Archive for August, 2012


August 30th, 2012

I think really of two different things when it comes to the term “motivation”.  I think about motivation to exercise, and I think about motivation to care for my diabetes.  For me and my brain, the diabetes motivation is a very far second to the motivation to exercise.

My friend posted yesterday this question: Diabetes motivates me to _____.

We were a bit serious and a bit silly with our various responses, but the next question I of course wonder about is: what happens when I’m pooped out on motivation?

I like a Kaiser commercial on the radio a few months ago where she is talking about motivation disappearing and what it might take is taking a good long look in the mirror.

But that probably isn’t enough for most of us with diabetes.

So what do we do?

George wakes me up “MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM I’M HUNGRY MOM” …it’s motivating.

As a personal trainer slash not a morning person who has woken up at 5am every day for almost seven years to (very first and very important: FEED GEORGE) lead a group of bootcampers at 6am, motivation is pretty important in my life.  If I’m not motivated, how can I motivate someone else?

Bootcampers who miss the workout due to any number of (may I say feeble) reasons sometimes ask me how I stay motivated to be there every day.  It’s sometimes very very simple: I’m motivated by responsibility: if I don’t show up with a plan, no one will get a good workout.  Sometimes I’m motivated by other aspects of my life: if I don’t get up and run on a Saturday morning, I can’t go see the matinee that afternoon with my husband because I’ll have to squeeze in a run after lunch.  Sometimes I’m motivated by sheer routine: I get up and do it because that’s what I do.

There is one that I don’t usually tell the average bootcamper, yet I hear a lot from other diabetic athletes: my diabetes motivates me to exercise because I have a much easier time managing my blood glucose when I exercise.

So, maybe it’s actually that I’m very lazy!

I find the same things hold true with my motivation to take care of my body and my diabetes: if I don’t take care of myself, no one else will step in and do it for me.  Or, I’m motivated by the fact I want to be around and enjoy my life for a long time with my husband.  Sometimes I’m even motivated by George’s hunger.

Most days, though: I take care of my diabetes because that’s what I do.

So call it motivation, call it routine, call it amazing or call it boring: I’ve got a lot of reasons for taking care of myself!!  I like each source of motivation for different reasons, but I am glad I have each one—they have helped me accomplish a lot of what I have wanted to accomplish!

Real Diabetes Mistakes

August 28th, 2012

Yesterday I listed a few of the diabetes “mistakes” I made over the weekend.  I put the term “mistakes” in quotes because I don’t think they really are diabetes mistakes, but they often feel like them.  I make a lot of diabetes “mistakes,” every time I open my eyes and start my day or close my eyes and try to fall asleep.  It’s a fact of my life—I can’t get it right all the time no matter how hard I try.

Maybe that’s what so many people struggle with when dealing with their diabetes—the sheer lack of ever reaching perfection.  Maybe for some of us we have areas where perfection is attainable—maybe not.  All I can promise is that diabetes is not an area where “perfect” should enter if you want to live your life and be happy, ever.

But what do I think are true diabetes mistakes?  On my run yesterday I thought about it, and came up with three things I truly think are mistakes when it comes to life with diabetes.

Ignoring/Denying it.  Life with diabetes is pretty awful and scary if you deny you have diabetes.  It’s emotional, it changes every five minutes, you have everyone else offering suggestions and voicing opinions, you’ve got people worrying at you, and YOU are busy trying to ignore your own questions you have… it’s exhausting.  Choosing to live like that is, in my opinion, a mistake.

Fighting it.  I don’t mean fight the good fight; I mean feeling angry at yourself for ever making a mistake or refusing to accept your current health situation.  You’ve got diabetes and it isn’t going away… no matter what happens.  If you can’t accept that, you’re fighting a losing battle.  Focus your energy and drive toward being the best you can at whatever you want to be and do… but don’t let fighting your body’s disease consume you.  You were never supposed to sacrifice your potential at diagnosis; doing so is, in my opinion, a mistake.

Feeling helpless. Diabetes is not whatever you thought it was when you were first diagnosed.  You will have good days and you will have bad days and you will want to throw your disease out the window some days and some days it won’t be so bad.  But feeling like you are out of control because you have a certain meter reading or string of meter readings does not mean you have failed or can’t improve your situation.  Be it a fix that takes an hour or a month, you have too many tools at your disposal to ever justify feeling helpless. Even asking for help means you aren’t helpless; you are taking a step for your body in the right direction.  Being silent and feeling helpless is, in my opinion, a mistake.

