“It’s because of your diabetes”.
How many times have I heard that. How many times have I thought that. How many times have I wanted to shout “Not everything in my life is because of my diabetes!”. And how many times have I used diabetes as a crutch, an excuse, a get out of jail free card?
When you live with something like diabetes it is easy for people, particularly those in the medical profession, to presume every ache, pain, spot, niggle and twitch, is due to your diabetes. Sometimes of course that is true. The number of things that can happen to your body when your insides are slow cooking in glucose over 33 years is incredible. Just like a good caramel sauce, diabetes has gently simmered inside my body and created changes that mean I have to manage not just my blood glucose, but an array of interesting and colourful conditions that make life tricky to say the least.
However there have also been things happen to me, that are not in fact related to my diabetes.
Sometimes, rather than blaming the condition on your diabetes, they will try to get out of helping you because of your diabetes, or ensure if things go wrong it is entirely your fault as you have diabetes, nothing to do with them. What happens is you get the line “Oh I won’t operate on that frozen shoulder because in diabetics the chances are it will just make it worse”. “Oh I will do your carpal tunnel but don’t expect the same results as a non-diabetic, sometimes in diabetics it does not make any difference”. Or the classic kick in the guts when I had worked my ass off in my third pregnancy to ensure my baby would have the best chance and was going in to have my c-section full of confidence as my HbA1c had been 5% all the way through, the doctor saying “well yes that is true but you know in these diabetic environments sometimes that does not equate to the baby not having any problems” – FAR OUT I really did not need to hear that right then. And by the way he was WRONG and the baby was SO fine, he was with me in my room within 3 hours of birth.
Anyway, what these comments mean really is “Oh you have diabetes. You are essentially stuffed, we are not fixing it because you are just too far gone”. Or, “if this does not work it is totally on you”. And people wonder why there are high levels of diabetes related distress? I wonder why we people with diabetes experience high stress, low levels of wellbeing and increased depression. Gee it is beyond me.
On the flip side, when you grow up being told about all the terrible complications that can happen and being told all ailments lead to diabetes, it is easy to fall in to thinking yourself that the tingling in your foot, the swelling in your fingers, the fact your shoulder does not move anymore, the blurry eyes in the morning, are all diabetes complications starting to invade your body. When in fact they may just be about getting old. Or having arthritis. Or you slept on your arm. Or you work on a computer all day long. Or just because it is a cold day and you did not sleep much the night before. Yes it is easy for your mind to run away with you, to freak you out, to worry you.
Diabetes can however be useful. Have you ever called in sick because you “had a hypo”? Or turned up late somewhere because your “pump disconnected” and you had to sort it out? Or pulled out of a social event because “your diabetes was playing up”? I have. Of course I have also had these things genuinely interfere with my life. I really have had to have time off, stop going out somewhere, because of diabetes. But on the odd occasion, I have also used diabetes as a way out. I think we should be able to have the right to this small side benefit of diabetes. There are not many lets face it.
So, who’s blaming who? I for one am not blaming anyone for me getting diabetes. I am not blaming myself for not always getting it right. I am certainly not blaming everything in my life on my diabetes. And I am not even blaming people for blaming it all on my diabetes. But sometimes, on the odd occasion, I am blaming diabetes, because I think I deserve that right.