When I was in high school, we did a 5-day hiking trip to Lapland. They say that once you visit the Finnish Lapland, it steals your heart. That’s what happened to me and for a very long time I wished I could go back there and hike for days on end. Read more →
Type 1 Diabetes isn’t a very good life companion. It can be very stressful and taxing to constantly treat yourself. You can’t get a holiday from diabetes and the complications of untreated t1d can be severe. Diabetes treatment is expensive and depending on your country, it can really make a dent on your finances. Is there anything good to be found from type 1 diabetes? Are there any silver linings? Here’s what I have found during my 14 years of diabetes.
A community and a good way of doing volunteering work
Some diabetics can go for decades without meeting other type 1 diabetics. I had a time period in my life when I wasn’t involved with other diabetics for almost 5 years. I did fine, but when I met others, I realised how nice it felt to share parts of the burden. My communities are online groups and in part more official diabetes associations. I attend meetings, hiking trips, events and whatnot.
I feel the communities really enrich my life and the meetings are really like a diabetic home base of sorts to me. And through the communities I have done volunteering, like “mentoring” teenaged type 1 diabetic groups. Volunteering is very important for me and diabetes has given me a good way to do it.
I think communities are an important part of social web for people. They prevent feelings of loneliness, provide a sense of belonging to something. Communities are good for you.
The biggest silver lining. Another diabetic understands your worries way better than “a normal” person. Your diabetic friend understands from a half a word and you don’t have to explain diabetes related stuff. They are also sources of peer support that help you endure this shared condition of ours.
I met most of my diabetic friends through community and diabetic meetings. Not all community members become my friends, but there is always some people I “click” with the most. Friends are one of the most important things in the world. And I have gained many due to diabetes.
Regular health checks, blood tests and health monitoring by endo
My genes are really bad. In addition to insulin, I take medicine for high blood pressure and cholesterol. My endocrinologist knows me and we have a good relationship. She monitors my blood work and adjusts my other medication accordingly. My tendency for high blood pressure was noticed by my endo in my early 20’s and I have already eaten medicine for it for 10 years. Instead of 150/90, I’ve gone a decade with 130/70 values, thanks diabetes!
A free reminder when I’m not living as I should
This one is related to my last blog post. When I don’t exercise enough or eat unhealthily, my BG levels constantly nag me about it. A normal person can forget to exercise and eat whatever and the body doesn’t really signal that you are doing something wrong. You just slowly gain weight and your blood values worsen.
Now if you listen to your diabetes, you can hear it signalling when your metabolism is slowing down and you need to do something. It reminds me to go and work out instantly. I dare to say I’m in better shape because of diabetes.
Healthier way of living
And in general, living with type 1 diabetes has made me more conscious about my general health. I want to keep myself going on for at least a hundred years still! 🙂 Young people often have an illusion of immortality. Like we can do whatever we want, we are young and can take it. No worries about tomorrow! Diabetes is a constant reminder that we are not immortal. Though a Finnish researcher Per-Henrik Groop has said that based on his study (FinnDiane 2008), if a type 1 diabetic can go on for 20-30 years without kidney or heart complications, he/she can live longer than a person without diabetes! Now there is a motivation to take good care of your life-long companion!
With my mind on these five silver linings, my diabetes burnout phases are shorter and milder. Even when I’m tired, I can still treat myself pretty well. Before acknowledging these silver linings, I felt like being alone with type 1 diabetes. I’ve found that when I focus my energy on the positive aspects of diabetes, it makes it easier to bear.
Dottli is a digital health company based in Finland and improving life with diabetes is our first focus. As a hub for connected health apps and devices and with cloud-based intelligence, Dottli can also provide real-time support on your personal health goals.