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Survival of the …

I never really liked being called a “survivor of diabetes”. To me, survivor implies that it is over. You survive a fire, car crash, falling off your roof.  As I wrote my last entry, A Bitter-Sweet Experience, I started thinking about the saddening stories that are so prevalent with diabetes.

People who didn’t discover their condition until serious complications had already set in.  People, who despite busting their butts, get complications anyway.

I deserve to have complications; there were so many years where I was not in control. Honestly, I should. But I don’t. Why not? No one knows, maybe my genetics include something that allows me to avoid micro-vascular damage, maybe it is just a cruel trick being played on me by <insert diety of choice here>.

What? Cruel? How could I think that? How can I not be grateful that I am so healthy after 4 decades? Well, the longer I live, the longer I have deal with this all day-every day D-crap and that is the reality of it.

Wow, those last two paragraphs were whiney; I’ll stop now as I actually wanted to talk about something else: Guilt.

There can be a lot of guilt associated with diabetes, almost all of it undeserved. I didn’t do anything to give myself diabetes and neither did my parents. I’m not perfect, so I don’t blame myself when I have a high or a low. I don’t feel guilty for not watching or even really caring about American Idol or Celebrity Apprentice, even though diabetics were in the finals of both shows.  Now, if I wasn’t honestly taking care of myself, then I’d deserve some guilt because I am letting my family, friends and, most importantly, myself down.

I sometimes feel guilty though; a particular type of guilt and I am sure it is undeserved as all the others. At times, I feel survivor’s guilt.

When ever I hear of someone who is, despite their best efforts, having terrible complications, it makes me feel sad for them and thier families and at the same time, I feel guilty that I don’t.   Will all of the children I saw at the JDRF walk outlive me or will I outlive some of them?   Again, it comes back to “why me?”   Why do I deserve to still be here?

Honestly, I think the answer is probably “why not you?” and I truly wish that answer applied to everyone

  • Honestly, I do not believe ANYONE deserves complications from this disease, and even worse, no one should be making any judgements about a PWD after they’re gone unless they’ve lived with the same disease themselves, and even then, their situation is not the same as mine, so it’s a stretch at best. People who make statements like “So and so never would not have suffered like this if they took care of themselves” should really learn to shut the hell up. Have some discretion before opening your mouths, people!!

  • Unfortunately, “deserve” isn’t really relevant. We all deal with what we get, deserved or not. Scott’s right, nobody deserves complications, but by the same token, some people might expect it more than others depending on what they do. I don’t think people who smoke deserve lung cancer, but of course they stand a higher chance of getting it. But at the end of the day, you can do everything according to the book, and still have issues, or through caution to the wind, and make it out OK. Still, if you care about someone, there’s nothing wrong with trying to help them to take care of themselves (whether with diabetes or any other health issue). You just need to be sensitive about it.

  • Gotcha on the guilt thing. Mine is made worse by 14 years of Catholic school! Don’t forget the guilt we assume from society at large, thanks to media misinformation. I find myself apologizing before I begin, and it just sets the tone from there.Great post!

  • Scott K. Johnson

    Great twist on the guilt thing we all fight with (or, at least I know I fight with). Food for thought, that’s for sure. How much do I bolus?

  • Isn’t it funny how we can feel both lucky and guilty about our lack of complications. I completely get what you are saying.Oh and I hate the term “suffering from diabetes”. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m suffering from it – just living with it.

  • I have to disagree with you Scott and agree with the commenters above – no one deserves complications. Period.

  • I guess I should have used better terminology than “deserved”. What I actually meant is that I am amazed that I don’t have complications after the way I managed my condition for so many years,

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