Why is Diabetes so Difficult?

As a person living with diabetes, do you ever look at how its portrayed in the media or public and just shake your head? More often than not, the general representation of diabetes is watered down to the point where I wish I had whatever type of diabetes they’re talking about. Eat well. Move more. Take your medication. Those are the three pillars of diabetes management people think of who have no idea.

When we say that living with diabetes is a 24/7 job, we’re not being dramatic. Diabetes management encroaches into every aspect of your life. Every night for the last four nights, I’ve had a hypo around midnight. And every night, I’ve tried to change something – whether it’s my insulin or type of snack I’m having when the kids go to bed or dinner or exercise – and none of it has fixed my problem. Probably because every night there’s some other random reason why I end up going low. Trying to troubleshoot this is mentally exhausting.

Let’s now delve into the physical impacts of said hypos. Shaking, sweating, trying my best not to inhale the entire pantry, dazed and half asleep. One night I remember sliding to sit on the floor eating some chocolate (after having lollies) because I felt unsteady on my feet. And doing it all trying to be as quiet as possible so I don’t wake the kids. But as soon as I sat down, I heard my baby start to stir as I willed my body to kick into gear and for the hypo fog to lift enough for me to get her before she wakes her sister. That’s just the immediate physical effect.

In the morning, I’m left wondering if the headache I have is from the lack of sleep, the hypo, the beginnings of a head cold or disappearing will to face the day. My toddler found the my hypo food and is pestering me for lollies. I try to gentle parent and say that lollies are not breakfast food, that this is mama’s “medicine” and she can’t have it. Cue meltdown in 3…2…. Eventually we all get dressed and I know I should have breakfast but the thought of eating makes me feel sick after gorging on all the food while fixing my hypo the night before. I end up having the leftover yoghurt from the girls’ breakfast. We get on with our day and it’s not long before I’m once again looping back to the thought of what can I do differently tonight to avoid the hypo. And so the cycle continues.

On paper, someone will see the hypo as just a number. No big deal. She over corrected and her glucose levels sat at 12 overnight. Naughty naughty. What a bad diabetic. She’ll end up with an amputated foot if she doesn’t look after herself.

But it’s a case of “if you know, you know” right? And THIS is why diabetes is so damn difficult. It’s difficult to teach to those who don’t get it. It’s difficult to understand if you’re not living it day to day. It’s difficult to live with it because life is more than my diabetes and it’s not always a priority. Even if it should be, that’s not how living with diabetes works.

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