Tuesday, January 19, 2010

All or Nothing

That's how it so often seems for those in the Diabetes World.

Either, you give Diabetes your ALL which means you never ever get to even think about stopping continuous testing and carb counting and worrying, or you give it NOTHING and watch as your health and life falls apart. It's All or Nothing.

But it doesn't have to be.

True: It feels as though we NEVER get a break from this management lifestyle. We ALWAYS must keep in mind: our blood sugar numbers, our carb counts, our activity levels, our pump site or injection site uses, amount of supplies on tap, the cost of healthcare, our jobs that provide the all-significant health insurance we just can't afford to live without. It's mentally overwhelming, ALL the time. Sometimes we can hide it or push ahead, but even if we're not hit right away there's some emotional aspect of diabetes building up that will eventually boil over the filled-too-high boiling water on the stove. It's bound to happen eventually.

Sometimes, we just need a break. Even if we're not allowed one, we have to induldge that craving and take the plunge. For our own sanity.

I go on these breaks from time to time. (gasp... oh my!) Yes, I'm lazy and live by the Procrastinator's Creed quite often. But it's not just that. It's a simple need for a rest, even a short-lived one. Testing 8-12+ times a day goes down the tube. My carb counting isn't accurate, but a guestimate. I let the diabetes worries just pass on by for some temporary relaxation in that aspect of life. We're not talking weeks on end here. Simply, a couple hours or a day or so. Maybe a week, scattered management here and there. We're not talking about sidestepping all needed care all the time, where suddenly I feel as though I'm no longer a diabetic. No, the testing still happens and the pump is still attached. It's just my focus 24/7 as is so often the case.

Horror stories tell us that if you don't stay under control, you're going to lose a leg or go blind or face failing kidneys. Yes, with continued mismanagement and lack of care this is probably inevitable. But if you're A1C results and regular care is sufficient, these scattered breaks won't kill you.

(For The Record: I am not a medical professional and am not advocating anything as written above or below; simply, this is MY own perspective as a 30-year-old Type 1 diabetic for 25 years based on my own experiences. Read: Disclaimer, if you ever choose to hold me personally accountable for what's written in this blogosphere that you've decided to adapt to your own life.)

While it doesn't solve anything, it does offer a brief piece of mind and soul and I'm pretty confident that my numbers are accurate enough that I'm not spinning out of control while auto-pilot is on. After 25 (almsot 26) years of this lifestyle, I feel qualified and well-versed in my inner workings to know when something is up and a test is needed or something needs monitoring or adjustment.

I trust that. And knowing that it's only a brief hiatus, it does me well knowing I can "get away" with it without damning myself to the ever-present uncertainty of that complications abyss. Maybe I'm not the most responsible diabetic out there. But I feel like I'd simply lose my mind if I didn't drift away from constant-control every once in a while.

All or nothing? Not exactly. There's a middleground.

That Middle Ground applies to other aspects of our D-World, as well. Recent news relating to The Cure comes to mind. As most likely now, the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) has been making headlines recently in their non-cure focused avenues. Like partnering up to make insulin pumping more effective. Like working toward an artificial pancreas that could make daily living more manageable for diabetics. New treatments for both Diabetes and MS.

Some have applauded these efforts and initiatives wholeheartedly; some have criticized them as not being Cure-Focused and taking away what should be the JDRF's first priority; others have had mixed feelings for the above and other reasons.

To me, it signals what I see as another sign of that all-too-common All or Nothing Mentality.

"If the JDRF isn't focused on the cure, then it's not doing what it should be. They should be devoting ALL of their resources to finding a cure, and if not then the mission statement should change."

I find this to be a reckless train of thought. Like my above self-diagnosed need for a periodic break, there's room for middle ground. We need these public, private, and nonprofit partnerships. It's going to take ALL of us to find a cure, but we don't know how. Every piece of research we do to helping treat this disease, is a small little piece of the puzzle that could somehow reveals that GOLDEN NUGGET needed to complete the puzzle. We should be supporting that investment.

Sure, I'd like to see a cure developed. Yes, it's frustrating that there's isn't a cure after all these years. That docs have been selling us the myth for decades that a cure is only "Five Years Away." That it's coming SOON. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Maybe I'm more cynical as someone living with the D for 25+ years, or that I'm a journalist. I live life by the notion that they're won't be a cure in my lifetime, but if there is - WOW. What a great surprise! Sure, I have the hope we may see one. But I don't live my life based on that hope, and it's not going to shatter me if it doesn't happen anytime soon. None of that means I'm not going to invest into cure-research, though. Or just as important research that can mean something to so many of us, short of finding a cure.

In the meantime, before that times comes when a cure is withing a tangible distance and we know that for a fact, I find it reassuring that the JDRF and Others are working toward a practical daily "cure" away from some of the headaches and hassles we deal with now. So that someday not too far off, we may not find ourselves taking a break as often because the treatments and management tools are so much better based on what's being done. All the while, that foundation for Finding a Cure is getting stronger.

Personally, I'm excited about that Middle Ground, in between those two extremes of All or Nothing, because it offers so much possibility.

1 comment:

Casey said...

I agree, the middle ground is better than no ground.

I am scared of the artificial pancreas. Just like I was scared of the pump. We get complacent with the management tools we are used to.

I will probably be scared of the cure too when it is developed.


PS: I take breaks too, but usually only a meal at a time. I start to feel guilty about not putting 125% of my effort into managing my health which in turn could hurt my husband, family, and friends. But that is a whole other blog post ;)