November 14th is World Diabetes Day. I'd been thinking about this post from March 2016 a bit recently and wanted to offer a different perspective when talking about the hard facts of living with a chronic condition. I've lived with Type 1 diabetes for a little of 15 years and every day throws up new challenges and new things to learn.
Diabetes is sitting in your kitchen alone at 2am, eating because you've woken up shaking as your body alerts you to another episode of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose).
Diabetes is lonely.
Diabetes is feeling like every snack and every meal is a challenge to be overcome. Counting carb values, measuring blood glucose, calculating insulin doses and sometimes just hoping for the best.
Diabetes is relentless.
Diabetes is sticking yourself with a needle about 50 times a week, whether it's finger-prick tests for glucose levels, or a cannula in your stomach to deliver insulin.
Diabetes is invasive.
Diabetes is desperately searching for a shop that sells batteries, because your insulin pump is almost our of power and without it you'll almost certainly be hospitalised inside 12 hours.
Diabetes is frantic.
Diabetes is trips to your GP, to eye screening appointments, to hospital clinics, and to pharmacies.
Diabetes is clinical.
Diabetes is that unquenchable thirst, stiff joints, that shattered feeling and the blurred vision that can only mean your blood glucose is way too high.
Diabetes is tiring.
Diabetes is doing the same thing two days in a row and getting hugely different results for reasons you can't possibly figure out.
Diabetes is frustrating.
Diabetes is being reminded of your own mortality whenever you go for a check up. Your eyesight, kidneys function, feet, and overall sensation are all things you fight to protect and preserve on a daily basis.
Diabetes is serious.
Diabetes is being stereotyped by media more concerned with headlines and sensationalism that science and fact. It's being the punchline to jokes that simply aren't funny.
Diabetes is misunderstood.
Diabetes is planning and packing a bag full of supplies (and spares) for even one night away from home, let alone a proper holiday.
Diabetes is not for the spontaneous.
Diabetes is being susceptible to your environment - knowing that the temperature, time of day, or your level of exertion (to name just three) can affect your blood glucose.
Diabetes is all encompassing.
Diabetes is treating yourself to a takeaway on a Friday night and hoping you get your insulin dose correct otherwise you'll be paying for it in the middle of the night.
Diabetes is hard.
Diabetes is a huge strain on your mental well-being - and with all these things to contend with every minute of every day, it's hardly a surprise.
Diabetes is exhausting.
Diabetes is having friends to rely on who help you through the tough days, and celebrate the successes with you.
Diabetes is a community.
Diabetes is celebrating small wins - like waking up with a 'normal' blood glucose reading which never seems to happen as often as it should.
Diabetes is a success (sometimes!)
Diabetes is an individual condition and doesn't affect everyone in exactly the same way. What works for some doesn't work for others.
Diabetes is like this (for me).
This isn't to suggest that it's doom and gloom the entire time because it really isn't. I can eat what I want, do what I want and manage to look after myself pretty well. But diabetes is very much an "invisible illness" that needs 24/7 management and that's a huge amount of self-care for anyone to take on. It might look easy but it takes a lot of hard work to make it appear that way.
If you've got this far, thanks for reading. Happy World Diabetes Day!