The Blood Sugar Blame Game

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Wiped out and dejected, that’s my state of mind this morning. I had a really low blood sugar, and it’s left me feeling like I’ve been in a fight. My arms and legs feel heavy, and my “low” headache lingers, but I remind myself that it could be worse. I’m fine, I treated it, and my day will go on.

A Facebook friend posted a moment ago that she just had her third low blood sugar of the morning. I sent her a cyber hug and am full of sympathy. It’s no wonder that low blood sugar is so frustrating to us: The feelings associated with it go way beyond the physical. They also hit us emotionally.

Here comes the blame game: I know that I should have eaten earlier. I know that I shouldn’t have tried to finish that paperwork before breakfast. I even told myself that I was in for a low if I didn’t grab something to eat soon. And yet, even after seventeen years of life with type 1 diabetes, I ignored my own warnings. Now here I am, feeling exhausted and guilty for doing it to myself.

For me, the emotional toll of diabetes is far more difficult than the shots and finger sticks. Guilt and diabetes go together like birthday cake and ice cream. We blame ourselves if our blood sugars are too high or low. We beat ourselves up if we don’t get enough activity or if our doctor puts us on yet another new medication.

I always feel like a failure if my stats are less than perfect, despite my knowledge that with diabetes, perfection is out of reach. The reality is that often our crazy blood sugars aren’t our fault at all. It’s impossible to flawlessly mimic our own pancreas every day. On top of that, dealing with a chronic illness twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, can break you down and lead to mistakes. I know that this morning’s low occurred because of mistakes I made, but I force myself to remember that mistakes happen with diabetes.

When I’m beating myself up and feeling bad, I think of what a type 1 friend said to me after a recent rough low blood sugar: “Keep your chin up. Just like the last one, and the next one, it’ll pass.” He’s right. We’ve got to dust ourselves off, let go of the blame, and get back into the game of life.

 

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