I have been fairly open about the influence of living with Type 1 diabetes and my struggles in managing the condition. There have been aspects I have chosen to withhold because I feared the backlash and judgements I might receive for being honest about how I handle this chronic illness. Medical issues are often highly sensitive topics and provoke quick judgments.
However, this morning at Mass, listening to the homily, I was blessed with courage through the Holy Spirit to write this blog.
The homily was more about earthly possessions and common attachments to them.
“‘You fool, this might will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”
~ Luke 12:21
The priest pointed out that whatever we try to own in this life ends up owning us, and whatever we try to control ends up controlling us. This last statement and the use of the word “control” grabbed my attention.
On the day I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, my life became all about control. I was told that my diabetes could not be cured, but it could be “controlled.”
A somewhat severe doctor informed me that if I did not control the condition, I was doomed to suffering all through life. To some extent, he was right, but his words could be applied to everyone, whether they have diabetes or not.
My life is based on numbers; I check my blood sugars constantly, and every time they are too high or too low, they determine how I conduct myself the rest of the day. Both high and low blood sugars evoke fear. Thoughts of being a failure invade my head and frustration takes over. It’s been 13 years since my diagnosis – why can’t I control them?
I’m supposed to see an endocrinologist every 3 months. I strictly adhered to this practice till moving to New York when my health insurance wasn’t adequate, and I saw an endocrinologist less and less. Now my life is becoming stable again, and I can afford to visit an endocrinologist.
I wasn’t expecting a glowing report card; I had let my diabetes management slacken, but was still stricken by fear again and how it affected my perspective on life. My thoughts shifted my focus from the Lord to myself. The responsibility for controlling my condition reverted back to me and how I needed to take control. I began to judge myself and fear the future.
Since my latest doctor’s appointment, I have been on a downward spiral. I was trying to live my life based on blood sugar numbers. As the priest said, by trying to control my diabetes, I was letting it control me. The more I tried to force this control, the worse it got until I hit a new “low,” literally!
At my lowest, I received a text from a close friend who had no idea what was going on with me, but she was listening to EWTN, and the daily family prayer was for those with diabetes. When she heard it, she was prompted by the Holy Spirit to text me.
I truly believe my life was saved that day because she sent me that prayer. When I have low blood sugars, I correct them with quick acting sugar from Smarties to a box of juice – whatever is readily available. Nevertheless, there are some low blood sugars that cannot be corrected by any amount of sugar. I had lost control of my life, and in my weakness, the Lord was strong, and only He was able to raise my blood sugars, which He did.
Even when I know a doctor means to help, when fear enters in, the enemy can take control. I recognize the effects fear has had on managing my diabetes. It is important to see doctors, take their advice and closely monitor your blood sugars, but actually being able to control them is a false perception.
I am human and thus subject to human error. If my diabetes management was left up to me, I would be doomed. Just as people try to hold on to possessions, Jesus Christ reminded me I can’t take them with me – they are not forever and have no value in Christ’s eyes. Diabetes has no value for Jesus; rather, He values me and my immortal soul.