I Don’t Have Time to Wait for Diabetes!

“Your estimated wait time is less than 3 hours and 58 minutes.”

The dulcet female voice reported, before the recording transitioned to obnoxious elevator music.

A four-hour wait time? Surely, that couldn’t be true. I decided to stick on the phone for a little while longer in the hopes that a customer support representative would pick up in the next few minutes as opposed to the next few hours.

The elevator music faded and that same female voice said: “Your estimated wait time is less than 4 hours and 16 minutes.”

What the heck?! How did my wait time increase? I pulled my phone away from my ear and looked at it in utter disgust, before deciding I’d hang up because I simply didn’t have the patience to wait any longer – whether or not that meant 4 more minutes or 4 more hours.

Diabetes doesn’t care that I don’t have time to wait for anything that has to do with it.

This is just one example of the many phone calls I have to make in order to get doctors appointments scheduled, supplies reordered, and issues troubleshooted…and some days, I’ve got more resolve to wait than others. This just so happened to be a day where waiting felt unfathomable to me, but like it or not, diabetes doesn’t wait. It’s far more impatient and needy than I am. And this is a side of diabetes that I’m not sure other people really understand – the sheer amount of time it requires to be managed. It doesn’t care that I’d rather spend that time doing literally almost anything else (even cleaning the bathrooms sounds more enjoyable than waiting for 4 hours on the phone). Nope. I don’t have time to not have time when it comes to diabetes, which can be a frustrating truth to tolerate at times.

Am I Tired or Experiencing Diabetes Burnout?

“I’m just…tired. Maybe I’ve been going through burnout these last couple of months and I didn’t even realize it until just now,” I said, sinking back into my chair.

I was at a virtual appointment with my therapist when I uttered these words, surprising myself because the thought that I’ve been experiencing burnout hadn’t occurred to me previously. But the moment I said it out loud, I knew it was true.

I didn’t think that I was experiencing diabetes burnout until I considered the possibility out loud.

It just makes sense. It explains some of my more turbulent blood sugar levels as of late. It explains my frustration, lack of interest, and utter annoyance that I feel every time I check my blood sugar levels or calculate carbohydrates for yet another dose of insulin. And it definitely explains why yes, I have indeed been tired lately – more often than I’d like to admit, I’ve had to get up in the middle of the night to treat a low or correct a high, so naturally, my sleep is presently fitful at best.

I guess I didn’t connect the dots right away because I was in denial. I still talk about my diabetes all the time. I’m still able to show up and perform at my full-time job at a diabetes non-profit. I still take insulin for all of my meals, just maybe not the right amounts all the time. So because I was “still doing” all the normal aspects of my diabetes management routine, I assumed that I wouldn’t fall victim to another round of burnout.

But this is when I remind myself that burnout doesn’t always look the same. Burnout can mean wanting/choosing not to take insulin, paying less attention to blood sugars (if any at all), feeling cranky about all things related to diabetes, or even being depressed or flat-out tired when just thinking about diabetes. And there’s probably other ways that burnout can manifest itself that I haven’t even experienced yet, even though I’ve lived with diabetes for 24 years.

With that last point in mind, in particular – the length of time I’ve lived with diabetes – it’s no damn wonder that I’m tired. And it’s okay for me to feel this way. I’ll just ride the burnout wave as long as it happens to last this time around, and check in with myself (and absolutely my therapist) as often as needed.

T1D and Guilt

So many emotions accompany living with type 1 diabetes: occasional sadness, some anger, a bit of bitterness, flares of acceptance, and a whole lot of frustration.

But another emotion that comes with it that I recently found myself thinking about (and feeling) is guilt. Not guilt over the fact that I have diabetes, per se – because my diagnosis was out of my control – but guilt over the ways that it affects those around me.

Life with diabetes is so much more than blood sugar checks and insulin injections – it’s also about learning how to navigate emotions like guilt.

I feel guilty for all the times my devices’ alerts and alarms disrupt my partner’s sleep.

I feel guilty for complaining to family and friends about my diabetes because they don’t deserve to be burdened by it.

I feel guilty when I have to leave a social event early because I forgot to bring back-up supplies with me or because I experienced a device failure.

I feel guilty when a high blood sugar makes me lash out at my loved ones…and when a low blood sugar causes them to be worried about me.

This guilt weighs heavy on my shoulders, and when coupled with the guilt I carry around when I have a bad diabetes day or let my emotions about diabetes get to the best of me, it can sometimes feel like I’ll collapse at any second because I’m simply not strong enough to handle it. Of course, I don’t feel crushed by the weight of guilt all the time; in fact, it’s only occasional. But when it does rear its ugly head, it’s not fun, and it makes it that much harder to deal with the day-to-day of diabetes.

The reason why I chose to write this blog post about guilt and diabetes is to bring awareness that living with diabetes is so much more than daily insulin injections and blood sugar checks. It also means coming to terms with the fact that it’ll cause a lot of discomfort, both physically and emotionally – and finding out ways to overcome that discomfort, and the emotions of diabetes (guilt included), is what makes people who live with diabetes absolute warriors in my eyes.

How I Realized I’m Experiencing a Bout of Diabetes Burnout

Diabetes burnout is the generic term used to describe a state in which a person with diabetes becomes tired of managing it and may become neglectful of one or more aspect of diabetes care.

I say “generic term” because diabetes burnout doesn’t look the same for every person, though, so it can be tough to recognize it when it’s happening. I know this from personal experience: I’m going through a bout of diabetes burnout right now.

