When I was putting together the idea for having a Product/Service of the month on this website, I approached my loyal Facebook followers for some ideas etc. I was truly humbled when ‘Support & Love’ was nominated, because firstly it rang so true for me, and it stopped me in my tracks of rushing around and thinking of all the other aspects to diabetes & not paying homage to what I see as the most integral. You might forgive me for taking off my nurses hat for this post and sharing my own personal experiences of a loved one with diabetes.
I have a very close friend who has Type 2 diabetes, requiring daily insulin injections. Having a friend with diabetes does not make me an expert, but it has opened my eyes into living with the condition, that maybe other health care professionals do not have the priviledge of seeing, and I feel it has made me a better nurse, because through him, I feel I have a better understanding of the practicalities of day to day living with diabetes.
I have seen first hand the frustrations of erractic blood sugars, and I, the diabetes nurse, scratching my head as to why they are so high, so low. It has made[pull_quote align=”left”]Then comes the celebration when blood sugars are good, and the despair when they are bad.[/pull_quote] me realise that the diabetes is the expert, not me, and it makes me realise that despite all the degrees and training in the world, diabetes can rear its ugly head and steers the battle in a direction that evades you. The beeping of the blood sugar monitor reminding to take a blood sugar dictates the day, where ever we go, was strange at the beginning, but now has become routine. Then comes the celebration when blood sugars are good, and the despair when they are bad.
I cried like a baby when my friend went from one injection of insulin a day to four. What had ‘we’ done wrong? What could ‘we‘ have done better? I have seen the bad hypo’s, that leave him feeling like crap for hours afterwards. Fingers sore and black from testing, injections that sometimes hurt & I hear the sharp intake of breath from him. Sitting patiently by the HbA1c machine every three months and waiting to see a 7% or less!!!
The daily struggle, can I eat that, can I eat this and finding the right dose of insulin to match? Battling the 2 hour post meal rise of blood sugars and trying not to let diabetes win. The pre planning that comes with having to live with diabetes, and sometimes, I too have got that wrong. Once, we went for a drive in the beautiful countryside of Kerry, having a great day. I was driving along, down country laneways and byways, exploring the scenery and was completely oblivious to my friend having a hypo beside me. When I did realise it, I pulled over and searched for a fast acting carb. Not a grain of sugar between us and I had no idea where we were, or where the nearest shop/house was. Driving like a lunatic, I eventually stumbled upon a restuarant and bursting through the doors the first thing I looked for was sugar sachets, before we made an order. A fine slice of apple tart followed with all the trimmings and of course later that day came the rebound blood sugar, screaming into the late teens, early twenties. Some great diabetes nurse was I, it was a lesson, that even the best of us can get caught out.
I thought I would never be fazed by diabetes, because of my role, but I am, because it affects someone that I love and who is very dear to me. There is an old saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ and sometimes I feel that rings true for me. I don’t spend my days searching for a cure for my friend, I accepted from the very begining, that this was it, and to make the best of what we have. But I do search for products and ideas to help him have a better quality of life, everyday. My greatest wish for him right now, is that he did not have diabetes, and that might be perceived by some people to be a very controversial thing for a diabetes nurse to say, but it is the truth. For any of us that have loved ones with diabetes, or any chronic health condition, we wish they were without these conditions.
I worry just like everyone else, about my friend and his diabetes. Sometimes there is very little that I can do only sit & listen, through the frustration, the anger, the fear and concerns. I try to keep my nursey hat off, and just be a friend, just be there. I don’t dictate, I don’t offer advice unless I am asked, I don’t try and take charge, which is sometimes very hard to do, but it is ‘his’ diabetes and it is only through mistakes being made will he learn and take charge of his health. And he has, and I am so proud of him. I won’t deny there are bad days, but mostly they are all good. He gets on with, without minimal complaint. He leads a normal life, as much as someone with well controlled diabetes can do.
But I know, it is support and love, not just from me, but from all his family & friends, that has kept him going, maybe has annoyed him at times. There has been times, in all sense of the word, I have had to become the ‘diabetic’ and guide him, maybe only for a few hours/days, until he gets back on track again, especially when life throws its unexpected curve balls, like illness and stress. To have someone in your life to fall back on when the chips are down, that you can rely on, is integral to living well with diabetes. Having all the technology, equipment and ‘cures’ in the world are absolutely useless unless you have someone to share the joys and pain with.
So to anyone who has diabetes, and especially coming up to Valentines Day next week, take it as an opportunity to tell the person/people in your life, whether they are a friend, a spouse, your dog, who helps & shares with you, your diabetes frustrations, your diabetes celebrations, your life as a person with diabetes: tell them how much their support whether its good or bad means to you, how much you appreciate them…..but most of all how much you love them. They probably know already, but sometimes its nice for us all to hear it.
Happy Valentines Day everyone!!!! xxxx