Knowing the Value of Self-Care with Type-1 Diabetes
This past April I was lucky enough to attend the Chicago ADA Expo. It was my first time in Chicago, and it was wonderful! The local Animas team was so nice, and it was a pleasure getting to work with them. Some folks that had been following my work for some time, along with many who had seen local news shows I had done leading up to the event, made for a great turnout.
I brought a rainbow array of different lipstick colors so everyone could try them on and make lip print buttons. We got to talk about art and diabetes, people were laughing and walking around with blue and green lipstick on their faces/lips. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. There was a constant string of guests. I adjusted my pump setting because I know from experience that this kind of activity will lower my bg. I kept an eye on my levels and made sure to drink lots of water. Before I knew it, my husband leaned over and told me that I should probably take a break for lunch soon.
Dennis is my partner in all things: husband, best friend, art manager. He also spent 4 years in the Air Force as a pediatric nurse and is my teammate in managing my diabetes. He knows I can get caught up in my work and lose track of time. Thankful for the reminder, I started waiting for an opportunity to step away, but for some reason I kept putting it off.
Why? I KNOW that I need to eat lunch, so why would I postpone it?!
I realized, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t want to excuse myself in the middle of a conversation, with people standing in line, waiting. I wanted to do my job well. I wanted to shake all of their hands and answer all of their questions. I would go to lunch EVENTUALLY….and of all the places for people to understand that I needed to leave and eat, these folks at a diabetes expo would understand. But I kept battling with myself. After about thirty minutes, I decided there wasn’t going to be a break in the line. I had to stop a lady in mid-sentence, apologize, and say that I would be back soon.
I took a quick lunch and went back to work. People that had missed me at lunch came back to talk when I returned to the booth. Everyone was happy. No big deal, right? This was just one small and seemingly insignificant moment in my life as a type one diabetic. But if you think about it, maybe that moment wasn‘t so small after all.
We, people with type one Diabetes, are going to battle every day. Weathering the constant bombardment of problems, with possible solutions, and the decisions we make. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we stumble. We are constantly fighting to keep our bodies working properly. And yet, most of the people around us never see this struggle. Most don’t see our thousands of tiny battles and life-saving decisions. We know that this disease is a pain in the rear end, so it’s important to recognize our victories, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem.
At the Expo, I hesitated to do something that I KNOW I needed to do. I had to remind myself that my health comes first, something that we all KNOW, but it isn’t always easy to put into practice and “real life”. I had to tell myself that I will be disappointing a lot more people, myself included, if I didn’t step away to take care of things.
We must make decisions like these all the time. It is exhausting. We never get a break. So, we need to remind ourselves it’s ok to make mistakes. It’s also ok to take pride in our victories, no matter how small.
If you have Type one diabetes, you will have many small battles today. You will make mistakes and you will have victories. Congratulations on your victories. You’re doing a great job.
By: Natalie Irish