Monday, November 20, 2006

Severe diabetes

”You’ve got very severe diabetes, haven’t you?” Ever heard comments like that? I have several times, especially when I have been “stupid” enough to open-heartedly tell people about the challenges of this disease, and what can happen if a low BG is not caught in time. I have never really known what to respond to this type of question. The reasons for this are multiple. Sure, I have had my share of problems with diabetes during the last 12-13 years, but these problems have always come in waves, and not with equal intensity. The first 4 years of my D-life were quite an ease, so things haven’t always been that difficult D-wise. When the issues were most extreme (the last couple of years with Insulatard® (NPH) as the basal insulin), I had several severe hypoglycemic episodes causing several trips to the ER. I had to drastically increase the number of tests done pr day, but as this didn’t eliminate the trips to the ER, I guess it is only natural for third parties to think that I must suffer from severe diabetes. After all, people always seem to know another diabetic who “doesn’t test much, just take the shots, and never has any problems”. I cannot help but think – and thinking back on my trouble-free years too – that when you do not test much, chances are that you don’t notice those highs or lows that ought to have been corrected, e.g. by change in your general insulin regime, thus generally you are a bit on the high side some times and on the low side at others.

I guess it all points down to the eyes that see in the given situations. The reason I am ranting about this today is that I was asked the above mentioned question during the weekend. On Saturday we had our soccer team’s end-of-the-year-/Christmas party, and at some point I got to chat about diabetes with one of my team mates, getting this question (I cannot remember the exact context, but that doesn’t really matter anyway). She is a teacher and one of her students was diagnosed a couple of years ago. A recent change in his medicine had also caused his levels to fluctuate greatly. I told her about some of the difficulties I have had with diabetes, and answered some of her questions about diabetes in general. Having talked for a while, she suddenly said in a serious tone: “It is quite a difficult condition to handle, isn’t it?” Apparently, she had come to realize that with diabetes thing aren’t always plain black and white, and just to follow some “simple” rules to avoid problems is not the way it works. If this was really what happened, then all I can say is: Mission accomplished! :-) It is not always easy to manage diabetes, and the more people are aware of this the better, especially for the sake of the diabetic children who may not be able to “defend” themselves against the verbal attacks and judgments that ignorant people can come up with (I still remember being told: “Ah, you’ve probably been sinning (not religiously meant), haven’t you?” if I had a high reading, and regardless if the reason for that high was that I had had something sweet or not, I would always feel that I was being convicted for not taking proper care of myself).

Anyway, the party was great, and we were still able to perform pretty well in the indoor games that we had to play on Sunday. Most importantly we had a draw with one of our local rivals, 2-2 (the same result as last week, by the way), and a win of 2-0 against the other local rival, the Football Club of Odense (OB). Maybe it was because we had such strong support with us – despite the late night party, a “fan club” of ours of 7 people (team mates and coaches) had taken the 30 min drive to cheer on us :-) I don’t know. I just know that this past weekend seemed far too short, as one of my team mates put it when we were driving back towards Odense in the dark, rainy afternoon yesterday: “I wish tomorrow (i.e., today) would have been Sunday – but then again, I guess we would just have gotten around to do something else tonight that would make us feel just the same by the end of that day too :-)”.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Mission accomplished indeed!

When I run into that "severe" or "you must have it pretty bad" type of thing, I respond with that classic "pregnancy" line.

"It's like being pregnant. Either you are, or you aren't. There is no degree or severity of pregnancy - diabetes is like that".

That seems to get the point across sometimes when all else fails.

Well done on the games, and yes, the weekend was much too short.

Chris said...

Emma has only had diabetes for 7 weeks now and even in these early stages we have been introduced to some ignorrant comments. Such as since she was a big baby at birth (11 pounds 8 ounces) so thats why she has diabetes. And i hate when someone konws emma has type 1 and they start in on how they know someone with type 2 and figure emma's future will pan out just like thiers.
I really liked your post. ANd will be checking in for now on.

Heidi said...

Scott - never thought about comparing diabetes to pregnancy, but it is actually a good one, so I might just use that next time :-)

Chris - thanks for stepping by and commenting! I've checked out your blog too, and sure will be stopping by from time to time. I admire how you, and not least Emma, handle this new twist to her life. Keep up with it, and fight those ignorant comments the best you can! :-)

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