If, for some weird, inexplicable and entirely hypothetical reason you were given a choice of which chronic illness you had to be inflicted with, diabetes might actually be somewhere at the top of your list.
None of us wanted to become pancreatically-challenged and I daresay if a cure arrived tomorrow (it won’t, by the way (and even if it did, it wouldn’t be available on the NHS)) we would all jump at the chance of finally being shot of diabetes once and for all. But, while it’s undoubtedly a pain, it’s a lot better than other, inferior, chronic illnesses because:
• It’s under our control. Very generally speaking, the better we look after ourselves the better our quality of life and the fewer bad consequences we’ll suffer when we’re ancient. We do actually have a lot of control over our chronic illness. It’s not as if we expect to find ourselves writhing and foaming on the floor at utterly random times, or regaining consciousness in a seedy motel room 300 miles from home with no idea how we got there, á la Fight Club.
• Short term problems are easy to treat. Obviously extreme highs and lows can lead to a spell in hospital but these are very rare. If our blood glucose goes too high we can shove in more insulin. If our blood glucose goes too low we simply guzzle down a pile of cakes, fruit pastilles or other delicious, sugary delicacies. Minor problems can be quickly and easily treated ourselves.
• We only need occasional hospital visits. Everyone, without exception, hates hospitals. But I only have to go up to my local hospital for a thorough check up every 7 months and it takes about an hour or so. Frequent visits to the doctor and long, painful treatments are not required.
• It probably won’t kill us. With well managed diabetes we can expect to live out our three score years and ten. Diabetics don’t tend to die young. I don’t know about you but I think this is actually quite a Good Thing.
• It’s actually quite healthy. Aside from the whole pancreas-not-working thing, diabetes is pretty good for you as we’re encouraged to have a healthy diet and exercise a reasonable amount. The fact that life is easier if we do these things is quite a good incentive for actually doing them.
• There’s not much blood. We might get a few bruises and our finger tips might be ravaged, but diabetes involves seeing only tiny amounts of blood for testing, etc. – and most of our blood stays within us. This is definitely a Good Thing. Try eating lunch and reading blogs about haemophilia (with lots of photos, of course) and you’ll know what I mean. We’re lucky!
• It’s inconspicuous. Unless you tell them most people will not know you are diabetic as there are no outward signs you have it. This allows us to be as open, or as private, as we like about our diabetes. Some people like to only tell their partners or a few close friends that they’re pancreatically-challenged, while others delight in injecting in full view in crowded nightclubs. So at least we have the choice how we deal with it.
So there you have it. Diabetes might be a complete drag at times, but compared to other chronic illnesses it’s a walk in the park. Thanks my non-working pancreas chum!