I couldn’t do that

On many occasions people who have watched me take care of my diabetes have said, “I couldn’t do that.” Whether it’s pricking my finger to test, injecting, carefully measuring servings of food or changing my infusion site, my audience friends/family members have expressed that it would be hard for them to intentionally cause themselves pain or be that vigilant about food.

My answer is always, “If you had to you could.”


People can do the tough amazing things when they have to. Think about it, people have lifted cars in an adrenaline-fueled effort to save another. Others have amputated their own limbs to save themselves. If stabbing yourself with a needle is what you needed to do to survive, you could do it.

Although syllabus day in college was the easiest, it was always overwhelming. I’d see the readings, papers, projects and exams and think about how hard the course would be. Looking at the final project on the first day of class was enough to make me think, I can’t do this. But as the semester went on, it wasn’t as frightening (not saying that some of those classes weren’t hard however). I could do it and I have a degree saying that I did it (and some Greek under my name saying I did it pretty well).

Sitting in the hospital bed in August, being told everything that I would have to do was a lot like syllabus day. In my keto acidosis fog, I managed to realize that it wasn’t going to be easy and thought on many occasions I can’t do this. During those three days in August, I couldn’t even hold a fork because of the IVs in my hand, no less give myself insulin injections. After the release papers were signed and IVs were out, I went home having never injected insulin. It took pep talks, a lot of deep breaths and loads of family encouragement on discharge night for me to stab myself with that Lantus pen.

Life can look daunting at times, no matter what you’re dealing with. Sitting in a hospital with IV insulin and potassium, registering large ketones and having an a1c of 11 was enough to make me think that I couldn’t ever get better. I had forgotten what healthy felt like. But with support and determination to survive, I could do it. Within a few days of discharge, the ketones faded away and by mid fall my a1c had fallen to 8.3.

Whether is difficult classes, personal goals or surviving, know that you can do it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel inadequate, but don’t give up.

You’d be amazed at what you can do.


10 thoughts on “I couldn’t do that

  1. That’s the only answer to when people say that. When you have no choice, you have no choice right? And you’re right – we don’t even know some of the stuff we can do until we do them.

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