According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of chronic is: “continuing or occurring again and again for a long time”
In our case, as people with Type 1 diabetes, there’s no “let up” here. It’s definitely continuing.
When was the first time you realized that your diabetes diagnosis was permanent (unless there’s a cure. Please let there be a cure!)?
For me, it was when I was discharged from the hospital some 26 years ago, pen needles and glucometre in hand, and an eternal prescription for insulin.
I’ve written before about that early realization that I had a “permanent” condition, and that I hadn’t left the hospital cured.
Most days, I think of diabetes as sitting right beside me, in the car, on the bus, in bed, at home watching tv. I talk to it, I acknowledge it, sometimes cursing an unanticipated low or high. I plan when I can exercise around it. I pick my wardrobe based on where my Omnipod or Dexcom are located on my body.
In other words, I can’t ever forget I have it.
Except that….the other day, I did something I hadn’t done in a long, long time.
I forgot to take my morning bolus, before I ate breakfast. I did everything else that I normally do when I wake up, except for that one really REALLY important thing.
So an hour later, as I glanced at my iPhone, and noticed that annoying yellow icon with a 15.1 and an upward arrow on my Dexcom (constant glucose monitor), my first thought was “well, that’s weird.”
Then I checked my Omnipod PDM. I did a blood test. Okay, so it really is that high. And then I took another glance at my PDM, checking the history. Yep, let the records show that I had in fact completely forgotten to take my morning bolus. The high blood sugar made a lot of sense. In fact, too much sense.
I could rack it up to menopausal mind-lapses, but years ago, while still on needles and several years younger, I mixed up my (fast acting) Humalin R with my (slow acting) Lantus pen. As I got ready to get into bed, I gave myself some 15 units of Human instead of Lantus.
A brisk, crashing low was inevitable. I was scared. Nervous. Anxious. My husband and I went to the closest hospital’s ER, knowing that this wasn’t exactly an “emergency” but for me it was overwhelming.
I knew what I had to do. I just wanted reaffirmation. The triage nurse looked at me, smiled, and said, “Stop at the all night grocery store up the street. I think it’s time for ice cream.”
Good advice — the blend of fat and sugar would certainly get me back into range, but in these days before the Dexcom, I was terrified of going to sleep. I probably had a bit too much ice cream. And I also knew that I would invariably be waking up to a very very high blood sugar as my body tried to balance it out.
The pump and Dexcom certainly help me with managing all of this. What really convinced me to move from a tubed pump to the tubeless omnipod was that twice in recent years, I’d forgotten to reconnect after a shower. The last time it happened, I was half way down the street on my way to the office, when I realized that my pump was not sitting in my pants’ pocket but likely on the kitchen counter. Yikes! I turned around very quickly and raced back home to reconnect.
I’d been distracted, no doubt, thinking about whatever it was that I’d be doing in the day ahead.
Sometimes, with a chronic illness, life gets in the way.
And so when I wake up, the first thing I do these days is put my Omnipod PDM on the kitchen counter, so it’s impossible to miss when I’m making our morning coffee.
It’s a strategy that seems to be working. Insulin and coffee go hand in hand for me in the morning.
(Please remember, I’m not a doctor or an educator. Just a person who has had type 1 diabetes for the past 26 years. Please follow me on instagram at @grownupdiabetes.)