I originally wrote this post for findapsychologist.org back in 2014 and it's one of my favorites. Diabetes Burnout happens to the best of us because we live with it 365, 24X7 and it's hard offing work.
I haven’t had a day off from type 1 diabetes in over 14,000 days. Not once in all that time have I received time off from diabetes for good behavior, vacations, family weddings, funerals, etc.
I’ve accepted that I will never have a day off from my diabetes unless they find a cure, and I do my best to live a great life – and have a great life with diabetes.
But like every single person living with diabetes and regardless of the type, there are moments (sometimes extending into weeks,) where I deal with Diabetes Burnout.
Living with diabetes itself is a never-ending full time job:
The continual blood sugar testing, battling insurance companies to cover the insulin that you require to live. Counting of carbs of absolutely everything you put in your mouth and the anxiety of doctors’ appointments & the lab results that accompany them. Insulin pump tubing getting tangled in doorknobs and ripping out my infusion site, just when I’m ready to go out the door.
The diabetes guilt that creeps up and then into my heart, just when I think I’m passed it. There’s the worry that’s always in the back of my head, and every PWD (person with diabetes,) head regarding both the present and the future.
My diabetes burnout comes in waves and not always necessarily when you’d expect. Sometimes it strikes when I’m packing for a trip and my diabetes supplies take up more room then I think it has a right to. And in those moments I wish I could chuck my Diabetes and my diabetes supplies out the window - BUT I CAN'T. So I acknowledge the frustration and forge ahead with a vengeance.
Other times my diabetes burnout appears right on queue and has lingering effects. Like when it’s 2 a.m. and I have to be up in four hours and & my blood sugar refuses to go down, even after 4 correction boluses and 2 site changes.
The same can absolutely be said about my blood sugar refusing to stay up – even after lowering the temporary basal rate on my insulin pump twice and downing 4 juice boxes in three hours and a fist full of glucose tabs.
In those moments of diabetes exhaustion, anger and fear, tears sting my eyes and I physically and mentally feel like Atlas – And it’s hard to shake off the diabetes muck of it all.
And there are days when I cry for those I’ve loved and lost to diabetes. People like my sister, my father, my two aunts, one of my best friends from Diabetes camp who passed away last year, and DOC family members who lost their battle with D. I think about them every day – And most times the memory of them makes me smile and gives me strength. And there are days when I cry for them and feel their loss so very profoundly.
Sometimes diabetes burnout occurs just because it can. On those days, I do what I have to when it comes to living with my diabetes, but I take extra care not to define myself by the number that flashes on my meter, and use it as my Diabetes GPS system - telling me where my body is and what direction it needs to go .
And I’m incredibly lucky that I have an amazing diabetes support system when it comes to dealing with diabetes burnout.
I have my Diabetes Pit Crew.
My amazing Endocrinologist and Certified Diabetes Educator who understand diabetes burnout and who treat it as a very real symptom of diabetes.
A counselor who I can reach out and schedule some one-on-one time with, when I find that diabetes burnout is creeping into the picture of my life. I have family members and friends who are there for me whenever I need them.
And I have a strong and supportive community of people living with diabetes.
The Diabetes Online Community lifts me up during bouts of diabetes burnout because they not only understand diabetes burnout; they’ve experienced it, they "get it." The DOC show's me that I am not alone in my life with diabetes and are always there for me when I feel as if I am. And thanks to my multi-faceted/tiered support system, I get glad again - and I am a lucky duck, indeed.
What People Are Saying About Kelly Kunik's Diabetesalicious Humor
"I laughed so hard I puked all over my pump -Just kidding......
Kelly's intimate knowledge of living with diabetes makes her the perfect person to poke fun at all of our little eccentricities. If laughter really is the best medicine, then Kelly should be nominated for Sturgeon General." Gary Scheiner - Certified Diabetes Educator, Owner & Operator of Integrated Diabetes Services, Author of "You Can Control Diabetes" and "How to Think Like A Pancreas." Marx Brothers Fan for life, T1 for 20 years .
"Kelly Kunik performed her Diabetes Comedy Act at the Diabetes, Exercise, & Sports Association (DESA) National meeting in Colorado Springs in June of 2007. She had the room laughing all night! It was great to see the light side of Diabetes for once...."
Rick Philbin, Type 1, Board of Directors, DESA
"Kelly was very engaging with her humor and positive attitude in looking at life with Diabetes on a lighter side. Everyone in my Diabetes Support group lowered their glucose levels with laughter that evening!"
Bryony Crane, RD CDE
Virtua Diabetes and Nutrition Svs
"Dr. Kelly keeps you laughing.......Great bedside manner!"
Boston Charlie - T1 30 years
"As a Diabetes Educator, I'm always looking for new ways to help patients. Kelly Kunik offers a unique way of educating patients through laughter. There's a tremendous validation in Kelly's approach - Everybody thinks that no one once else has diabetes related issues, day & day out. Whether it getting your tubing caught on a door nob; acting out with a low blood sugar, or dealing with the same old questions. Silly or serious, Kelly's observations allow patients to feel better about themselves. When people feel good about themselves, they practice better self management. IT'S ALL GOOD. We all had so much fun the night Kelly spoke to my Type 1 support group."
Cheryl Marco, RD, CDE Thomas Jefferson University Division of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases