Category Archives: Just For Women

How Diabetes Affects the Way I Look

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I think I’m an appropriate person to write this post because I’ve always been a little too vain.  I blame that on the fact that as a child when people asked me where I was born and I said “Venezuela” they’d be like, “Oh so you’re supposed to be pretty, right?  Because that’s where all the Miss Universe winners are from.”  And thus began my preoccupation with getting my hair right and freaking out over a few extra pounds so as not to disappoint the general public.  It didn’t help that when I gained five pounds as a teenager, non immediate family from Venezuela was like, “wow, you’re fat!”  Our curvy is their fat, go figure.  Don’t forget, they do call the Brazilian Victoria’s Secret models “curvy”.  Curvy my…

Anyway here goes my list of things that I think can at least be partly attributed to my having type 1 diabetes and having struggled with it.  If I’m being honest and I am:

I’ve got very dry skin.  So dry in fact, that I need lots and lots of lotion and my skin just sort of soaks it up like a lizard.  I soak up Eucerin and Aquaphor for crying out loud.  Oh and high quality lotion is not cheap, mind you.

I have a few extra pounds thanks to insulin which is rather difficult to manage perfectly and thus I use more than a person who doesn’t have to use this type of therapy and it causes a little extra weight gain.  This means I have to be very meticulous in carb counting and I have to exercise a little more than someone else.  It’s a bummer, a real bummer.

I have scars that probably would be invisible had there never been any diabetes.  Of course, it’s true that diabetes that is well controlled doesn’t cause anything, but most of us, at some point, go through a challenging time of not-so-well-managed diabetes and it does cause some things.  I have been fairly active during my life with diabetes and as a result have a good number of ugly scars.  I do like one of them though because it reminds me of a glorious moment during a soccer match.  But there are others like his one on my knee that happened in front of teammates when I ran into a chain I didn’t see in the dark which swung me to the ground causing me to scrape my knee-and confidence on a sharp rock.

My hair is thinner and maybe this has nothing to do with diabetes but I lost a lot during the years of high A1c’s and now that my A1c’s are no longer high, I don’t lose more than the normal amount.  So either it’s a coincidence or it was the diabetes and the not so well managed time I had with it.  I remain suspicious.

I have a lot of broken capillaries but I don’t know if this is diabetes related or not.  However, I’m well aware that diabetes affects the micro vascular and therefore…doesn’t this implicate the capillaries?  This one really bothers me.  My type 1 sister Ana has nothing of the sort and the most beautiful skin and we’ve had type 1 the same number of years so I’ll blame those bad years I had with diabetes and my genes on this one.

Diabetes doesn’t have to affect the way a person looks but, I’ve found that it usually does to some extent.  Dry mouth, chapped lips, fatigue induced slump, the possibilities are endless and can challenge our dignity as fabulous people.  Sometimes when nothing else motivates me to take care of my blood sugars I find I can rely on a persistent nagging vanity.  Hey, I’m only human.

It seems a bit like pouring salt on a wound to talk about this out loud but you know what?  It’s kind of liberating!  And you know that I do this with humor and jest, no?  I find that poking fun at myself makes me relax and not take myself so darn seriously.  Anyway now that I got that out of the way I can think about all the great things I’ve been blessed with.  Like strong legs and freckles and golden brown eyes.

Ultimately, this is my point of all this.  You make sure to do the same next time you’re seeing all the negative.  I know.  It happens.  And it’s ok.  Just move on to the good stuff.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Book Review: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes

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Today for Fabulous Friday where we celebrate and encourage self love and respect, I want to review a book I read recently.

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes is written by Amy Stockwell Mercer, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting earlier this year at the Diabetes Sisters Conference.  Upon meeting her, I was struck by what a great listener and empathetic person she was.  Then I found out she was coming out with this book and got the opportunity to read it.  Here is my honest review:

Aside from great advice on many aspects of life with diabetes, this book is often a compilation of different voices, gathered and arranged by Amy, into topics such as Eating and Motherhood and Exercise.  The result, I found, was a chicken soup for the diabetic woman’s soul.  Amy talks a lot about her own experience with type 1 diabetes all throughout the book and adds the separate perspectives of many other women with diabetes from all walks of life.

