Tangled and Intertwined: Diabetes and Covid-19

A while back I started a blogpost with the words “tangled” and “intertwined.” The emotions prompting those words were powerful but I abandoned the post in favor of laziness.

Last Saturday I “attended” a virtual session at Friends for Life Orlando titled “Avoiding and Overcoming Diabetes Burnout.” The moderators were William Polonsky, PhD, CDE and Kerri Sparling. Partway through the session Kerri mentioned something about her diabetes and coronavirus being iinseparable and I thought “yes!” That is what I had originally been planning to write about. No doubt if Kerri were still blogging, she would say it better than I will, but we likely have the same thoughts muddling through our brains.

A lot of my musings go back to late January when I began using Dexcom G6 and Basal IQ on my Tandem X2 pump followed by Control IQ. I was on Control IQ for less than six weeks when the coronavirus invaded my world. For those of you not knowledgeable about diabetes tech, Control IQ is defined by Tandem Diabetes:

ControlIQ technology is an advanced hybrid closed-loop system that uses an algorithm to automatically adjust insulin in response to predicted glucose levels to help increase time in the American Diabetes Association-recommended target range (70-180 mg/dL).

I wrote a couple of blogposts about my early experiences with Control IQ and I don’t think that my opinions have changed a lot since the March post titled “Six Weeks: More Thoughts on Control IQ.” I am mostly okay with it and really appreciate the fact that I have almost zero low blood sugars. But my average blood sugar is higher than pre-Control IQ and I am frustrated that I am required to use Tandem’s conservative BG goals instead of the targets that I prefer. In general I am still trying to figure out how to lower my average blood sugar without constant suspensions of insulin that result in sticky highs later on. Some people on Facebook seem to do that successfully and post daily graphs that don’t make sense to me based on my experiences. At a late May appointment I questioned my endocrinologist on whether she had any suggestions, and she said “No. Control IQ is doing what it is supposed to do and you are doing great.”

And she is right. But diabetes is never independent of mental health and I struggle to accept the new numbers when I liked the old numbers and don’t completely understand the new numbers. But the old numbers reflected many low blood sugars and a lot of glucose tabs. At the same time the new numbers don’t display what I think the Sleep Mode of Control IQ should target. I have never experienced classical diabetes burnout but my diabetes is mucked up with anxiety, perfection, lack of perfection, unattainable goals, and just plain never-getting-a-vacation.

In the last paragraph I introduced “mental health.” Enter Coronavirus. I am 68 years old and have lived with diabetes for 43 years. I consider myself to be healthy but I deal with multitude autoimmune conditions. If I get diagnosed with Covid-19, I am probably doomed. But who knows? My self-destructive side just wants to get the virus and be done with it. Either die or hopefully recover with ongoing immunity. But don’t get worried. I am not attending Covid-19 parties and have recently started using InstaCart for grocery and Costco deliveries. 

But like every other person in the world, I mourn my former life. I miss fitness classes at the YMCA and reminisce about hanging out at McDonald’s drinking cheap Diet Coke while surfing the web and writing blogposts. I miss going to the movies. I long for lunch and coffee with friends. I desperately want to visit my Maryland grandchildren and currently accept the risk of outdoor babysitting the local grandkids. I am okay most days but about once a week I wake up with a black cloud over my head.

The black cloud is part coronavirus and part diabetes-Control IQ. I can’t untangle what is what and for sure I haven’t figured out a way to eliminate the occasional days that are plagued with pit-in-the-stomach sadness and frustration. I am totally cognizant of the fact that 42+ things influence blood sugar and that I will never be a “Perfect Diabetic.” I am fine most days but the wind periodically blows in black clouds that suffocate my normally optimistic view of life. 

I am sad. I am frustrated.

I am healthy. I am mostly happy.

I know that I live a privileged life. I have no worries about acquiring insulin, CGM sensors, and pump supplies. I have access to online fitness and yoga classes and live near safe walking trails. My husband is employed and at the moment we are safe financially. My children have jobs and their families are doing relatively well considering the stress of home schooling and few daycare resources. 

But when the black clouds park above my psyche, I can’t tell whether they are the result of diabetes or Covid-19.

It doesn’t matter.

In my world diabetes and Covid-19 are tangled and intertwined. 

10 thoughts on “Tangled and Intertwined: Diabetes and Covid-19

  1. Dear Laddie, I was about to write you to find out how you and your husband are doing when your blog arrived. I am happy to hear from you. You and I and all of us with diabetes are in the same boat with you. In other words, you are not alone. You expressed many of my sentiments for right now. Today’s news of the prospects of a vaccine coming soon gave me an uplift but I know it will take several additional months for everyone to get the vaccine. In between there will be people who will balk, not wishing to get inoculated in the name of free speech. The result is we still have a fair amount of time before we can really feel safe once again. We all miss our former life but looking on the bright side, there is something to look forward to. Please remember the 3 requirements for happiness in life: 1) something to do, 2) someone to love and 3) something to look forward to. Please think positive. Everything is going to be fine again with the passage of time. Love, Evie

    On Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 6:17 PM Test Guess and Go wrote:

    > Laddie posted: “A while back I started a blogpost with the words “tangled” > and “intertwined.” The emotions prompting those words were powerful but I > abandoned the post in favor of laziness. Last Saturday I “attended” a > virtual session at Friends for Life Orlando title” >

  2. This is a beautiful post and I can totally relate. I’ve been diabetic for 37 years and have always had that black cloud over my head and i have to work on it constantly to deal with it. Keep your head up, it looks like you have been.

  3. I couldn’t have expressed my own thoughts during the last few months better. I too am a long term Type 1 and though I use MDI instead of a pump, my experience and feelings in this time of Covid are so similar to what you expressed. It’s nice to know I am not alone in navigating these uncharted and wild times. Thank you for sharing honestly.

  4. Thank you, Laddie, for articulating and validating my exact thoughts, feelings, and stresses. And thank you to the other commenters for sharing!

  5. there was a time before COVID19? What is this time before you speak of. I know nothing of this time before. LOL Actually I am feeling pretty good about most things. Yes I so want coffee at the local coffee place with no masks and long loving looks at my pho–ahh i mean Sheryl. (see the mistake I almost made there?)

    Laddie I do not have the tandem, but I advise to stay with it. I also missed the former control I had before the 670g until I did not. My blood sugar has been fine, less than 6 but still up about 0.2 since I went on the 670g pump. It is a fair trade off. I just needed to learn to let go a little and I got a few things back from letting go.

    I hope you find the same over time.

    Now I need ot return to gaze at my pho— damn it, I mean Sheryl. It gets me every time.

  6. Thank you, Laddie. Your observations are honest and kind. It IS a scary time, for sure. Grateful for your intelligent take on “Things”. You are not alone.

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