Here are six things I wish people knew about living with Type 1 diabetes:
1. It's complicated.
To some people it seems like if I just watch what I eat, give insulin, and prick my fingers I will be right as rain. It's not that easy. Diabetes is complicated. It's a hundred decisions about "simple things" like eating and exercising. It's constantly thinking about what's next, what's worked, what hasn't worked, and what's ahead. What works one day doesn't always work the next. It's like a lifelong brain-teaser.
2. It's a lot of mind games.
It's a lot of mind work. It's constant mental math trying to calculate carbs and insulin. (and I HATE math. I'm rotten at it) Trying to remember how food affected me in the past. Trying to remember to keep a running total of carbs that I eat. Remembering to bolus for said carbs. Convincing myself that a high or low number on my tester doesn't mean failure and doesn't mean I have to beat myself up. Convincing my mind that I can do this. My brain can be simply exhausted some days to tackle all that I need to tackle just to stay healthy.
3. It's a time stealer.
Diabetes takes time. Time to remember supplies. Time to fill cartridges with insulin. Time to deal with insurance companies. Time to test. Time to change my pump site. Time to read labels. Time to figure out solutions to blood sugar problems. Time lost to lows. Time lost to highs. Time to keep supplies stocked. Time for doctor appointments.
I've said that if I was cured, I'd have a heck of a lot of free time.
4. It's damaging.
Diabetes damages small blood vessels. In my eyes, in my gastrointestinal system, in my kidneys, and in my fingers and toes. Controlling my blood sugars helps stop some of the damage. But having diabetes means that damage is taking place under my skin. It's scary to think about. It's hard to not worry about what might happen.
5. If you know a person with diabetes, you know ONE person with diabetes.
This disease isn't the same for all of us. What works for one person, doesn't work for another. The way one person uses insulin isn't the way another person does. What diet strategy works well for one of us, doesn't work for another. It is called diabetes, but it looks different for each individual who lives with it.
6. I don't have a service dog because I have "brittle" or "bad" diabetes. I have Dixie because:
1) I love dogs,
2) I was having problems knowing when my blood sugar was low or dropping,
3) I wanted a security system and didn't want another site needed for a CGMS (continuous glucose monitoring system),
4) I like to be on the cutting edge and try things that others don't always believe can work, and
5) because it makes living with diabetes a LOT easier for me.