Diabetes and the Fear It Creates

People with diabetes need their insulin, devices, and other medications to stay healthy. Some hoard supplies in case of emergencies. Others try to, but unfortunately, these items are extremely expensive, and it just isn’t always feasible. I recently got a glimpse of a diabuddy’s supply drawer (it was more like an entire bureau) and was in awe of how much she had stockpiled. It made me start wondering, what if…

The world today is a scary place. Between worrying about war, diseases, and school shootings, your mind can really start wandering in a bad direction. I remember the first time I felt really vulnerable after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I was in Manhattan on a subway, and we got stuck in a tunnel. Being in that tunnel, far away from the insulin I need to live, made me feel a way that I had never felt before.

Before being diagnosed with diabetes, an instance like this would have made me feel claustrophobic and a little uneasy. And that is with living and working in Manhattan for close to ten years. If you have never been on a subway in Manhattan, let me paint you a picture. You have subway cars that are jam-packed. Not only is the seating space all taken, but the standing room is too. People continue to pile in with no regard for anyone else’s personal space. And if you have been on a subway in the city, then you know exactly what I am talking about!

Granted, the subway was probably ninety-something degrees, and I was likely already sweating, but I broke out in a cold sweat. My heart was pounding so fast that I could feel the vibration in my chest. I immediately thought, “Oh no, I must be low.” My blood sugar was fine, but I didn’t know if, and didn’t have the ability to use my glucose meter. I do believe that I probably had a mini panic attack.

My mind started racing, “What if I’m low and I don’t have any more skittles on me?” “What if I’m really low and pass out? No one will know I have diabetes and they won’t know what to do.” “What if someone steals my bag and takes all my supplies?”

I tried to calm myself down with some breathing techniques that I made up on the spot and, eventually, my heart stopped racing. And we eventually started moving again, and I got home safely. But it really made me start to think of all the times that I’m extremely vulnerable and, quite honestly, scared.

Nuclear bomb. Getting held hostage. Getting kidnapped. Traveling in foreign countries. Being on a bus stuck in traffic in the Midtown Tunnel. Being on a plane with my supplies put under the plane (I learned my lesson with that one!). And the most frequent one that really causes me serious anxiety is, god forbid, I get in a car accident right after taking insulin before I drive to a restaurant … no one would know I have insulin on board. The list goes on and on.

Diabetes isn’t for the weak. We not only have to deal with the physical torture it puts us through with the poking and pricking every single day, but we have to deal with the emotional and mental angst as well.

All we can do is be prepared, be responsible, and be ready for anything that comes our way.

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