Diabetes or diabetic?

“I have diabetes, or I am a diabetic.” One or the other, or both?

I used to say “I have diabetes,” as I felt “I am a diabetic” defined me more than saying “I am a husband, I am a teacher, I am a son, I am a brother, etc, etc.” Yes, all those descriptions were more accurate than letting the disease I have define me.

Yet, if I hadn’t had diabetes, I probably wouldn’t have met the woman who married me, become a teacher,or earned a post-graduate degree. So maybe if”diabetic” didn’t define me, it has indeed shaped me and molded me into the person I am today. And how much of my time is spent checking, pumping a bolus, thinking about blood sugars? A lot of time. It does not control my life, but it does affect and influence it, all the time, even in my sleep.

So, I’ve accepted and admitted that being a diabetic isn’t a “part of my life;” it’s a big part of my life. Does it define me? In many ways, yes. Does it define my heart and soul? No. It just affects my existence. Daily. And my existence continues to be based on my care and control of my Type 1 diabetes. And when people ask now, I’ll tell them “I am a Type 1 diabetic” or “I have Type 1 diabetes.”

Why highlight Type 1? Not because of any opinion of Type 2 diabetics in particular, but my need to let others know that I am solely dependent upon insulin, and my life revolves around that need and dependency. Admitting a dependency is never easy, but with the admission goes an empowerment of friends and/or co-workers whose appropriate actions I may need one day. If calling myself a diabetic is what it takes to inform and empower my friends and co-workers, so be it. A question of semantics should not stand in the way of protecting ourselves and possibly, the ones we love.


This Memorial Day

While this isn’t Veterans Day, I believe we owe our freedoms and liberty to those who are willing to sacrifice all, and for those who have done so in the past. With the courage we could as diabetics use, face our illness, and with a focus on self-discipline and commitment we can better our lives and those living with and around us.

Diabetes requires dealing with a lot of unpleasant, but necessary activities, activities that make us better now and hopefully better in the long run.

We might not be sure of whether our efforts will result in success, but we can look to our veterans and those soldiers who have died in battle for giving us lessons on how to face our struggles, and how to fight for our own well being and our loved ones with courage and steadfastness.

Brittle diabetes, a myth?

According to some, it is. According to some of them, if you use pumps, CGMs, the right type of insulin, you can about do away with the brittleness.

Now I’ll admit, I have dosed too much for food, and not had a chance to check , and it’s messed me up.

But what some seem to be saying is like the eqivalent of if you live in a high crime area, but you wear body armour, carry weapons, and perhaps have Special Operations training, you won’t become a crime statistic. Duh.

My body doesn’t process artificial insulin as well as it did before I was diagnosed with T1D. Since I wasn’t diagnosed until 27 years of age, I have a little experience with normalcy.

This brittle debate seems to play into the hands of those who want us to believe artificial insulin and all the technology your insurance will cover, is a cure. I’m happy so many are living better lives with CGMs and pumps, but they aren’t cures.

Diabetes…not the best, not the worst

I have to remind myself sometimes that diabetes is a disease.

Not just an inconvenience, or an annoyance, but a disease. But in a sense, it’s not the worst disease, and it can be managed to some degree with some success avoiding complications and premature death.

It’s not terminal cancer. It’s life changing, and it’s treatable, not curable. Or maybe it’s life changing because it is treatable.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not glad I got the disease, and it’s not “the best thing to happen to me,” but when all is said and done, I know I’d rather have a life-altering disease than a life-ending one. I’d rather have some disease I have some control over, than one I don’t. I’d rather have it, where the methods and technology to treat it have almost been miraculous in a short time span. There are worse things to be diagnosed with.