Tired of monitoring your blood glucose level? Don’t want diabetic policing from your closed ones? Here is how you can treat your burnout!
The confidence of knowing the sugar readings at all times generates a sense of power within us diabetics. The power to be in control, this confidence stems from the quote “knowledge is power”. As a type 1 diabetic, having a solid data report of your sugar readings is the most vital information. This information has the power to manage your life. But power in general is not easily attained. It requires diligence, discipline and dedication, and when these phrases matter to your health, we go past them. Of course, this is a very common advice and all diabetics are highly aware about the importance of “checking sugar levels”, but I would like to honestly ask you, do you think you check your sugar enough? Do you always have a data log of your readings to show your endocrinologist? If you are, then kudos to you, if not, you are not alone.
The American Diabetes Association did a survey that found 21 per cent of adults with type 1 diabetes never checked their blood glucose. Of those, with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes, 47 per cent never monitored. And among those with type 2 diabetes who were not using insulin, 76 per cent never checked. Aside from blaming people for being ignorant about their health, let’s dig a little deeper about why people don’t check their sugar levels as often as they should. The reason that made me avoid checking my sugar was because I was always told to “test” my sugar before eating, “test” my sugar before sleeping, “test” my sugar first thing in the morning, etc. The word “test” physiologically led me to consider the resulting number as a grade. Depending on the number that appears on the metre, I have either passed or failed.
My metre seemed to be like a critic who was constantly telling me that I was a failure. Not surprisingly, I wanted to end this relationship. One starts to come up with excuses like, “I don’t need to check my levels, my body tells me when I am high or low”, and then having to justify to your family that you have it under control to avoid uncomfortable conversations. This kind of behaviour often leads to what we call a diabetic burnout.
“You're getting burned out when you notice that your diabetes self-management starts to wear thin, making you weary and frustrated,” says Dr Bill Polonsky, an associate clinical professor in psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can’t Take It Anymore. "The things you're doing to take care of yourself start feeling old, and you start telling yourself that it's not worth the trouble. The idea that it's not worthwhile starts to grow," adds Dr Bill. Once that idea is firmly in place, you will start letting go of your necessary routine — sometimes one responsibility at a time, and sometimes everything at once.
I want you to understand that it is okay to let go once in a while and not be too hard on yourself. But avoiding a diabetic burnout for too long can cause some serious health complications. The first step to a burnout is when you stop monitoring your sugar, because when you don’t know what your readings are, you pay less attention to the other routine diabetic tasks, basically going into denial about your condition and losing the power to be in control of your life. Everyone has personal reasons to go through a diabetic burnout and it is considered very normal according to Dr Polonsky. The important aspect to consider is that you are not alone and burnouts can be conquered. Take your time to figure it out, make peace with it and move on by taking bold steps for improvement and give yourself the power to live life to the fullest.
THREE BASIC ELEMENTS THAT HELPED ME OVERCOME DIABETIC BURNOUTS:
Blood glucose numbers are information and not a grade
After years of ignorance and missed routine checks to prevent myself from feeling like a failure I finally met my endocrinologist, Dr. Monashis Sahu who made me look at my readings not as a grade but as a number. One should take instant action with the notion to stay motivated and not perfect. If your sugar is 300, don’t think about how you messed up, think about the action required to improve it (If you don’t know what to do, please contact your diabetic educator immediately). This positive change in mind-set made me check my sugar readings more regularly, giving me an idea on where I stand and wanting to improve myself. This can be tough to keep in mind, especially if you’ve also had years of comments from friends, family members, and perhaps even doctors that one particular reading is ‘terrific’ and another is ‘terrible’. Remember, that’s the past! Think of action solutions like a leader and not self-blame yourself like a victim. You will gradually see your results improving, making you feel incredible!
Knowledge is power
Having a good understanding of your sugar levels is the key because it gives you the power to do more in life. Personally, checking and recording my sugar on set times have always been a struggle, which prevented my doctor from understanding how to manage my type 1 diabetes. That’s when I decided to wear the Abbot Freestyle Libre sensor, a device as big as a 10-rupee coin on my arm. Having a sensor that records my sugar readings, at all times with no extra effort, has provided a solution in helping me manage my life better. I notice myself feeling more energetic, getting more tasks done and pursuing my hobbies due to the personal effort made with the knowledge received by this device. I wear my sensor with pride on my arm, as there is no shame in wearing anything that improves your wellbeing because when you feel well and confident, you end up looking and doing your best. So if the pricking, monitoring and recording process prevents you from attaining knowledge, look at other options that might help you better. We are blessed to be in an era where healthcare is at its finest. It’s time to take advantage of that and expand your horizons.
Communicate with your loved ones
In all likelihood, your friends and family members care about you and want you to be as healthy as possible. But if you feel like your loved ones are constantly ‘policing’ your behaviour, you might become reluctant to check your blood glucose and bring further attention to your condition in front of them. The diabetic policing are well intentioned; they’re just trying to be helpful. They may know that their actions are irritating you, but they worry that your self-care will deteriorate if they don’t keep a close watch on you. The best way to rid yourself of this diabetic policing is by proving them wrong! By publicly taking charge of your diabetes, you will convince your friends and family that you can take care of yourself. If you don’t need your loved ones to remind you of your diet or exercise regimen, then prove it. Discuss with them about your diabetes care plan and your ongoing efforts to follow it. Express the parts that are easy and the parts that are difficult. If friends and family members continue to make comments about your diabetes that upset you, sit down and talk to them about how their behaviour makes you feel. Convey that you appreciate their concern, but their policing actually makes you less likely to check your blood glucose when they’re around. Offer suggestions as to what sort of support you would prefer.
Communicating honestly about your health with your loved ones is the best kind of support. Regular monitoring is important, yet for many (including me), it remains tough. The good news is that these barriers can be successfully overcome. Take the time to identify reasons for a burnout, address them and initiate solutions, starting with checking your sugar regularly. Now it’s up to you, do you want to be a diaburnout or a diabadass?
Take the time to identify reasons for a burnout, address them and initiate solutions.
By Chandni Chawla