I was particularly surprised by how emotional I became while reading this book.  I wasn’t expecting this at all.  This book portrays the honest and open feelings and thoughts of women struggling with diabetes and since I’m struggling with diabetes, I couldn’t help but relate and find comfort in the fact that I certainly am not alone.

I also became very aware of some repressed emotions about my experience with diabetes.  For example, I read about women who have struggled with eating disorders and realized that although I have never skipped insulin or thrown up, I have had a very intense and harsh internal battle with myself about the weight gain I experienced after my diabetes diagnosis.  I realized that even now, I still have some unhealthy tendencies that I need to work on.  There is advice found throughout the book that is gentle and practical and truly helpful in the area of eating and all the other topics the book covers.  I imagine that for other women with diabetes, this book could help surface some emotions that need to be properly acknowledged and dealt with.  Don’t be afraid of this, it’s a natural step forward towards healing and feeling better.

I saw someone on Facebook ask why a book would focus on women with diabetes.  I think the answer is obvious.  We menstruate, can get pregnant, go through menopause, and society puts unique pressures on us as women.  This book speaks to us individually through the candid and often funny perspectives of different women with diabetes.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book and appreciate Amy’s hard work, honesty, and willingness to wear her heart on her sleeve.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to recognize some truths in me and another solid truth:  that I’m NOT alone with diabetes.  While our experiences are our own, it doesn’t mean someone out there doesn’t get it.  I curled up on the couch with this book, sipped tea, and felt like I was totally understood by girlfriends.  It was really nice :)

You can get the book here.

A Type 1’s Decision Not to Have Children

Being a type 1 and open to pregnancy was a decision I didn’t take lightly or without many tears of worry.  It’s a personal decision and whether a woman does or doesn’t choose to have children, the emotional turmoil and heartache involved definitely exists.  Today, I’m so grateful to have my friend and fellow type 1 diabetic, Stacey Divone guest post.  She blogs at The Girl with the Portable Pancreas, is married to Joe, has had type 1 for almost 30 years , and she has decided not to have children.  In keeping with our Fabulous Friday topic of self love and respect, I asked her to write about her decision and a heartfelt and honest post from her is what follows.

Stacey and Joe

Diabetes. It’s something that was once, a very long time ago, a death sentence. And although the tools available to monitor glucose levels has improved dramatically, the risk of complications still exist.

Pregnancy. It’s something that crosses the mind of every women in one way or another. That’s one of the reasons women were put on this earth; to bear children.  Even the pregnancies of the healthiest women carry some risk of complications.

Diabetes + pregnancy. It’s not always an ugly equation. Healthy babies are born to diabetic mothers all the time.  However, putting two risky elements together, change the entire decision making process.

As if there wasn’t already a ton of effort involved in managing diabetes on a daily basis, that effort doubles or even triples while working to maintain a healthy pregnancy.  The endless testing, carb counting, insulin dose adjustments, logging, doctor visits, worrying.   For 40 weeks.  I’ve been doing those things to some extent for almost 30 years.  But the life or well being of a child growing inside me has not been dependent on it. It has been a great challenge for me to get my a1c below 7.  It has only happened twice that I remember in recent years.  My body has been through a lot in my diabetic life.  And so has my mind.   Also the prime child bearing age has begun to slip away from me. We are not in any way resolving to the old fashioned theory that women with diabetes cannot have children.  But to stretch the stress even further, especially since complications are beginning to creep into the picture for me, is something that neither Joe nor I want to put me through.  It may feel like the right decision for us but it certainly wasn’t an easy one. Or one to be happy about.  I can’t help but wonder if it weren’t for diabetes, if I would have a child. Or two. I can’t help but feel like I’m robbing my husband of fatherhood.

