Monday, March 13, 2017

Feeling Guilty About Feeling Guilty

I was a member of the diabetes support group at diabetesforums.com (not on Facebook) a few years ago. Here is a blog I presented there in 2013. The link below shows the discussion with 19 replies made that year. (I'm not sure you can tap into that link if you are not a member there. Let me know if you can.)
For many years now I have been thinking about the past and the fact I knew so little about my T1 diabetes. My doctors did not know much either. There were no T1Ds that I knew back then, in fact there were no types when I was diagnosed in 1945. Types were identified years later. I lived in a rural area in south central Virginia for my first 23 years. Given those circumstances, maybe I should not feel guilty about my ignorance, however, I now realize that there were parts of the country where many newly diagnosed diabetics had very good doctors who knew so much about diabetes. I have seen many fellow medalists post that they were patients of Dr Joslin in the Boston area. Dr Joslin specialized in T1, and he even wrote a book about T1 in the years 1900-1950. That book can still be read online...very interesting. If I had read that book in my younger years, I would have had much more stable control. Some medalists have written about knowing about carbs, and weighing their food. I never heard about carbs and their effect on T1 control until the late 1980s.
Many days I feel guilty that I knew so little for so many years. Why? Well, I was in college 1957-63 and there were libraries where I could have researched T1D. Maybe Dr Joslin's book was there? I might have visited larger cities in Virginia and searched for a doctor who was more knowledgeable about my diabetes. I did visit a doctor in Richmond in 1970. He was the one who told me my life expectancy would have me die before I was 40. I was 31 at the time. HA! I hate doctors who use scare tactics!!!
My management in the 1945-1995 years left a lot to be desired, and I cannot help but feel guilty about that. There were things I could have done to learn more, but ignorance prevailed, and I did nothing. Well, I avoided sugar, and that was the only advice my doctors gave me during my early years. I ate tons of food, all kinds, but avoided sugar. I thought I was doing everything appropriate to avoid complications.
I joined online diabetes support groups starting in 2006. There were some T1Ds who had been on diabetes message boards as far back as the mid 1990s. Why didn't I know about them? More guilt. Some of my long term online friends have known about carbs and carb counting many years before I did. Their diabetes management was so much better than mine until the current century. More guilt. I felt so grateful to find so much wonderful information online and I have had much better control.
More recently I have forgiven myself for these feelings. I have been a T1D for 71 (edited) years, and the only diabetes related complication I have is some mild nerve damage. Even if I knew all the things I know now during my early years, I might not be any healthier. It is time I stop feeling guilty. Sometimes I feel guilty for having felt guilty in the past, but that is a forgivable kind of guilt. :)

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