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Confessions of a Lazy, Burned-Out, Twentysomething Diabetes Advocate

September 26, 2007

I have a confession to make.

I am a terrible diabetic.

No, really. I am. Honest.

I wouldn’t admit this if it wasn’t true.

Maybe it was The Move. Maybe it’s been the fatigue (which remains a mystery since I’m also too lazy to get more lab work – though I doubt anyone could fault me for that). Maybe it’s the switch back to the insulin pump. Maybe it’s the fact I’ve away from any sort of medical supervision for the last six months.

Or maybe I’m just not cut out to be a diabetic and I should be fired or dishonorably discharged and sent packing.

Really, I’d be okay with that…

But the truth is, things have been lousy here in the Garden State for the “can-do cupcake” (thanks Allie). I haven’t been testing very much. Maybe four, sometimes five times a day. You know, the usual round of morning, afternoon, evening and bedtime tests and sometimes they’re even before the meals! Imagine that!

They’re usually high. Sometimes they’re not. Occasionally they’re even low and I do a little happy dance because I’m slowly tugging my average back into an “acceptable range.”

Standard deviation who?

Let’s not even talk about the lack of gym attendance even though I’m shelling out a whopping $70 a month.

Or the eating habits. Which consist of sushi, sandwiches, cereal, the occasional apple, and a nightly dose of popcorn while watching Heroes (Heroes!) or the never-ending marathons of America’s Next Top Model or Law & Order: SVU. Maybe a salad or two thrown in for good measure.

It’s easy to get in the pattern of eating fast food almost everyday when you don’t own dishes. Or pots. Or forks. And it takes you half an hour to drive a quarter mile because you don’t know where anything is.0061103.jpg

On Monday, I had an interview with a freelance writer for Diabetic Living, a publication from the folks at Better Homes & Gardens. It’s a terrible feeling to spend an hour talking about all the work you do to make the lives of people with diabetes better, making them happier and healthier and motivated, and to listen to people tell you how inspiring you are, how hard-working you are and realize that you’re really the poster child for what not to do.

It’s not the first time it’s happened.

I’m pretty sure it’s not the last either.

But I have been in New Jersey for over three months now. It’s time to quit using the “I just moved 2897 miles” excuse for why the above rant is excusable.

It’s not excusable. I said on Monday that being burned out and depressed is not an excuse for not taking care of yourself. Well neither is graduating college, going from a 97— zip code to a 07— zip code and starting a new job. Especially when that happened three months ago!

The magazine is supposed to publish the interview early next year.

Hopefully by then, I’ll actually be the girl that I say I am.

  1. September 26, 2007 3:17 PM

    You know what Allison? It wouldn’t be the honest truth if that weren’t how we all get many times? The fact that you also see that side of the coin sometimes (like was ALL do) makes you that much more able to know and understand.

  2. September 26, 2007 3:43 PM

    Lets face it, none of us is the diabetes patient we’re supposed to be, its simply not possible 24/7/365, yet few doctors or educators ever admit that. The reality is that we do the best we can with a treatment plan that is utterly unrealistic to expect anyone to have to deal with all the time and has as much randomness and far less science to it than they told us it would. After 31 years, I’m damn near sick of this crap all the time, and it never seems to get any easier! Give yourself a break for being human.

  3. September 26, 2007 4:22 PM

    Damn….and thank you! I have really started to have some success with greens and probiotics..i love to do battle with diabetic complications

  4. September 26, 2007 4:50 PM

    I’m sick of it, too, Allison, and I think O is as well. She’s been slacking off on testing, I’ve been slacking off on logging. We both need to get back in the groove, but how do you do that? It’s hard when you know it’s endless. It’s not like you’re working towards an end date, y’know? It sucks.

    Do you think the exhaustion is depression? It is one of the major side effects – I’ve been feeling exhausted lately but I know it’s because I most likely need to have my meds adjusted.

  5. September 26, 2007 5:32 PM

    It’s perfectly natural to feel this way sometimes. You get burned out – it’s going to happen. But then you’ll pull yourself back up & continue on. Hopefully, this won’t last too long & you’ll be feeling better soon!

  6. September 26, 2007 6:01 PM

    I applaud you for writing this post. There are many of us who feel the exact same way sometimes, and for me at least, reading your words takes away some of the yuckiness associated with feeling that way. Burnout happens. Bad habits persist. We all know how it feels, I think. Thank you so very much for writing this post. I’m sorry you’re in a slump, but I’m glad you “outed” yourself. Sometimes just saying or writing the words help them lose their power over us, and we don’t need to carry that burden of shame or guilt quite as long.

    All of the changes you described sound tough, and like you’re making your way through best you can, and maybe this post is the first step in changing some of the patterns you don’t like to see in yourself. In the meantime, we’re all here for you, not judging you and rooting for you all the way.


  7. September 26, 2007 7:15 PM

    Awww…(((hugs))). Everyone has not-so-great periods. You’ll get back to where you need to be soon, I’m sure!

  8. September 26, 2007 8:09 PM


    Last week was a really bad one for me. I had two or three days with a total daily dose of 42+ units of insulin. Normally I can get by on 29-32, so you can tell how badly I was over doing things.

    What is it with this disease that no matter our intentions we all kind of lose our way from time to time. There must be something we can do to stay with the right behavior.

    Last 2 days I’ve been living by the rules. And it’s going well. But I can’t help thinking that life’s a lot grayer when you’re watching everything you eat and trying to figure out how to fit exercise into an already stretched day.

    I hope you can get back on the right track. Let me know if there’s anything I can do. For example, would now be a good time to cancel your membership to the Whoopie Pie club? 🙂

  9. Karen permalink
    September 26, 2007 8:36 PM


    I struggle every day and usually only accomplish good outcomes half the day. I think part of the problem is that pumping does make eating easier so we do it.

    I have no answers, but just know if you are gonna eat, you gotta test and correct. It does not eliminate the grief or the guilt, but at least you are trying to do half the battle and that is covering your food and bad bgs results with insulin.

  10. Allison permalink*
    September 26, 2007 11:56 PM

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I really appreciate the support.

    To Julia: No, I don’t think the exhaustion is related to depression. I have been depressed before and I do not at all feel depressed. I am actually quite happy – except for all of this. Maybe it’s anemia, but I think coffee may have been aggravating it because since I have stopped drinking coffee, I have been feeling much better. Not the same as before, but better.

  11. September 27, 2007 5:47 AM

    Allison, I totally am with you on this one. I came home from school (damn it! mistake number 1!) to deal with getting diabetes back under control. We’re talking average 150-ish standard deviation 100 with days that go from 40 to 400 and back again. But have I done it yet??? Of course not. Sigh.

    I’ve noticed that when I let care for diabetes or for gastroparesis/ GERD/ gallbladder disease slide, fatigue is the first thing to set in. Best of luck!

  12. natalieb permalink
    September 27, 2007 2:31 PM

    Why would you not tell them the truth? The truth is that it is hard. Why not write a true story and help people find comfort in your struggle? I have diabetes and work with lots of people with Diabetes. Discuss your struggle and how you made it back or are attempting to make it back. You become another person who, we as patients, cannot believe up there on a pedestal making us all feel like we must be doing something wrong when we read the artlcle.

  13. September 27, 2007 2:39 PM

    Okay, pick yourself up and dust yourself off. You’re going to be fine. Did I tell you I don’t like NJ? I hope it’s not NJ that’s getting you down. Just remember, you don’t have to pump your own gas and they still make you go to work when it snows. Whoops, I couldn’t think of another good thing about…

  14. Allison permalink*
    September 27, 2007 3:58 PM

    Natalie: You’re absolutely write, and that’s why after giving the interview, I wrote this post. Most of the interview was not about my own management, just about my advocacy efforts. I just think what little we did talk about my diabetes management just reinforced what I had been thinking, which is that I’m not doing all I can do to take care of myself and that even though it’s hard, I’ve basically stopped trying. I’m in “auto-pilot” as they say.

    Rick: No, it isn’t New Jersey that’s making me depressed! Thanks though. 🙂

  15. September 28, 2007 7:31 AM

    What can I say? This hits very close to home.

    When I watch dLife and I see Nicole saying how they have diabetes but they are not necessarily the best example, as they go through some of the same things they report… I can relate.

    I have the deepest respect and admiration for those who have an A1C of 6 or less. I am not one of them. I have kept at 6.4 for 6 months, but some days I wonder how can that be, because I have bad weeks too.

    So, Allison: you are not alone, as you probably can tell from all these responses. 🙂

  16. September 28, 2007 7:52 AM

    Allison, you’re amazing. You really know how to articulate what we all feel so much of the time. I just got done telling a European friend how I’ve been 2-20 mmol all day (yes, 35 – 350, more or less) … it isn’t fun. As I looked at my little girls at dinner tonight, and as Coco said “mommy’s medicine!” when i dragged out my blood glucose strips I just sighed and hoped desperately they wouldn’t get this disease. Like everyone, I think you are incredible for the work you do, much of which highlights how much luckier all of us are than people were who got diabetes 30 or 50 or 80 or a million years ago. or 10, even (right, I’m luckier than I was a decade ago. Funny how that is not always the upper it is supposed to be.) But right, we are. And we’re luckier than people who have truly pressing health probelms about which they have zero control or input. On the other hand, we may not have had this at all right — and, given that hyperglycemia isn’t painful it is not even that easy all the time to know when we’re not doing so well. Thanks again for yet another round of making me think. It makes me smile to read the comments urging you to feel better – I wish you the same but I know you already do.


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