How often do you ask for help because of your diabetes? Yesterday at work, I had a hypo that just wouldn’t quit. I ate the equivalent of the weight of a tram/rhino in jelly beans. It worked eventually, but for a long time I was hovering around the 3.0mmol/l mark, anxiously checking every 10 minutes to see if there was any increase in my BGL, while at the same time waiting for the inevitable spike (yep – came two hours later in the form of a lovely 26.5mmol/l. #DuckingFiabetes).
So, did I call out to anyone and ask for their help? Did I request someone come and sit with me for a bit – at least for the part where I was seriously wondering if standing was a good idea? Nope. Instead, I fought through, guzzling glucose, sitting in meetings, smiling my way through. Anytime I saw someone and they asked ‘How are you?’ did I say ‘Low, low, low, low’? Nope. I said ‘I’m fine, thanks’ and threw them what I thought was a winning smile, but given my hypo state was most likely a lopsided grimace.
I’m not good at asking for help. The one hypo I’ve had that required an ambulance occurred when I was walking around the park one evening with a dear friend. She noticed me throwing down a handful of the jelly beans I carry with me whenever we walk and casually asked if I was okay. ‘Yep – all good’ I said and we continued powering away. Her concern grew as I started shovelling the jelly beans down and became distracted, but every time she asked if I was okay or if we needed to stop, I’d smile and tell her all was fine and that the glucose would start working shortly. Even as the sweat started to drench me and I felt my legs start to turn to liquid, I swore that all was okay. At no point did I say to her that I was concerned that I was about to pass out. At no point did I tell her that I thought I was not going to make it back to her apartment. ‘I’m fine.’ I said. Over and over and over. Until I wasn’t and the next thing I remember was waking up on her the floor of her apartment with a paramedic about to shove a dextrose IV into my right arm.
On those occasions where I have needed help, I’ve been left feeling beaten. I vow to step things up and not let diabetes win again. But is it a matter of diabetes winning? Perhaps this ridiculous doggedness to insist that ‘I’m fine’ is actually doing more harm than good. Would it have been so terrible if yesterday I had said to a colleague ‘I am having trouble getting my BGLs up. If I have to eat another jelly bean I’m going to vomit. Would you mind at all finding me some juice to drink?’ Would they have thought any less of me; seen me as helpless; decided that I was losing to diabetes?
Of course not. But this isn’t about what others think. I need to feel that I can do this on my own. I don’t want the burden of my condition to become my family’s burden. I don’t want to acknowledge that diabetes is changing and that what worked in the first decade and a half is perhaps not going to now. I need to believe that I am fine; that I’m going to be fine. Really. I’m fine.