Where does diabetes rank in the list of terrible illnesses? Can you look a cancer sufferer in the eye and say, yes, I too am suffering from a life-threatening illness? Can you stare down someone with MS, crutches in their hands, as you debate who’s sicker? The truth of it is that before Leonard Thompson was injected with ox insulin in 1922 diabetes was killing thousands of people yearly, and quickly, since recorded time.
So it was that a good friend of mine and his wife were down for a visit. At about the same period that I’ve been going through my illness (perhaps longer) they have been dealing with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They live quite far away and I’ve felt bad that I haven’t been in touch very much since I found out. I’m not sure why I hadn’t been. So when we met up again last month they asked me about my illness and I asked them about theirs.
The great news is that, to all intents and purposes, her cancer is in remission. But I felt uneasy talking about diabetes when they had been dealing with something much more immediately life threatening.
“I’m taking nine pills a day” said my friend’s wife
“Me too!” I exclaimed, then immediately felt bad. She’s taking nine pills a day, NINE! And I ruined the moment. That should be one of those instants when the person you are telling gasps, their mouth opens, and they utter those immortal words – ‘no way!’ But instead I normalise it, in fact I trump it because with luck she will be able to come off those pills in due course – I’ll be on them for the rest of my life or until I start injecting insulin.
Of course I didn’t say that, not even I’m that thoughtless, but although some camaraderie was indulged in once the shared pill popping was revealed I couldn’t help but think I should have kept my mouth shut and just said – ‘no way!’
And then of course, as always, type 2 can cut you down because suffering from cancer is unfortunate (unless you smoke or worship the sun too much) where as type 2 is pretty much your own fault. I know people will argue it’s not, but I feel it is and obesity is certainly a catalyst for developing diabetes.
So as much as the pill popping and life-threatening nature of our illnesses was the same, one was preventable and the other not. I lose. And so I played down my diabetes, I said I was fine, that I was in the best shape of my life and that it really wasn’t a hassle at all, but as I was saying it I felt the opposite. I feel as if diabetes has turned my life upside down and what I really wanted was to do some moaning and complaining and maybe get a hug.
I’m doing much better now as us hardy diabetics roll with the punches and take the life-changes in our stride. I’m also literally doing much better as my new medication has stabilised my blood sugars and brought them right down, occasionally too low, but that’s for the next blog.