- I eat low-carb because coupled with proper use of insulin it’s an undeniable way to get out of the blood sugar roller coaster (aside from those days when I forget I have diabetes–it happens). My husband eats whatever low-carb food I prepare with zero objections because while I try to make great tasting food, the fact is that he understands I do better if I’m not alone in the way I eat at home.
- He jumps up to get glucose tablets when I need them. When someone does something for you with a controlled sense of urgency, don’t you feel loved? I mean, I’m not going to die from a 50 mg/dL blood sugar level if he doesn’t swiftly get my glucose for me but I like that he moves quickly to get what I need. Nothing says “I love you” like showing someone you want to shorten their discomfort by a few seconds if you can, by acting quickly.
- He lets me have a pity party but he does not participate in it. I really appreciate that on the days I am wallowing over my diabetes, my husband respects that and is a shoulder to cry on. I also appreciate that he doesn’t join me, though. I like that when I see things through considerably foggy lens for a time, he is still seeing clearly. He doesn’t get all sad and pitiful with me because he sees that in objective terms, I’m alright and will continue to be once I have my good cry or time to vent.
- He doesn’t lie to me. This is one of the most important ways he helps me with my diabetes–and everything else. If i’m fat, I don’t dare ask my hubby if I’m fat because he’s going to look at me like, “why are you asking me a question you know the answer to?” To his credit he’ll say “you’re beautiful and I love you” (cuz that is what I was fishing for all along!) but to tell me i’m not fat, if I am? Nope, he does not support me having any delusions. He also wouldn’t pretend a 200 mg/dL blood sugar level is fine for me to have all the time and he also wouldn’t let me believe that me having ice cream each evening isn’t a problem involving a lack of self-control when it fundamentally is (speaking for myself here). As a result, I have a partner who wants the best for me and that is something we all deserve.
- My husband takes care of himself. In doing so he inspires and leads me to do the same. When someone who respects themselves loves you, you can’t help but want to respect yourself, too. Then when they’re having a weak moment, you can help lift them up as they’ve done for you. I hope I do that for him sometimes.
Month after month and year after year you struggle with checking your blood sugar, taking your medication properly, eating the right foods, exercising enough, and staying away from actions that undo all your two steps forward.
You’re a perfectly smart individual, completely capable of doing what needs to be done. You read about how people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes do amazing things and quickly realize that some of your excuses fall a little short. You can’t figure out why you aren’t able to manage your diabetes well even though you have the tools and resources you need with which to do it.
Besides, diabetes is just one of a bunch of other problems you have. You too are dealing with relationships and work and finances.
But some people with diabetes are doing well and you wonder if you could be one of them. Deep down you know you could. You just need…something…
Now I don’t know you so I’m only going to ask you to consider the possibility that perhaps, mostly what needs to change are your surroundings,
Your surroundings would include any people, places, or things in your proximity.
The People You Surround Yourself With
Let’s start with people. If you’re an adult you probably have a choice regarding who you spend your time with. Are these quality people? Do they treat you well or poorly? Are they negative? Do they manage to bring you down with their words or actions? Do they abuse themselves and do things you don’t respect?
You might first try telling the people in your life how you feel and what you would prefer from them. If they can’t do any different and are only helping to pull you down, you’ve got to let them go. Your diabetes will eventually destroy your health if you don’t manage it and it won’t help blaming anyone in the end. Not when you get to decide who to spend your time with.
Where I come from there is a saying that says, “Better no company, than bad company”.
Try being a person who is just, honest, hardworking, and virtuous. You’ll alienate the wrong people and attract the right ones. Those qualities will also be major boosts to your arsenal for managing diabetes.
The Places You Live and Work
Now for places. Do you hate where you live or work? If so, are you working on a plan that will slowly get you out of there? It may take 5 years (as it did for me to leave a job I hated) but you’ve got to at least lay out your plan and take steps toward it. We spend a lot of time where we live and work so, again, if that is what brings you down then work towards getting that obstacle out of your way.
Don’t despair if things seem impossible. They always do–especially when we are feeling overwhelmed. Just start writing down what you want and the steps you think you should take to get there. Try to be calm, daydream a bit, get creative, and figure out your escape.
