Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Managing Stress with Diabetes

For those that do not live with diabetes, you may notice things happen when you're stressed. Maybe you are more forgetful, your hair falls out, or you've gained a couple extra pounds.  All of this can happen when we stress our bodies and mind out and it's not a surprise that when you live with diabetes, stress will also effect your diabetes.

I don't mean to brag, but I am pretty good at stressing myself out...I have always been a fairly anxious person, even as a child.  It took me a long while as a child to be brave enough to leave my mom over long periods of time and I often worried about things like getting lost and people breaking into the house as a child.   So, as an adult, while those specific fears have faded, they're replaced with anxiousness about other things.

While I wouldn't say my stress levels effect my day-to-day life greatly, it seems to be reaping havoc on my blood sugars.  I have almost doubled my insulin intake this winter. I am at an all time high for insulin dosages.   As I have been working on various ways to lower my stress such as taking baths, going for walks/the gym, taking time to go to stores I love,  giving myself projects to work on and visiting with friends .... it can be relatively hard to calm my mind and my body.

Managing stress and diabetes is difficult, you get all the symptoms others get with stress, but also the issues with blood sugars or motivation to care for yourself.  It takes a lot of mental talk and commitment to focus on how to be less stressed; which, is much more easier said than done.

Kayla



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I Imagine

It's hard to believe that I lived eighteen years without diabetes, much longer than I have had diabetes.  The weirdest part about it is that I barely remember what it was like to not live with diabetes.  I see old home videos of me, finding chocolate easter eggs at Easter, not even thinking twice about what that meant for my blood sugar or health.  I see pictures of me at my birthday parties, pizza slices, orange pop and chocolate cake, and wonder, wow, I really could just eat all that and not even worry!

I started to think of the things that would be amazing if diabetes was ever to be cured (not holding my breath) and this is what I thought of:

1. I could eat without consequence 


Okay, so any human who eats junk food has consequences, which would be weight gain etc. However, literally everything that I put in my mouth I have to think about how it's going to play a roll in my blood sugar, which ties into everything else, including mood, energy etc.  I imagine what it would be like to go out for dinner with friends and order something without thinking, 'oh my gosh, I am going to need half my vial of insulin to cover this..."

2. I could sleep without fear or interruption 

I am not scared to sleep, but I am often faced with so many obstacles when trying to get a good night of sleep.  There is rarely a night that I am not up for....

a. a low blood sugar...
b. a high blood sugar (having to use the washroom...)
c. my pump vibrating for who knows what reason...

I imagine sleeping a full night without having to get up nor worry about diabetes.

3. I would have so much more brain space for other things

I literally think about diabetes so much. From checking, correcting, forgetting, calculating, eating, carb counting... you name it, it's on my mind.

I imagine that if I didn't have diabetes, I would have so much more concentration and energy to think of other things and get more things done.


Kayla

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Invite Positive

It's February, the month of love and the hope that there will be more sunshine than last month! January felt like a super long month for me. I have no idea why,  but it was cold, dark and gloomy most of the day and it was incredibly hard to keep motivated.

I love how a new month seems to always kick everyone in gear, the only trouble is, the first of the month always seems to be everyone's tell-tale of how your month will go, even though, I am pretty sure that it actually has no connection.

This morning I had a meeting downtown, and while I was super excited that the sun was shining through, I had been up super early because of a low blood sugar, then fell back asleep, then woke up again, so my mind was all over the place.  I got ready, brushed off my car, then scrapped off my car (the ice is the worst!)  and went on my way. Of course there was steady traffic all the way there and I was running behind thinking, "is this the kind of month it is going to be?" 

Upon arriving a paid for parking, and walked into the meeting a few minutes late, but relieved it was nothing too drastic, for those that know me well, I am hardly ever late. In the back of my head, still figuring out if this was destined to be good or bad month, I thought, wouldn't that be awful if I got a parking ticket.  While that occupied my mind, I left as with three minutes to spare on parking meter and drove off, thinking well maybe it will be okay.

I think this is sometimes how we approach diabetes as well.  We wake up in the morning...(or several times during the night) and we determine what kind of day it is going to be.  We have a high blood sugar pre breakfast, which makes us choose eggs over cereal, and we dread what will come next.  It is sort of setting ourselves up for failure, because I believe once we focus on the negative, we are bound to fall into more negative scenarios.

While we cannot control it all, I think that we do have some control over what we invite into our lives, whether that be 'bad' days or 'good' days.   Being late is bound to happen, running out of coffee could be a possibility (scary one at that..) but this doesn't mean that the day is ruined or broken. This month I am going to try and invite positive into my life.

Kayla  

Friday, January 27, 2017

The It Could Be Worse Statement

Often times to find light in diabetes, we think of the worst, you know, "well I could have ______ instead of diabetes and that would be worse." While this is totally a way of coping with our diagnosis, this is also a way that our friends, family and strangers phrase our diabetes diagnosis as well.  Raise your hands up if you've been told, "it could be worse."  And, I get that, but here is the problem with the 'it could be worse' statement.

When we think of a diagnosis of diabetes, we think of two things, managing diabetes through frequent blood sugar checks and taking insulin. Seems pretty straight forward. Right?  But, the more you spend time talking to someone with diabetes about their disease, you will quickly learn that diabetes isn't about these two 'simple' steps, rather a complicated mess of things. From the outside, people who love us question why we won't just take another dosage of insulin or check more often. They BEG us to just do something and not destroy ourselves, as if we have simply just given up.  

