Yesterday was…crappy. In addition to having to deal with a few aggravating issues throughout the day, I had to deal with a nurse that really pissed me off. She was at my Endocrinologist’s office, and I’ve never met with her before (nor will I again…I made sure of that). As she’s going through her 20 questions, and after hearing a few unfavorable answers, I was met with several blank and incredulous stares…and then had the nerve to give me some rather stiff words! Look, lady, I come to you for help and advice, not judgement. I realize how easy it is for doctors to preach to us about ratios and calculations and solutions with scientific precision when it’s their job to do so, but I do not sit around all day evaluating every minute change in my being…nor do I want to! I have MUCH more exciting things to do! At that moment, after the day I had, it took every ounce of me not to slap her and say “Walk a freakin’ mile in MY shoes, hon!” (I actually would’ve used a more derogatory term referencing k-9s of the female persuasion, but I’m trying to keep things family-friendly here). So, little Miss THANG got me to thinking… In the past 20 years, regarding my diabetes, I’ve heard some pretty stupid and harsh comments come out of the mouths of people around me that have had some pretty lasting effects. I used to get hurt or angry by those comments until I realized that unless I taught them differently, I’d have no one but me to blame for their ignorance. So, I’m going to step up on my soapbox for a minute and clear up a few misconceptions that might be floating around out there regarding diabetes and how I got to be where I am today.
- We are not Julia Roberts! Have you ever seen that movie Steel Magnolias? I hate it. Despise it. In fact, if you own it, just burn it. Although this movie has a great story about friendship to tell, it also gives anyone with diabetes a bad name! This movie has set such a low standard for what the general population believes is normal for someone with diabetes, and I’m bothered that it’s the first thought placed in some people’s minds. Mind you, everyone is effected differently, but for the most part, we don’t all bust out in a grand mal seizure when we go into a sugar low, nor do we get sent to the hospital on the verge of death by merely thinking of having a baby! Most of us tend to lead very normal and healthy lives w/out anyone ever having a clue that anything is “different”. I also know several people with diabetes who have had children and they are doing just fine, thank you!
- We didn’t always bring this on ourselves. Yes, there are some people who tend to get diabetes b/c they’ve gained a lot of weight (whether from diet or some other health issues). These people can sometimes control their sugar levels with diet and exercise and the diabetes will go away (Type 2 Diabetes).*** I have what’s called Type 1 (or insulin dependent) and it is more auto-immune. It only affects 5% of all people with diabetes, and there is no cure for it. When I was a teenager, strolling along in my bad 90’s hair and tight-rolled jeans, my body took one look at my pancreas and said, “You know what? I don’t like you anymore,” and proceeded to go ape-sh** on it’s ass…for no reason and with no warning. (Who am I kidding? I’m not really good at the whole family-friendly thing…) No one else in my family had ever had it, so it’s not necessarily hereditary (for me), and nothing I had done up to that point led to this change. Now, my body can’t make insulin anymore and I have to “shoot up” as I jokingly call it with an insulin shot every time I eat.
- Complications can vary. Although the doctors drill it into our heads that good glucose control can prevent many of the effects of diabetes, it’s not a guarantee. Some people get lucky and have no complications at all! While others can have perfect control and still have complications later in life. Not only that, but the complications one person experiences vary greatly from the next. Just because Joe Schmo went blind 10 years into his experience, doesn’t mean I will too. I will be the first to admit that I was not perfect with my control. Everyone has moments in their lives when their health is NOT the top priority for them, and yes, I had several. However, I never ignored it or pretended not to have it, and feel that I stayed pretty healthy most of the time I’ve had this. Twenty years with this disease is a pretty long time no matter how you look at it, and it will do some damage. I, unfortunately became one of the unlucky ones who got hit with a pretty good share of the damages, and that’s where we are today.
- A pancreas transplant is not a cure. As I mentioned earlier, there IS no cure. If I said otherwise, I will rephrase it… a pancreas transplant is a treatment and is not considered a cure b/c I will still have to take the anti-rejection meds for the rest of my life. If there were no meds to take anymore, THEN it would be considered a cure. And even though kidney transplants have been proven to be successful for years, the pancreas transplant is still in an experimental stage. It’s been successfully done, but many people who have it done to get rid of their diabetes, often relapse and get diabetes again. No one has been able to figure out why, esp if it’s an auto-immune issue, so we’re hoping that this will work for me! If anything, and I get 5 years out of it, that’s 5 years without diabetes and the damages that go with it! I’ll take it!
So, on behalf of all people out there who just aren’t sure about the truths, just ask! There’s no shame in it, and trust me, you’ll do much less harm. 🙂
***Correction: I was misinformed. There is also no cure for Type II Diabetes, however, they can manage their sugars w/out any medication by regulating their diet and excercise.
What I’m thankful for today:
1. My Dad for coming to get me when I ran out of gas. Thank you Dad!
2. Patience and grace. (My nurse should be thankful for this too!)
3. Ellen Degeneres. Her book is making me giggle…which erased all the stress from earlier in the day. 🙂