This is My Brain on Diabetes

There’s that old myth that says we humans only use about 10% of our brains. And though that number’s been disproved, I still feel like I don’t get to use all of my brainpower on a daily basis. I’m always wondering how much of my mind is left for normal life after most of it gets eaten up by diabetes stuff.

Today has been the first day in a few weeks that I haven’t been so busy that I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of screaming. Don’t get me wrong: I’d rather be super-busy than unemployed. I love my job — it’s a constant stream of fun and interesting projects, it provides me with good health insurance, keeps a roof over my head and infusion sets in the closet, and I’m surrounded by talented, funny people. (Also, I can get away with wearing jeans and flip-flops at least 4 days a week.)

There’s just a shitload of stuff to do — all at the same time — and the busier I get, the more I resent the space that diabetes takes up in my life — and in my brain. It’s one of those things that never gets checked off of my worklist. And if it’s not the carbs that need to be counted or the insulin that needs to be picked up from the pharmacy, it’s an out-of-nowhere low that leaves me scarfing down Smarties while trying to write a semi-coherent e-mail.


Type 1 diabetes: The auto-immune disorder that ate my brain.


Would I be any more productive if I didn’t essentially have two full-time jobs? If keeping myself alive didn’t involve so many tubes and measurements and granola bar breaks and itchy adhesive rashes, would I be out conquering the world? What if the brain space that I use to remember how many carbs are in a Yuengling Light is the exact amount of mental capacity I need to write the Great American Novel? Would I be a world-class wood carver if I had a little extra time? Would I write more than one blog post every 10 days?

In the end, I know it’s a pointless thing to spend even more brain space thinking about. Things to Worry About — diabetes-related or not — have a way of reproducing and expanding in our lives. If it wasn’t diabetes, it’d be something else. And if it wasn’t anything else, I’d probably get bored with my perfect, highly productive life.

For now, I’m going take every non-demanding moment I can find and try to turn off my mind as much as possible. So if you see me walking down the street in sweatpants and bare feet, mumbling to myself about tree frogs and lollipops, don’t be alarmed. I’m not suffering from hypoglycemia or strung out on meth — I’ve just temporarily run out of room in my head.

10 comments on “This is My Brain on Diabetes

  1. Posts that connect zombies to diabetes are inherently awesome, although I’m biased because I wrote one a couple of years ago about what would happen to us in the zombie apocalypse. It seemed like a reasonable thing to ponder…

  2. Jeff says:

    I love this post and feel the same way! (Except that whole “flip flops at work” BS. *stern look* :^)

  3. mhoskins2179 says:

    Another classic post! Love it. I’ve hit the mental limits myself, and have found myself simply rambling to myself incoherently in order to process whatever the task at hand might be. But, never doubt: always more important than anything is knowing the carb count of a good beer and being able to at least have the mental capacity to find said beer and consume it. That always frees up some mind space!

  4. Kerry says:

    Maybe you are simply exercising your brain more than average with all of the diabetes stuff, and in turn your brain is now more powerful:) I do know how you feel, and I am just a caretaker of a diabetic. I worry sometimes about how my daughter will handle it all when she is grown.

  5. laura g. says:

    Couldn’t agree more! But I do like Kerry’s point about well-exercised brains and I think it might be true. Ever feel more organized, more prepared and better at predicting the future than your non-D friends?

  6. Tina Kicklighter says:

    Thanks for another great post! I feel your frustration although I don’t have diabetes. I was just diagnosed with glaucoma and now have a new routine to add to my complicated life that already includes having to watch every bite I take due to severe food allergies. I know this doesn’t even remotely add up to the frustrations you have to face with diabetes, but I can somewhat imagine what you’re going through. Sometimes I’m afraid to scream because I might not stop.

  7. Lindsay says:

    I can totally relate. Diabetes is constantly taking up way too much room in my brain! I think I would have way more brain power without D!

  8. Not to mention the “fog” that comes about the brain when we’re high or low! I can’t tell you how often I’m trying to get through a meeting when I’m high or low…hot mess.

  9. Abbey says:

    Great post! It is so hard to turn your brain off from diabetes.

  10. Bethany says:

    love the post … hope you find a few minutes to relax and turn that brain of yours off!!

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