Giving Up Lent, For Lent

Of the many things I have attempted to give up for Lent over the years, I can only remember one that I actually saw through until Easter. I managed to give up my favourite computer game, Captain Comic, for a whole forty days back in primary school. I fondly remember playing it on our very first computer in the ’90s, that a family from school salvaged for us from a rubbish heap.

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In recent years, my motivation to keep doing Lent is diabetes. Even though I’m an adult and I’m no longer forced to do Lent, I still like the idea of using it to change my “bad diabetes” habits. Give up chocolate, give up junk food, exercise, have perfect blood sugar levels and perhaps stick with it after Lent…

The reality is that I’ve failed almost every time. I’ll end up feeling guilty and unhealthy for breaking. I’ll end up feeling trapped by my diabetes, with no willpower to control my bad habits. Even when I have made it a fair way in, I’ve ended up subsiding and binge eating towards the end.

But I’m only human, and I shouldn’t have to apologise for my bad habits. Besides, Lent doesn’t just last forty days for me. I already give up a lot for my diabetes, throughout the whole entire year.

Money, for starters. Insulin, test strips, needles and even jellybeans aren’t cheap. In May I’ll be switching to an Insulin Pump, which only costs around $8,000. Thank goodness for private health insurance! Even though my expenses are heavily subsidised by the Australian government through the NDSS, diabetes is still not cheap and I can think of a million other things that I would rather put that money towards.

Food. I have to think carefully about every item of food that I put into my mouth. Carb content? Weight? Is it a pre-bolus food? Or does it need a delayed bolus? Feelings of satisfaction after a nice dinner are often replaced with feelings of guilt and anger if the follow up result is not ideal. I’ll often have to forego tempting foods for which the spike is just not worth it.

Thoughts. Diabetes is one of the first things I think about when I wake up in the morning. I’m constantly plagued with thoughts of where my blood sugar is sitting after a meal. Did I give too much insulin? Not enough insulin? Did I forget to bolus for something? Then at bedtime, I’m usually playing guessing games as to where my levels are headed through the night.

Confidence. It’s hard not to judge myself by my diabetes, when it’s on my mind all the time. It’s hard to feel good about myself when my diabetes isn’t going so great. As my diabetes gets older, I find myself thinking more and more about my future. About how well I am managing my diabetes, and whether I am “healthy” enough to withstand complications.

Time. Finger pricks, insulin injections, treating a high, correcting a low and just thinking about it all! Diabetes doesn’t stay on the desk at five o’clock on a Friday. There is no annual leave, sick days, personal leave or rostered days off. Finding the time to do ALL of this on top of life is a miracle sometimes.

Lent always makes me feel bad about myself, and I know that I’ll end up failing miserably. So this year, I’ve decided to give up Lent, for Lent. I’ll still be working towards some of my diabetes goals in the lead up to Pump Day in May.

But I certainly won’t be shying away from a slice of this Macaroon Cake I made last week. Happy Monday!

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