Karen over at Bitter-Sweet blog has proclaimed this "Diabetes Blog Week." For those who haven't run into it yet, the idea is that the hundreds of us now blogging about diabetes participate in sort of an online rally. With seven pre-defined topics to post about, we all "get a variety of unique insights on a single topic each day."
Looks like nearly 100 of us are participating so far, and if you have a diabetes blog, it's not too late to get started! (The 'rally' runs through Sunday)
Today's topic: Your Biggest Supporter.
Per Karen: Who is it in your life that cheers you on, and helps you when you need it? Your best friend, sibling, parent or child? Maybe it's your endo or a great CDE? Or perhaps it's another member of the D-OC who is always there for you?
This wasn't an easy topic for me because, to be honest, I feel pretty consistently alone with my diabetes. Maybe others have the same gut reaction, but the first thing that crossed my mind was the feeling I often get that people are great supporters as long as I'm doing well. Family, friends and acquaintances are quick to praise me for how "smoothly" I handle it all, and how I've managed to "make lemonade" out of a crappy illness. I do appreciate their praise. But that sometimes makes it all the harder when things aren't going well. I feel like I'm letting everyone down.
Every once in a while, my blood sugar does go wild yo-yo. And then I feel both physically wrecked and also guilty for being so "irresponsible." How could I screw it up this bad, knowing what I know?! But I have to remind myself that "knowing better" is sometimes a moot point in the game of blood sugar control.
But sit back and think about this a little deeper for a moment, Amy! You know you couldn't live this well with diabetes without some substantial support, however concealed and "under the hood" it may be. True. How true.
So at the risk of sounding like I'm writing an Oscar's acceptance speech, here are the people I'd like to thank for being — loyally and inconspicuously — my biggest supporters:
My husband, who always listens when I want to talk, and is always willing to help on any front when asked. My favorite form of support from him is when he drives me to the hospital for my early-morning lab tests when fasting is required (not eating before leaving the house just kills me). After the blood is drawn, he takes me to the nearby Celebrity CafÃ© for omelettes and lattes. This turns the unpleasant business of lab work into a "breakfast date" — a small thing, perhaps, but hugely meaningful for me.
My mother, who never fails to ask me "how it's going" with my health, and actually wants to hear the answer. She may not understand all the in's and out's of type 1 diabetes, but she is genuinely concerned without being too pushy (quite a feat for a Jewish mother!). She's also disproportionately proud of how I manage to juggle the diabetes and gluten intolerance while raising three kids and attempting to have a career. (This is called kvelling, btw, and is innate to Jewish mothers.)
My 12-year-old daughter, who asks really smart questions about diabetes these days, and handles herself with such poise and understanding whenever I'm too low or too high. She gently reminds her friends to "leave some diet soda for my mom, because she can't drink the other stuff."
My 10-year-old daughter, whose curiosity is topped by none. She asks the tough questions, the life-and-death stuff that nobody else dares to air, but I like it because she does it with such candor and love. She's also always on the lookout for low-sugar, wheat-free treats that I can enjoy.
My seven-year-old daughter, who's just so darned sweet. The hugs and "I love you's" go miles and miles, especially on bad days when they're needed most.
My endocrinologist, who treats me like an equal partner in my diabetes care. She's willing to exchange emails with me on various topics, and even trusts me with her cell phone number for emergencies. I've only ever called it twice, but you can't imagine how comforting it was in those moments to have a direct line to expert help from someone who knows my medical history in great detail.
And of late, my supercharged CDE Gary Scheiner, who has given me the most detailed and useful tips for blood sugar management that I've encountered since my diagnosis seven years ago. It's the kind of information that some PWDs spend a lifetime struggling to discover on their own. He also has a great sense of humor, and — being a veteran type 1 himself — a ton of empathy for the reality of not always following doctor's orders. He would never use the term "noncompliant" because he knows it is a punitive term, and doesn't reflect the real-life challenges that we PWDs encounter every day.
The diabetes online community, otherwise known as the D-OC, who are out there, "always on," always ready to talk with informative comments or a blog post that hits home, or a picture that captures my world, or a little cheer-on via Twitter. I can't imagine living with this illness without our 'virtual' community to fall back on!
So it seems that I am not so alone as I imagine myself after all. And believe me: even if I don't always show it, I am eternally grateful for the warmth, encouragement, and helpful answers my Supporters provide.
Virtual Hug, Y'all!