Energy Levels & T1D
Do you ever feel like you have less energy than your non-diabetic friends and family members? I know I do. I have brought this up with my endocrinologist before and, of course, his first instinct is to check my thyroid levels, but the blood work always comes back normal. I am always left wondering, well if there technically isn't a "problem" then why do I always feel so tired? WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME?!
I'm not a scientist or a doctor, but I've done a little bit of research and basically the conclusion I've come to is that having a chronic illness like Type 1 Diabetes wears the body out over time. Yes, we are all aware of the potential for diabetes related complications - our doctors will talk to us AT LENGTH about that- but have you ever considered the daily drain of functioning without a pancreas? Extreme blood sugars cause acute fatigue- you know, feeling totally wiped out when you are either high or low, and the fluctuation that occurs- regardless of how great your control is- taxes the body, too. When we get sick or injured, it takes our bodies a longer time to heal. It's almost like playing a man down in a hockey game all the time.
Now this can get discouraging if we think about it too much (I will be diving into the topic of depression & diabetes in a future post). So what's a T1D to do? Well, I believe the best approach is to listen to our bodies and honor its needs by prioritizing sleep above all else. Of course there will be occasions when you will want to be up late with the rest of the party, but just recognize that your body will need extra TLC in the days following. I also think it's really important that we stop comparing our bodies to others, especially to non-diabetics. Every single person on the planet is unique, but diabetics are even MORE uniquely-unique! Don't waste precious energy trying to make your body be something it's not or wondering why you aren't "like everybody else."
My last tip on keeping our energy up as T1Ds comes straight from my mom (she has a lot of good advice). Sometimes when I complain to her about how tired I am and how I feel like I could sleep and sleep and sleep and STILL be exhausted, she asks me, "What would happen if you didn't think about being tired? Try telling yourself you aren't tired and see what happens." This usually infuriates me in the moment (how can I tell myself I'm not tired when my eyes won't stay open?!!) but I've actually found this works. If you accept that you are tired, but choose to not let that be your focus, you might be surprised to find yourself getting caught up in your activities and not feeling quite so tired after all.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on energy & T1D in the comments below. What are your strategies for taking care of your body for optimal energy levels?