Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I hate talking about complications.  Just hearing the word is enough to make my blood start to boil.  When it comes to dealing with different aspects of living with diabetes, complications is the thing that gets under my skin the most.

Having a reasonable conversation about diabetes complications is nearly impossible for me.  I instantly get angry yet feel like bursting into tears simultaneously.  Defensive? Oversensitive?  Definitely.  I've walked out on sessions about complications at more than one diabetes event.  And it's not the presenter's fault.  It's my issue.

I know what the possible complications of diabetes are.  There's a whole litany.  I know that the best way to prevent complications is to keep my diabetes under "control."  Whatever the hell that means. (My dislike of the word "control" is a topic for another post).

And so I try.  I try to keep my blood sugars in range as much as possible.  I try to keep my A1c in the target range.  But hot damn, it's hard.  When people say, "All you have to do is keep your diabetes in control" they make it sound so easy.  But it's not.

Throw my depression, anxiety, and binge eating in there, and things get even more difficult.  I'm trying.  I'm doing the best that I can.  And I hope to God it's enough.

Complications happen.  Period.  Yes, there is much we can do to try and avoid them.  But sometimes they just happen.  Just because someone has some complications doesn't mean they haven't been doing their absolute best to avoid them.

I was 12 years old when my kidneys started spilling microalbumin.  I'd only had diabetes for two years, and already had a complication.  And I can guarantee you my mom and I were doing our best to keep my blood sugars in check.  I wasn't "out of control."  I was 12 years old!!!  And had to start seeing a nephrologist on top of all my other doctors.

Thankfully, my kidneys are fine.  But I started on an ACE inhibitor when I was 12, and I'll be on it for the rest of my life to prevent more microalbumin spillage and to protect my kidneys.

So you want to talk about complications?  Fine.  I know that for some people, talking about complications and prevention gives them hope.  And I wish I was that way too.  But I'm not.

I'll talk about complications, but don't promise me that "controlling" my diabetes will prevent all of them.  Yes, it doesn't really impact my daily life, but it's still a complication.  And it's not my fault. 

There are others, like Celine, George, and Stacey, who have been brave enough to share their stories and stuggles with complications.  When you live with diabetes for decades, shit happens.  We do our best, and sometimes complications happen anyway.  Please don't judge us based on that.  A little empathy and understanding go a long way. 


  1. Complications are suckage. I don't want to hear about them. I KNOW about them. I'm doing the best I can. That is enough.

    Amen, sister.

    1. I think there is so much we CAN'T control about diabetes, that thinking we can prevent complications by managing our numbers gives us some degree of control. It might be a false sense of control, but otherwise (for me) what's the point?

  2. Trying to avoid complications is like trying to avoid getting hit by a bus. You can take precautions, but you can never REALLY be sure it won't happen to you. I'll be honest; I don't think much about complications. Yeah, they can pop up unexpectedly - or I might get run-over by a bus tomorrow. Without me "deserving" it or asking for it.

    What I *can* do is this: try to keep my blood sugars in range, and look both ways before I cross the street. It's the most I can do, so that's all I worry about. Anything beyond that is outside of my control.

  3. Wow, great, well written, and brave post Jess. I can totally relate as I am pretty sure most PWD can. Thanks for articulating so well what so many of us feel.

  4. I want to hear "real" stories of how people are living with complications, not the textbook medical cases or horror stories. When those latter ones come up, that's when I typically stop listening. And if anyone feels the need to remind me about what "could" happen, that's when I like to remind them that they could hit a patch a pothole in the road while driving and careen into the opposing traffic headon. Lesson? They'd better keep both hands on the wheel to "stay in control" as much as possible.

  5. Love this and love you so much.

  6. Hate the "complications". Diabetes is not fair, and it doesn't play nice. Ever.

  7. A simply, wonderful post, Jess. Nicely done!

  8. Great post Jess and thank you for commenting on mine today. Diabetes sucks but it's nice to know we're all in this together.

  9. Love this. "Shit happens"...Hahahahah

  10. I'm with George. I love this & love you so much, kiddo! Complication are the suck. My first one was NLD. The thing is I had it nearly a year before I had diabetes (rare, but happens) & nearly 2 years before I was correctly diagnosed. So yeah, shit definitely happens.

  11. Great post, Jess. Thanks so much for sharing this. I feel much the same way. My complications were present at the time I was diagnosed. There's no avoiding it now. There's dealing with it as I must, and trying to make the best of it. Which, as you said, sure isn't easy.

    Lots of love, my friend!

  12. "She tried."

    I cannot believe the wavelength we were on today.


    Love this post...the transparency...the raw honesty.

    Thank you.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

  13. After less than 1.5 years with diabetes, I had a bleed in my eye. I felt defeated. With that being said, thank you for voicing your feelings, I can relate.

    It's one thing to say "control" or "manage" in relation to diabetes, but in my experience the people who are saying that don't deal with diabetes. I once heard another PWD talk about influencing her diabetes rather than being able to control it.

  14. Oh Jess, I so relate to this post. Although I've dabbled across the line to wanting (well needing really) to know more about these things in recent years, it still remains an incredibly bitter pill to swallow. The after taste sucks too. Much love friend and great post! xo

  15. Thanks for the post, Jess. I firmly believe in the messages such as "control your diabetes, keep your A1C under 7% (for most people)"—those things help populations prevent, slow down, or lessen the severity of complications and are absolutely worth striving for and supporting people in. But I also know from experience how very difficult that can be. There are an awful lot of barriers to achieving control every day for years and years. I also know that the duration of diabetes and genetics are factors in the development of complications. And those are two things we can't change. That doesn't, of course, take away the fear or anxiety, but I do hope that it helps address some of the shame and blame that we may direct at ourselves or that society places on diabetes in general. I am really pleased when people say, "I've had diabetes for X years and I have no complications." But I'm also proud of people who say, "I've had diabetes for X years and I have complications." It's not always obvious--you can't SEE my background retinopathy or early cataracts--but I like to think of them as my personal badge of courage, not a marker of how successful I am (or am not) at managing diabetes. Sending you hugs!

  16. Thanks for the great post - you really struck a chord (obviously not only for me!). Reminds me that I should be blogging more - I remember writing a post on my blog last year (May?) where the tag line was "It's just the way I am. And it isn't my fault".
    damn straight.

  17. Great post, Jess. Another example of just how much we DON'T know about diabetes management and complications.

  18. UGH UGH UGH! I don't want to hear about complications, I don't want to know about them, the day to day is hard enough, I can't believe a beautiful young thing like you has to think about them, I can't stand that you had a kidney thing begin at 12, this is impossible! I love you for sharing this.