Tag Archives: Diabetes and relationships

My Favorite App is a Mood and Period Tracker

I struggled with the title for this post. I wanted to call it “You Need This App!” but I imagined people would then start reading and be discouraged by the surprise theme of menstruation on a diabetes blog. However, I am certainly talking about a mood and period tracker app and it really is my favorite app.  It has improved my well-being.  It has helped my relationship with my husband.  It’s got an alienating and cheesy name-are you ready for it?  “Hormonescope”.  Look beyond that and let me explain.

We women know all too well that in the days leading up to our period, our hormone levels change.  What I have learned is that they fluctuate all month long and these fluctuations are legitimate motivators to our changing moods and behavior.  I got this app last year and quickly realized that each day, when I read what was going on with my body and why, I could easily be more in control of my day(s).

This app tracks you from the starting date of your last period and then gives you a daily “hormonescope” that is not ridiculous at all but based on science.  I decided to test it out by writing down how I was feeling each day and then reading my information for the day.  What I found was that when I was feeling more sensitive to pain, the app knew about it.  When I was feeling like a homebody, the app knew about it.  When I was feeling like dressing up and wearing lipstick, the app knew about it.  When I was about to become almost irrational with my emotions, the app knew about it.  In other words, the science was well researched to generally describe what our hormones do throughout the month and when they would do it and how that translates into typical behavior.

What about those people with irregular schedules?  Well, usually, that would be me.  For the last few years, I have normally been between 3-10 days late each month.  This app helped me with this by keeping me aware of my irregular cycle.  Combined with information about how to increase overall health, I used this awareness to motivate me to eat healthier, exercise more consistently, reduce sugar, stay away from soy, keep my blood sugars consistent, and to constantly work on stress management.  I have always had pretty terrible menstrual cramps that have diminished with better eating and exercise.  I spent the last three months working hard at my healthy habits and just had a cycle that included none of my typical cramps, nor ovarian and breast cyst swelling and pain, smoother moods, and an on time predictable schedule. It was heaven.  I’ve heard of women having this kind of cycle and I thought it would never happen to me.  I feel very much supported by this admittedly simple app and the daily dose of information it shares.

I also struggle with depression and anxiety and this app has helped me with that, too. When estrogen and progesterone start to drop about a week before our period, gloominess and worry can set in.  But what if you got a hint each day of what to expect with your hormones and behavior?  In the days leading up to menstruation, I used to get into a terrible depressed mood and be lost in my weary haze, always slightly unsure if I would ever crawl out.  Now, because I have a heads up and a reassurance that nature will help reverse the mood  in a few days, I work through this hard time of the month much better than ever before.  I drink herbal teas, wear loose clothing, and cut myself slack when it comes to chores and things that have to get done.

This app has also helped my relationship with my husband.  It has been hard on him to lose a generally happy and loving wife for about 10 days every month to extreme mood changes.  This app hasn’t just increased my understanding of what is going on with me, it has increased his understanding of what goes on with me.  “Oh, you aren’t crazy, it’s your hormones!”  Just kidding, he has never said that.  It also helps give him insight into how he can support me during that time.  I appreciate when he plans an outing out with the kids on one of the days I really need it, for example.  And I think he appreciates not having to freak out over my sudden crying at sappy animal commercials.   It’s also a bonus to be aware and take advantage of “sexy days”, days when hormones support the mood being just right.

There have been days when I feel like I can tackle a big project and the app knew about it.  I have felt like “a genius!” and the app knew about that, too.  (Too bad that doesn’t last more than a day or two) I no longer guilt myself on the few days I eat more than normal or the feelings of wanting to stay at home and chill with a book.  I jump up and embrace social outings on the days my body and brain are feeling more friendly and chatty and outgoing.  I deep clean the house when energy is up and cook simple and easy foods, otherwise known as microwave meals when it’s really low.

I never thought I’d rave about this kind of app but, it has brought me tremendous value and I recommend it to any woman who menstruates or any human who wants to better understand and support a woman who menstruates.  Just now I read my “hormonescope” for the day and it mentions that with progesterone and estrogen on a gentle rise after a previous dip, I’m supposedly feeling more creative flow and introspection but am physically jumbling my words so writing is a perfect thing to do today.  Voila.

