My 4th Child
I often compare my diabetes diagnosis to having a fourth child, a constant presence in my thoughts and actions. As a parent, I believe many can relate to the never-ending cycle of worry, care, and love for our children. However, living with diabetes has brought its own unique set of challenges and anxieties.
I received my diabetes diagnosis at the age of 35, and it felt like I had welcomed a new child into my life. The mental load of managing this chronic condition was akin to caring for another family member. Mothers, in particular, understand the constant thought process that comes with child-rearing: What do they need? Are they healthy? Are they safe? It’s a never-ending cycle of concern.
Similarly, living with diabetes means I am always thinking about my health. Every day, I have to consider what I eat, monitor my blood sugar levels, and carry essential supplies. I will forever carry a “diaper bag” in essence full of necessary items to keep me alive.
The Burden and Anxiety
There are days when I yearn for a break, a moment to myself. Every parent knows the feeling of needing a “parent’s night out,” a chance to relax and unwind. But for me, it’s not always that simple. I can’t just forget about my diabetes; it’s always there, demanding my attention.
I’ve had panic attacks while preparing for an overnight trip because I worry about having enough backup diabetic supplies to keep me safe. My life depends on gadgets, prescriptions, and emergency food/drinks for lows. So, I carry a cooler bag with extra supplies wherever I go. There will always be a go-bag on my kitchen table ready for my next outing and a snack bag in my car. When I offer to drive somewhere it isn’t because I enjoy driving. It is because my car is strategically packed to save my life.
The Little One No One Expected
Being a diabetic parent has its unique challenges. There are moments when my own health takes precedence over everything else. When my blood sugar drops, I need to address it immediately, even if it means my child has to wait for their snack. It can be tough and doesn’t always feel fair, but it’s necessary. The jealous older sibling has to share mommy with the newest member of the family and it isn’t fair.
I’ve learned to balance the demands of parenthood and diabetes, but it’s not always easy. There are times when I want to take a break from it all, to enjoy a night out without worrying about my glucose levels. However, I’ve realized that such indulgences can have consequences, and I’ve had to find ways to treat myself while keeping my health in check.
The Constant Fear
When I was first diagnosed, I underestimated the emotional toll of living with diabetes. Panic attacks, sleepless nights, and a general sense of fear became a part of my life. I initially resisted the idea of taking anxiety medication, but I later understood why it might be necessary for many diabetics.
Just as I need insulin to treat my non-functioning pancreas, I need to address my mental health. Diabetes is a lifelong condition that requires constant vigilance, and it’s okay to seek help when the burden becomes too much.
The Financial Burden
As I’ve journeyed through six years with diabetes, I’ve developed a routine that works for me. I’ve learned to manage my condition while still enjoying life. However, I’m always aware that the financial aspect of diabetes can be precarious.
I rely on insurance and stable employment to afford the supplies and care I need. It’s a reminder that life can change in an instant, and I must always be prepared for unexpected challenges. Diabetes doesn’t just affect my health; it affects my financial stability as well.
Despite the challenges, I find hope in my faith. I believe in a higher power that guides me through this journey. While I can’t control the future, I trust that God holds it in His hands. He provides for me, both financially and emotionally, and I find comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in this journey.