The Scariest Thing About Diabetes

Of course there are a million things that scare me about diabetes, but the one that tops the charts is the idea of losing the battle against my diabetes in my sleep. An article about the overnight passing of a beautiful and healthy young woman with type 1 diabetes is buzzing on many of my friends’ Facebook walls and the mood is unavoidably somber in the diabetes online community tonight.

We’ve lost one of our own in the most unfair way possible. We’ve seen these heartbreaking stories before and the thought is terrifying that it could be any of us. It reminds me of one of those horror movies where the message is usually something akin to whatever you do, don’t go to sleep! We all have to sleep sometime. I accidentally fall asleep on the couch without testing and correcting until well after midnight more often than I’d like to admit. I think of my friends who are lucky enough to live without diabetes and want to say to them, “Imagine being afraid to go to sleep!”  Having diabetes really means a lot more than just shots and blood sugar tests.

The fear doesn’t just affect me. The other night my son Jimmy knocked on my door after getting home late. I was already in bed but was still awake reading a magazine and waiting for him to get home. I asked what he needed and he said, “Nothing, can I come in?”  I said, “Sure, honey. Is everything okay?” He replied that everything was fine with him, but he wanted to know if I’d taken my nighttime insulin shot and tested yet.  He’s 17 and checking on my insulin and blood sugars at bedtime. That night diabetes made me very sad.  

I thought surely my husband had asked him to check on me. I thought there was no way that he had worried about it on his own at 10:30 at night. He’s supposed to be off texting high school buddies and eating everything in our kitchen at that time of night, not worrying about my diabetes and not worrying about something happening to me in my sleep. I never share the stories where people pass away in their sleep with him because I don’t want him to worry about me. Yet here he was, worried anyway.  

My husband later told me he hadn’t asked Jimmy about my diabetes that night. It hadn’t come up at all in their conversation when he arrived home. I wish he didn’t ever have to give a second thought to my diabetes. I love him for it and appreciate every caring thought, but I wish diabetes couldn’t hurt or scare us. 

I know he probably thinks of it because of all the Glucagon training we’ve done. It is necessary for him to know how to use Glucagon because it could save my life in an emergency, but surely it scares him that he may someday need to.  

Tonight the diabetes community mourns the loss of a beautiful life taken way too soon. We try to ease each other’s fears about bedtime lows but we all have them somewhere in the back of our mind. We push those fears further away into the corners of our minds while we huddle as a community a little bit closer tonight.  

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