Talk to a loved one about what you are trying to do. Maybe you can get some support. Perhaps someone you trust could also help give you feedback about what you want and why. Go to a rational thinker, not someone who will give you emotional advise, which is great for some things but terrible for your life’s practical maneuvers which require you to be wise.
The Things You Own, Which Own You
There is much value in cleaning up our possessions in a way that will minimize anxiety and stress and maximize efficiency and value. Have you heard of Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying guru? Her book may not be for everyone but I dare say she is on to something. She recommends owning only what we all need and love.
You know how most people love going to hotels? Well, I spent the last few years staying in dozens of them–three and four star hotels. And what I discovered was that they are all pretty much terrible. No, really. They are dusty, mildewy, smelly, and the only thing actually going for them is that they are minimalist and tidy.
So when you and I first step in we go into “spa brain” where we get a sense of peace and relaxation even though we are walking on a carpet that contains blood, semen, and urine. Again, no, seriously. A friend contracted MRSA from walking barefoot in a very nice New York City hotel and spent many weeks in a hospital.
Now what if we could come home and feel “spa brain” every day? Don’t you think that would help you stay focused and more relaxed on what you need to do to maintain your healthy habits?
The key is to strip your belongings of things you don’t love, as Kondo recommends and to only keep something if you truly can’t live without it. I got rid of so much stuff recently that I was able to put my diabetes supplies in a pretty box that was previously used for something else. I have been better about changing my syringes and lancets ever since and I also stay on top of what needs to be reordered because everything is so nicely organized.
Check out Kondo’s book from the library or purchase it on Amazon and start making some darn space for a life in which you manage your diabetes and health (let’s face it, those take up enough space on their own).
I Think This Because I Live It
I have done these three things I’m suggesting, not perfectly of course, as we’re all a work in progress. But, I have experienced major changes that have been well worth all the little steps it took to get here. I once felt hopeless and worried that diabetes would kill me at age 40. I thought diabetes was too hard to manage even for just 24 hours. I felt depressed and anxious and didn’t know how to alleviate my symptoms.
I’ve found that for me, it has truly helped to keep quality company, mold my life so I spend my days where I want, doing what I want, and chucking items that are only going to stand in my way, mentally and physically.
In a way, it’s all about removing what isn’t going to support what we want or need. When you remove what isn’t wanted or needed you are left with everything you want and need. It’s quite perfect.
The bit I wrote about how we have to be virtuous and all that…that part is instrumental. Deep down we all recognize quality. When we think and act like quality people we are self-motivated to hold our heads up high and finally treat ourselves with self-respect. The best anti-depressant I’ve ever experienced has been working to be a self-respecting and useful person.
It isn’t self-respect to live amongst clutter, surrender to a dead-end job, or to maintain a toxic relationship. These aspects are huge in our lives and we either surround ourselves to an environment that promotes and supports our success, or we don’t.
I don’t have it all figured out and I have a long way to go still but, I get emails from people who want to know what advise I have on how to manage diabetes well and some who ask about relationship and parenting and other topics. So what i’ve shared is what I rely on to help me maintain an A1c between 5-6 %, a healthy marriage, happy kids that I unschool, and work I enjoy.
I’ve noticed that people who manage their diabetes really well do these things, also. You can learn to do them, too if you want. Just pick one and begin.
I grew up with type 1 diabetes and so it became crucial that I get comfortable with checking my blood sugar and giving myself injections in front of other people. I would often be afraid of their reaction. Would they be disgusted? Worried? Alarmed? I have always used some discretion when handling these acts in public but I’ve also been vocal about how these acts affect me and not anyone else so I really don’t want to hear anyone complaining about it. After all I’m the one enduring the pain, right? Well, I may have been wrong.
My children are six now, but I noticed that when they were about 4, my son would stare at me when I gave my insulin shots. He would watch the needle go in and out. He’d even observe as I put the orange cap back on the syringe and zipped it back up in its case. I thought to myself, “well, he sure seems interested” and I’d answer any questions he had about what I was doing.
