Tag Archives: diabetes burnout

Welcome to March.

So, how’s your life these days?

I thought I would ask because we’re entering March. Typically, people who make New Year’s resolutions tend to drop most of their big yearly ambitions by the end of January. Even more do so by the end of February, even if there is an extra day in there. I’ve noticed it at the gym. Like clockwork, the number of people going to my gym reduces by about half between the start of the year and the first of March.

QuePasaBut here’s the thing, and you probably know where I’m going with this already: Diabetes doesn’t take a break. It doesn’t care if I’ve put in a lot of effort on it through the first two months of this year. Diabetes demands a full time, consistent approach to glucose management, and oh baby, is it needy.

Still, sometimes you think, ”Hey, I really don’t want to do this right now, I’m kinda burned out”. Diabetes doesn’t care about that. Diabetes won’t cut you any slack. Often, like a stubborn pest, if you try to ignore your diabetes, it will demand your attention even more.

I’m full of good news today, right?

Look, I realize I’ve written a bit lately about how we have to give ourselves a break now and then, and try not to be so damned perfect every moment of every day. But I also recognize that ignoring my diabetes entirely is not an option either.

My question to you is, how do you do that? How do you balance the two?

One of the things that people don’t realize, I think, is that even when you’re right on with your D-management, you can still burn out. Often, you can feel your resolve slipping the most when you’ve been at your most diligent for a while. Other times, no doubt it’s because we’ve worked so hard to achieve good numbers and we still deal with crazy highs or stupid lows. So how do we solve that?

I don’t know if I have a good answer to that last question. But I sure wish I did.

Burnout seems to me to be one of those last bastions of life with diabetes where we can never quite explain how it sets in, or why it happens, or its incredible impact, to people not living with diabetes themselves. We don’t seem to have any super therapies to deal with it effectively. And I know there’s nothing out there designed to prevent diabetes burnout.

Yet the stakes are enormously high.

We all know what the stakes are, so I won’t repeat them here. But as you can tell, I have a lot of questions. Burnout is dangerous, it leads to unintended and sometimes dire consequences, and there is not a one-size-fits-all means of effectively dealing with it that I know of. Of course, consequences could happen even if we never suffer from diabetes burnout.

These kinds of things are going on in my head right now. I don’t know why.

But I know that I’m better not alone, even if burnout is taking over the day. I know that others living with diabetes understand and have been there themselves. That’s something I know I can lean on, and it means the world to me.

If you’re dealing with diabetes burnout, or diabetes is just taking too much of your soul these days, don’t be afraid to reach out and seek that person who understands. Every single one of us has been where you are. And even if we don’t have a foolproof plan that will work for you every time, we can offer absolutely no judgement while you work your way through this. And we’ll be right there to prop you up and support you in the process. You count. You matter. Just as much as anyone else.
Never ever give up.

We need to take care of ourselves.

Wow, what a difficult morning… or was it?

Yesterday, I got out of bed a little late (maybe 15 minutes), and like most mornings, I had a list of things to do before I left for work. Shower, shave, get my clothes on, go downstairs, let the dog out, feed the dog and cat, start the coffee (always high on the list), make my own breakfast, pack my lunch, and…

Take my medicine. I mean that both literally and figuratively.

Fifteen minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is a lot when I also have to look after my diabetes. I forgot to do a BG check before I made breakfast (I am definitely a pre-boluser), and that frustrated me. So I stopped what I was doing, washed my hands like a good little boy, and performed the finger stick. I’m home free, right? Wrong.

I forgot to take my oral meds. This includes a multivitamin and a baby aspirin every day. That’s another thing I have to stop for.

Then, when I was within five minutes of leaving, I realized: I needed an infusion set change. There wasn’t enough insulin left in my reservoir to last through the workday; so once again, I had to stop what I was doing to focus on, you know, doing stuff that will help keep me alive. I arrived at work just in time, and started a full schedule of meetings and testing.

This kind of morning really bothers me. Until I’m actually out the door. Then I’m all business, not thinking about the things I have to do for my health and how much time they take out of my life. I mean, I get it: I’m extremely fortunate to be able to buy drugs and vitamins, and have an insulin pump to help me manage my diabetes. I don’t like the extra time that managing and worrying about my diabetes takes. But I also tend to sweep it under the rug a lot. My Midwestern upbringing taught me to not complain about things I can’t change; just deal with them and move on.

And I can usually handle that, until I’m confronted with it in a way that makes me stress over the time these things require, in a very tangible way. Then everything is different, and the relentless nature of diabetes is manifested in ways that can make me very unpleasant to live with for a while.

In the end though, what can I do? I just did what I had to do… I took care of myself. It’s easy for us to forget that, isn’t it? We need to take care of ourselves. Regardless of the time it takes. We are worth that effort. Our health and well-being come first. And though it might make a few of my colleagues uncomfortable to read this, work will still be there if I’m five minutes late.

