Archive for the ‘Living with Type 1 Diabetes’ category

Freaking Out

September 27th, 2012

I work hard and feel I have trained myself to freak out less at nearly anything I encounter.  I even married the most laid back person I ever met so that I could learn how (on earth) he does it.

It felt like a compliment the other day when someone mentioned I’m easy going.


I’m pretty darn certain I’m a type A personality.  I mean, I’m pretty determined and focused, and I DO care.  I make lists.  And I write things on those lists I’ve already done, just so I can cross off that I did something on my list.  Because it makes me feel better about my day, my weekend, my entire world.  Just a little bit, just by having things on my list I’ve already crossed off.

I think that is the sort of thing that reeks of “type A”.

And that personality trait/preference is precisely the type of thing that can make life with diabetes incredibly miserable.  A walking ball of anxiety and misery: that’s what I could be.

But I’ve opted to do something different with my diabetes.

I’ve opted to not look at every number that comes up on the screen.  I’ve opted to not think there is a big difference between a 110 and a 120.  (As there isn’t a requirement for meters to be more accurate and we’re all pretty much doing better now than we were doing before meters came on the scene, I figure we are for the most part doing okay with that.  I really don’t think that a more accurate meter with a 2% margin of error is going to enhance my life.)

I’ve opted to instead look at trends, repeated highs or lows that bug me because I feel I could do better at my regular life things I do.  I could sit through a 9am meeting without silencing my CGM from alerting to a high.  I could sleep past 2am without my CGM alerting me to a low.  That could really enhance my life, if I could do those things just by making some minor changes to my BG management.

The trends are where it’s at for me.

But some people who care deeply and intently about a 110 versus a 120 I feel need to take a breath or two.  To look at what they’re anxious about.  Are they feeling responsible for maintaining a non-diabetic A1c? Well here’s the rub: you DO have diabetes.  You DO have a different body than other people.

And there isn’t anything you can do about that.

AND, and here’s the point: THAT IS OKAY.

See?  Isn’t that refreshingly laid back of me?  Whew.

Different types of “NO”

September 25th, 2012

I don’t know what the right answer is for this one.  I just want to make sure we are asking the question as often as we need to in our own lives.

It stems from a blog I read about a kid who wanted to do a new sport, and whose mom didn’t want him to do it because of the child’s diabetes.

It would be too much of a hassle.

The kid would have to carry stuff around.  Maybe wear a sensor.

The mom would have to get up earlier to get the kid ready with enough time to get him to practice.

And stay around for practice.

And it sounded to me like the mom was trying very very hard to get the kid to not want to do this sport.  It sounded like the mom didn’t want the kid to do it because of his diabetes.  It sounded like the mom was pointing out the kid’s diabetes to him. (He probably wanted to forget, but did the mom really honestly think he did forget he has diabetes?)

Reading it reminded me of the numerous times I asked my parents for a dog.

Except we never did get a dog, and I learned it was really because my parents didn’t want a dog—it didn’t have much at all to do with me or what I wanted! (Again: not saying appropriate here or not; just mentioning it.)

And our family was fine.  And I’ve never forgiven them for not letting me love a dog of my own.  (And I don’t think I have to!  Scarred for life; I’m telling you. Life.)

But the big difference I see between getting a dog and starting a new adventure?  It’s that the kid should try new things—that’s what growing up is all about.  The parents are supposed to facilitate that growth—aren’t they?

The mom mentioned in her blog that she couldn’t just let the kid go off and do the sport.  The mom felt she needed to be there.  Every practice.

Which to me is gearing up for the kid to hate their diabetes.  And hate the mom.  And I foresee a huge mess of problems down a messy tangled path that leads to a heck of a lot of him not taking care of himself.

I don’t think the mom replied: okay; let’s think about how we can get you safe so I’m okay while you’re trying the sport and having fun.  Let’s make it happen with a little extra thought and planning.  I want you to try what you want to tryI want you to learn what you need for this sport and the next sport and the next and the whole entire lifetime ahead of you that you face with diabetes and probably/maybe/hopefully/definitely without me at every practice.

Because this is your life, and I want you to be unafraid and never feel inhibited by your diabetes.  It isn’t something I want you to hate.


I felt I should write about it here because I didn’t get the sense from reading that blog that the mom realized maybe what she was teaching her kid.  And I’ve never met either of them, but I hate that anyone with diabetes feels they can’t do something they want to do.  I don’t like the fear or the resentment.

So I need us to keep asking what, really, are we saying “no” to?

Reality Check!

September 10th, 2012

I think it’s time for a reality check around here.  A reality check for what life with diabetes means.

I drove to work today behind a car with a “Make-A-Wish Foundation” license plate cover.  It got me thinking… I have never heard of a kid with diabetes having a wish granted.  Which means, to me, that there must be a criteria we don’t meet.

So I checked it out.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation receives a referral, checks eligibility, finds out the wish, and grants it.  Simple.  BUT, we as diabetics will never qualify for a Wish. 

Because to be eligible, the child must: be diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition – i.e., a progressive, degenerative or malignant condition that has placed the child’s life in jeopardy.

Those of us living with diabetes, or parenting a child with diabetes, or caring for a parent with diabetes, or however you’re at this site: we don’t have a diagnosis that qualifies us to receive a Make-A-Wish wish.

You know why?

Because we have at our disposal the capability to go after our own dreams.  To persue our own goals.  To make our lives whatever we want to make them.

So go get after YOUR dream.  Make YOUR wish a reality.

You deserve it.

Take a Break

September 6th, 2012

I feel like we are continually admonished to “live in the now” and not spend too much mental time looking backwards (depression) or forwards (anxiety).


It’s difficult.

Add diabetes into the mix and its never-ending checks questions calculations and figuring… “living in the now” gets sort of swept away before one can even get started!

And, I’m sort of wondering why someone else is telling me how to think, to begin with… was I complaining about something or asking for help?  Maybe not.

It’s the same sort of reason I refuse to read Real Simple magazine—none of those “simplifying” solutions are simple.  Seriously.  Drives me crazy.  They spend all this time sort of trying to make you feel bad if you have a disorganized desk, drawer, or heaven forbid house…just simplify by doing this simple 17 step process every time you cross the threshold.  Crazy making!

Ooh sorry; didn’t mean to rant there.

What I do think is important is having some mental down timetime where you and your mind don’t have an agenda.  You aren’t singing along with Pandora, you aren’t reading the ticker tape across the bottom of the screen, you aren’t on hold with an insurance company.  You aren’t making the grocery list or driving to soccer.  You aren’t trying to accomplish much of anything at all.

Mental down time.  It doesn’t have to be living in the now.  It doesn’t have to be living in the yesterday, or in the tomorrow.  It is more about not having a running commentary at full speed.  It’s trying to allow your mind to slow down and saunter for a bit.

Some people want to meditate.  I haven’t ever really been able to achieve any sort of nirvana while attempting to meditate… I’m asleep far before I reach any enlightenment!

Some people want to knit.  (Love that someone said yesterday their favorite exercise is knitting.)

Some people want to sip coffee and read the morning paper.  For me, it’s running or other exercise.  Some people garden.

Whatever it is, your mental down time is a lot like a rest day off from exercise—essential for your health.  Just like you only can get physically stronger when you are at rest, your mind needs a break from its usual pace.

Think of it as what you do after all five of the kids return to school after a busy summer spent driving, vacationing, sightseeing, and funning.  Those first few quiet days.

Just try sometimes to have an hour or two to give yourself a mind break.

I think you’ll find it’s really quite nice.


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?