Another Indescribable Feeling

The sky was grey. The air was chill. The winds were howling. The rain had been falling, intermittently. It must have been the coldest day of the year. I was sitting in front of the TV, whilst keeping an eye on the clock.

I got up at around 2.20pm, and checked my blood sugar. I opened my wardrobe, before deciding against it. They had told me 3 o’clock, after all. I sat back down, anxiously awaiting the clock to shift closer to three.

I wondered where I might find myself today.

I had looked at my average blood sugar in the Diasend report over the weekend, and had loosely translated that to an a1c. That average blood sugar was actually quite a good looking number, yet I still couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed in it. I began thinking through some of the problem spots I’d encountered in recent weeks, and where I could have done better.

What if you hadn’t been so lazy and kept putting off your work day morning basal test?

What if you’d been a bit more diligent with your snacking when you get home in the afternoons?

What if your overnight numbers had been a little more consistent than they have been?

Part of me had tried to talk myself out of getting an a1c done until I could get that average looking a bit better. Thankfully, the rational side of me won out.

As the clock approached closer to three, I got changed, jumped in my car and headed down the road to collect my Pathology reports. I mentally prepared myself for what I might find. I knew I would see a decent a1c result. I knew that it would be better than my last one in January. But I wasn’t expecting anything life changing.

I got out of my car, walked up the stairs and tapped on the window of the demountable ‘D’ block, peering sideways to see if anyone was in there.

I stood there, feverishly, as the nurse looked my name up on the computer to see if all of my labwork had been done. She printed my results out, placed them in an envelope and sealed it with a slice of tape.

I thanked her and stepped back out into the blustery, grey carpark. I ripped open the envelope, mentally prepared to flick through each of the five sheets in there – but there was no need. The number was there, on the first page, staring me in the face.

That number was better than anything I was expecting. I had chalked up a new personal best. My face exploded into this massive grin, and my right arm shot up into the air in victory.

It was more than just seeing that number on the piece of paper. It was about all of that hard work I had put in. The hard work, that up until now, I hadn’t given myself a lot of credit for. 

Even though I was rewarded with a very attractive number yesterday, my self worth as someone with diabetes shouldn’t be tied to one. 

I need to be kinder to myself. I need to give myself a pat on the back for the things I am doing well. I need to stop beating myself up over the things aren’t working so much, because I can always work on it tomorrow.

For the next few days at least, I think I’ll have a hard time wiping that grin off my face.

Diabetes Disruptions

Last night’s OzDOC chat on diabetes disruptions really put my mind to work. I can’t say that I think of diabetes as being disruptive all that often. Yet as I began to answer some of the chat questions, it became pretty clear to me that it was. Diabetes is disruptive. It’s disruptive to my day, it’s disruptive to my mindset and it’s disruptive to the people around me.

One disruption that easily comes to mind is the time I have previously wasted, obsessing over what I need to bring with me every time I leave the house. I tend to overthink things quite a bit, especially with the more time that I have up my sleeve.

How long will I be gone? How far away from home will I be? Am I going to be comfortable at the party with all of this crap weighing me down? Do I really need all the stuff I have brought with me?

I’ll spend far too much time tucking things into pockets and jackets, only to pull them out once again. Thankfully I now have my grey marle pencil case, with all my travel gear ready to go every time I head out.

Another disruption that comes to mind is the people around me. I am too nice of a person. While I don’t particularly feel the need to explain myself, I do feel conscious of the fact that I might not be polite to others. Like trying to find the right moment to excuse myself and walk away from someone who is talking to me.

Then there are days where diabetes puts a damper on my mood. Or I’m not having the best day, and having to deal with diabetes on top of it simply makes it worse. I’m more quiet, withdrawn, and probably don’t do my best at explaining this to the people around me. But I feel ridden with guilt for it afterwards.

I’m also really conscious of the perception toward diabetes that I’m feeding to others through my actions. I don’t want people to think that I’m ill or unwell. I’m quick to deflect people’s looks of pity with confident explanation of what I do to myself to manage. Okay, cutting the queue at Pathology yesterday probably didn’t help my cause, but you can’t live with this lousy condition without the occasional perk…

The one disruption that I would easily wish away is a low blood sugar. Correcting a high is easy enough. I’m pretty confident in my ability to keep tabs on pump failures and ketones. Yet a nasty low is enough to knock me sideways. It frustrates me that I can’t even go for a walk around the block without having to worry about going low.

While diabetes will continue to be disruptive in every which way that it pleases, always remember that you most certainly are not.

“Type 1 Diabetes. Fasting.”

In times gone by, I would have hauled myself out of bed on a cold Winter’s morning much earlier than my liking. Blood sugar permitting, I would have dressed and made my way out the door while it was still dark outside. I would have started my car, and made the two minute drive down the road to my local Pathology centre. Despite walking in thirty minutes before collections begin, the first number available to me would likely have been a 4 or a 5.

I would have taken a seat and rolled my eyes at the table of ancient, frayed magazines. I would have pulled my phone out of my pocket and opened up Facebook. I would have checked the current temperature outside in my trusty Weatherzone app. I probably would have been distracted momentarily by the Sunrise Cash Cow on the TV in the waiting room. I would have returned to my phone, this time moving onto Twitter. I would likely have returned to the weather, refreshing to see if it were any warmer outside. Once again, the TV would likely grasp my attention at the sight of the weather man out and about doing something silly. Returning to my phone, I’d open up the next app.