Any others you’ve come across YOU would call a real diabetes mistake?

Diabetes “Mistakes”

August 27th, 2012

If you’ve ever sat in a class and heard the teacher say “there are no stupid questions” and thought in response “there are at least some we don’t need to listen to someone else ask three times,” let me phrase things a different way.

There are relatively few ways to screw diabetes up.

And they are sort of a humungous deal when you DO screw them up… so nearly every other little thing is, joyfully, a little thing.

I get the sense that maybe some people are hesitant to share ways they’ve tried (on purpose or not on purpose) something new with their diabetes management.  I hate that; so I’m sharing some of mine, just from this weekend.

And I call myself an expert. 

First off: these are in no particular order.

Secondly: I’m okay with you eye rolling at various things (Lord knows my eyes roll all over the place, at myself) but appreciate your non-negative responses. ;)

Thirdly: why don’t I start.

1. I forgot that I ate a bunch of figs last night with my dinner (and bolused for them) so when I was high later I couldn’t figure out why (I remembered only eating a salad).  It took me about 45 minutes to remember and realize I have no idea how to bolus for a fig.  (The sizes are all so different and what the online place said always seemed really high for the amount of fig actually in my hand.)

2. I almost forgot to put new strips in my running belt.  THAT would have ruined my run that turned into a bit of an adventure… I have more fun on adventures when I have my meter.

3. I forgot that my doctor changed my basals last week and was really irritated that when I woke up late and I was high.

3a. I’m curious if my promising my doctor “Even if I don’t eat I don’t go low” was a figment of my imagination… but can’t really promise anything as I’ve been waking up high and bolusing between 1-3am each night.

4. Debatable issue: whether I should have even listened to my doctor when she was changing my basals… I decided to let them go for a week and then see if I want to change them back.  (Because I upload my pump data, I know I have them saved!!  If you haven’t saved your pump data: DO IT RIGHT NOW.)

5. I think I’m on at least day four of my pump site.  I wanted to change it the other day but lazed out and kept it in.  I’m still here so I guess it’s still good.

6. I wanted to change my sensor yesterday when I put on my run belt and it smacked right into the site.  I left it in, ran with it in, and have since kept it in.  It’s not the most accurate location, so today is probably the last day.

7. I have a bright red sunburned splotch on my arm because I didn’t want to mess with the pump site on my arm.  That’s silly and I should have sprayed it; seriously what did I think would happen if I got sunscreen on the site?  Nothing. The splotch looks silly.

I’m sure there are more “mistakes” I made in the past (count them) TWO days.  And I’ve had diabetes for 24 and a half YEARS…so you can imagine the number of “mistakes” I’ve made.

In general, I think the only diabetes mistakes that count are the BGs you don’t check and the medications you don’t take.  Everything else is learning and experimenting and LIVING.

Shrinking Away

August 24th, 2012

Chatting with the fellow at my doctor visit yesterday, she seemed to marvel at the randomness of my life and my activities any given day.  Then she said she has seen that a lot of diabetics are afraid to do anything active, and that it sort of spills into other areas of their lives, too.


I think people with diabetes try to focus on their disease and what that job requires and somehow give themselves permission to stop doing that other job they have.

Because we really have an incredibly important and highly specialized job we are in charge of every minute of every day when we function for our pancreas, or try to function for our pancreas.  But we have a simultaneously just as important job we are in charge of, exactly like everyone else: we are in charge of LIVING OUR LIVES.

I’m willing to bet that the scientists involved in discovering, testing, and manufacturing insulin, long acting insulin, short acting insulin, metformin, glucophage, what have you were not in it so that we could all hole up on the couch and say “I’m done now.”

I think everyone is working so hard to actually make our lives BETTER… but WE have to meet them more than halfway.  WE have to have lives we are already living!! 

To wait, patiently or impatiently, for a cure or for the next latest and greatest thing to come around that will make our self care better or easier is not what I think my life with diabetes is or should be about.  If you feel that you need to wait until you have the opportunity to live, well, I would respond that you already gave up.

I’m not afraid of being high or going low or finding myself in a situation where I need to stop and go into a store and ask for some Coke even though I have no money on me.  I’m not waiting for someone else to do anything– I’ve taken responsibility for my own life and whatever that requires.  Yes, that will involve some time outs while I check my BG or eat something for a low or go home for more insulin.  It will, because I can’t possibly prevent every little thing from derailing my best intentions or plans… so I don’t try to.  I just do my best and forgive myself if and when I screw it up.

