I'm convinced that a key part of taking care of myself with diabetes is small (and at times, big) indulgences. I'm watching my brave, dedicated friend go on the pump and through the observation of her experience, I remember mine. The shock associated with the realization that I was becoming attached to a machine, 24/7. The reaction to having this clinical, medical tubing hanging off my body at all times. The dehumanization of being beeped at day and night. I know in my head, that the choice to go on the pump was smart and helpful and the right one for me, but in my body and heart, I also know that this process is strange. I know that the "rightness" of my choice, doesn't mean that all the other feelings are invalid or unreal. Making the smart and better choice to live attached to a machine vs. multiple shots a day, doesn't mean that being in the position to have to make this kind of choice is fun or good. In watching my friend go through this process, I am reminded about how much I've gotten used to. I am reminded, yet again, that this isn't much of a party, this disease.
I am also surprised at all the coping mechanisms and tools I've developed over the years. I've worked hard at finding the things that help and have consciously moved toward them. I've gotten better at bringing the sunny people and things into my life, and where I can, let go of those that drain energy or joy. I watch the news less, I walk with my dogs every day, rain or shine, I pace myself in what I take on outside of family and work. It's a process that I have to keep working at, but has also helped enormously over the long haul.
So when my friend is momentarily demoralized or sad or overwhelmed, I think about what might help her. This has been an enormous gift my friend has given me. It's allowed me to see diabetes from the outside in for the first time, and in the process understand the inside out way I've experienced it up to now. Until I needed to think about what would help her, I hadn't clearly seen what systems and techniques I've developed to help myself over the years.
So what's occured to me in this process of trying to help my friend in some small way, is the fact that all this stuff we do, even if we don't notice it anymore, takes effort, work, focus and energy. We are actively doing something, every time we take a blood test or bolus or change a site or deal with a low or high. We are drawing from our mental and physical reserves to deal with our diabetes. Fine. That's what it takes to do this disease and I'm resigned to that fact. But what I've learned intuitively, and am now able to bring to voice in the effort to help my friend, is that it's important to fill that reserve back up with things that bring you joy. Period. It's necessary to stay healthy and motivated and courageous. Energy takes food. And that's why treats are so important. Indulgences. Baubles. Whatever floats the boat, it's important to refill with the things that are a gift. A gift I give myself, to me, from me. Because I think on some deep, primal level, my body doesn't understand why it has to go through all this stuff like having a plastic tube in it or constantly being made to bleed. It sounds woo woo but I think I need to make up for that, for myself, where I can, in whatever way I can. And a treat is one very effective way of doing that very thing. Effort to deal with diabetes, out, effort to make it better by treating myself to a tee shirt or an extra walk or a movie, in. It's like a bank. A reserve that needs to be replenished. Just because I have diabetes.
So I shared that belief with my friend and we decided to go shopping. We found her something special, because lord knows, she deserves something special, and though it didn't mean that she wasn't going on the pump, it did mean that she felt prettier and more cared for and celebrated in the process. She felt a bit better, and in the end, from where I sit, that's all that matters.