Today I had a very important appointment. One with my endocrinologist.
Being that we are leaving in as little as three days, of course, I needed to run through some things with my doctor, especially when it comes to diabetic supplies/prescriptions and international travel. The last time I went abroad to Chile was seven years ago and I mostly went due to a project. I was part of the first cohort of high school seniors that were required to fulfill the “Graduation Project” in order to walk across the stage. Being my 17 year old self, I wanted to do something huge (or excuse me, YUGE 😂). My initial idea was to make this project have an international focus where I would go to Chile and document what it meant to live in poverty there. I wanted to go to the poorest parts of Chile–the slums, the forgotten towns and take photographs. Seven years later as I think about this, I really must consider that there might have been some IRB protection restrictions that I never would have complied with, had I really been able to pull off this project legitimately…However, now I’m just ranting and this wasn’t where I was thinking of leading this entry.
Every time I go to my endocrinologist, I get panic attacks the night before. I can’t stop crying and I can’t stop feeling the guilt that overwhelms me at seeing that I did not write any BGs (blood glucose #s) into my log, that I still have no idea what my A1 C will be, and feeling like I’m letting my doctor, my loved ones, and myself down. It’s this last piece (feeling like I’ve let others down), which I truly call as one of my remaining [little] demon reminders of him.
But over a year has passed! Aren’t you always saying how empowered you feel since everything ended? How is he still brought up in your mind?
Well, hypothetical and judgmental voices: He’s still “there” when it comes to some diabetic check-ups, health overall, and other shit I’d rather not bring myself to remember. In this case, his voice popped into my head as I went back to the nursing station were they took my vitals. In the 10 years I’ve seen my same doctor [yes, lucky me!! I love him] I have fluctuated between 104-112 pounds, have remained vertically challenged in my charts, and here is the weird part–in the recent 3 years, my blood pressure has risen every time the nurse takes it. Last time it was like 137/94, I think. My doctor just knows now–“You got nervous, right?”
Here are the weird explanations to why I still get nervous. Here are the little demons I hear in my head from him.
“Constanza,” he’d say at first, “I just want you to be healthy. Whatever that means for you, I just want you to take care of yourself and be active every day. I want to know that you’ll be around for as long as I will and that we’ll be able to have a happy and long life together.”
“Mi niña, you need to take care of yourself. Your blood pressure is too high. Normal levels are 120/80 and if you don’t work out, that doesn’t help your heart. You’re only making your heart work more. See how mine’s around 90 while at rest? Running helps you lower it.”
“Constanza, you don’t have to do running if you don’t like it. But if you keep saying that’s what best helps you with your diabetes, then don’t say you’re going to do it and then not do it.”
“Constanza, I’ve tried to be patient and understand that there are lots of things going on, but you need to understand that I don’t know if I can be with someone who honestly doesn’t give a shit about her health. When we have children, I don’t know if I would be able to forgive you if our child was to be born with health problems, especially if they were brought on by your lack of care with your diabetes”
“Constanza, you keep saying you’re going to do ‘this’ and ‘that.’ I am happy you’re trying, but I’ll believe it when I see it.”
“Constanza, in 2-ish years I’ll turn 28. The best birthday present you could ever give me would be that A1C slip your doctor gives you and having it be a “good” number since that’s what measures your diabetic control. If you take all the right steps to take care of yourself, that will make me so happy and would show me that you’re serious about your health and about us. If your A1C is not any better than what it is now, then I don’t think there will be much for us to talk about anymore. I just can’t be with someone who isn’t even thinking about preventive health, while I’m here doing all I can to live healthy.”
And so all of the above, along with other striking phrases I’d rather not remember, are what made me feel guilty and like I was a disappointment [to him]. It scarred my mental image of who I thought I needed to be in order to “be loved” or appreciated by him, and that idea is just scary and so damaging. Throughout my Instagram and Facebook posts I’ve been very open about the truths about him and the realizations I’ve come to learn as I stepped away from him and the pain. Again and again, I am reminded in small ways how deep those harmful roots go whenever they resurface, like when a nurse takes my blood pressure, as a harmless example. Just imagine how much better of a world we would live in if those ‘roots’ weren’t saturated with the bitterest of feelings we feel and express to others–what if instead those ‘roots’ were of greater kindness and self-lessness for ourselves and for others?
Everyday, I am still trying to remember the greatest lesson I’ve learned this whole year: Self-love. With self-love comes truth, worth, and freedom–it’s those things that I want most to have in myself so I can be a better person.
Finally, when I met with my doctor he didn’t even ask for my logbook and I let out a breathe of relief. It’s kind of sad that my doctor has come to expect that of me after 10 years, isn’t it? However, he has never been the kind of person to make me feel guilty or scared me with what could happen. I know what could happen. Instead, he showed me my A1c slipped and said smiling, “For all the stress you’ve undergone in your last year of graduate school, you honestly aren’t as bad as you probably thought.”
The night before, I had been crying thinking I had at least a 12% A1C, if not more.
9.9% for this visit, when I had a 9.5% six months before.
It could have been so much worse. I thought it would be horrendous, but my diet has always been the one to save me. Even though I’ve tried seeing whether exercise helps me [it actually spikes my BG], I am sure the fitness classes I’ve done have been more beneficial than they’ve been damaging. The fact that I’ve actually gained some muscle mass versus losing any, is actually a sign that my diabetic control is not as bad as I thought. If I was in “bad” control, I’d be thinner which is what has happened when I am doing absolutely nothing with my diabetes.
And so the big lesson for me has been this: no one should ever make me feel like I am lesser. Being okay with my diabetes is not easy. It’s actually incredibly fucking frustrating and the solution/cure/treatment/’easy way’ does not come from running as fast as I can [literally] in hopes that will lower my BG. Ha, nope. Throughout some time, I’ve realized that all T1Ds have their own kind of algorithm to their diabetes management. They know how to immediately recognize certain patterns (food, scheduling, sleep, emotions, when to best give insulin, exercise type/length and their physical reactions to it) and know which ones work best for them.
I am on the continuous search for WTF works best for me. I’ve learned that I don’t need some smart-ass-pretty-boy telling me (or anyone for that matter) what I should or shouldn’t do with my health when they never took the time to want to understand that diabetes is more complex than just simple sugar. [[I actually do need to consume sugar to survive too!!!!!!!! *hesitant laughter*]]. Upon my arrival from Chile, I am going to go for a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) in hopes to see what my levels are doing and then identify how to best treat them. Until then, just those frustrating BGs that are high no matter what…
And so, for a wrap-up I have posted a hesitant selfie of myself right as I finished my appointment with my doctor. Below you will find as I am going off of like 4 hours of sleep, with bed hair (it’s sticking up more than usual), and what to me has been the most annoying thing–my acne scarring on my chin. In ALL my years of puberty, I didn’t get a single pimple. Now, they don’t go away but luckily they’re just centralized on my chin. Taking the meds to keep this stuff at bay. But guess what caused the breakout? STRESS.
This is my picture saying, “yea, I just got out of the doctor’s on a positive note. I am capable of more, but we all are. Yea, I hate that I have acne because it makes me feel really insecure, but is it really that significantly important? I am now going home to PACK FOR CHILE, and hell, I have a Masters degree, so go me! Screw all those little demon voices–they’ll eventually grow quieter and quieter.”