Despite the time it required, once everything was finished, I was ready for the rest of my day. Diabetes frustrated me yesterday, but I was still able to tame it by taking the time needed to take care of me.


Burnout? No, I don’t suffer from diabetes burnout.

Whenever possible, I try to break things down into simple rather than complex paradigms (actual paradigms, not the Medtronic kind). I won’t tell you that I’ve never felt the effects of the constant testing, injecting, carb counting-ness of life with this chronic condition. But for quite a while now, I’ve had the “Can’t do anything about it, might as well make the best of it” mentality.

I’m pretty good at glossing things over, making them appear to be less than they are. I’m also very good at making things appear to be more than they are from time to time, but that’s usually by mistake. Not by design. But lately, when it comes to me and diabetes, I just do what I have to do, and get through my day. As long as things are going well, nothing seems to bother me.

But something the other day made me think about that assessment.

It was Wednesday night. I came home, feeling fine. I fed the dog and cat, and ate dinner. I knew I needed to do an infusion site change. I cleaned up the kitchen, took out the trash… the usual. I read my e-mail. Listened to the Pandora for a while. Then, at about 8:45, fifteen minutes before the #DSMA Twitter chat, I finally got everything out and started my site change.

I remember thinking, as I started the process with 1.9 units remaining in my reservoir (I know there were more units than that, but that’s another subject for another day), how often I need to do a site change right before #DSMA. Also, how I always seem to have 1.9 units or less showing on my display when I actually do a site change.

That’s when it hit me. Doing my site changes like this really seems to be less about squeezing out the last drops of insulin from my reservoir, and more about the fact that I don’t want to change my site. Ever.

I thought this was happening because I’ve just been living in the moment a lot more in the last few years, enjoying the good things in my life when they happen, and doing the things I need to do only when I need to do them. But this is more than that. I see that now. When I realized what I was doing, I just got this feeling… you know? It was a subtle, yet effective reminder that I know I can’t hide how I feel about it. It almost felt like I got caught telling a big fat lie. Some D-tasks are just more than I want to deal with, so I don’t deal with them until I absolutely have to.

So what do I do now? Go on a pump vacation? I don’t think so. I think that would just allow me to create a new problem somewhere else. Instead, I’ll think about it a bit and then try to do a few things to make the site changes simpler, easier. Maybe pre-fill the reservoirs. Get my infusion sets and other paraphernalia out of my dungeon of a basement and onto the main floor, where I usually perform the change. I don’t know if that would work, but you have to start somewhere, right? Taking a few steps out of the process might speed things up and make them feel less like punishment.

It’s a strange thing when you think you’re handling something well, then you’re confronted with the reality that you’re really not. You’re just ignoring it well. The fact is, I could have a lot worse things to deal with. I need to stay calm and persevere. And get some perspective. And really: If it didn’t bother me to perform a set change every few days, maybe I wouldn’t be as interested in making things better for future generations of People With Diabetes. I’ll take being a proactive Person With Diabetes over a complacent Person With Diabetes any day of the week.

No More Strips!

Long story short: I ran out of test strips for my Accu-Chek® Nano meter yesterday.

How has my life gotten so busy that I let myself run out of test strips without refilling my prescription?

I think that this may be my form of diabetes burnout. I’ve got to admit it: I’m growing tired of making doctor appointments, going to doctor appointments, remembering to carry all of the stuff I have to carry when I leave the house, and yes, refilling prescriptions.

The thing is, I think I do a pretty good job of taking care of my diabetes when I have everything I need. When I’m fully stocked up with drugs and durable medical supplies, everything is great. When I’ve just finished my latest round of doctor appointments and next quarter’s appointments are already on the calendar, no problem.

But right now, thanks to some extra work, a trip here and there, working out more, and a couple more extras in my personal life, my schedule seems to have moved into the cray-cray stage right now.

Or so it seems. Actually, I think this may be just a symptom of the fact that I haven’t caught up to my schedule yet. In other words, I’m probably more than capable of handling everything on my plate. But I haven’t quite ramped up the discipline to my schedule to the degree that I remain stocked and appointed properly.

I’ll be okay in the short run– I’ll be using my old Bayer Contour® meter until my new prescription comes in for the Nano. And this gives me a chance to finally break out the Contour NextLink meter that Medtronic sent me a while back. So it’s not all bad, though my BG tests may be “23 percent less accurate” for a few days.

If I’ve ever felt diabetes burnout, or been close to diabetes burnout in the past few years, it’s at times like this. But like all bumps in the road with this sucky condition we have, I have to do my best until I get the ship righted again. Because really, do I have another choice?

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