Recognizing the Need to Tweak Thought

In 2007, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and spent the rest of the year learning what I could about the condition while at the same time learning how to live with it. In 2008, I continued to learn about living with diabetes, and I found that although diabetes affects every aspect of my life, the day-to-dayness of it does eventually slip into the background — often, at least — and become one more thing that gets swallowed up by all of the other noise in my life.

But in 2009?


Hmm. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but last week, during a drafting session for my blog, I toyed with the idea of an entry about diabetes New Year’s resolutions. Don’t worry, though, this is not that. Yet…

(As a side note: I’m sure many of you out did make resolutions related to your diabetes. What were they?)

I bring up resolutions not because of the new year, but because lately I’ve noticed a trend in my thinking about my diabetes. I’ve found my thoughts about my dealings with diabetes — the insulin pump site changes and reservoir refilling, the blood glucose monitoring, the bolusing…really just the mundane day-to-dayness of it all — are skewing toward the negative.

Slightly. Increasingly.

So I have to write about it; it’s how I make sense of things. And I’m sharing with you some of my writing about it. By putting it on paper (or on screen) I’m able to come back around to better diabetic self-awareness instead of what I see as a path toward a diabetic taken-for-grantedness.

The sorts of things I’ve been thinking that are dangerous? Rather than getting up to check my blood glucose when I should, I’ll just hit “OK” on the insulin pump when it prompts me and continue doing what I’m doing. By itself not really malfeasance. But, this action will often be accompanied by thoughts about the inconveniences of the disease, followed by self-pity about what it was like before diabetes, the beginnings of “why me,” and then some form of a muttered “stupid diabetes” (or if my wife’s around and hears my pump buzz, I’ll say it louder, more clearly, so she can hear).

Sometimes I look in the mirror and find myself thinking about the future, two, three, or four decades from now, and I project out, just for a moment, a sad time in my life during which complications have developed. I see myself old, infirm, unhealthy, walking without ease, winded, taking too many medications, living my life, it feels like, to keep things from getting much worse. And I blame diabetes for it.

I snap back pretty quickly.

But still, I didn’t do this in 2007 because I was preoccupied with the newness of it all. I didn’t do this in 2008 because — well, probably because — it was my first full year living with the condition, which helped create for me a barrier of living in the now. I don’t know.

In 2009, I see I’m going to have to pay closer attention to prevent those ruts in my neurological network; I have to stop fertilizing the dendritic growth of diabetic negativity. And I know from my past, from living with depression, that I will slip into meloncholy about diabetes if I give over to easy self-pity, if I’m lazy with constant small negative thoughts about Type 1 diabetes.

I don’t know if the following analogy works with what I’ve just written, but I’ll relay it anyway. When I worked on a construction crew during my summers and winter breaks in college, one of the first things I remember my boss Archie teaching me was that you never accept when you’ve gone off your measurement line, even the slightest bit, when you’re building the walls from the foundation. That less-than-an-inch that you think you can get away with in the basement when you begin framing the house will end up being a foot-wide gap by the time you get to the roof.

  • Peter Mead

    Eric, Know what you mean. Here is something that I’ve evolved to that helps.

    Since diabetes has caused me to live a lot more deliberately than I did before, I might as well make it *worth something*.

    Since I am on manual operation with regard to putting myself on this earth, day after day, I might as well give something back to justify the effort.

    The “higher ground” above bodies and their complications is creativity. We all have it. I explore my talents in that general area with regard to delivering on what I said in the last paragraphs.

    As a side effect, doing so keeps me operating from an exterior viewpoint, one that is senior to the various dictates and demands of a body. And from that position, emotions are positive and channel energy in a very pro-survival way.

    Being an earthling is not all the travel brochure said it would be!


  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Eric.

    There is a delicate mental balance between fighting diabetes as an all out war and permiting the disease to consume all you spare mental energy.

    I am presently fighting the Battle of the Bulge. With insulin my weight was increasing at an alarming rate, this cause my insulin needs to increase and my hunger increased then my weight increase more. This was a positive feedback loop with really negative results. Worrying made things worst. Then instead of seeing myself old and decrepit I saw myself dead at 265 lb which was going to be soon.

    So I deceide to cut my insulin dosage immediately to stop the weight gain right there and then.

    To restore the BG control the only option available was a low carb diet which I do not like and ADA condemns. Amazing what you can do when there is an immediate threatto life.

  • Kirk
  • Stewart’s mom

    Way to go, Eric, now I’m REALLY depressed. Living in the Pacific Northwest with a lot of rain and grey skies itn’t bad enough. Now I will look in the mirror and see an old and infirm me looking back. Today I went to the endocrinologist because of the old neuropathy in the feet. Hope I can walk past the mirror, but after this I might as well just hang it up. How do I cheer up?

  • Milster

    Whew! After reading about intellectualizing a disease, to staying alive by making my own medical decisions and then choosing to eat food I hate, and having out of body experiences, it got to be too much for me. Gee, I hate to say it, but I have diabetes! Having said that, it means I have to take most of the responsibility for my blood glucose levels. The task includes input from a medical professional. Dealing with other health issues which may or may not be controllable may complicate the picture. The rest has to do with fitting in my bodies needs first, as I WANT to live. After doing and planning, and dealing with the unexpected, all I have left is creating my life one day at a time, The goal of tracking numbers is to have a shot at health, which in turn will give me a chance at living an enjoyable life. Nobody promised me a rose garden; some days are hellish. I survived Hurricane Ike, and I have had to eat MRE’s and out of an ice chest for months. I didn’t dive for storm debris or make a natural body scrub from seaweed. In spite of the struggles to even get medicine as an evacuee, then living with no electricity, internet, potable water, or telephone, I did manage a 6.1 A1C, on 2 types of insulin. And I also cleaned mold off my walls,washed my clothes twice in Pine O Pine and threw out ruined photos. Some times life just needs to be endured, and endured well, with fortitude and humility.