The worrying started about a week before my departure, but the anxiety kicked in when my first flight had “maintenance issues.” The 4-hour delay caused me to miss the connections and changed my location for the PM shot of Byetta. I had gotten comfortable with the idea of having to give myself a shot in the airplane’s cramp toilet-room. I would pray that God calm the air waves (like He calmed a raging sea) long enough for me to give myself a shot in a turbulence-free environment.
But, when “shot time” came, I was standing in line with 60 other people hoping to get a seat on a new flight. My options were 1) Get out of line, find a restroom or isolated area to give myself the shot and lose my place in line or 2) Give myself a shot right there in the line.
I chose option #2. I couldn’t risk missing my place in line which could have meant missing the flight. I decided not to look around to see who was looking at me. I just prepared my things, checked my glucose, administered Byetta, put the things away when it was over, and continued to focus on the more pressing issue–securing a seat on the flight. This could have been an empowering moment, but I was in survival mode and that meant an absence of shame.
The next trial came once I arrived in France and sat face-to-face with my first breakfast.
As you can see from the picture, EVERYTHING but the cup of coffee breaks down into sugar. The baguette and the croissant are bread (which carbs turn into sugar), the orange juice is liquid sugar, and the jams are sugar. So, I sat there alone in the restaurant staring at food I can’t eat all at once and feeling my anxiety level rising. It seemed like hours passed.
Finally, I said something in French that I struggle to say in English–“Je suis une diabétique.” I further communicated that I cannot pour sugar into my coffee and the waitress offered me CANDREL. I felt so relieved to discover that she had a sweetener (I could at least drink the coffee and eat the croissant. I left the other items). I made sure to remember the name “Candrel” for rest of my trip.
Overall, I managed to get through the complications of being outside of my comfort zone and daily routine. I have been to Paris before, but never with this many restrictions, exceptions, and concerns. I understand more now why diabetics suffer from depression and anxiety at alarming rates. My mind never seems to rest. I’m always thinking about what I’ve eaten, what I will eat, and what I am going to eat–how many carbs are in the dish(es), how will they effect my glucose, and where will I be when it’s time to give myself the evening shot???
I’ve learned that this leads to “Diabetes Burnout: a common state of mind that can be triggered if you feel overwhelmed, scared, or discouraged by the demands of managing your health” (Outsmart Diabetes Prevention Guide). My goal is to avoid burnout, but I can tell already that this will not be an easy task.
Here’s a picture of me and my new best friend–MY GLUCOMETER (Blood Glucose Monitoring System). I’m sure I’ll have a nickname for it very soon.