Storytime: Kristen On Burnout And Turning 30
Many consider turning 30 years old to be a milestone. Your early 30s can be a curious time of having envisioned yourself reaching certain goals but realising that you haven’t quite gotten there yet. This may be true of your career, relationships and family life, or financial goals. If you’re living with type 1 diabetes, perhaps you thought you’d have your diabetes management perfected by now – that you’d never miscount a single carbohydrate or forget to restock on your insulin supplies. Kristen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 15 years old and currently works in the diabetes technology industry. Here she shares about her personal challenges with managing diabetes, and how turning 30 motivated her when she needed it most.
Time To Stop And Reflect
I first started working with a medical technology company as an insulin pump specialist. At the time, I was managing my diabetes with multiple daily injections. I know, pretty ironic that I took a position selling insulin pumps when I hadn’t even started using one myself. Even after I started with the company, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to use an insulin pump at all. Though I saw all of the benefits of it, I just wasn’t sure it was for me.
By the time I completed my training, I decided to try out an insulin pump. By that time, I was very excited! Even though I had some minor concerns about participating in various activities while connected, I was eager to give it a chance.
I’ve experienced what all of you have or will experience at some point – burnout. In the nearly four years I have had the pump, I have disconnected and quit using it for long periods of time on more than one occasion. Like many of you, I get angry at my diabetes and will sometimes go days where I test only once or twice and just guess how much insulin to take. Sometimes, it all can just be too much, and I want…no, I need a break. It was just recently that I made myself stop to take a moment and look at where I was.
I turned the big 3-0 in December, which also marks the 15th anniversary of my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes. For several months leading up to that day, I started reflecting on everything in my life. Am I happy with where I am? Is this where I thought I would be at this age? What can I do to turn things around? I also took the time to look at my health. At 29, I started experiencing health issues that I was not prepared for, many of them being directly related to my diabetes. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a scare to realise you need to get back on track with your health to prevent further complications.
Stepping Up And Taking Control
A little over two years ago, I moved to a new position in my company that requires me to spend a lot of time in operating theatres. Working in the hospital environment has had a sobering effect on me in many ways, especially when it comes to dealing with people who suffer from a terminal illness. While I will live with type 1 diabetes for the rest of my life, it is something I can treat, whereas someone with an inoperable tumour or other terminal disease does not have that choice. I can at least minimise complications by managing my diabetes to the best of my ability. On top of my birthday, my not-so-happy diabetes diagnosis anniversary, and my job, I knew it was time to step up to the plate and take control.
Staying On Track
While I still struggle a bit and even get a little irritated at times, I know that pump therapy is the best way for me personally to manage my diabetes. So, a little over a month ago, I decided to take charge and reconnect to my insulin pump. Turning 30 has certainly changed my views on many aspects of my life. While I know I will continue to have both good days and bad, I have made a commitment to myself: to do everything I can to live a long, happy and healthy life. Also, when I am feeling a little down or a burnt out, I know it’s time to stop and reflect.
Any day of the year is a great time to stop and reflect. If living with type 1 diabetes has you feeling a little down and out, don’t forget you’re not alone. Diabetes burnout is common, with studies suggesting that 36% of people living with diabetes find it to be a factor in suboptimal management of their diabetes.1 If you find yourself experiencing burnout, reach out to your diabetes healthcare team about what resources they can suggest to support you.
- Abdoli S, Miller-Bains K, Fanti P, Silveira MSVM, Hessler D. Development and validation of a scale to measure diabetes burnout. J Clin Transl Endocrinol. 2021;23:100251.
This patient testimonial relates to an account of an individual’s response to treatment. The account is genuine, typical and documented. The views and opinions expressed are those of the patient or author and not representative of Medtronic or of any third parties referenced. The response other persons have to treatment could be different. Please speak with your diabetes healthcare team for information on whether the treatment is appropriate for you. The information provided in this blog is an individual account specific to the writer’s experience in the management of their own diabetes. Before considering any changes to your diabetes management you must speak with your diabetes healthcare team.
*Editor’s note: This article has been adapted and reproduced from a post published on Medtronic Diabetes Australia.