Free eBook Shares Diabetes Diagnosis Stories

ebook-type1-cover-200x270

The online diabetes magazine A Sweet Life has put together two great eBooks you can download for free.  They are each a compilation of inspirational diabetes diagnosis stories but one shares stories from people with type 1 diabetes and the other, type 2 diabetes.

My story is one of the stories in the type 1 diabetes eBook.

It was an honor to share it and I thank A Sweet Life for doing this and offering it to the DOC for free.

If you haven’t checked out A Sweet Life, do so today-it’s full of seriously handy information and a source for excellent opinion articles by a number of people with diabetes.  In fact, I’d say the site is one of the DOC’s best kept secrets.  Check it out and have a great one!

XOXO

Who Forgets Their Diaversary?

423068_323747531015717_831328798_n

Me, that’s who.

November 4th marked my 18 years with diabetes.

This year, more than ANY OTHER YEAR, I’ve felt much like I did the year I was diagnosed as an 11 year old.  I feel confident, strong, melancholy, and hopeful.  That’s exactly how I remember feeling that year.  Things got worse after the first year when the realities of diabetes hit me and I rebelled.  But then things started to get better, when I began to shift my way of thinking and viewing the world.  And now I’ve come back around full circle so to speak, to the place where that young child lives in me, hoping, yearning for as much as I can make of this life.  And unwilling to back down.

If you don’t feel confident or hopeful, consider that I spent many years not feeling this way, too.  But consider that everything can change if you want it.  Just take a baby step in that direction.  And know that you can get to a happy place with diabetes.  I can still hardly believe it’s true.

18 years and counting!

The Polls in VA Weren’t So Bad

282254_421619754561827_1588874621_n

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.

Being Bad

524255_392165664173903_1879058368_n

Some people are perfectionists.  I have a little of that.  As a result, I beat myself in the head with thoughts having to do with self improvement and practice makes perfect and try again until it’s right and so on.

Because of this tendency I find that I can easily go to extremes.  About losing weight, I have a hard time keeping reasonable thinking like, “I want to lose 5 pounds.”  Instead it’s “I want to be thin like I was at age 10”.  Or instead of thinking “I need to eat more vegetables” I may think, “I’m going to eat nothing but vegetables from now on until the end of time”.

I don’t actually stick to those extremes thank goodness, but it’s a nagging tendency that isn’t healthy and certainly not comfortable.

Something I learned at IIN, where I graduated recently, was to sometimes “be bad”.  Not go-to-jail bad, but stop-striving-for-unobtainable-perfection bad.

So I’ve found that when I get wrapped up in thinking that I will never eat another bite of anything unhealthy again, I plan for a night with a little ice cream.

Or recently, I got myself some clove cigars that I really like and have one when I’m feeling like all the “right” choices are kind of stifling me with boredom.

It’s hard to try to be “good” or “compliant” all the time and with pretty well managed diabetes, that’s what it feels like.  I mean, I give insulin to bring down a 130.  To me, that kind of control is worth it, I truly believe so, but to balance all that I sometimes sleep in my makeup, smoke the occasional cigar, skip a shower, or read the Fifty Shades Trilogy (yes, I read that marvelous piece of literary crap.  In three days.  My world stopped for a week.  Don’t worry about me I’ve recovered.  Team Matt Bomer!).

Being “bad” reminds me to chill.  It also makes me realize that if my idea of being bad is sleeping in my makeup, then I think I’m going to be ok.

What about you?  What do you do to be bad?

National Diabetes Awareness Month 2012

196483_421620204561782_678391208_n

It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month.  And what are we going to do about it?  There are so many ways to pitch in and I’ll be trying to pass the word as I hear about it.  But first, I want to appeal to those out there possibly asking themselves the question, “What’s the use?”

First off, I understand.  I mean, as a society we’re also trying to cure a bunch of other devastating diseases so sometimes it feels overwhelming trying to fight for one’s own plight.  Even though I’m doing ok with my diabetes as of 11am this morning (it’s always subject to change, I’m aware of that), others have had loved ones die, depression, financial difficulties and other huge challenges to handle alongside their diabetes.  So I want to advocate not just for myself as a person with diabetes, but for all those who are struggling immensely and paying high interests for it.  Not to mention all their loved ones.

Secondly, diabetes researchers have given us very compelling statements about how close to a cure we are.  They say the main factor between us and our cure is in our wallets.  Now if you’re like me, your wallet is more decorative these days than anything else but just knowing that possibility is a strong push for me to think “Ok, how can I advocate for diabetes and get more money to the researchers?”

The clock is ticking for all of us and will soon be ticking for many more who will be diagnosed this month.

So again, It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month and what are we going to do about it?  Just pick one way in which you personally can help.  No matter how small, your help is a big deal.

In fact, start by doing the Big Blue Test.  And stay tuned for more info.

