It is hard to sum up exactly how I feel. Living with diabetes hasn’t been and isn’t easy.
I am absolutely serious when I say the injections are the easy part.
It is much more difficult to deal with how constant it is, how life threatening and serious it can be, balancing the low and then high blood sugar levels, managing the mood changes and physical symptoms that accompany those blood sugar levels, the concern and reality of the damage to our other organs, the many specialists and hospital appointments and admissions, the cost of our medication, the way it impacts our whole family, the inconvenience it is to holidays along with work, sport and social activities, the way it determines when and how we eat and exercise and did I mention the 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year consuming thought of “How do I feel?”. The answer to this question can be life or death.
I am completely aware that this is not what you see when you encounter someone living with diabetes but, alongside juggling the normal challenges and life decisions we all face on a daily basis, it is our reality. Although we may have an auto immune condition we aren’t immune to life.
Whilst generally my diabetes is manageable and for 30 years I haven’t let it control my life, it has been distracting and at times, I would call it overwhelming. However, it wasn’t until my daughter was diagnosed 10 years ago that I felt real sadness. Don’t get me wrong, she is great and I very rarely have reason to worry about her but I do grieve that she has it.
I remember seeing the film “PS I Love You” and there is a scene in the movie where the mum tells her daughter that one of the most heart-breaking experiences for a mother is to watch your child go through something that you have gone through and not be able to prevent it. I sobbed and sobbed like a baby. Deep down I knew that Jess would be okay, I mean let’s face it, there are much more tragic illnesses than diabetes and it hadn’t really stopped me from living a fairly normal life but this intimate knowledge of what is ahead of her, combined with my inability to prevent it really struck a chord with me.
There are two words/actions that have reflected my approach to living with diabetes for the past 30 years.
One is Acceptance and the other is Hope. I believe my journey has contributed to making me the person that I am and I use these words/actions along with the empathy I have gained to help serve my clients living with chronic illness. If you live with chronic illness, either you have a condition yourself or care for someone with a chronic illness – I want to tell you that I see you and I would love to support you and help you create a life that is purposeful and that you love despite having a chronic illness. I understand that it can be consuming some days and that you don’t know how to keep going or if it is even worth it and other days it can seem that there is not much room in your life for anything else. Let me tell you – YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN YOUR ILLNESS. You are not alone and I am here to help.
Chronic illness affects your whole family and our little family is no exception so when Jess and I “celebrate” we “celebrate” with our incredible family without whom we could not do it all. My Mum and Dad showed me unconditional love and support, raising and championing me to believe that there were no limits to what I could achieve even with diabetes. I now know that having a daughter and then later a granddaughter diagnosed would have been, and is, hard for them. And then there is my incredible husband Darren and youngest daughter Keely who see their wife, mum, daughter and sister make daily choices to stay alive and mostly thrive, sometimes it is with ease and other times with a struggle. Their sacrifice, care, love, encouragement and support is integral to our survival and quality of life. I am full of gratitude, love and admiration. So together we will celebrate courage, love and our unique journeys. Yay us!!
Much love, Lisa xx