Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dear Diabetes Guilt

Dear Diabetes Guilt:
You’ve been with me and by my side almost daily since my diagnosis.
I first experienced you when I looked into my parents’ eyes when I was dx'd 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 beside me as I'd steal pastries 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.

Diabetes 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 am gutted and ashamed to admit now, but I blamed her for not taking better care of herself.
I was a kid, she was 15 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 a 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.
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 crabs, 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’m tired of having you as the anchor I wear around my neck.
So, I've 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 the not.
I have great labs, and some not so great, 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.


Meri said...

I just wanted to tell ya that I love you.

Kerri. said...

Beautiful post, Kelly.

Crystal said...

Amen sista! A MEN! ;-)
Great post. Love these letters. I say that every time, huh. But it's true.
Love ya! (hugs)

Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

I agree--wonderful post! :-)

Kelly said...

Perfectly said. Do you mind if I post this on my blog?

Shannon said...

Now I know what happens in Brendon's world. Thank you.

George said...

You are amazing. This post is awesome.

Love you heaps!

Joanne said...

Thank you for opening my eyes to what my daughter will probably deal with in the future. At 2 years old, she doesn't know what guilt is yet.

This letter makes my want to do my best to make sure she never feels this way.

Diane J Standiford said...

Good job! Anchors AWAY

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being part of the DOC that has and continues to forge a guilt free life (okay maybe not completely free but close and getting closer every day) for all PWD. I believe that Caleb, because of you and so many others who set a good example and create awareness, will have less guilt in his life. I know it won't be easy, but I believe it will be easier. Thank you!

diabetic said...

I, for one, used to think that a healthy dose of guilt was just what the doctor ordered: that extra kick in the pants required to get me to “be good.” But research, talks with experts, and my own struggles have taught me that guilt is truly useless in dealing with the 24/7 responsibility and attention that diabetes demands. Out with it, I say!

Cherise said...

*tears* K2---I love you for the person you were and for the person you are today! I'm glad you got tired of saying your sorry, it's made you a beautiful person and I know your sister is smiling down on you! Gosh, your blogs get me going! Your hands down by far one of my favorites!

Cherise said...

*tears* K2---I love you for the person you were and for the person you are today! I'm glad you got tired of saying your sorry, it's made you a beautiful person and I know your sister is smiling down on you! Gosh, your blogs get me going! Your hands down by far one of my favorites!

Scott K. Johnson said...

Kelly, this is (another) great post. Guilt is something that rips at so many of us, and this post helps us to heal the wounds and attack life with a healthier mental attitude and outlook.

Anonymous said...

I turned 31 on May 27. On June 11 I went to the quick care for severe dehydration. They sent me to The hospital where I was diagnosed with DKA. I spent two nights in icy, thank goodness my husband was able to get off work to tend to the kids. I laid in that bed thinking.... I eat right, I excersise, I am healthy, how can I be type 1 diabetic. I asked the doctor, he said, and I quote, " you just got unlucky" . I laid there slowly killing myself with guilt for every single bite of food I ever ate. I don't have a good relationship with food to begin with so every food I eat is healthy as I can get it because I generally don't enjoy food. I still find myself thinking... what did I do? I struggle with self loathing and stress out majorly when I see a high... anything over 150 and I go nuts, I know its only been less than a month, I know it takes time, I honestly am doing everything I can to regulate it through diet, excersise and insulin. I know it will take doctor appointments and time to regulate my sugars. I am terrified to go to the doctor, I just know he is going to look at my numbers and then scold me for every one of them. I know he will say I can and shouldn't do better. We were wanting more children, now I feel that dream is over, and I die a little inside.