2020 was a year that put us all through the wringer. Humans everywhere experienced a collective loss like never before. Loss of loved ones, livelihood, and freedom to go about our daily routines as we normally would. As the year progressed, it was apparent that we all had
different challenges to face and different ways of handling our challenges. Navigating our physical safety in a way that also supported our mental health was a fine balancing act no one was prepared for. On top of keeping ourselves safe, the responsibility of keeping each other safe became a topic of debate and divide.
Even though this past year will likely be remembered by many of us as a grief-filled, catastrophic time, it was also a year that forced us to think deeply about what made our lives important. It provided an extended pause; when everything we know about how the world normally functions changes, what do we turn to? How do we cope? Do we use the time to shed a layer or cover ourselves with more? Do we use this opportunity to address the issues we have been neglecting in our personal lives and communities, or do we bury them deeper? A combination of the two seemed to be most true for myself and almost everyone I know.
When the pandemic became public information back in March and the world went into hysterical lockdown, I felt oddly calm. The complete loss of control, order, and routine was so similar to when I had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It felt like the world was experiencing what I had gone through 10 years ago. Admittedly, it felt nice to be going through something so weird and traumatic with everyone I knew, a much less isolating experience than my T1D diagnosis.
As more information on COVID-19 became available, I knew how to brace myself for the worst outcomes - I was able to look at everything matter-of-factly, and not be so emotionally impacted by the news.
Living with T1D has taught me a lot about myself. It has shown me how resilient I am and how much space and care I need to keep myself healthy. It’s taught me how my choices and thoughts directly affect my physical health. When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I had been in a fearful denial state for many years and my sadness had been unfaced for far too long. Slipping into fear and escape at the beginning of the pandemic was not an option. Regulated news time, therapy, and journaling helped keep my mental health in check. Calling
those I loved and leaning on my passions for support was integral to getting through the thick of it.
Although I have felt mostly on top of my overall health during the pandemic, at times, the total change of routine has wreaked havoc on my glucose levels. Having to change my regular exercise routine and a stretch of terrible insomnia proved to be a challenge for my body. Thankfully, I was able to get my levels back in check pretty quickly thanks to my Dexcom G6 CGM System*. Throughout this whole year, I have appreciated wearing a Dexcom G6 more than I could’ve ever imagined. When uncertainty became the norm, it didn’t have to be that way for my glucose levels. During my insomnia, my glucose was consistently higher than normal but I was able to see this right away thanks to my CGM and raised my basal rate on my pump during that time**. During my new at-home workouts, I was more prone to unexpected lows and my Dexcom G6 could let me know when I was dropping with the “Urgent Low Soon” alert. I can’t begin to tell you how much this technology has made a difference for my mental health as well as my physical health, as knowing what’s happening with my glucose levels at any point in time-released a heavy burden I didn’t realize I had been carrying for so long. For a
condition that changes moment-to-moment and is impacted by so many different things in unpredictable ways, I used to carry a lot of stress because of my diabetes– and only now do I recognize a far greater ability to cope in general because I don’t worry as much. The Dexcom G6 has been a blessing beyond measure.
For those of us entering the winter season, it’s imperative to be kind and compassionate to ourselves and others as we navigate the holidays in a new way. The stark consequences of the pandemic still exist and pose a threat to many vulnerable people. Undoubtedly, getting through this time will be hard and no one really knows how to do it, so take comfort in the fact that we’re all figuring it out together.
As for 2021, I’m personally not really sure how I want to approach the year. The thought of setting big goals or resolutions fills me with a feeling of stress I’m in no place to handle at the moment, so I’ll keep things light. I’ll do my best to maintain the level of health I currently have and allow myself to participate in each day - anything more than that will be a bonus.
Cheers to another trip around the sun.
*To be sure this product is suitable for you, always read and follow the instructions on the label.
**Before making changes in your diabetes management, always consult with your healthcare
***While this post is sponsored by Dexcom, the experiences and opinions mentioned here are
my own. You can find out more about the Dexcom G6 CGM system here.