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.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Unrealistic Expectations

I think we all have this expectation on how we should manage our diabetes. Whether that expectation comes from our parents, endocrinologists or the diabetes community - at times it can be rather defeating when we try to live up to an expectation we feel is unattainable.  I cannot stress enough how different diabetes is for each person who has it.  The way in which one person handles their diabetes is completely different to the next, and that is something we all should keep in mind when we are communicating about our diabetes whether that's a in-person conversation at your endo's office, or an online conversation on a forum.

Setting unrealistic goals about our diabetes is asking too much of ourselves. Lowering your a1c from seven to five in a matter of months - is difficult, and not an easy journey, so taking baby steps and focusing on how you want to handle diabetes (not how someone on Instagram handles their diabetes) is key.

Comparing ourselves is a good way to set unrealistic expectations.. let's keep in mind that social media is a snapshot of most people's highlight reel and not always their bloopers.  Seeing meter numbers that reflect a 'perfect' blood sugar doesn't mean that person is always on point - keep that in mind when you're trying to push forward with your diabetes. We all have faults, triumphs and stumbles, we just don't always show them.

Pointing out what's wrong and not what's right.   I'm going to do it, I'm going to quote Dr. Phil on this one, "It takes 1000 'atta boys' to erase one, 'you're an idiot.' " But seriously, those discouraging words you hear from your diabetes team or family/friends resonate so much, even more so then the times they let you know you were doing a good job.    It's important to sit back and think about what your own accomplishments are with your diabetes and set yourself up with a practical expectation.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Time, Listening & Acts of Kindness

As you get older you realize the importance of time, listening and acts of kindness.   I'd hope that some are lucky to realize the importance of these things earlier in life, but I can say my awareness of these things has heightened as a I reach my late 20's.   People struggle every single day on things we cannot imagine.   People carry on throughout their lives sometimes without ever showing their fears, heartaches or pain - and while those people appear happy on the outside, that isn't always the case behind closed doors.

I have made it my mission to reach out to those that I surround myself with and check in.   Not in a, 'I'm your parent' type way, but checking in to make sure they have a good day, and in turn I believe that gives them the opportunity to reach out to me if they need someone to listen to, and visa versa. I strongly believe that even a small act of kindness, a good morning text, a 'how are you doing' email, all of those things open the doors to helping those that sometimes may feel alone.

Recently on a conference call, one of the call participants told us how much she appreciated each and every one of us and while that gesture seems simple, it really impacted me and made me think about the times that I have let people know I appreciate them and what impact our words have on people (for the good and bad). I take those notion of the importance of time, listening and acts of kindness and put it towards not only my family and friends but also to the teens in my local support group that I run.  These three things are so incredibly valuable, more than anything one could buy and implementing the notion of these things into our daily lives - I feel, could be impactful.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Give Yourself Time

You do not owe anyone anything.  You are fighting a disease that many have no idea what that entails.  You spend countless hours worrying about your own health, whether or not you are prepared to handle the worst outcomes of your situation, if you can continue on without completely losing your mind. You do not owe anyone an explanation why you need to take some time to yourself.  Whether you're a warrior with type 1 diabetes or a parent/caregiver of someone with diabetes - you're doing some pretty hard things and taking time to re-coop is totally okay.   For me, I fill my days with lots of things, whether it's connecting with friends, posting on social media, going for a run, regardless the day is packed with tasks to do whether that's voluntarily done or not.      But, there is always apart of me that is pushing back time to sit back and relax.

Everyone relaxes differently, whether that is with a glass of white wine, a bubble bath or listening to calm music (or all the above...)   this time is so important because it helps us restore our faith in ourselves... that we can push through the next 24 hours not only with a bravery but also with our sanity in tact.  I know so many people out there who confess that they do not feel they have time for themselves or the money to spare, but one thing I have learned is that little acts of self love go along way, taking an hour on the weekend to get a pedicure or treating yourself to a Starbucks drink - that's all it takes sometimes to boost yourself into feeling better.

I'd like to challenge all my readers to pick a date this month to do something for themselves, and really do it!  Don't cancel that manicure, don't drain the tub too soon, give yourself an hour of relaxation to restore yourself.  You owe it to yourself!