As he got older he would ask questions like, “mommy, does it hurt when you do that?” And I’d answer truthfully, “yes, sometimes it does, but usually it doesn’t”. He would then say something like, “I sure am glad I don’t have diabetes.” In the past year, he has winced every time I prick my finger for a blood sugar check or given an insulin shot. I also noticed that sometimes he would appear to physically shake off the image he just saw the way a parent might when envisioning a worst case scenario involving their precious child.
I have been quite accustomed to doing all these diabetes things in the same way someone else might pull their hair up into a ponytail or role up a shirt sleeve. In other words, I have grown into an adult that recognized I needed to be comfortable checking my blood sugar and giving insulin anywhere and in front of anyone for my wellbeing and so I do these things mindlessly and without the crippling worry I felt as a child or teenager. In doing so I’ve learned that most people have a lot of empathy and compassion. They are cautious if they don’t know me and if we are say, shoulder to shoulder on a plane ride, but still rather polite. I always imagined that I’d have children who wouldn’t even blink at my pricking my finger because I figured they’d be used to it.
My daughter has been an interesting comparison. She doesn’t wince or tremble or look like she is in pain for me at all. Instead, she looks away and continues what she is doing, staying just as happy-go-lucky as always. Recently, after injecting, my son said, “Mommy, it hurts me so much every time I see you do that.” I quickly rushed to his side and said, “But, I’m ok sweetie, it only hurts a little, I’m still happy and smiling and everything is ok.” Then he explained how he knows it does hurt sometimes, how he has seen the little bruises that sometimes arise, and how he hates that something painful is what keeps me alive. Such empathy! Then I was stunned when he said, “Would you please turn around when you are giving your shot so I don’t have to see?”
And I suddenly understood something I hadn’t before. Some people watch us inject or prick our finger and genuinely feel a tingle through their body thanks to a release of cortisol brought on by the stress of the great load of empathy they feel for us. Most of these people know we have to do what we do but some people are very sensitive, so much they might appreciate us having more discretion around them because they will feel our pain to some extent.
You might think of someone you don’t particularly like and not really care too much about their reaction. I get it, but we all desire compassion from others and the only way to really earn that is through reciprocal empathy. I care about you and you care about me. My son doesn’t get that stress response anymore because even in the comfort of my own home I turn around or go to a different room. When we are in close quarters I let him know what I have to do and he appreciates the warning so he can turn away. Then I say I’m done and both my kids look at me and smile.
I now extend this awareness and courtesy to others wherever I go. I bet there are less people out there with a fear of needles than those who are quite simply sensitive to another’s suffering. And who would want to make this sweet little face upset?
Just to clarify, we people with diabetes should absolutely do what we need to do, when and where we need to do it. However, life should be played by ear and there are easy little ways to spread compassion as we go. I’m not boldly defiant about my diabetes management in public–i’m calmly adamant that it’s the right thing to do. When I soften myself up and show empathy towards others, they show it right back. It’s a win-win, what I’m advocating for.
“I hate diabetes” escaped the lips of my five year old son who doesn’t have that kind of language habit, yet, and who doesn’t really know the meaning of the word “hate”. Hearing him say those three words set off a chain reaction of memories that started almost 21 years ago to the day when my youngest sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age three. I remember having trouble going to sleep that night after my dad wearily explained that she had in incurable illness that would involve needles and bleeding (and so much more). Before I fell asleep I remember whispering out loud, “I hate diabetes.” Later that same year I wrote in my diary those very words with so much pressure from my pen the words permanently embedded into the next few pages. Never one to pass up an opportunity for clarity, I dotted my exclamation points with my own 11 year old blood.
Since that year I have probably uttered “I hate diabetes” more than a million times-an estimate I don’t think is exaggerated. I haven’t said or thought it much in the last few years because I want my mind filled with positive thoughts and my children to start life with a mental blank slate. I want them to figure out how they feel about things versus feeling what I feel and thus carrying around a detrimental amount of my baggage. It has served me well to remove those three words from my vocabulary. I am much more equipped, emotionally speaking, to take care of myself. And I do take care of myself.
