Behind the Scenes
A few days ago, I read a post from Lee Ann about “good diabetics” and “bad diabetics.” It was frustrating to read that there are people who think there is some kind of civil war going on in the diabetes community. It made me reflect on an earlier post I wrote about noncompliant diabetics. It’s something I still believe, that there are people who are noncompliant, but reading Lee Ann’s story and the stories from other people who are struggling with diabetes made me realize that we often focus on the surface of our life with diabetes and not on the deeper, emotional triggers that causes us to do what we do.
There are those that are considered “good” diabetics – those who test frequently, count carbs perfectly and have an excellent A1C. Then there are “bad” diabetics – who don’t test, never carb count and have an A1C in the double digits. While there are diabetics who are like that, I don’t think having these glossy, stereotypical categories are really fair.
Today, I found out that my A1C has gone up a full point. In February, my A1C was 7.2. Now, it’s 8.1. On the surface, it looks like I’m a “bad” diabetic. It’s gone up. My logbook is littered with blood sugars in the stratosphere. But is that the full story? Clearly not. Life the past few months have been very stressful. I’ve traveled to eight states, spent hundreds of dollars fixing my car, dealt with structural changes at work and moved to a new apartment by myself. My life has been messy and I’m not the only one who deals with this.
This happens. Life happens.
When you look at the surface of someone who is struggling with diabetes, someone with a higher A1C, an empty logbook or penchant for SWAG boluses, perhaps we should look beyond the traditional excuses.
We are complex human beings and diabetes is a complex chronic illness, so to think that we can wrap why someone is a “bad” diabetic and put a pretty bow on it is, quite frankly, ridiculous. I know there are some people who are noncompliant because they are simply irresponsible and lazy. But I also know there are reasons that are wholly separate from this disease that range from eating disorders to clinical depression to life situations that make stabilizing diabetes incredibly difficult.
When I found out my A1C was over eight percent, the highest it’s been since I was a sophomore in college, I wasn’t surprised but I was also crushed. I knew I could do better because I had. But my endocrinologist – my lovely, lovely endocrinologist – wasn’t discourage. She asked me what had been going on, and I told her about my travel and my move. She understood that it was a stressful time and that now things were starting to stabilize. We talked through my trouble spots, zeroing in one my morning spikes and my correction crashes. Just talking about what was going on and knowing that there was someone who was going to walk through this with me was a weight off my shoulders.
Life is complex. It changes and with it, so do your blood sugars and your basal rates and your bolus ratios. Having a chaotic life and a chaotic disease can be overwhelming, which is why I think it’s so important to have a place that centers me, that refocuses my scattered energy and frustrations. It’s why I spend so much time on advocacy and mentoring. I’m able to channel the parts of diabetes that I don’t like into something that I do like. When I hear that people struggling with disease are afraid to talk about what they’re going through it really makes me sad and disappointed.
Being a “bad” diabetic – whatever that might mean – does not mean you are a bad person.
Diabetes management is not black or white, but varying degrees of gray. It’s not a game where you have to pick sides. The behind the scenes of our lives are only open as we make them. If you are struggling with something, say something. We should never be afraid to talk about our struggles. And if someone says something to you, listen. They are opening up their soul, their struggles and their fears. Nothing any of us say should ever, ever be disregarded.
Behind the scenes, we really are all the same and we all deserve respect and compassion.