Friday, January 2, 2009

Difference In Reactions

Something was said to me in an email yesterday in reference to how I handled myself with Kacey's diagnosis. I realize every person reacts to situations differently and thats what makes us all so unique. This gave me a chance to surf back through my blog and see just how far I'd come. I went from feeling very scared and alone, to feeling very frustrated and now being comfortable caring for Kacey and knowing I'm doing everything I can to give her a long and healthy life.

I remember when I was sitting in the ICU at the Children's Hospital and everyone was asleep despite the screaming baby next door. I sat there with my face in my hands and I sobbed. I sobbed because I was scared my child was going to die. I sobbed because I didn't know anyone else with Type 1. I sobbed because I was deathly afraid of needles from a bad experience I had as a child. All these mixed emotions swirled inside me. Slowly the curtain was pulled back to Kacey's room, and it was Kacey's ICU nurse. She was one of the nicest nurses I'd ever met and she walked over to me and put her hand on my shoulder and in a stern voice she said "Mrs. West, you HAVE to pull yourself together for Kacey's sake. I know this is a difficult time for you and we are here to answer any questions or concerns you have. I also want to explain something to you. She slowly pulled up a chair and sat down. She held both of my hands in her and as I looked at her through my tears she said, "You are going to go through something similar to the grieving process. You're going to cry, you're going to be in denial, you're going to get angry and frustrated and then acceptance will come. Once acceptance comes then you know you're finally in control of things." I wiped my eyes with the tissue she handed me and thanked her. As she hugged me she reminded me that she was there for any matter how silly they may be. I remember reading the clock... 4:42am ...I'd been awake almost 24 hours!

Well, Guess what? I went through that exact process, and so did Kacey!

When I was reading online I ran across this article from Behavioral Diabetes Institute. It's called "The Emotional Side of Diabetes- 10 Things You Need To Know"

Here is a bit from it...

Living well with diabetes takes emotional strength. Why? Because this is a tough disease. Diabetes is more than just a simple matter of eating right and taking your medications. Staying strong emotionally is the key to keeping stress and your blood glucose levels where they belong. Unfortunately, people with diabetes as well as doctors often neglect these “real life” aspects of the disease.

1. Harnessing Your Fears
With good care, you can live a long, healthy life with diabetes. Many people think they are doomed to suffer terrible complications, but this is simply not true! Diabetes is a serious disease and some people do develop severe long-term complications, but most of these problems are preventable if you have good medical care and take good care of yourself. Feeling a little frightened is not necessarily a bad thing, but when your fears get so big that you feel helpless and hopeless, it’s time to take action. You need to harness fear to help you manage diabetes.

2. Overcoming Depression
Depression is a serious problem, and it can be even more serious when you have diabetes. People with diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop depression as other people. If you are depressed, diabetes can become a lot harder to handle and your blood sugars are likely to rise. When your diabetes is out of control, this can make it even harder to escape depression. It becomes a vicious circle. The good news is that there are effective treatments that can help you recover your emotional health. These treatments can also help you improve your blood sugars and feel more in control of diabetes.

3. Defeating Denial
Denial can be a valuable tool. It can be a good way to cope with negative feelings about diabetes, especially when you are first diagnosed or when the disease is feeling out of control. But denial becomes a problem when it is your only way of coping. Instead of a temporary tool, it becomes a permanent way of life. The response to all diabetes aggravations becomes “I will not think about diabetes anymore.” This means trouble. When you turn your back on diabetes, your long-term health will be endangered.

4. Giving Up The Guilt
You are not a bad person because you developed diabetes. It is not your fault. You are not “bad” because you didn’t exercise today or because you ate more than you intended last night. Nobody can manage diabetes perfectly. Guilt is common when you are living with diabetes, and it is hardly ever useful. Because of guilt, people often establish tough, sometimes impossible rules about how to manage diabetes (“I must NEVER eat even a bite of junk food ever again”). Since you can never be perfect, rules like these can make you feel like you are failing and can promote depression. Enough already!

