This Sounds Familiar To Me

OK, so last July when I started writing these weekly entries, I was certain that I’d provide those people who chose to read my blog an honest account of what it was like for me to learn to live with Type 1 diabetes. For the remainder of 2007 and for much of this year to date, I’ve done just that.


I’ve written about my diagnosis, about getting on an insulin pump, about my difficulties with insurance and durable medical equipment. I also shared a few things about my diagnosis of depression, which preceded the diabetes by a little over a decade.

Through it all, I’ve maintained a positive outlook. I’ve written these entries with what I hope has been a bit of humor, some cynicism, some self-deprecation, and just enough sour grapes to let you know that I’m far from Mr. Chipper 24/7. My perspective on handling this thing diabetes? It was great. And my self-assessment of my perspective and handling of the condition? People told me it was wonderful; they corroborated my self-management style; they were quick to tell me how well I was doing. I was a model patient; I’d made a great transition to living with the disease; I was exercising and eating healthy and getting great numbers from the doctor. There I was, Eric Lagergren, cultivating this perfect diabetes lifestyle, one that would help me successfully battle this crap illness that knocked me over just a few days after my 33rd birthday.

Or so they thought.

For the past month or so, I’ve shifted from positive blog entries to a more somber documentation of the struggles I’ve recently had with this condition. I’m not sure why the difficulties conveniently showed up in the weeks and months following my first year of living with diabetes. Honeymoon over? An ennui with the constant-ness of good self-management? Feel free to speculate if you’ve “been there, done that” and want to tell me that this is how it goes, or if you want to say you knew it all along. I’m not looking for consolation here, nor do I want some soothing balm by way of a comment or two that will perk me back up. Things ebb. Things flow.

In fact, it’s complicated. (We’re human; it often is.) The difficulty with the blog is trying to get in all I’d like to say when I author, once each week, a meager 500- to 1000-word blog entry. Add to that the audience, which may number a few hundred, only a handful of whom I know personally, and there’s added pressure and dilemmas. How much do I let go? How will those people who know me (some of whom really care for me) respond to reading about my difficulties with the condition? My mother’s been saddened several times by entries; my wife gets a bit low when she sees me writing about difficulties that I may not have told her about prior to the writing.

How can I convince family and friends that the bad times I write about aren’t as bad as they may sound? And…should I even concern myself with what people think? Yeah, yeah: I can’t not. But am I doing this for them, or for me? In some way these blogs—less than a thousand words to encapsulate the goings-on in a diabetes life that, if I were to write completely about what’s going on, would take up tens of thousands of words daily—are mildly therapeutic and help me to take stock of all that’s been thrown in my lap over the past 14 months.

So I’m going to start writing more about the not-so-good moments when they happen. It’s not the complete me, but I do want to take you with me when I’m dealing with the emotional blah that dealing with diabetes often entails. After all, didn’t I kinda sorta vow to do just that when I started, a for-better-or-worse proposition?

A good illness? Is there such a thing? I’d be naïve if I thought you thought there’d never be down moments.

Taking out the trash tonight, walking the blue 30-gallon bins, one in each hand, from the garage to the curb about an hour ago—barefoot, by the way (such a diabetes no-no)—I wondered how I’d make sense of all of the things diabetes and not diabetes going on in my head; how I would, in this short space this week, try to get across this illness and this me at this moment.

During the 30-yard walk down to the curb, I looked at my yard and thought about my interest—my passion—with flower gardening. Most of what I’ve planted in the past year are perennials, and the endeavor has turned into something of an obsession. In fact, I’ve had to vow to not buy any more flowers this year.

“So write about flowers,” I said. “There’s some kind of metaphor in there.”

Yet here I am, the end of the entry. I’ve run out of room. You’ve been spared the attempt at some kind of botanical-slash-diabetes metaphor analysis. It’s in there, though. The immediacy necessitated by growing things and dealing with the garden in the here-and-now, while at the same time keeping hold of my long-term plans for how things will look 5, 10, 20 years or more into the future…

It takes neither a philosopher nor an endocrinologist to explain it.

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  • Angela

    Yes, this is exactly how things go. You’re not sprinting toward a goal of diabetes health, you’re just starting a marathon of epic proportions. And it isn’t a good idea to suppress your own emotions about the race because of someone else’s reaction to them. When your wife or mother tell you what you’re writing makes her feel sad or frustrated, use that as an opportunity to start a discussion. If you don’t develop that habit now, you may end up resenting them as time goes on, because they don’t understand what you’re going through. In the end, of course, they can never really, really get it – but it’s the small, fumbling connections that will keep you and your relationships healthy.

  • Cathym

    I fully understand what you are saying about not wanting to make your loved ones worry but wanting them to know the truth of how you feel about your disease. As a mom I know that parents feel pain when they know their children are unhappy or hurt. I think you know now what I meant when I posted my response to your vacation blog. I don’t believe that this is just a place where if you don’t have a positive comment you shouldn’t post at all. Your control can’t or won’t be perfect all the time. Sometimes the negative comment from someone else lets you know that you are not alone in your feelings. I sometimes feel that my doctor and other health care workers feel that diabetics just don’t try hard enough when nothing could be further from the truth. As a fellow depressed diabetic I am comforted by the fact that others are having problems with their control and I am not alone in my struggle. Having depression on top of diabetes is just the icing on the cake. It makes everything more complicated. I also think that almost everyone has lows once in a while and the best we can do is to grit our teeth and live through them. Sometimes I live through mine with less grace than I would like but I get through. Please know that there are a lot of people out here who feel as you do. As they say of old age – diabetic living is not for sissies. Hang in there. Every day is a new chance to take back your control and your life from diatetes.