Saturday, July 23, 2016

Raise Us Up

I want a cure as much as the next girl but can we just stop for a minute and think about the "right now."  Think about the teens that are battling with their parents over not checking enough.  Think about the women with diabetes that want to get pregnant but are being told no constantly because their control isn't good enough. Stop and think about the child who is crying and screaming at their mother whose trying to put a new site on them.  This is a huge issue that is getting neglected.

We need money. We need money to find a "cure" and we need money to at least discover easier ways to manage diabetes. But we don't need money to help our diabetes community cope. I was really struggling the other night. I had just found out my a1c which is 8.4% and I was mad at myself. I sat at the end of my bed, alone, trying to cope. I was about to go to bed, but I needed to relax my mind. I tried to think about the positives but all the negatives kept pushing through. It was when M walked in that I broke down.  "I hate diabetes. Why do I have to have diabetes?"  The pain grew deeper as I began ranting about complications. "I am going to die. All these opportunities are amazing but they won't be any good when I'm blind, leg less or dead."

M hugged me. I felt so weak. Me, the diabetes guru, the inspirational woman who somehow climbed Kilimanjaro. The thing is, I don't often speak about how diabetes makes me feel. I really am excellent at amping it up and I don't think that's always a bad thing, but what is bad is that when my pot boils over, it floods.   It took a solid 30 minutes for M to calm me down and reassure me that I'll be O.K. He asked how he can help, and really the only thing I could say was, "make sure I check my blood sugar!"

The support continued as I had asked the Type 1 Diabetes Meme page for words of advice and the community lifted me up, just like M did the night before.  The support continued with my diabetes friends who wrote me messages, sent me photos of their highs and gave me motivation to keep going, day by day, I'm not alone. And guess what, all of this support was free and incredibly helpful.

The issue is that a lot of people neglect seeking help or offering help. Helping is exhausting and can be difficult and asking for help can be embarrassing and overwhelming. But, it really is just about asking and listening from both ends. You take what you need and you leave what you don't want. Ultimately I think it's so important.  I try to be that support for the people in my life and in specific the teens from my t1 empowerment group.

Of course a cure would be outstanding and new technology is incredibly amazing, but sometimes I think we get caught up in raising money and forget who we are raising money for. If we spent the same amount of effort raising those with diabetes as we did raising funds I think those that are battling diabetes would feel just that much better.

Special thank you to people like Mike, Mariam, Dani, Amber and Sally who raised me up this week.


Friday, July 22, 2016

You're the Coach

Diabetes isn't a competition, but sometimes it sure as hell feels like it.   

I should clarify, I am not competing against someone else, I am competing against myself. We are all competing against ourselves when we are diagnosed with diabetes because there is a fine line between, I caused this, and I didn't cause this but I need to do something about it.  You know, like when you're babysitting and the child spills milk everywhere, and you know you didn't do anything to make the milk spill all over the tile floor, but it needs to get mopped up.  The kid isn't going to mop it up, you are. That's your job.   Like, diabetes is your job, you need to take care of it.  

Diabetes is like the milk on the ground, except as much as you mop it up, somehow it always reappears.  You could have the strongest sippy cup in the nation, but milk is going to spill.    I have awesome days with diabetes, I keep my cool, my blood sugars appear to be co-operating, but then just as I get comfortable, I am slammed with a high blood sugar.  I know why usually. Usually, I forgot to bolus, or I didn't carb count properly. There are times where I am also unsure of what went wrong. I didn't feel like I did anything wrong to deserve the high or low, but regardless, something must be done. 

Almost  as much as the amount of time I think about, "I am hungry, you don't need to eat." I am also obsessing over what my control is like with my diabetes. Is it average? Am I failing myself? When is the last time I checked my blood sugar? Do I even care?  And when I do check I am judging whether or not it's good, or bad or asking myself why I let it get to a certain number. 

"Kayla, why didn't you just focus at breakfast and give a proper bolus! Pull it together woman!" 

I am like my own awful coach who constantly yells at myself for dropping the ball.  

