Type 1 Diabetes Journey: A Matter of Perspective
I got my first shot when I was five.
I mean, it wasn’t my first, but it was the first one that I was old enough to remember and resent. The office was bright, my doctor was telling bad jokes, and then she said she’d give me a lollipop before I left. Even at the time I thought that was suspicious (especially because my Dad had just read “Hansel and Gretel” to me a few days earlier). Then she told me to look at my mom, who kept making faces in hopes that I’d stare in her direction, and not see the doctor rummaging through her drawer of childhood torture devices.
It didn’t work.
I don’t remember any pain, just feeling a pinch, them slowly turning my head and seeing the syringe sticking out of my arm, and the expression on my doctor’s face like she’d just been caught stealing money from my wallet. For two seconds I just stared, not really understanding what was going on. Then I started crying.
I cried the entire way home. On my way out of the office, I tried to tell the other kids what was going to happen to them through a wall of pathetic sniffles and wails.
In hindsight, that probably didn’t help anyone.
That was a long time ago. I’ve been a diabetic for ten years and counting, and now I’ve stuck more needles into my body than most people will in their entire life. At this point, I find the general public’s issue with them hilarious. I don’t get it anymore. Why is it most people could watch someone scrape the skin off their knee—both more painful and bloody—than look close-up at someone getting a vaccination, or having their blood drawn? What makes it so unnerving? I remember seeing “Saw 2” in theaters and watching the audience writhe in their seats when a character was thrown into a needle pit (much to my own amusement), but not so much as wince during any other moment in the blood-n-guts jamboree.
I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. After a while a person can get used to anything. There’s a statistic out there that says people who win the lottery and people who become paraplegic eventually reach a similar level of happiness. So basically, no matter what life throws at you, the body and mind adjust to compensate, for better and for worse.
In terms of diabetes, I’ve had things pretty easy. Managing my blood sugars has been smooth sailing since a few weeks after diagnosis. In fact, I used to find myself questioning why so many others seemed to struggle to control it. Don’t get me wrong—if you don’t have health insurance, or live in an area where medicine is not readily available; my heart goes out to you. I’ve been fortunate enough to not have worry about those things (yet). So it’s somewhat ironic that I’ve spent the majority of my life acting as if diabetes isn’t a big deal, and now I spend the majority of my time reminding people that it is.
And it certainly is; it just took me until my latest H1C to remember. Since diagnosis, the highest my H1C had ever been was a 6.5, with the majority of my numbers falling somewhere between 5.8 and 6.0.
That’s probably why I almost fell out of my chair when my doctor said my H1C was 7.9.
Now, I knew I’d been having issues lately (it’s taking a lot more insulin to get my numbers where they used to be), but it didn’t hit me just how much my sugars had been slipping until this. Some people are probably going to be surprised that this is all it took to get to me (an H1C this high would mean my BS was running at an average of 180), but when you’ve been doing good for a long time, changes like this make an impact.
It made me realize that sometimes, people can get jaundiced by their own problems. I have. I’ve hit a point that I literally cannot remember life before diabetes—it’s just a piece of me. People can become comfortable with almost anything, and given enough time they stop seeing hardships in the same light. I had begun to ignore growing problems, because for so long my disease had been safely tucked away into a cubby hole I’d built for it. I’ve realized I need to adapt my behavior as my diabetes changes its own.
It’s not just people who can grow complacent. Businesses can do the same thing; begin to overlook the flaws in their design simply because they’ve been doing well for so long. That’s a big part of our beliefs—the machine (diabetic charities) is not running the way it needs to if we want to produce the cure we desire. We need to recognize the flaws in the system, fix them, and hope to spur new energy and life in the cause. It’s not like they aren’t trying, just like I didn’t intentionally slip with my blood sugars. It’s merely time to move out of the comfort zone, and start getting radical.
As for me personally, I’ve realized I need to start putting more care back into my disease, and stop running it on autopilot. Just because something worked ten years ago does not mean it will work in the future. There comes a time when you need shift focus and try something new, and while I’ll be trying to do so in my personal life, the JDCA will be trying on a grander scale here.