Living with a chronic disease like diabetes is hard work. At diagnosis, you are overwhelmed with information. First they tell you what is wrong with your body. Then you are given a list of things you need to do to manage your condition. Finally you are given a list of medical things you need to keep up to date with. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to catch your breath in between it all. Actually, you’re pretty lucky if you even get such information. Some people deal with this information overload by ignoring most of it. My stack of fact sheets and resources I was given at diagnosis were preserved the way I brought them home for a long time.
Another way of dealing with the information is to break all the necessary bits down into a checklist, set a routine and stick to it. My ideal immediate diabetes management checklist has evolved over the years and currently looks something like this:
- Testing BGs in the morning, before eating, before and after gym and before bed
- Resistance exercise two to three times a week
- Cardio exercise two to three times a week
- Attempting to meet daily serve recommendations from the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating Guidelines
- Counting carbs properly rather than taking guestimating or as the Americans seem to like to call it: SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess)
- Logging all of the above
These are all things that research has identified that a person with diabetes needs to do to minimise their risk of complications and live a healthy life. But is it realistic?
Trying to meet constantly check these boxes and fitting in study, work and life in general makes for pretty hectic schedule. Having such a rigid schedule also sets me up for failure, especially if I’m over exhausted or stressed. As a result, a vicious cycle is triggered of feeling unmotivated and gearing towards burnout, which is what happened with me.
Each task became a chore that I had to drag myself through. I forgot what it felt like to enjoy exercise, to enjoy food and why I was testing my BG regularly. I felt miserable despite ticking off all on my to-do list. Life is too short to live out the same routine you have become bored with. It pays to take a step back from time to time and see the bigger picture of why I commit myself to these things. These days, I make sure that I mix up my routine now and again. And I try to live by the mantra of being kind and forgiving to myself. Something always easier said than done.