Diabetes: “Damn it, I want to eat what I want…”

Today is World Diabetes Day, a global initiative to highlight a huge problem which is growing alarming each year.  Around 415 million people are currently living with the disease worldwide –  the International Diabetes Foundation says nearly half  (46%) of these haven’t yet been diagnosed and are unaware that they have the condition.

To mark the day, we hear from 42-year-old Kelly from West Virginia, who was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She talks about how she is learning to live with the disease on a daily basis, including the many psychological challenges it presents.

So let me start by saying that I had low blood sugar since I was a child. I was told because of the strong history of diabetes in my family, that when I got older it could turn the other way. Well I didn’t care about that because it wasn’t going to happen to me, right? Wrong – it did happen to me. I didn’t take care of myself and let my weight get out of control. I was diagnosed this past September with an A1c of 7.5 [Normal A1c considered to be between 4% and 5.6%]. Not too bad but not well either. I was devastated, seriously depressed. How I could let myself get like this?

So I totally went for it, changed the way I ate, started exercising, said diabetes wasn’t going to control me, I was going to control it. Well, now I’m down by 30 pounds and have stuck there. My last visit to the endocrinologist was 2 weeks ago and my A1c is now at 6.

That showed I was busting my butt, but now I’m like “Damn it, I want to eat what I want,” I’m tired of testing my sugar and tired of taking pills. However I’m sure I’m going to get back on track – I’m just going through my ‘woe is me’ mood, my ‘I’m-tired-and-need-carbs’ phase LOL.

I just need to vent a little on this….

I have been attending a support group in addition to journaling my ‘new normal’ and received some input from a new friend. She said, “My advice is do the best you can and be kind to yourself. Don’t blame yourself when things aren’t perfect with diabetes. Ask your doctor for some freedoms. My doc said if I am good dietary-wise 6 days a week to go ahead and eat something I want on the 7th day.” This was so freeing, and I have rarely splurged, but knowing I can makes me feel better. I have to admit, it’s so frustrating to try to do things right and when you go to see the results, you realise that any progress made goes out the door and I lose the desire to continue. But the battle begins again each day and everything is the same, the same routine, the same medication.

There is a helplessness that one feels, but you know you have to follow through. Tomorrow is a new day and maybe even though the routine is the same, you can find within or around you that force, or that little inspiration. It is a lifelong process without a break and it feels like a burden all the time. When you are controlled though, the burden seems less. My new friend went on to say, “Take care of yourself in other ways and reward yourself all the time. Life is short and you deserve to go shopping, or to a movie, or find the things that make you happy.”

So for me, every day is a new day. I am learning we just have to do the best we can each day. I have found things like pain and illness raise my blood sugars. I may eat perfectly but if I am sick my blood sugars are still 100 points too high! It’s OK though, as each day we get better at our routines. I’m not alone in this diagnosis! That doesn’t mean that sometimes diabetes doesn’t feel like a lonely disease, it does. Only I can take care of me, and I can decide what is working and what isn’t. This is the real burden! That and the fact that even when you do everything right, things can go wrong. But you just take each day as it comes and adjust as you need to. Hopefully you will find a way that works for you and eases the burden.

Names and details have been changed.  This is a real-life patient experience, taken from http://www.treatmentdiaries.com/, an online resource aimed at helping people with health issues and conditions share their experiences with a wider community.