Feeling sorry for myself by Helen May


Sniff, cough, sneeze, sniff, cough, sneeze. I’m usually pretty positive: I’ve written many times how diabetes doesn’t stop me doing anything. But today, I am feeling sorry for myself. I’ve spent the day in front of the television with a box of tissues and a packet of cold relief.

No one likes being ill. Especially in the middle of summer in time for a sunny bank holiday. But it’s nothing serious. It’s only a cold so I’ll be over it soon. Still, today I’m grumpy and I’m more grumpy because I have diabetes.

With my cold comes dizziness and aching. Or is that the cold? The dizziness cold be a hypo and he aching could be a hyper. So added to the sore throat, sneezing, red nose (from blowing it all the time), dizziness and aching comes bruised fingers as I need to take more blood sugar measurements than usual.

Not only can my cold hide the symptoms of too high or too low blood sugar, it can cause high level of blood sugar. Added to that, when I’m ill, I don’t eat the same as usual and don’t exercise as much as usual. So, as my brain is feeling less agile than normal, it has to calculate different insulin doses in addition to keeping track of when I last had something with paracetamol in it and how many throat lozenges I have taken in the last 24 hours.

My job has peaks and troughs (typically more peaks). So the impact of a cold depends on how much work I have: if I’m busy, I’ll dose up on cold relief, make it through the day but, in return, it takes longer for me to get back to normal. If my work load is quieter, I will take time out to get better in the comfort of the couch at home (and television).

I try not to take too much sick leave but I have realised that due to the extra complications that it brings, I take more time off since having diabetes. This frustrates me because I do not want to be treated differently in social or professional environments. I do not want to be considered incapable of doing my job or being promoted because I have too much time off. But I am comparing myself now with myself ten years ago (before diagnosis) and, if the comparison has to be made, it should be against me now and my colleagues now. In this comparison, I do not believe there is much between us.

Despite this apparent equality, I would much rather be at work than sniffing, coughing, sneezing and making my way through a box of tissues much faster than I thought possible. I am fed up and bored with my cold after 48 hours and I have had enough of taking blood sugar readings and making more adjustments than usual. I look back jealously at my pre-diabetes self when a cold just meant a runny nose and sore throat.

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