Monthly Archives: September 2012

Striving for perfection

My diabetic educator (a.k.a the best educator in the entire universe) brought up a very interesting point on Friday, about Type 1 diabetics and perfectionism.

Up in level five of Centre Block at the Alfred, I was going through what I had eaten that week and bashing myself up for it, looking at bad blood sugars and bashing myself up for that, and basically looking at all my stats and bashing myself up for everything.

My educator listened, and listened some more, then sat back in her chair and said something along the lines of  ‘See what I told you? Perfectionists!’ to the student sitting in the room with us.

I opened my mouth in protest, but promptly shut it again when I realised that she had got it in one. Despite barely being able to count the number of type one diabetics I know in real life on one hand, I really do think this is a constant theme. Online diabetes forums and communities provide proof of this! Perfectionism. I know I shouldn’t generalise, but I do think we place far too much pressure on ourselves to achieve that ‘perfect’ hba1c, those spot on post meal levels and a perfect range of 5-8.

As my educator said “What came first G? The chicken or the egg? It’s always hard to say whether a Type 1 was like that before diagnosis, or diagnosis made them that way.” I’ve always been a perfectionist. If I’m crap at things, I either work ridiculously hard to get better OR give up completely. In my head it’s better to not even try than to try and fail miserably. This was my logic when I happily failed my year 10 maths exam, and now it’s my logic when it comes to diabetes. Most of my days are hard working days, but there are soem where I wake up with a level in the high teens and I think ‘Fuck it. This day is shot already. Gummi snakes for breakfast it is.”

I think the fact that management of our disease revolves around numbers, graphs and statistics is a bit of a catch 22, for the majority of us who are constantly wanting to do better and aim higher. On one hand, it gives us amazing resources to improve our health and lessen the risk of complications. BUT, and this is what I find most difficult, it can become all consuming. Seeing your daily management in cold hard numbers gives your efforts a concrete element, something to grasp onto. Something to stress about…

I beat myself up when I have a piece of cake, or I get a random 18.4 out of nowhere. I look at that huge spike in my 24hr BGL graph and focus intensely on that angry red line, when really I should be celebrating the other 90% of levels that were IN RANGE!

My aim during Invisible Illness Week (and beyond!) is to cut myself some slack. Honestly, all of us diabetics are bloody brilliant, we self manage a chronic disease 24 hours a day. We are experts in our disease, we try our absolute hardest to keep our bodies healthy, and that should be enough! You can’t try anymore than your hardest can you? 🙂



Why I wish I was diagnosed in 1994, not 2010

This blog entry may, or may not, be a huge procrastination tool from finishing the last 400 words of a uni essay. If procrastination was a subject I’d be 100%ing all over it.

Is it better to be diagnosed when you’re younger or older?

It’s a question that has popped up on a couple of the forums I regularly stalk. I’m a supporter of the ‘I’d rather have been diagnosed when I was little’ side. There are lots of little arguments as to why, but these two basically sum it up.

– I wouldn’t know anything different
I see this point as being like only children not missing siblings they never had. If I had been diagnosed when I was little, diabetes would have been a part of me from the beginning. I would have grown with it, slipping comfortably into diabetes and embracing it as part of myself. Instead I’ve been awkwardly trying to grow into it from the age of seventeen. It’s like I’ve been trying to fit into a pair of too small skinny jeans, all while knowing there is a much comfier pair of track pants out there that my body just won’t let me wear. Worst metaphor ever, but we all know what I’m trying to say. I know what it’s like to eat without thinking about it, to only have injections once in a blue moon and not have to worry about anything more physically threatening than a cold. At least if I had been diagnosed earlier, I wouldn’t have tasted that freedom before diabetes snatched it and ate it right on front of me. Spontaneity? What’s that again?  

Now this is a really trashy point, but I think it’s valid. I remember getting drunk and not worrying about ANY consequences. No constant checking of BGLs, no wondering whether I’m low or tipsy, no going low during my sleep… I tried to do that again last year while living in England, i.e. say a massive “Fuck you!” to diabetes and stop worrying abour my BGLs for a couple of hours. Unfortunately I ended up in the local hospital with a double whammy of alcohol poisoning and DKA – needless to say it was not the smartest decision I’ve ever made.

More often than not I want to rip my pump out and throw it against the wall, watching it shatter (in my dreams it shatters) into a million tiny pieces. I think the reason I love the pump so much is because it allows me to ‘forget’ that I have to count my food and prick my finger – no injections for me! Well, until the next site change at least 😉 I’m still working on acceptance, and I want to fast forward and get to the point where I see so many other people with type 1 at – full acceptance and motivation. At the moment I don’t have either of these!

– My parents would know as much as me
Before I start this paragraph, know that I love you both incredibly and appreciate your support more than words! However, at the end of the day, if I had been diagnosed as a toddler my parents would have not had any choice as to what they needed to learn. It would have been everything. Carb counting, coping with hypos, exercise, injections – everything. Being diagnosed at seventeen luckily meant that my parents did not have to deal with a hypoing toddler, but it also meant that the bulk of my diagnosis was on me. They were able to take their time and learn as they went. Not that that’s a bad thing – I am an incredibly independent person and would never have asked them to do it all for me anyway. But it was incredibly lonely. I had no choice but to learn incredibly quickly – after all, it was my health that was at risk! When something like a diagnosis of a lifelong disease suddenly roars into your life, the first people you want are your parents. When your parents are just as lost and confused as you are, that loneliness trebles and you honestly feel like the only person on earth. I took care of myself and that sucked. I know I was seventeen, but I was still a child, and I honestly wish that this had all happened years ago so I didn’t have to spend the first year constantly telling Dad what a hypo was. We had a massive fight earlier this year because he didn’t know how to inject the Glucagon. If I had been little when I was diagnosed, he would have known, and I wouldn’t have had to sit down with him (or rather, ask Mum to, I’m too angry and hot headed – basically I’m too much of a bitch) and say ‘This is how you save my life’.

No, I wouldn’t have had a ‘carefree’ childhood or laid-back parents, but I wouldn’t be trying to accept myself as a person and find my way through life as 20 something while also still learning how to get on top of this stupid disease!