Suddenly, a wild Grem appears! I was in Paris. I have things to blog about around that cause I made lots of mental health progress and I was all set to sit down and write those blogs and then…then I got itchy. Seems at the ripe age of 21 I have my first downstairs yeast infection. It is as annoying as to be expected, but came with a rather unhealthy dose of guilt that got me really down on myself and all centres on my diabetes. While yeast infections are hardly the sort of thing people like to talk about I think it is important for diabetics to talk about such things. Thrush and yeast infections are generally associated with people with vaginas but anyone can develop a yeast infection or get thrush on their genitals and it isn’t fun for anyone involved. It does come with a lot of stigma though, especially for diabetics.
Like just about everything else on this planet being diabetic means being more prone to yeast infections and being a person with a vagina makes you more prone to developing these problems than people with a penis. Diabetes makes it more high risk but obviously people without diabetes get yeast infections all the time but that doesn’t stop it being held above people like another fear factor when they are growing up. There were in fact three things the doctors used to use to try and box young Grem into being the perfect diabetic
* limb amputation
* yeast infections and urinary tract infections
It felt like it was something that happened to bad diabetics, and the term was bad diabetic. It was never plausible to my doctor’s back then that something might be out of someone’s control. It was always going to be on them so if YOU got a complication as a result of being diabetic then it was YOUR fault and that was it. No gray area existed back then, and despite knowing better now it is hard to snap out of that mindset when you’ve had it drilled into you for over 10 years like weird diabetic propaganda or something.
So, when I started to suspect that I had a problem I had two feelings, embarrassment and shame. That is a huge issue. If I had a cold or a chest infection or something else I wouldn’t think twice of going to the doctor, and getting help. Yet because of the way society operates and the way the diabetic community has operated that wasn’t the case. I was mortified to have a problem with my genitals. Why? They are just body parts like any other. Need to get over that and I think I worked on it through all this. All parts of a person can get sick after all.
More importantly, I was scared of being judged for something that was not my fault. My diabetes is not in the best of shapes. I’ve covered this before but to recap I have severe dawn phenomenon and am waiting for an insulin pump. It is so severe that I’ve been signed medically unfit to work or attend university because of the impact it is having on my life. Everything I can do has been done. I’m all swings and roundabouts with a decent HBA1C and nightmares in between. There is a possibility that my current state was part of the reason of me developing this infection. Or, it could just be that I happened to develop this infection.
Yet when I went to the doctor, several things happened. Firstly I was very relieved that all I had to do was describe two of my symptoms, inflammation and itchiness, and he confirmed it sounded like thrush. Secondly, he then gave me that annoying Doctor smirk. You know, the one that says ‘I know something you don’t know’.
“You know why you’re more prone to these sorts of things?”
“Because I’m diabetic. Yes, I know. I’m more prone to everything. “
The smile dropped from his face. I think the tone of my voice said more than my words. ‘Don’t Go There.’
I don’t like to be reminded of all the things more likely to come and trip me up because of this disease. It is bad enough having to actually deal with them. Being constantly reminded of things like that just attempts to reinforce the message I’m trying to convince myself isn’t true, that diabetes is ruining my life and that everything that goes wrong can be traced to it. Maybe it had nothing to do with my diabetes. Maybe I was just a person with an infection. Maybe it doesn’t matter either way. If I’m going to keep getting them while my levels are off them I’m going to keep getting them. I can’t help my diabetes right now. I just need to keep it where it is.
Yet the clinics keep saying ‘bad control can lead to X’. Yeah, it can but that doesn’t always mean that it will. I was so scared that I would be told my endo had to be informed and I’d get the ‘look! look! thrush now! thrush! you’re all off track. what a mess. all your fault rawr rawr rawr’. I was ready to defend my corner if that was the case, whether to him or my team at the hospital but I know there are diabetics with lower self esteem than me. I’ve known of diabetics to avoid going to the doctor for treatment to avoid the embarrassment and the possible berating they will receive. A non-diabetic wouldn’t get berated for something natural. They wouldn’t get knowing looks. We get it because society wants to assume the worst about us. Anything that can be pinned to our diabetes is and how are we meant to live like that? How do we stand up to constantly having this message beamed at us that X, Y and Z are because we’re diabetic and quite possibly our fault? Ok this was just a yeast infection but everything like this adds up and it chips away at people and they wonder why we have such high levels of depression in our community. It is because we can’t even have some itchy genitals without someone making it about our non-cooperative pancreas. I want diabetics to know that just because you get something like that doesn’t automatically mean that your diabetes is the cause of it. It might be. It might not be. A PH imbalance that can lead to thrush can be caused by a whole boatload of things. I’ve been told to eat bio-yogurt, just like any other person would be told. Don’t let that hold you back from getting help. I thought getting a yeast infection made me a failure. It didn’t. It just made me grumpy, and that made me human.