Rediscovering My Diabetes

The problem with knowing exactly what to do but NOT doing it. Yes, we all have gone through that. Sometimes it doesn’t matter that much, some other times it matters a LOT. Like when you have diabetes.

I’ve lived with the condition all my life, not because I’m a Type 1, but because I grew up with a diabetic father and a paranoid mother. Maybe I’m exaggerating about the paranoia; maybe she just knew very well what I seem to forget so often: diabetes is serious business.

When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I felt like there was no surprise there; with the genetics, a history of weight issues and bad eating habits. Somehow I knew it was coming and I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be a diabetic no matter what. The problem is that most of the time I don’t remember I have diabetes, and I think it’s OK to keep an A1C of 6,2%. Worst of all, I rely on that A1C result every 4-6 months to convince myself that I’m the right track. Truth is, I don’t remember when was the last time I pricked my finger to do a blood glucose test.

I preach too much about diabetes, and I show myself as a know-it-all. I know quite a lot about the condition. I know all about the consequences of being out of control. I know all the physiology and what high blood glucose levels do. I know I could have a part of my body amputated, go into kidney failure, go blind, have a heart attack, etc. I also know how to manage it and I can repeat to a T what I’ve learned in my diabetes education sessions, reading books and sharing my experience in diabetes communities. But what good is knowledge if I don’t apply it?

Sometimes I think it’s because I’m just not afraid to die. I assume that complications of diabetes will do to me what they did to my father, taking him to the other side without a warning. But then I’m just blind to the past because my dad had retinopathy and neuropathy and we had scares more often than not. One day he stopped breathing, he died… because he was a diabetic. He did great for the most part, and I wish he had all the resources I have now to keep his blood sugars in control. But even if he was a disciplined person, he still died; and so I wonder “Why bother?” — That is just wrong.

I don’t think I see myself like I should. As a diabetic who can have a fulfilling life and shouldn’t live with shame because of her condition. But I also as a person who must introduce important routines in her daily activities, name it blood glucose testing, exercising, watching carbohydrate intake closely and responsibly. It all sounds so simple here… try doing it!

I suppose I have to stand in front of a mirror every morning and remind myself that I have to take care of this body and be aware of my diabetes. I may be 34 years old, but I still behave like an irresponsible kid sometimes. It doesn’t make me less of a person to admit I have diabetes, and that I really have to forget abusing milkshakes at 3 p.m.

When I joined, I did it because I needed motivation. However I’m not there often enough to share experiences and actually learn something from other members. And then I was asked if I wanted to become and Ambassador for the Diabetes Hands Foundation in the Kansas City Area. While honored, I was also ashamed of my poor management and control. For how can I be some kind of spokesperson if I don’t practice what I preach?

I come to this realization (which is not rocket science) every single time I see the diabetes community working hard. But I never stick to my purpose and objective to make a good diabetes management part of my life once and for all. It’s extremely hard to admit it, especially for type 2’s who don’t depend on an insulin pump. Pricking my fingers twice a day may not be fun, but it’ll save me more than one headache in the future. And eating well will not only benefit my blood glucose levels but also my waist line. So why don’t I do it already, right?

While guilt is what makes us do certain things sometimes, it should never be a motivation for people with diabetes. Yes, I’m fat. And yes, my blood glucose levels will improve with weight loss. But I recently learned that there are other things that should be considered when talking about type 2 diabetes. Fortunately I have a doctor who is optimist and kind, and who never gives me the “What are we going to do about your weight… tsk, tsk” talk. I suppose she knows I’m someone who’s smart enough. Would I like her to be more aggressive or mean? No, thanks. I don’t need a drill sergeant; I just need good motivation. And what greater motivation there is than the promise of a wonderful life next to the people you love?

So my plan is already rolling. From visiting my endocrinologist in the next 3 weeks, to scheduling an eye exam. Eating is already being taken care of, but I need more exercise. But the most important thing is to be close to those who, like me, have to live with diabetes and care enough to show the world they are doing something about it.