Used test strips fall out of my purses, sit on my dresser, and lie under the mats in my car. Life Savers and glucose tabs are stuck in all kinds of places: my nightstand, my desk, my backpack, and my suitcase. Bottles of insulin and syringes float around in my bag along with my meter and all of its accompanying tools, while my insulin pump, unused at the moment, sits in a side pocket.
Sometimes I have trouble fitting all these diabetes necessities into my life—the meter, test strips, insulin, and snacks don't always squeeze so nicely into a cute handbag. Add in a cell phone and wallet, and I'm often pressed for space. Being a girl with this disease does make keeping track of my diabetes much easier, though. I can't even imagine being a guy with all these accessories. Pockets just aren't that big! I will never judge a man for carrying any kind of bag: You never know when it might hold a lifeline.
Nevertheless, all this diabetes paraphernalia really weighs me down. Staying in control means keeping track of all this baggage. Every strip, syringe, and lancet is a reminder that I'm managing a chronic illness—a chronic illness that requires constant management for me to stay alive and well.
Sometimes all the baggage can be overwhelming. Then I need a little time to step back from all the pressures of this disease. But even when I take a mental break, I never get an escape from the physical reality of diabetes. I feel the calluses on my fingertips from thousands of blood sugar checks. There are bumps all over my body from years of infusion sets and syringes. Cabinets and drawers in my home are full of diabetes supplies. Boxes of infusion sets and reservoirs sit in my closet. Under my bed and in my dresser, I've stashed emergency glucagon kits. A shelf in my refrigerator is full of insulin.
Then there's the long paper trail of diabetes. My logbook sits on my desk, waiting for me to tally my blood glucose averages. Prescriptions are stacked up to be sent to the pharmacy. Bills pile high, their balances showing how much I spend on top of the thousands of dollars that my insurance company and I have already paid out over the years.
Diabetes is not a simple disease. The emotions that come with a bad low or a frustrating high can be as all-consuming as the piles of paraphernalia scattered about my home, my car, and my life. But my diabetes equipment—my lifeline—constantly reminds me that diabetes takes patience, diligence, and care. Yes, my baggage is a burden, but it also provides me with a sense of safety. Seeing it all every day, everywhere I look, reminds me: I'm not facing the highs and lows alone.
Lindsey Guerin was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 4 years old. A college senior in Houston, she blogs for dLife.com's Blogabetes.