When Your Body Feels Like a Prison

Being inside of my body terrifies me. It is not an overwhelming or all-consuming emotion, and it doesn’t occupy a lot of time or space in the forefront of my brain, but, the thoughts are there. They exist and they scare me.

The fear is more than just dreading the potential terrors of daily life with diabetes. Having concerns regarding both hypo and hyperglycemic episodes is certainly acceptable and should always be expected. Yet, those are not the thoughts that keep me awake at night. The fear I’m talking about is of all the unknowns and uncertainties. Every twinge, every ache makes me question the things I could never know; the things that only time will tell. The things I no longer have control over.

When diagnosed with diabetes, it’s commonplace in our society to be exposed to fear tactics in order to usher the new patient into compliance. People will tell you a million and one horrible things that they know or have heard about diabetes. “Oh, my grandmother had that and she lost every toe on her right foot and her left leg below the knee.” Gee, thanks for that. I really needed to imagine the horrors your grandma went through as a result of diabetes complications while I’m trying to do what I can to prevent the same outcome for myself. I imagine there aren’t too many people who describe the nightmares of chemo and cancer treatments to newly diagnosed oncology patients upon hearing of their diagnosis. That would be terribly insensitive and unfathomable, right? “Oh you have cancer now? My neighbor had mouth cancer a few years back. He lost all his hair and threw up constantly during treatment. They even had to remove part of his jawbone to prevent it from spreading.” Seriously, no one would ever say that and if they did, something is wrong with them. It’s frustrating to witness the blatant ignorance surrounding sociably acceptable conversations in regards to my illness, but, I try to remind myself that sometimes people just don’t know any better. They are looking to relate to the pain and experience on some level but end up failing miserably.

I know that I must do what I can to keep myself healthy and well. Clearly maintaining blood sugars within “normal” range is a goal that I strive for. Additionally, eating sensibly and making exercise a priority is something I know I must take seriously, as those two variables impact so much as well. However, I’m very much aware that all of this, in ways, is a futile attempt at self-preservation. Deep down, I know that no matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, I will never have the health of someone who lives life without diabetes.

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My dad has always instilled in me that I should try to make peace with my diagnosis because, in his opinion, everyone gets something eventually. Whether you’re 9 or 90, eventually you’ll have something wrong with you. I’m slightly comforted with the thought that the universe isn’t specifically singling me out for misery, but, at the same time, I’m angry that I got dealt what I see as an absolute rubbish hand of cards. One of the things that really gets to me is that diabetes impacts EVERY aspect of your body. It can damage your eyes, your heart, your stomach, your kidneys, EVERYTHING. It has the ability to ravage and destroy so much within you and the death sentence is often long, drawn out, and painful.

I’m only twenty-five years old and I’ve already lived with Type 1 diabetes for a decade. That’s a full ten years of potential damage. It weighs heavily on my heart and on my head that I didn’t do the best I could with my management for the first six or seven years. In fact, I was downright destructive.  I’m sure it’s an aspect of my diabetes story that I will delve into deeper at the right time, but, I definitely struggled terribly throughout my teens and early twenties. It would be impossible to attempt to tally the number of injections I just blatantly didn’t take and testing my blood sugar levels was as rare snow in July. The fact that I am even alive today is a testament to the strength, both physically and spiritually, that I possess. If it wasn’t me who lived through the hell that was my every day reality, I probably wouldn’t believe it.

Sadly, the realization of my internal toughness is overshadowed by the thoughts of what will go wrong next. I’m a ticking time bomb. I’ve already received a diagnosis of gastroparesis and I also have neuropathy pains throughout all of my extremities; both conditions possessing the potential to get worse, whether I care for myself properly or not. I’m fearful of infections. Every cut, every scrape, every bug bite I scratched too much and turned into a sore, freaks me out. When healing is slow and your immune system is compromised to begin with, you do all that you can to prevent problems and issues but some things are unavoidable.

Sometimes I place my hand on my chest and feel the beat of my heart. How much has this organ suffered as a result of my neglect, noncompliance, and bad habits? Will I one day just feel a pain and drop dead to the floor? I know it may seem dramatic, but I worry all the time about each and every bodily system and how the damage is effecting their functions. I can’t help but panic when I think that, perhaps, the pain in my lower abdomen is a warning sign of kidney troubles, when in reality, I might be ovulating or maybe just a little gassy. Silly to think, but, these really are the things that I must think of and deal with constantly.

There are days when I wish I could escape myself. It’s terrifying realizing that the body you are in is the only one you will ever get. There is no trading it in for a better, healthier model. If something goes wrong, you are the captain and you are definitely going down with the ship. No matter where go, no matter what you do, there is no leaving the skin you’re in until your life is done.

So why try? Why bother when doom seems slightly inevitable? The answer is this: You cannot give up because there is so much worth living for. For every reason I tell myself to quit, I try to find three more that’ll be what keeps me going, striving for a better today and a brighter tomorrow. The power of positivity will always be something I appreciate and utilize in life. Your perspective not only speaks volumes about your character, but, it also directly impacts the road you are traveling upon. Our universe is created from and responds to different levels of energy and frequencies. Choose to omit waves of goodness and love and see what you receive in return.

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I really am unsure of where life will take me. None of us know how much time we have or whether we’ll be able to do the things we want while on this earth. All I know is that despite the hardships I have faced as a result of my health issues, I must make the most of the opportunities I have been given simply by being born at all. My existence (and yours as well) is nothing short of a miracle considering the facts and figures of time and space. I rejoice knowing that I could have been anything or even nothing at all and at the end of the day, I am still so glad that I am me.
 – Sarah

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