Get it here!

“Sex and Diabetes” Book Review

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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.

Interview with Husband about Marriage and Diabetes Part 2

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You can laugh at the picture.  We’re goofy like that.

Here I interview my husband, Alex for the second time since this interview.  Last time we had just been married a year and this time, since more time has passed, I ask harder questions.  Alex is kind of like one of my heroes- Honest Abe Lincoln and so he answered truthfully here.  And I have to be honest and say it stung a little.  Luckily, love and friendship soothes this kind of pain as well as the knowledge that knowing, at least for me, is always more empowering than not knowing.  My interjecting comments are italicized.

Interview with husband about marriage and diabetes:

If you describe me to someone, do you mention my diabetes?  Does it come up?

I say that you are beautiful and smart. That you are a great wife, mom and daughter. That you work from home writing for a health site. I also always mention your blog and yes, diabetes always comes up.  Diabetes is a big part of what makes you, you. Therefore, I cannot omit that from your description.

Aw shucks…:)

What’s the hardest thing about marriage?

Communication.

What’s the hardest thing about being married to me?

Communication.  A lot of times we’re not on the same page.

(Oh honey, tell me about it)

What’s the hardest thing about being married to a type 1 diabetic?

The worry.  The worry about seizures at night, low blood sugar when you’re with the kids, the future and the potential damage diabetes might cause you.  I have cousins, an uncle, a great aunt, a great grandfather who all died from type 1 or type 2 diabetes complications.

So you’ve seen what you hope is not in my future…

Yeah

Does intimacy get complicated by my diabetes?

Yes it does.  (Said much like a general confidently says “affirmative”) It increases your stress level, makes you more likely to be depressed and anxious, all of which affects your hormones.  Diabetes can help lead to secondary issues like your PCOS which causes you a lot of pain.  High blood sugars really affect you physically, too  Diabetes does a lot to this area.

Since we’re being honest…when I’m really happy with you I do make more effort to manage my blood sugars more.  Hint, hint.

What about my diabetes management could I change to make our marriage better?

You have a killer sweet tooth and it seems like your anxiety makes you dig into anything sweet that you buy sometimes and overdo it.  Then you don’t feel well, are mad at yourself for splurging, and then your mood is changed for the rest of the day.  You’re much happier when you don’t overdo sweets because your blood sugars are better but mostly because you are happy with yourself.

So true…so true…

What about my diabetes management would I have to change to make our marriage much more challenged?

Eat unhealthy and not exercise.  Your blood sugars do so well when you eat well and exercise.  And your self-esteem is great.

Do you think me having diabetes makes me somewhat less of a mother or wife?

NO. (said in an “are you crazy” kind of tone)

Does me having diabetes make it more difficult for you to communicate to me brutally honest things?

No, I just have that problem in general.

lol…yes amor, I know…

Do you ever pity me?

No, not pity, I feel compassion.  I wish you didn’t have this disease or that you had a chance to get rid of it.

Does me having type 1 diabetes somehow make our marriage better in any way?

It makes me more appreciative of good health and of life and it makes me a kinder person.  And I can see that you having type 1 will help our children be more compassionate about others who are different or who have any kind of challenge or something.

Do you take care of yourself more than you otherwise would if I didn’t have diabetes?  Why?

Good question…I think I eat healthier now but I’ve always wanted to take care of myself.  My reason for never drinking much soda wasn’t because I thought it was unhealthy, I never drank much because I didn’t like how it made me feel.  And I don’t like to think about it… but I also take care of myself more now because I feel like I should in case something happens to you later in life.

But I’m happy to do it.

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The Accidental Diabetes Social Experiment

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Many of us with diabetes try to make a point to others that the social ramifications of living with diabetes are issues in need of attention.  Yesterday, I was thinking about how true this is while travelling back in my mind over the last few years.

Let me explain.

