When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was only 4 years old. At that time, the doctors told my mother and father how lucky we were. How home blood sugar testing was a possibility, when only a few years earlier, it was an impossibility. How needles were smaller and less painful than only years earlier, when syringes were made of glass and needles needed to be sharpened. And how only a few decades earlier, diabetes would have been a death sentence because insulin hadn’t been discovered yet.
In reality, I know how true that was. Even in it’s antiquity, our meters were what we had. Out lancet devices, while barbaric in size and mode, were better than sticking yourself by hand. And I could live a semi-normal life because of insulin and “modern” technology.
Fast forward to 2010. We have insulin pumps, constant glucose monitoring, meters that read in 5 seconds (instead of 2 minutes and several steps). We have better insulin, we know about counting carbohydrates, and insulin to carb ratios. We have social networking. I think about how blessed we are. I think about the children (and adults) that are diagnosed with diabetes now, and how much easier they will be able to care for themselves, physically and mentally.
But, the truth remains. Diabetes is with us all the time. Years upon years of stress on our bodies, do wear us down. While we may be healthy (minus the diabetes), we still are considered “disabled” and “chronically ill.”
For the first 20 years of living with diabetes, I was on multiple daily injections. If you looked at me, you couldn’t tell I was a diabetic. Until I whipped out my meter or my syringe, you had no idea that I had a chronic illness. Then, in 2006, I began pumping. I’ve said many times that I wish I’d entered the world of pumping many years before I did. I think it would have made my life and my control much better through college.
My control, and my desire to care for my diabetes were made front and center by pumping, and a year later, by CGMS. It led me to the online community, which has helped me mentally in so many ways, and quite probably kept me out of therapy. I’m so blessed and so thankful to have the technology that I have.
However, there are days that I almost wish that I wasn’t attached to two pieces of medical equipment 24 hours a day. I’m cringing as I type this, knowing that I’d hate it even worse if I didn’t have my pump or CGMS. And knowing that there are people who want the technology, but can’t get it for whatever reason. I feel guilty for typing that. But I can’t deny that it’s true.
Before pumping, my diabetes was with me 24/7, but it wasn’t attached to me all the time. Sometimes, having a pump, and sensor attached to me, it just a blindingly obvious reminder that I have diabetes. As if I could ever forget.
Tomorrow is one of my rare, elusive “free shower” days. I’ll be changing both my infusion site and my sensor on the same day. This happens maybe once a week…if I’m lucky. And for that 20 or so minutes while I’m showering, I’ll go back to looking like I don’t have diabetes. Even though I’m the only person who will see me like that, it will be nice for just a few minutes. And if I ignore the red spots from former sensor sites, and the band-aid “dots” from old infusion sites, I’ll look almost normal.