I am literally competing against myself to try and be better, but at the same time giving up. It's a bit ridiculous.   I feel as though this disease has so many different aspects to it, than as one single person, it's hard to figure out the best way to handle it all, and I guess that is why many of us with diabetes do feel that competition within ourselves. That nasty coach voice yelling at us to run faster, pass the ball and pay attention.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Blood Work

Part of diabetes is getting blood work. And, I'll be honest. I suck at getting blood work done. It's not that I am anxious about getting it done, but more so the fact of actually making the time to get it done. I have good intentions, I want to know my a1c just as much as my doctor does, however almost always I am scrambling at the last minute to get blood work done before my appointment. This time I sort of messed up, as my blood work sheet was good for 4 months. Basically I was supposed to go three times and I went once. Opps!

Now, besides actually physically showing up for blood work, I do get anxious about the actual result, not the needles. Getting blood work is basically like taking off your spanx. (I don't actually wear spanx but it seems like a good analogy). When you get blood work, you are exposing it all. Doctors, nurses and of course you, see what really is going on. Like spanx hide the imperfections, once it's off, it's all there, by "its" I mean your body, and all the things you try to hide or smooth over.    Getting your a1c checked shows all those little bumps... The only thing in your favour with your a1c is that if you're prone to lots of lows it can skew the results - I've heard.   I doubt that will be an issue for me.

Then there is the waiting game. The blood clinic I go to has online results posted within 24 hours. So I can basically be my own doctor and judge myself within 24 hours. I used to have to call my family doctor to find out the results inwhich they would always tell me I have diabetes. Which would come by total shock, me? Diabetes? No way.  Now, I avoid that awkward, "I already have diabetes" conversation behind and check in the comfort of my own house.

My endo is very easy going, I assume it is because I am a pretty competent, and compliant patient. Besides the getting regular blood work part, but hey, we can't all be perfect.  I don't feel as nervous going to her, to go over my results and get advice, but I know a lot of people that do get anxious and it's really unfortunate. As a person with diabetes you're constantly under pressure. If it isn't from a third party it is from yourself.

So, for now, I wait until the lab posts my results online.  I am hoping for a decent number but my guess is as good as yours.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Diabetes the Socialite

It's funny how diabetes can be both a private and completely social type of disease.   First off, I deal with my diabetes pretty privately in the sense that when I check, I do it without most knowing, when I bolus or carb count, it's quick and barely draws attention. I am not one to make a big stink about not knowing where the package to the hot dog buns went to carb count, nor make a scene when my blood sugar dips low.   However, sometimes diabetes does become quite social and at these times I either absolutely enjoy talking about it or I begin to shut down.

I do a lot of things in the diabetes world, and because of that, most of my stories  relate to diabetes in some shape or form.  I enjoy this aspect of diabetes being social, often times it saves me in an otherwise awkward conversation and sometimes it really gives me an opportunity to educate.  However, it's times like when my blood sugar screams from the top of its lungs and I find myself being swarmed by concerned friends and family, following me around like a loose toddler that I begin to shut down and turn away from my diabetes, well, at least from talking about it.

Recently, I had a high blood sugar around a group of friends that I must admit I announced to everyone, myself. I was surprised by the high blood sugar, but it wasn't anything that I was worried about.  I know what to do. If I am passed out, I do not know what to do {because I'm passed out..} but if I am walking around, chatting, being a normal human being then I know what I am doing.     However, others get worried and I get it. Knowing me, I'd be the same person chasing around someone who I thought was not O.K. I am an empathetic person and I love that there are others, but sometimes, I can't handle it.

I felt like I was the one in the group that was irresponsible, let my health slip away, like I couldn't be trusted to take care of myself.   But, really, high blood sugars happen, low blood sugars happen. It doesn't matter if it's a weekend party at the cottage, or a boring Monday night on the couch, it all happens.  I am a self-proclaimed professional at getting things in order, it's actually super easy {albeit sometimes not...} I bolus, I check, I bolus, I drink water, I relax, I don't panic.

I love that my friends care. I mean, this blog post could be about going high or low and my friends walking away from me like nothing, not asking me a single question, or ignoring me because I am a burden, but it isn't about that. It is about empathic people who genuinely want me to feel good, and be healthy.  I much rather be surrounded by love than hate, and so I am very thankful for that... But sometimes, when diabetes wants to be social and you do not, it's really hard to wrap your head around that concept.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

DBW: Let's Get Physical

Let's just start off with this photo:

Diabetes isn't just about what you eat.   You can avoid sugar, you can cut out carbohydrates and still deal with high blood sugar. Likewise, you can eat extra food, take less of a bolus, set a temp basal, and still end up low.   I find exercise and diabetes one of the most annoying combinations in the history of combos.   The issue is that no day is the same, I could eat the exact same thing [which I do] every morning and do the same amount of fitness [which I do] and have completely different numbers.  I think that when it comes down to it, it's about being prepared for whatever diabetes throws at you. If you're going to the gym, keep your tester near by and your low supplies close.  As much as we try to pre-plan it can be extremely difficult.

