I’ve spent this week studying for a physiology midterm on the cardiovascular system so the heart’s been on my mind, and I remembered this terrific diabetes analogy by George Simmons, who blogs at Ninjabetic.com
“Imagine having to pump your own heart because it didn’t do it by itself. And when you want to sleep you have to pump it slower. For exercise you would have to speed it up. You would have to know the rate of pumping for every activity. Do you think you could do it? Do you think it would be easy?”
For any non-diabetic reading this, living with an improperly functioning pancreas means diabetics have to manually mimic the functions of the pancreas (matching insulin to carbs to maintain homeostatic blood sugar control). It’s not easy, and it is often as difficult as manually controlling your heart sounds. (Interestingly, I just completed a lab in which we constructed a manual analog of a heart and then tried to maintain a steady heart rate while we manipulated the system, and I can attest to the fact that it was very difficult to do.)
For any diabetic reading this, take a moment to reflect on the difficulty of living with type 1 diabetes, and congratulate yourself for coping and prospering with the disease. When I was diagnosed with diabetes as an 11 year old, the nurses told me that I was still just like every other kid, I just had a couple special skills because I knew about carbohydrates and insulin and how the body balances these things. Of course, the older I got the more other people started to know about these things, but I’d still like to think that type 1 diabetics have a special skill that is, quite simply, living with type 1 diabetes. Maybe we should start listing it on our resumes under accomplishments or skills. Goodness knows it takes skill to achieve good blood sugar control, and having good blood sugars, even for a day, feels like a far greater accomplishment than any artificial award.