Coping With COVID-19: Candid Comments From Our Diabetes Community

Wow. Just a few weeks ago, we asked you to tell us how you were doing. And you have responded! Such a vast range of stories we received back from you, including those of you with type 1, type 2, type 3 as well as caring healthcare professionals. In total, it is evident that most of us are feeling so uncomfortably vulnerable in these scary and challenging times, and worrying about diabetes can just intensify all that. But some of you have managed to find ways to make lemonade out of lemons, while others are stuck in houses full of lemons. For many of you, managing diabetes has become tougher, while—remarkably– it has becomes easier for others. You’ve shared tales with us that are touching, heart-breaking, discouraging and sometimes inspiring. No, make that always inspiring. Here is just a small sample:


Thank you for checking in on me. It has been a bit difficult at times. I started working with a dietician before all of this virus started. So my second appointment was done by phone. I sent out copies of my journal and blood testing. It became overwhelming to me. So I have put it on hold…too much I’m putting on my plate. Any suggestions? I’m still Journaling and testing. It’s just a very trying and emotional time to deal with this. Plus having this diabetes is a challenge.”


I am doing much better now because I can work from home and bike where I need to go.  I am getting more sleep and I have time to prepare healthy meals. Before “safer at home” I had to commute to work and would not get home until 12 hours later. It’s easier to keep track of my medical supplies because they are all in my house now.  Before, I needed to stock my house, my office, car and gym bag – and I was constantly out of supplies in one place while they were stockpiled somewhere else. I started using an insulin pump yesterday.  It’s been quite a challenge with so many alerts but with telehealth and 24 hours support from Tandem, I am confident I can make the adjustment . It’s probably best for me that the beaches are closed now because it would be harder for me to get used to the pump if I was surfing now. There is such a wealth of entertainment and educational opportunities on the internet now, and I am now able to attend meetings, lectures, concerts and chats that I would not have been able to make if I had to drive to get there. My heart goes out to all the people who are going through hardships now, and I hope this pandemic will be over soon.”


We are doing well, but want to start opening slowly and with enough precautions in place. We have to accept that there will be a new normal. Hawaii has done a good job flattening the curve. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, their jobs and are currently struggling day to day. We are so grateful for all healthcare workers and the essential workers in the community that keep the basic services going. God bless America and we will be stronger after this crisis!”


My concern is my husband started a new medication for his diabetes and seems to look a lot better and more alert. I fear the side effects during this stream of time we are living in. My mind is going through the what-ifs, if he or I become sick and have to go to hospital we can’t see each other. Just needed to share this with a community that understands my concerns. Thank you so much for all you do. Please keep yourself safe!!!”


Personally, I’m feeling plenty of emotional and physical stress. Typical of me this turns into extra eating. But somehow, someway my glucose control looks literally better than ever. This is truly a testament to advancing technology as I have both a Dexcom G6 and Tandem TSlim X2 with Control IQ.   I’ve attended the TCOYD T1D retreat in San Diego and it was a great experience with the knowledge dump and the group feeling of ‘normalcy’. Thank you for today and I hope you and your families are all well and safe!”


I am going to take you up on your offer of support. I have gone to several of your big meetings in the past and have enjoyed them. I have had type 2 for 20 years now and I’m on insulin. My last A1c was 6.5.  I live alone and I find with this self-isolation I am eating too much, exercising less, gaining weight and feeling lonely. What to do, what to do. Any suggestions?”


It’s taken some adjustments, but I’m doing alright. The first week of isolation was rough. I hit the kitchen hard and watched way too much tv. The second week, I realized I needed a schedule and regular exercise to keep my sanity. After that I’ve developed a routine that includes exercise and working in my yard. My yard looks better than ever and it’s a great way to work through my frustrations. I appreciate your video about the virtual doctor’s appointments. It helped me to be prepared and utilize my phone appointments with my endocrinologist and diabetes educator. Thanks for your resources and support.”


Guess what? I am doing great! Two months ago, just before the start of Social Distancing, I was lucky enough to switch to the Tandem X2 with Control IQ insulin pump. I think this is the most amazing medical miracle for managing T1 diabetes since the discovery of insulin. I found out about it when I went to a TCOYD conference and I owe you a giant debt of gratitude for that! It is rare that my BG goes above 200 and when it does, I know exactly why (user error.) Thank you and I enjoy reading and look forward to your emails.”


I’m feeling sad, afraid and hopeless. I’m working primarily with the Latino essential workers and have lost patients to COVID19. While some have lost family, recovered, still suffering at home or hospitalized. My patients are also afraid and sad. Every day, I listen to their fears, losses and questions. When my shift is done, I leave in tears and praying no more lives lost. I’m hanging in there, but it’s difficult.” 


Thank you for all that you do! I wish you were around in the ’60s when I was first diagnosed with type 1. In those days, no one ever talked about diabetes. Fortunately, I received my Dexcom G6 and connected it to my Tandem Slim:X2 insulin pump and got the Control IQ software up and running before COVID19 hit the fan. I am anxious to see the results of my next A1C test. As far as the Stay at Home issues where I live, I can’t wait to give the grandkids a big hug. Staying away is awful. Stay safe and healthy.”


My husband is diabetic, and we have viewed TCOYD videos, including the one regarding the pandemic. They are very helpful.  Because we had attended two conferences before, my husband was familiar with the two speakers, and he could relate to the message and content.  He does have Parkinsons, some dementia and he has had to make some adjustments recently.  A “silver lining” about this pandemic is that during this time, because he is with me 24/7 and has less opportunities to be tempted to eat unhealthy things, his blood sugar reading has been very stable and he no longer is taking his insulin at bedtime.  I have also had talks with him to encourage him to establish habits, like eating  healthy foods all the time and regulating portions, exercising regularly, being active throughout the day (he sleeps a lot), online education (to keep his mind active), social support (online groups), and of course the COVID-19 habits like washing his hands with soap and water.  He has not had any Parkinsons related episodes (seizures) recently because his blood sugar level is not high and the medication he is currently on seems to be effective in controlling his tremors. Thank you for all that you do for diabetics and the caregivers. The support I have found from TCOYD and National Kidney Foundation have positively impacted our family’s life and brought my husband to this point of reducing his insulin intake and improving his Parkinsons condition.  I will always recall that it took a pandemic to make this positive change in his life as a diabetic and my role as a caregiver. Thank you for encouraging and supporting diabetics, caregivers, and health care providers!!! We do appreciate the work that you do, and I just wanted you to know that what you are doing is working!!!”


So what have we learned? Our fellow members of the TCOYD community have never given up. No matter how scary it seems and no matter how down or overwhelmed or stressed out you have felt, you keep trying as best you can. You reach out for help, you’re helping others, you’re seeking contact with others, you keep going. So kudos to you all. We congratulate you for everything you’re doing, for all the ways you plug away at helping yourself and helping others. We are isolated, but we are not alone. Hang in there, because things will get better and we look forward to celebrating together with you all some day soon.

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