We’ve all done it. We’ve all swept one problem or another under the rug until there is no option other than to face it. Once we eventually are forced to deal with whatever problem is facing us, there’s usually some regret over having waited so long to deal with it.
The same applies when dealing with diabetes. I’ve written about the emotional side of dealing with Type 1, but realized I didn’t talk about simply facing it. I wrote about admitting that you might need help sometimes, or that diabetes can just get overwhelming, but what about that first step on the road to success.
I remember all too often dreading appointments that would come up and realizing that I had not done my best. Realizing that in two weeks time, I would have to explain why I wasn’t monitoring enough or why my blood sugar levels weren’t as well controlled as they should have been. I also remember always leaving appointments with the drive to do better next time, but finding that it quickly wore off. As always, the road to success is filled with obstacles, and my biggest obstacle came the first time I can ever remember admitting that I would need help with diabetes.
When I was around 14 or 15 years old, I made the decision that I wanted to manage diabetes on my own. I didn’t want my mom telling me how many carbs were in a certain food or breathing down my neck every time I checked. In what I later realized was a very clever move, my parents backed off 100%. Talk about extreme. Of course they were still there to make sure I was OK, but it quickly became clear that they were not going to be police officers any longer.
At first I was so unbelievably excited. Free at last! I was pumped (no pun intended). I had control, and diabetes was my challenge to conquer. Boy did that high wear off real fast. (Again with the puns.) I was not the pro I built myself up to be. I was struggling with my sugars, mainly being high all the time. If I wasn’t high, then I was dropping. If I wasn’t dropping, I was high. The only steadiness in my sugars was if I was steadily high.
So, what did I do? If you think I admitted defeat and asked for help, you are sorely mistaken. I was in the early stages of dealing with diabetes. I was much too mature (or so I thought) to admit defeat so quickly! Surely one must expect a few bumps on the road when taking on such a challenge. Asking for help was out of the question. Never underestimate the unwarranted pride and confidence of a young teenager.
After a couple weeks, things were not getting any better. I noticed my mom was worrying, and she would unintentionally ask questions and get involved. Being the stubborn adolescent that I was, I would quickly snap and remind her of my newfound independence. The independence we had agreed on mutually.
Finally, after about a month, I cracked. I couldn’t take it any more. I felt guilty for how poorly I had done and even worse realizing that I wasn’t the adult I imagined myself to be. (Like I said, there is no greater pride than that of a young teenager.) I was so upset, but I finally admitted defeat.
The lesson I learned from that experience has been crucial to my life with Type 1, and I am always learning from it. At the time I learned that I needed help, but in retrospect I also learned that there is no such thing as taking care of diabetes on your own. Yes, at 18 I find myself testing and writing my numbers down in a logbook of my own accord, but there is a difference between taking on the responsibility of diabetes and taking on the entire disease.
No one else can take care of my diabetes anymore. I’m living away from home, and my parents aren’t there looking over my shoulder as I check my sugars. However, I know that I will never be able to do it all on my own. Even after eight years of dealing with this disease every single day, I still need help figuring out my basal rates, insulin-to-carb ratios, and the like.
So, if you find yourself struggling to get your diabetes under control, first admit to yourself that you aren’t doing the best you can. You don’t have to tell anyone else, just yourself. Then find someone you trust that can help you out. Whether it’s your parents, endo, or CDE, always have someone on the other end who can help you out. It’s OK, I promise. Never be ashamed to ask for help.