Talking about Control
Two discussions that I looked at yesterday really caught my eye and they are noteworthy if not for substance at least for the human condition and its relation to diabetes.
The first is titled ‘Starting Again’ https://forum.tudiabetes.org/topics/starting-again and it was started by a 16 year old who wishes to change her approach to diabetic care. Apparently like most of us at one point or another the young person had stopped caring for her diabetes and she is / was worried about the long term damage those actions were having on her body and well, to some extent(though not stated directly) her mind. In other words she was worrying about her decision to not care.
What struck me about her discussion were two things. First, I could really relate. I call it my period of going off the rails and mine started at about her age, shortly after I was diagnosed. I did not just a rebel against the disease, I became a disease denier. (Denier is that even a word?). My issue was different than hers, for a brief period I tried to soothe the pain of having diabetes with alcohol then after that stopped I used a far more addictive crutch, my work.
This young lady however has come to her point of reckoning way before I ever did. For me my denial went on for at least 20 years and three to five jobs, depending on how you count jobs. I ran hard and fast and yet I could not in the end outrun diabetes. If anyone could I would have done it.
This young lady however at age 16 says she is ready to change. And she asks advice about how to do so. I have to admit that shows a good deal more maturity than I had at age 17 (when I was diagnosed) and I admire her courage to say it in a public forum and ask for help.
The second thing that is impressive about this discussion is the responses she received. As of this writing and I hope forever, she did not receive a single response saying basically you are an idiot, get this straightened out. One might have expected such comments on other posting sites. But on TUDiabetes the responses have been helpful, sometimes creative and universally positive.
Yes there were several responders, who advised her to take baby steps. The take this apple one piece at a time approach that is so familiar on our site. I for one gave that advice but I just joined the chorus who were already singing that song. I suppose that is how many of us dug our way out. I know that is how I dug my way out, along with emotional therapy to overcome the reasons I decided to run away in the first place.
Other thoughts included not to beat herself up about her current situation, (a very big part of recovering), taking her decision to change as a sense of empowerment, and (one of my favorites), make it a point to kick Diabetes in the ■■■. I like that kicking image. Once we give diabetes power over us we are defeated at the outset. If we can put the monster back in the corner and then treat and take care of it in order to keep it in the corner we will win back a big part of getting healthier.
Time after time commentators suggested that she realize this is not a onetime affair rather a process that will be a struggle. I found it that way, I was not perfect overnight and I am not perfect today. What I am is a struggler who tries hard to manage and do the right thing given where he is today. I have to meet diabetes on my terms not the other way around and definitely not with an expectation that I will ever win this war. I fight for health and normalcy but I realize in the end I will not have an easy road and I will never win. But still I have to believe the fight is worthwhile.
The second discussion that drew my attention was about type 2 specifically ‘Spouse/family minimizing T2’ https://forum.tudiabetes.org/topics/spouse-family-minimizing-t2 . Oh if I knew the number of folks who feel this way, not just about type 2 but about diabetes in general. Of course diabetes is a serious disease and of course the writer correctly states that diabetes is diabetes type 2 or not.
How many times have some of us heard the words, oh I have a touch of sugar, or I drink a couple of cokes a day no one pays attention really. My favorite was from an uncle on my wife’s side who blissfully would say that his fasting blood sugar was around 200 so the doctor did not give it much thought being type 2 and all. (Incidentally I never believed the doctor didn’t give it much thought). I know those were the words I remembered as I sat listening to his eulogy about how he struggled to care for himself. Knowing of course that Mountain Dew and Pepsi were his drinks of choice and lots of pie was his food of choice.
Now please don’t misunderstand I am not saying that to cast a curtain over his handling of his diabetes. I have no idea, day to day, what pressures he faced or what environment he lived in, and frankly I was not in good control so this cannot be like the pot calling the kettle black. But I do know that he never took his disease seriously and he passed a young man because of it. So is Type 2 a big deal? You bet. Is it a big disease, yes of course? I know a lot more type 2’s who have passed because of complications of diabetes than I know type 1’s.
When I think of the pain expressed by the initiator of the discussion, I think of the job of education that we who share this disease must do. I have failed in the past, and will in the future. But like taking control of my diabetes, I resolve to take baby steps, next time I hear of such nonsense I will correct the person then I will work up the never to educating people when the they say such difficult things. Yes it will be an ongoing struggle to not just be quiet. But frankly folks, when people have a “touch of sugar” and the mean type 2 diabetes. They are really talking about all diabetics not just type 1, not just type 2, all diabetics. It is high time we corrected the misconception, that one can have a little bit of sugar. Because in the end we all get the same complications, and we all have the same struggles. The job of education is too important to our entire community of diabetics to say well it is the job of type 2’s who are often misunderstood and mischaracterized by society.