People with type 2 diabetes write back to their younger selves, to share personal insights and reflect on their experience of living with diabetes and starting on insulin therapy. In this post, Jeremy reflects on living with diabetes.
Jeremy was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2011, after a harrowing collapse of the financial industry that he was a part of. Though he took medication for a while, he decided he could stop all of his pills ‘cold turkey’. “An endocrinologist had told me that I might be able to go off them really soon, so I decided I could just stop,” explains Jeremy.
Though he was struggling with a failing marriage and transitioning to a new job, he felt physically fine for ten months. Then his symptoms came back. He lost weight, was insatiably thirsty and urinated often. In December 2014, he went for his annual physical. The doctor told him, “You are healthy, but you are checking into the hospital tonight.”
Jeremy’s blood sugar was measured in a hospital emergency room. The nurse looked at him and asked: “How are you even able to stand upright?” Soon he was on a gurney with insulin going into his arm. He thought to himself: How did I get here? Why did I play Russian roulette with my health? He wasn’t sure of the answers.
Now 51, Jeremy writes to himself at 48 as he is lying on a gurney in hospital.
You are part of a club you never wanted to be in. And, frankly, you are never going to get out of it. You now have a pancreas that is inefficient and will never return to what it used to be.
From now on, Jeremy, you will be like an airplane with a damaged wing. You will constantly be monitoring your blood sugar and watching what you eat to stabilise yourself. It will take some time but you’ll find the right balance. Insulin will be new to you, and it will take some time to learn how to manage your treatment, however it will help to improve your health by controlling your blood sugar levels.
Taking care of yourself, emotionally and spiritually, will be just as important. Everyone with diabetes knows those days where you just don’t feel well. Rather than ride the negativity wave, have a plan to bring yourself back in balance on those days. Surround yourself with positive people. If someone is being negative around you, call them out on it. Ask them to change their tune.
You can spark yourself, too. Use positivity websites and motivational books. Sometimes you have to force yourself to keep your spirit on an even keel. Enlist a battery of prompts, from your social media feeds to support groups to email blasts from diabetes-related organisations. Educate yourself about your body and mind.
Stress has been bulldozing your life for years. It doesn’t matter what you do in your career, as long as you try to be the best at it. Don’t worry about what others say. Your pride and ego and resolve have been tested, strained and blown up. Now you can reinvent yourself. But you can’t be the real you if you are unhealthy.
Onward and upward,
This story has been edited by Ellyn Spragins and shared with support from Novo Nordisk Canada. The views and opinions expressed are not representative of Novo Nordisk, and should not be considered treatment advice. Novo Nordisk has permission to share this letter and included personal details.