Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Low in the Night

Imagine you're lying in bed. You've been asleep for a couple hours and you suddenly wake up. You feel strange, but you aren't sure why. You lay there in agony thinking "what time is it?" You glance over at your phone and check the time, and huff and mumble about only have a few hours left before the alarm rings. You try to go back to sleep but, you feel hungry. You feel beyond hungry as if you could clear out a variety store in half a second. But, you try to ignore that feeling. You have been doing so well with clean eating, why destroy it now? You try to close your eyes and ignore it but, your mind begins to talk to you. "Get up, check your blood sugar. You're low." You try and ignore it and think of all the reasons why you aren't low. "I was 12 mmol/L before bed."  "I ate a snack before bed." "I'm sure it's just hunger not a low..." But, there comes a point where your mind is literally screaming at you. So, you give in. You find your glasses, pull the covers off yourself and walk down the stairs to the kitchen. The whole time thinking, "please don't eat too much. Just take what you need and go back to bed."  You reach the kitchen and realize it would be much easier to keep things closer to the bedroom but, you can't remember it all. You check and you're low. You think what you want, but, know that you're wasting precious sleep time. You grab a few things, still reminding yourself, "take what you need and go."    You stumble back upstairs disrupting your partner who is also trying to sleep before the alarm goes off. You lay there, still feeling low but, know that you've ate enough. You ate more than enough. You toss and turn and try to quiet your mind and still your body. You fall back asleep, hoping a low doesn't visit again.


Monday, August 29, 2016

It's Your Journey

Diabetes is not a race, it's a journey. I think it is incredibly easy to get caught up in numbers measuring our success as people living with diabetes. "What's your a1c?" is the dreaded question that somehow marks your capability of being able to take care of yourself.  But, that isn't what living with diabetes is about.  I got really caught up in my last a1c. I honestly felt like I let myself down but more terrifying was that I felt like I let down my community. I get that I play a large roll in the diabetes community and I have teens that rely on me as a good role model, but I felt like I was cheating them.   It wasn't until I sat down and thought about why I was beating myself up over a number that actually isn't my final score. An a1c is a blood test that gives your a snapshot of your last three months, not your future.

I threw that mentality of diabetes being a race out the window. I am not competing with people. I am proud of those that hold great titles of a1c's and that check their blood sugar without hassle and eat clean 24/7. You go girl! But, I cannot be perfect. I cannot hold myself above or below, I need to focus on the journey ahead - the journey of living with type 1 diabetes for the rest of my life.

Focusing on the day to day goals is easier than focusing on lowering my a1c, that's a given. But, incorporating focusing on my mental health, physical fitness, social status, work load, those day to day goals can get blurry and that's okay.  I am listening to my body, my thoughts and living in this moment. Diabetes will throw curve balls at me but so will anything else, that is what makes it your journey.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Voila, Appointment Done.

The other day I had my endocrinologist appointment. I was nervous to go with the heightened a1c, but, felt that since getting the "wake up" call a1c, my blood sugars were half decent and I was at least checking 5-6 times a day.   Regardless, going into any appointment I was weary of what they might say.

The first step was getting myself weighed and my blood pressure done. Usually I would be nervous about getting weighed because well, who likes someone weighing them? But, I knew for sure that I was down from my last visit and I had weighed myself in the A.M so I had an idea of what it would be. No shocker there.  Blood pressure was totally normal and I actually remembered not to cross my legs when I sat down to get it done - success.

Next was heading into the actual office to sit down and wait for someone to come in. Of course I got the resident (does everyone get the resident or is it just me?)  I am all for learning, and such but sometimes when I just want to get in and out of an appointment, I feel like it adds 20-25 minutes of questions and protocol that I am already very aware of. "The reason you go low when you work out is because..." Yup, I know.

Next was my actual doctor, who is super nice.  I actually do not mind seeing her, but I always fear one day she will look at my blood work or pump upload and lay down the law. But, it wasn't the day for that, she told me I was doing a great job (even though I didn't feel like I was to my own standards) and that she would just change a few minor basal rates and viola, appointment done.   Oh, and a couple samples of insulin - which for a girl with no benefits, I'm all for.

I left feeling good about the appointment, and promised myself to lower my a1c, despite the fact it was never even brought up at my appointment.  I think, what I have realized is that, when it comes down to it, with diabetes, you are your own doctor. You make a lot of the calls, adjustments, and ultimately it's your disease to manage. For sure, you have the support around you, and your doctors advice, but really we have so much power over our own medicine.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Web

Last spring I did a workshop with the teen girls from my support group T1 Empowerment.  The point of the workshop was to better understand the web of who is connected to our diabetes beyond ourselves, the patient.  It was an interesting task to give the girls because a lot of them struggled to see past the immediate and realize just how many people really do make up our health care web in regards to diabetes care.

what the teens came up with
I felt this was an important workshop because a lot of times when we are managing our diabetes on a daily basis we forget who else can help us along the way. We can feel swamped with numbers and emotions and forget that we can also reach out.  Not only do these people make impact on us, but we also make impact on them.

I am lucky, I have resources, while I understand very much so, that many do not have such a glamorous web to show.  I tried to in-still that in the minds of the teens who do at times struggle to keep afloat with a disease that does demand a lot from them.  

The funny thing, was that these teens almost saw these ties as an annoyance, and I totally get that. There are times that I do not want my friends telling me how to take care of my diabetes, despite their best interest, or times that I do not want my endo or nurse judging the way I have been taking care of my diabetes, but the important thing to take, is that no one in this web, is out to get you, but rather to walk the journey with you. 

