Dealing with Type 1 Diabetes often feels like I’m parenting an extra child. A highly emotional child that throws it’s toys out of the pram if I don’t do things it’s way, or if I make even the tiniest mistake. It will freak out if I accidentally put too much food on the plate without realising. God only help me if I’m eating out at a restaurant where I’m unable to control or estimate the portion sizes that are brought out to our table! It may have a hissy fit if I start to do the house work, and won’t be satisfied until I’ve sat down, fed it and waited patiently for it to calm down. Most of the time it’ll allow me to get up and finish my chores, but occasionally it’ll have a second tantrum and I’ll once again have to take a break to keep it happy.
Now let’s not forget the sleepless nights. Diabetes often isn’t a massive fan of sleep, waking me numerous times through the night, nagging for the toilet, wanting a drink, or on the other hand, decides it absolutely needs to eat. And not just a quick snack! Nope! During the night it wants to eat everything in sight, whizzing around the kitchen like Pacman hunting for his power cookies. I’ll spend much of the next day dozing on the sofa, napping when Diabetes naps, shattered after last nights antics. If Diabetes has a good night’s sleep, chances are it’ll be a little monster the next day. It’ll refuse to play ball, it’ll keep distracting me and I’ll have to keep my eye on it a lot more than usual.
I often feel like I’m walking on eggshells, not knowing how temperamental Diabetes will be from one day to the next. The littlest things set it off. Hot weather? “I don’t like it!” shouts Diabetes and stamps it’s foot. Too cold? “Nope, don’t like that either!” Shall we go shopping? “Yes!” it shouts, but then the excitement wears off. It realises that it doesn’t have the energy it had earlier that day and the nagging starts. The only difference with a child is, you can usually distract them enough so they stop nagging. Not Type 1 Diabetes though. I have no choice but to go off and grab a bottle of lucozade or a packet of sweets to shut it up. Stress is a nightmare. Diabetes reacts badly to stress. Me being stressed stresses Diabetes out and I can feel the blood sugar levels rising. This in turn stresses me out more, which leads to a big struggle to regain control. I’ve learned to try and keep calm, stay chilled and leave things go over my head in order to avoid the extra unnecessary stress.
Did you know Diabetes is a picky eater? Funnily enough, it has the same fussy eating habits as my four year daughter Cici. They’re both happy with cake, although Diabetes requires a dose of insulin to stop it going crazy. But they both freak out if pizza is on the menu! No matter how hard I try, Diabetes wont have any of it and I spend the good part of a day battling to calm it down. So to keep the peace, I rarely serve pizza. The things you do for a quiet life!
My second child, Type 1 Diabetes, has calmed down a great deal in recent times. Along with motherhood, I’ve found my feet and discovered what works, what doesn’t, what I need to do to avoid the difficult times and how to identify a possible high stress situation before it begins. It’s always hard when you’ve no idea what you’re doing. In the early years of motherhood, and even now occasionally, I’ve really felt sorry for my daughter. She’s had to share me with Diabetes from day one. When it causes me to feel high or low, it can often make me grouchy with a tendency to snap in annoyance. Not just at her, but with friends and family members too. It’s not something I can help, and I instantly feel bad afterwards, but Diabetes doesn’t care.
This thought process was another incentive for me to gain control. I didn’t want her growing up feeling like she has a grumpy mum. I already have resting bitch face, I didn’t want her thinking it for real! I want her to feel like she can talk to me about anything, no matter how big or small, and that I won’t judge. Now, as she’s getting older, I’m trying to educate her gently about why Mummy gets unwell sometimes and why I have an insulin pump and she doesn’t. It’s difficult to explain, but she’s an intelligent kid and seems to absorb what I tell her like a sponge. She knows that the bottle of lucozade in the fridge is “mummy’s medicine”, although she’s not yet ready to give up the sweets stored in our cupboard to share with me, so I have my own secret stash stored elsewhere.
Dealing with Type 1 Diabetes often feels like I’m parenting an extra child. It likes to punch my buttons and see how far it can push my boundaries. But like a child, as they grow, they realise that Mum (and Dad in many cases) is the boss. I’m the boss of this house and Diabetes has started to realise this. We still have our tough times and our relationship isn’t perfect, but we’re getting there slowly. And in time, maybe we’ll live a harmonious life together, as a team. But for now, I’m pretty happy as I am.
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