The Thoughts That Cross My Mind on a Daily Basis as Someone With Diabetes
When you have a condition so early on in life, it makes you grow up really fast. I was 10 years old when I was diagnosed, and having a lifelong condition was not something that came across in my head. At first, I wasn’t really sure what it all meant or what it all entailed. Heck, I’m still learning.
It wasn’t just making sure I took my medication on time or just counting your carbs, and everything will be OK — it was way more than that. For the first couple of years, that was all I really did. I adjusted my insulin to how many carbs I was eating — despite what it did for my blood sugars thereafter. I would sit and wonder why my blood sugars were so high in the first place. I did the math, why wasn’t it working? Now, I know there are a number of factors that can affect your blood sugar. Exercise, stress, hormones, the type of food I’m eating. Plus, taking on the role of an organ can be quite difficult — but not impossible.
Ninety percent of the thoughts I have during the day revolve around my diabetes. These are some that cross my mind on a daily basis.
Am I low? Once I start having any sort of heart palpitation, sliver of anxiety, or some clamminess, I question whether or not my blood sugar is low. If it’s low, my first instinct is to grab a juice and immediately down it, along with anything else I could eat. Afterward I would have to deal with the spikes in blood sugars and how I felt with the roller coasters of blood sugars. Now, I’ll grab a juice or snack and wait 15 minutes — whilst internally I’m having to battle my inner thoughts of consuming everything in sight because my body literally feels like it’s going to shut down at any minute. I’ve woken up multiple times in the middle of the night in terror because my body feels like it’s low. If it’s not low, I ponder what caused the symptoms and why I initially thought I was low in the first place.
How many carbs is this? It baffles me at how a restaurant can serve food and not have the nutrition facts along with it. I once thought some beans I was eating only 30 carbs in it, and later found out they were cooked with brown sugar. Or going to a food establishment and asking for a diet beverage and given one that wasn’t, which can really mess with your blood sugar. Guessing how many carbs is just something that type 1 diabetics have to adjust to. It can be dangerous if you give too much or if you give too little. Even then, different carbs affect the blood sugar in different ways. I could give the same amount of insulin for cookies with 20 carbs and chips for 20 carbs, and have very different blood sugars four hours later.
Why do I feel like this? Usually, this question pops up if I have any symptoms like dry eyes, thirst, brain fog, more irritable than usual, and being tired and sleepy. It usually indicates that my blood sugar is high. Thus, I would need to give a correction dose, monitor my blood sugar, and drinking plenty of water. Sometimes, it goes smoothly and coasts back into the normal range. Sometimes, it will go down for a little bit and then go back up.
What’s affecting my blood sugar right now? This is a tricky question. I always battle on what is causing my blood sugar to go up. Am I stressed? Am I about to start my period? Do I have an infection? Do I have a cut somewhere? Or what causes it to go low. Maybe I didn’t eat enough carbs. Is my insulin sensitivity up? I think I worked out more than usual today. Many things affect blood sugar.
Do I have any cuts on my feet or extremities? Having diabetes can come with poor circulation. I try to check my feet every day to make sure that I don’t have any cuts that could lead to an infection that could lead to an amputation. I know, it went downhill pretty fast.
Do I have everything I need? Usually, everything has to be planned. If I’m just leaving the house, I need to make sure I have my meter, enough insulin and supplies, some juice in case I go low, my emergency kit if I go really low, snacks, and probably a water. If I go on a trip, I need to bring enough supplies to last me and a little more after. I need an extra meter in case the other one decides to fail on me. I need something to keep my insulin cool or it won’t work.
Oh crap, my blood sugars haven’t been in control in a while. The complications are going to get worse and worse. I get scared about the complications that can arise from my blood sugars being all over the place. Increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blindness, and several other co-morbidities — it can be frightening. I’ve only recently learned how to get them under control. But even then, I still have a hard time trying to combat some high blood sugars.
But I’ve learned a lot of having a condition that not many understand.
I get to break the stereotype that comes along with having a condition not many know about. I usually have my continuous glucose monitor on the back of my arm, which is pretty visible to anyone looking. It starts great conversations — either from someone asking what it is or if I see another person with one.
I get to educate people every time I have to check my blood sugar or give myself some insulin. People sometimes look at you twice if you’re drawing blood from your finger or taking out a needle to give yourself a shot. It’s better to take the opportunity to let them know what it is you’re doing and why. My friends will watch me as I say “random” numbers out loud and then give myself a dose of insulin. Since I do not have an insulin pump, I have to manually calculate for how many carbs I am eating, the type of carbs, and if I need a correction dose for my blood sugar. Thankfully, it’s made me really good at math.
Lastly, helping others who are in the same situation as I are. I can’t even express how good it feels when there’s someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. Exchanging stories and giving other people advice helps a lot. I know that diabetes affects everyone differently, what works for one may not work for another. But, I like to hear what others are trying and test it out myself to see if it’s something I can incorporate into my lifestyle — or if something I am doing can help someone else.
It’s a learning process, and I’m still trying to figure everything out — but that’s all we can do.