The Weather Outside and Within

In my almost two years now of living with Type 1 diabetes, I rarely fall into the woe-is-me mode, and I rarely blame circumstances in my day-to-day life on the diabetes. Oh, I’ll blame things on diabetes, on a rare occasion when no other excuse will work quite as well: to get out of events, to arrive a smidge late for work, that sort of stuff.


(Hey, the condition needs to come with some perks!)

But I know that living with a chronic illness has the potential to rear up and strike me down psychologically. At the moment, all’s well, and I’m happy about my ability to deal with diabetes and the demands it makes on me to manage my mental well-being. Making my way through life bitter about something I couldn’t have predicted or prevented from happening would…well, it would make self-management difficult.

Here and there over the last 20 months, I’ve had momentary lapses during which my optimistic diabetes outlook has been less so, but these moments pass before ever really sapping my strength. Luckily they’ve never taken hold, lasting a few hours to half a day at the most.

As I’ve written before, one of the reasons I believe I was able to transition into living with Type 1 diabetes without falling into a depressive episode or suffering some other self-management malaise is because I spent a lot of time in my 20’s learning to live with depression.

It’s full-on winter now in Michigan. Gray days. Ice, snow, dead landscapes and dirty, slushy streets. And cold, often bitter cold, accompanied by swirling winds.

It’s also that four-week, bittersweet interstice between Thanksgiving and the Christmas and New Year holidays.

So there’s heightened awareness on my part these days to nip the funky thoughts and redirect them toward something positive before they get a foothold in my neural network. I deal by knowing I have to actively deal. Passivity on my part is dangerous.

When a nasty thought about my chronic illness leaks into the soundtrack of my consciousness (which has of late been dominated by Moby-esque electronic music, thanks to Pandora Internet Radio; oh, and the plotlines of Ian Rankin’s John Rebus novels), I try to be hypervigilant and trace it back to its source. I’m not always successful at this, but, for example, last night I was driving home from work. It was dark out, traffic was moving at a pace I don’t abide well, and I’d spent a long day at work hampered in my progress by others’ delinquency.

I was not in the best of moods.

About a mile from home, I shifted in my seat and felt my infusion site dig into my side. I cursed the disease. Then, in that dangerous way that a mind can turn on a dime and things can seem insurmountable — when not 10 seconds earlier they were just pissy — I’d played out the next 40 years of my life: Dealing with the daily management of this condition, living with complications, hundreds of doctor visits, watching what I eat more closely than people who do not have diabetes. And on and on.

And at the same time, I was romanticizing my life prior to diabetes, the carefree (or so it seemed) daily routines, the diets free of much concern.

It was self-pity, of course.

But I soon pulled out of it after I realized a block later what had triggered my anger at diabetes. In addition to the vulnerability from the mood I was already in, I’d just driven past Dom’s Bakery. Dom’s pumps out the smell of freshly fried donuts 24 hours a day, and the smell of fresh donuts are my madeleines. It goes way back, from my dad owning a liquor store next to a donut shop when I was 4 years old and me getting to go into the kitchen to see how pastries were made, to my own stint making donuts in the early mornings at the cafeteria in college.

And, of course, the late-night runs to donut shops for apple fritters and coffee, donuts on the counter at work, the special-treat status donuts connote…

These memories were all from the times when a donut was a donut, when it was of course an unhealthy choice, but it was, after all, just a donut (or two, or three). It wasn’t an invitation to contemplate the carbohydrates and adverse effects on my health to the nth degree.

By the time I’d arrived home, I’d veered out of the potential spin into diabetic malaise, backed out of the path that the wafting of the scent of fried dough into the thoroughfare had prompted.

A delicious box of white grape juice and a 45-minute dog-walk later, life was full-on good.

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  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Eric.

    Good job it is of key importance to keep the moral up.

    You can blame the super cold on Canada. We here in the Rocky Mountain true north have been spared the cold. Until around the first of December the geraniums in our Florida room (unheated but enclosed with jalousie windows) were unfrozen. The god of winter directed the cold blast east to Michigan even down to the Florida border.

    Very good idea to walk the Dog for 45 minutes. We have an off-leash area in close proximity where you can walk or yesterday ski with the Dog. Too bad you have to go when it is pitched dark one of the downside of living in the northern hemisphere in winter.

    Know the fell re doughnuts. My wife bakes yummy white bread that fills the house with irresitable smell that will power cannot resist. Lately she did bake some slightly more diabetically friendly bread.

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Eric. Spoke too soon and God has punished us. It will be -25 F for the next few days. I have showelled snow against the garage door as high as I can to prevent heat loss as the food in the garage can freeze. One day I will splurge on garage door insulation. It is snowing in Vancouver(Canada). The banana plants will be shivering. Yes they DO HAVE banana plants I saw them with my own eyes.

    Amazing that the Govts(yours and ours) have money to bail out the big boys that caused the problem but none for the Auto business. Althought I can see the Republican’s point. Where do you stop? In a depression you may have to nationalise everything, even our oil industry if present prices do no rise. If this is such a good idea why did we spend trillions to defeat Communism?

    Makes you wonder if the people on Earth have been created by God as a sitcom for his enjoyment. Einstein said God was not malicious but mischievous he may be.

  • Rocket


    There is going to be a grand opening of a new
    Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in my town soon. I miss them so much, but with nowhere to get them without a three hour drive, it was easy to go without, now I’ll have to give my car keys to the G/F every night to keep me from making that midnight run when the fresh donuts come out of the oven!

  • Ephrenia

    You HAD to mention donuts, didn’t you?

    CD: Have you, or your wife, ever tried baking with Bob’s Red Mill Low Carb Baking Mix? I made an awsome fresh apple cake (chunks of Braeburn apples) that is only 6 net carbs per slice (the skinny bundt pan slice) using this product. My next attempt will be BROWNIES.

  • barbied78

    In your blog you made a very important point, that food is more than just food. It’s also feelings and memories and much more. That’s one reason why it can be so hard to turn it down.