We live in a world that’s made up of 1.25 million type 1 diabetics. At one point, you probably have sat next to someone at a bar who injected themselves with insulin before indulging in some nachos or possibly walked by somebody at the beach with a pump affixed to their stomach. The diabetic community isn’t the majority by any means, but there’s a lot of us out there.
Saying that “having diabetes sucks” would be dramatic. It’s nothing more than a small inconvenience in my life. If a 30 second blood sugar test and a 1/2 inch needle were the only annoyances in my life, then I’d say I’d be doing pretty well for myself.
I get far more annoyed with things like the extra $30 I get charged for going over my monthly transfer limit between my checking and savings account (seriously- Bank of America, wtf? 6 times is not enough for a broke post-grad).
When my doctors told me that this is a very “manageable disease,” I didn’t believe them. I was pissed at the world and was throwing a pity party for myself for a solid 2 weeks. When I finally decided to stop being pissed, I begrudgingly accepted type 1 as my new normal and continued on.
One of the symptoms of type 1 is rapid weight loss. Like, seriously, you can eat and drink whatever the f*ck you want and you’ll still drop weight like nobody’s business. Sure, the fatigue and constant pain sucked, but I had never felt more confident in my appearance than I did pre-diagnosis. As a girl who has never been blessed with a fast metabolism, I was beating the natural weight loss system and I was LOVING it.
You mean, I can eat this giant pizza, drink this entire margarita pitcher, and STILL lose 5 pounds a week? F*ck yah.
It was awesome.
I’m fully aware that this sounds ridiculous and the rate at which I was losing weight was not healthy by any means. My body was constantly tired and uncomfortable, but I overlooked a lot of that because watching the pounds fall off put me on a weird high and provided me with a confidence that I had never felt before. I was skinny– something that I could never say about myself.
The doctors did their best to educate me in my short hospital stay back in Boston. They mentioned that the weight would come back, but ensured me that it was healthy weight coming back.
When people ask me how I’ve been “managing” health wise, I assure them that I am killing the diabetes game (at least that’s what my doctors tell me). My A1C is on point and I maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen and steer clear from foods that will spike my blood sugar levels. Carb counting is a simple science to master and I now know that I need to eat 5 crackers before bed to avoid waking up at 3am with a low blood sugar. I know my body more than I ever have and that’s pretty cool.
Having diabetes doesn’t suck. At all. So why the f did you title this “This is what sucks about diabetes?
What sucks is I’m not skinny anymore. I can’t eat endless pizza and salted margs and still expect to lose weight. The natural weight loss system can’t be beat if you’re body is breaking down sugar properly…apparently.
I wanted to be healthy and feel normal again, but I still wanted to be skinny. I wanted the best of both worlds and only got one of them. The first time I stepped on the scale when I got home to DC, I broke down in tears. Like, literally had a breakdown in my kitchen for a solid hour. I can’t accurately describe what gaining 15 pounds overnight feels like, but I will tell you that it fucking sucks.
I’m always afraid to talk about this aspect of diabetes with people because I know how they’ll respond. “Beth, you’re healthy now. This is good weight to gain. You look so much better.”
Well, how come I don’t feel better? Sure, I’m not waking up in the middle of the night with obscenely painful leg cramps or suffering from cotton mouth constantly, but I miss the self confidence I had.
I miss my body pre-diagnosis.
Is that bad to admit? I’m not sure, but it’s how I feel. Anyone who has experienced weight loss will agree that it can turn into an addiction. When people comment “Wow, you look awesome!” on your Instagram picture, it feels great. I remember one picture I posted back in the fall with my “killer” new bod and receiving more likes on that picture than I ever had before. Social media was loving my non-working pancreas. And I was too-even if I felt like shit all of the time.
I wasn’t healthy when I was losing 5 pounds a week. It’s not normal to drop two pant sizes in two weeks. Like I said, my pancreas was literally dysfunctional and that’s definitely not healthy…at least that’s what I’ve been told. But, people don’t judge you by your pancreas, they judge you by your waist line. Now I’m lol’ing thinking about living in a world where people judge you by your pancreas. I hate that I miss the body I once had and I hate admitting that to people because it seems so trivial.
I don’t hate diabetes for the insulin injections, the carb counting, or the expensive medication. I hate it because it gave me a false self-confidence temporarily only to rip it from under me the very next day.
I hate it because I’m not supposed to hate it for these reasons, but I do. I’m not alone in these sentiments, there is actually a diabetic eating disorder known as “diabulemia,” where people with type 1 (mostly women) will skip their insulin injections and maintain a dangerously high blood sugar count in order to lose weight at the same rate they were before. There’s a way to manipulate the system, and people have mastered it. When I first heard about this eating disorder, I didn’t understand why people would ever trade weight-loss for constant discomfort at a high blood sugar count. But, now I totally get it. It’s both comforting and sad to know there is a whole subcategory of type 1 diabetics who have the same feelings that I do. But, at least I know I’m not alone. Though I don’t have “diabulemia,” I certainly can feel for those people who do and understand why.
And that’s what sucks about diabetes.
As I’m learning more and more about this disease, I encourage you read up on it too. It’s fascinating to watch the developments and research that goes into diabetes and how many people are affected by it. The best website I’ve found is through the Joslin Center. Their website is here.
Rumor has it there’s a bionic pancreas in the works? Sign me up because that sounds f*cking sick. Like, hey wassup hello? I have a bionic pancreas. Definitely not something you hear every day and a very exciting addition to a Tinder bio.
The featured picture was taken today. Being able to verbalize what I’m feeling and coming to terms with it hasn’t been easy, but I take extra time out of my day to remind myself to be thankful for good health.
…and hopefully a bionic pancreas some day.