Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Diabetes is...sucky, hard, frustrating, overwhelming...

Since moving back to WI I've been seeing my new endocrinologist every three months, and my next appointment is on Friday. Per routine, I had my blood drawn today for my Hemoglobin A1c test. This test gives a clue as to how one's overall control has been for the previous 3 months. I was scared to have this test done, and now I'm feeling so many different emotions after seeing the result.

I have not been a good diabetic. I have not been checking when I'm supposed to (anytime before I eat), which means I'm not taking all the insulin I'm supposed to to cover the food I'm about to eat, which means my blood sugars are running higher than they should be in order to maintain a healthy body for as long as possible. And there are reasons I'm not checking, mainly one reason, I'm a SAHM.

When I worked full-time, I was able to have a routine. If I missed my breakfast bolus, my pump was usually alarming at me by the time I got to work, so I could check my sugar and take insulin right away in the morning. My lunch break was mine and mine alone. I could focus on what I needed to do (check my sugar, take my insulin and eat). If my pump alarmed during the day that I was too low or too high, I could check my sugar right then and there and take corrective action immediately. Since Lucy has been born, this has not been the case.

My "routine" became focused on what Gus and Lucy needed (school, feedings, naps) and NOT on what I needed. And this is nothing new, this happens to parents all the time, they shift themselves to the bottom of the priority list and put their kids first. But, things are a little different when managing your disease becomes the lowest priority. I mean, my health is at stake, yet I still subscribe to "I need to take care of everyone else first" mentality. As I knew my appointment was approaching, I became nervous about having my A1c done. I was afraid that the number that came back was going to be in the range that I was causing my body damage, knowing that if I had treated my diabetes (and myself) as important, then my test result would come back good.

So, I went in and had my blood drawn at 9am. I knew the results would be back to the doctor withing a couple hours, but then he would need to release them to the online patient portal. I saw an email on my phone around 3:10pm that I had a new test. I was just leaving the house with Lucy to pick up Gus, so didn't have time to see my results. I also wanted to hide from the results. I finally gave in and checked around 3:55pm: 7.6%. My first feeling was relief. 7.6 is not a great number, but it's also not terrible. I was really expecting it to be higher than 8, so I was glad I was still in the 7's, even with my lack of focus on my diabetes.

After running some errands and eating dinner out, I was able to sit down and look at my results again. 7.6%, up 0.2% from my test 3 months ago. A feeling of dread, despair, defeat and self-hate for not taking care of me took over. Why can't I get it together? Why can't I take care of myself? Why can't I do what I'm supposed to do so that I can live? And that's it. Every day that I don't take care of myself, I am shortening my life. I want to live to see Gus and Lucy grow up, to start families of their own, to be a grandma and have relationships with my (hopeful) grandchildren. So, why can't I do it?

Because it's fucking hard.

I have so many things working against me, not all bad, just obstacles that need to be overcome. 
  • Our society has taught women that their needs need not be first. That we need to care for others first before our own.
  • Being a SAHM to a toddler does not always allow for scheduled breaks and time to be one with my diabetes. I certainly can't walk away from changing Lucy's diaper when my pump alarms to go check my sugar, treat and then come back. If I did that, Lucy would have likely jumped off the changing table, and if she didn't hurt herself, she would be trying to put her diaper on herself, after first throwing it in the toilet because she wanted to sit on the potty (for less than one second) and thought putting the diaper in the toilet water would be a good idea, because that's where we put toilet paper.
  • Diabetes is a mentally, emotionally, physically and financially taxing disease that the vast majority of diabetics are very good at hiding from the general population, and ourselves.
So, the million-dollar question: How do I overcome these obstacles? How do I put my needs higher on my priority list? How do I fight against societal convention while also trying to be a great mom to my kids? I know the answer: you need to take care of you so you can take care of them. But, that's a platitude. That doesn't tell me HOW to do it. That doesn't tell me how to tell Lucy that she has to sit in her shit-filled diaper for a few more minutes to I can check my blood sugar and give a correction or treat a low. That doesn't tell me how to tell Gus, mid-sentence, that my pump alarming is more important than what he is trying to share with me. That doesn't tell me how to handle the emotional impact on my kids of putting my disease at a higher priority.

And I guess, there is the crux of this entire thing. This is MY disease, not theirs. I want them to be the least negatively impacted by this as possible. And I have no clue how to effectively do that while also making my diabetes a priority.

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