XOXO

Sysy

Travel and Diabetes Ramblings with a Stranger

387553_257602214296916_458751404_n

One of my favorite places in the world is the airport.  I knew early on the significance of such a place having moved from another continent to this one as a young child.  The airport is like a revolving door of possibilities and opportunities literally flying in and out all day in the most organized fashion we can manage.  Each trip to and from an airport includes new sights and faces.  Each trip holds a little mystery and anticipation.  In an airport we’re forced to be patient.  We’re forced to have faith in others, namely the pilot of the plane.  We’re forced to sit still and be one with our thoughts and observations.

It’s so healthy.

It’s true that frequent travelers tend to dash about, mindlessly hooked to their device of choice, but I think even they must feel much of the same.

The other day as I checked my blood sugar on the plane I noticed how uncomfortable it made the older man next to me.  So I started talking.  I explained what I was doing and why.  I shared the results, “141, I’ll take it!”  The man looked out the window and let out a deep breathe.  He said, “So many people have diabetes.  It’s going to ruin our country.”

“If we let it”, I said.

“Well, I’m glad you seem to be taking care of yourself but what about everyone else?  Why can’t people just eat better and exercise?”

I went into clarifying some myths and misconceptions about diabetes while the man listened intently.  Then I said, “I wish we could bring everyone out on a trip somewhere and educate them all about diabetes and health here in the airport.”

The man laughed out loud and furrowed his brow at me.  “Oh?  Why at an airport?”

“I don’t know, just seems like a good place for all sorts of educational metaphors to really click.”

“Oh? Tell me more.” he said.

“Ok…well, just as with travelling, living life with diabetes is full of possibilities and opportunities.  In fact, every morning we get to face a new day with blood sugars that haven’t happened yet and strive to make the best of them.  Each day we have the power to choose what we are going to do with our health, you know, what we’ll eat, whether we’ll exercise or not, and how we’ll approach challenges.  We can get organized with our lifestyle habits and diabetes management routine for better, more consistent results.  We can choose to take inspiration and support from everything around us, from the people we encounter to the day’s weather.  We can learn to accept the risks of living with diabetes and not let them slow us down just as we choose to get on a plane so we can go somewhere even if we’re scared to do so.  We can learn to handle anticipation so we can move past unsightly blood sugar results.  We can learn how being patient doesn’t mean we have to wait forever and that eventually, we’ll get where we’re going.  We can learn how to trust others and ourselves to do the best we all can.  I just feel like the airport is a peaceful and safe place for learning, I don’t know.”

The man stared blankly at me for a moment and then scratched his head.  Then he laughed again and said, “And on the plane, we go over how to bring up diabetes with strangers by testing blood sugar in front of them.  Then they can ask questions, be educated, and hopefully feel compassion and understanding and spread that around.”

“See?  It would totally work!”

In between chuckles the man said, “It did, today.”

Denial

553629_366998486690621_1160314269_n

We’re so good at it.  All of us.  Or most of us, anyway.

I just read an article in Oprah’s magazine about a woman who has worked as a teacher and a life coach.  She mentioned that she witnessed art students being instructed to draw straight lines and circles for the longest time.  And even though they felt frustrated about such a beginner task, she noticed they rarely saw the imperfection of their circles and straight lines.

Now that she works as a life coach, she helps clients accept the flaws in their life.

I was reminded how denial is our way of procrastinating on the fear and discomfort and shame we feel when we confront the truth about ourselves and our situations in life.

The thing is, those unpleasant feelings dissipate really quickly once we see truth, accept it, and act on it.

The most healing thing I’ve ever experienced is acting on the truth.  Only, the first thing to do before acting on truth is realizing it and accepting it.  Doing that made the right actions possible in the first place.

And the right actions bring the right results.

I have always noticed how people will genuinely believe in a false truth and will act on that and then wonder why they aren’t getting the results or outcome they want.  And the trust is we can put 110% of effort into the wrong actions and get nowhere.  This feels unfair but it’s just the way the world works.

It’s absolutely crucial to be brutally honest with ourselves about why we’ve gained weight, about why we’re lonely, about why we are financially tight, and about why our blood sugars aren’t where we want them.

Only then can we take the correct steps towards improving our situation.  And only then do we experienced the sense of peace that brings a full acceptance of our reality.  Our reality really isn’t that bad when we look at it.  It’s more the thought of it that’s scary.

Look at an area of your life you want to improve and sit by yourself for a few minutes.  Be really honest with yourself about why things are the way they are.  Cry, scream, let out your feelings.  And then meet them with a plan that’s full of clarity and hope.  Be really specific about your plan and layout steps for the next month, week, and day.  You’ll feel better when you’ve done this, I promise.

This is something I help clients with in my health coaching.  Because sometimes we just need some support.  Nothing wrong with that.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Housework

541542_392109464179523_999176681_n

I buy a quart of juice each week and the kids get a few drops of it in their cup of water so that it’s flavored.  We went to a local university to enjoy the nice fall weather recently and when I realized that I forgot to buy glucose tablets, I just packed that unopened quart of juice in the car for any emergencies.

Earlier that same day, my parents let me know they were stopping by.  I took a look around me and knew  I’d have to speed clean in order to make the house presentable.  So I whipped the kitchen, living room, and guest bathroom into shape in 30 minutes.  This is something that would have normally taken me 2 hours.