This web is ever changing, growing, shrinking and that is okay. The important thing is that we recognize who is in the web and remind ourselves that they are there for us. 


Monday, August 22, 2016

Why I Quit Diet Pop

Over a year ago I quit drinking diet pop. For most people living with diabetes diet pop is a dietary staple. It's one thing we can enjoy without having to carb count, and bolus for. It's a treat without consequence, but is it really? I don't know. 

Before I had diabetes I drank a fair share of diet pop (specifically Diet Coke) I loved it and as years went by and (I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes along the way) my love for it grew stronger when I realized literally every other drink besides water would spike my blood sugar. All my friends and family knew that Diet Coke was my vice. People would tag me in memes, buy me Diet Coke and even would purchase me novelty Diet Coke things like Christmas ornaments. It somehow became my identity like a cat to cat lady - I was hooked. 

 But over a year ago I noticed something. I noticed that when I drank Diet Coke things started happening to my body that were not normal.  Hives covering my entire body, swollen lips, joints and eyes and pain to those joints as well. It was awful and I went on for years with these symptoms on and off with little to no idea what was causing it. 

I haven't had any formal testing done BUT I can tell you that once I stopped drinking Diet Coke (cold turkey) it stopped almost immediately. Trust me, I had hives everywhere and they were far from minor - they made me hate my body to the point I didn't want to go out and feared eating the wrong "mystery" thing to make them worse.  There were times I could not go out because of a giant swollen lip - although my friends encouraged me that it just looked like extreme collagen injections. Not cute. 

I had to say goodbye to the beloved silver can and break up with something I was almost depending on. Bad day, Diet Coke. Hot day, Diet Coke. Celebration day, Diet Coke.  Now a year later I'm proud of myself that I have not touched diet pop, I'm even more excited that I haven't had any joint pain, swelling or hives.  As a person living with type 1 diabetes and being "allergic" to diet pop I'm sure my fellow diabetics can sympathize.  

Regardless it leaves me with questions about what we consume and the overall consequences of those health choices we make. I'm not shaming anyone who enjoys Diet Coke, because if it wasn't for the relief of my symptoms, I'd likely be drinking a can right now. 


Friday, August 19, 2016

Travel Alone

I think travelling alone at least once should be on everyones bucket list. I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel alone a few times, often because of diabetes conferences.   While travelling alone can seem daunting to some, I think it's important to do at least once (or more!) and here is why:

1. You learn more about yourself and your capabilities 

Trust me when I say that when I was younger I did not want to leave my mother's side [Ask Mom!] I was constantly checking to see where she was and I am pretty sure she was about ready to seek me some professional help if I didn't grow out of my attachment issues.  Obviously, I have and [phew!] but my mom always notes how crazy it is that I went from her shadow to the globe-trotter I am now. When you are on your own and especially in a foreign place, you learn what you're comfortable doing and most importantly how far you're able to push out of your comfort zone.  It's all up to you, there is no one pushing you to take the scenic route, zip line alone though the rain forest, or take a sketchy train through Compton, that's your choice and when you choose to do something with your full power, it gives you a better understanding of yourself and your capabilities.

2. You have no other choice but to hang out with yourself or make new friends 

San Diego 2016
We all know that when we travel with friends and family we tend to hang around friends and family 24/7 during the trip, maybe not all as a group but rarely do we break off and do our own thing for a long period of time. When you travel alone you're kind of forced to either sit alone or make new friends.   Personally, I tend to sit alone, and take the time to really connect with myself - meaning that I give myself time to write, take in the scenery, tour around the city I am in or really listen to what I need. You will find you're chatting to more people around you, the waitress, the bar tender, the lady lounging by the pool,  you make friends along the way, even if only for a short period.

3. You grow up a little 

I am 26, so clearly, I've over the whole "when I grow up" but travelling keeps you humble and encourages growth and education.   I believe regardless if you're travelling alone or travelling with a friend/family member you grow and learn, but there is something different about travelling alone. Having experienced both, quite a few times, each time I come back from a trip alone, I feel like I have a better grip of reality, something that comes only from exploring alone.

Hopefully you add 'travel alone' to your bucket-list after reading this.  Of course I understand people's concerns with travelling alone - in particular safety. I have put myself in some-what [could have been] dangerous situations travelling alone, so that is a real fear, but at the same time, living in fear can be incredibly limiting.  I choose to fear less but be aware of my surroundings and learn from my mistakes [i.e don't walk around at night alone, know where you're going and your surroundings and have access to a cell phone etc.]

Would love to hear from others who have travelled alone before!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Beeps & Buzzes

There is a lot of alarms, beeps and vibrations that come with diabetes.   If you are totally decked out with a new-ish meter, an insulin pump, and a CGM of some sort, then you really know a lot about beeps, alarms and vibrations.  I actually have turned off a lot of the 'sounds' and switched it to vibrate because I was getting really irritated by the sounds, of course if I am home-alone then the noise alerts (especially with CGM) are important, but for the most part the 'beeps' of diabetes drive me crazy.  

These machines, while incredibly helpful, can really be like walking around with a broken alarm clock. Usually my meter is buzzing to let me know I am high or low, or have inserted a strip, my pump is buzzing to let me know the same information, or bad news like 'low reservoir' 'low bat' or 'no delivery' and my CGM is sending more buzzing signals to my insulin pump to let me know what is happening with my blood sugar in the moment.  All kinds of buzzing.

For the most part you get used to it and you find what works for you. Some prefer to have the sound alert, while others prefer the vibrations.  Sometimes it's a matter of what will grab your attention in case of an emergency and not necessarily what you prefer and that makes sense.   Annoying or not, it comes with the choice of using the technology - so I'll take it.