Tag Archives: living with diabetes

Being Bad

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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?

Travel and Diabetes Ramblings with a Stranger

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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.”

Tripping

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You know how you can have a spring in your step because you like your hair and outfit and then suddenly, you figuratively trip on your blood sugars and your awesomeness is sucked out of you?

Man, I hate when that happens.

But try to go with the flow.  Once your blood sugar is back up or down, whatever the case may be, forget it was ever out of range to begin with.

There is no need to feel like diabetes is a shameful or embarrassing thing to carry around.  Sure, we can seem drunk during a low and highs make us appear like walking to the kitchen is a marathon, but there is a lot more dignity in self respect than in self loathing.  Get your sugars back up or down and carry on.

Hold your head up high, it’s ok, I promise.

My Reason

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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.

XOXO

The Book of Better, Book Review

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Chuck Eichten has had type 1 diabetes for over 30 years.  He has written a book called, The Book of Better targeted at anyone with diabetes.  The book’s all encompassing message to you: that perfect isn’t possible but improvement always is so why not strive for that?.  Talk about hitting the nail on the head.

The book is written in an extremely straight forward style, suitable to those who respond to that and perhaps, most any man.  It’s a really witty book, includes fun visual art and a lot of aesthetic appeal (with exception of some white font on yellow background-well at least it’s large white font).  This comes as no surprise since Chuck Eichten is Nike’s creative director.  In fact, Nike’s timeless “Just Do It” slogan totally relates to this book, which admittedly delighted me to no end.

I have to say, I felt like boxing with the author a couple times.  He says insulin pumps are “the Best Available Treatment”.  I agree on the condition that it is actually what works best for someone.  And someone isn’t equivalent to everyone.  I haven’t had an A1c over 6.0% in over 5 years and I’ve never had a seizure or passed out from a low and I don’t use a pump.  I did for seven years and it did not work for me.  In Eichten’s opinion, you’re crazy if you have access to a pump but don’t have one.  He talks about how pumps allow a person the flexibility to sleep in late, to skip meals or snack in between them, and to be more sexy on dates because it’s probably more of a turn on to be on a first date and hit some buttons on a gadget that’s mysteriously connected to you by tubing than to inject a needle at the table.  I use Lantus and Humalog insulin and between the two I can sleep in and skip meals and frankly, I feel sexier when I’m not connected to the pump.  It’s just easier to move around and wear dresses and door knobs don’t yank me back by two feet of tubing.  And also, Chuck, how do you test your blood sugar?  Because the only way I can do it is by bleeding.  And I don’t know anyone who finds bleeding sexy.  But I know of someone, who find me sexy whether I’m connected to a pump or injecting a shot or pricking my finger.  So for me, the human element is the key.  Though, many might agree with you and that’s the beauty of it I suppose.  It would just be nice to have the other option properly acknowledged because it can and does work for some people.

I can’t help but wonder if this hailing of the pump is partly one person’s way of supporting technology to continue advancing for our benefit.  If that’s the case, then great and thank you.  But I worry about those who can’t get access to a pump, who hear that they are the best thing, and then lose all hope in their MDI.  And we all know how important it is that people have hope, right?  In all essence it’s like we’re in the same league, playing on different teams, but with the same end goal of winning in mind.

Enough about pumps!  The book, for me, is an awesome dose of perspective.  At least once every chapter I exclaimed, “YES!” out loud, prompting my husband to ask me what the commotion was all about.  The author does a fantastic job of confronting the root issues that people have with certain aspects of life with diabetes and then he explains them in a way that makes a person realize he is right and our excuses are absolutely useless.

For example, I have long been in an internal battle over the “Yes I can eat that” campaign.  I feel like “yes…I can…but, I want to be healthy so often, no I can’t…”  You know what I mean?  Well, the author reminds us that there are two conditions to the “yes I can eat that”.  We’re empowered patients, after all.  People with type 1 can eat anything but if they’re smart, they are going to be picky about when and how much they eat, not because they are strict and deny themselves pleasure, but because they know they deserve to take care of themselves.  This is a really powerful message and there are many like this in the book regarding diet and exercise and one’s attitude.  By the way, Chuck eats a totally unhealthy breakfast every day and impressively balances it out in real life way you will want to read about.

This book does another fine thing by reasoning with our emotions and appealing to our genuine worries.  For example he says, “You are not boring, you are consistent”.  People think it’s fun and attractive to be spontaneous and diabetes tries to challenge us on that.  And the author is reminding us that the fact of the matter is diabetes likes consistency and if we try to keep some things consistent, we’ll be better off.

He also heavily promotes that all people with diabetes move each day.  Instead of sounding like a doctor “you’ll be healthier, your risk for heart disease will be lower”, the author actually goes to the true places in all of us and mentions how, for example, if we move more, we’ll spark a chain of events that will ultimately get us more of what we want and less of what we don’t want.  Finally, someone who knows how to motivate.

I have been gathering information regarding lifestyle habits of long time type 1 diabetics who are very healthy and this book just so happens to discuss many of those consistencies.  If you want to live a long and healthy life with diabetes, this book won’t steer you wrong. You might actually go for a pump after reading the book. And that’s ok because it may work for you.  Winking smile

You want an excellent dose of reality, perspective, hope, and humor?  Read this book.

