Diabetes Blog Week, Day 2, 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 ones 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?
My kiddos just brought home their certificates for a reading incentive, free one-day passes to our city's amusement park. I have spent countless days at this particular park, especially in my new-found-freedom-teenage years. Ah yes, I felt da power as my mom or my bestie's mom would pull up to the front gates and drop us off. As I am getting older, I long for those parking fee-free days! Yep, we used to save at least $20 with the mom-style limo ride. Once inside, we would spend hours twirling, dropping, waiting in long lines to experience the latest thrill ride. And spinning.
Along with paying for parking now (and contemplating the "preferred" section for a $5 upgrade to the already excruciating fee of $20), I see the entire experience through my aging lens: I. Don't. Spin.
Spinning makes me sick. Dropping. Free falling. All of it. Once a season pass owner, cashing in the free one-day pass is just enough time for this mama. Not to mention how I now wait in line with my kiddos, and feel relieved to walk through the loading of the ride and wait for them at the ride's exit. Whew. Spinning crisis averted.
When I stumbled on the roller coaster cartoon that represents a day in the life of blood sugars, I felt a twinge of nostalgia from those carefree teenage years. Not only because I looked forward to the freedom of hot summer days with friends, but also because I was healthy. I didn't have diabetes. I didn't have to wear an insulin pump or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). I was free to go on water rides without a fear of getting my diabetic paraphernalia wet.
Life changes-it brings us highs and lows- and we adapt. As my kiddos are approaching the tween years, I see the exchange of enthusiasm from me to them. It is fun to watch their excitement, just as I had so many years ago. It is like there is a point of no return. As the roller coaster car pulls out of the station, there is no turning back. The train is going to go up that hill whether we are ready or not. Let's just hope we are wearing our seat belts!
My Diabetic Life on a Rollercoaster
1. The ride won't end. Unless you are attending a special event day (double rides!) at the amusement park, you get one ride. One ride and that is it. As burdensome as blood sugar checking, bolusing, setting basal rates, changing CGM sights, counting carbs and going to countless doctor appointments can be, they allow me a pretty good ride. How I want to spend that ride is up to me. Am I going to sit in the car's seat as a motionless spectator or am I going to ride down those steep hills with my arms in the air?!
2. There are blood sugar ups and downs. And just like the first rollercoaster I ever rode, these dips and peaks are often unexpected. Life with diabetes doesn't give any warning, either. A low blood sugar could happen during the night, during exercise, or just because it is Wednesday. These experiences have taught me to be prepared (thanks to the hubs for the bedroom mini fridge stocked with Pepsi, juice and Reese's PB Cups!). Also, I have learned the importance of technology. Just like the YOUNG rollercoaster operator manning the podium and working the controls in the station, I feel more in control of my blood sugar peaks and valleys, or at least I am alerted. Except on Wednesdays. ;-)
3. I am NOT alone on this ride. Depending on the amusement park ride, I might ride with 1 other person, 3 other people or more, but I am never alone. Such is my life with diabetes. I rely on the support of my family and friends. I am also fortunate to have found a support group for women with T1D, the Diva Diabetics. Our monthly meetings validate and support my rollercoaster world. The time I spend with them is invaluable.
In my Diabetes Blog Week, Day 1 post, I mentioned my passion of speaking to schools and support groups. My daughter enjoys accompanying me on these quests, if her 10 year old schedule allows. I enjoy it too, watching her set up the presentation and chat with others before and after. It makes me proud that she is learning the importance of sharing our stories...we all have one.
Anyhoo...we were recently driving to an evening presentation I was giving to a local school district's support group, The Diabeaters. I was explaining to K how this particular presentation would focus on my diabetic journey, which differed from prior talks she listened to regarding the publication process. I asked K, "Since I am sharing my journey with this support group, what do you think I should tell the audience?"
Her reply, "Tell them that they are not alone."