I’m glad I have, and I wish for everyone reading this that you have, too.  Life is simply too short to spend a moment of it waiting for someone ELSE to do something YOU need to be doing.

Embrace your life.  You’ll be glad you did.

Piecing Things Together

August 23rd, 2012

Coming up on my 25th anniversary of being diagnosed with type one diabetes, I finally thought to ask my doctor today why they made me drink those nasty potassium drinks in 1988.  She made the fellow answer, which I thought was funny.  (The fellow, who came in 45 minutes before the doctor did and proceeded to tell me all these things she’s “heard” about me… apparently my doc talked to her about me before she saw me.  I guess maybe they don’t see too many type one attorney slash personal trainers in their offices.  So funny…and cool, too.  Glad to know they reviewed my chart!)

The answer they gave me was enough to fill in a piece or two about my hospital stay and physical condition prior to my diagnosis.  (Once I was diagnosed, my questions were put on hold for a long time as I tried to learn a new life.)  I’m at best paraphrasing here, at worst being completely wrong.  Please if I’m completely wrong and you know it, tell me!!

Anyway, without insulin the cells can’t use potassium in my blood, sort of like glucose.  Without potassium, electrolytic stuff like THE HEART doesn’t work.  So even though I may have had a lot of potassium in my bloodstream, without insulin I essentially had a potassium deficit. 

But once insulin is introduced, all the cells suck up the potassium and then you have a low blood potassium level, which again AFFECTS THE HEART and all the features in the body that need electricity (which I have never ever understood). So they supplement with a potassium drink when they started me on insulin to keep my cells and blood levels happier.


Glad I asked… since I had been sleeping so well before knowing this.

Embarrassed by your Diabetes?

August 22nd, 2012

Everyone around me, it feels, is discussing going back to school with diabetes, or going away to school with diabetes, or some such topic.  I know the underlying goal of many of them is to re-energize people to take care of themselves despite life upheavals and changes like heading back to school, which is a great idea.

I’ve seen some comments this week that mention being embarrassed by diabetes.

I get it: we often need an extra moment or two to check our BG, or have to go back and grab our meter or make a pit stop for juice if we’re low.  Or, we’ve got a lump on our waistband or arm where our pump is doing its thing, or we have an unsightly bruise from a shot gone wrong.

I want to refuse the notion of being embarrassed by any of that.

Has it been that long since I was embarrassed?  Or is it more that I’ve never really felt too embarrassed by my disease?

Maybe both.  I know in my head that junior high and high school were decades ago (caught sight of my elbow skin yesterday—no denying my age there), but I hold in a special place the anguish nearly everything caused me.  It’s funny to actually write, but I know I learned a lot of very important things then.

An example: no one else is looking at the hem of your pants.  A half inch one way or the other isn’t really going to matter.  Caveat: don’t wear white socks and black pants.

It pains me to think about anyone feeling embarrassed by their diabetes.  I don’t think my own shunning of my disease through those years was embarrassment—it was more denial than anything—and I really really don’t think there is any part of diabetes that should cause embarrassment.

Granted, some people who don’t have diabetes can say things that make us take a step back.  “EWW!” or “I could never do that” or “what IS that” all come to mind.

But internalizing thoughtless comments is simply misplaced when it comes to life with diabetes.  That’s all there is to it.

You can choose to educate in response to a comment, or you can choose to hide your diabetes in an effort to avoid them altogether.  (Trust me, that one is a bad idea.)

If you think you are embarrassed by your diabetes and are making an effort to make things easier on other people by “not being a bother” to them, you are not taking care of yourself.  Simple as that.

I make my running partners stop so I can eat all the time.  Is that my preference?  Nope.  Do they seem to mind?  Nope.  Do I think some part of them thinks “glad I don’t have to juggle that!”?  Yep.

So, the next time I hear a thoughtless remark (which I know is just a matter of time), I want to come up with some good retorts

An old standard: You’d die if you didn’t.

A quick one to shut them up: It isn’t my CHOICE to have diabetes, but I do choose to take care of myself.

Simple and to the point: It’s my insulin pump; I have type one diabetes.

Short and truthful: It’s hard, but it’s doable.

Got any more ideas?

How My BG Feels From The Inside

August 21st, 2012

Watching various comments on multiple diabetes websites and pages I’m often taken aback by how it seems the majority of commenters feel about their disease.  It sort of struck me anew yesterday when I realized I was reading a thread full of comments that were commiserations about how difficult and isolating life with diabetes is.

