Friday, October 7, 2011

The Tough Things in Life

Anyone who deals with diabetes on a daily basis knows it's not easy.  I never in a million years thought it would be something I'd have to deal with personally--it was something that happened to "other people."  Then, once I was diagnosed, I realized that even though it's overwhelming at times, it is manageable.  Some days are easier than others, of course, but even with all the carb counting, insulin-balancing, and trying not to let it take over your life, it's doable.  Some people tell me that they "don't know how [I] do it," or that they admire how "strong" I am...Little do they know that when you have a chronic illness, being strong is the only choice you have--otherwise, the disease wins.  I definitely went through a grieving process over the loss of my former "no diabetes" self, but eventually (with a lot of help/reality checks from my husband), I came to terms with the fact that this was just something I'd have to deal with (for the rest of my life).  Some days I don't want to do it, but I do--because I refuse to give in to diabetes.  It may be my stubbornness, but from day one, I've been determined to keep it in check as much as I can and/or kick its butt when I'm feeling up to it.

On the days I'm feeling especially triumphant, I'm able to see that there has even been some good that has come from my diagnosis.  For starters, I lost somewhere around 10-15 lbs as a result of my carb counting, and I took up running--which is something that would shock my junior high and high school coaches!  Most importantly (through lots of hard work, research, and help from my awesome CDE), I was able to rise to the challenge of the diabetes learning curve fairly quickly and take control of my blood sugars to bring my A1C down to the proper pre-pregnancy levels I was shooting for.  It wasn't easy (and still isn't), but I did it.  I would never say that I've conquered diabetes, though, because as soon as you think you have the hang of things, it throws you for a loop again...I just refuse to ever give it the opportunity to conquer me.

On the brighter side of things, diabetes has made me a stronger person.  I suppose you don't realize how strong you are until you're faced with one of your biggest fears, which for me has always been losing my health.  Even though I technically (and thankfully) haven't actually lost it, I do feel like I can no longer consider myself a "normal," healthy person, even if I'm otherwise healthier than a lot of my acquaintances.  When you are forced to face your fears, though, something happens: you (usually) realize that it isn't as bad as you imagined it to be.  Some days diabetes looms in the background, waiting to pounce if I let my guard down long enough; others, it's very much front and center, demanding my attention on a sometimes minute-to-minute basis.  Either way, it's a pain (sometimes literally), but doable.

One thing dealing with diabetes didn't prepare me for, though, is one of the other biggest challenges I've faced in my life.  I've written a few times about how my sister's pregnancy has affected me, and it's still an ongoing and very emotional battle.  It's something else that I never thought I'd have to go through, so finding myself in the middle of it all wasn't just a shock; it's truly been one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's a situation I have no control over, even though it affects me and the rest of my family in a huge way.  I resent the fact that she's the one who made her decisions, and yet we're all having to deal with the consequences.  From an outsider's view, many people may wonder why this would be such a difficult situation--after all, women (and younger girls) have unplanned pregnancies all the time.  That's the kicker, though...we all still wonder (and probably always will) if my sister's pregnancy wasn't planned, due to a lot of variables that were in place at the time.  In addition, the timing of it all made it even worse, because it happened right before I was supposed to get my A1C results back so that my husband and I could get the green light to start our family, something I'd been working towards for months, and that everyone knew about.  That, combined with the fact that I have to work full-time to keep my insurance in order to pay for my diabetes-related supplies and expenses and contribute to our bills while she has been jobless her entire pregnancy and has therefore been living off my parents, contributes to feelings of resentment toward her and everything related to the situation.

Even though people tell me all the time not to let her pregnancy interefere with ours, the reality is that it does.  Especially now that her due date is getting closer, my parents are stretched thin taking care of her preparations and appointments (which are very frequent since she's considered double-high-risk due to her own diabetes being so out of control when she got pregnant), and that takes a toll on everyone.  They're stressed out trying to get things done, and that impacts me directly since I work with them every day.  Furthermore, their being stressed makes me feel guilty for expecting anything related to my pregnancy from them since they're already so all-consumed with her.  My mom has been taking me to the majority of my appointments since my husband can't get off work to come with me, but even though my appointments are still three weeks apart, that means more time away for her (both of us see a doctor and will deliver two hours away from our small town since we're high-risk).  Also, my mom always told me she'd paint the nursery for me, but I don't think that's going to happen either.  My parents stopped by one night last week to see the paint color I'd picked out, and my dad told me they'd come help me "after they got done with [my sister's] stuff."  Even though my husband (very lovingly) told me he'd take care of it and I've had friends offer to help, it still hurts to know a lot of things like that wouldn't be an issue if I weren't pregnant at the same time as her.  It may sound horrible, but I honestly can't help but think about how different everything would be if things would have happened the way they were planned instead of the way they've turned out.  I know that all of this is somehow part of God's plan, but it's so hard to see how at the time.

The last couple of days have been particularly tough emotionally, and I sometimes wonder how I can handle all of this anymore.  I'm just so tired of having to deal with all the comments and no one knowing that I'm pregnant ("too"); or even if they do, only asking about her baby.  Even though I know that no one means bad by any of it, it still hurts...a lot.  I spend a lot of the time I'm in public trying to hold myself together, because I can only deal with so much before I can't stop the tears from coming any longer.  What's even harder than that, though, is dealing with my own family's tendancy to talk about my sister all the time.  My mom has been having a lot of fun buying baby stuff, which is great; however, she can't tell me about anything she's bought for our baby without telling me about my sister's gifts as well.  We literally can't have a conversation about my pregnancy specifically or anything baby/pregnancy-related without it somehow relating back to hers, and that wears on me--especially since I'm already more emotional than usual these days.  My mom knows exactly how I feel about everything, and even though I know she'd rather us all get along, it's just not going to happen anytime soon.  I wish that rather than trying to force the issue, she'd just let me enjoy what's left of our pregnancy without having to focus on my sister.  I already feel like I've had to share everything up to this point with her, and now that I'm finally able to enjoy things a little more since we've found out the sex of our baby (girl!), I just want to be able to that without being hindered by anything else...Is that really so much to ask?!


Laura said...

I couldn't find a place to email you. I have a big "coupon blog" over at Extreme Southern Couponing, I found your page about 3 weeks ago and love your writing. My daughter has T1 for almost 2yrs now. Starting Nov 1st everyday for the month I am posting something dealing with diabetes, from diabetes pages, to info to people's stories and wanted to know if you would be interested in "guest posting" on my blog and sharing your story? If you are please email me at and we can discuss it a littler further.
Thank You

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