A few months ago, I had to break up with a very comfortable relationship I had with my blood sugar. I knew it was time to move on, and that I needed more, but it was a far harder thing to get over than I could have imagined. I was in a don’t ask, don’t tell, out of sight, out of mind situation, and traded it in for a nosy, live-in, stage five clinger that say he “only wants the best for me”. When I said “yes” to the CGM, I was elated to finally commit to something that would help me finally grab my blood sugar by the balls, and lower my A1c for good. But what I hadn’t anticipated, was the emotional impact “continuous” would have.
A CGM is an incredible thing. It’s a small, fairly non-invasive little doodad that, like everything else in my diabetes entourage, is inserted into my skin to essentially babysit my blood sugars. Every 3 minutes it tests me, and keeps a running graph on my iPhone on a very sleek, simple app. Pretty fucking dope, right? Sure! But there’s a catch…
“Continuous” is INTENSE. It is non-stop, in-your-face, around the clock, poking and prodding that that says “Guess what?! YOU HAVE DIABETES AND YOU HAVE IT RIGHT NOW. AND NOW. AND STILL NOW!” When my blood sugar is high, my phone goes nuts. And all I’ll do is stare at it and panic, and adjust, and drive myself crazy until the numbers to go back to “normal”. When I’m low, I get double down arrows and red icons and it’s all very scary and dramatic and apocalyptic. Not to mention, the whole routine becomes obsessive. As frustrating as it is, my innocent little Dexcom is exposing a reality that I’ve been only about 60% privy to for the last decade. With the CGM, there are no more secrets, there is no more cheating. I can run from this thing…but I certainly can’t hide.
After a small, heated meltdown on a recent vacation, I realized I was taking every blood sugar spike very personally, and was feeling like a complete failure. As if the 11 years of experience I had with this disease was all for not. True to form, I cried, swore a lot, ripped my infusion set out, threw an entire reservoir of insulin into a public trashcan, and stomped off. I had completely lost my shit and I needed to reel it in.
It’s all too easy to lose yourself when you have a piece of technology or a number staring you in the face constantly, mocking and making you question every decision you make. Just once I wish it would say, “I know you’re trying, I’m sorry for being so hard on you all the time, I promise to give you a break tomorrow.”
But here’s the thing. It’s never going to do that. It’s a piece of plastic and a cellphone application. It’s intended to make my life easier and safer. Not to torture and humiliate me.
I preach a non-stop gospel that I am me first and a diabetic second. And with the adjustment to constant contact with a robot, I’ve lost a little bit of that. I’ve become a little too obsessed with catering to this thing’s graphs and data and charts to maintain my own self-awareness. To be proud of myself. To appreciate who I am and what I’m trying to accomplish in my actual life. And it’s time to get that back in check and into a healthy place.
So I will not… I REPEAT, WILL NOT not let this thing take over my life. I will not let it ruin food for me. I will not let it become the topic of every conversation at home and in my relationship. I will not let it make me feel like I’m doing a bad job. What I WILL do, is let it help me. Guide me. Empower me to make better choices and decisions, and to understand repercussions more clearly.
I am me first. And a diabetic second. And that goes for each and every one of us who are working our asses off to figure out where in our busy lives this disease fits in. So find a photo or a memory of yourself where you felt completely free of all of this. The photo up there is that moment for me to a T. Find a photo where the fear that your insides are at war with themselves isn’t worn anywhere on your expression or in your mannerisms. Or that you have a real disease with a real impact on your day-to-day experiences. Post it on Instagram. Throw the hashtag #MeFirst in the caption. And show the world that you are still the boss. Not your diabetes.