When I think about the totality of my experience with diabetes, I think of the Grateful Dead’s lyric, “Sometimes it occurs to me/What a long strange trip it’s been.”
When I first learned I had gestational diabetes, over 30 years ago, I was nothing but scared.
As the child of a diabetic father, I had watched my Dad deny his disease. I watched my mother badger him to keep to his mysterious diabetic diet (he never did) and watched him inject himself with insulin without an inkling of understanding.
This is what I knew: Diabetes was something scary, something shameful, and something that made other people angry.
Fast-forward to my late 30s. My gestational diabetes, which I had with both pregnancies, morphed into type 2.
This scary, shameful, anger-provoking thing was now mine.
How did I deal with it? Sometimes well; sometimes not so well. Sometimes I’ve accepted it, sometimes I’ve denied it, and sometimes I’ve simply ignored it. But now, some 30 years since my first diagnosis, I’m proud to say that I’ve more or less come to peace with it.
It hasn’t been easy. Diabetes is a constant puzzle. Some days my sugar jumps and I honestly have no idea why. Other days, I can log a low (though both are much fewer now) that has me scratching my head.
But I’ve learned some things over the years: How to ask questions. How to find an endocrinologist who listens. How to stand up for your own care. In the process I’ve fine-tuned my treatment: I’ve been on and off insulin, on and off incretin mimetics, a runner, a biker, a weight lifter and a dedicated low-carber.
I’ve also written thousands of words about my diabetes and in the process managed to stem most of the shame and all of the anger.
Which doesn’t mean I’ve solved diabetes. For example, the scale is not always my friend. I’ve had issues with binge eating brought on by emotions and the limitations of a restricted diet. I’ve joined Weight Watchers more than once. I’ve experimented with nutritionists, cabbage based soups, Atkins milkshakes and on demand eating -- all in a quest to lose those last 10 pounds.
I haven’t succeeded, yet. But my A1C is 6.5, and I try to focus on that number instead of the number on the scale.
In my blog I’d like to share with you some of the human ups and downs of dealing with diabetes. How it impacts my already complicated relationship with food. How learning to manage a chronic disease can be a life lesson in self-care. How shame can get in the way of taking charge of your life as a person with diabetes.
I won’t be offering any answers, or even suggesting that you follow my lead on anything. If I’ve learned anything about diabetes, it’s that every case and ever individual is different. This is definitely not a one-size fits all proposition. But as Jerry Garcia, who himself had diabetes, might have said the point is to “ ‘keep on truckin’.” To that end, I look forward to sharing my journey with you.