By: Meagan Esler
Working full-time, taking care of your family and your home, and being a good spouse seem like a pretty full life, right? But throw in type 1 diabetes and you’ll begin to wonder how on earth you can squeeze in such a finicky, not to mention dangerous, chronic illness. It seems there aren’t possibly enough hours in the day to be on top of it all. In the past I’ve been extremely guilty of putting myself last when life got crazy.
I’d be willing to bet I’m not the only one.
For example, there were a good four years or so when my teenage son, who was addicted to drugs, lived with us and brought as much drama as a heart-wrenching daytime soap opera to our household. For those four years his father and I barely slept. We had constant worry as he would ignore our phone calls and go missing for hours, sometimes even days. He didn’t attend his high school classes or help around the house, and the lies kept coming.
He soon began overdosing on drugs regularly, passing out on street corners and scaring the life out of his loved ones, ending up hospitalized. We tried everything we knew to help him and to get our son back. There were therapy sessions, psychologist visits, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and rehab on four separate occasions.
At one point we even had his grandfather watching him all day long while we worked our day jobs in a desperate attempt to keep him safe. Nothing seemed to help and my own health suffered because I was far more worried about him than myself. Sure my diabetes could hurt me if I didn’t pay close enough attention, but my son was always in immediate danger and I wanted desperately to help him.
These days, he has moved out. Years have passed, but sadly, the addiction issues and bouts of heart-wrenching drama are not over. Regardless, I have been trying to remember to take care of myself first because I am important, too. It’s a difficult choice as a mom, but I know it’s one I have to make. Diabetes is serious stuff and you can’t ignore it without things getting scary.
We still try to help him get back on his feet whenever he seems serious about getting better, and are there as quick as a flash when he needs us, but we don’t put ourselves in jeopardy to the extent that we once did. We physically just can’t.
I do what I can to take good care of myself. I make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthier than I used to, make doctor appointments and follow through, test my blood sugars more than ever, and write down my feelings to keep from bottling it all up. I try to care as much about myself as I would him.
I realize now that it doesn’t matter if we have time for diabetes. We have to make the time despite the drama that finds us in our daily lives. I guess it’s kind of like the old saying that if the airplane you’re on is in distress you have to put your own oxygen mask on first. We are no help to anyone else if we don’t help ourselves, and I have to think that our loved ones would want us to.