When you live with diabetes, you can walk a very thin line. Depending on the type of diabetes, how long you have lived with it, how you choose to manage and your own personal preferences and personality, you may or may not check your blood glucose, and you may or may not spend a lot of time thinking about it and having your life run by it. But most of us have a reliance on technology & diabetes and that is why sometimes diabetes is like being on the wire without a safety net.
If you are like me, type 1 for 36 years, on an insulin pump, live with erratic swings at times due to gastroparesis and a history of anxiety about hypos – then you probably check your blood glucose quite often. The black marks and tough pads of my fingers are testament to this. I like to know what is happening inside my body, I like to be able to wake up with a reasonable blood glucose level if I can so I can eat without stress, to get through an exercise session without a hypo, to go out and about without feeling horrid from high or low levels and to care for my family without risk of anything going wrong due to my diabetes. In short, I like to feel in control. Unlike in my younger years I don’t like that crazy, heady feeling of being out of control – another sign of this is my decision to give up alcohol about 17 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, this has not always been the case. When I got diabetes home blood glucose monitoring was not even happening. It came in shortly afterwards and the machine was huge by today’s standards, and required a squillion steps, washing and drying the testing strip and waiting for what seemed like an eternity. In my teen years and young adulthood I can not say I checked my blood glucose that often, I really don’t remember, but it was certainly not central to my life like it is now.
Is that a good thing, bad thing or bit of both, this checking often??? I think it is a bit of both for me. I do think that feeling compelled to check often can result in over correcting if you are not careful and also puts your blood glucose in front and centre all the time. But for me, this is usually not a bad thing.
So here is a little story about this reliance on a piece of machinery, how important it can become in your life and how scared you can become if it disappears.
A while ago, we were away at our beach shack and had planned to go to the local seaside markets about 10 minutes away. We were all very excited about this adventure. We bundled all the kids and granny into the car and arrived with high expectations about treasure hunting and finding local goodies. My blood glucose had of course been high that morning (it’s like it just knows) and I wanted to keep a close eye on it as I had given a bolus of insulin prior to leaving.
After about 30 minutes of wandering about I decided to check and see if I could have a snack or two…..(the smell of BBQ and donuts was overwhelming). A blanket of dread came over me, (not because my bag is such a mess), but as I looked I realised my blood glucose monitor was not in my bag – horror! I looked and looked, you know when you think something should be there and it isn’t? How you go over and over the same ground?
To add to this feeling of falling from a great height with no safety net, I could not see my hubby and kids, or my mum, so decided to head back to check the car, it had to be there. Finding mum along the way I told her to look for the others and I hiked back up the hill to the car praying it was there. Of course when I go there, no machine. I searched and searched, then called Dad at the shack to see if he could find it. I headed back down the hill by this time little tears were starting – tears of frustration that even after all these years diabetes can bite me any time it likes.
I still could not see my family and was getting pretty upset by this stage. Logically I knew I was not in too much trouble but at times I find it hard to pick up a hypo by my body alone, so this was at the back of my mind despite rationalising with myself. Asking around the stalls to no avail, I found Mum and she headed off to look for my family.
I too walked up and down and finally we all found each other, but still no machine. Of course we decided to head back. Everyone had had enough in any case but the wet blanket of my diabetes was very present. Luckily I had a back up machine at the shack – always a good idea to have more than one, especially when you go away. And as mum also has diabetes there are usually plenty to go around!
So, back at the shack, still no machine. We did wonder about my then toddler hiding it as he has a history of this – once deciding to hide Mummy’s machine under the skirt of a soft toy mouse standing at Grandma’s front door – it was just the genius of my ever toddler thinking dad who looked under her skirt and discovered it!
So I decided it was just lost and that was that. Mum however wanted to crack the case and she went back later and yes, some lovely person had found it and handed it in to the local tourist office. Everyone she spoke to knew all about diabetes as most of them had it! I was glad to have it back and wondered what adventure it had been on while away from me, had some random person used it to check their blood? Had it seen anything interesting on the market stalls, as I sure had not had time to look! Perhaps it had found a treasure and tried to tell me but I had been too busy to notice…
Looking back on this couple of hours of my life it may seem strange to some people, to feel so stressed by this experience. I know lots of people who would go out for the day and not check their blood glucose at all. The thing for me is that I would have lost the control that is so important to me, if I could not check to see the trends of my blood glucose, for me it was like being on the wire without a safety net.
And that is the moral of this story – it is your diabetes, you are the person most affected by it so stand up for the ways you want to do this and don’t judge yourself or other people who choose to do it differently.
Have you ever been caught out without your machine or other situation like this? And do you get anxious about technology & diabetes issues sometimes?