Did I ever mention how much I hate, how much I loathe, how much I despise having Type 1 Diabetes?
For those who don’t know there are two types of Diabetes Mellitus: Type 1 Juvenile-Onset and Type 2 Adult-Onset. Type 1 is characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin. I treat my diabetes with a pump. Others take insulin shots throughout the day. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to produce enough insulin. People with Type 2 must follow a careful diet and take oral medicine to help regulate blood sugar levels. No shots are required unless your control deteriorates.
No matter what type you have, IT SUCKS. Diabetes adds tremendous unwanted stress to my day.
1). I have a 1:30 meeting. My blood sugar is 260, running high. That means I’ll need insulin to lower it below 150. My body needs 30 minutes to absorb and process a shot. Unfortunately, my meeting starts before then. Now I have 3 choices: I can be rude and bring food to the meeting, be late or eat afterwards. The tricky part is ensuring I don’t have a low during the meeting if I miss my meal. All I want is eat and go, just like anyone else. Lunchtime becomes a science experiment and needlessly stressful.
2) I decide to relax behind the TV after a long day. I was distracted while taking my dinnertime shot and realize I’ve overdosed on insulin. A sudden low is coming on. When this happens, I feel shaky, dizzy, see stars and look drunk. Psychologically, I feel irritated and absent to my surroundings. My shitty day just got worse. Untreated lows can be life threatening. Yet again, diabetes ruins my relaxation time.
3) My friend and I plan to walk for an hour, then find a Cafe for a meal. 20 minutes into our walk, we bump into coworkers, who invite us to hike through the park. My friend says I should be spontaneous and join them. Unfortunately, I can’t be spontaneous when it comes to unplanned exercise. I already took insulin thinking I would be eating at a cafe, not hiking up a park hill. If I go anyway, I risk an insulin reaction caused by the sudden exercise. Now I must delay all my friends while I eat or refuse to participate entirely. A normal person could happily change their plans, but my diabetes creates a socially awkward moment and unwanted attention.
Diabetes also embarrasses me in the bedroom.
Attractive Girl: What’s that weird bandage near your stomach?
Me: It’s my infusion set… it is a device used to put insulin in my body because I’m diabetic.
Attractive Girl: My grandpa has diabetes, but he doesn’t have that.
Me: Your grandpa probably has Type 2 diabetes. I have Type 1, which requires me to regulate insulin manually.
Attractive Girl: Why don’t you take shots?
Me: That’s why I use the pump. It gives me a constant flow of insulin throughout the day. I can take additional insulin with meals.
( INTIMATE MOMENT RUINED BY SCIENCE LESSON! )
I almost never have a girl in my apartment. When I do, I want it to be special. Inevitably, we must have the “diabetes talk”.
Type 1 diabetes also affects sexual performance. If my blood sugar is too low or too high, I can’t climax. In some cases, I’ve had to stop having sex because I’m going low. I wind up running to the refrigerator for some Gatorade. It would be comical if it wasn’t so sad. Yet again, Diabetes ruins a pleasurable moment.
The regimented lifestyle, constant blood sugar tests and careful diet create constant stress and anxiety.
If I was stranded in the woods without insulin, I would be comatose within 7 days; probably dead within 15. If I happened to be rescued on day 12, the extended period of hyperglycemia could result in permanent disabilities.
What do I want others to say? Every medical and psychological professional tells me the same thing: “You can howl at the moon, but your diabetes is not going to disappear”. I HATE THIS RESPONSE. Tell me something I don’t know!
Yes, I can live normally under certain conditions. I need access to medical care, insulin and pump supplies. I need to eat whenever. I need some semblance of a daily routine. If in a social situation, I might have to dictate plans instead of going with the flow.
Most of all, understand neither poor behavior nor bad habits caused this disease: I got it by SHIT LUCK.
Remember, my pancreas is part DEAD and yours isn’t. That makes all the difference in the world.
Updated for clarity July 30, 2015.