Maybe it's just me, but I feel the need to hide my bad diabetes days from those around me. Maybe it's pride? Not wanting to admit weakness? Not wanting to be seen as weak? Or just different from those around me? All of the aforementioned? More than likely.
Here on this blog, I will write about my bad days. And my good days, for that matter. I feel comfortable doing that here. You're more than likely reading this because you "get" diabetes. Whether you live with it, you're the carer for someone who lives with it, or someone you love has it, you have a level of understanding.
Those I work with know I have type one diabetes. They know I wear an insulin pump. And they know where to find my medical notes and emergency contact details (a document I drew up myself, and keep in a sealed envelope in my desk drawer). They know about low blood sugars and high blood sugars.
For the last few months, as you may have gathered from previous blog posts, "high" would be a very good description of where my blood sugar's been at. For me, highs aren't as noticeable as lows. It was easy to plod along and pretend I had my shit together. Telling my manager that I needed to go back to see my consultant four weeks after my last appointment was hard ("You're really good at pretending you've got your shit together!" he said. "Thank you," I replied with smile. "Wasn't meant to be a compliment." Of course, I knew that). I felt like I was admitting defeat, that I couldn't deal with my diabetes on my own. And I know that if it were someone else in my situation, I would tell them to stop being stupid, it's not weakness, etc, etc. But walking my talk has never been something I'm good at.
Over the past three weeks, I've put a lot of effort into basal testing, checking my insulin to carb ratios, correction factors, the lot. My blood sugars are starting to come down, which has been an interesting adjustment - running high for as long as I have done means I feel hypo at 6mmol. This has also meant that when I have actually been hypo, I've been hit with every hypo symptom: shaking, sweating, no coordination, lack of speech, double vision (manager with two heads, anyone?!) and, my least favourite of all, crying.
(Painted you a lovely picture there, haven't I?!)
It's these "low moments" when I do everything in my power to hide what's going on.
Get through the meeting, then treat the hypo.
Finish responding to my emails, then treat the hypo.
Finish my conversation, then treat the hypo.
Finish [enter other random tasks here], then treat the hypo.
It was after a conference call that my manager (getting ever so more observant) approached me.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes," I nodded, not trusting myself to string a full sentence together.
"Do you want to try that again?"
"I'm fine," I replied, proud of my two word sentence and use of a contraction in my hypo state.
"You ought to trademark that response. It's you're go-to," and he handed me a bottle of lucozade.
With shakey hands, I picked the bottle up. The lid had already been unscrewed, and I counted six gulps and waited for my blood sugar to come back up, my manager now sat the opposite side of my desk.
As my blood sugar came up and my mind began focussing on other things, and not my low, I looked at my manager.
"Thank you," I whispered.
"You need to start trusting us, Vicki. We're not going to look at you any differently if you need to leave to sort your diabetes. I'm not going to sit here are pretend I know what you go through on a day-to-day basis, because I don't. What I do know, however, is that you're not putting yourself first some of the time. Start doing that, okay? And know my door's always open if you need or want to talk. Is your blood sugar back up now?"
"I think so. I'll just check. You no longer have two heads, so progress!"
"You're forming full sentences too. Progress again."
I laughed. "I'm sorry. Put me first. Got it."
As much as I enjoy my job (most of the time, anyway), and want to prove myself and further my career, not putting my health first isn't going to help me achieve anything. No negelecting of me, by me. It's one of many balancing acts I'm working on.