Diabetes On The Brain – By Andy Broomhead


After another hectic and stressful weekend, I found myself sat alone on the sofa at my in laws, cup of tea in hand, back door open and pure silence, save for the odd tweet of a bird in the garden.  I can’t even begin to explain how rare a moment this was.  And it was a moment because I’d say it lasted for no more than two minutes, but during that time I had an epiphany.   I realised what I miss most about my Life Before Diabetes.

Like most people, what I often need are moments like the one I described above – the conditions to be able to completely switch off and relax.  The modern world does make it harder to be able to just sit (or lie) and shut off your brain for a short time, but in theory it’s possible.

What I realised in that fleeting 120 seconds was that when all is said and done, being away from the distractions of TV, my iPod, Twitter or Candy Crush, I still don’t feel like I’m completely at rest.  I’ve got diabetes on the brain.

This might be obvious to everyone except me (it certainly wouldn’t be the first time) but I was surprised to come to the conclusion that without any other diversions or interruptions, I’m subconsciously thinking about diabetes all the time!  In that brief silence I was thinking about how much insulin I had left in my pump, whether I needed to test my blood again, had I bolused correctly with my earlier snack, is my cannula in properly…….?

Now in some ways, you could argue that this is no bad thing.  Being subconsciously aware that I need to have a handle on all this is good and responsible.  We all know that having diabetes can get very serious very quickly if we don’t treat it properly.  I think anyone who’s ever had a “HI” reading on a meter will attest to that.  So in that respect, I’m glad my occasionally laissez faire attitude doesn’t spill over to my treatment.

But on the other hand, this feels a bit more…disconcerting.  Am I now destined to be forever aware of my inner diabetes voice constantly operating on overdrive, nagging at me to be mindful of the perils of miscounting my carbs or have a cannula insert wrongly?  Or is the fact that I’m now aware of it, the first step to being able to manage it?

A healthy lifestyle goes far beyond eating more vegetables and doing more exercise.  Being at rest, allowing ourselves to recuperate and having a healthy mind is equally important as a healthy body.  I’d like to think that overall, I’ve been pretty good at managing the latter.  On the whole I eat a pretty good diet and I exercise quite a lot so I’d like to think that’s a tick in the first box.   However, I think the second box might be a little more difficult to cross off.

I suppose managing my new affliction of Diabetes On The Brain can be done by learning to accept that a lot of the subconscious thoughts are helpful reminders and not something to oppose.  Diabetic or not, we all live with our own inner voice on a daily basis, it’s just that mine (and possibly yours) takes on an urgent tone more often that perhaps I’d realised.

What’s your experience with Diabetes On The Brain?  Do you have a continuous nagging feeling or have you blocked it out for the most part?  Is it a necessary evil that we should learn to love or can we just tune it out when it suits us?

You might also like

Yes always and if I happen to lapse my friends’ brains help me out. I have had three ice-creams this summer, none of which have gone un-noticed by my friends….comments such as “Should you be eating that?”, “Oooh naughty!” and “Don’t you go collapsing on me”. Just thought I’d share, as sometimes I find them funny and others I feel like screaming…I generally have a good diet though and grow my own veg, good exercise too. Got my hba1c results tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Diabetes on the brain……..always!
I never really get much ‘me’ time, like everyone else I’m busy working, looking after a house, looking after my 4 grandchildren on.my days off, looking after my elderly parents, looking after my dogs and of course looking after my husband but in all that I forget to take time and look after me and when I.get those rare moments that I can sit for a few mins, even if my brain does switch off for a millisecond the pain in my feet soon reminds me that it is so so so important to keep.on top of diabetes.

I know what you mean about not being able to forget about Diabetes. Ever. However, this was bought into context recently when I went out with a group of friends on a warm sunny day. Yes, I had to plan for my diabetes (do I have enough insulin, dextrose, test strips? Do I feel hot because I am having a hypo or because it’s sunny? …). But I was not alone in having some health issue to consider: those with hayfever were wondering if they had taken their antihistamine and whether they were going down with a cold or if the sniffs were “just” hayfever; the fairer skinned were making sure they had their sunscreen and worried whether their arm was red because they had been lying on it or was it sunburn?
I guess what I am saying is that I don’t think those of us with diabetes are so different to the rest of the population.
As for not being able to switch off like you used to, you said it yourself, the world today is full of constant distractions. And, you were younger and more carefree before diabetes.
Don’t worry about worrying.