Friday, April 6, 2007

Enduring diabetes

When do we get to a point where our diabetes control is like the 3 a.m. hour? When, no matter how much coffee we drink, music we drown ourselves in, or activities we occupy ourselves with, sleep comes crashing down and covers us like a blanket.

Tonight, I find myself asking this question. The comparison to diabetes is unmistakable - rigorous blood tests eight times a day, calculating each carb, recording every result to fill up the blank spots on the log sheet... It goes on. But eventually, you get to a point where the need to crash is overwhelming. You just want to pull that blanket over your head and forget about the diabetes for a little while.

I've lived that life for too long and let myself pull that blanket over my head much too often. Every couple months, excitement clouds the brain and I begin a renewed journey of rigorous blood testing. A new log sheet erases all traces of what had come and gone, past testing triumphs and trials. Another chance to halt the neuropathy and potentially encroaching complications from settling in on "my" world. So, it begins.

The numbers begin filling in the blank spots for each passing day. At first, it may seem like a rollercoaster. Late night testing to secure a stabile basal rate. Adjusting boluses to coincide with food intakes, and limiting what had become excess. Soon, trends become apparent. It's a balancing act, as any seasoned diabetic knows - but when you finally balance it out, you feel a sense of pride. You're making a difference. Flashes of anger explode momentarily when unexpected high tests make appearances, but you begrudgingly adjust and move on to get back in line.

But so often, it seems, the endurance isn't there and your soul can get tired. What has become a routine begins falling by the waste-side. For me, the black pouch with blood meter, strips, and picker doesn't appear as much at my side or on the desk, a visible reminder of what needs to be done. It's almost as if my subconscious wants to forget. Snack munching returns, no bowls or label reading, just hands in the bag. A few jellybeans here or there.

Why do we revert back into this abyss of uncontrolled diabetes? That hour when we have to fall asleep, pull a blanket over our heads? We all should know we're not invincible - those experiencing some signs of complications know that even better. Fellow d-blogger Scott captured it perfectly: "It’s like taking shifts on guard duty - except your shift never ends. There is no one to take over for you." And yes, sometimes your soul gets tired of that constant duty.

Maybe that's where faith and hope come in. The results aren't tangible. We may test a dozen times a day, write down the results and ultimately watch our A1Cs dip lower, but we never know exactly how this disease is affecting our bodies. What damage it may or may not be causing. The fear is enough to drive you nuts, but that fear can be crippling. The internal struggle I've grappled with the most over the years has been preventing that notion of fear from transforming into hopelessness. It can always get better, and it's never too late. Everyone dealing with this disease has to believe that. Whether it's with the help of a loving and supportive spouse, best friend, church family, or counselor, it's important to find a way to receive that hope. Diabetes isn't fair, but the denial felt in our teen years can be even more dangerous as we get older. I've learned that lesson, and continue remembering that every day that I struggle to maintain tight control.

So, even though now I find myself tired, and slipping into that 3 a.m.-type slumber, I know there's enough reason to keep testing and doing what I need to. This is only a dip in the rollercoaster ride, not a crash and burn scenario. Similar reasoning can be extended to anything in life really, but in the d-world - a cure. Someday, we'll have one. Greater minds will prevail to pinpoint the cause and cure for diabetes. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but all we can do is pass along our knowledge today and have faith that our stories - those trials and tribs we've all faced - can make a difference in the life of someone who will live to see that cure materialize.

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