Do You Appreciate Diabetes?

Patient inject the insulin syringe
Today I realized that I take my insulin pump for granted. I guess I take a lot of my life with diabetes for granted. I was simply driving in my car when I had this realization. Nothing that I saw, heard, or can think of really prompted me to think this through. As a Type 1 diabetic living with an insulin pump I am in a good place and I take these things for granted.

I have been a little frustrated over the past several months about the wait time to receive my new Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)after mine broke, a replacement insulin pump after mine broke, and the numerous times I have driven to the pharmacy this month. I couldn’t even tell you why I frequented Walgreens more often this month. It seems like I have made the trip quite a bit more than my usual practice. It could have been doctor error, computer error, my error, etc. I honestly do not know. I just remember feeling a bit frustrated by the entire process this month. I should note that I wasn’t actually feeling frustrated with my diabetes control. I was just stressed with the daily hassles that seem to accompany those of us living with a chronic illness. I was frustrated by the red tape.

Then this realization hit me while turning left through a traffic light. The reason I know precisely when it hit me, was because it hit me full force! I take my insulin pump and all my gadgets for granted! I am a person that has a failed vital organ! Let me repeat that. I have a non functioning vital organ inside my body. I do not know many other people that can function on a daily basis with a failed vital organ.

I happened to be working that day, doing laundry, had coffee with a friend, got my kid to school, fed my pets, exercised, went to the bank, and met with a new client. I imagined the people that I knew on dialysis waiting for a kidney transplant. I thought of people waiting for heart and lung transplants. If one were to look they would not find my name on a transplant list. I am a well-functioning woman. (Well, that may be up for discussion among those that know me well, but I at least feel that I am well functioning!) I stopped at the next stop sign and tried to imagine my life waiting for a vital organ. It was scary.

I know that without the hormone insulin produced by the pancreas I will die. If the pancreas ceases to function and the body remains in the state called hyperglycemia, a person could try to eat absolutely no carbohydrates and do no activity. People had to do this before Canadian physician Frederick Banting and medical student Charles H. Best discovered insulin. People basically starved themselves and their bodies could not function. Death was inevitable. I have known this all along. It may sound silly to some people. I know that I had the potential to die. I know that I have the potential to die from complications from this disease. I just hadn’t put myself in the same category as most people that are desperately waiting on some vital organ that matches all the numerous and delicate conditions required for transplantation. Believe me, I want a cure. I want that miracle.

All of a sudden I felt this rush of overwhelming gratitude. I was sitting there complaining because the mail was slow. I was complaining that FedEx and UPS didn’t deliver on Sunday. I was complaining about all of these minor things as I was going about my day basically the way that I wanted to proceed. How awesome is that? I have a nonfunctioning vital organ and I am allowed to do almost anything that anyone else can do. iStock_000015502353Small

I should be grateful for my insulin pump, my CGM, my test strips, my glucose tablets, my blood glucose meter, my insulin, and all the many other accessories that I use to live my life to the fullest. Sure, I do not love poking my fingers all day long. I am not thrilled that I have to know the carbohydrate count of absolutely everything I ingest, food or drink. I don’t love that I also should know the fiber and fat content as well; as that also affects the absorption rate of my injected insulin. I do not love that I feel like the Bionic Woman. I wear two insertion sites in my body at all times. I do not go anywhere without my purse. I need to have all my supplies with me at all times. I can’t even just leave my purse in the car due to temperature fluctuations. My body does not love that it gets worn out with the daily fluctuations of my blood glucose level. My bank account does not love this disease.

So yes, there are so many things that I can complain about while living with this chronic illness. I even know that it is healthy to vent when necessary. I truly believe in a good cry or a good complaint session. Then I believe in wiping the tears away or shutting my big mouth and moving forward.
This heavy realization hit me hard today. I am going to make a concentrated effort to complain less. I am going to make a concentrated effort to cry less. I am going to take a deep breath, count to ten, and smile when I am talking to the pharmacist, the doctor, or even the 24 hr help line. Sure I have a bunch a stuff to deal with, but I am able to function basically like I want. Tonight I sit watching my daughter ride a horse as this beautiful sunset spreads across the sky. I am truly blessed. I am going to go meet friends for dinner. I am going to be thankful that if I have to have a failed vital organ, it is my pancreas. I will count carbs and remember my portion sizes. I will watch the clock, noting how much insulin I have on board (IOB) and I will check my BG a few more times this evening. I will smile. I will be grateful. I will hug my daughter and be thankful. I am one lucky lady!

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