Tuesday, May 10, 2011

D Blog Week, Day Two: Dear Diabetes Guilt

Diabetes guilt isn't type specific. Type 1, type 1.5, type 2, or type 3,we've all experienced it ~

Assignment number two for Diabetes blog week was to write a letter to your diabetes, or a person, place, thing associated with your diabetes. SO glad Karen picked this as a topic! I'm a HUGE fan of writing a letter to my diabetes, and even have a " Dear Diabetes" label on my blog that currently has close to 4 dozen letters.

I find writing a personal letter to or about diabetes incredibly cathartic, healing, and down right cool and I HIGHLY suggest you try it if you haven't already!

The following letter: Dear Diabetes Guilt, was original posted on October 27th, 2009, after a discussion I participated in about guilt and chronic illness on twitter.

I was all set to write a new letter last week, but after noticing lots of blogs from type 1s, 1.5s, type 2s and type 3s regarding the subject of diabetes guilt, I felt that it was appropriate to repost this one.

And it's my hope that you take something positive away from it~


Dear Diabetes Guilt:

You’ve been with me and by my side almost daily since my diagnoses.

I first experienced you when I looked into my parents’ eyes when I was diagnosed and saw the sadness that was looking back at me. I was child number 6, diabetic child number 3.

My diagnoses hurt my parents so much. All I could say was “I’m sorry”- and then I did my best to make them laugh.

The guilt was next me as I snuck Christmas Cookies from the freezer and blamed the cookies disappearance on my sister- child number 3, diabetic child number 2.

Diabetes, your guilt made a 10 year old little girl run laps around the block to burn off contraband Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

You were next to me as I'd steal cookies from my friends kitchen and eat them in the bathroom so no one would see.

Diabetes guilt (and the look of disappointment and fear in my parents eyes) made me lie to them regarding my urine testing and blood sugar results.

It wasn’t the high numbers I was afraid of- it was making my parents sad, scared and angry that made my 11-year-old self fudge my numbers.

I'd cry when my Endo told me I wasn't trying hard enough. I was 13 and doing my best.

Wanting a few cookies every now and then shouldn't have equated a trip to confession and 13 "Hail Mary's".

In high school you mocked me to be part of the crowd - but I couldn't ignore diabetes.

Between the hell that was high school and being a PWD, it was a long 4 years.

In college I felt your guilt daily. I wanted too fit in and be “normal, ” and having diabetes was a foreign routine on campus.

I used my humor to win friends and they accepted both diabetes and me, as is.

I flourished with friends and success.

Your guilt didn’t just affect me-It damaged my family as a whole.

Your guilt cursed my sister- She strived for normalcy – which eluded her because back in the diabetes dark ages, normal was never an option.

I felt diabetes guilt because my sister with diabetes was dying and I was angry with both her and the world.

I didn’t understand how sick she was or how much the guilt of diabetes drove her down a self-destructive path.

I just knew she was sick and that I spent so many of much of my high school and college years taking care of her with my parents.

I didn’t understand and I hate to admit now, but I blamed her for not taking better care of herself.

I was a kid, she was 14 years older than me, and I didn’t understand what a restrictive world she and her diabetes were brought up in until I was well into adulthood.

If my other sister (child number 1, diabetic number 1) could live good life and have three healthy sons, why couldn't she?

I felt diabetes guilt for not always understanding, and for always being fearful that it could have been me.

I wanted to be a full time college student. Not a full time college student who was a PWD and a caretaker as well.

Even thought we fought as only siblings can, I never thought that diabetes complications would actually kill her.

I felt guilt for not having patience and for not always being kind.

My diabetes guilt stood beside me as I gave her eulogy.

I felt your guilt whenever people spoke of how much my sister suffered.

I felt your guilt whenever I got my own test results back.

I felt your guilt in my mid twenties when I was scared into becoming a good patient.

In my mid twenties and early thirties I worked hard on my diabetes management and had the numbers to prove it.

My Dr. went so far as to call me a model patient.

But still, your guilty presence made me want to apologize all the time- even when I was doing nothing wrong.

When I contemplated a cupcake, I felt guilty. Even when I tested, counted carbs, and bolused accordingly.

I apologized whenever my numbers would go up or down for no apparent reason.

I became defensive whenever a friend would ask: Kel, should you eat that?

I’d feel guilty that I don’t excise enough and I’d feel guilty when I exercised to much and would run low because I’d miscalculated my temporary basal rate.

Over the past 15 years I’ve learned to only concentrate on one number at a time.

I owe that attitude (in part) to you.

Because I became so tired of having you as a companion and a partner in my diabetes management.

So I’ve learned (and am still learning every day) to let go of you.

I accept that you exist and I will admit that you’ve done some good.

But I grew so tired of having you as the anchor I wear around my neck.

So, I removed you from my world on a daily basis - and while you still make your presence known from time to time, I no longer say I’m sorry for being a human with Diabetes.

I've lifted your anchor of guilt, hitched up my sails in the wind, and let my diabetes flag fly!

I have my good numbers and my bad.

I have great test results, and some not so great ones from time to time.

But I always try, and try again.

When I fall off the diabetes wagon, I get up and get back on.

Instead of anchoring on to the guilt, I use those numbers and results as a GPS in my diabetes management.

I take it one number at a time and I always do my best.

I own my diabetes, diabetes doesn't own me.

I’m still sorry that diabetes exists in the world.

But I am no longer sorry for being a person with Diabetes.


Ryanne said...