I started thinking about how often I’ve said (a few times) and thought (many many more times): “but you don’t know how it feels to be ___(fill in a BG of your choice).”  I have a doctor’s appointment later in the week so my doctor is on my brain; she doesn’t have diabetes and I wonder how many times she has received this sort of comment from a patient.

I know I’ve said it to my husband.

Friends have asked me through the years, and you probably know as well as I just how difficult it is to explain what a high or a low really feels like, from the inside.

I know I’ve thought of my blood glucose levels when clients complain about being too tired to work out, or when coworkers say they were out late.  I wonder what they’d say if their CGM was alarming through the night and they couldn’t get their BG up or down to a safe and restful level.

It makes me wonder.

Because, at the same time, I’ve had clients report they couldn’t work out due to a migraine.  I’ve seen coworkers barricade themselves in a dark office and put their heads down on a desk to try and stave off a migraine attack; I don’t know more than a headache.

I don’t have arthritic bones that ache.  I don’t have joints that have never quite worked right, without pain.  I don’t wear dentures or have a metal screw in any of my bones.

I don’t have food allergies that make me quiz a restaurant before I go, before I order, and face a plate I’m not quite sure will send me to the ER.

I’m not allergic to bee stings or poison oak that make me fearful of being outdoors.

I mention all of these, because I’m not sure if feeling a high or low blood sugar from the inside is what counts for someone to comprehend or commiserate or celebrate about life with diabetes.

This isn’t to say that I don’t love hanging out with my diabetes peeps; the shorthand is amazing and fills me with a peace I don’t find anyplace else.

However, I don’t think it’s right to automatically disqualify others from my life with diabetes because they don’t know how it feels to be a certain BG level.

I just need them to know that I’m trying, every day, and some days it works and some days it doesn’t.  I need them to understand that for me, a number matters.  A level changes my physical energy, can drain my strength, and can make me question my actions on a level of self-analysis of my body most don’t reach.  I need them to respect that it is an isolating feeling to look around at people who aren’t counting, who aren’t calculating, who are biting into random food without, it seems, a care in the world.

Once I trust that they understand these things about me, I feel pretty safe with them.

It’s pretty cool that they care enough to even try to understand.  (If you didn’t have to know about diabetes, would YOU?)

The Mind of a Diabetic, Take 41,578

August 20th, 2012

I never really know what I’m going to blog about.  Sometimes I wait for inspiration, and every day suspect maybe it won’t come.  Like today, for instance…until I remembered a funny thing that I’ll say I’m blogging about but really it’s just a funny story and hope you enjoy it. 

My mom’s birthday was Friday (in case you missed it; don’t worry I signed your name to the card) and my parents and my husband and I went out to dinner on Saturday.

We went to a fancy little place that was fun to try for a special occasion.  They have a three-course prix fix menu… each of the courses has four options.

Lucky for us, the chef sent out an amuse bouche after we ordered and before our first course arrived.  YUM.  Seriously; who would have thought that cold squash soup needed a few leaves of Brussels sprouts and three drops of maple syrup?  Sounds disgusting but was delicious.

So we’re eating and chatting and enjoying ourselves through our entrée course (have to love that my dad and I ordered “poulet deux” or something and my mom asks what the other thing on the plate is next to the chicken… it’s another piece of chicken! …guess which of the four of us didn’t take French class…), just like normal people.  They weren’t huge portions so I don’t think I had taken any insulin for anything yet.  (This was NOT an Olive Garden kind of place.)

And then after the entrée the waiter comes out with some sort of little drink for us—it was some sort of milkshakey cinnamon sugar sort of thing.  I’m not sure what it was called, but let me tell you: WOAH was it sweet.  I took one sip (of the two sips in the glass) and handed it off.

And me being me, I said something like “there isn’t enough insulin in my pump to drink that!” as I bolus for the sip I had just ingested.  (Yes it was that sweet that I bloused for one sip.)

And we’re still all chatting along, talking about our days, and my dad asks me what my next course is.  I had just been talking about where I ran that morning, so presumed he meant where I would next be running an organized race.  I start telling him all about all of my plans for the next few months… and because he’s my dad, he lets me keep going until I’m done.

At that point he says: “well, that’s all well and good, but I was talking about your DINNER course; it’s dessert and I thought you were out of insulin.”


Cheese course.  And, I didn’t mean it; it was just a really sweet drink, Dad! 

I thought it was funny.  Maybe you had to be there.  It’s just not something that someone who doesn’t have diabetes would even think about, so I thought I’d share it today.

When Do You Bend?

