A few months ago, I asked “What’s your diabetes strong point?” Now I’m asking, what about living with diabetes is hardest for you? What do you do about the hard things, and what could you use some help with?
If anyone says that diabetes is easy for them, we will all be impressed. I will also be suspicious, because how can anyone do all the food, exercise, self-monitoring, doctor-visiting, and maybe medication-taking without finding anything hard? And that doesn’t even mention the financial and emotional issues, or the issues involving other people and their reactions.
In my life with chronic illness, it’s hard to do almost anything I used to do. Getting out of bed, getting cleaned up, cooking, and doing housework are all a challenge. But I think the hardest things might be emotions like fear of the future and grief over losses.
These changes and stresses haven’t helped my relationship with my wife, either. They haven’t destroyed it, but I have to focus energy on my body I would rather spend on her. “No, honey. Not up to that today.” (“That” could be sex or food shopping or just about anything.)
It’s an ongoing challenge for both of us. Many people with diabetes face similar challenges.
With diabetes, food is hardest for many people. In response to “what’s your diabetes strong point?” Ferne wrote:
I have no desire to eat and really find it difficult to decide on what to eat. So many of the foods that are on diabetic lists really raise my blood sugar. I need to lose weight, exercise, and eat very little. It is very depressing.
Others have expressed similar problems with exercising. And complaints about doctors come in all the time: “They don’t listen; they don’t know; they don’t seem to care.” (Although other readers absolutely love their doctors.)
Then there are work issues, like finding a job and holding one, and getting your boss to make needed accommodations for you. And insurance issues, like being denied for a pre-existing condition, or, under the new Affordable Care Act, having to buy very expensive insurance. And money issues: Life would be easier if I could bring in money the way I used to.
Acknowledging what is hard isn’t whining. Whining isn’t useful, but honest looking for help and information is good. If people don’t know you are struggling, they will not know you need help, so it’s OK to admit to having trouble with diabetes.
You can be admired for soldiering on and never complaining about diabetes, but you won’t get help that way. I also think people with diabetes need to know that others share their problems. If you think that others are breezing through life with diabetes, you will wrongly feel that you are failing. And when people realize it’s hard for you, it helps them open up about their own difficulties.
You’re not a failure if you struggle with practical or emotional aspects of diabetes. These are hard things, and you are doing the best you can. Of course you could do better, and sharing will help you do that. So consider letting us know what’s hardest for you. I’ll take a couple of the hot issues and write about them in coming weeks.