5. Appreciating The Power of Pals
Diabetes is easier to manage when you have people in your life who are rooting for you. When you feel alone with diabetes, it is harder to handle. Imagine the meaningful ways that loved ones could support you or help you feel less alone: for example, when family members join you in having healthier meals each night, when a good friend shares your anger or disappointment with a high blood sugar reading, when your spouse offers to help you with your next insulin injection, or when your neighbor agrees to join you for a brisk walk each morning. Just having someone in your life who cares can go a long way. (Thanks Diabetes OC!)

6. Arrest The Diabetes Police
Friends and family may sometimes think it is their right to help you manage your diabetes, whether you like it or not. Sometimes too much “support”, especially if you didn’t ask for it, can feel like nagging. When friends and family are bugging you about what to eat or what to do, you may tend to do the opposite of what has been suggested. “Don’t think I should eat that piece of cake? OK, then I’ll have two pieces!” Though they mean well, they have become the Diabetes Police, and you’ve become a Diabetes Criminal.

7. From Discouraged to Encouraged
Don’t let diabetes get you down. Diabetes can be a lot of work and sometimes even your best efforts don’t seem to pay off—like when you follow your doctor’s recommendations exactly, but still your blood sugars are elevated! That is understandably frustrating. But it is not your fault. There are ways to make diabetes care encouraging rather than discouraging.

8. Keeping Diabetes In Its Place
Diabetes is an important part of your life, but it doesn’t have to run your life. For many people, diabetes seems like a prison cell— no more enjoyable foods, no spontaneity, no fun, and constant attention to the clock. Some get so angry they decide to ignore diabetes altogether. If you find yourself thinking this way, it is time for an attitude change. Diabetes care in the 21st century means almost everyone can live their lives fully and take care of their diabetes successfully. Sure, some compromises will be necessary, but diabetes shouldn’t be allowed to box you in.

9. Taking Control of Your Environment
Your environment, whether you notice it or not, influences your ability to manage diabetes. Having willpower isn’t enough. You need to harness the power of your environment to support, rather than hinder, your diabetes care. Think about it: how well you eat is affected by the number of tempting foods in your house and the size of the portions on your plate. How faithfully you take your medications is influenced by how many you have and whether you keep them in a convenient, easy-to remember spot each day.

10. Taking A Diabetes Vacation
You need a vacation. Diabetes can be a lot of work, and it demands your attention every day. It is worth the effort, but it is a tough job. All that effort can wear you down, especially if you never get a break. And you can never take a break from diabetes… or can you? In reality, everyone takes “vacations” from their diabetes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A break from diabetes can be a big relief. But make sure your diabetes vacations are safe. And, like any good vacation, this takes some planning.

There is much more to each number in the article but those are the brief summeries on each page. I was able to relate to every single one of them! I feel like a much stronger parent and I feel I can stand strong in my diabetes debate when needed. I do respect the way different people react to different situations and I would never push them to react the way I did to Kacey's diagnosis. That being said, I'm sure many parents DO react the way I did (and some much worse). I didn't sink too deep into the depression and I was quick to pull myself up with the help of many amazing Diabetes OC'ers. They have been here to respond to my posts and answer my questions. I may not have met them in real life, but I have a lifetime bond with many of them and they know who they are because they're the ones that are here regularly reading and helping me along the way.


Scott K. Johnson said...

The folks at BDI are just awesome.

Jill said...

Yeah they seem to capture those exact feelings! Just like the Diabetes Etiquette one :)

Cara said...

I think a support system is sooo important. Before I discovered the Diabetes OC, I was floating out in diabetes land. Sometimes I was taking care of myself, other times not. It took having support and people who understand me for me to get my act together.

Jill said...

Thanks Cara! I don't know what I would have done without you all! The diabetes support group that meets once a month is at the hospital an hour and a half away so theres just no way we can make it. I feel like I have such a good support network here now :)