Being diagnosed with diabetes comes with implications that hit you in waves. Perhaps you knew you were prone to diabetes because it runs in your family, and you’ve been prediabetic for some time. Maybe you’ve never been scanned for diabetes in your life, led the healthiest life, and the diagnosis comes as a complete shock. The truth is, no matter which one of these circumstances lead to your diagnosis, life after diagnosis is just as confusing, difficult, and surprising. When you first talk to your doctor about living with diabetes, you’ll focus mostly on the medical side of it—of what it will mean for your diet, medications, exercise, and other factors. But your doctor won’t have time to explain to you all the other surprising side effects that come with the condition. Even if he did have the time, he couldn’t possibly cover them all. Here is what nobody tells you about living with diabetes.
People are judgmental
When you tell people you’re a diabetic, they might ask questions about your lifestyle, trying to determine if this was your fault and what you could have done differently.
Traveling is scary
Traveling is very scary. You need to have a way to refrigerate your insulin everywhere you go, including on planes, in trains, and in hotels. And you have to make sure refills are available wherever you stay, in case of an emergency.
Some people don’t want to see your shots
Some people are sensitive around needles and blood and will noticeably flinch when you give yourself an insulin shot or check your blood sugar in front of them. This means you often have to skulk off to the bathroom to handle your health.
You need to make room in the fridge
From here on out, you need to make room in the fridge for your insulin. If you live with somebody else, this may be an adjustment for them. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, but seeing these medical items in the refrigerator can be jarring.
Packing for the day changes
Packing just for the day changes. You have to make sure you always have your blood sugar testing machine, blood sugar strips, insulin, and clean needles. You also need snacks to help regulate your blood sugar.
You have to turn down a lot of food
You have to say no to a lot of food. Well-meaning friends, neighbors, and coworkers will give you gifts of cookies and candy that you have to turn down.
You worry about having kids
If you don’t already have children, you and your partner both worry about having them. Regardless of which type of diabetes you have, you worry that you can pass it onto them, or accidentally teach them bad habits that could cause it.
You have to go to the doctor more
You need to see your doctor for at least two checkups a year to look at things like blood pressure and cholesterol since Diabetes increases your chances of heart disease.
Stress is even more dangerous
You have to manage stress more aggressively than ever. Stress causes blood sugar levels to spike.
You have to watch your drinking
It’s very hard to monitor your blood sugar levels and keep them at a healthy place when you drink alcohol. Alcohol intake must be kept to a minimum.
You feel so fragile
Sometimes you’re hit with the overwhelming understanding that missing an insulin shot can lead to a serious and life-threatening event. You hate that simply being alive requires so much work now.
You can feel foggy
When your blood sugar levels drop, you can feel rapidly and dangerously foggy. You can easily become confused and feel completely unaware of your surroundings.
You feel tremendous guilt
You are often met with a lot of guilt—self-imposed guilt—about the fact that you have a preventable condition. Keeping that guilt at bay is a full-time job.
Wounds take longer to heal
Wounds take longer to heal when you have diabetes, so you have to be very careful when doing things like playing sports or playing with a pet.
The anxiety of waiting for blood sugar levels to change
There is nothing like that anxiety of waiting for your blood sugar to change, after you accidentally let it get too high and had to take an insulin shot or let it get too low and had to have a snack.