The Unpredictable Stability of Diabetes

Not too long ago, I came down with an unknown viral bug that knocked me off my game for a couple weeks. It wasn't immediately diagnosed, but turned out being a viral stomach flu that was probably complicated by COVID-19 from more than a month earlier.

After 10 days of being unable to work and do much of anything, I turned a corner and started moving toward recovery.

This all made me realize how much I appreciate (at times) the world of life with diabetes.

As much as type 1 diabetes can seem the opposite of stable, it's also predictable at times in that instability. And that in itself, might very well be comfortable when compared to other health issues life throws at us.

By that, I mean that even when your blood sugars are jumping High or diving Low without any rhyme or reason, there's a certain amount of familiarity that comes with it.

  • If you're too High, take insulin. Maybe the injected insulin or pump boluses take too long because insulin isn't too quick-acting, so you opt for inhaled Afrezza insulin that works much faster to start bringing your blood sugars down.
  • If you're Low, drink juice or eat something. And as frustrating and scary as the hypo may be in the moment — let's not kidd ourselves: moments, plural — that treatment will work soon enough.
  • Navigating the Why of a High or Low can be a challenge in itself. Maybe a kinked cannula, or clogged insulin pump tubing. Or insulin isn't doing what it should. Or your body isn't absorbing the insulin the best it needs to.
  • Same on the Low end, from too much insulin or exercise or not enough food, or whatever else life throws at you and T1D doesn't adjust well enough.

All of that being said, there's still a level of certainty. Even if it's the process of elimination that allows you to figure out what's happening in your diabetes.

With the recent stomach bug, it was anything but clear what was going on.

A migraine headache anytime I moved. That seemed to trigger neasau and vomiting, which fed the migraine. And no, I've never been a migraine person.

Weakness, lightheadedness, and so much more.

And no one could clearly diagnose the culprit. It was a "wait and see," a sort of "well, hopefully the meds starting working soon..."

I missed the ability to figure out what was happening based on my symptoms, like I can with T1D.

Maybe it's just the fact that I've been doing T1D for almost 40 years now. And so I'm familiar with it. I'm comfortable with a lot of what it brings, even the most scary life-altering complications — because I've been hearing about them since childhood. And pondering and fearing, dreading and accepting. And mentally prepping myself for the worst.

All of that is a sort of slow burn, compared to the sudden unknown illness that rocked me and kept me in bed for 2 weeks.

Predictable, stable. Not words I'd often use to describe T1D. But it's all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

More accurately, maybe it's Unpredictable Stability. Or something along those lines.

Here's to 2023. And whatever the next chapters bring in life.


Rick Phillips said…
Mike, I agree with you on so many levels. I like the fact that I know what might / will happen when i eat to much, exercise to little or sit to long. I know what a two mile walk will do to my blood sugar, and I what a rage bolus will do.

With RA, it is sneaky. It shows up, destroys my life for a few days and goes away.

But when will it show up? Like when I am on vacation? Doing a project? Who knows? I have been doing it for 23 years and I have no hint when it comes or goes. Worse yet I have no idea when or how it will goes away.
Really great points, Mike. When wrestling with a medical unknown, the sucky parts of diabetes feel like a welcome respite.
So glad you are recovering and thank you for sharing this. I could really relate to the predictability of the unpredictable.
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