You can buy it here.

Brutal Honesty

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It’s called “brutal” for a reason.  Everyone knows that using it with someone can seriously backfire.  What about using it with ourselves?  More often, we don’t even “go there” because we know it won’t be pretty.

In evaluating my life and pinpointing areas for improvement I’ve realized the road to my goals is initially and largely through this kind of honesty.  We’ve all met someone whom we thought lied to themselves.  Have we ever caught ourselves lying to ourselves?  I have.  It feels a little soul crushing.  And yet, when I got through the harsh wind and rain part, I eventually got to a place of clarity and forgiveness.  The forgiveness part is important because of the way we inflict damage and destruction on ourselves when we feel guilty about something.  The clarity part is important because it’s uplifting and energizing.  Like a child who finally understands her school assignment and enthusiastically gets to work with energy and vigor.  Or what happened to me after years of wanting to write about diabetes only finally doing so when my twins were born, leaving me with the conclusion that having healthy children (challenging as it was) meant my diabetes wasn’t preventing me from writing, simply, I was.  It’s never fun to find out that we are our own worst enemy and that we are mostly in our own way-not someone else.

Some things I’ve been brutally honest with myself about in the past:

“I don’t have time to clean”  Correction:  “I do have time and can make time, I just really hate cleaning!  There! I said it!”

“I don’t feel well enough to exercise”  Correction:  “I don’t feel 100% but I do feel well enough to exercise, not to mention, the more I exercise, the better I feel!”

“I need more money”  Correction:  “I NEED shelter, food, and water and I have plenty of each.”

“I can’t afford healthy food”  Correction:  “I can afford healthy food if I don’t overeat, don’t buy unnecessary items, and don’t waste food.  Bottom line?  It’s hard to do all this, but the I can’t afford it is an excuse.”

“This person made me feel bad by what they said”  Correction:  “This person didn’t do anything to me that I didn’t allow.  I reacted to what they said and have some feelings I need to sort out.”

In the end I can whine about hating to clean, not feeling 100%, getting my feelings hurt, and wanting more money.  Or, I can stay healthy by cleaning, exercising, and eating well which will help keep me strong and confident in myself while I work on finding a way to make more money so that a full savings account eases fears and adds comfort.  I can’t do the latter without the former.

It’s often about recognizing that we are responsible for everything in our lives.  You didn’t choose to have diabetes but you do choose how you handle it.  You didn’t choose to grow up without a lot of money, but you have the power to change how much money you have now.  You didn’t choose to be sensitive to carbs and gain weight easily, but if that’s a reality, (and it seems to be for me) then you have the power to eat less carbs or at least only quality carbs and therefore manage your weight the way your body requires it.  Even if that seems unfair because you eat differently than others.

Life is unfair but in the end, I think it is fair because everyone has to deal with the reality of their situation and their hand in it.  Being brutally honest allows us to recognize our own power and use it rather than be oppressed by an invisible cloak of our own imagination.  Brutal honesty is brutal but what is even more so is a life lived at the mercy of what we think the world is doing to us or keeping from us.  For those of us fortunate enough to live in a country where we aren’t terrorized and utterly mistreated, lies even more personal responsibility.  More responsibility is a good thing.  This means we have more power to make our lives what we want them to be.  Instead of brutal, we should see this kind of honesty as liberating.  What do you think?

Diabetes, You’re a Nag

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Photo courtesy of Paul

 

It’s the story of our lives.  The one that never ends…

Sometimes life with diabetes feels like…well this is what comes to mind:  Me, with diabetes’ hands (yes I personified an “invisible” disease) around my neck.  Diabetes is choking me and I’m wailing my arms, struggling to get the hands to loosen their grip, trying to kick the legs out from under diabetes.

Other times I feel like I’m standing on Mount Everest, hands on hips, triumphantly looking down on a tiny spec that is diabetes saying “Ah ha ha ha!”

Then most of the time, I feel somewhere in the middle.  Diabetes is a nag.  Nag when I’m changing a diaper or bathing two little ones.  Nag when I’m making dinner.  Nag when I’m 200 before bed.  Nag when I’m paying for insurance and diabetes supplies.

Just like what is known as a “nagging wife”.  Only, here is what I’ve realized: a wife doesn’t nag-she simply points out the obvious, she repeats things that need to be repeated because they weren’t done in the first place.  So when our diabetes nags us, diabetes is just speaking out saying “Hellooo! I’m here! or in other cases, “I hate to point this out but…it’s just that I deserve better.”

So today when I felt “nagged” by the incessant need to test and give insulin, I thought, oh wait, diabetes is just saying, “I need this and I need that”.  And I know this is a wacky way to personify diabetes but truthfully since it’s so much a part of my body, I feel better thinking of diabetes as a nag rather than an enemy of sorts.  I want diabetes cured, of course, but in the meantime it’s kind of the boss.  And frankly, when I do all that is needed, our home which is my body, runs pretty smoothly and we get along just fine.

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