When People Take Solace in My Illness

I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of conflict over the perception of my life with type 1 diabetes.

Because I choose to not hide my diabetes, I found myself at a party with my Dexcom sensor fully visible on my arm, talking to a friend’s husband. He was asking me the questions that I’m used to answering. The ones I get on a regular basis from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. The questions were about what my equipment does, what I can and can’t eat, etc.

Then came the familiar one, “So as long as you do what you’re supposed to, it’s not a big deal. Right?” Continue reading

No One Can Tell that You’re Sick

“… and then there’s you. You’re a trooper with your disease. No one can tell that you’re sick, you handle it so well,” said my colleague in a random conversation.

When I started working at the company that I do now, I living with a condition that I didn’t know I had and it was slowly trying to kill me. I started my job in the middle of July and by early August, I was in full-on, vomiting, blurry vision, unquenchable thirst, exhausted, DKA. That was nearly five years ago.

Five years ago, I would say that I was sick. Really sick. Today, I don’t really consider myself sick, except for if I catch the occasional cold or flu. Once I got the diagnosis and treatment I needed, I stopped considering myself to be sick. Continue reading

Who Would I Be Without Diabetes?

I was reading Riva’s fascinating article on Diabetes Daily, partway into the article she asks,

“Who would you be without diabetes?”

I immediately stopped reading to think about my answer.

I’ve lived with diabetes a little more than 4 years. Many adults with type 1 diabetes were diagnosed in childhood and had type 1 as a companion growing up. My pancreas failed at age 22 giving me a vastly different perspective on who I am with diabetes in the equation and with diabetes out of the equation.

Although I’ve met some wonderful people through having diabetes and learned a lot about my own body and truly being healthy, I would not hold onto this awful disease if I could give it up. I wouldn’t hold onto bruise finger tips, devices attached to my body, risk of damaging my kidneys, eyes, nerves, etc, and the possibility of not waking up every morning, just because some part of me feels defined by having a non-functioning islet cells.

I’m a really healthy sick person. Having a chronic illness pushes me to take excellent care of myself, yet still I can’t get anything more than a standard life insurance policy because the numbers say I’m more likely to die young. I’d rather just be a really healthy person and drop the “sick” part all together.

I’ve worked very hard to not let my diabetes become my identity. I was Rachel for 22 years, then diabetes entered the picture, and I was (and am) still Rachel. I have a really crappy health condition and if I could give it up in a heartbeat, I absolutely would. Continue reading

Diabetes Doesn’t Give Holidays Off

Next week marks my 3rd year of using OmniPod to manage my type 1 diabetes. This isn’t really relevant to today’s story, but I wanted to point it out.

It’s sometimes hard to believe how much time has gone by since I was diagnosed with diabetes and since I started using an insulin pump. It’s an all-day, everyday condition that gives no time off for vacations, holidays or good behavior. In fact, I think that mine punishes me on vacation and during holidays!

I know it’s been a few weeks, but let me tell you about my very unthankful and unpleasant start to Thanksgiving. The evening before Thanksgiving Brad and I went down to his family’s house. We usually help prepare and cook the meal. My blood sugar was a little high, but I assumed it was from having lunch out with my coworkers. I took corrections and set temp basals, but got kind of wrapped up in the prep for the big dinner that I wasn’t as vigilant as I should have been.

I was over 200 before bed, so I corrected and set an alarm. I woke up to my alarm and was still high so I corrected again and set another alarm because no one really needs to sleep, right? I have no recollection of testing a second time but my PDM shows another reading and correction, it was lower but still too high. When I woke up the next morning and checked my Dexcom I almost had a heart attack, it read over 300. I immediate stuck my finger and sure enough, I was 302.

Its hard to be thankful when you start the day with a device failure, pod change and moderate ketones. #walkwithd

A photo posted by Rachel K (@probablyrachel) on

Something was clearly wrong so I took a manual injection from my brand new vial of insulin and started the pod change process, right there in my in-laws’ guest bed while Brad was just waking up. The old pod was starting day 3 and was the last of my previous vial of insulin, that coupled with the mystery food and my dysfunctional immune system created the perfect diabetes storm to threaten to ruin my Thanksgiving. Continue reading