Being diagnosed with a chronic illness sucks. You go through a flurry of emotions because you can even begin to accept it. From anger to bitterness to nervous giggles and cringe-worthy jokes, few emotions and coping mechanisms will be spared as you deal with this road block. And that’s exactly what I see diabetes as – just a road block followed by detours, even if it feels like you’re falling off the edge of the highest cliff in the world.
It is always really comforting to know that your doctor is on the same side as you. For the past few years, I haven’t had the luxury of having a one on one relationship with my endocrinologist. Being in the public healthcare system, I didn’t have much of a choice either. However, I was lucky enough to see the same educator most of the time. Consistency for me is really important when it comes to healthcare professionals. It always makes it easier if they know my medical history and personality rather than having to testing the waters out every time I see a different doctor.
So imagine when the shock and horror on my face when I was told that my GP of at least five years was no longer with the clinic I attend. I swear I had a minor panic attack that was the awkward silence on the phone with the receptionist. What was going to happen with all my medical records and my outstanding external correspondence with my diabetes healthcare professional team? Thankfully, the receptionist assured me that everything was still at the clinic and it will follow me with each doctor I see there. Should I move clinics, my new doctor is able to request my medical records from the old place. Phew.
Now begins the quest to find myself a new GP. These are the criteria they will have to be filling:
- Being comfortable talking to them about anything relating to my health. (Especially with all the girly stuff)
- We have a mutual respect for each other.
- Antibiotics will not be their go-to prescription each time I am sick.
- They are happy to be my go-to person for scripts, referrals and useless medical paperwork.
- I am able to have an educated discussion with them regarding my health and medical decisions.
- They won’t decide to suddenly leave without notice after five years….
Recently, I’ve been lucky to find an endocrinologist who ticks all these boxes. Granted, they are in the private practice, which costs me a bit but it’s all worth it at the end of the day. To have my thoughts and decisions heard and respected is an empowering feeling. It makes me feel like I am in control of my health and my diabetes. If anything doesn’t sit well with either party, the floor is open for discussion.
There is no lecturing that goes on in the consulting room. Just discussion, advice and support.
It takes guts to speak up to a doctor, but this is my body we are talking about here. And if I’m going to be doing anything to it, I want to know exactly why and how it works and I have to be comfortable with the notion. No one likes having a regime forced upon you or doing things you don’t believe in. When you’re dealing with something like diabetes, no body knows your own body like you.
When you talk to many diabetes healthcare professionals, half of them often think that a diabetes burnout is just another thing like laziness and complacency from our end. Well, I can assure you that it is most certainly not!
With any chronic condition, it’s normal to feel like you’re ‘over it all’. You feel like don’t really care and you want to get away from it all. You start to ‘slip’ from your routine/regime and you feel like you are getting off track from your goals. You know what? I don’t think this just applies to people with a chronic condition. It can be applicable to those going through a mid-life crisis, or when trying to lose weight. It’s everywhere around us, so why is it so hard to accept that it happens for those living with diabetes too?
Lately, I have been feeling absolutely overwhelmed with all the projects I have taken on board. The early starts for the days with boot camp and late nights trying to fit everything into 24 hours, certainly doesn’t help either. I haven’t been keeping track of my sugars (oh the shame!). I do the bare minimum to get by – testing and injecting before I eat and taking my tablets as needed. My weight loss/exercise motivation has dipped tremendously. Particularly with the thought of always having to playing catch up with everyone else in the group. (definitely not a land person…just give me a swimming set and I’ll show these guys!) I’ve lost track of my healthy eating habits and have lapsed into my love affair with corn chips.
It’s times like these where I remind myself to take a step back and review. Some of the things I do include:
- Writing goals down. A nice reminder of the things that are the most important to me.
- Set realistic goals. Otherwise you will be setting yourself up for failure. No one wants that. We don’t want to feel like failures!
- Small steps. Write down one very achievable thing to do the next day that you think will get you back on track. Can be as simple as ‘test BGL before eating’. Be consistent and gradually build it up. You’ll be there in no time!
- Create a to-do list & prioritise. This way I can make sure nothing gets missed, and the important stuff is out of the way asap.
- Focus. My mind likes to think about everything at once and I have to always remind myself to just focus on the task at hand until it’s finished.
- Break it up. Breaking a larger goal into smaller ones and rewarding myself along the way (like checking out the funnies on the interwebz) is a way to keep me motivated.
- Brainstorm. Sometimes, I find talking to someone about the thing I’m stuck on is a great way for me to review my next step and it’s always good to have a fresh brain to pick on.
- Exercise. I aim for a minimum 30min brisk walk and this helps me take a break from the clutter in my mind.
- Snack. Not on chips, preferably. I have the tendency to neglect my hunger when I’m busy. And when I finally realise my hunger, I’m usually on the verge of a hypo (or having one) and end up eating everything in sight. Recently my snack of choice has been nuts, but I’m going to try having bran as an alternative (to keep it interesting).
- Rewarding myself! As I’m writing this blog post, I’m sitting at my favourite cafe at uni, sipping on an iced coffee and munching on a ham and cheese croissant. I don’t feel guilty taking time out for myself because I know I have done well this week and I deserve this! (BONUS: I actually remembered to bolus for this).
I find it’s crucial I don’t stop the important routines such as my diabetes regime or exercise. Once I stop, it’s so easy to make excuses not to get back into it. Motivation comes and goes, sometimes we just need to ride it out. Don’t be afraid to revisit your goals and make changes if necessary or try new things! ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to get a different outcome.’