All my life I have tried to be a good girl. To be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, a good girlfriend, etc. My perfectionist nature has always been part of me. After my diagnosis I was therefore determined to be ‘a good diabetic’. I was told MODY isn’t a ‘bad form of diabetes’ and I would probably be able to manage it without insulin.
These two sentences were the beginning of seven years of trying my hardest to be a good patient, seven years of failing all over, again and again. Every time my Hba1c level came back a little higher I would immediately try to figure out why. Had I eaten too much sugar? Hadn’t I done enough exercise? Did I, too often, forget my medication? I would look for reasons I had control over. The truth -I know now- is that I simply made less and less insulin.
I continued to adapt my life around these numbers. I consulted various doctors and dieticians to help me lower my HbA1c. When I asked if insulin was an option, the answers were always the same:
- Insulin should be a last resort.
- Insulin will make you gain weight
- It doesn’t work as well as your own insulin
- You don’t want that! You will have to stab yourself several times a day!
So that’s what I believed. Insulin is bad and I would have to find a way to avoid it! Ever since, I just tried everything within my power to steer clear of insulin. Including a strict ketogenic diet and working out almost every day. And still I experienced high blood sugars (>250 mg/dl or >14 mmol/L) almost every day. The headaches reoccurred and I felt tired all day.
This constant struggle and the feeling of failing yet again made me crash in October last year. I was diagnosed with depression and took some time off work.
I have been very fortunate to be able to take this time off and started working with a therapist. She and some friends from the online diabetes community made me realize some very important things.
- There are so many factors influencing BG’s. Many of them are simply out of my control. I should not take the blame for it.
- I don’t have to blame myself for a progressive illness.
- Self-loath is extremely fatiguing and won’t take you any further.
- It’s not the food or lack of exercise that makes me feel bad, it’s the lack of insulin my body produces.
With this in mind I finally found the courage to step to my diabetes team and ask for insulin.
I have been using fast acting insulin for little over a month now and feel so much better already. I do believe my health care professionals only had the best interests when trying to keep me off insulin. But I also believe you have to look at the bigger picture and strongly consider a person’s quality of life. I actually found that many people with MODY use insulin!
Insulin won’t make you gain weight either! This is a common misconception that needs to go! I’ll talk more about this later.
People with diabetes may have a failing organ, but they are certainly not a failure. We are strong and resilient and should always remember that! Our bodies are always changing and so will the need for insulin. A healthy person has no idea about how much insulin he produces, we should not worry too much about it either in my opinion. I know I’m taking care of both my physical and mental health now. If this means I have to inject myself, so be it. I feel much healthier than a month ago and that’s all that matters.
* there is no such thing as a 'good' or 'bad' diabetic.
* there is no 'bad form' of diabetes. All people with diabetes deserve the same respect for dealing with a chronic illness and should not be shamed because of it.
* I am not a doctor, you should always talk to your medical team before changing your treatment plan.