Living with diabetes can be unrelenting. Everything that passes your lips must be considered for how it will effect your blood sugar and the appropriate treatment applied. “Appropriate Treatment” too often being nothing more than an educated guess seemingly more art than science. Take the same diabetic and feed them the same meal at the same time for two consecutive days with the same insulin dose, you’d expect the results to be the same, right? Well… sometimes. So many other things can change the way your body responds including:
- How much (or how little) exercise you’ve had over the past 24 hours
- Age of the insulin you’re using
- For pumpers, how long the infusion set has been in place
- Placement of infusion set or injection
- Because it’s Tuesday
- Existing insulin on board
- Whether Bahl approves of your sacrifice or not*
And the list goes on and on. Frustration tends to be common, and it’s hard to imagine any of the non “pancreatically challenged” around you truly have a grasp of what we go through. Well the truth is: they don’t. And that doesn’t matter.
When I first became involved with Insulindependence I heard them use the term Type 3 Diabetic. A “type 3” can be described as simply anyone who does not have diabetes themselves, but whose life is effected by someone who does. We all know them; it’s a girlfriend, a wife, a close colleague, a friend, a mother, a daughter, or even someone you’ve never met in “real life” reaching out through the magic of the internet (please feel free to substitute boyfriend/husband/father/etc. We don’t discriminate. Much). These are the people without whom life with this disease would be unbearable. The people who are there when you have two separate 200 point swings in the span of six hours but don’t judge or think you’re a bad person even when you feel like one. They’re the ones who quietly get up at 3:00am to get you GlucoLift when your CGMS starts going off in the middle of the night. You know, they say friends help you move, and real friends help you move bodies, but it takes a special person to put up with you when you’re blood sugar is under 50 and all you want to do is eat and go to sleep. At the same time. And you’re cranky. Again.
The point to all this is to say that no matter how hard we work to manage our diabetes, no matter how many miles we run, no matter how diligently we count our carbs, no matter how often we test, we’re going to still be imperfect. Inevitably this leads to frustration and sometimes worse (a brief glance at the published studies linking diabetes with depression shows too strong a positive correlation to ignore). It’s the type 3’s around us that help us through these long, dark, teatimes of the soul. I’ve been so fortunate to have an amazing group of supportive and caring people around me, and it helps me be a better diabetic, athlete, and person.
So the next time you feel alone with your diabetes, like no one around you understands, remember that you’re not alone. The people that care about you are effected by diabetes, too. They may have a shiny, healthy pancreas, but let’s be thankful for the type 3’s in our lives.
*If Bahl isn’t your thing feel free to sacrifice to the elder god of your choice.