Today, I was informing my children that tomorrow I will go to the eye doctor for a short visit. My daughter said, “Ok, mom” while my son, seemingly alarmed, said, “Why? What’s wrong?” I sat down and looked him in the eyes, which were staring at me intensely, “Well, nothing is wrong, but because I have diabetes I should go to the doctor each year to have a check-up”.
“But why does your diabetes mean you need a check up?” he continued.
“Because diabetes can hurt the body’s cells over time and our eyes are particularly sensitive.” I calmly explained.
My daughter jumped in saying, “So diabetes can hurt your eyes and other parts of your body because our whole body is a bunch of cells, right?”
“Yes. And I’ve had diabetes for 20 years so it’s a good idea for me to be extra careful and see doctors every year to make sure my body is working like it should.”
My daughter smiled, gave me a thumbs up, and said confidently, “Sounds good, mom!”
My admittedly skeptical son looked down and said, “Well I hate it.” He looked up at me with his brown eyes and in the most deliberate manor said, “I hate diabetes.”
I was stunned.
For a second I thought about saying something soothing and typical of a parent. But all that came out was, “I do, too.”
And that was it. He went back to eating his dinner. I began my memory roller coaster and wondered how my child could know enough to say he hated something that he has always seen me have. Did I appear weak or sick to him? Did I give him cause for worry? What gave it away? Was he just putting the logic of my explanation together?
So many questions flooded me until I was tired of thinking. All I’m sure of is I will do whatever it takes to make sure my diabetes doesn’t affect them more than it has to. When it slows me down, makes me feel incompetent and a complete fool for having had children, I need to make sure I kick those thoughts to the curb. So that my kids don’t catch those thoughts. So that I don’t become those thoughts. Because when a five year old says “I hate diabetes” one sits up and pays attention. I don’t want my children tethered to my worries. Or can this legitimately be their worry, too? I’d rather it not be. Especially not at five. And not while I’m alright and it’s technically jumping the gun.
That’s what I will tell him tonight before he and his sister go to sleep. That I’m alright and there is no need to worry. I will make it a point to hear my own words.
I’m weaning myself off Zoloft.
I’ve been on it for about a year and a half now. It has one major side effect for women-a sharp decrease in libido. Others say it completely wipes it out. I guess it depends on the person and how much they are taking. Zoloft is an extremely popular drug in the US for anxiety and depression. I started taking it for anxiety and a PMS disorder that I have and have been getting myself off because that one side effect is just too much. I mean, I didn’t marry my husband so that we could just be best buds who partner up to raise children together, ya know?
But, getting off Zoloft takes time because withdrawal symptoms are harsh. The times I’ve missed a dose or two I’ve felt like a squirrel on crack (I dunno, just picture what that must be like) and had major nausea on top of that. A friend of mine recently pointed out the brilliance of this drug’s natural marketing ability. Stopping it causes anxiety and depression which is what it treats in the first place. There doesn’t seem to be any major health risks associated with taking it so it’s easier in the short term to just keep taking it. Except if you’re a female, of course, and not a nun.
I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to write publicly about this. I do so because I think it’s possible that this drug has been responsible for some divorces or major relationship woes out there. Because if you’re not aware of this side effect, you really might think you no longer love the person you’re with. I mean, this is what separates us from our friends! Seriously, without the awareness of Zoloft’s side effects your physical symptoms which manifest as “don’t touch me” might tell your logic (and that of your partner’s) that “I’ve lost that loving feeling, time to move on”. I’ve always been one to research whatever medication I take to be aware of side effects so luckily for me it was more a matter of working around the issue with a patient and understanding husband.
Honestly, the way I’m working around the issue now is getting off this darn pill. I’m down to 35mg and while I do this, I am finding it harder to cook, clean, and get out of bed in the morning (in other words, doing things I dislike). I also worry about my anxiety raising my blood pressure, which has been high in the past and therefore a problem I realistically foresee having “any day now”. But, I feel more like myself (I’m a naturally moody person, perhaps I should embrace that fact and just go with it) and I’m finding that exercising to the point of dripping with sweat is the best remedy for my negative tendencies. Exhaustion from working out is calming so, it works as long as I just do it.