Personally, I do not go to the gym. I used to go all the time, but then I realized it wasn't practical for me and I wanted to find something that didn't stress me out, yet also kept me active. I work with children so I am constantly running around whether that is playing at the park, walking around the neighbourhood or jumping on a trampoline.  To me, this is fun, and also keeps me active, which is good enough for me.

The difficult part is that when I am active is when I am working, and since I mentioned I work with children it's so important that I make sure I am not going low and if I do go low [which happens] I make sure that I have the proper things I need to bring me back up.   If I am going for a long walk, I bring my supplies, a snack, low treatment and my debit card just in case I need to further purchase more food.

Since my exercise is based around/during my work schedule, there really is no need for added motivation. I have made it apart of my routine and it has worked out well for me.  Almost every day at work I reach over 15,000 steps before noon. It's the weekends that I slack, I do run a lot errands but not enough to classify as exercise I don't think.

All and all I have learned how important it is to find something that works for your schedule and also something that doesn't stress you out. When I had a gym membership I would stress that I didn't go often enough or that I was spending too much money on the membership.   I found that once I withdrew from that and began walking with the children and with my friends and partner, I felt much better overall and was still getting a workout in.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

DBW: My Day In Food

I actually always track my food, well at least I have been since December.  It's not some strange obsessive thing, but it is more to keep myself accountable for what I eat and how much I am eating.  I have always struggled with weight, nothing extreme, but just chasing that 'ideal' self for as long as I understood what my 'ideal' self was.

Here is a page out of the wonderful food journal, which is an old notebook from IDF Melbourne I got.

The book I am using to track my food.
May 9th 2015 

Breakfast: All Bran [2 cups]
                  Skim Milk [1/2 cup]
                  1 Banana

Snack: Popcorn [2 cups]

Lunch:  Grain Bread [2 slices]
              Black Forest Ham slices
              Greek Yogurt

Snack: Granola Bar
             Baby Bell Cheese

Dinner:  Quinoa Chicken Fingers [3]
                Beets [1 cup]
                Apple Sauce [1/2 cup]

I often try to stick to 1200 calories and under and frankly, lately I have been a bit more off because I have had so many lows, but dealing with diabetes and food can be difficult. It is hard to find balance between eating healthy, not being obsessed, and making sure that you are also giving yourself a break.


Friday, May 20, 2016

DBW: Tips and Tricks

Living with diabetes for over seven years now, I have found some ways to easily navigate my life and diabetes without totally having a mental breakdown. Working full time, having a decent social life and living with diabetes is a lot of work.  If we spend too much time focusing on our diabetes we may miss out on a lot, so having tips and tricks to make life easier is always great.

Diabetes comes with a lot of STUFF. I literally two clear plastic drawer stands that are filled with diabetes supplies.  I keep these in my closet and it keeps everything organized and together.  This makes site changes a lot easier because I know where everything is and how to access it. Also, if anyone else needs to get something for me, it's pretty laid out as to where everything is.

I will admit, I do not measure my food. It takes up a lot of time and I am very much a 'right now' type of person.  However, for things that I eat often, I use the same bowls/cups so that I know where to fill it.  This is super easy, because most people have a full dinnerware set with all the same bowls, plates etc. So once you measure your cereal once, and know where in the bowl it lines up to, then you know approximately the serving size.   This obviously isn't as accurate as actually measuring out your food, but it's just something that has made my meal times a bit less annoying.

I recently wrote about travel and diabetes. In the post I mention a couple tips and tricks for traveling and diabetes such as I always keep my diabetes bag packed.  It has everything in it I need (minus insulin) and I just restock it once I return from a trip. I always pack double, perhaps triple the amount that I need. This travel bag keeps it all together and one less thing to worry about when packing my other things. 

Overall I wouldn't say I have discovered anything miraculous, but I do think that individually we find life hacks that make dealing with diabetes easier. Some work for others while others are a complete fail. We are all different, living different lifestyles and how great is it when we find something that works perfectly for us while making life that much easier!