Ups and Downs of Living With Diabetes

Life is not easy. Anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth. But, a healthy life is worth it.

Diabetes is an auto-immune disease, one with many risks and many ups and downs. For those diagnosed and living with diabetes, this disease becomes a lifestyle. A person cannot walk away from a disease. I cannot stop trying to live a healthy life.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 24 years ago. I wake up every day with the intent to learn and manage this disease. I thought I knew how to live with diabetes; I would have to *** my finger and take a shot. However, there is so much more to this disease like countless conversations with doctors, pharmacists and diabetes doctors, or endocrinologists. If you are like me, Google has been a helpful platform for learning about things.

Maybe you know, maybe you don’t, but blood sugar fluctuates. A person living with diabetes takes insulin to help manage their blood sugar. If your blood sugar drops, and you eat to correct it. This eating makes your blood sugar rise and you take insulin to correct it. This up and down with blood sugar is part of managing diabetes and there are days it can be difficult. I know I have considered food to be an enemy and I love food! So, how does anyone make it work? The concept is simple-- balance, education and practice.

Let’s be real because nothing is perfect. Neither is blood sugar. As a person living with diabetes, I have been taught to recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. These symptoms may include shaking, sweating, blurred vision, unclear mind and pale skin. Every person may experience different symptoms. A few seconds can make a world of difference in recognizing, correcting and maybe even surviving.

What if I’ve been diagnosed, now what?

You can read as much as you want, and I encourage you to be informed. A great way to learn about recognizing symptoms is to experience it. Now, I am not suggesting anything reckless. Some tests have been done with fasting blood sugar to see how your body reacts without food.  Monitoring and checking your blood sugar is an easy way to be informed. Keeping a journal of blood sugar levels and how your body feels can help identify similarities.

When I describe my feeling of a low or high blood sugar level, I often describe it as feeling weird. How do you describe something when you may not be sure what you are feeling? For example, I have felt out of sorts. I have felt lost. I may feel as if I stood up too fast. I may not be able to describe how I feel, but I feel it. It may be a sixth sense, but it is there. For those around me to witness is not easy. If you have seen a person experience hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, you might feel a sense of panic or worry. As with life, it isn’t easy to watch. Sometimes, a juice box or crackers can help. Sometimes, water and conversation may be best. Please, don’t walk away. The person experiencing hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia should not be left alone. If you know how, you can check their sugar. If you don’t, you can call 9-1-1 for help. 

What can you do to help someone living with diabetes?

I suggest being a support system. It can begin with a conversation. This person has a lifestyle you may not know about. This is an opportunity to educate yourself from their experience. You can ask questions or share what you know. You can ask what they need to feel better? You can ask how they feel when their blood sugar goes high or low. You can be there for them. You can listen.

In my 24 years of experience, I have seen my blood sugar move faster than Superman. I have seen it rise like a balloon reaching the clouds and fall like a book off a shelf. I have found myself having repeat conversations with different diabetes doctors and educators. When my blood sugar drops, I may feel confused. When my blood sugar rises, I may feel tired. When my blood sugar changes, I don’t always feel the same thing. Chatting with others helps. It’s good to know I am not the only person who has felt this way.

Over 1 million Americans have type 1*, while the number may sound small you are not alone. The Diabetes Online Community (DOC) is an endless group of knowledge and if you haven’t joined with them, I suggest you consider it.

I will continue my lifestyle as a person living with a disease. I will keep on learning about effects of blood sugar on the body and I will not stop caring. This is the one life I have, and I will do my best to make it a great one!

Presented by: Kimberly Holzmann

Sources: *http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/

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