The following guest post arrived in my email box the other morning with a note to me that read “Mom. Please read this carefully and make it sound better.” Lauren, I didn’t need to change a word.
I was sitting in work today doing the kind of work that requires focus, but allows your mind to wander a bit. In between scanning checks, I had a reality check of my own: I’m going to be twenty years old in less than two months. The fact that I will soon have lived two decades baffles me. Where did the time go? I have another “versary” too: Along with me turning twenty years old I will also hit my fourteen-year mark of having diabetes.
My memory of being diagnosed with diabetes is one of the sharpest ones in my mind. As a matter of a fact, I could replay every second of every minute of that day if I wanted to; the confusion of a little girl trying to understand why everyone (even the doctor) almost cried when I asked “Will I need a shot?” The little stuffed turtle my dad ran to the hospital gift shop to grab since I’d been rushed there without any of my “stufties” that I loved so much; the IV’s, the doctors. All of it.
Fourteen years. How has it been that long? It’s sad to say that I can no longer remember much of life before my diagnosis. As the days went by when I was younger, I held on to my careless days. I’d cry to my mother about how I missed being carefree. I guess I can say that now it’s almost easier to not remember the days before the diagnosis. I have nothing to miss.
I may have nothing to miss anymore, but I do hope I have things to look forward too. I want to be alive, healthy, and ready to go when the cure for diabetes finally shows up. Along with it hitting me that I was turning twenty and hitting my fourteenth year of having diabetes, it also hit me that it’s time for me to grow up. I’m not calling myself immature. I’m not one of those college kids who lives for the high school drama post graduating, or who is going to the prom after graduating (eww), or coming home every weekend from school. I’m not immature in any of those ways, but one thing I have always been extremely immature with is my diabetes.
I’m going to be honest here, and I really hope you don’t judge me, because I’m done hearing about how diabetes is “easy” and how everyone except me has an A1c of 6.4. I have never been that great at taking care of myself. Until about eighth grade, my mom ran my diabetes world. I didn’t have to worry about it because she worried about it for me. I can remember her stressing out and studying log books when my a1c went over 7.1 once (Oh, those were the days). My control was tight, my care was excellent and things were relatively okay.
But once the responsibility began to shift to me, I crashed. I had no interest in trying. I didn’t, and still really don’t, think about my future. I live for the moment, and in most moments I could care less about diabetes. (One might say: I’ve been a teenager.)
Whenever my friends and family would ask about my care. I’d respond with the simple.. “Oh yeah, it’s fine.”
It works for me, until my heartburn acts up, I’m falling asleep in class, or getting sick in the middle of the night from ketones and/or high blood sugar.
And the fact is, while I may say I “live for the day,” in truth, when all is still, I worry about my diabetes more than anyone will ever know. I toss and turn in the middle of the night six of seven nights of the week. It’s hard to hide how much it upsets me sometimes, although I try to. Who wants to show that weakness?
A few weeks ago, I was at a welcome home party for a good friend who is in the Navy, when my life long best friend Kelsey knew something was wrong (like she always does). I broke down; I didn’t want to be “bad” at diabetes anymore. I cried and cried and cried and she listened. This was one of the first times I’ve ever spoken to someone who isn’t my mom about diabetes this way. And it felt good. She offered to carry a meter in her purse for me at all times, and she even gave me my lantus shot that night. She always knows how to re-assure me that everything will end up fine and that she’s always here for me.
This was an odd occurrence with Kelsey because my mom is one of the only people I can really talk to about my diabetes. She may not have it, but she sure as hell gets it. I’ll walk into her room or her office once every couple of weeks and just cry. She listens and just let’s me rant. After these break downs I feel re-powered, and ready to try at this endless disease again. But it’s all a cycle. I always seem to get back into ignoring diabetes again.
That’s one of my biggest problems. I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to acknowledge it. I keep telling myself if I ignore it, it will go away.
So here is the thing: I can’t live like this anymore. I feel as though I’m the only person going through this kind of problem. My A1c reached a record high for me at my last endo appointment, and I just broke down in tears. Once again my mom was there, all ears, listening to me curse out diabetes.
Why is it so difficult for me? It’s not like I don’t want to take care of myself. It’s just that … I can’t find any way to get myself to do so. I have the best support system in the world. My parents love me and would do anything to help me. I have the two best friends that a person could ever ask for, who have been there for me since the day of my diagnosis, and would do anything to help me. I’m a member of Gamma Phi Beta at George Mason University, where four of my ninety-eight sisters have diabetes. (Weird!). But I can’t seem to get myself to ask for help.
Come the beginning of August. I will be sent to what I like to call (dramatic drumroll please): Diabetes Rehab. It’s a weeklong re-education program at the Joslin Center in Boston. I assure you that you’ll probably hear me kicking and screaming the entire way there, but deep down, I know it’s necessary and for the best. Let’s hope that my rehab results will be better than all the celebs we hear about in US weekly 😉 I don’t wanna be no dia-Lohan!
So, here it is. I’m letting my guard down and I’m asking for your help. I’m done being ignorant of my disease. What do you do to make taking care of yourself easier? Ideas? Thoughts? Confessions. Anything helps.