In those days, I didn't give a single thought to what I ate. I was a young man, very physically active and was blessed with the ability to eat as I pleased without ever worrying about my weight. Even in my 50s, if I have one issue with weight it is in trying to gain some.
Everyday activities that most people do without much thought require extra consideration by people with diabetes. Living 'carefree' isn't something we can do for long without getting into trouble, feeling rotten or contributing to problems down the road (like kidney damage, vision problems or blindness, nerve pain, etc.)
Let's start with eating. For folks with Type 1 Diabetes, everything that goes in our mouth isn't solely the consideration of if we are hungry and if that item is tasty. For many, it is about data. Can we accurately figure out carbohydrate content of each item before us? Can we calculate the amount of insulin necessary to consume it while keeping our blood glucose within a target range? Will it result in an unruly blood glucose spike outside of that target range?
Or say you are going to exercise, or do something like cutting the grass. Physical activity causes blood glucose to fall, and we have to try and guess by how much and for how long. I haven't found any decent formulas for figuring that out, so in reality we are stuck with trial and error. You cut back on a insulin dose (or dial down an insulin pump), do your thing and hope for the best. With practice and repetition it gets easier. But what if exercise makes you feel sick? To come back and try it again and again, hoping that doing something different won't make you feel bad takes a pretty strong person.
Then we have stress. Whether happy, sad, angry, frustrated or just mellow, these can have an impact on the almighty blood glucose. We can try to control our emotions and reactions to everyday life, but who really does that. It has happened to me more than once that when I was having a really bad day my blood glucose tanked and made that awful day even worse.
Then there is the reality of being a bipedal, self-propelled medical laboratory. All of this talk about managing blood glucose means we have to know what the actual number is. To do that we carry a machine that can measure it. To measure it we carry around little plastic test strips that get inserted into that machine. Those strips measure glucose in our blood, so we have to make ourselves bleed. That leads to the third thing we carry around - a lancet device. It is a spring-loaded gizmo that thrusts a sharpened piece of steel into our body. Several times a day. Every day. From the day you are diagnosed until you die or there is a cure (whichever comes first). I don't care what anybody says: it hurts, every single time.
But carrying around our own personal medical laboratory isn't all. We carry around extra glucose - in the form of special tablets or gel, or perhaps something tastier like candy (with an easily identifiable amount of carbohydrates). That is needed when our blood glucose gets too low and having some at hand is a medical necessity. Add to that some insulin and a way to get it inside our body. For some that means a vial and syringes, for others a machine pumps it continuously. Feeling like a pack mule yet?
For me, a cure means being mindless. No more figuring out nutritional content, effects of exercise, or stress management to manage blood glucose. In healthy people that is automatic. I don't want to carry around a drugstore with me, either. A wallet and keys is enough.
I want to be mindless again.