Three years ago I was two months pregnant with twins and starting to deal with major nausea that lasted for 3 months.  It’s hard to go out and socialize when a twin pregnancy causes you to throw up and fight a blood sugar of 30 or 40 every other night.  Then my belly size became an issue along with dislocated vertebrae.  It was hard to walk or stand or sit comfortably.  Worry also plagued me and by the time my kids arrived, I had really lost contact with the outside world.

It’s ok you know, I don’t really regret it.  I was super focused on the tasks at hand:  Choose amongst a boy and a girl list of baby names, keep blood sugars near normal at all times, eat healthy, buy two of everything, stay calm, meditate, pray, wish on every star.

While I don’t regret it because my kids came out great, the reality is that I was living an experiment in isolation.  This obviously continued through one of the hardest times of my life where I was so busy and so weighed down with post partum depression and therefore didn’t see people except once a week at the grocery store.  You should have seen the look on people’s faces as they stood horrified as I chatted them up in the check out line as if we were long lost best friends.  People wondered why I didn’t just have people over to the house.  This was difficult because during the first 4 months after giving birth, I was pumping breast milk round the clock and dealing with painful mastitis and basically wandered around like a topless zombie.  I didn’t want to scar anyone for life, you know?  After that, I was dealing with such a severe exhaustion and crippling carpel tunnel and tendonitis that I couldn’t fathom having anyone except my family, see me in a such a pitiful state.  The last time people saw me I was looking my best at my wedding and honeymoon and to show my new, contorted self was seemingly unbearable.  Looking back, I know that worrying about this was silly and superficial but in the moment, I was suffering and stuck in a fog of sorts.

The socializing has gradually increased as managing two of the same age has become easier and now it’s left me to reflect.

This experience made me feel that managing diabetes was easier.  How?  Don’t we all do better with support?  I had plenty of support I think.  My husband Alex, my parents and siblings.  I even have a type 1 support in my family-my sister Ana.

But here is what I touched on when I reminisced:

-When I tested my sugar in the middle of an important office meeting, the thought would run through my mind, “Are they wondering if I can keep up with the demands of this job?”

-When I drank juice in the middle of class in college, people who had seen me test and give insulin would often exclaim, “OMG are you ok?”

-While eating out at a restaurant, I’d occasionally get strange looks from nearby eaters while I injected my insulin discretely at the table.

-In the middle of fun dancing at a club, I’d think, “I don’t want to put my fun on hold and test…should I test?  How’s my sugar?” sometimes resulting in high blood sugars afterwards and a good self-scolding.

.And so many more…

So while pregnant and spending all my time at home, my parent’s house, and the doctor’s office I realized I could relax more.  I kind of welcomed the break to do all of my diabetes things in private or amongst those who were used to it all.  I didn’t know I had been a little exhausted of feeling self-conscious all these years.  But I was.

I was tired of trying to smile at people when testing my sugar so that they wouldn’t give me the pitiful “awww” look.  I was tired of telling my concerned soccer coach that I needed “a minute” to get my blood sugar up.  I was tired of eating candy in class and wondering if people would think that my weekly candy or glucose tablets were the reason I was a little overweight.  I was tired of volunteering for every teacher who asked for help to prove to everyone that I was capable.  I was tired of being out in a group of people and being a verbal ninja trying to explain why it really was ok that I was eating a cookie.  I was tired of worrying that someone would see signs of my diabetes and suddenly change their opinion of me.

These last 3 years, I have rested.  I feel recouped and re-energized.  I have mostly healed the young child and teenager with diabetes who suffered more psychologically than physically.  I am more mature and have more willingness to advocate for those with my condition than I did as a child, teenager, and younger adult.  I know how to advocate for myself, too.  I am ready to get back out there and mingle again.

I’m a little scared because it’s been a while and diabetes and isolation makes the shy person a little more shy.  But, you know what?  I try to remember there are millions of us out there.  Millions of shy people and millions of people with diabetes.

Most likely, the person taking extra notice of me and my huge purse, medical alert bracelet, and speckled fingers is just curious or possibly thinking, “Oh wow, she has it, too”.

What Would We Do Without Them

 

Art by Ana Morales

 

My friend Reyna and parent of a child with type 1 diabetes wrote a short post yesterday about “Teamwork” illustrating how type 1 diabetes is a “family affair”-she is so right, it IS a family affair.  Thank goodness for our “type 3’s” who help carry the load.

