You Don’t Look Sick?

richthediabetic-gazeI have been uninspired to blog for a little while now.  The Diabetes Hands Foundation asked me to help them on a project recently, which inspired me to write this blog.  Thanks DHF.  I needed a good kick in the ass.  I’d like to point out right away that I’m not writing this today because anyone has accused me of not being sick.  It’s because I realize, that to others I don’t look sick, yet inside, mentally and physically, I am.  I think that for the first time in MANY years, I am experiencing a form of diabetes burnout (I can’t believe I’m admitting that here), and it’s affecting my mental state too.  So I’m going to write this blog in the hopes that it motivates me and makes me understand myself, so that I can turn things around the way I always used to.

When you meet me, I look like any other average 45 year old.  What you can’t see is the scar on my chest from emergency open heart surgery, that was caused by my diabetes.  You can’t see the 3 weeks of recovery it took to be able to walk again.  You can’t see the 3 months of cardiac rehab.  You can’t see YEARS of re-education it took to try to prevent that from ever happening again.  You can’t see the sweat from all the workouts to get myself healthy.  Most importantly, you can’t see the emotions I feel every time I look in the mirror at my broken body.

When you meet me, what you can’t see is the tingling and pain I feel in my feet and toes. The neuropathy caused by over 40 years of high blood sugars.  You weren’t there the first time I got out of bed, and fell down because I couldn’t feel my feet.  You can’t see the self doubt I feel, and the depression it causes, because if I had been more diligent, I may not have this complication of diabetes yet. You can’t see the fear that fills my mind every day that I will someday be “disabled”, and unable to walk.

When you meet me, you can’t see the burning I feel in my body when my blood sugar is high, or the inability to think that I get when my blood sugar is low.  You can’t see the seizures I’ve had as a child from hypoglycemia, or see the memories I have of seizures that should have killed me as an adult.  You can’t feel the burning of lactic acid that I have RIGHT NOW in my muscles because of the acidosis caused by high blood sugar.  (Don’t worry, I’ve got it under control . . . now.)

When you meet me, you can’t see that when I look at food, I don’t see food, I see math. The math of ((carbs – fiber / carb ratio) * fat grams = units of bolus insulin + (superbolus of basal insulin * number of hours basal is disabled)) When you look at pizza or cheesecake, you see pleasure.  What I see is guilt, because it’s nearly impossible for me to get that diabetic algebra calculation correct so that in 3 hours my blood isn’t 400 or 40, and 400 I can live with for a little while, where 40 will make me unconcious, but I know that 400  leads to more numbness in my feet, or future blindness, or possible kidney failure a few years down the road.

When you meet me, you can’t see the underlying depression I experience.  Knowing that my death will be a long slow death of multiple complications.  Knowing that eventually, I won’t be able to feel my feet at all.  Knowing that the only way to postpone this fate, is to get back on the wagon and become diligent again, but being completely uninspired to.

Yeah, I don’t look sick, but  . . . . .  live a lifetime in my shoes, and you’ll understand.

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5 Responses to You Don’t Look Sick?

  1. Tavia V says:

    Amazing blog. Thank you for writing it. Thank you for openly sharing some of the rawness that living with diabetes long enough can cause. Thank you for being brave enough to post something very real, something many people who will read this will understand conceptually and for many, exactly.

    I love motivation and cheering and supporting and encouraging. But, sometimes, we all need a dose of the dark side, too.

    Keep on getting up on this bumpy wagon ride. Your life, including the darkness and the greatness, and everything in between, is worth it.

  2. Jim says:

    Amen brother….I have been told the same thing not knowing I constantly suffer from gastroparesis.

  3. StephenS says:

    Great post Rich. Hope you can get back on the wagon soon. Until then, we’ve got your back. I support you… no conditions.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Hi! I really enjoyed this blog because I can relate 100% in different ways. You have inspired me so much and I always check back on your blog to learn more.
    I’m a 24 years young and I can only make it out of my home 2-3 days a week because my body is completely exhausted. I have bone, muscle and body aches, throughout my days I feel as if I’m going to pass out and when I check my sugar its completely regular even though it feels like I’m at huge low. Still doctors cannot find the leading cause of my ill health. I have been type one since 09 with an A1c of 6.7 and started to have low blood pressure spells last summer during my work outs. But as of January this year I’ve been having terrible joint pain and can barely walk sometimes. It hurts because people don’t believe me. I use to work out everyday and now I can’t even enter the gym because I’m in physical pain.
    I have seen over 10 doctors and they just prescribe me pain medication that I refuse to take. I’m seeing a different doctor on Tuesday.. I really wish I could feel normal again also ..=(

    • richthediabetic says:

      I hope that you’re feeling better since writing this comment Jennifer. My brother suffers from similar symptoms that you do, and he’s been type 1 for most of his life too. Don’t give up on finding a good doctor. You just have to keep trying. Do you use TuDiabetes? If not, I highly suggest creating a profile there and asking questions. You can find many others with the same challenges you face, so you can get ideas and also bond with those who understand your pain. http://www.tudiabetes.org/

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