Monday, January 9, 2017

Three Ways to Save

Living with diabetes isn't always about finding the easiest way of dealing, rather many people living with diabetes are looking for ways to find the cheapest way.  Diabetes is expensive!   Every little part of it is expensive, from the insulin that keeps us alive, to the doughnut we had to buy to keep ourselves from passing out!  As much as my global travel has taught me that I am lucky for my warm home, my free healthcare and my insulin in my fridge - it's still expensive!

I have learned a few diabetes hacks, that I thought I'd share...

1.  Buy juice boxes, rocket candies (smarties for my American Friends) anything but those expensive 'diabetes' tabs.  

Unless you've been sponsored by a diabetes sugar tab maker, you're probably spending quite a bit on sugar.   I know, I know, some people find it works faster, but I would like to say, that for me, other things work that are not super expensive, say, like rocket candies that I can get at the bulk barn for a fraction of the cost!

2. Ask for samples! You know, maybe you'll only get a few test strips or a vial of insulin, but sometimes companies/doctors/pharmacies have samples! 

It never hurts to ask for samples or see if there are any extra supplies.  A vial of insulin can cost A LOT, and if your doctor happens to have a trial sample in their clinic's fridge - why not!   

3. There is always a way to make things work! 

If you're on a pump and you are offered insulin via pen or pen vial, you can make it work!  Visa-versa! The wonderful syringe or reservoir, although annoying, can help you suck that wonderful insulin out and put it to good use!  If there is a will, there is a way, and if it will make you save money, then even better!


Friday, January 6, 2017

The Hardest Hour of Diabetes

The hour you wake up from your deep sleep, confused, exhausted and unsure if you're low or not.  You lay there looking up at the ceiling thinking about whether or not you're low. The convincing sweat that is rolling down your chest and the back of your neck and the weakness in your body.
 During that hour, there is the moment you binge, anything to keep yourself level, so that you can go back to sleep. You calculate how much longer you have before your alarm sounds.  Rummaging through the cupboards and fridge, stabbing juice boxes with straws, emptying drawers to find candy.
Then, still eating you decide to go back to your warm bed you left. You lay there, in the stillness of your own home while the world around you is asleep, but you're an inch into the peanut butter jar and crumbs are following you from bed to kitchen counter.  Then, finally you convince yourself to stop. Stop eating and reassure that you'll be okay until morning, trying to fall asleep with a full belly and the worry that you over ate or did not eat enough.

* this was found on my iPhone notes that I wrote at 12:49 a.m December 2nd, while having a low * 


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How to Make Blood Sugar Checks a Habit

I would say that the most failed task a person with diabetes does is likely checking their blood sugar often.  I am guilty of this.  There are days that I am checking fairly often and other days where I am surprised at how little I bothered to check...i.e maybe once a day.  It's an awful habit to not check your blood sugar because while we are type 1's feel as though we have an innate knowing of what our blood sugars are without checking, sometimes we can be really wrong, which could lead to a whole slew of issues.

Living with type 1 diabetes for almost 8 years now, I've come to the understanding that there are some key things that make me check more.   I can tell you that FEAR is not one of them. Although fear can encourage checking more I don't think it's a sustainable way to promote frequent healthy blood sugar checks.    Instead here is the one thing that keeps me motivated to checking my blood sugar and make it a sustainable habit.  Although this does seem to help, this is not a surefire way to be 'perfect,'  I still find myself slacking on occasion.

  • keep your meter closer to you

This is key for me. If my meter is in my purse downstairs, and I am upstairs, chances of me going downstairs, digging through my purse to find my meter is low.  Having my meter close by promotes more blood sugar checks simply because it's close to me and in visible range to where I am.  I almost feel guilty seeing it sit there while I enjoy a snack, because I know it's purpose and I know I am supposed to be using it.

There may be barriers as to why someone is not checking frequently, such as access. So I believe that the frequency in which you test should suit your needs and goals.  If you can only afford to check twice a day it is better than none. If you can afford to check multiple times during the day, and that makes you happy (and not stressed) than do that.   For myself, I check between 3 - 7 times a day on average depending on the activities I have done, the food I have ate, and mood that I am in.   What works for one person, isn't always going to work for the next.  But, I am a firm believer in having my meter close by, in order to test more often!