The other night I was hit by surprise nausea.  I tested and saw a 95 on the meter.  I started feeling worse and worse by the second and knew that my blood sugar was most likely going to go lower.  Alex brought me 8 oz. of juice and 15 minutes later I was 93.

I felt that this nausea was going to end soon and crawled myself from the bed to in front of the toilet bowl, thankful that I had just cleaned it to a nice white sparkle.  Alex helped me clip my hair up and rubbed my back.  Dinner of salad greens and chicken was revisited.  Alex had the glucagon nearby- just in case and had glucose tablets and my meter ready.  Once I felt better I brushed my teeth, had a few glucose tabs, and got back in bed.

And later as I drifted off to sleep, thought about how I felt safe, knowing someone was looking out for me.

Thank goodness for our type 3’s.

Are We Choosing to Be Insulted?

Don’t be a squashed tomato, courtesy of Boaz Yiftach

 

When someone assumes something inaccurate about our diabetes, why are we often insulted? Does their ignorance lash out on us or is there something else causing most of the pain?

I believe we choose to be insulted. I’ve done it a thousand times and have eventually recognized the pain always comes from a place of insecurity, shame, guilt, or anger inside of me. I’ve always struggled at not taking things too personally and being too sensitive. I can’t control being sensitive but I’m slowly learning that I can control how I react to things. While I’ve been plenty insulted over all sorts of things, I haven’t really been insulted much about my diabetes. For example, when people have come up to me and said, ‘Maybe if you quit sugar, you’ll be cured?’ I am for some reason not the least bit insulted. I assume their level of ignorance on diabetes by this type of comment and depending on my given state at the time, I may be frustrated with their ignorance. I am never insulted though. I mean, we’re all ignorant when it comes to something. When we wrong someone else without meaning to, do we want them to be insulted? I prefer to be kindly corrected and avoid the attitude or anger that a person might lash out at my mistake.

Anytime someone insults us, we should recognize that we don’t have to feel insulted if we choose not to. It’s hard, obviously, but it’s the empowered thing to do. And we’re empowered people, aren’t we? When someone insults us, we are reacting to what they did or said or think of us. Our reaction is what causes our being insulted. So if we have enough confidence in ourselves and in what we’re doing and thinking, we can just react with indifference or with care and concern for a negative or ignorant person. If we don’t have confidence in what we do or think, maybe we should spend time reflecting on whether what we do and think is right in the first place.

The DOC is fabulous but would be even more so if we could all find our place of confidence and stand strongly with that. We may have diabetes but, we’re not victims.

Being Ok with Being Different

The road to health is often lonely  (Thanks to Renjith Krishnan for the image)

 

I often say that acceptance is the key to beginning to really manage one’s diabetes.  You have to work it, not fight it.  A part of accepting your diabetes is to accept the fact that you have to be different.  This, as you know, isn’t easy.  We humans like to follow each other, hang out together and do similar activities.  We feel comfortable and cozy this way.  So when it comes to those who best manage their diabetes, one thing I’ve noticed them doing is standing alone on many of the things they do.  They have the strength and confidence to do so.  Don’t you think?

Check out my post over at Diabetes Care Club about Being Ok with Being Different.

Thanks for reading and have a great Saturday!

Wednesday Revisit: Dating and Diabetes; When Do You Tell Someone You Have Type 1 Diabetes?

Courtesy of Graur Razvan Ionut

Courtesy of Graur Razvan Ionut

 

I wrote about this because I had just gotten married a year before and the experience of dating culminating in a lifelong commitment inspired me to reach out to others in their dating era. One of the top search prompts that leads people over to this blog has to do with dating and diabetes and you’d be surprised how many guys pop over here trying to figure out if they should date a girl with diabetes or if they themselves having diabetes, should tell their prospective dates that they have it. This is my opinion cut from my own experience.  Feel free to disagree.

Originally posted August 3rd, 2009

Dating and Diabetes; When Do You Tell Someone You Have Type 1 Diabetes?

