It proves I have a disease. When I was first diagnosed, my blood sugar numbers were in the high 300's. Something was obviously wrong with me given all the weight loss, the incessant thirst, the need to pee all the time. It took one blood test to know what it was. One number and it was clear that I had diabetes. That blood test was the day my life changed forever. One way of living ended and a new way, one filled with numbers and calculations, physical ups and downs, psychological challenges and trials began. That day I started to live my life in small increments punctuated by blood and numbers. An hour here, stop and test and decide. 3 hours later, do the same. 5, 7, 10 times a day. From then on, until now. When I look back on all the days preceding this moment now, I see a time table, a chart full of numbers and countless decisions, stretching back behind me as far as the eye can see.
That was my blood sugar reading a couple of days ago. I'd forgotten to take my bolus at breakfast. A simple, though rare mistake on my part. I've been having quite the struggle with my blood sugars lately, in part because I've also been battling the flu the last couple of weeks. For me unruly blood sugars mean lot's of interruptions at night. High blood sugars at crazy hours. Which also means I'm extra tired on top of the toll the elevated blood sugars (and inevitable crashes that happen when trying to correct them) take on me. Extra tired and distracted so I just assume I'd taken my usual bolus before breakfast until I felt strangely queasy and disoriented. Hm, what's up, I wondered? I tested and there it is, 487. Crazy high 487. Mystery solved.
It's a couple of days later and I continue to wrestle with my night time blood sugars. My doctor offers suggestions, I try them, I gather data, I call again, we try some more. If this doesn't clear up soon, I guess I'll go on the sensor for a bit. Not the end of the world, but yet another thing to deal with and wear on my body. My body that's literally tired, the skin fatigued from all the tubes and liquid and adhesive it's endured for years. I know I'll do it, but I also feel like I want to scream NO! I've had enough. I can't believe I have to do this too, on top of candulas and finger pricks and set insertions. A primal part of me is begging me not to do this one more thing. I know I have to quell that voice inside me as I've done so many times before. I know it, but for just a few days, I'm letting it win.
And then I remember something that is so simple, and yet is so easily forgotten in all the busyness of my day and life. I remember that I have a disease. I have a disease and I'm as "sick" as the day I was diagnosed. One missed bolus before a meal and my blood sugar is 487. One missed dose of insulin and there you have it, plain as day. I have a disease.
I want to remember this a bit more. Not to feel sorry for myself but rather, to see what I do, what's become routine, and honor it. I want to remember it so that I can own all the difficult choices I've made, both big and small, every single day, every few hours, since the day I was diagnosed nearly 23 years ago. And along with that I want to remember too that I've also changed since that day. I'm now a person who is 23 years older with diabetes and as such, has a different body at a different life stage. What has worked for the younger me, doesn't necessarily work in the same way for the present day me. And what works today, might not work in the future. Just because I've "mastered" the regimen doesn't mean it's always going to turn out the same.
So though it wasn't a good number to have, it's turned out to be a helpful one. 487 reminded me that in fact I do have a disease. It reminded me of the long journey I've been on and the fact that at this point in time, there really isn't a destination or ending. 487 reminded me that along the way there are countless moments of victory and that at the core of it all, I'm doing the best I can with a very tough and unrelenting disease. And truly seeing that really does matter, regardless of what the numbers say.