It’s kind of funny to think about Diabetes Awareness Month when you already have diabetes, right? It’s like…yeah, I’m aware of it…literally every day. But of course, the point of this month is to help folks who don’t have diabetes understand it better. And by “understand” I mean help them understand what it really means to live with diabetes, who is at risk for developing it, and how to be a more supportive person to the people with diabetes in their lives. I think there’s no better place to start with than education.
When I gave my talk on Monday about living well with diabetes, I told the crowd about some of the things that are tough to hear when you have this disease. Like the “you must have ate too much sugar as a kid” type of comments. I included the old favorite of “I hate needles, I could never be diabetic.” As all of us with diabetes know that everyone – literally everyone – hates needles, but if the choice is “injections” or “die,” everyone would choose to live. It has nothing to do with “want to.” I told the audience that what I hoped to stress is that the burden of this disease is not with the painful parts of it. Yes, injections hurt, lancets hurt, new CGM sensors hurt, insulin pumps hurt, that won’t change.
But that’s not the tough part about living with diabetes, not by a long shot. No, the tough part is about how much of your brain space this damn disease takes up. It’s the constant worrying and monitoring and guesstimating and checking and planning that takes the toll on you. Injections? Shoot, that’s the least of my worries right now. I’m trying to crunch the numbers to see if the deductible on my husband’s insurance will be cheaper than me staying on the astronomical COBRA right now. That’s what’s taxing. Three hours on the phone with insurance companies. Wondering during your huge work presentation if you’re going to go low. Being scared shitless of your next eye exam because what if this is the year that some retinopathy finally starts. That’s the stuff that really kicks your ass with this disease.
When people say I am so brave for taking injections and lancing my fingers and wearing a CGM and a pump, I have to correct them. I am not brave for withstanding the physical pain of this disease. I am brave because I get up every day and try again.