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Chronic Conditions (specifically, type 2 diabetes)

So, it runs in my family on both sides. Paternal grandfather: didn't go to the doctor for 25 years and was severely diabetic with chronic kidney disease and godknowswhatelse. Died from kidney failure after years of in-home dialysis. Maternal great-grandmother: probably didn't go to the doctor much, but had a lot of risk factors for it. Died from massive stroke at 56. Maternal grandmother: diagnosed later in life (in her 70s, good medical care throughout her life). Now well-controlled at 94. Mom: diagnosed a few years ago, was well-controlled, but now I'm not so sure.

Then there's me. Elevated blood sugar & lipids in my mid 20s. PCOS. Went low carb, exercise (some), supplements and it was all fine. Next, gestational diabetes, complete with insulin 4 times every day and at least 30 minutes on the treadmill every day. Ok after kiddo was evicted from my innards. Then the numbers started creeping up again and I hovered in a pre-diabetic state for quite a while. At some point the switch flipped and a new diabetic was born. That was probably a few years ago.

I established with a new doc a year ago and she made the official diagnosis. I started trying pills again. Tried and failed. Tried and failed. They helped some, but not enough. After a year of this we started talking injectables (insulin in all its variety and glory). For a lot of people it feels like the last resort, that you've failed everything else, have no willpower and are a Fatty McFatterson loser.


I've chosen to look at is an opportunity to stop taking so many pills (hopefully) and work my way off it at some point (maybe), or the simple fact that I will do whatever I need to do to make my body function optimally and avoid horrors like neuropathy, retinopathy, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, and amputations. I still have moments of feeling like a failure, but I can talk myself out of that.

I know diet and exercise are the keys to getting on top of this and maintaining long term. My diet is good and always improving, though I am a sugar addict and that presents a different set of challenges. Exercise is a pain in the ass. At least, it is when I think of it as "exercise." I live in the PNW and am not a yeti, so when it's raining sideways and 36 degrees F I don't want to go out and do the outdoorsy thing I do when it's better outside. So, I have to get "exercise." I have to make time for it. The things that would be more fun (swimming) are seriously inconvenient. I've tried removing whatever barriers I could think of and it just doesn't work for right now. I have a treadmill in the living room, and I still have a hard time making myself get on the damn thing for 30 minutes a day.

Here's one of the biggest problems with diabetes and some of the conditions I listed above: they're invisible illnesses until something goes horribly wrong. Once "something happens" you hit the point of no return with some issues. Once you have a heart attack, you're heart is likely weakened in some way and you will always have to work harder at taking care of yourself to maintain the level of health you had before. I have to make sure I take my shot every night at 10pm. I have to communicate closely with my doctor until we get my dose properly adjusted and have regular blood work (every three months or so). I have to stay on top of a list of supplies that includes what I need to inject insulin and what I need to monitor blood sugar: insulin pen, pen needles, sharps container, alcohol swabs, blood sugar monitor and lancing device, lancets and test strips.


Oh, and I've had to educate myself on how to use all of these things and endure some trial and error.


The pen needles I have right now are too long and too wide - it shouldn't hurt as much as it does (I got woozy a few night ago) and I shouldn't have little pin prick marks that bleed after the injection. I also dialed back the force with which the lancing device shoots its needle into my finger because it really hurt.

Did I mention I have a GIGANTIC needle phobia I've had to overcome? Because there's that, too. I also have chronic mental health issues that throw a gigantic wrench into the whole thing. The things I do to manage diabetes help with those issues, but you can probably see the vicious cycle that occurs when the delicate balance is disturbed.


I'm not complaining about any of this (well, maybe the ouch-factor part). I've certainly accepted that this is my reality and may be for the rest of my life. I am so thankful that I have insurance and supportive family, and that I live in a place where there is a lot of help available. I think my intent is to remind folks out there that taking care of yourself is important at every stage of life for reasons that aren't immediately obvious. Chronic conditions are manageable, but best avoided.

Tl;dr: Chronic illness is extremely inconvenient and will change your life. Decisions and habits —> health or illness.

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