Saturday, April 20, 2013


Today's Prompt: Burnout. Write about burnout. What does it feel like? What are your burnout triggers? What gets you OUT of the pit of despair when nothing is going your way?
Today’s post was recommended by Lori of

Not everyone experiences burnout in the same way, but I believe that anybody managing a tedious chronic illness will come up against that match that won't ignite one day. That wet log that won't spark.

I know burnout. I spent years there.

I sat next to the ashy firepit and dutifully stoked the fire, poking at it with lancets, blowing on numbers that didn't budge. I just also knew it was pointless. My fire wasn't burning.

I never really stopped checking my blood sugar except for about a month in college. And I didn't even realize I'd done it. I was just busy. Backburnering the Big D. I found this photo from Thanksgiving Day at my grandma's house when I was 22:

I remember checking my number before the big feast that day and scrolling back and seeing that my last check had been in October. It frightened me. I started trying to remember to check again. I threw another damp log on the empty firepit.

Burnout for me meant that after over a decade of doing what they told me to do - testing, injecting, pumping, measuring, etc - my numbers never got better. My A1c never improved. I never felt better. The doctors were never happy.

It was exhausting seeing no results. I truly believed my diabetes was unlike other people's diabetes because when I did what I was told, I still had lots of high and low numbers. No one in the medical community told me that that was NORMAL. They didn't understand how I could let my fire go out. Try harder.

Okay, thanks.

It took a few major changes in my life to come out of that years-long burnout. Each change provided a little turbo boost for my burnt-out ignition.

My new career as a teacher meant that I had to be on my A-game for my students. The day I had to borrow fifty cents from a high school student because I was low and didn't have any food with me to treat was the spark of a match.

A bad relationship ended and I was alone and facing a future I'd imagined differently. I needed to figure out how to be more financially independent and how to live completely on my own - which is freaky with diabetes. Another spark.

My new endocrinologist was supportive and knowledgeable. And a year later, so was my new educator. They saw a light switch that needed flipping.

Meeting my husband changed everything. He was a loving package of support, reminders, and patience. He took some of the confusion and guesswork out of my life, provided me with structure. He lit the pilot light.

And then he brought me to the online community where, after 18 years with diabetes, I learned that my diabetes was normal. I was normal. And I felt a flame start to flicker.

By the time I was pregnant with Sweetie, the fire was roaring. Roaring. It seems easier to tend a flame when it's so warm and bright and present.

I think about my diabetes all the time now. I can't imagine going back into that dark place. And when the tedious tasks of prepping the kindling and occasionally getting burned seem to be too much, I remember how cold and lonely it was next to the empty hearth.

After all, once you know the secrets of the Fire Swamp, you can live there quite happily for years. I'm not saying I'd like to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely.

Unrelated to the content, but this is a photo of how I typed this post.
Though I suppose Dibbs could tell you all about exhaustion.

1 comment:

  1. I love the fire analogy - it really fits well. And I also agree that I didn't know the highs and lows were normal, either. You've done justice to the feeling of enlightenment that comes with knowing about the reality of day to day life with diabetes.