This month, for me, is about creating awareness and understanding of some diabetes “truths”.
I’d like to stress, to people who do not have Type 1 diabetes in their every day lives, that a high or low blood sugar is just that, no more, no less. It's a high or low blood sugar. It is not a reflection of how well or how poorly a person is caring for himself, if diabetic, or for her diabetic child. The diabetes caregiver is not completely responsible for the exact number that pops up on the blood sugar monitor. Yes, diet does come into play as in eating healthier foods and, yes, exercise does help process carbohydrates in a person's body. However, there are many other less controllable factors that also contribute to that number. Stress is a major factor. If Rocco is scared, excited, nervous, or getting a cold - his body reads that as stress. This can sometimes raise or lower his blood sugar. His body decides which one to choose. The state of one’s metabolism also has an impact. If Rocco has a growth spurt, he will run higher or lower than previously.
Simply put, it is not always my fault or Rocco’s fault if his number is high. Conversely, it is not always to my credit or Rocco's credit if his number is within normal range. Every body just processes breakfast, exercise and stress differently.
I remember recently reading an example somewhere that speaks to the challenge of Type 1 diabetic caregiving. It went something like this. Pretend you have a disease where every day you must take all of your blood out of your body. Then, you put it in a blood flow machine that you attach to you. Then, you adjust the flow of blood back into your body to give yourself the exact right amount of blood each minute during the day. If you mess up, you could die. You need to make adjustments to the blood flow during exercise, to facilitate the processing of food, when at rest or whenever anything else changes in your body’s activities. It’s up to you to keep yourself alive every day.
The article was powerful to me. It reflected much of what I and Rocco and Michael attempt to do every day. I don't say that to be braggy but it does make me appreciate the work that goes in to our daily existence. It is second nature to our family now - we all take it for granted. I am happy to be in the "take it for granted and not the beat dow/burnt out" stage, finally. That last stage is not pretty. Been there done that. Let's hope the second nature stage lasts for a while...
If you are living with Type 1 diabetes or are a Type 1 diabetes caregiver, give yourself a moment of appreciation. What you do is hard work. There are many moments where a high or low blood sugar number pops up on the screen and, as hard as we try to get the number within range, it just doesn't work out. So we adjust. We consider options like less high carb foods or more low fat high fiber foods, or more exercise, or less exercise or whatever! We constantly adjust and we tend to constantly blame ourselves if things don’t work out. Even though our heads tell us it's not our fault, our hearts don't believe that. Our hearts look at the little person we care for and yell at our heads to keep adjusting. But, it is truly futile. Mainly because the body still wants to grow, get excited, and get sick. These things we cannot control. These are the reasons that having diabetes or caring for someone living with it is so difficult.
At the end of the day, I wanted to use this post to stop people from being judgmental when Rocco is high or low. I have seen it happen. When people see a 23 or 304 pop up on the screen, they need to know that this does not mean that I have done something to hurt or injure my child. I also want people to know that Type 1 diabetics can eat everything everyone else can, as long as they give themselves the insulin to offset the carbs in the food. As in my example, it’s like giving yourself more blood if you want to go jogging. Finally, I want people to know that Type 1 diabetes caregivers are not gods, they do their best every day to maintain safe blood sugar levels. However, sometimes the body has other plans.
I hope this post does not come across as snotty. Telling people off is not my intention. But, explaining Type 1 diabetes to the best of my ability is. I hope this helps explain things a little better, helping the cause in some small way.