Yesterday, I woke up to this tweet from the fabulous health psychologist, Dr Katharine Barnard (who, apart from being quite brilliant is also incredibly lovely and fun to have a cuppa with!):
I didn’t have to think about it. I immediately replied with this:
I am very lucky when it comes to having a supportive network around me to help me manage my diabetes. Ultimately, the decisions are mine, but that doesn’t mean that my family is excluded from the discussions.
And it also doesn’t mean that I don’t consider my family when making decisions. This has been especially true when considering technology that costs a lot of money.
When I first started on a pump, there were no subsidies for consumables. As such, I needed to think about where the $300 per month ongoing costs would be coming from. It was 14 years ago; we were newly married with a mortgage. $300 each month was (and still is!) a lot of money to find in the household budget.
We worked out that we would be able to afford it (the pay off was fewer shoes for me), but we were also really lucky to have been told by both our families that they would help out if there were months that we couldn’t afford the supplies.
In later years, the same issues needed to be considered with CGM consumables. Again, with no subsidies, could we find the money to cover the costs of the consumables.
But the financial is not the only thing that impacts on family. What about the impact of having a loved one constantly attached to medical equipment?
When I first started pumping, I wondered what it would mean having a device stuck to me all the time. Would it be a constant reminder to me of my diabetes (not that diabetes is something that is easily forgotten)? But even more than that, I was also worried about how other people would see me. What would my friends and family think when they saw this little box permanently attached to my belt, or shoved down my top? What would they think when they saw me pull it out to press a few buttons? Would it change anything? Would they think differently of me? Would they think of me as ‘sick’?
I worried about how my husband would react to the infusion set taped at all times to my stomach.
In my case, it turned out that none of this mattered. In fact, no one made a big deal out of it; instead everyone was really supportive of me using the technology to manage my diabetes and congratulated me on my decisions.
So it surprised me a couple of years ago when I trialled the Dexcom CGM. I had been wearing CGM for a number of years already without feeling particularly self-conscious.
But the Dexcom sensor, with its different shape to other CGMs flung me back to the uncertainty and insecurity about wearing a(nother) device on my body. As I put in the first sensor and pushed on the transmitter, I felt queasy in the pit of my stomach. Again, I worried about what people with think of the thing protruding through my clothes. And would Aaron start to think that his wife was turning into a cyborg in front of his very eyes, with more and more buttons and beeping machines keeping me running?
As it turned out, I was, again, worrying for nothing. No one said anything. My parents and in-laws show only kind concern and support; my sister hasn’t made any comments about any of the tech (which is a little disappointing because I am sure that she would come up with some brilliantly hysterical snipe that would have me doubled over laughing – this is, after all, the woman who gave me this birthday card for my 40th); my friends ask general questions about how things are going. And Aaron and the kidlet just take the tech of what it is – life saving.
All of their support and encouragement of my diabetes will never, ever be taken for granted – I will be forever grateful. And accepting me for who I am – robot parts and all – is a gift they give over and over and over again. I was reminded of that with Kath’s tweet to me yesterday.
It absolutely doesn’t matter if you are a fan of Coldplay or not (I’m not) but this cover of ‘Yellow’ is possibly the most beautiful thing I have heard in a long time. I can’t stop listening to it. We were lucky to see Petra Haden and Bill Frisell play when we were in New York in an absolutely stunning gig. Enjoy – and check out their other stuff too.