What Is Hardest About Diabetes for You?

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.

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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.

  • Patty

    Recently diagnosed with type 2. Almost two months ago now. I have a basic knowledge of the disease since my honey has had it now for years, but now that I have it, I really get the frustration he feels.

    This is what I know: Sugar is bad! And EVERYTHING you eat turns to sugar. Proteins not as fast.

    I guess the hardest thing for me right now is ALL of it! I’m reading a lot and getting encouraged one minute and the pants scared off me the next.

    When I searched “why is my blood sugar so high when I wake up?” I found the lovely term, “liver dumping” and now I want to know why and how and should my body make that happen?! I’ve heard that the liver wakes you up. So, this must happen to everyone, even those lucky folks that don’t have to give a second thought to what they eat?! I used to be one of them or so I thought! And I miss it.

    But to pinpoint a frustration or two it would be these: 1. The odd fluctuations in my meter readings. 2. SNACKING! ICY COLD SODA! Sure I love the crunch of a carrot or celery stick it’s just not the first thing I want to grab. I’d rather have chips or cake! or Soda!

    Thanks for letting me share this!

  • Rob Gerster

    My biggest stumbling block is the unpredictability of where my glucose is going to go when I do high intensity workouts. I try to begin in the 160 range, and after an hour I have tested and been at 45 and I’ve also been at 310. Because of the wild fluctuations, I have to stop every half an hour to take a glucose reading. Not only does it interrupt the workout, but when I go over 2 hours, my fingers take a beating from all the testing.

  • Daryl

    The future is hardest for me. I’ve seen the future in diabetic friends: amputations, dialysis, kidney transplants, eye problems, heart attacks. Death, while inevitable, seems shortened by a decade or so, and the later years are riddled by a tortured existence.

    I’m trying to change the future, not just any future, but mine! I could put it off a future years, but then the future is staring even closer with more inevitability. I would write more, but yesterday was my birthday, today is my anniversary, and I’m going to the gym to pump iron. To preserve my future, I have to have a reality check-in today! That is hard, but it is my life, my future.

  • Samwell Baggins

    I received a diagnosis in July 2014 with a 7.3 A1c and a casual BG of 250. In 11 weeks, I went to the gym 12 hours per week, dropped 29 pounds, and began to eat a balanced diet.

    The first post-diagnosis A1c dropped to 5.5, fasting BG is about 78, and my BG post-meal rarely goes above 110. I continue to lose weight. I was only on Metformin for about two months and don’t take it presently. All good news. So what’s the problem?

    I obsess about my diet, counting carbs, calories and fiber grams. I track all of my BG readings and look for patterns daily and worry that I have enough test strips. I obsessively work out for about 2-3 hours four times a week. People are starting to get a little tired of my new-found health regimen and skinny appearance.

    The initial anxiety has not really gone away. I have got to relax, concentrate on my job and allow myself to have a good time. It has only been a few months, so I need to be kinder to myself and appreciate those around me. I have already backed off on my *food police* routine and don’t embarrass my wife by counting carbs at dinner among friends!

  • Samwell Baggins

    I would respond to Patty above by saying that sugar and carbs are not bad, only excessive amounts of sugar that the body cannot absorb are bad. A change to a better and more healthy diet certainly is difficult, and I wish Patty luck.

    Daryl: I had a school buddy recently lose his lower leg due to diabetic complications, and it scared me to think I was heading down that path. More anxiety!