I was sweating after it all and almost out of breathe (not sure what that says about me).

And a little after that is when we went out to walk.  And that’s when I was thankful for that entire quart of juice I packed in the car.  I needed every last drop totaling 96 grams of carbs.  Two hours later I was 83 and in desperate need to pee.

I think this was a great reminder for me.  When I ponder choosing between a workout and cleaning the house, why not combine the two?  One and the same if you move quickly and deliberately.

What about you?  Do you get lows during or after housework?

We’re OK!

559641_328758453847958_482784188_n

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.

Health Based, Not Weight Based

540945_392165640840572_423303118_n

 

I’ve been learning more about obesity and how it appears to increase the risk for disease.  Key word there is “appears”.  But before I get into that, I think we’d all agree that it’s just obvious that obesity negatively affects health in some ways.  Some obese people can go decades with excellent blood panels and be otherwise healthy, but the extra weight can lead to obstructive sleep apnea and osteoarthritis.

In my nutrition studies I heard a lecture by Dr. Barry Sears where he underlined that obesity and disease are correlational and not necessarily causational.  In other words, obesity is present in a large number of those with disease but we can’t prove if it’s the obesity causing the disease or if the two just happen at the same time.

Studies in the near future should really make this area more clear to us.

In the meantime, this information, coupled with this country’s weight obsession and the fact that people assume a person is healthy simply by looking at their weight, should really change the way we approach health.

I wrote recently about the law of attraction.  When we as a society focus on fixing obesity, you know what we are collectively doing?  We are focusing on obesity.  Instead of focusing on health.  Some would argue that a focus on reducing obesity is a focus on health.  But essentially it’s not because as humans, we look for the quickest solution to our problems and a focus on obesity means we focus on things like a reduction in calories, low fat, low sugar, foods that promise to reduce weight, products that promise to help us reduce the pounds, etc.  Food marketers are pretty smart and have zeroed in on our thoughts and have created a billion products just for us.  And the majority of these products are full of the very substances that caused us our problems in the first place.

What if we focused on a health based approach?  Instead of screening people on their BMI, what if we took their blood pressure and conducted blood tests for their hormones, blood sugar, lipids, and white blood cell count?  Not only would this help many thin people suffering from fatty liver disease and high cholesterol and early stages of cancer, but it would send our society the message that just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy and just because you’re fat, it doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy.

Obesity can’t be too comfortable.  Physically, it feels nice to have a weight that doesn’t make it difficult to breathe or move.  But, I fear it’s extremely uncomfortable because of society’s view of obesity.  We’re so advanced right?  And yet, future generations are going to shake their heads in pitiful disbelief when they read about how we treated fat people.  Not to mention how we were willing to assume and judge before truly understanding.

I was generally pleased that Michelle Obama has been highlighting childhood obesity and yet I’ve always felt like the mark was missed.  Now I know how I feel about the initiative.  Hearts are in the right place but the approach is based on weight when it should be based on health and society’s access to the basic components of health.  Right now, more than ever, we need to teach our children about real foods and healthy habits without calling them fat (honestly, if I was a large kid, that would depress me).  We don’t need them to get on some chemical laden “nutritional” diet drink.  We need to work to provide all areas in our country with fresh, affordable food, proper nutritional information, and perhaps teach the basics of food and cooking in schools, rather than teach people how less calories equals less weight gain.  Who in their right mind is going to say, “Yes, I feel empowered now that I know I just need to eat less and move more.”  Obese people have fat cells that work differently than other people’s.  Their cells literally make them feel hungry, very often.  And as I’ve said before and will say again, who will endure hunger indefinitely when they don’t have to?  Who other than someone with an illness, such as an anorexic?

With all this focus on the extra weight issue, we’re avoiding making the message really straightforward and we’re avoiding doing the right things to increase our nation’s health.  We don’t want our congressmen, those who can change crucial laws, to think, “Ok, so we’re trying to get the obese people to adopt a healthy lifestyle…check.”  No, we need them to see the true challenges that many thin and not so thin people have when it comes to eating healthy.  How about subsidizing fruits and vegetables for starters, eh?  Maybe then people’s cells could get the nutrients they need and would stop asking for so much food?

Obesity and it’s links to type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, fatty liver disease, etc, are very complex.  Let’s respect that fact so that we can respect those who are being stigmatized-the very thing we all hate to happen to us.  And let’s focus on the actions that will actually help us.  Checking out our insides instead of our outsides only and helping people make better lifestyle choices because they want to be healthy, not because they want to be thin.   I don’t think it will happen with our overemphasis on “you’re too big”.

I didn’t lose weight by thinking I was too big and needed to drop weight, by the way.  I did that for years and only got bigger.  I lost weight by getting into the habit of thinking, “I’m beautiful, I matter, and I want to learn how to take care of myself”.

It’s time for our country to adopt a health based approach.  One where self love isn’t a joke or an ego driven ideal but a standard for treatment starting with oneself and extending to all others.

Copyright © 2016. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.