I Need to Suspend Judgement?

I have finally put a pathology request form in my handbag that was written out by my Endocrinologist for April, 2014. The anticipation is killing me and I am so glad! Finally, I want to know what my HbA1c is, and how a few other “levels” are tracking.

Around November last year my health took an unexpected turn. All of a sudden diabetes had to take a backseat and it was very unfamiliar territory.  Unfortunately the health changes I was experiencing affected my diabetes control so much so that I simply disengaged. The exhaustion I was feeling due to not really knowing what was wrong with me was winning over.

Every time my blood glucose level jumped to a destination that wasn’t on the itinerary, I didn’t even throw my hands in the air anymore.  I just rolled my eyes, plugged a correction into my pump, or a hypo treatment into my mouth and carried on.  I simply didn’t care because I had no idea what the outcome was going to be.  Why hope?  It would inevitably lead to disappointment.  In more recent times I have also been quite overwhelmed with a new batch of specialists, diagnostics, treatment options and potential outcomes.  I have learnt so much about the healthcare system that reaches beyond the bounds of diabetes care.  All of this has echoed well into 2014.

But for some reason, I have reached a point where I feel like knowing how my diabetes is tracking again!  My other health issues aren’t resolved.  A particular set of symptoms are a little more under control, but that’s about it for now.  The cause is yet to be discovered as more symptoms line up at the door.  I have surmised that this renewed desire to find out my diabetes-related levels is because I have made some progress which I didn’t actually think I had to make…

I have suspended judgement on myself.

By choice I have been doing it really tough behind a cheery exterior.  I haven’t wanted these health issues interfere with my beautiful life; I have so much to be grateful for.  So I have finally decided to congratulate myself for prioritising my health needs.  I have chosen to stop feeling guilty about letting my diabetes control slip.  To me guilt is also a choice and I know I have been doing the very best that I can given my current circumstances.

So no matter what my blood work reveals, it will simply be information.  And I won’t let anyone else do anything with that information except read it and file it.

I am showing other people how to treat me by putting the gavel down.

Judges gavel

 

Wordless Wednesday #17

In the middle of gobbling down an afternoon snack with my kids,
I noticed this…

Tiny Teddies

Tiny Teddies

Have you ever felt like this Tiny Teddy with chocolate on the wrong side of him?  It is clearly not his fault, but he has no choice but to be packaged up with a whole bunch of other Tiny Teddies who have chocolate on the right side of them.

Even after 27+ years, living with type 1 diabetes still makes me feel like that one Teddy.

It’s my daily battle.  I rise to the occasion and I put up a damn good fight every single day unbeknownst to most people around me.

 

#DBlog Week 2014 – Diabetes Life Hacks!

” Share the (non-medical) tips and tricks that help you in the day-to-day management of diabetes.  Tell us everything from clothing modifications, serving size/carb counting tricks to the tried and true Dexcom-in-a-glass trick or the “secret” to turning on a Medtronic pump’s backlight when not on the home-screen (scroll to the bottom of this post). Please remember to give non-medical advice only! (Thank you Rachel of Probably Rachel and Kelley of Below Seven for this topic suggestion.) “

This one is going to be short and to the point; just the way good life hacks should be!

I have found two things that have helped diabetes fit into my life in recent times.

BABY MITTENS = FABULOUS PUMP COVERS

I needed to get my pump replaced due to a series of alarming alarms.  There was a huge difference between the outer casings on my new pump and my old pump and I realised that I needed to protect it more.  I wear my pump in my bra most of the time and it gets subjected to sweat, perfume, moisturiser and the occasional handful of sand care of the little people in my life.  I prefer not to commercialise my diabetes too much, so I usually try to find an everyday item to fill the criteria.  Baby mittens nail it for me; they fit snuggly over my pump, are available in most supermarkets in a variety of colours and go through the washing machine really well!

