Complication-free. That’s the goal of almost every person with diabetes. Whether it’s your Great Aunt Sally who suffered amputations that you remember from your childhood, or the exaggerated spin put on diabetes by the media (Brett Michaels and Steel Magnolias, I’m talking to YOU), the fear of complications goes hand-in-hand with the diagnosis of diabetes. Though I don’t believe in a Machiavellian approach to diabetes management, looming complications can and should be a seriously motivating factor to good diabetes care.
Complications have been on my mind recently as I approach my 17-year anniversary with diabetes. I can’t believe I’m approaching nearly 20 years with this disease – its something I’ve literally grown up with. Diabetes was there at my first sleepover and during my rebellious teenage years. It was with me when I went off to college, at my first real job in LA, at my sisters wedding last year and at dinner with my boyfriend last night. It’s always been there. And I’ve always been able to proudly say that I’m “complication-free.”
This year though, I don’t know if I can say that with confidence. I know that diabetes is not the only cause of the carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve issues that I’ve had this year, but as my hand doctor said, “diabetes relates to issues with your nerves and you’re having nerve problems – yes it’s a factor.” So technically, I’m not really “complication-free” this year.
However, the same as one bad blood sugar – or even a week’s worth of bad numbers – doesn’t discount all of my efforts, minor nerve issues shouldn’t discount the bigger picture of my health, or all my hard work. Feet? Perfect condition. Eyes? “No different than someone without diabetes” said the eye doc this year. Gums? Looking good. Kidneys? Micro albumin? Cholesterol? Thyroid? Weight? A1c? All perfectly healthy. So even though diabetes might be trying to creep into my health track record, I’m not going to let the hurdles I’ve had this year with my hand erase thousands of in-range glucose tests, my leap into CGM, hundreds of kickboxing classes, and my first half marathon. I think that counts for something. A lot, actually.