August 17th, 2012

I’m trying a new infusion set today (this Mio thing is so teensy!).  It just reminds me how many different things I’ve tried with my diabetes—some have worked, some haven’t.  It’s personal preference, but I do think it is important to be open to new things.

I mean, I started out taking NPH and R in 100cc syringes twice daily.  If I hadn’t been open to trying new things, I’d still be there!  (True story; I met someone still on that regimen a few years back who had never heard of long acting and rapid acting insulin. Oy.)

People and companies are coming out with new diabetes things every day.  New tools, new gadgets, new approaches, new strategies.

These are all very good things, if one is willing to let go of a little control and try something new.

I remember hearing about this new-fangled insulin called Humalog.  H. I remember convincing my doctor I should try it out in my insulin pump.

I shake my head at the thought now (here sits this 19-20 year old who my doc should know doesn’t check her blood sugar and who has been on a pump for less than a year trying to get the doctor to prescribe something that works much differently than the standard used at the time…and she did it! She gave me the insulin! Yikes!), but really, it’s a very good thing to stay somewhat informed and willing to see what works for you. (I myself can’t stand reading something new about diabetes every day… it’s in my head enough as it is.)

Granted, I’m a very stubborn person who hates (H.A.T.E.S.) change, so why would I try to be flexible with my diabetes?  Doesn’t it work better if we all stick on a schedule and try to do the same thing at the same time every day?  (Scar tissue comes to mind as a good reason to switch things up…)

Well, because for me, my life works better if I have more flexibility than that.  I can’t stand eating the same thing for breakfast every day, much less lunch or dinner!  And with a husband who works different hours every day and different days every week, flexibility is sort of a must in my house.

And you never know what you might find out.  It’s important to interact with other people with diabetes and to talk about what works for everyone else.  We are all such Diabetes Detectives, why not share what we’ve learned works and doesn’t work.

Change your site locations. Use your arm, or your butt, or your hip or abdomen.  Don’t change your lancet until it hurts.  Change it every morning.  Try eating a GlucoLift tab, or a spoonful of honey.  Ask for sample infusion sets you’ve never used.  Talk to your doctor about the newest insulin and what is coming down the pike.  Pick up a diabetes magazine while you’re at it, and thumb through the ads at the back.

See what’s out there!  You never know what you’ll find.


August 16th, 2012

I’ve had some comments appear in my various inboxes over the past few years about how unusually positive Diabetes Outside is, by comparison.

I appreciate that very much, yet at the same time get frustrated that somehow positivity is unusual in diabetes circles.

(I’m not altogether all that more positive than anyone else I meet, either, by the way.  I just don’t let negativity slow me down or give me any excuses; if you’ve been here for any time at all you’ve probably seen I have a fair number of rants!)

I am not super sure I should be writing about this particular topic, as it’s definitely one close to everyone’s heart, but I feel like I’m avoiding it if I don’t discuss it at all.  Can’t have that.

It absolutely KILLS me that in a Diabetes Daily poll the other day asking people what their predominant emotion is about their diabetes and their future, the majority of people answered “fear.”

Followed by “worry.”

Together, fear and worry represented 56% of the people who answered the poll.  Fifty-six percent!

This may mean I don’t sleep well tonight.

At the bottom of the poll, 3% of the respondents answered “hope” is their prevailing emotion when they think about their diabetes and their future. 

Only 2% answered: acceptance, optimism, faith.

Those options didn’t even make the cutoff on the display screen!  Wow.

This means that at least half of you are still in the shadow of that monster.

And you know what?  If you are, I think you are selling yourself incredibly short.

Listen, I’m the last one to tell you it’s easy to accept diabetes.  I’ve worked at it, and will probably continue to work at it the rest of my life.  Diabetes isn’t an easy thing to do.  The disease carries with it an enormous responsibility and not much of a cushion for mistakes.  You don’t get to take a day away… it’s hard to even take a few hours away from calculating and figuring and planning and talking and thinking.

This is why I think acceptance is just so much easier than anything else.

Because the thing is?  You stop TRYING to get away from it.  You see diabetes isn’t the worst thing in the world.  You don’t feel like a failure before you get up in the morning simply because you have woken up in the shadow of a monster.

Calculating and figuring and talking and planning become “self” instead of “alien”… you stop fighting and noticing you are different than someone who isn’t calculating or figuring.  (Let me assure you, they’re busy doing something…something you probably don’t understand, either, just like they don’t understand your disease.)

I want you to work at accepting your life with your diabetes.  Let the monster go.

You’ve got better things to do here.