This (out of all the other things) maybe the worst part of Diabetes. The sneaking and lying, I get it, I think we have all been there. thanks for helping me see I am not alone. It means more than you could ever know!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a great letter, Kelly. I'd like to tell a thing or two to that D-Guilt, also, but you nailed it. Glad to read your overall message about how present guilt has been and sometimes can still be, but that we can OWN our diabetes and not be guilty about being a Person With Diabetes - rather, in a way, we're even somewhat blessed by the connections we make in this community. Thanks for capturing that in your letter.

NeurosurgeryNP said...

What a great post Kelly. You put to words what goes through my heade everyday. Jen

Alexis Nicole said...

what an honest and beautiful letter K. I appreciate your passion and I love how open you are. Thank you. I need some tissues now!

Unknown said...

Seriously!!! You need a WARNING FOR EYE LEAKAGE attached to this baby.

An eye-opener and the ending makes me celebrate for you Kelly. Thank you. This is a gift and a reminder to me to do bette as Joe's mom and Temporary Pancreas In Charge. MUAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Unknown said...

THIS WAS AWESOME....I'm working it into my letter today somehow....stay tuned :)

Lora said...

I learned a lot about you reading this letter. Thank you for being so open with it.

I try SOOO hard to hide my fear from Justin. Not sure I'm doing such a great job at it. I can see the guilt in his eyes sometimes and it hurts.

I am glad you were scared into becoming a good patient... you are so worth it :)

Trev said...

Great letter. Right from the heart. Thank-you for sharing.

Hallie Addington said...

Beautiful letter, Kelly! Something we all need reminded of from time to time. I'd like to bury that guilt in a big, deep hole so it would never be heard from again!!

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful, and something I know so well, the sneaking around, the lying and the guilt. I'm still there. Except right now I'm more guilty over the fact I smoke rather than sneaking cookies. And the guilt is eating me up. Thank you for posting this - you have opened my eyes

Heidi / D-Tales said...

Yowza! What a moving letter! Powerful and poignant! I can imagine how cathartic it must've been to get all that out. So glad you reposted this. I hadn't read it the first time back in 2009. So glad I had the opportunity to read it now. It's left me with a lot to ponder, but that's a good thing. Thanks for sharing again!

Jess said...

um, so, yeah. you made me cry. AGAIN! i see so much of myself in the feelings you've expressed here. it's hard not to give in to the guilt. thanks so much for reposting this, kelly. i need to hear it. much love!

Penny said...

Such an honest post Kelly, thank you for that. You put into words what G may be feeling some of the time and the first step towards making things better is acknowledging them, so thank you for this Kel.

Vivian said...

If I can stop crying long enough to post this...I just wish it would be possible to let go of the mom guilt when I feel like I fail the boy child. He trusts me and the last thing I want is to lose that trust by getting it wrong.

The DL said...

This is such a great letter Kelly. I wish I could have read this years ago. It feels so good to know I don't feel these things alone.

Pearlsa said...

Great post made me tear up.

Emma said...

Completely agree with the eye leakage warning! Brilliant post :)

Renata said...

See this is what I am talking about. I think my kids are "fine" as "fine" as they can be...but are they? Are they really?

Thank you for this...always an eye opener.

Katie said...

This is such a powerful letter, Kelly! I wish guilt wasn't such a companion to diabetes.

Liz said...

Great letter Kelly, diabetes guilt is a tough one. I feel it all the time. Thanks for being so open!

my sweet girl said...

Beautiful post. A very smart person tells me all the time that guilt is a wasted emotion. It never results in a positive outcome. Good for you for trying to let it go. I hope I can teach my little girl the same thing.

meanderings said...

I'm so glad you're leaving the guilt part behind - it's more than time for it to be gone, gone, gone.

EDONAdesigns said...

Great letter! I laughed, I cried and had some serious flashbacks while reading this!!!

Meri said...

We do need a universal "cry" label attached to posts. This one has my eyes stinging something fierce! Thank you so much for this. I know I carry around guilt as a parent, it is good for me to have a glimps of the guilt my children may carry...because if I can see it, maybe...just maybe...I can help them set some of it free.

Denise aka Mom of Bean said...

I strive to help Bean be a normal as possible, to not get bogged down with whatever number happens to pop up when she tests, to enjoy every bite of whatever it is she happens to be eating and not just because she's been dosed for it!
Thanks, again, for opening my eyes to her possible struggles and to her amazing future!!

Nicole said...

What a wonderful letter, so real and so true. Thank you for sharing!

The whole time I was reading your letter the words I'm sorry kept going through my head. I'm so sorry that you had to feel like this through out your life.

I'm so glad that you have learned that you don't need to apologize any longer!!

Helen said...

This letter to Guilt is awesome. Thank you for being so open about it and sharing your life. I am also child 3 with diabetes, though child 10. 20 years between my sister's(who passed away, too) diagnosis and mine. The cards we are dealt are not fair - but we have to continue playing them. I related in so many ways to every line you wrote! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Michelle said...

Beautiful post...honest and heartfelt! I worry about the guilt that seems to come along with D. I know I feel it as Charlotte's caregiver right now, but I worry that it will be stronger for her since she is the one actually living with D. Hopefully I can help her to be able to overcome it

Jen said...

OMG, it breaks my heart to read this, especially when I think of the high standards I place on my son and his own diabetes care. I can totally see why a child would lie or try to cover up information in order to make his or her parents think everything is under control. Wow, need to have a chat with my T1 son tomorrow and see what he thinks about this! Thank you for your honesty.

Anonymous said...

This made me cry, in such a good way. Thank you for sharing this with us.