Today I was sitting in my Lao language class and I realised that I’d forgotten to reload my pump (insulin supply) and it had run out. I was running on empty. I mentioned this to my colleague Susan, who has been fully briefed on potential issues for a diabetic and she said – you must go now and fix it up. Thank you Susan.
Wow. I thought about how many times I’ve sat in classes, meetings, doing busy work or whatever situation – even socially with friends, colleagues etc., and put my own (diabetic) needs last. No I can’t let my diabetes be an inconvenience to others, I must keep going and then when I do get the chance to fix things up, I deal with the consequences on my own. The soaring out-of-control blood sugar levels, the ‘hypo hangover’, the difficulties in getting the body into catch up mode. The panic and distraction of trying to work out where I might get a syringe from, how I might get my levels back under control, how I might get home myself to access my supplies. And I’ve done all this on the quiet because I never wanted to bother anyone! I didn’t want my ‘problems’ to become other people’s problem.
So after 40 years of having diabetes, for virtually the first time I have been given the permission to prioritise my health and wellbeing over everything else. I have a whole action contingency plan (under medical insurance) so that if I need to get specialised help, I will. Other people who might be able to get me over the boarder to Thailand or to better health care have been briefed. I have a whole team that is actually at the ready to take care of my health needs if it became necessary.
After a life of ‘looking after myself’, and not wanting to bother anyone with my condition(s), and never wanting to appear to be any more helpless than anyone else (when in actual fact I have virtually never taken time off work due to my chronic condition(s) – no work/no pay being partly the reason!), I have finally found my self in a position where I feel entitled to put my health and well-being needs first. And this is as a volunteer in a developing country. What is wrong with our ‘first world/Western’ mentality that it has taken me this long to feel that I can?