...and I go about my business trying to take care of myself as well as I can so that none of the fears in that box come true.
Sometimes though, that lid slips a bit and I get a peak at what's inside.
Sometimes the lid falls right off and the fears and frustrations come flying out like a big scary cloud that surrounds me before I can draw my sword.
Monday evening the lid fell off.
It started with my annual physical. The one I go to with my family doctor that normally has less to do with diabetes and more to do with my overall health. I like that appointment because there are no blood sugar logs to explain and we talk about my family and my latest running adventures...after she does her exams, checks my height and weight and tests my blood pressure.
As usual (she writes with relief) things looked good. My weight is good, my waist to hip ratio that predicts heart problems was good, my blood pressure was good. I sat up on the bed and asked what I thought was a pretty simple question. One I had almost forgotten to ask because it seemed so trivial.
"What do you think these little red dots are on the tips of my toes?"
They had started a few days before. Or at least that's when I noticed them. They were kinda itchy but not really. Not sore either. They were just a few tiny little red dots on the tips of several of my toes...on both feet. I thought perhaps they were from my feet hitting the front of my running shoes - this had never happened before but still.
"Oh, that looks like small nerve damage. It can be caused by diabetes."
My heart dropped.
Diabetes? Damage from diabetes?!? I was panicked and furious at the same time.
How dare diabetes do a damn thing to my body after all I do for it. The ungrateful little bastard! That was quickly followed by omigod, I have complications? I'm not even forty yet and have only had it for ten years!
"Could it be from running in the cold? It's been cold the last few weeks and I've been doing long runs. From curling twice a week and having my toes rub the end of my shoes when I'm sliding across the ice?" I was reaching and I knew it but I was completely freaked out.
"Well, it could be from trauma or extreme cold and it might go away on its own. Keep a close eye on it and show you diabetes doctor when you see her in March. In the meantime, keep your feet warm and come back to see me immediately if they get any worse or turn into open sores. It might be a good time to start taking a low dose aspirin as well."
I promised to do what I was told and headed home. I walked in, took off my coat, told Doug what happened, changed into my curling clothes, came back downstairs, sat down at the dinner table, took three bites of my dinner...and the lid fell off my box.
I cried, I shook with fear and frustration and I tried to find the words to express how I felt. What more can I possibly do? If all the time and effort I put in to taking care of myself and keeping the diabetes monsters happy isn't enough...what else can I do?
It isn't even the actual problem that bothered me as much as the thought that, despite the best efforts and the best intentions, diabetes may still win. All those awful predictions that the doctors and the media tell us might still come true.
I had ten minutes until I had to leave for curling. I suppose I could have called and said that I wasn't going but, if I did that, I thought I'd end up curled up on the couch nursing several large glasses of wine and not feeling any less freaked out.
So I wiped my eyes, screwed up my courage and headed back out into the night.
No one at the curling rink knew any of the turmoil going on inside. They joked and they teased me as usual. We played, I focused on my shots, on sweeping my heart out and on holding up my end of the conversation. They had me laughing in no time and I felt better for it.
I got home a few hours later with the lid once again tightly on my diabetes box. I WILL keep an eye on my toes. I WILL go to the doctor immediately if there is a problem. I WILL do what I need to do.
But most important of all.
I. Will. Live. My. Life.
I read once that living with diabetes is like living in a cage with a tiger. You can feed it and take care of it but don't turn let down your guard for a minute or it will try to eat you alive.
I take great comfort in the fact that, according to the Chinese calendar, I was born a Tiger.
Dear diabetes - I will share my cage with you because I must. I will make sure you are looked after. I will obey your rules. I will allow you your childish tantrums. But I will only be pushed so far...and then I get pissed.