Diabetes burnout is just a part of having T1D.

It took me weeks to realize it, but I finally came to the conclusion that I was burnt out because several things dawned on me at once:

  • It was taking me longer to respond to CGM alarms. I would hear them going off, but I didn’t necessarily care to even look at them, let alone correct them. As a result, I let a lot of high blood sugars linger much longer than I should have, which made me feel frustrated and bad about myself for causing harm to my body.
  • I wasn’t eating healthy foods. The Easter holiday brought an abundance of chocolates and sweets into my kitchen, so instead of choosing fruits or veggies to snack on, I was going for high-carb items with zero nutritional value…and I didn’t bother bolusing for them, which of course, wreaked havoc on my blood sugar.
  • I did the bare minimum to keep my blood sugars in check. I was still bolusing for all my meals, but the snacks in between? The little desserts I’d have? The alcoholic beverages I’d enjoy? Nope, certainly wasn’t taking those into account when I took mealtime boluses.
  • I got lazy with carb counting. I kept gravitating toward bottomless bags of snacks when I did my weekly grocery store trips, even though I knew that I have no restraint when it comes to highly addictive, faux-healthy foods like Annie’s cheddar snack mix or cute little teddy graham cookies. Whenever I’d crack open a fresh box or bag, I’d dig in and wouldn’t stop digging in, going way over the recommended serving sizes and not bothering to slow down and count out my carbs.
  • I was allowing my emotions to influence my diabetes care (or lack thereof). I’m a self-professed emotional eater. That, coupled with excess stress/anxiety levels, shifted my attention away from my diabetes.

So, yeah, there’s no question that I’m in a period of diabetes burnout. Joy.

As tired as I am of taking care of my diabetes, though, it doesn’t compare to how exhausted it makes me to beat myself up over my burnout day after day.

I’ve been through burnout before. I know I’ll make it through, just like I have in the past, and I am also aware that I’m likely to experience it again in the future. And rather than come up with a super-specific action plan to conquer it, or give myself a timeline to overcome it, I’m just going to ride it out knowing that I’m trying my best each and every day, and that’s what matters most.

I Said Something Very Messed Up About My Diabetes…

You’re looking at the title of this blog post and thinking…”ugh, clickbait!”

I assure you that I’m not trying to present this as clickbait; in reality, I did recently say something extremely messed up about my diabetes.

I didn’t 100% mean what I said…

In a dramatic outburst spurred by three days of frustratingly high blood sugars, I said to my parents, “I’m going to die of diabetes.

Look…we all say things that we don’t mean sometimes. But when I said this, there was a teensy-weensy piece of me that really believed there was an ounce of truth in that statement. That’s how fed-up I was with my diabetes.

It’s because I was going through insulin like crazy in the first half of that week. I couldn’t figure out why my numbers were running so high and tried what seemed like everything to cope with it: eating low carb, running temp basal increases, doubling my mealtime insulin, staying as hydrated as possible, checking ketones…and I was still contending with high numbers. The longer I stayed above my high threshold on my CGM, the more I convinced myself I was doing damage to my body, and that was an incredibly awful feeling. So I made that horrid exclamation out of sheer exasperation and fear.

I was letting my diabetes win that day.

I was letting my diabetes control the narrative.

I was letting my diabetes make me think that I was doing everything wrong, when in reality I was trying like hell to do everything right.

And…I was letting myself down. That defeatist attitude is not how I approach life with diabetes.

But I said what I said, and I can’t take it back…but I absolutely can change my thinking so that when something like this happens again, and I’m just feeling incredibly burnt out from it all, I have a new thing to say that is far from messed up:

I’m going to LIVE WITH diabetes.

Not just live…I’m going to live well with diabetes.

The Dog Days of Summer…with Diabetes

August is just ’round the corner (!!!) and that…feeling is creeping up on me.

That uncomfortable feeling that’s intensified by hot and humid weather.

That annoying feeling that happens when my CGM sensors and insulin pods seem to fall off my body and wither in the summer heat – the adhesives are no match for the sun’s merciless rays.

That restless feeling that creeps up when it’s too damn muggy out for my daily afternoon walks…the walks I rely on to help regulate my blood sugars and my mental health.

That fed-up feeling that’s the result of me going outside for 15 minutes, hoping to get some fresh air, only for my blood sugar to drop rapidly thanks to the high temps.

That creeping feeling of needing some kind of relief: Relief from the hottest days of summer and from every facet of diabetes management becoming just a bit more complicated because of it.

The Dog Days of Summer...with Diabetes
Is this the picture associated with this post just because I wanted to show off my dog being cute on a boat? No! Never! Absolutely not…okay fine yes.

And now that I’m acknowledging how much I’m craving relief, it honestly just sounds like I’m going through some genuine diabetes burnout.

It’s not surprising: This year’s been a wild one for me (and let’s face it, the world) in multiple ways. Overall, my stress and anxiety levels are up and my motivation to do everything that I “should” do to manage my blood sugar levels is way down. I’m very aware of what’s good about my diabetes management lately (such as my daily exercise routines) and what’s maybe not so good (my constant desire to snack on carbs and not measure them out and/or bolus for them).

I’m hopeful, though: Maybe as I continue to cope with my seesawing emotions and blood sugars, they’ll find a way to balance out on their own and be a little less intense…just as the weather will become once Autumn rolls around.