On Diabetes Burnout…

Since the last DOC Twitchat I’ve been thinking about Diabetes Burnout. To a lot of people burnout was marked by an “I don’t care about my diabetes” attitude. Losing control, not eating right, not doing blood tests, not dealing with the beast. I have a slightly different take on burnout. I believe that I have been burnt out on diabetes for a very long time. However, I do not miss blood tests, meals or meds. I soldier on. The one thing that slips in and out is exercise, but that has always been the case. I define my burnout as the constant undying, yet underlying, anger and frustration that I experience as a result of living with this¬†potentially debilitating chronic condition. The further knowledge that while every minute of everyday is spent dealing with or thinking about diabetes there may be little I can do to stave off some of the very long-term effects. I have never, however, allowed that frustration to derail my efforts to stay in control. I hate it, I curse it, I could go on and on about the frustration and anxiety dealing with diabetes is. For some reason, though, I don’t. How is this burnout? It is burnout to me. I just don’t want to deal with it anymore and yet? I have to. There is no choice. Because there is no choice I don’t see any way around taking care of it to the best of my ability. That, I must say, just adds to the burnout! I am constantly going to a variety of doctors and medical professionals. It is a wonder I get anything done at all. Last week I was at the Urologist – following up on my PSA after treatment for Prostate Cancer. Yesterday I was at the eye doctor. Next week the cardiologist. After that my Endocrinologist, CDE, Dermatologist, Dentist, GP and… well, you get the picture. All of this is in addition to trying to make a living as a freelancer, have a family life and try to be Zen about the whole thing.¬† Did I mention stress?

So while I am mentally exhausted, I feel that my burnout is part of the deal. Yes, I’m burnt out but, no, I will not stop taking care of myself. I can’t. I am always mystified how people took care of diabetes before glucometers, pumps and CGMs. I have spent half my tenure with diabetes without some of those tools and you do what you have to do but right now I can’t even imagine doing a shot in the morning and then just going on with life without having the ability or desire to do a blood test or have any idea whatsoever what my blood sugar is. So the intensity of knowing and then reacting to that knowledge must cause some amount of burnout but the lack of knowledge is far more daunting in my mind.

I thank my lucky stars that I have so many tools that it can burn me out and the burnout makes me more dependent on those tools. I will take burn out over regular trips to the emergency room. I have been to the emergency room once and that was fairly early in my 29 year diabetes journey. That one trip raised the stakes for me and made me committed to not going there again. Especially when the attending physician responded to my insistence that I was usually in very good control with a snarky, “I see, and that’s why you’re here, I guess.” I thought, any attending physician who could say that to me has no business dealing with anyone with a chronic condition. Clueless. So, I’ll take the burn out, for now… I am sure this makes no sense but that is how I deal with parts of this lousy condition!