levels to the inability to concentrate and nausea only made it that much harder for me to push through my classes. By the time I was done with that chemistry final I was in full zombie mode.

Living a life centered around a balancing act had become increasingly frustrating. Letting my diabetes go haywire was my attempt at trying to forget I was diabetic. As if not taking care of it would make life simple again. After reading through several diabetic blogs (D-blogs) I realized that there are a lot of type 1's out there that have had thought about giving up control, "another way to look at it is if you were driving along the busy highway and decided, 'this has been an awfully long drive I think I will just STOP' well you can stop if you want, you know how to stop- just step on the breaks, however, with that come the consequences of a. being a badly injured or b. dying. You can't just stop on the highway without consequences" (Kayla's Life Notes). I can't figure out how to say it any better than Kayla.

I didn't let myself believe that my diabetes was out of control. I tried to re-balance my blood sugar many times, only to lean too far right or left and end up feeling like my efforts made no difference. My control has been better since the summer, but it's far from great.

I realize now that I've never been an advocate for myself. I never tell my teachers if my blood sugar is high or low unless I really have to, and figure I'll be fine taking that test with a high blood sugar. The reason is that I don't want to make my disease an excuse for doing poor on a test, for explaining my behavior when experiencing a severe blood sugar, or use it as an excuse for constantly tripping over words when talking to a stranger. I've had a lot of people, as in 5 or 6, tell me that that they never realized I was diabetic until this school year now that I've started checking my blood sugar more. It's just something I never talk much about unless I'm asked, even though it's something I think about constantly.

The thing that bothers me the most is that I'm blessed enough to have all the supplies I need to keep my diabetes in control and yet there are underprivileged kids with this genetic disease that don't have access to this technology. I have this technology and hardly used it. I'm blessed to have a supportive family, blessed to have a pump, to have insulin. I let my diabetes attack me because I was tired of fighting an uphill battle, but it's no excuse for being stubborn. I've had this disease for 10 years after all.

Everything happens for a reason, and my struggle with diabetes has made me stronger. Diabetes changed me, and inspired me to help others and be more involved in the diabetic community-whether it's the online community or in real life. Or educate those that don't know anything about the disease. I remember feeling so lost when I was first diagnosed; I felt blind and isolated. If I can help at least one person by sharing my experiences, then that's enough. Adding to the list: participating in more research studies and volunteer opportunities that come my way. Maybe I'll even me a counselor at a type 1 diabetes camp for children. Or as a career, become a nutritionist or dietitian.

Sharing this post, my experience, is motivation to get back on track. And in a way it's also a public declaration of my intention of keeping that promise I made to myself when I was younger. While it's impossible for any diabetic to have perfect control of their blood sugars, it doesn't mean we have to give up on our own dreams or goals or let diabetes control us and who we are. I didn't have a choice in living with type 1 diabetes-no one would choose this disease. But I do have a choice in my attitude. I can spend every day asking the question why do I have to be diabetic? or I can live every day by being an example of how someone can live his/her life to the fullest and overcomes every day challenges with a positive attitude. Diabetes doesn't define me, I won't let it define me, and I won't allow it control my life again. Life's a battlefield-but diabetes isn't going to take me down.

6 comments:

Nikki P said...

You can do it North! But when you're going through a hard time, please remember that your friends will be here for you :3

North said...

Thanks Nikki! :)My blood sugars are a lot better now, I still have dangerous blood sugars every so often but it isn't so bad. It's a process, but I'm definitely making progress!

Youngjoo Ahn said...

Hi North! I love the way you write. It really touched me especially since my grandfather also suffers a lot from diabetes. I'm also from Colorado!!!!
I would so appreciate if you checked out my blog :)http://pinkstoryofme.blogspot.com

Miss Lovie said...

Although I've no idea what it is to have diabetes for myself, I have seen my grandma live with it, as well as my mama. I think you're awesome, if I don't sound too weird saying that haha! But honestly, you seem so strong, and I love that.
I also love the way you write! That's another reason why I'm now following! I look forward to your future posts! And if you'd like, could you take a look at my blog? That's mean SO MUCH to me!

http://giegiecan.blogspot.com/

your new reader,
*Gie gie

North said...

Youngjoo Ahn: Thank you! :) That's really nice of you to say, and I'm glad you liked my post! I'm sorry to hear about your grandpa. I hope he gets better very soon. Diabetes can be hard to control! I can definitely relate. And Colorado is amazing, I love it here!! Especially the mountains, I'm a nature-lover. I'll be sure to check out your blog :)

North said...

Miss Lovie: Wow, it would be hard to see other family members having to live with diabetes. I know was hard for my family to see me struggle; I couldn't imagine what it would be like if someone in my family developed diabetes also. Unfortunately My little brother and my cousin both are at high risk for it. I'm sure your grandma and your mom are very strong people also. And you're very sweet! Thanks so much. I'll be sure to check out your blog as well!

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