Like living with an uncaged tiger

Like living with an uncaged tiger

Numbers rule the universe.


Do you know what the worst thing about living with type 1 diabetes is? You never get a day off. Diabetes doesn’t go on holiday. Every day the numbers game starts over. Diabetics obsess with numbers. It’s hard not to because diabetes is just a numbers game. The first question I ask myself as I wake up is “what’s the number?”. It’s also the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. All day long I deal with numbers. How many grams of carbs are in this meal? How many units of insulin should I take?

It’s like living with an uncaged tiger that you can never turn your back on. Even when I’m relaxing on the sofa watching a movie it’s there somewhere at the back of my mind. Since I stopped using a flash glucose monitor and started starving myself on the 16:8 diet, I’ve sometimes forgotten for hours on end that I’m diabetic. Liberating, but also a strange feeling.

It could of course be that I obsess more with my diabetes than most people. You have to if you want good numbers. I keep a detailed blood sugar log. I try for consistency in protein and carbs between meals. I follow the ketogenic diet.

While many people choose to put life first and diabetes second, I don’t. I always put diabetes first. There’s a couple of reasons. First off, I’ve experienced the devastating effects of high blood sugar over time. I was diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis after months of hyperglycemia. My vision was a blur. My gums receded and I got dental abscesses. My kidneys stopped working properly, and on top of everything, I developed treatment-induced neuropathy. All these things reversed when my blood sugar went back to normal. But it left me convinced that I don’t want to go down the route of kidney disease, blindness, or neuropathy if I can avoid it. Diabetic complications are tragic, yet doctors don’t seem to talk about them much. It’s like it’s a given, which of course it’s not. Like everything else in life, it’s a risk – a risk that increases significantly with higher blood sugars.

The other thing about diabetes is that it’s self-managed. When you’re lucky enough to get a manageable disease, you should manage it. I can think of a whole hoard of conditions that would be so much worse. With diabetes, you barely have to enter the hospital. The fact that you’re in control is empowering. You can really use this to your advantage. Getting one aspect of your life under control can lead to other good things. For me, it brought back my old interest in biochemistry, and now I’m back at university.

So diabetes isn’t all bad. As with everything, it’s about your perspective. Keep it bright and shiny. Diabetes is far from a death sentence. 

Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

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