Chris Stocker lives with Type 1 diabetes in south Florida. He shares his thoughts and struggles on his blog, The Life of a Diabetic. Chris has faced some tough times, including missing the recent Diabetes Social Media Summit because he was down on his luck, which just broke my heart. Having been hit with diabetes smack in the middle of becoming an adult, Chris has some significant life experience to share. So for today's Guest Post, I asked him to do just that.
A Guest Post by Chris Stocker, D-blogger at The Life of a Diabetic
Diabetes causes its fair share of problems and obstacles in life, but we must find ways to fight through them. Growing up, I had many obstacles to overcome: knee surgeries, injuries, studying for school, etc. Each one took a lot of hard work to get through. Diabetes is no different. The biggest difficulty I had to overcome with diabetes was my initial diagnosis. I think this may be one of the hardest things for everybody.
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I was diagnosed my freshman year of college at the age of 19, so I was somewhat 'set in my ways' of living life a certain way. I was just a normal college kid: waking up, going to class, going to lunch, and back to class. The night I was diagnosed, it all changed. After first leaving the hospital, I was scared. Not because I now had diabetes, but because I just didn't know what I was allowed to eat and how I was going to handle all this new stuff.
First thing I did to overcome this difficulty was figuring out what I needed to do to successfully manage my diabetes. I read close to 5-6 books in a week about how to manage diabetes, what resources I have, different types of insulin, etc. I figured since I have to live with disease, I may as well know as much about it as I possibly can. These books gave me a general sense of encouragement. Well, most of the stuff I was reading was all about the complications of diabetes, but the way I looked at it was that as long as I properly manage my diabetes, then I have nothing to worry about. The best book that helped me get started was Diabetes for Dummies. I'm a big fan of the 'Dummies' books because they break everything down for you as if you have never heard a word about the topic before, which I practically hadn't. I was also given a lot of handouts from my doctor to read (less helpful).
Lucky for me, the hospital where I was diagnosed is the same hospital where my mom has worked at for over 30 years. She works in the surgical ICU, which is on the same floor as the medical ICU, which is where I was sent after diagnosis. Most of the people on the floor knew me already since I was a little kid, so even though I don't believe anybody gets "special" treatment at a hospital, I felt I was being treated as "one of their own." First thing in the morning, the doctor came in and was very blunt with me about the whole situation. He pretty much said that I have diabetes, so I can either sulk about it and be depressed, or I can put everything I have into managing it properly and be perfectly fine. I knew what my decision was from the very beginning. The nurse, a close friend of my mother's, was very helpful in assisting me to get over the fear of giving myself a shot. I spent a lot of time practicing how to give a shot with a syringe, a vial of insulin (filled with water), and an orange.
So there began my life with diabetes.
Every day diabetes throws a new challenge at you, whether it's a high blood sugar, leaking infusion set, or bad test strip. I have learned to deal with each situation in the best way I can and not get worked up. If I get stressed out about seeing a blood sugar reading of 350, then chances are it is only going to go higher from there. This was one of the hardest things for me to learn. Every time I pricked my finger, it was like I was in high school and was waiting to hear back on my SAT scores to see if they were good enough to get into the colleges I aspired to. It was also harder for me in the beginning, because I was not wearing an insulin pump. When my sugar was high after a meal, I would need to take an additional shot to make a correction. Now that I wear an insulin pump, it's easier because I simply push a few buttons and my blood sugar is on its journey back to a normal level.
One of the biggest tips I can offer to someone with diabetes is that about not getting too worked up over a high blood sugar reading. It is just one single number! It is just one high blood sugar throughout the day. Think about it. There are 1,440 minutes in a day, so if your blood sugar is high for let's say an hour, that is 4% of your day. To me, if I can control my blood sugars for 90% of the day, well then I feel pretty darn happy about it. Stress does nothing but raise my blood sugar, so why do something to make it go even higher? If you have a chance to take a quick walk and get a glass of water, then do it. This works great for me in bringing my numbers down.
Six years later, I am still faced with challenges every single day. They are becoming easier to deal with as time passes, but I still try to eliminate as many of them as possible. Creating my blog and reading all of the D-OC members posts and tweets help me get through the days when I feel down and my blood sugars are all over the map. When you are hit with a rough time with your diabetes, just remember that you are not the only one out there; millions of others are going through the same thing, so don't be afraid to reach out to them for help and answers and guidance.
I want to thank Amy for the opportunity to speak about the challenges I've had to overcome living with diabetes. I know these challenges are faced by many of you, so I'm glad I have you all to count on for help when I need it.
Needless to say, you are more than welcome, Chris.