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What Motivated Me to Put More Effort Into Managing My Type 1 Diabetes

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I have had type 1 diabetes since 2005. I was 10 years old. At the time, I don’t think I really grasped what was happening to me.

I was losing weight fast. I was throwing up after each meal. I felt so sick. Next thing I knew, my parents were driving me to the hospital and I was praying over and over again that I wouldn’t die that day.

Then, I woke up in the ICU. I don’t know if I just suppressed the memory of that day, but I can’t remember ever hearing the word “diabetes.” I remember a nurse showing me and my family how to give injections. I didn’t understand what was going on at the time. All I knew was that I had to take shots. And a lot of them.

Over time, my mom taught me how to give my own injections and take my own blood sugar. Soon, I got a grasp on it. I went from drawing up my own insulin to switching to pens. It was amazing, to say the least. Who could ever imagine that a 10-year-old girl would be doing these math calculations in her head to try and figure out how much insulin she would need for a meal? Let alone, do the work of an organ.

But, I never really understood how to get my blood sugars in control. From the beginning of my diagnosis till a couple of days ago, I was all over the place. If you were to draw my blood sugars on a graph, it would look like a roller coaster. Numbers ranged from 40s to an unknown number that just read “HI” on the meter.

But I didn’t really give it a second thought. I knew my numbers had to be 60 – 150s, that was the goal. I gave my insulin, guessing at how many carbs the meal was going to be. I would eat something and just think, “my blood sugar will be fine without the insulin,” as the numbers just kept getting higher. As the numbers soared, I lost motivation to do better.

Everyone has their good and bad days, but it seemed I had more bad days than good in terms of how I felt. My head would always feel foggy. I felt sluggish. Every task seemed to be daunting. I knew all I wanted to do was lie down and sleep.

Anxiety and feeling “low” started to show the same symptoms. Every time I had a flutter in my chest or felt a little anxious, my mind would race to the thought that I was low. And that I needed sugar quick or something bad would happen. I would grab a juice box without checking my blood sugar, easing the tension in me as I chugged it within seconds. I just based it off the symptoms I was having. Little did I know, sometimes I would be in a normal range. But sometimes, I would have a high sugar.

I felt defeated. I didn’t understand. I gave my insulin. I guessed the carbs when I didn’t have the correct number. I was doing everything the doctor told me. Or so I thought.

I wasn’t making a honest effort at it. That was my problem.

I switched my mentality of resorting to a juice box when I felt anxious to grabbing my meter and checking my blood sugar. It would only take about 30 seconds to have that number on a screen. If it was a relatively normal number, I would calm myself down because I knew I would be OK. If it was low, I would go ahead and grab the juice box, recheck my blood sugar in 15 minutes, and reassess. Doing this eased my anxiety in a way that changed how I feel.

diabetes supplies for tracking and managing blood sugar

A few days ago, I had a blood sugar of 75. That number, a talk with a couple of friends and some therapy sessions kicked my motivation into gear. I was counting carbs more intently. I went to the gym for at least 30 minutes to one hour every day. I was checking my blood sugar more. I was feeling better, emotionally, mentally and physically. My head feels a lot clearer and everything seems like it’s slowed down so I could enjoy life.

I had a good run of blood sugars below 100 for a day and a half, which was the best it had ever been in my whole diabetic lifetime. I was ecstatic. Then, it jumped up to 204. Usually, that would kick me into a bad habit of just forgetting everything and doing the minimal amount of effort to just survive. But now, I’m still making a conscious effort to try and get those numbers to a good level again.

Now, I know my blood sugars won’t always be perfect. Things happen. All I can do is try to adjust to what’s happening around me and go from there.

Originally published: February 10, 2018
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