Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The Promise

So Chris aka Grumpy Pumper asked for contributors to his Complications series of blogs. I've read lots of other great posts on his site including his current experience of self-managing an IV drip - yes there are lots of blood filled pictures; you have been warned!

Now I like to help where I can so my immediate thought was to start writing. But then I paused. I know Grumps is keen to show that complications happen and they aren’t anything to be ashamed of. I agree. Fully.

The problem for me is that my complications today and historically are limited. I have the annual “you have background retinopathy, so be a better diabetic” letter along with the higher-prevalence condition of a feckless thyroid meaning daily thyroxine tablets. Not much to complain about there really. And I have fantastic support from my wife and family who keep me safe when I’m struggling to do it myself. 

My qualifications to talk on the subject seem distinctly lacking, so I should stop here, bow my head to those who have come through or are living with the side-effects of diabetes, thank them with gratitude for sharing their stories and retire with grace.  Or should I?

My experiences may be second-hand by seeing others with Type 1, either in my extended family or my online friends, but the constant background fear of the inevitable is always there for me.

For years the warnings of doom and impending gloom were what drove me away from going to my diabetes clinic and being honest about my numbers. If it’s going to happen what’s the point? My clinic appointments are now a lot different but the background beliefs still partly exist.

I view complications like I view a speeding ticket for my driving. The risk is always there and I do what I can to reduce the risks. However, at some point I’ll see the flash in the rear view mirror and the ticket / letter from a random complication clinic will arrive in the post.

What's often ignored is that we’re not talking about an exact science here. Complications arrive as a consequence of diabetes not purely as a consequence of badly controlled diabetes. While we may strive for perfect control as much as we can, we are reducing the likelihood of something happening, not removing the possibility entirely. Often I read about the certainty that;
  • Bad control = manky feet, blindness and other floppy body parts,
  • Good control = a nirvana of long-life and fluffy kittens.
My fear is that the more the story is told as fact, the harder the impact is for those that do get hit head-on by something that they weren’t expecting. Why harder? Well firstly there’s the complication to deal with. Secondly there’s the assumed knowledge that as ‘good’ control means no complications, if you have got one then your control has been, by default, pants.  You’ve failed. You had one additional job after staying alive by injecting and testing daily, and that was to stay complication-free. It wasn’t hard. You under-achieved.

Wrong. If you have got a complication, you didn’t lose or fail, life just dealt you another poor card. Lift your head, be proud to be still alive and carry on.

And if you don’t have anything else happening, you’re winning and you may never lose. Happy days.

Life throws bad stuff at people without diabetes and sometimes this is really big stuff that makes our daily challenges seem insignificant. We’d never look at those experiencing it, shake our head and judge them, So don’t do it to yourself or your peers. Offer a hand to hold or an ear to listen to and help them with their challenge that day.

One final thought links in with my last point. Just because someone with diabetes has something else going on, don’t guess that it’s related. A person walking down the road with a white stick and an insulin pen in their pocket could have just got hit by two completely separate, unrelated arrows. ‘it happens sometimes and let’s offer that person the same hand to hold and ear to listen with.

Don't be afraid to have discussions with those close to you or in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) about things you're experiencing or feeling. Never be embarrassed to #talkaboutcomplications.

Keep dodging those arrows friends and enjoy the ride. Live for today, not for the fear and dread of tomorrow. Most of all; be nice to others and be nice to yourself.

*Random Summer of 2018 photo


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