#DBlog Week: In The Boats Together

Today is one of those days.

Living with diabetes is sometimes akin to paddling quickly in a leaky dinghy, trying to cross a river.

  • You have a goal: the other side.
  • You have tools to help get you there: a bucket to dump the water out that keeps pouring into the bottom and a motor or a paddle and even a rudder to get you moving in the right direction.
  • You have others to help you: those in your boat with you or those encouraging you to row faster from the other side.

Despite all this, you still have to paddle fiercely while using the bucket to prevent you from sinking deeper and drowning.

If the weather is warm and sunny and the current is still, the trip across isn’t too bad. You’re tired, but you made it to the other shore.


  • Rough weather? A torrential downpour? Pitch black of night?
  • Lose a paddle? Can’t afford to buy another motor?
  • Those on the other side are screaming at you, not in encouragement, but in frustration that you can’t get there fast enough or you’re just plain “paddling wrong”?

And that river is rocky. You have to dodge the rocks you can see and hope that you can avoid the ones that scrape the bottom of your boat that hide under the surface. Some of those rocks can rip a gaping hole into the side of your tiny dinghy and you are… sunk.

You have to climb into that boat every day. No breaks. Exhausted? Too bad. Feel like you can’t do it again? Too bad.

It is too bad.

And for anyone who has diabetes, our battered boats cast off anew every day to the other side (and there is always another side), while we hope to reach it unscathed.

Any wonder that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of depression than the general population? That our burnouts have serious consequences to not only us, but our friends and families?

Today, my boat is taking in more water than I care to admit. My blood sugars are slightly above range, but it’s because I’m exhausted from lack of sleep. (Alarms on my CGM/pump went off to let me know that I was getting a weak signal. My blood sugars were fine, but because the CGM couldn’t tell, it woke me up.) My food intake has been more caffeine and less salad today than I wanted. Even the good stress I feel over launching my dream is still stress.

If I didn’t have diabetes, my dinghy may have holes from other things. I may not know how to navigate other waters or I may be the one on the other side of the river, yelling encouragement.

But I have diabetes. And a leaky boat.

And as I look down the river,

there are millions of leaky boats struggling along with me to get to the other side. Every day.



May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?


  1. fifteenwaitfifteen

    I hate the feelings of stress when you keep thinking, “I don’t really have any stress in my life”….except for the management of diabetes 24×7, constant aches and pains of other physical issues, sleep being inconsistent and crappy, and having allergies/hacking cough/crazy sickness that just wears you down. I’m keeping my chin up, but damn. I’m sick of being sick and sick of feeling like crap all day. Yep, I’m on a boat!

      • fifteenwaitfifteen

        Should I have qualified that video is NSFW? I’m in a wacky mood today, obviously going from grumpy to giggles in the span of 5 seconds….)

  2. StephenS

    Good thing there are lots of good swimmers to help if your boat sinks. Of course, you still have to do the swimming. Great post.

  3. Laddie

    My mind was filled with Christel’s haunting image of leaky boats. And now it’s all Andy Samburg et al and Mermaids. Thanks, Kelley:-)

  4. Katy

    Great analogy!
    I can imagine those whiners who’d say “you’re paddling wrong” because that often happens to me in canoes.

  5. Scott E

    This is a great metaphor.

    And lately I’ve given lots of thought to the topic you allude to in “If I didn’t have diabetes, my dinghy may have holes from other things”. What would life be like without diabetes? Who knows — but I’d probably still have a few battle-scars.

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