Baby mittens make great pump covers

 

ROUTINE LANCET CHANGE; DEVELOPING A GOOD HABIT

After dragging diabetes along with me for over 27 years, I am becoming more aware of the visible impact it is having on my body.  I pride myself on well-manicured nails and soft hands, even though I’ve been known to move half a cubic meter of river stones around our garden on any given weekend.  Finger pricks are starting to callous my finger tips so I decided to start changing my lancet.  (I know, I know, shock, horror, blah, blah, blah!)  The problem was keeping track of when I needed to do it.  So every time I finish a bottle of blood test strips, I change my lancet.  There has been positive reinforcement for my efforts; my finger tips are softening up again… who would have thought that would happen.  Enter rock and roll band, Blunt Lancet stage left… No wait… They don’t play hear anymore ;)

 

 

#DBlog Week 2014 – Mantras and More

” Yesterday we opened up about how diabetes can bring us down. Today let’s share what gets us through a hard day.  Or more specifically, a hard diabetes day.  Is there something positive you tell yourself?  Are there mantras that you fall back on to get you through?  Is there something specific you do when your mood needs a boost?  Maybe we’ve done that and we can help others do it too? (Thanks to Meri of Our Diabetic Life for suggesting this topic.) “

My favourite “treat” chocolate is Haigh’s.  Then comes Cadbury for mass consumption.  Generally speaking, all other chocolate is consumed out of desperation because I don’t have Haigh’s or Cadbury close at hand!  I can only say that Haigh’s is my favourite because I have tried so many varieties.  It’s all relative.

For me, life with diabetes really isn’t that bad.  Yes, I get frustrated.  Yes, I hate the burden.  Yes, I can’t stand the pressure of being responsible for so many aspects of my health that I actually have little control over.  And then there is the guilt… But I have lived through events that making living with diabetes seem like a walk in the park.

Aspen_Mum_Christmas2009

Our last Christmas with Mum

In the space of 10 months, my husband and I miscarried three pregnancies in a row, and my Mum passed away very suddenly & unexpectedly.  At the time, our daughter, Aspen was just starting out at kindergarten and if it weren’t for her excitement to attend, I’m not sure I would have gotten out of bed most mornings.  There were days I just wished the sun would go down so I wouldn’t have to pretend to function in the real world.  Then when the sun went down, all I wanted was for the world to be awake so I wouldn’t have to face the challenge of falling asleep and being alone with my desperation, confusion and loss.  There was no escaping the relentless pain, misery and sadness that had taken up residence in every cell of my body.

Those tragic events were not related to my diabetes.  If anything, diabetes was an obedient dog at my feet who followed me everywhere, went outside to wee and curled up on my lap at the end of the day.  It really was one of the only constants I had in a world that had turned upside down before my very eyes.  I knew it wasn’t going anywhere and I knew what to do to keep it tamed and on a leash.

When I have bad diabetes days, they really aren’t.  Nothing about living with diabetes compares to that period in my life; it was an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  I chose to fight hard to find enjoyment, happiness and healthiness again.

My diabetes is manageable.  It is reasonably obedient.  And there is nothing about my diabetes that equates to loss on that scale.  My life isn’t always about diabetes.  When I catch myself starting to think that it is, I take a conscious moment to reframe.

For me, it really ain’t that bad.

#DBlogWeek 2014 – What Brings Me Down

“May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope? (Thanks go out to Scott of Strangely Diabetic for coordinating this topic.)”

My revived addiction to exercise is what makes dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for me.  I get so very frustrated with the fact that I can’t just “go to training”, or “go for a run” when I want to.  I know that if I did it could be quite dangerous from a diabetes perspective, but more to the point, I wouldn’t be reaping the benefits that exercise has on my health and wellbeing by being reckless.  I get frustrated and angry that I can’t impulsively exercise to clear my mind or blow-off a bad day.  Listening to people who have no health issues and choose to not exercise, yet complain about lethargy and weight issues drives me bonkers.  (Cue latest Nike campaign!)  If only they experienced how hard it is to exercise while managing a chronic illness at the same time, they may think twice about doing themselves out of the opportunity to simply feel good.

I made a decision mid last year to get over myself and just do the things that make me feel good.  After experiencing a health scare that closely related to the reasons why my Mum passed away unexpectedly in 2010, I felt it was time.  I realised that no amount of planning was going to get me any closer to happiness; if anything, it made happiness seem even more unattainable and distant.  And my diabetes was certainly staying put.  That was that; my propensity for “paralysis by analysis” was going to be extinguished!

