I learned that this week is Invisible Illness awareness week! Thank you to my fave badassmatic for bringing this to my attention! :)
30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know
1. The illness I live with is: I’ve lived with diabetes for over 4 years and a lifelong chronic form of depression called dysthymia.
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009, dysthymia in 2011.
3. But I had symptoms since: I’d have to say I had symptoms of diabetes for about a year before I was diagnosed that gradually got worse right before I was diagnosed. I’ve had issues with depression since I was a child though.
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: My routine. My days were very open ended in the past but now I must adhere to a schedule to make sure I can best manage my blood sugars.
5. Most people assume: That I did something to give myself diabetes. I have Type 2 diabetes with atypical symptoms, particularly a very low “Type 1” level C-peptide. This means I’m insulin dependent, and people think that because I take insulin means I’ve been unsuccessful or unwilling to change my lifestyle to manage without it. They’re dead wrong.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: Having to test/log/carb count/bolus/take pills/log my food/shower/walk dog/do makeup/etc. when I’m in a time crunch!
7. My favorite medical TV show is: This is so obvious, but I love House!
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: Obviously my glucose meter, but my iPod Touch has been a huge help with actually getting myself to log my blood sugars (thanks mySugr!) and my moods!
9. The hardest part about nights are: The discomfort if my blood sugar is high or the fear of going hypo. I’ve had really severe nocturnal hypos that almost left my unconscious. Sometimes I can’t shut my brain off, so actually calming down enough to fall asleep sometimes is a struggle.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please): 10 & +/-5 injections
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: I think taking care of your mind is just as important as your body. If you do well with meditation or acupuncture mentally then it will have a positive impact on your body. But I don’t think these things will treat your condition specifically.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I would choose invisible. As frustrating as it is to be passed over because I might not “look” like anything is wrong, we live in a society where you are judged by your appearance and apparent ability. Which is a sad thing.
13. Regarding working and career: I am working toward a career in medicine, but I fear that there might be some specialties (read surgery) where I’m limited because of my diabetes.
14. People would be surprised to know: I didn’t get it by eating Snickers bars all day! LOL, okay but really, they’d be surprised to know how much work really goes into this every day, all day. It’s not just “avoid sugar and bread and you’re good.”
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: I will never be able to approach food or exercise the same way. Every meal is a math problem and every workout is an exercise (tee hee!) in emergency preparedness.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: I don’t have a really good answer for this. I haven’t done anything scary yet, but I do worry about traveling on an airplane with an insulin pump (if I get approved for it eventually).
17. The commercials about my illness: “Accu-chek Nano, you’re the one I chooooose!” Now it’s in your head, FOREVER.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: This is going to sound so petty, but I really miss Halloween. I miss having a big bowl of candy on the dining table and swiping a couple every now and again without the constant thoughts of how high my blood sugar is going to go. OH and I miss just being able to go in and take an exam without having to worry if my blood sugar is too high so I fall asleep or too low and I can’t focus.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: Honestly, having diabetes doesn’t mean that you have to cut stuff out of your life but there are certain things that just aren’t worth the roller coaster. I am a LOVER of fruit juices, but alas, it’s hard to justify bolusing for 30g of carb in a beverage (that isn’t a pumpkin spice latte ;) )
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Cooking. I’ve always enjoyed cooking but needing to rework some recipes has lead me to experimenting and really loving it!
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: One of two things, I would go on the longest most exciting hike of my life without being scared of going low. Or the exact opposite, I’d sleep in and watch movies with B without worrying about going too high.
22. My illness has taught me: Life isn’t supposed to be fair. Not in a bad way either! Some of us are dealt different challenges, and it’s up to us how we handle them. It’s normal to feel great sometimes and not-so-great other times, but it’s important to realize the struggle makes us strong. Our bodies and health are at the forefront of our minds all the time, and we do that while being students, parents, spouses, professionals, etc. That’s amazing!
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: “Oh you do know you don’t need to take insulin for Type 2, right? You just need to change your diet.”
24. But I love it when people: Ask questions because they really want to learn. I don’t mind the opportunity to educate and dispel some myths, even if it’s just one person!
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: I have a feeling this is a common one but the Serenity Prayer is one that I keep at the back of my mind at all times. I am not religious, but the message is one I need.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: It gets better. It doesn’t get that much easier, but you get used to it. But, don’t live in denial, you MUST adapt to stay healthy. And staying healthy is WORTH IT.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: How others are offended or frightened by the sight of illness. People are genuinely uncomfortable with the fact that others need to inject insulin or prick their fingers to maintain their health. Or even if you battle depression, people don’t want to hear about it.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Once when I was having a bad low in class a friend of mine SPRINTED to the vending machine and brought me some lemonade as soon as she saw I wasn’t all-the-way there.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: It applies to me, it applies to my family, it applies to my friends. It’s time we support each other in their struggles, no matter what they are.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Grateful and delighted, thank you! :)