Considering I live with Type 1 diabetes every day, it’s quite surprising that each day isn’t a diabetic day. But it isn’t – I count myself as a ‘lucky diabetic’ in that most days, diabetes doesn’t stop me from doing anything. It doesn’t get in the way of real life. But once or twice a year, I have a diabetic day. Monday was one of those days.
It started out ordinary enough – worked all morning, raced to pick up Arty, came home for lunch. But when I went to inject my insulin for lunch, nothing happened. The pen did not click. The insulin did not release.
I didn’t panic. I changed needles and tried again. Same thing. Changed insulin cartridges and tried again. Same thing. Starting to get slightly worried, I changed insulin pens and the one that was previously working gave me the same error – which now meant that my day and night insulin was trapped inside the pen, unable to cross the bridge between needle and body.
So I tried my back-up pen, back-up insulin cartridge, yet more new needles. Nothing nothing nothing. And then I started to panic… But only slightly.
Left the kids with our nanny and drove to the nearest pharmacy, who had previously given me a replacement pen. No luck today. No luck with the other two pharmacies in Hout Bay either, and by now I was struggling to think straight… Not because I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to get insulin for the rest of the day, but because it hit me – properly hit me, across the face – that if I didn’t get insulin, I couldn’t eat. Never mind being hungry, I can’t eat anything but a few select foods (tomatoes, cucumber, feta maybe?) without injecting any insulin. And I can’t go to bed without my long-acting insulin.
A phonecall to my amazing endocrinologist, an emailed emergency prescription and I was the proud owner of two new pens, full of insulin. But I was also profoundly shaken.
So much of my daily life is not diabetic-dependent. It is there with me, all the time – I got a tattoo in November last year that reads ‘Type 1 diabetic on insulin’ and I never eat without an injection and never think of eating without considering the carb count and if it’s worth it.
But I am not often freaked out by diabetes – on Monday I was. And then, once the panic subsided, I felt so sad… Sad that this is part of my everyday life, that no matter how hard I try I’ll never ‘get better’, that I can be the world’s best diabetic (as if there were such a thing – and as if I would qualify!) and it would make no difference. It will always be with me.
Most days this doesn’t bother me, but some days it really hits home. And in many ways I think it’s helpful, in that it helps me relate to other people with diabetes more (we’re actively building the Sweet Life online diabetes community and I know that most people feel like this a lot of the time). But oh! It was hard. It is hard.
It is absolutely possible to live a happy, healthy life with diabetes. But some days it sucks.