I’m all for a holistic lifestyle but also getting help when it’s needed. Right now I need off this and if shoving my behind out the door every other day for a 5k run is going to help, then I will just have to suck it up. So far so good!
One more thing, do I regret taking Zoloft in the first place? Um, not really. I was having panic attacks and not parenting my young children as well as I could because I was paranoid of what might happen to them. Taking this for a while helped me not feel so afraid and live life without so much hesitation. My whole family benefited from this. But I think I’m ready to live without it.
Anyone else have experience with this?
I went to vote yesterday afternoon after my husband got home. I was expecting to be in and out like last time around but was pleasantly surprised to see loads of people in front of me leaving me almost outside the entrance to the building.
I knew my blood sugar was around 70-80 and felt confident going in that I’d be fine to go vote and then get something to eat. But of course when I saw all those people, I gulped thinking, “Can I make it?” I searched my purse but didn’t have anything thanks to two little munchkins who think glucose tablets are candy.
I thought, “Well, I’m not low yet, I should be fine.” After an hour and 15 minutes I realized I was too low to think straight and I did the irresponsible thing and argued with myself about whether it was worse to pass out in front of so many people and miss my chance to vote or walk out of the line I stood in for a long time and appear to be giving up on my voting to everyone around me. I don’t normally care what people think but this election has me emotional and my low had me irrational so those were my thoughts.
Finally, I turned to the two ladies behind me whom I was chit-chatting with and casually mentioned, as if it were amusing, that my blood sugar was low and I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the voting booth still standing. They looked at me and one said, “Oh, you have hypoglycemia, too? I get low, too”. I clarified, “I have type 1 diabetes but yes I get low and eventually go unconscious if I don’t get sugar in me. The women looked at me with concern and one went over to the volunteer desk where people signed in and asked for some sugar and explained it was for a diabetic who needed it.
The lady at the desk looked at her huge container of juice and said, “That’s mine, we don’t have anything else.” Another lady said, “Sorry, I don’t have anything.” And they both went back to business. I started feeling panicky, reluctant to make a scene and start asking people if they had Halloween candy in their purses. I live in Virginia in a town that is divided 50/50 in this election and you could seriously feel the tension in the air. It made me feel the opposite of warm and fuzzy and I didn’t want to ask anything of anyone.
But, I was starting to get really foggy. All I could think was, “Sysy, you idiot, get sugar! It’s important!” But what is it about when we’re low? Suddenly important things become the things we hesitate about the most.
The line moved along and we ended up near the entrance to the church’s kitchen. The three women behind me gently pushed me in there and helped me get some juice and a man ran over to me and gave me the chocolate chip cookie that he had just retrieved from his car. I wasn’t even aware others knew about my situation.
Eyes were on me and people encouraged me to “drink and eat!” so that they wouldn’t see me hit the floor. My blood sugar must have been really low at this point because everything was numb, especially my tongue.
After a few minutes I felt better and nervously laughed and said, “And they say people don’t help each other out anymore…”
Random comments from all around like “That’s right”, “We don’t have to agree to be united”, “People are people”, and “We’re just glad you’re ok” echoed around me and suddenly, the room didn’t feel like such a divided place.
A woman across the line said to me, “We don’t need to agree on what President to have to support each other.”
And I hate to admit it because of my cheese intolerance but that felt real warm and fuzzy.
How interesting is it that children with a type 1 diabetic parent think certain non-normal things are indeed, normal?
When I stop and think about it, as I sometimes do thanks to comments and questions from others, I think, “Wow, this explains so much about so many people”.
What’s normal to us can be totally not normal or acceptable and yet, if we’re used to it, it’s our normal.
For my kids, who are now almost 3.5, having a mother with type 1 diabetes is what’s normal. And yet, they also know it’s not normal. They know through experience of their own scraped and bruised knees, that when I prick my finger and bleed, or bruise my stomach with an injection, that it’s not normal because they know it hurts to bleed and bruise.
It’s fascinating to me. They see me check my blood sugar and they give me a hug and an “aw mama, boo-boo?” I say, “yes, but I’m ok.” My daughter says, “Ok, mama” and my son gives me a thumbs up and a smile.
