14 November 2014

My D


#WearBlue to show your support
for World Diabetes Day!
For World Diabetes Awareness Day, my original idea for a post was a quote compilation. For anyone who has ever see one of my social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc...) it will become quickly apparent that I have a slight love for literary lines of wisdom.

However, some soul-searching (largely catalysed by reading some truly inspiring D-blogs recently), has left me with the conclusion that maybe the best words are my own.

Much of my blogging is dedicated to writing about personal experience; this can be a scary thing, laying your soul bare as it were, but that is what I choose to do in the hopes that it can possibly change one misconception, or offer comfort to others in my situation. Words are such a powerful thing, but upon reflection I realise that, perhaps, I am holding too much in store by the words of others.

Robert  Frost, for all his wit and general wonderfulness, has not experienced giving injections multiple times a day. Stephen Chbosky, though a continuous source of comfort to me through his searingly honest and provoking outlook on life, has not lived through the day-to-day roller coaster of a chronic illness, with all the infuriation, paranoia and fear is brings. 

My Instagram Post for #showmeyourpump
No person, let alone any writer, will have felt quite the same emotion I did this morning - waking up to "wear Blue for Diabetes Day", knowing that the Blue i most want to wear is the insulin pump that now lies unused in a bottom drawer, hidden beneath the still quite foreign presence of needle boxes and a lantus guide sheet. 

To be fair, the lantus pen is blue… it's just not my blue. It isn't my D. 

It's strange, describing an illness as "mine" in a way that almost sounds sentimental! But that's the thing… it is a love-hate relationship, at least for me. I would say 75% of the time I utterly hate it - this percentage is significantly higher right now than in other periods of my life. 24.9% of the time I tolerate it, not necessarily noticing it and how it affects everyday life. I find that distractions are brilliant, whether it be sitting with my flatmates and laughing every few seconds over the very special cinematic feat that is Breaking Dawn, or sitting in the office watching an equally hilarious youtube clips Dogs & Socks; that canine star could give Kristen Stewart a few lessons on expressing emotion… He looked so happy with his socks - Dobby would be proud. When I engage with life, even in the smallest little ways, I can escape the 'D bubble' that all too often threatens to swallow me up.

That leaves the fractional 0.1%. The moments - minute though they may be - where this strange fondness sets in. I will never truly feel thankful for diabetes; however I can, at times, discern those small silver linings. 

I said I wasn't going to use quotes, but as this is from my dad I don't feel it counts! Yesterday, I got my Poetry Presentation mark for Creative Writing back. Incidentally, the overarching theme for my poems is 'chronic illness'; as I have been writing more on my diabetes recently, I figured it would be a logical approach to go. Well, I got it back… 80! My highest ever mark at Uni. This was the presentation I gave a week after my whirlwind 24 hour hospital experience. I remember being so nervous, and coming away from it feeling I had rambled, missed key points and overall let myself down. Evidently that was not the case. So I rang dad to tell him, and something he said towards the end stuck with me:

"I just hope life starts dealing you an easier hand, 
because this shows how talented and strong you are"

Picture of Dad and I in Vietnam this Summer
Sorry Stephen and Robert, Papa Harrison has outdone you! I also think of all the wonderful messages I have received through this blog and student media; today one 3rd year Nursing Student told me that my posts actually helped her in her midterm exam on Diabetes! I do struggle to believe it; I often attribute any 'achievements' to luck, but all 'failings' to me. However, this is a mindset I am endeavouring to change. 

Diabetes has made me stronger - I haven't had a say in it. Seven year old me needed to give injections to live. Student me has to think about all these extra things, simply to be at University! It has made me value things in a way I may not have, had I been given an easier paper round. It helps me (at times!) have a more objective view; I am able to place things in perspective, realising that in the grand scheme of things a lost sock or spilt milk (real incident the other day - not fun) are not going to catalyse Armageddon. 

Nonetheless, you can only sugar-coat (no pun intended) so much; you can't rose-tint a fractured window enough to make it whole. Diabetes has exacerbated my inherent perfectionism. I admit that my tendency to want to control situations, in conjunction with fixating on seemingly trivial things at times, does stem from the infuriating nature of Diabetes to throw these sporadic curveballs time and time again. For anyone who has seen me (try to) play rounders, you'll know this is an uphill struggle…

photo credit: Instagram @typeone_life 
But I try and, if it fails, try again. Always keep trying in the hopes something will click. Yes, I have days where I simply want to throw in the towel. I have moments where I look at the insulin pen and cry - I will not feel ashamed of this. I look around my room and see stray testing strips, needle wrappers, upon having tested and seeing a reading in high teens; all I see is clutter, constant reminders of the illness that is both internal and all around me. It is a seemingly bottomless pit, yet I simply do not have the energy to try and tidy it all in that moment. I realise I have to accept this temporary state of fogginess, unable to discern quite what lies ahead.

That is often what diabetes is; a waiting game. It requires patience, time, perseverance, patience again. But most of all - forgiveness. The ability to forgive yourself, forgive the illness too. You cannot live with it through a reciprocal blame game. No one is at fault; least of all, you. 

I am still trying to convince myself of this. Yet, as is often the case with life, it is much harder to believe in your own words, than the words of others. So the probability is that i will say all of this, but still feel inevitable guilt within the next 24 hours. I felt it only this morning, waking up to a BG of 15 and internally kicking myself asking "what could I have done?" My main concern is when the "carb guilt" emerges, currently in the process of rebuilding my trust with carbohydrates and insulin, the recent hurdle in my diabetes having, admittedly, undermined much of the progress i made this summer on that front. But I am keeping on, motoring on like The Little Engine That Could - because i can.

photo credit: cylingabout.com

We all can. We are not predetermined numbers and letters - our lives are not here to be written by anyone else's hand.  

As you resolutely attach your insulin pump, or hold the injection pen, you are also lifting up that pen to paper - trusting it is possible to fill those pages with more than a diagnosis. 

Never stop writing. 
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1 comment

  1. Hi Sophie,

    Thanks for sharing this - I like how you recognize that there may be that little special tiny sliver of silver lining. :-)

    I also like how you say that even after writing this, you will still probably feel inevitable guilt in the next day (funny how the nature of diabetes, and its neverending troubleshooting and ... "hindsighting?" can do that do us, isn't it?).

    Great reflections and thoughts.

    May your pen grant you windows into yourself that are sometimes otherwise hard to see.

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