Walking on the diabetes tightrope

This week is the third annual diabetes blog week, a fantastic idea from my friend Karen at Bitter~Sweet Diabetes. Each day of the week there is an assigned topic to write about, and everyone who is participating shares their thoughts on it.

The topic I'm writing on today is “What They Should Know”. What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn't have diabetes about living with diabetes? This is a tough one for me, because there are many things that I want to express. And it is often difficult to convey the weight of diabetes with simple words and language.

I often describe life with diabetes as walking on a tightrope. I'm always balancing. I always have to carefully consider my next step.  I have to constantly adjust and compensate. One of my favorite diabetes quotes is from Marlene Less. She said “diabetes is like being expected to play the piano with one hand while juggling items with another hand, all while balancing with deftness and dexterity on a tightrope”. 

That paints quite a picture, doesn't it?

Balancing on the diabetes tightrope

Everything I do is adding more variables into the mix. This is like adding weights to the end of the balance pole a tightrope walker holds. Exercise is one of the biggest variables around. Like an anvil tied to the end of my balance pole! Food is another big weight, and unlike a lot of things, I can't get away from it. I can't abstain from food!

Did I mention that this particular tightrope goes forever? There is no taking a break or getting off of it. I am walking on this tightrope all of the time.

You might think it gets easier with time. Some parts of it do. I can change my pump infusion set without much thought now, and some of the other mechanical parts of life with diabetes get faster and more efficient with practice. But I can never lose focus of the fact that I'm balancing on a tightrope.

I can never take my mind off of my next few steps. 

I can never stop anticipating what those weights on my balance pole will do.

I can never really rest. 

That being said, I sometimes make it look easy. Maybe too easy sometimes. The sword cuts both ways. On one hand, I don't want people treating me as less able, nor do I want a pity party. On the other hand, my being strong about it means that people don't really understand just how hard it is. Is there a way I can let people inside enough to understand without negatively affecting how they treat me?

I guess that's a balance we all battle with.

About Scott K Johnson

Scott was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1980. Since 2004, he has been writing about his successes and struggles with diabetes. Connect with Scott on The Diabetes Collective and on Twitter.


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