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Life’s Curveballs and Type 2 Diabetes

None of us knows when we might be thrown into a crisis – it could be the death of a loved one or a natural disaster or many other things that require immediate attention followed by a long period of adjustment. Throwing a chronic condition like type 2 diabetes into the mix often complicates an already difficult time.

By the time my father passed away last year, the diabetes management regimen I kept had been in place for many years – somewhat strict meal and snack times with low to moderate carbohydrate intake, blood glucose testing two or three times a day, regular exercise. When he died suddenly, all of that went out the window for that first week of grieving that included funeral planning. Meal times were dictated by whether I was even hungry and carbohydrate counting seemed too tedious of a task. Blood glucose checks only happened if I started feeling weak or shaky, and more often than not just indicated stress and not hypoglycemia.

Lessons to manage diabetes during a crisis

When I visited my doctor five months later, quite a bit of my routine was still off from the norm. I knew I was struggling with grief and not reacting to high blood glucose levels and getting back on course was starting to accentuate those emotions. It took a gentle nudge (his words, not mine) from him to remind me what I needed to start doing. We changed up some medication, and I took baby steps back to a comfortable routine. Within weeks, I felt better physically and emotionally, allowing me to be a better daughter, sister, and aunt at a time when we were all still healing.

Based on this experience, I learned some lessons for the future:

  • Take time to react to what requires immediate attention. It might be finding temporary housing during a natural disaster, or determining who stays in your shared living space upon a separation, or as in the case of a loved one’s death, funeral planning. Do not be too hard on yourself during this period, do what you need to do as far as medication or insulin management, but do not sweat irregular eating or high blood glucose during such a stressful time.
  • Slowly get back to routine once the initial crisis is over. Start like you did when you were first diagnosed and take small steps each week. For me, exercising was key to starting to feel better along with creating the desire eat regular meals again.
  • Not everyone knows what kind of grief you are experiencing with a crisis, but you can lean on those who know type 2 diabetes to support you through a difficult transition. Not only did my doctor give me some tough love, but I visited with several friends a week later who reminded me of the importance of staying on top of this condition even when it feels like your world has turned upside down.

Some kind of crisis will inevitably reach everyone, and while type 2 diabetes management might not be the first thing on your mind when it initially occurs, finding your way back, even slowly if necessary, towards the management that works best for you is important in the long run when adjusting to a new normal.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.