How Living With Diabetes Is (and Isn't) Like Doing Laundry


With a rare extra day off and nothing on my schedule, in between watching hockey and football on New Year’s Day, I worked to catch up on laundry.

And there, somewhere in between the Sabres and Rangers, and LSU – Notre Dame, it hit me: doing laundry is a lot like living with diabetes.

It’s not enough to just throw everything into the washer. You have to add soap, and fabric softener. Maybe bleach. Do you have soap, fabric softener? What about bleach? It’s not likely you have an abundance of all three of those in your laundry room at the same time. You might even have to pretreat an item or two before you get started. Every load is different. You can’t count on anything.

You’ll have to eventually shift each load from the washer to the dryer, or possibly hang up the more delicate fabrics. Do you use fabric softener sheets? Do you have fabric softener sheets? Do you need to make a trip to the grocery store?

Now you’re probably thinking you’re through with your laundry. Not likely. Because you’re going to have to fold or hang all of those clean clothes. All of them. The truth is, this is the part I hate the most. It never feels like I’m going to get to the end of what’s in the dryer.

And still, you’re not finished yet. You have to put it all away… unless you just want to select what you’re going to wear from your laundry basket. Personally, I wouldn’t think less of you if you did.

Just like the laundry, living with a chronic condition like diabetes means I have to keep track of medications and supplies, at least one of which seems to need to be refilled every couple of weeks. I have to treat each circumstance differently. Whether it’s exercise, diet, stress or something else, no two days, no two hours are the same.

And here’s where living with a chronic condition is different from laundry, or anything else:

You’re never finished.

If my dirty laundry piles up and I just don’t have the time or the desire to get started on it, if I want, I can try to get away with wearing the same shirt or the same pair of pants twice. But even though I have days where I’d like to just kick back and ignore my diabetes, that’s just not possible.

Every situation, every piece of food I put in my mouth, every workout, every single day brings another factor I have to deal with. I can send my clothes out to the dry cleaner if I want, but I can’t pass off my diabetes to anyone else.

If you want to get a taste of what it’s like to live with a chronic condition, grab your dirty laundry and get going. If you really want to know what it’s like to live with a chronic condition, imagine doing laundry all day, every day, for the rest of your life.

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