Regular and enjoyable exercise is one thing that makes me feel fabulous.  So I identified the factors that had been barriers to me exercising sustainably in the past, and I managed to smash them all, including diabetes.

SOCIAL INTERACTION REQUIRED – joined a local training group which has a large and varied membership base

SHORT TRANSIT TIME – 5 minute drive from home

Jarrah's boot set-up KIDS ARE TAKEN CARE OF – committed to three 9am weekday sessions a week so my daughter, Aspen would be  at school and my son, Jarrah could come with me, go for a run on the oval with us, or take in a movie in the boot of the car  on colder days!

DIABETES – waking up an extra 30 minutes early on training days to combat out of range BSL’s which would otherwise prevent me from exercising safely.

The only time I have had to “play the diabetes card” at training was when my insulin pump line fell out from underneath my shirt during a mad boxing frenzy and I ripped my site out.  I took a 5 minute break to run to the car, do a BSL, inject the amount of insulin I calculated I’d need to see me through training / shower / site insertion and I got right back into it.

Diabetes can take a hike.

I choose to be fit, healthy, and most importantly, happy.

 

 

#DBlogWeek 2014 – Poetry Tuesday

“This year, Diabetes Blog Week and TuDiabetes are teaming up to bring out the poet in you! Write a poem, rhyme, ballad, haiku, or any other form of poetry about diabetes. After you’ve posted it on your blog, share it on the No Sugar Added® Poetry page on TuDiabetes, and read what others have shared there as well!”

I have written a set of three haikus;

I spend my life somewhere in between the three…

 

SOARING

Insatiable thirst

Body empty and heavy

Underinsulinised

 

SITTING ON THE FENCE

Relaxed and content

Calculations and luck count

Six point two millimoles

 

THE DOWN LOW

Heart beat echoing

Brain and body disconnect

Having a hypo

#DBlogWeek 2014 – Change the World

“Let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up. Are you passionate about 504 plans and school safety? Do diabetes misconceptions irk you? Do you fight for CGM coverage for Medicare patients, SDP funding, or test strip accuracy? Do you work hard at creating diabetes connections and bringing support? Whether or not you “formally” advocate for any cause, share the issues that are important to you. (Thanks go out to Kim of Texting my Pancreas for inspiring this topic.)”

The issue that has been consistently important to me across the years is emotional health.  I continue to volunteer to pay it forward to the programs and people who I believe have helped me maintain exceptional emotional health while living with diabetes throughout my life stages.  My current focus is managing and operating the Oz Diabetes Online Community.  We chat once a week at the same time, (Tuesday 8:30pm AEST) and at the same place, (via Twitter from @OzDiabetesOC using #OzDOC as our hash tag).  The topics vary from week to week but I aim to achieve the same thing each week, and that is a place where people can reduce the burden they feel diabetes can add to their lives.  It’s an hour each week when you know people “just get it”… a concept I have summed up in a hash tag, #dlove.  I was reminded of this very concept only four days ago when I found time to participate in the weekly Diabetes Social Media Advocates chat after a long period of absence.  I remembered just how important it is to my emotional health to feel part of a community built on #dlove.

My husband and I went to a Boy and Bear gig on the weekend.  They are at the top of our playlist not only because they are exceptional Australian musicians, but because the lead vocalist and guitarist is a lyrical genius.  Dave Hoskings spoke about writing a song for his brother when he learnt of his hardships while away on tour.  The song is called, “Back Down the Black” and the following lines illustrate why I do what I do for the diabetes community;

“Oh my legs don’t work and my limbs all hurt
As my body aches to take the weight that’s been thrown down on top of you
Like you would do too”

You can listen to this soul-stirring song here;

You hurt, I help.  I hurt; you help.

I’ve toyed with a fairy tale idea of what life, and the world, would be like if you removed the emotional burden which resulted from living with a chronic condition.  Imagine if we just didn’t feel anything associated with our diagnosis, our management requirements, or how our lives were simply different.  Imagine if we remained purely objective.  No emotion.  Just doing what we were able to do to keep soldiering on.  No feelings about which chronic condition deserves a cure first.  No anger associated with the onset of complications.  No fear about our offspring developing diabetes.

But until then, OzDOC will do the trick…