This has been a challenging few weeks, but not because of diabetes. In fact, diabetes has taken a back seat lately. Life has thrown some more “mainstream” challenges our way. Our heat died, and died definitively, in the middle of the coldest stretch of winter. It died so completely that our old furnace was declared officially unsafe to use, yellow-tagged by the oil company, and shut off. Our plans to overhaul our heating system this spring were suddenly moved up to emergency status, and through a combination of friends’ referrals, the constant running of space heaters, and the fact that we live in a row home and therefore benefit from the warmth provided by neighbors on both sides with working heat, we’ve made it through the week. Tomorrow, the overhaul begins with a contractor we’re pretty sure we can trust.
In the midst of all of this, my wife has had a nasty, persistent bug that’s kept her coughing, congested, achy, and run-down for what seems like an eternity now. Nestled in there have a been a few other irritations and obstacles, but the heat certainly has been the central focus for our crisis management efforts.
Diabetes was actually SO far in the back of my mind that I thought I might just have to throw in the towel this week and not have an entry. But as I sat on my couch winding down from the day (having just covered half our furniture in plastic in preparation for the contractor to arrive tomorrow and start tearing up our house to put in new heating ducts), I realized something. The fact that diabetes was able to recede into the background a bit (and by that I don’t mean I wasn’t checking my blood sugar or monitoring, just not obsessing) is a sign of balance and something worth writing about.
Living with diabetes is a funny thing. We spend huge amounts of time, energy, and focus managing our condition in a quest to do what everyone else does every day without ever giving it a second thought. We have to manually manage an entire metabolic system in our bodies that most people without diabetes aren’t even aware of. And all of that work is aimed at getting our condition to a point where we CAN live a normal life, focus on other things, and let diabetes be part of a background rhythm instead of a “foreground” crisis.
We’re always seeking a rhythm with diabetes. I compare it sometimes to music. As an improvising musician, some days everything feels effortful — every note feels “constructed,” overly planned, and lacking a certain fluidity. Those days always feel very “mental” to me. There’s no flow. But on the good days, there’s very little conscious thought. There’s just a flow, a rhythm. The sound is imagined, and instantaneously flows out the fingers onto the keys. I feel the same way with diabetes — when the management can recede into the background, it means I’ve found that rhythm. I’ve found the right balance, the right dosages of insulin, the right intake of food, to let my system find its rhythm.
So I’m grateful, kind of, for the heating crisis that has consumed our house these past five days. It’s been stressful, but it’s been nice to see that my diabetes is in a state where it doesn’t always have to be the central focus. It’s nice to see that something else can come along, demand huge amounts of focus, and my diabetes rhythm is stable enough that it can take a step back and “run in the background” for a while.