The problem, of simplifying diabetes, or making it somehow seem like a 'light' and totally 'manageable disease' is that we are drowning those people who live with this disease.  We are telling them that with a few easy steps and some 'harder' work, they to can be living a life of happiness like so-so celebrity who lives a glamorous life with diabetes. But, the reality of what it takes to manage a twenty-four hour/seven day a week disease is incredibly difficult.

As one of my teens from my empowerment once said, "It's hard to manage something you never asked for." And, with any  effort you put towards keeping yourself alive, the strength is admirable.

No disease is easy, no disease is any less than another, all of us who are fighting battles with our own bodies are warriors.

Kayla


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

It Stings

Mary Tyler Moore, who lived with type 1 diabetes, passed away today.  I think the first thought on most people's minds was the big question of, "did she die to complications related to diabetes?"  The haunting feeling that this disease that we deal with could take away a life, hurts the hearts of those that are living with diabetes and those that care for ones with diabetes.  While Mary Tyler Moore lived a reasonably long life with diabetes, it still stings a bit to read a fellow type 1 has passed.

When I was first diagnosed, I remember my mom had told me that Mary Tyler Moore also had type 1.  To be honest, I don't know if I really knew who she was at that point because of the generation gap, but I took interest and my mom bought me her book, Growing Up Again: Life, Love and Oh Yeah, Diabetes, that talks about her diagnosis during her show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Learning about other celebrities along the way with diabetes is always interesting, seeing how they manage their disease and how they give back to the community, something Mary Tyler Moore did very well.

As the diabetes community mourns over her loss, I do hope that we see how much she accomplished in her life span and how many lives she touched.  It is difficult to not think the worst, wondering what lead to her death, and if we will reach those stages, or how we can avoid them as people who battle the same condition.  In connection with the mental health campaign put on by Bell Canada, #BellLetsTalk I hope to make a point to say that if you are feeling anxious about your diabetes, if you're worried or scared, reach out and talk.  I am offering my support and listening ear, anytime.

I know hearing news of fellow type 1's passing away stings, I know it makes you think a million different things, and assess your management skills - am I doing enough?  But know, that you're not alone.


Rest in Peace Mary Tyler Moore


Kayla

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Coping Mechanisms

The more people you come across living with diabetes, the more your realize how different one can deal with their diabetes. I have lived with diabetes for almost eight years and in that time frame I would say that my level of calmness with my diabetes has been pretty steady.  I have never really let diabetes stop me from doing anything nor worried about it's effects on whatever I was doing at the time, such as writing exams or going out with friends. Of course there are moments where I've had to intervene to take care of my diabetes, but not once have I felt that diabetes took my sanity.

However, it's the smaller stuff that seems to steal my sanity. I am quite a perfectionist at times and things like, matching, organization, making plans - disrupt my calmness.  I find it incredibly strange that diabetes never has disrupted my calmness quite like a mismatching plate and napkin set. It's incredible, like my body knows, what is not all that important and stresses about that instead...

I get the stress that comes with living with diabetes and I won't type away saying I don't ever stress about my diabetes, but sometimes I wonder if that is my exact coping mechanism when dealing with this 24/7 disease.    Instead of stressing over the disease that I can do my best to manage, but cannot change, I stress over the plans of a girls' night out and making sure every detail is perfected - because that is something I can muddle around, and make perfect.

Either way I believe we all have our coping mechanisms when it comes to diabetes whether that's reaching out to talk to someone about it, ignoring it or going out of our way to stress about something else...

Kayla

Friday, January 20, 2017

Maintaining Friendships

This week has been great for connecting with friends - it's funny how a lot of things sort of happen all at once, you plan for something and it attracts a whole lot of everything else.  Busy attracts busy perhaps?  But, these past two weeks have been incredibly busy, but filled with things I love and that includes work (I love the jobs I do!)

But, more so what it involved was connecting with old friends, and to me, that is so incredibly important because I must admit, keeping in touch with all the people I know and care about can be difficult.   I have friends from all over and putting in the time to really catch up isn't easy, but is totally worth it.  I had decided early on in the year that I wanted to really put more effort into seeing, listening and going the extra mile for the people that mean the most to me.  

As someone who prefers pajamas over dresses sometimes, it can be difficult to convince myself to 'just do it' go out there and make plans.  This week I caught up with a good friend who really was my first real diabuddy (friend with diabetes). The funny thing is that we actually had known one another most of our lives, going to the same elementary school, but never talking until we both found out we were in the same situation - the diabetes situation! Throughout my diagnosis we kept in touch, often meeting for super long chats at Williams' Cafe, but once he moved to a new province our friendship distanced a bit, until I realized he was moving to the same city as I am in.  This week we met up and it was like no time had passed - I was reminded of the importance of keeping those we truly connect with, close.

For some flashback Friday, here is a blog post written in 2009: 100 Days

Another person I reconnected with was a friend from College.  This time, many more years had passed between the time we last hung out up until this week, but I did like her new philosophy of strengthening her friendships - as it matched what I had set out to do in the new year.   It reminded me the importance of not letting life just fly by without really spending time with your friends and family.

Maintaining friendships does take time and effort, but I can guarantee that the payoff is worth it.

Kayla