I Am Diabetic. I Am Different.

Posted on July 20, 2011


I am a diabetic, and I am different.

Different= unlike in nature, form, or quality; novel and unique. (Webster’s Dictionary)

I will take the “novel and unique”. 

Diabetes has had an impact on my life.  Some good stuff and some challenging stuff.  But either way, it has made me realize that we are all novel and unique.  And my diabetes has helped shape my  uniqueness.

What do I mean by uniqueness?  What do I mean?  Uniqueness?  Am I unique? 

Yes.  And in my eyes, it is a good thing.  There is no one else exactly like me (to my knowledge).  I am the only me. 

Getting back to how diabetes has made me different.  I spent some time last night thinking about my life, my diabetes.  How was I different from other people?  From non diabetics?

The first thing that popped into my head was “my body does not produce insulin on it’s own”.  Plain and simple.  I have to inject insulin into my body for survival.  Without insulin, I would die.  Wow.  Pretty powerful stuff.  Something I take for granted most days.  Bolusing and basaling with my pump is so automatic that I really don’t stop and think about how the insulin is literally keeping me alive.  That precious bottle of Novolog insulin sitting in my refrigerator is so important.  Precious. 

In relation to the actual insulin is the amount of time I spend testing my blood, calculating how much insulin to take, making adjustments based on bloodsugar, exercise,  food intake, and illness, and changing out my pump site and insulin reservoir and quickset.  It is not as simple as a bottle of insulin (not the recombinant DNA is simple).  But you know what I mean.  

A lot of time, thought, and planning goes into the administration of the insulin.   

Let’s start with the blood testing.  Prick.  Yep, a nice little prick with a lancet to one of my fingertips.  Anyone who sees my fingertips must wonder what the heck?  They are not pretty.  In fact, they are very scarred up.  I use lotion, rotate fingers, etc., but testing 10 plus times a day takes a toll.  Personally, I don’t even notice my fingertips anymore.  Doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me is a high or low blood sugar.  Now, I have been a diabetic for 38 years.  38 years.  You would think that the anticipation of what number the blood machine is gonna pop out would be gone.  But it’s not.  I still always wait anxiously for 5 seconds…What is the number?  It is….

Years ago, I had a harder time reading how I felt – gauging my blood sugar level.  And the blood machines took forever to tell the results.  The wait made me anxious.

Nowadays, I can usually tell what the number will be (give or take a few numbers) by how I feel.  And I get a quick read in only 5 seconds (thank you One Touch).  But the number is key.  High numbers make me nervous.  I don’t want to be high.  High blood sugars can lead to complications.  I have been programmed to believe that since a young age.  While I have gotten better about not beating myself up over high numbers, I still don’t like them.  I usually don’t feel well with a high, and I just want it to go away.  So a correction bolus it is.  And patience.  Patience is a virtue with diabetes.  Still working on that.  

And the low blood sugars.  Lows make me cranky and edgy so I can pretty much tell when those are present.  It is always fun to have an unplanned snack, but I tend to want to overeat when really low.  My body and mind just want food, food, and more food.  Shutting it down is sometimes challenging.  Physically removing myself from the kitchen is key.

So do non diabetics go through all this?  Does it make me different?  Yes and yes.

Non diabetics don’t necessarily have to test their blood, but they may need to watch what they eat for other reasons.  They may not feel well do to other conditions (lack of sleep, depression, illness, etc.).  There are challenges that sneak up on people and their health.  It is not a cake walk for anyone 24/7, 365 days a year.   

I sometimes think having diabetes makes (no forces) me to pay attention to my body.  To tune in and listen 24/7 -365 days.  A good thing. 

Some may think it must be so hard and such a pain to have to plan and calculate and adjust and just live with diabetes.  There are moments when I am right there thinking those same thoughts.  But most of the time, it is just part of me.  Part of my life that seems so normal.  Part of who I am as a person.

Which brings me to emotions.  Emotions and feelings.  Does being diabeteic make me emotionally different? 

Yes, of course.  I have emotional highs and lows.  We all do.  But some days, mine are triggered by my diabetes.  High blood sugars and low blood sugars are the two main events that rattle my world on occasion. 

When low, I am Mrs. Cranky.  Leave me alone.  I want and need to eat.  Patience goes out the door.  My kids can tell when I am low, and will point out my crankiness.  I have been known to tell my husband and kids “I am low and cranky so please don’t bother me right now.  They respect that. 

And high blood sugars bring on the tiredness.  Highs really drain my energy.  I don’t want to do anything.  Nothing. 

But most days, I am on an emotional (not blood sugar) high.  I feel good and my energy is wonderful.  I am active and out and about.  Those are the days that define what it is like living with diabetes. 

Crossing the finish line of a marathon still feeling strong.

Hiking on the Apalachian Trail with my family.

Camping out overnight with my kids.

Canoeing with friends.

Shopping for nutritious food.

Spinning through another great spin class.

Being able to eat a healthy dinner.

Watching a funny movie.

And the list is never ending.

I can do all this stuff with or without diabetes.  Diabetes just makes it a little different.  Different in a good way. 

I am different.  And I am diabetic.