Managing Diabetes to the Best of Your Ability

Ginger Vieira Health Guide
  • I am not a perfect diabetic. My blood sugars aren’t always perfect. I don’t always eat perfect foods. I love fruits and vegetables…but I also love ice cream and chocolate and sour candy. I don’t always test my blood sugar at least four times a day or even before every meal. I’ve even waited up to an hour after eating to give myself insulin, and I’ve let my blood sugars run a little high because I absolutely hate hypoglycemia. Did I mention I love Sour Patch Kids? I am not a perfect diabetic.

    When I was first diagnosed, I was pretty sure diabetes was the worst thing in the world, and it was only happening to me. My seventh grade class was putting on a health fair for my school. A classmate did his project on diabetes and sure enough, five out of the six symptoms listed on his display were the things I’d been feeling for the past two weeks: weight loss, blurry vision, constant thirst, constant urination, and severe fatigue.
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    After seeing the symptoms on the poster, I told my mother and my friends I thought I had diabetes. No one believed me, because my entire family had had the flu, so my symptoms had been shrugged off as a bad case of the flu as well. And of course, “people like me” don’t get chronic illnesses anyway, so I shouldn’t have been worried…

    It wasn’t until I actually started crying from feeling so miserable when I was taken to the hospital. And they knew immediately what was wrong with me: Type 1 Diabetes.

    The rest of my diagnosis probably sounds a lot like yours: a several-day-stay at the hospital, stringed up with IVs like a Christmas tree, and being woken up every hour throughout the night to be poked and prodded by sharp, painful tools. And don’t forget the part about being inundated with information on what it will take to make your body work sort of correctly again.

    I went from a thirteen year-old child who happily ate Breyer’s Strawberry Ice Cream every night before bed to a young adult who was now responsible for keeping herself alive every day.

    And so, I cried my eyes out and threw myself a pity-party.
    Why was this happening to me? It’s not fair! It’s not right! Why me? Why me?

    After about an hour of this sob-fest, I realized something: everyone has their own share of life to deal with. I started thinking about my closest friends and all the pains they’ve had to endure—real pains—despite having only reached seventh grade at the time. My friends have had cancer, clinical depression, brain injury and hemophilia. My friends have lost parents to brain tumors and breast cancer. They’ve been molested, abused and abandoned. They’ve all got their stories. Diabetes was just mine, and in comparison, it wasn’t looking so bad.

    I’ve had diabetes for about eight years now, and yet I’m still constantly learning how to live with this disease as best I can. My body is asking me to control something that an organ used to do all on its own, and it’s not easy. There are some days when the pressure-pressure-pressure to be the perfect diabetic is almost too much to handle. There are so many strange, unpredictable variables and inconsistencies. As soon as I think I’ve figured out the best way to keep my blood sugar high enough during a yoga class, it doesn’t seem to work the next time. I hate having to leave yoga for fifteen minutes just to drink a juice box and wait for my blood sugar to get back to normal, but that’s a major part of living with diabetes: patience—not something my mother would ever note as one of my strongest skills.

  • So, I don’t know for sure if a blood sugar of 150 will always last me through an entire yoga class, but I do know this: Diabetes is a huge challenge that’s going to be a part of my life for who knows how long—everyday you read about a new possible cure—and while it’s a real pain in the butt sometimes, I’ve met some amazing people and learned some invaluable lessons through having this disease. So I welcome this challenge with open arms and insulin in hand.
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Published On: January 18, 2007