Monday, March 5, 2012

Chronic Illness Burnout

Before I got my Dexcom I searched the DOC for information. I wanted to know what other people thought about the Dexcom, and how I could best use mine. Of course I found dozens of blogs. Some had tips for success. Others had personal experiences. And some… some pointed out how hard it is to have diabetes for years and years.

I was diagnosed in July of last year. Every aspect of having diabetes is new to me. Everything from how to inject insulin, to counting carbs is brand new. The learning curve is steep. I didn’t even know continuous glucose monitors existed until I started surfing the DOC in December. I knew nothing about pumps, adjusting basal rates, nothing. It’s all new to me. I am aware that I am a young child running around looking at everything. Ooh, what’s that? How does that work?

I am also aware that chronic illness burnout is real. Diabetes isn’t my first chronic illness. MG has been a tough dance partner. I know what it is like to put off a doctor’s appointment because I can’t deal with seeing one more white lab coat. I’ve had enough blood tests. I don’t want any more. Monthly monitoring of my white blood cell count hasn’t happened since August of 2011. I know I need to make an appointment, show up, roll up my sleeve. I know I need to monitor what the chemo is doing. But at the same time, I don’t want to. I’m burned out on the care and feeding of myasthenia gravis. I'll get back on track but sometimes it's hard.

Feeling burned out on the care and feeding of diabetes makes sense to me. I respect their struggles to stay on track and I know my turn is coming. The day is coming when I reach for a doughnut, don’t bolus, and don’t care. I don’t think there is any way to prevent chronic illness burn out. We’re ordinary people having to do extraordinary things to survive. Extraordinary things get exhausting sometimes.

MG requires I take chemo on Monday nights, feel sick on Tuesdays, and monitor my stress and energy levels at all times. Diabetes requires I prick my finger six times a day, pay attention to everything I eat, how much of it I eat, and when I eat. I have to exercise to keep my blood sugars under control, MG be damned. I have to do all of these things on my birthday. And Christmas. And Thanksgiving. And on vacation. My chronic illnesses come with me everywhere I go and they frankly don’t care how I feel.

Sometimes, my life feels completely out of whack.

Burnout makes sense. It is a logical outcome of running up this hill. I’m learning that how I feel about everything isn’t irrelevant. How I feel matters. When I feel burned out I’m also feeling stressed. Stress makes everything I do harder.

When I feel burned out admitting it is the first step toward getting back on track. For those of you who are feeling chronically burned out, I hear you. You’re not alone. And you’re stronger than you feel right now. Together we can do what we need to do. I know we can.


  1. Hi Marie,

    Great post on burnout. I do think that you are right, that "irrelevant stuff" isn't irrelevant, just sitting off to the side. No, it belongs right smack in the center of your Needs picture.

  2. Thanks Scott. You're right, that belongs dead center. I always feel out of kilter when it's not. I'm working on making sure mind, body and soul are in balance. Only then do I feel in synch with myself and my life.



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