When Is It Not Diabetes?

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Last evening I was all set to update my status on my Facebook page. The text I’d written was something along the lines of, “So far I’ve seemed to handle many of the tough things in my life pretty well, which is maybe why tonight I want to make a mountain out of a molehill.” In fact, I’d already started shoring up a molehill.

That molehill? Oh, you’ll really feel sorry for me: I had plans to meet some friends after the gym for a beer, but when I arrived early at the bar, the band (whose presence I hadn’t expected) was way, way too loud. I couldn’t stand it. Call me old. Call me grumpy. Just don’t call me when that band’s around, because I won’t hear you.

I e-mailed my friends before they left their house and begged off our plans, eschewing the idea of going somewhere else, complaining, too, about the bar’s acoustics and the god-awful noise. I’d anticipated a fun evening at that particular bar, and it was ruined.

I felt sorry for myself. I was touchy and tired, having stayed up too late the night before, and I was on an endorphin rush, too: I’d just had a great two-hour workout at the gym, one of the toughest spinning classes I’ve ever taken. So when my anticipated reward for my day — ending the evening with good beer and a friendly game of poker — fell through due to noise pollution, I became a whiner, he who makes mountains out of molehills.

I didn’t status update about my pain, however. My filter was still in place, and I didn’t feel, in the moment, like publicly railing about my perceived injustices. Instead, I went home to a quiet house and my under-the-weather spouse, watched a bit of TV with Kathryn, and then read for a few hours.

What the heck, you may be asking, does this have to do with diabetes? Everything. Want to know why?

At the gym I worried about my blood glucose while I was spinning because it was such a difficult workout, so I checked my bg half a dozen times during the hour-long class, drank some juice, had a PowerBar, and kept my eye on the bottle of Powerade that I would open if I started to go low.

I was pushing myself, and pushing hard during exercise — really hard — means some of my physical reactions can be similar to that of a low blood glucose coming on. Except I was loving the exercise quote-unquote pain, the high heart rate, the endorphin rush.

Except this caused me to instantly worry about the post-workout blood glucose levels. Have I pushed too hard? Should I have a beer afterwards? I don’t know. But I want the beer. This was a tough class. I’m having the beer.

I’m going to be vigilant about monitoring my blood glucose while at the bar.

I’m driving to the bar and making a mental note of everything I need to remember to take into the bar. It’s cold out, but not that cold, so I’m considering just wearing my fleece and not taking the larger, many-pocketed outer coat, in the pockets of which are extra carbs and a test kit. No, wait. The test kit is in my trunk, in my gym bag. And my insulin pump is in my work bag because I took it off before I went to the gym. I need to remember that, too: Get The Pump!

Since I don’t want to wear my outer coat, I’m going to have to carry everything into the bar, but I don’t have pockets now, or rather, the pockets I have are in filled with my iPhone, wallet, and soon the insulin pump, then keys.

See this? Diabetes, living with: it is a tough life!

Oh, then at the bar, the noise, and I’m sitting there wondering if I should check my blood glucose, all the while feeling somewhat incapacitated, which can happen, easily, when I have too many things going through my head: (1) cancel the plans with friends because of the noise; e-mail e-mail e-mail and hope they see it before they head out the door; (2) drink some of the beer now in front of me, which I already ordered before the band started playing and I realized it was too noisy, and I don’t want the beer, but I can’t leave a full beer, and I can’t be a jerk and complain to the barkeep about the band noise; (3) check my blood glucose, because I’m feeling odd now and it may be any number of factors: (a) post-workout reaction, (b) awkward alone-at-the-bar feeling, (c) anxiety about what to do next, (d) I really am going low, (e) I’m hungry because it’s now 7:30 and I haven’t eaten since lunch; (4) text my wife to ask if she wants anything when I leave the bar and head home, since she’s been sick all day; (5) figure out what I’m going to do for dinner because I’m not going to have the bar’s delicious chicken quesidilla, which I was craving.

In the back of my mind it’s diabetes. This whole time, diabetes. Blood glucose worries. Worried about precipitously dropping to a severe low. Yes, true, I have no precedent for the worries I’m accumulating, but I also haven’t worked out that hard in a while, so how would my body react?

Which brings me around to the catalyst for this blog. I decided to try to cobble something together about the mountain/molehill thing when I was pouring a glass of water before bed: Can I ever find a block of time during which I don’t have worried thoughts about my illness? Will I ever be able to completely accept that I’m doing a good job managing my illness? Not feel guilty about living — trying to live — a normal existence (howsoever you want to define normal)?

My mind sometimes — like last night — can do a great job turning my self-management attempts to one extreme or the other: either I’m going too far or not doing enough. Last night, the spinning, the exercise: maybe I’d gone too far, too much. I acted, at the gym (for the most part) as a person without diabetes. Pushing. Really pushing.

It seems, however, that this is part of the illness, and, at least for me, the type of issues I must learn to balance (learn, learn again, and then once more; repeat) for the remainder of my days.

Or keep having evenings like last night. If the molehills have to do with diabetes, can they ever really be molehills?

Hi, Type 1 Diabetes. You can really suck.

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