We are nearing the close of another year, so this month we are taking a look back to see what challenges and personal bests we’ve been able to achieve over the past twelve months. First up…
Question: What has been your biggest diabetes challenge over the past year?
Responses: People talked about predominantly about the physical and the psychological challenges of diabetes.
With respect to more physically based challenges, Andy noted that his biggest challenge has been trying to figure out how manage his diabetes to complete cycling long treks with limited stops. He said he keeps glucose tabs and energy bars stashed in his jersey, with some extras easily reached in the trunk bag of his bike. Andy also noted that it has been a challenge to check his Dexcom and figure out basal rates for such long outings, but that he feels he has learned how to better figure this aspect of diabetes. The user Diabetic Events also noted that figuring out the insulin and exercise regime has been a challenge for her and her daughter with type 1. They are trying to work their way up to running, without her daughter having hypos. They expressed, “We’re still working on it, but we’ll get there!!!” Amy noted that the physical challenge for her was managing the switch back and forth from intensely active weekend to more sedentary work weeks. She explained further that simply switching different basal rate profiles on the pump does work, because she is often still affected by the activity of the weekend and dealing with lows. Finally, Michelle talked about her biggest challenge of hiking the West Coast Trail over 7 days, with heavy backpack and an unpredictable trail. She relays, that she “couldn’t have done it without support from my trail buddies reminding me to check my blood sugar and sharing their snacks when I ran out of power bars by day 3.”
With respect to more psychologically based challenges, Sarah shared her feelings about transitioning from being newly diagnosed to the realization that diabetes might be a life-long deal. She wrote: “as I enter my third year with type 1, I am saying goodbye to my honeymoon and accepting that I need way more insulin than I did in the early days. Juggling that (ie. getting used to larger bolus numbers and daily totals) and trying to quell fears that more insulin will lead to weight gain, has been a huge mental and emotional strain. Also, I am making the shift from being a “new diabetic” to just a plain old, rest-of-my-life Type 1. I no longer feel like I’m (entitled to be) grieving, and the idea of this-bullshit-is-forever is sinking in. Sort of. It also all still feels surreal.” While, Katherine expressed that her biggest challenge over the past year has been her struggle with diabulimia. She wrote that, “There’s not a lot of acknowledgement of diabulimia, often you hear ‘do what you’re supposed to do’ people mean well but don’t really understand. I know that a lot of my diabetic friends can’t wrap their minds around some of the things I end up doing due to the diabulimia,” and that she is doing much better than she was a year ago.
Virtue’s Take: A sincere thanks to everyone for the open and honest responses. A lot of times when people talk about the challenges of diabetes it seems easier to talk about the physical, and the emotional side of diabetes gets left to the side a bit… but, they are both really important and they affect each other a lot! So, it’s nice that there was a rounded conversation about the challenges of 2012.
With respect to diabulimia, I think that Katherine is right in that it does not generally get a lot of discussion time. For that reason I thought I’d put out a few resources:
Lee Ann Thill, who was featured in the Diabetes Mine post, has been pretty candid about her experiences of diabulimia. You can find posts about that topic and her life generally with diabetes on her blog, The Butter Compartment.
Earlier this year Maryjeanne Hunt published a memoir about her experiences with diabulimia, called Eating to Lose: Healing from a life of diabulimia
Diabulimia Hotline website: http://diabulimiahelpline.org/
Finally, the other major thing that struck me about the responses this week is that they were generally not about mastering any one thing, but more about ‘works in progress’. It was about figuring stuff out and not necessarily about definitive goals, losses, or gains. That can be a difficult space, because you might not know exactly where you stand, but on the other hand it means that one bad day is not the be all and end all… you can always nail it tomorrow.
What was your diabetes related challenge for 2012? Feel free to post below in the comment section!