Over the past several weeks, diabetes burnout has been a popular topic of discussion on Twitter. I didn't contribute to the conversation because I didn't think I had anything to add because everyone was saying what I was thinking.
Diabetes burnout is real. How can it not be? Diabetes is a constant 24/7 thing. You can't put diabetes in a timeout. You can put in on the back burner and refuse to deal with it but that isn't the best decision because it will potentially cause long-term problems.
Work and school are similar yet different to diabetes. They require a lot of time and effort and at some point you just want a break from them. However, unlike diabetes, you actually can take a break from work or school.
Which leaves the question, how can we deal with the eventual burnout without putting our health at risk? I think every person with diabetes has a way to handle their burnout. Some are probably like me and don't even realize they have a way to handle it. It wasn't until I thought about the conversations I was reading on Twitter that I realized I actually do have a small method to try to combat burnout, to try to not being overwhelmed by my diabetes.
So, what do I do?
It comes down to my pump and CGM. One reason I was against getting the pump and CGM was I didn't want something attached to me all the time. I didn't want something on my outside to immediately signify to others I have diabetes. If you can't see it, people might not know if I never tell them.
Infusions sites have to be changed every three days. The CGM runs for 6 days and then you change it. I always put my CGM in on a Sunday afternoon which means I take it out on a Saturday afternoon. I then have approximately 24 hours to enjoy being free from one device.
Even though it is only one device and it is only for about 24 hours, it is still absolutely wonderful for me. I don't have something beeping at me that my sugars going high or low. I don't have to look at a second device on my body while in the shower. The 24 hours provides me time to basically decompress.
It started with I wanted to go tan and you can't wear the CGM in the tanning bed. So I made sure it would end early enough on Saturday to tan that evening and then tan again on Sunday. (In my defense I just wanted to touch up my golden skin since I no longer had a pool and yes I know tanning isn't the safest thing but I'm willing to take the risk.) My doctor noticed the pattern and asked me about it. I explained why I was going about 24 hours without my CGM. And she was okay with it. Especially as this habit continued but my tanning did not.
As we discussed it, we realized it was able to provide me a mental and physical break. Recently, I wrote about the unintended impact of my CGM. How, when it is attached and up and running, I can become a little too focused on my numbers and the strive for perfection. (I really need to learn perfection does not exist, that it is imaginary). To not be able to look at my numbers for about 24 hours is nice. This can also prevent me from having a complete mental collapse from trying to do everything correctly and my diabetes refusing to cooperate. You know what I mean -- you exercise, eat right, dose right, just everything and yet your sugars hang out in the sky or the gutter and refuse to adjust. Those collapses can lead you to believe you might as well just give up because it doesn't matter how hard you try, nothing will ever go your way. (Trust me, don't give up...it is just a bump, sometimes a HUGE ass bump, in the road). The break also gives my body a little rest from all of the stuff constantly inserted into it. I'm not using my entire body for my infusion and CGM sites. Eventually maybe I'll get there but right now I'm just comfortable with my stomach, hips and thighs so I don't have much real estate.
Basically, that is how I'm battling burnouts. Burnouts still can and do happen but for me they certainly are not a constant which I appreciate.
***Hey! Remember...I am NOT a doctor so don't just do what I'm talking about here. Always, always consult your diabetes team because I can almost guarantee there will be small tweaks needed to make something fit for you as no two of us are the same. Seriously though, don't ever do what I talk about without consulting with your diabetes team.***