Check the B.S.

Have you checked your blood sugar recently? Go check it and take care of it if you need to do so. And then read this post. For those of you without diabetes, bask in the luxury of not needing to do this. I envy you. While I am thankful that I have Type 1 Diabetes because it has forced me to be a healthier, more compassionate person, that certainly does not mean that I enjoy what it takes to take care of my diabetes. I enjoy the results of taking care of my blood sugar – feeling normal, happy, energetic, and able to pay attention. But I do not enjoy the process involved in getting to that good blood sugar. In the rest of my life, I often enjoy the process much more than the result (the result is over much too quickly), but goodness no! not in diabetes. No, with diabetes, I like results. In diabetes, I like moving forward, getting better at management, and hearing about (and seeing the results of) all the amazing things JDRF is funding to cure, prevent, and manage this disease.

Now let’s talk about that other kind of B.S. Yep, the kind you all thought of when you read the title of this post. The B.S. that many parents are using to sugar-coat Type 1 Diabetes for their diabetic children.

There are some parents who say that they never want their diabetic kids to know limits from Type 1 Diabetes. I dearly want to cheer them on and say, “Go YOU for fighting for your kid to have a normal life! Thank you for loving your child so much.” Sure, there are not many professions a T1D cannot do, but in whatever they do, they will be slowed down. No matter how hard they fight, until there is a cure, Type 1 Diabetics cannot go through life thinking they have no limits.

There are always times that a low blood sugar hits and diabetics have no choice but to stop and take care of it. Yes, I might have gotten rather excited when I heard that Nick Jonas is T1D and is OUTSPOKEN about it… I never paid him any attention until then, so don’t be worrying that you are reading the words of a Jonas Brothers fan. No, growing up with my dad, I did not know about non-classical music until the eleventh grade, when I got really into the Beatles and Kenny Chesney. But, woohoo! Go Nick Jonas. Get Type 1 Diabetes some more attention. There are times that I will be rushing to an appointment when I get low and always end up with the dilemma of whether to eat as I drive to my appointment (a dangerous route) or to take care of my blood sugar first, wait for it to rise, then arrive at my appointment twenty minutes late (a safer route that may seem irresponsible and disrespectful to the waiting appointee who does not understand Type 1 Diabetes). I get low when I exercise and when I clean the house. I get high when I get stressed or enjoy Thanksgiving dinner a little too much. Each day is its own sort of roller-coaster.

I so badly want to applaud the parents who do not want their diabetic children to know limits, but at some point, that child will have to come to grips with the fact that diabetes is limiting. Those parents may as well help their children realize that earlier rather than later.

I am not telling you to not follow your dreams if you have T1D, but please know your limits. If you know your limits, you will know where to stop. If you manage your diabetes well, you might go further than you may have ever dreamed. You will certainly live longer and be able to keep all your limbs and features. But no matter how high you jump towards your dream, you will always have diabetic moments that slow you down.

I am always afraid that people are going to think that I am using diabetes as an excuse to get out of things… Like when I am moving (which has happened a lot in the past – oh – seven years) and I have to stop to eat and lie down (for some reason, the floor often seems most inviting when I’m low) for a while before continuing with the moving. No, I am not just lazy and getting out of moving boxes; when I have a low blood sugar, I actually cannot pick up those boxes without dropping them or falling over. Or when people want to go out for a hike or a drink or unhealthy food. If I am already low or high before the outing, I am definitely not going to feel any better afterwards. When I have to ask my friends to wait while I sit and take care of a low blood sugar, or when I feel lethargic and dull from a high, I feel bad making my friends wait on me or cater to my needs. But it is important to remember that your friends don’t mind as much as you may think they do. They are your friends, after all, and diabetes demands attention. There is no way around it.

I have begun to understand that telling friends about Type 1 Diabetes is extremely helpful. I always think I am boring other people by talking about the disease, but they are probably interested by it as well. It really is a fascinating (and confusing) disease. Anyway, they are your friends; they should be interested in your disease. Having a support group of friends, parents, siblings, cousins, spouses, and other Type 1 Diabetics is one of the best things you can do for yourself as a T1D. It is so freeing to know that you don’t have to eat that dessert just to fit in or be polite. It is reassuring to know that your friends understand how important it is to stop and take a breather while you address a low blood sugar. It is beyond-words-wonderful to know that someone will be there with the glucagon if you happen to not wake up. And it gives me the warm fuzzies to have other people around who are just as interested in my good diabetes management as myself (or more, if I am going through an I-HATE-DIABETES phase and not doing so well at caring about good blood sugars).

So, my diabetic friends:

1. Reach for the stars; make the dream you wish come true!

2. But please understand that diabetes WILL slow you down, no matter what Nick Jonas may have said in that video. You can still reach your goal, but only if you pay attention to your blood sugar and slow down for it when needed. Slowing down is completely okay. In fact, in today’s crazy-busy world, slowing down is incredibly beneficial.

3. Tell your friends, family, loved ones, and co-workers about diabetes so that they can better understand your ups and your downs. Tell them as soon as possible. They will still love you when your diabetes slows them down, too.

4. Do not be ashamed of having T1D; be proud of it! Wear it as a medal of honor that says, “This person is so strong and competent and amazing because several times in every hour of every day, they take care of a tough chronic disease called TYPE ONE DIABETES.”

Before and after photos from the Nashville JDRF ride my mom and I did last month. I cycled fifty-seven miles! This dark blue jersey was my medal of honor on October 31. Only Type 1 Diabetics get that color jersey at JDRF. It was a medal of honor with special powers! Well… not really, but it felt like it!

If you would like to support the fantastic work that JDRF is doing, please support my bike ride. I will be doing another next year, as well! It is such an amazing weekend and a fabulous cause. If you would like to receive JDRF-related email updates from me, please go to “Contact” and message me that you want to be added to my email list and I will add you!

Read from the beginning:


3 thoughts on “Check the B.S.

  1. You’re right! I tell my T1D teens this all the time… if you have tighter control, you’ll have more freedom! It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Knowing limits and boundaries doesn’t stop you; it helps you go further! (And also, your last paragraph is my favorite part of this post!!!)


  2. Pingback: Who is Essena O’Neill? | Soar with Laughter

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