Show me your scars – By Andy Broomhead
Diabetes is, for the most part, a hidden condition. Chances are you can’t tell someone has it just by looking at them unless you happen to see them injecting, using their pump or doing a finger-prick test. I think that given how much of our lives we devote to managing diabetes on a daily basis, it’s quite a feat to be able to keep our diabetes relatively hidden.
But to some degree, I think that’s also part of the wider problem people with diabetes can face.
As we all know, living with diabetes can be very difficult and can have incredibly serious complications and I don’t think these facts are generally well understood by the wider non-diabetic community.
We (as diabetics) are used to talking quite candidly between ourselves about the difficulties we face on a daily basis, perhaps because we’re so used to the routine of it all. I think it’s a lot harder for us to be as open about the things that others don’t see. We’re used to delivering a quick lesson in diabetes when faced with the eternal question of “can you really eat that?” but do we ever really speak about how diabetes affects us? Do we have the opportunity to talk about it?
Aside from the serious potential long term complications such as blindness, amputation, neuropathy and nephropathy, diabetes leaves us scarred; not just physically, but emotionally too.
I’m certain I’m not alone in having been left with physical scars by diabetes. The pictures below show the toil that (almost) 13 years has taken on me, with four scars across my stomach and current sore spots on my fingers from countless finger-prick tests. The scars were caused by injection sites that got a bit infected and then scabbed over. So far I’ve been lucky that I’ve had nothing more than the occasional sore cannula on my pump but I know I could end up with more to add to my collection.
The emotional scars are there too and they’re just as easily hidden most of the time. Thankfully the darker times seem to be behind me right now, but it’s been a far from easy journey. I had a sustained period around 6 years after diagnosis where my control had become so bad, I stopped testing entirely and gave up on addressing my diabetes. I’d take my insulin, but without any real regard for what was a correct dose. I’d turn up to clinic appointments with excuses that seemed plausible but both my doctors and I knew the truth.
That continued for about 18 months before I finally accepted that I had to do something about it and started to get help from my specialist team and my family.
It’s not always easy to go beyond the usual conversations we have and explain how much diabetes can hurt us but it can be such a positive thing too. I’d been unsure about whether or not to write this post but a few comments I saw online gave me the confidence to write it, knowing that actually there were people out there who could relate to it.
Sharing those personal war stories can be as helpful as sharing tips on managing your diabetes on a daily basis. So show me your scars!