I think it’s a great teaching experience to let them see that sometimes I hurt but that I don’t let it get me down. I find that even though they can be dramatic about a small injury, they still smile and say “I’m ok”. And that’s what I do when I prick my finger or give a shot or clean up spilled milk.
My kids understand that my insulin and glucose tablets are “medicine”. Some don’t want their kids to think of their insulin as medicine because it implies “sickness” but only one of my kids has taken an antibiotic before-and that was two years ago, so they don’t know what “medicine” really is anyway.
Right now my daughter has a cold and she looks on at her brother’s drawing on the easel as I check my blood sugar. She says, “mama ok?” I say, “yes, mama’s ok!” (Even though my blood sugar is a little higher than I’d like). She sneezes and grabs a tissue for her runny nose. I say, “Are you ok?” She sneezes, wipes her nose, grins, and twirls on one foot. I assume that’s a “yes”.
Uh oh, now my son sneezed.
Have a Fabulous Friday with your kid/partner/friend/niece/nephew/dog/cat.
Sex and diabetes can go together, I’ve learned, but I’ll be the first to admit there are unique challenges involved. These were mostly private ruminations that I assumed were not common or normal until last year when I attended the Diabetes Sisters Conference for Women and was present at a discussion about the topic in a room full of nothing but women.
Then the truth came out.
Women were saying things like, “I know I’m low when 20 minutes has passed and I’m not getting anywhere” and “I’m tired of the monthly infections!” and “How can I increase…ya know, moisture?” All the while, many other women nodded their heads in solemn agreement.
So I thought, “Oh, it’s the diabetes”.
Now this does not mean that if someone has diabetes that sex will be any different than if they didn’t have diabetes. It just means that it’s likely that having diabetes will present a few tricky challenges in this department.
I’m not going to go on making some of you squeamishly uncomfortable but I will say that there is no shame in learning more about this subject. In fact, it’s commendable because we know that in a relationship, sex IS important and the quality aspect absolutely matters.
So, I’d like to recommend the book, Sex and Diabetes, by Janis Rozler, RD, CDE, LDN and Donna Rice, MBA, BSN, RN, CDE. All those random letters means they are professionals ;)
I actually got to hear Janis Rozler speak a few months ago. She was awesome. She understands what worries are going on in our heads and her attitude is a very empowered one that is infectious and encourages us to work on our issues with sex in relation to diabetes because it’s worth it!
Anyway, the book pleasantly surprised me. It made me laugh, it touched on emotional intimacy, it shared interesting historic romance tidbits such as Cleopatra and Anthony’s relationship. (Talk about a power couple!)
The book gives a lot of practical information and tips such as how to talk to your doctor about issues and how to keep your body healthy. It even shares information on supplements such as which are helpful and which are scams. The book also dives into some awesome relationship communication techniques that I really appreciated.
Sex and Diabetes goes into topics for women and for men and with an open, friendly tone and makes the point that there are many ways to work to make sex and intimacy better. On that note, I love how sex and intimacy are not separated in this book. The authors focus on sex in a meaningful relationship because only then can two people really work around any diabetes related challenges they may encounter. And while there are challenges, there are solutions. Indeed there are, and this book covers them all.
Great job, ladies.
You can buy the book here.
It’s 1:30 am and I’m waiting for my blood sugar to come down. To spend my time constructively I’ve just composed a cover of that Beatles song…
I look at the time
Hear the clock tick and tocking
while my husband loudly snores
I wait for my blood
to stop being so sweet now
while my husband loudly snores
I don’t know whyyy, he snores so loudly
How can he breathe?
I don’t know howww, to make him stop it
I think I’m going to scream
I look at his mouth
watch his chest rise and falling
while my husband loudly snores
my blood sugar’s there
where I want it to be now
but still my husband loudly snores…
I take care of myself for my husband and children. For my parents, brothers, sisters, and friends. For my extended family and friends composed of the DOC. Last but not least I take care of myself for me.
Have a fabulous Friday everyone!
Remember, love and respect yourself and the rest will follow.