A Whole New Level of Self-Obsession

Okay, I admit it: I’m self-obsessed. I would say that I’m narcissistic to boot, but I certainly do not have an inflated sense of self-worth, and I’d also like to think that I’m pretty empathetic.

And yet, even though I know I’m not the bee’s knees, I still think and talk about myself ALL. THE. TIME.

So what’s the deal?

Well, I’d wager that anyone with Type 1 Diabetes has to be at least a little self-obsessed. We’re taught from the day of our diagnosis how important it is to constantly check in on ourselves. Especially for those of us diagnosed before insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors were acting almost like artificial pancreata, it was hammered into us how to identify symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. You have to constantly think about when you last ate, if you’re about to do any physical activity, is it time to change your infusion set, did you bring extra batteries in case the pump battery dies, do you have enough test strips and lancets to check your blood sugar, is it time to renew your prescriptions, blah, blah, blah.

We are taught how to check our feet for cuts and open wounds, since we often lose sensation in our limbs and therefore can’t always tell if we’ve been injured. Since we usually take longer to heal from any kind of wound, we’re also more prone to have the wound become infected, which is why you always see the grandma with diabetes in the movie or TV show getting her foot cut off “from the ‘beetus.”

We’re taught to be mindful of any changes in our vision (i.e., floaters, flashes of light, blurriness, etc.), since diabetics are likely to develop diabetic retinopathy, which is when the blood vessels in your eyes start to leak. If left undiagnosed or untreated, you can go blind from it.

Anyway, you can see how diabetes is a full-time job in terms of self-awareness.

Now, you add onto that all of my health problems, and you are checking in on yourself quite nearly every single minute of every waking moment of your life.

That’s why, at any given time on any given day, I am likely asking myself one of the following questions:

  1. What’s your pain level, on a scale of 1 to 10? (Medical staff’s #1 favorite question to ask patients like me)
  2. Is the pain in your back better or worse than yesterday? If it’s worse, does there seem to be a reason for that? If you think of one, note it for your next doctor’s appointment.
  3. Is the nerve pain in your arms, legs, hands and/or feet better or worse than yesterday? If it’s worse, does there seem to be a reason for that? If you think of one, note it for your next doctor’s appointment.
  4. What’s your blood sugar? Does it feel like it’s rising or dropping at the moment? Do you need sugar, insulin, or to chill the fuck out for a second?
  5. Is the dizziness you’re feeling at the moment (since you’re feeling dizzy every waking moment) from a low blood sugar or all the meds you’re taking?
  6. Did you take your last dose of meds yet?
  7. When’s the last time you peed? If it’s been more than three hours, time to go!
  8. When’s the last time you pooped? If it’s been more than a few days, note it for your next visit to the gastroenterologist.
  9. What’s your blood sugar? Does it feel like it’s rising or dropping at the moment? Do you need sugar, insulin, or to chill the fuck out for a second?
  10. When’s the last time you did your PT exercises?
  11. Have you checked your feet yet today?
  12. Do any of the open cuts or wounds on your body (there’s always at least one at any given time) look infected?
  13. What’s your blood sugar? Does it feel like it’s rising or dropping at the moment? Do you need sugar, insulin, or to chill the fuck out for a second?
  14. How much range of motion do you have in your hands today? Is it time for your next round of trigger finger release surgery yet?
  15. How’s your heart rate doing? If it’s too high, make sure you’re not walking around, especially if you’re by yourself.
  16. Any new flashers or floaters in your eyes?
  17. Is your vision blurry? If so, what’s your blood sugar?
  18. When’s your next doctor’s appointment? PT appointment? Medical procedure, test, or surgery? If you’re meeting with a new doctor, did you print out an updated list of your prescriptions, surgeries, and medical conditions for their files?
  19. Which prescriptions are ready for refill?
  20. Are there any outstanding medical bills to pay today?
  21. When did you last eat?
  22. If you’re eating, how many carbs are in the food? What’s your blood sugar? How many units do you need to bolus to get your blood sugar to the desired range?
  23. Is it time to change your pump site yet?
  24. If you’re leaving the house, do you have extra batteries, candy for low blood sugars, your medic alert bracelet, your mobile medical alert device, your blood sugar meter with enough supplies? Do you need to bring your cane? Does at least one person know where you’re going?
  25. Have you reminded yourself lately to be grateful for the health that you do have, the support you have in your family, friends, and doctors, and the quality of life you are lucky enough to still enjoy?

Frankly, I’m sick of me. I’m sick of thinking about me, I’m sick of monitoring myself, I’m sick of reporting on my self-monitoring to the team of medical personnel who help keep me alive and halfway sane.

Clearly, I’m not sick of writing about myself, but alas, I need an outlet for my frustrations, and it’s a helluva lot easier to vent through writing than to bore myself and others with more me talk.

So, after all this venting, and all of this writing about myself, what’s to be done? The honest answer is nothing, not if I want to keep myself as healthy as possible. I suppose I could go back to counseling, but then, of course, I’d have to do what? Talk about myself more!

If nothing else, I’m most definitely suffering from decision fatigue. My fantasy is to live in a world in which I’d never have to make another decision for or about myself, ever again. But of course, we live in the real world, and I want to make the most out of this defunct body, so I will be asking and answering these incessant questions, self-monitoring, self-reporting, and providing as high a level of self-care as I’m physically and mentally able to, for as long as I’m physically and mentally able to.

For a period of years, I was so sick of these incessant questions and decisions that I flat-out ignored them. Unfortunately, that just led to my diabetes taking a sharp, steep decline, and my body quickly shutting down.

Nope. There’s no vacation from me to be had. In fact, my self-obsession will likely only strengthen over time.

Maybe that’s part of the reason why I want to help others? So I can get even a momentary break from myself?

At any rate, I’m hoping that if you and I interact in any way in the future, you can do me a favor—please, talk to me about anything else in the world but myself! (And let me just bring it all full-circle and reiterate that I’m not narcissistic enough to believe that you were dying to talk about me in the first place!)

To all my fellow exhausted self-obsessers out there, at least know that I’m out here, thinking of you, too!

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As I’ve mentioned previously, publication of my memoir, Relentless: From National Champion to Physically Disabled Activist, is forthcoming.

Keep tuning in to this website or one of my countless social media accounts (i.e., my Instagram pageTumblr pageTwitter page, Facebook page, and LinkedIn profile) in order to learn more about me, and about when the memoir will be available for purchase!

Any questions or concerns, feedback or suggestions for future blog posts or articles, you can always email me directly at contactkate@katherineitacy.com.

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