Lessons from the DOC

 
 
Thanks to Michael Marcol for the photo

Thanks to Michael Marcol for the photo

 

Last Day of Diabetes Blog Week

What we’ve learned – Sunday 5/15: Last year, Wendy of Candy Hearts made a suggestion for this year. She commented “I think Day 7 should be a post about stuff we’ve learned from other blogs or the experience of coming together online…” Today, let’s do just that!! What have you learned from other blogs – either this week or since finding the D-OC? What has your experience of blogging the DBlog Week topics with other participants been like? What has finding the D-OC done for you? If you’d like, you can even look ahead and tell us what you think the future holds!

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Through reading many blogs about diabetes I’ve learned the deep and dark feelings many people touched by diabetes endure.  And so I’ve learned I’m not the only one-not even close.  There is a sense of comfort in knowing I’m not alone. 

I’ve learned that because diabetes is complicated it manifests it’s side effects in a multitude of ways.  I’ve learned the human body is complicated and functions and reacts in a multitude of ways.  Therefore we cannot assume that what works for one diabetic works for another or that what happens to one diabetic will happen to another.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at data it just means there are exceptions for EVERYTHING.

Most of all I’ve learned that everyone in the DOC has their joys, passions, moments of excellence, loves of their lives, dreams, etc…and this doesn’t mean they don’t have a desperate need for support, approval, patience, kindness, hope, and a listening ear.  And perhaps this is why the DOC is one of the largest and most close knit communities out there.  We need each other.  We need each other to help celebrate the good times and to support one another through the bad times. 

And I say this despite being the lonely loner I am.  I’m happy to have found you all.  Thanks for sharing and thanks for reading :)

XOXO

DSMA Blog Carnival Post for April

Love is taking the from your high diabetic wife.  (just kidding)

Love is taking the cake from your high diabetic wife. (just kidding)

 

Q: How did the relationships with other people inspire you to take care of yourself?

A: I remember when my now husband and I started dating, I suddenly felt very much pushed to manage my diabetes better.  There were concrete reasons.  High blood sugar causes me to have major dry mouth-something I wanted to avoid on dates.  We went out on a lot of active dates like hiking or playing soccer or roller blading and I did not want my blood sugars to make impressing my husband the more difficult (hehe).  I am after all, one of those girls who insist women are as athletic as men and therefore I needed my blood sugars to cooperate and not slow me down.

My diabetes management improved as soon as I discovered that I loved Alex.  I felt lost before, not sure of what my motivation in life even was.  I’m not saying a person should be one’s ultimate motivation but I guess it was a start for me considering I didn’t know what to do with my life, yet.  Once I realized something I wanted, I could buckle down and get my diabetes management together.  I made a clear path between me and him and pushed my diabetes out of my way by controlling it the best I could.

In high school when my blood sugars were out of control I remember feeling no reason to do better.  Yeah, my family wanted me healthy, sure I wanted good grades, and of course I wanted to play on the soccer team-apparently it wasn’t enough.  I didn’t sense a clear path between me and anything.  My family would love me and be there for me no matter what, I could just get by on mediocre grades, and I wasn’t going to play soccer much longer anyway.  I didn’t see my future, I didn’t imagine anything great or appealing.  I thought, “what’s the point?” 

When I became pregnant with my twins, it all became very clear.  I had no problem denying myself certain foods or testing frequently because my motivation was on target.  I wanted healthy children and that was that.

Besides wanting to always be there for my kids,  I consider a marriage a never ending work in progress so I still get motivated to be healthy for my relationship with my husband. 

I always considered my parents kind of invincible.  I always felt like they take care of me and not the other way around.  Recently, my two living grandparents have needed their children to step in and take care of them for the first time and knowing this has awakened in me the realization that I must also take care of myself so that I can be there for my parents when they need me.  Suddenly I see what my path must be and can work towards it with enough focus and energy.

The relationships in my life have helped fuel my motivation to take care of myself and I’m so thankful for them. 

Now I’m enjoying the extra oomph of support coming from the great big diabetes online community.  Being a part of this community is like getting constantly reminded that my health matters, that I matter.  Support is one of the most precious things in life.  So thanks :)

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