Saturday, September 19, 2015

Death by Stubbornness

Every two years, I get CPR certified as part of my job requirements. And so every two years, I watch the lame safety video on offer about all the various diseases/conditions/ailments/disasters that might befall people on my watch and which I, as a First Responder, now have a duty to, well, respond to.

There's anaphylactic shocks and EPI Pens, choking, asthma, and of course, good old T1D and hypoglycemia. While I hated the feeling of watching a safety video about myself, I did think it was interesting the part of hypoglycemia they chose to highlight---the attachment to tasks and resistance to eating/addressing the problem. The actor is trying to finish some paperwork, and getting increasingly frustrated and unable to complete the task. Yet when his concerned friend suggests that he check his blood glucose and eat a snack, he repeatedly refuses and remains focused on the task at hand.

I think, to a non-T1D person, this might be hard to understand. You have a "condition." You're obviously not well. Your body is *literally* sending you signals that you are dying right now. Because you are. Your brain, picky eater that it is, is starved for glucose and will shortly no longer be functioning as you'd like it to. Your systems will shut down, one by one, and in a way, it will seem as though you have died of stubbornness.

I know that there is some counterintuitive neurological explanation for all of this. Your body is being flooded with                       and yada yada yada. But I also think that this symptom taps into an essential weakness in a T1D person's personality. And that is, simply, to not have to deal with diabetes. To not have it. To climb a flight of stairs and eat the dinner they want to prepare, rather than hastily devour a granola bar on the front landing while the neighbor's kids watch. To have a conversation with the person addressing them, rather than mumbling "mhmm, uh-huh" distractedly while chugging a juice.

And so, while you're at your weakest, you have to be strong with yourself. You have to admit, I'm sick. I need a break. I need to be awkward, be uncomfortable, expose a part of myself that I'd rather not. I have to reprioritize, reorganize, and rethink. Most importantly, I need to eat something and think about all the rest of this later.

When I find myself in this place, just trying to make it through X before I deal with my blood sugar, I try to rein it in with a firm reminder to myself. This will be easier when it's over. And it's usually true. 

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