One of the lessons I’ve learned through having Type 1 diabetes for nine years is that you can’t under any circumstance compare yourself to another person. Comparing your A1C to some else’s only leads to stress and upset. However, another lesson I’ve learned is that by celebrating another’s accomplishments, it helps you improve your own care and feel better about life with diabetes.
The past couple of weeks haven’t been perfect. I definitely wouldn’t say they’ve been bad, but I’ve just been a little off regarding diabetes. I haven’t been as optimistic about it as I usually am. I guess the best way to describe it would be as short-term diabetes fatigue. I usually experience really long bouts of optimism, which inevitably get balanced out with short spurts of mild pessimism.
I’ve found myself getting really frustrated whenever I’m low or high, rather than just dealing with it in the moment and moving on. I get hung up on the high and take it as a personal failure instead of an opportunity for improvement. It’s like every time I check and I’m high or low, it’s a final exam that I’m failing.
The other day, a text from Jesse, a good friend of mine, really lifted my spirits. He texted me his most recent A1C, and it was phenomenal! The kind of number I hope I’m at when I get my next A1C done. Jesse’s one of those people who instantly puts me in a better mood just by being in the room. I value our friendship so much.
This is where sharing someone’s excitement can really change your outlook. Instead of being jealous, I just felt a surge of happiness for him because I know that he’s been working really hard to keep control of his diabetes, and it clearly has paid off. Not only that, but Jesse is one year older than me, meaning he’s been going through a lot of the same types of challenges in life — like college — and seeing him come out of it on top of his sugars reaffirmed for me that I can do it too.
An unrelated and mildly absurd situation also lifted my spirits. I was watching a movie on Netflix when my pump alarmed at me that I needed a new cartridge. I followed my usual cartridge-filling routine, but when it came to priming the tubing, no insulin was coming out. I’ve been wearing the same pump for a few years, and it’s definitely time for an upgrade. I honestly thought my pump was no longer functioning and that I was going to have to take shots for the rest of the day or so until a new pump came in.
I took the cartridge out and tried pushing insulin out manually to see if it would come out, but nothing happened. I was getting frustrated when I couldn’t figure out the problem, so naturally I went to my mom. I don’t know what was wrong with my eyesight that day, but as soon as she saw the cartridge she said, “Maryam, there’s no insulin in that cartridge!” I couldn’t believe it. I never actually drew up the insulin into my cartridge. I honestly thought I could remember the moment I drew the insulin into my cartridge! It was so ridiculous how quickly I panicked and jumped into emergency mode that all I could do was laugh at myself. I was truly dumbstruck and thought, I’m way too young to be losing my mind already.
I suppose this could all be summed up by saying that it’s OK to be kind of down every once in a while about diabetes. There’s no foolproof way to stay optimistic all the time; it’s not natural. But there are always ways to pick yourself up and regain that positive outlook. It’s a work in progress, but as with all things, it’s a learning process. And with only nine years under my belt, I have a lot more learning to do.