Fear and the Long Delayed Switcharoo
This is a personal post by JDCA Associate Editor Drew.
“You’re still using that crap?”
I can’t imagine how many times my friend Dave had said this to me throughout college. He was always looking at my Novolog and Lantus pens, which stuck out of my back pocket like an extra limb.
“Yeah,” I would often say. “It works for me.”
Dave’s father was a type 1 diabetic who had years of trouble and inconvenience with various forms of treatment. Regardless of what new method he had tried at managing his diabetes, the results were more of the same: disappointment and frustration. They’re feelings that all diabetics feel regardless of how well they control their condition, so when I heard these things I felt a wave of sympathy.
“My Dad uses the pump,” Dave would insist. “It has changed everything for him. Everything is under such tighter control. He’s finally not worried about it anymore.”
“I’ve heard of it,” I would say. “I just don’t know if I’m ready for that.”
This song and dance went on for years. Almost the same conversations over and over, with one small difference in how the conversation would start.
“You’re still not on the pump?”
“No, I’ll check it out eventually.”
That was a lie. And it was a lie I had told constantly to my helpful diabetic educator. It was a feigned interest for change that was overwhelmed by a sense of fear. Every time I felt the desire to try something new, nagging questions that pertained to having to re-do what I knew counteracted it.
I’d mentioned in a previous post my fear of changing the diabetes team that led me through my diagnosis and got me started on my life with type 1 diabetes. Despite being able to make that change, this felt a lot different to me. This was something in direct control of my condition—something that would literally be like another limb, not the figurative limb of pens poking out of my testing kit.
But I began really thinking about the hesitance that stagnated my process of changing to a more attentive and caring diabetes team. In retrospect all the time spent debating a necessary, inevitable move seemed silly, even a bit careless and neglectful. The more I thought about it, the worst I felt for being so against switching things up.
I’ve now been on the pump for three weeks after years and years of avoiding it. While many diabetics might be skimming this and wonder “big deal, what took so long?”, I’m hoping, perhaps even knowing, that others will understand. While substantial change can be scary in a life without diabetes, in a life with diabetes it can be overwhelming.
The other morning I woke up and instinctively rolled over, bringing my arms up to rub my eyes. As my hands came up I ripped my infusion site out of my stomach and a small amount of blood began to come out of the hole where the site once was. My initial reaction was anger—the sudden wave of impulsive feeling that made me wonder if the switch was even worth it.
But making a change isn’t easy. And diabetes definitely isn’t easy. Combining the two can be exhausting, a constant process of adjustments and trial and error where you’re constantly learning how to be better. Knowing that the stability of your life and health take precedent over sudden anger for inconvenience is the way I look to ensure myself that all of this will be worth it in the end.
With the JDCA I’m constantly advocating for goal-oriented cure research that will produce a Practical Cure for diabetes by 2025. In the meantime, advanced forms of treatment are something that will need to hold us over. But we shouldn’t be content with merely improving ways to manage an at times unmanageable condition. We should strive for something more, like developments that truly begin to show that we can eliminate this disease from the world and help all those that suffer from it.
I recently ran into Dave at a fraternity reunion where we ate and drank unlimited sushi and beer. He glanced and saw the tubing running out of my stomach.
“No way. You finally did it?”
“Yeah. I probably should have listened to you a while ago.”
Photo from Flickr: DeathByBokeh.