Diabetes and Life and Vice Versa

The problem with having diabetes is that life gets in the way. We have other obligations—families, work, projects, community service, and more. We can’t always be expected to sit around checking our blood glucose, planning and preparing healthy meals, adjusting insulin and/or medicine doses, avoiding stress, exercising, and all that other stuff “they” seem to want us to concentrate on.


But that’s not all: The problem with having a life is that diabetes gets in the way. Trying to figure out how much carbohydrate is in unfamiliar foods can make eating out a hassle. Driving would be a lot easier if you didn’t have to worry about your blood glucose levels. Going low in the middle of…um, er, you know <blush> can put a stop to that really fast. Even our emotions can affect our diabetes management.

As I write this, I’m frustrated. Actually, I’ve been frustrated for two days. Maybe three.

I’ve been working on a request to write a sample medical column for my local newspaper. I’d been gathering up sources by calling around, “doing” lunch, surfing the ‘net, and making lists. Finally, I came up with an idea for a four-item column.

Since it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has a few things going on, I thought that might be a good item. But breast cancer isn’t exactly the leading cause of death where I live. It isn’t even the leading cause of cancer deaths (that would be lung cancer). The leading cause of death here, in all age groups, ethnic groups, and in both genders above the age of 25, is cardiovascular disease.

And what’s a major contributor to cardiovascular disease? Diabetes! And even diabetes, as a category of its own, causes more deaths than breast cancer. And who knows how many cardiovascular disease deaths counted in the death rate were really caused by diabetes?

When I went to the state health department Web site to look up mortality figures for my area, there was a blurb about a walk later this month emblazoned on the home page. It was in the prime spot, along with a link to another Web site for more information. Walking is good for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Perfect!

So I clicked on the link and went to the other Web site. The information was not there.

Then I started calling. The person at one agency wasn’t in. The governor’s office failed to return my phone call. And so it went. Finally, I got back to the health department. It wasn’t their fault the information wasn’t there, I was told. This other agency was supposed to have something up two weeks ago. (“And you couldn’t delay linking to the site until the information you said was there was actually available?” I thought.)

Anyway, the woman on the phone said, the walk wasn’t for Joe Lunchbox to do: A select few would walk, and the information is just there so people will get out to cheer on the designated walkers. Wow. They want us to get physically fit by standing around watching other people walk? I’m sure that makes sense to somebody.

She also didn’t know where the walk was originating from in my town. I called the mayor’s mouthpiece. He didn’t return my call, either.

While all of this was going on, my teenage grandchildren were acting like teenagers (I fixed that by sending them home). Then, I opened an e-mail to read that my credit card had been charged for $700 for something I didn’t order and that was to be sent to somebody I’d never heard of. (It turned out to be phishing and, luckily, I didn’t take the bait.) And there were a couple of other annoying things going on.

So, what’s all this have to do with diabetes? I’m stressed and frustrated. I spent four hours on a four-paragraph item and still don’t have any information. I don’t like crooks taking up my precious time. And I don’t care what the grandchildren do at their house, but this is my house.

Stress usually makes my blood glucose level go up (although sometimes it makes it go down). And I tend to munch, which also makes my blood glucose go up.

Exercise would be helpful, but I don’t think spinning your wheels counts. In addition, my knees feel like I put them on backwards so that eliminates walking. Riding my bicycle has been a bit dicey of late because the utility companies and street department are methodically tearing up the streets in my neighborhood.

I’m generally a pretty laid-back person, so I just don’t know what to do when “stuff” starts piling up and I start stressing out.

What I did do was micromanage my blood glucose by checking often and adjusting food and insulin. As if taking even more time and frustrating myself even more by doing something else I didn’t want to do would help. Aside from that, I was at a loss.

Got any ideas?

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  • Cathy

    Yoga? Meditation? Just laying on the couch and thinking good thoughts? Having a serious talk with your dog and/or cat? They really are good listeners. Gee, I will have to try some of these things again – they might work better than looking back at my log book and seeing that I wrote “sressful week” above all the higher than normal levels I had all last week and the week before.

    No one said this was going to be easy.

  • LP

    Sounds like you could use a little R & R in a tub of hot water.

  • KGeer

    My suggestion is that you take a little time to determine what is really bothering you about all the frustrating issues you encountered, and see if there is any action you can take to address this. Sounds like you handled your grandchildren just fine (your grandchildren know that they have to play by your rules in your house or go home, and you realize, I hope, that you can only control your own behavior, not anyone else’s). Trying to balance food, exercise, meds, and stress are a royal pain in the you-know-what. Maybe the way to destress about that is to do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up when you aren’t perfect.

  • KGeer

    It is frustrating that breast cancer research has received greater public recognition than diabetes research. On the other hand, isn’t it generally frustrating that we have to solicit support for research projects to cure any disease? It may be that there is still an idea out in the public that people who get diabetes did it too themselves by eating too much where breast cancer just happens to anyone. I hope that isn’t true, and it is just that breast cancer awareness has a much better marketing campaign. Wish I could think of an effective way to enlist interest and support in research for a real diabetes cure.

  • wkmmarfa

    Jan, I don’t see you having any propblems writing a four column article as you wrote about 20 saying nothing except what happened in you private life which most could care less about. I find that diabetes has helped me immensly. I lost 30 lbs., I watch my diet and don’t have any problems eating out. I rarely have to use insulin. No I don’t like not having chocolots, pies with sugar but I manage. Did I really need that stuff. Guess not. I don’t eat ANY form of sugar – period. Just Splenda.

  • cknewell

    FWIW I’ve had breast cancer. I have Type 2. I think it’s worse! Diabetes is with you 24/7. I feel guilty that I deal so well with my Type 2 — seems I’m in a small majority. We all do the best we can. Be nice to yourself!


  • Jan

    Well, I borrowed a baby. He’s four months old and, as long as I keep a pleasant look on my face, I can spill out all of my frustrations and know he won’t repeat them. He also gives me “permission” to play and, best of all, he doesn’t complain about my singing voice, nor does he complain that they’re “old fogie” songs. Also, I’ve managed to convince him that “Chicken Soup with Rice” is better than the Barney song. And he’s cuddly.

    About breast cancer: It gets the publicity because the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation does what most other not-for-profit organizations fail to do: It trains its volunteers, it’s very proactive, it returns most of the money raised to the communities that the money comes from, and it’s formed relationships with a lot of different products. I even got an email from a company that sells Judaica offering pink menorahs, pink candlesticks and such. Perhaps more organizations should emulate Komen.

  • Karen

    Thank you for the above article. I encounter many days similar to yours. I juggle a full-time professional management position, along with raising a teenage step-family (who test ever boundary)and a hubby, who I adore, but who is suffering severe depression and then I am Type 2. My stress release is attending personal training 3 times a week, but it is often a challenge to get there, as everyone else in my world has this idea that my time is their’s! I’m sure you can relate to this! My weight sits 40 kgs above where it should, my BGL are stable and I work hard at actively watching the food consumption, but a desk bound job and stress keep this weighty security blanket strapped around me! Then you get the comments ‘Well you just need to exercise everyday! Watch what you eat!’ What do people think us diabetics do 24/7? No one says take an hour off each day and do something for you, then you may be able to cope a little better with everything else… Time for Me! That’s what we need!