Diabetes Self-Management Blog

*This isn’t just the title of the piece — I really have been sick pretty much nonstop this week. So, if my blog entry isn’t quite as poetic as usual (or quite as long), please forgive me. My head is just a little foggy…

This has been an unequivocally miserable week. I’ve had strep throat for seven days now, and I’m starting to go a little bonkers. I’ve started the antibiotics (this morning), but it’s too early for them to have defeated the illness yet, obviously. So here I sit, feeling awful, waiting for some small sign of recovery.

As annoying as this is, weeks like this happen every so often, and there isn’t much we can do about them. But while they’re miserable regardless of who you are, for Diabetians weeks like this can be even worse. We can feel like we’re getting hit twice, first by whatever illness has lodged itself in our body, and then by diabetes, which invariably reacts to the illness with the customary out-of-whack numbers. There’s no avoiding this, but we can be smart about how we react.

So, today, I present my list of “sick-day suggestions.” I’m not a doctor, of course, and this isn’t meant to be medical advice — more along the lines of “peer counseling” or “emotional coping.” It goes without saying that your doctor’s advice should come before the advice given by the diabetes columnist who’s delirious from a week of feeling sick, drowsy from cough medicine, and running on chronically insufficient sleep due to nonstop coughing fits.

Tip #1: Basic stability is good enough!
I think in general, trying for absolute perfection is a bad recipe for Diabetians. We’ll never get it, and we shouldn’t expect to. We should strive for our best, strive for balance, and strive for good control. But I tend to take a step backwards from this stance when I’m sick. When I’m healthy, high blood sugars warrant some serious investigation and corrective action. When I’m feeling like this, not so much. When I’m this sick, I really just try to keep my numbers out of the danger zones. And when my numbers creep too high, I don’t flip out, I just correct it.

Tip #2: Ask for help.
Really, tip #2 would be to marry someone like my wife, who has taken care of my whining, miserable self for the last seven days without complaint. In fact, I wouldn’t be submitting this week’s blog entry without her help — she was the one who woke me up after I drifted to sleep watching TV on the couch and reminded me that I needed to get this thing done tonight.

But you don’t really have control over that one, and I already married my wife. But here’s something we DO need to remember: It’s all right to need help, ask for help, and take care of ourselves. I’ve noticed that a lot of us Diabetians have the “martyr” gene in us — we don’t want to bother other people, and we very easily feel guilty when we’re being taken care of. My personal hunch is that it stems from our desire to not feel even more “dependent” than we already do, being completely dependent on insulin the way we are. But whatever the root cause, we simply need to remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help and letting ourselves be taken care of for a little while.

Tip #3: Listen to your body.
I feel a little insincere writing this one, because the truth is I haven’t REALLY done this myself. I’ve been sick, and in the midst of it I played a weekend of gigs, leading to several late nights in a row, and undoubtedly prolonging this thing. Unfortunately, a musician in the summer depends on performance for his income (teaching dries up in summer, while gigs tend to go up and pay better), and I really did have to make those shows. But I’ve at least tried to rest up as much as I possibly could otherwise. Remember, being sick is a sign that our system needs rest. So listen to your body and give it what it needs.

Well, that’s all for me. I hope this has been mildly coherent, and I hope to write in much better health next week.

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