Yes, there are other options for having a child that doesn’t involve a pregnancy. But there are a ton of different pains endured with those as well.  Adoption is a long, exhausting process that entails spending a significant amount of money with the possibility of repeated heartache. Surrogacy is a very complex situation that requires money as well as an indefinable trust with someone outside your marriage. These are not effortless options.  Nor are they realistic for everyone.

It’s painful to know I’ll probably never be a mother.  It hurts when I hear of new pregnancies.   Especially from diabetic friends. It’s upsetting to be surrounded by friends and family with all their children; hard not to feel like an outcast.  But I try to remember the good things of being childless. I can spoil my nieces and nephew without having to actually support them. Joe and I can plan a night out or vacation any time we want. I worry about when I get home from work to be with my husband but not stressing about picking up a child by a certain time. I can focus on my diabetes management. I can sleep.  These are the things I remind myself of when it gets hard to accept.  And treasure the time that I get to spend with Joe.

Having a baby changes everything.  For everyone.  But if the bad changes can possibly outweigh the good ones, I don’t think it’s wrong to want to avoid that.

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Thank you so much, Stacey.  I really appreciate you sharing this with us.  Can anyone else relate?

Welcome to Fabulous Fridays

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We women are something else.  We often try to do it all and be it all.  We often put our partners and children first, our families and friends and jobs first, and worry a lot over a billion different things each day.  And it’s no wonder.  I think today more than ever, we’re expected to work, raise children, keep a house, be a great host, be interesting, stay fit, do what we love, cook a knock-out meal, and look glamorous all the while.  It’s not realistic, it’s too much, and I don’t know about you but even before I had kids, I found myself cracking a little underneath the pressure to be so many things.

I felt a lot of relief when I put more focus on self love.  For many, the concept of self love seems quite selfish.  The idea however, is that we appreciate ourselves for who we are.  This includes embracing the good and the bad-yes even the bad, because that’s the only way to take care of the dark parts of ourselves and allow the light to triumph.  This means we can be honest about who we are and who we are not and become more aligned with our true selves.  And that means we can stop feeling so much pressure to be everything.

Personally, I’m on a journey to come to terms with who I am and am not and so far it’s been liberating.  Doing this reveals our authentic self and the more I do that, the more people are accepting of me.  They’re like, “Oh yeah, this is YOU!”  Because our authentic self shines through whereas our fake or undiscovered self always seems a little off or a little lost.

Ana and I will be supporting your path to self love each Friday by posting a short story, a picture, a quote, a fun tip, a question, a product we can’t live without, or an interview, etc.  But it will all focus on you and your path, or rather, our journey, to fully loving and accepting the fabulous women we already are.  I think that’s ultimately our key to the health, happiness, and joy we seek.

So thanks for reading and stay tuned!

XOXO

My Interview on Being a Mother with Type 1 Diabetes

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The lovely Ginger Vieira interviewed me on being a mother with type 1 diabetes.  I’d love it if you went over to her website to check it out :)

Click here to read it.

Have a great Wednesday!

Diabetes Sisters Conference San Diego 2011

Happy Friday!  Pheww! It’s been a long week.  It’s the perfect time to think about doing something relaxing or fun.  It’s the perfect time to consider looking into attending the upcoming Diabetes Sisters Conference in San Diego this October 7th-9th!

I attended the Raleigh Conference early this Spring and had a great time.  I made some new friends, I heard amazing speakers, and I got lots of important information and motivation.  What’s special about the Diabetes Sisters Conference?  It’s women only.  It’s focused on our unique challenges as women with diabetes.  It’s also all inclusive.  If you have type 1, 2, LADA, Gestational, whatever type of diabetes you have doesn’t matter.  Founder, Brandy Barnes has maintained a lovely idea of solidarity amongst the organization underneath the fact that we all have diabetes and are all women-and that is a lot in common.

Here is my recap about the weekend when I got back home.

And here is information on the upcoming San Diego conference and all the details you need.

Consider attending if you can.  It’s seriously a special thing when women get together to celebrate, learn, and support each other on topics unique to them.  After all, men don’t exactly know what it’s like to experience pms, pregnancy, or menopause, do they?  :)

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