By this point, I’d be bored out of my brains. My empty stomach would be growling like crazy. To add to the torture, the coffee bar that was thoughtfully placed in a waiting room of fasting patients, would have opened for the day. I’d watch on as people flocked to it in droves for their morning caffeine fix, and forcing their banter upon my poor ears. I’d be constantly looking at my watch, despite the time being right in front of me on my iPhone screen. I’d start taking note of how many people were in front of me. I’d start wondering if number 3 was in there, telling the nurse their whole life story while I was desperately wanting to get out of there and start my day.

Thankfully, today was not the case.

I stayed in my warm bed until an hour of my choosing. I got dressed, and walked out the door into brilliant grey daylight. I drove down to Pathology, walked in and made my way to the counter where I announced:

I’m here for a blood test. I have type 1 diabetes and I’m fasting.”

This morning there were no frayed mags, no coffee bar torture, no endless scrolling through Facebook, no stomach rumbling and no eye rolling at the Sunrise weather man. I walked straight through, waited for the two patients already in the room, and had my bloods done straight away.

I probably fed the attendant’s misconceptions about a diabetic needing to constantly eat to regulate his blood sugars. I probably felt a tinge of guilt for the other poor souls sitting there in the waiting room. 

But those people also didn’t have a broken pancreas to deal with. They weren’t course correcting a lower-than-they’d-like blood sugar before bed. They didn’t have to force themselves up to check their blood sugar when they stirred in their sleep at 4am this morning. They weren’t left scratching their head over why their blood sugar had risen from 5.4 to 8.8 in a few hours, when normally it sits stable.

I played the diabetes card today, and I’m not going to feel guilty for it.

It’s The Little Things

It’s the little things.

It’s about making it easy to travel prepared whenever I leave the house (hello, grey marle pencil case).

It’s remembering to set a temporary basal rate on the lousy days where I want to spontaneously binge on cookies and ice cream, so that I can cruise through a little more easily.

It’s mastering the art of how many Skittles I need to raise my blood sugar by just 1mmol, and not 5.

It’s using a bit of intuition and overriding the ezBG suggestion on my pump when I don’t think that my blood sugar is going to come down.

It’s setting a temporary basal rate if I’m going for a short walk around the block this afternoon.

It’s making a habit of weighing my food on the red scales that sit next to the fruit bowl in the kitchen.

It’s learning the difference between bolusing for a banana, and bolusing for a Woolworths White Choc Macadamia Cookie (let me tell you that’s one hell of a difference).

It’s being observant to the fact that my insulin sensitivity is completely different when my blood sugar is out of range.

It’s learning how to bolus for the protein content in a meal.

It’s checking my blood sugar 1 or 2 hours after a meal, so that I can correct a high or stop a low in its tracks.

It’s cottoning onto the fact that my blood sugars will begin soaring upon waking if I don’t get a decent night’s sleep.

It’s remembering to check for air bubbles in my pump line, when my blood sugars won’t seem to come down.

It’s patiently waiting for my blood sugar to come down, and not over reacting to numbers and trend arrows.

It’s writing notes in my diary to jog my memory next time I do the same activity or eat the same food.

It’s being kind to myself, because learning these little things means making mistakes. Several times over.

During a demanding couple of weeks, I’ve watched myself do a lot of these little things like second nature.

I am far from perfect.

But it really is the sum of all these little things that I’ve picked up on along the way, that make managing my diabetes just that little bit easier.

Throwback Thursday: I Am Obsessed With Perfect Blood Sugar Levels

It has been an extremely busy month, and I’m very much looking forward to a Winter break as of tomorrow. Today I’m giving you the pleasure of some diabetes attitude from 2015 Frank. I’ll just sit in the corner and cringe…

I think sometimes I can be over obsessed with the idea of perfect blood sugar levels. I am so obsessed that it takes over my thoughts and my actions.

Hyperglycemia. I absolutely HATE seeing a blood sugar level of, say, 20. It usually happens after a day of unhealthy eating. And other times its a complete suprise. It irritates me. It frustrates me. It angers me. It guilts me. It even cues scary thoughts of future diabetes complications. I’ll hastily grab my insulin pen, dial up a big dose, and jab it in. I know its too big of a dose, but I’m not thinking clearly. I just want to get my blood sugar levels back down to earth ASAP. And I’ll do anything to avoid seeing those numbers again. And more often than not, I’ll end up over bolusing just to ensure my blood sugar levels don’t peak that high. Which leads me to…

Hypos. Hypos make me feel weak. Tired. Powerless. Defeated. Seeing a hypo is disheartening, particularly on days where I feel I’ve done all the right things. Drenched in sweat, hands trembling, head spinning, I’ll reach for the jellybeans and start to shove them in my mouth. I hate them and the dry, sugary taste they leave on my tongue that will have me dying of thirst later on. Once I start to feel better, the feels of frustration and anger will begin to kick in. Screw it. I’ll get up and find the nicest, most sugary treat I can find comfort in. And before I know it, I’m right back where I started.

If there’s one thing I want to clean out, its my obsession with having perfect blood sugar levels. There’s no such thing. I don’t know of anyone who has perfect levels all the time. I need to accept that my blood sugars will rise and fall. I need to accept that some of the foods I eat will make my blood sugars spike higher than others. I need to stop testing five minutes after a meal and make drastic decisions to fix my blood sugar levels according to what I think they should be. I need to learn to be patient and wait for my blood sugar levels to come down naturally. And I need to accept that sometimes hypos happen, and I shouldn’t let them get the better of me.

Because if I don’t accept it all, I’ll be trapped in this vicious cycle forever.