‘Tis the Season.

I’m back.

November has been a crazy busy month, both online and off, and I have really just been spending the past week or so regrouping for this final stretch of the year.

Real Christmas trees have become somewhat of a tradition in our house, and last weekend was no exception as we went searching for the perfect tree on opening weekend at our local Christmas tree farm. It really is a mission to find one with a full top!

I spent a few afternoons last week putting up Christmas lights over our patio, and can now be found basking in the glow of my labour on these mild early Summer evenings.

I think it’s a crime that season three of The Crown wasn’t released in time for Christmas (and that Downton Abbey ended before that), however Victoria has been filling my Christmas period drama void quite nicely.

I spent my weekend trawling the internet for Christmas gift ideas. For the first time ever, I have surprised myself and completed all of my Christmas shopping with three weeks to spare!

I need a new iPhone case. My old one is cracking at the edges, and I just know that I’m bound to drop it one of these days.

One thing I’ve often been unconsciously muttering under my breath for a long time is I need a holiday. I’ve actually locked in some plans for early next year that involve no diabetes advocacy whatsoever, and I’m very much looking forward to that.

This little guy is also staying with us for the next couple of weeks while his owner is on holidays.

Diabetes awareness month might have ended on the 30th of November, but most of us affected by it will have to keep on keeping on during December. I tend to feel this moreso in these final stretches of the year, when I want nothing more than a break from the monotony of blood sugar checks, carb counting, glucose tabs, pump maintenance and just thinking about diabetes. 

Stephen at Happy Medium wrote a fantastic post a few weeks ago, and his sentiments really resonated with me. It’s these boring little things that are a part of my self care. All of these things help me to unwind, and remind me that I’m more than just my diabetes.

I also felt extremely validated in my self care efforts after hearing Carly Findlay present at the HealtheVoices conference last month (disclosures here) in her pyjamas, which is what she can be often be found wearing as she works from her bed. When we give up so much of our own time as health advocates, it’s equally important to know when to take a step back and take care of ourselves.

So, as we enter this crazy final stretch of the year, remember that it’s more than okay to stop and take a breath or to put your own needs before those of others.

People dealing with diabetes are awesome.

Don’t ever forget it.

Summer Daze.

After the mad rush of December, frantically attempting to beat the clock in order tie up loose ends for the year, shopping around for Christmas gifts and meeting social obligations of the festive season, January arrives.

The world simply seems to go to sleep in January.

School’s on holidays, some of the lucky ones get to take extended leave from work, and the seemingly endless stretch of sunny 30 degree days just seems to support this quiet, lazy notion in the world.

I’m sitting here at my desk, with a bunch of fresh ideas in my head and seemingly endless time in front of me, plodding along at this slow leisurely pace.

Which might be great for me, but not so great for my diabetes which has decided to hop on my back for the ride.

I don’t exactly have the energy or the enthusiasm at the moment to be pre-bolusing for my peanut butter on toast. I can’t bring myself to correct dropping blood sugars with glucose tabs, when there’s a tin of Shortbread on my bookshelf or chocolates in the fridge. Guesstimates are trumping maths in my insulin dosing more often than not.

It’s harder to get outdoors when it’s hot, and the Australian Open is proving to be a pretty good excuse to crash in front of the TV at 4pm. 

When my FreeStyle Libre is on, I’m motivated to keep those graphs looking pretty. But when it comes off, I can’t see what my blood sugars are doing all the time and I’m not so motivated to keep them between the lines.

I find it harder to accommodate diabetes devices in the warm weather. I’ve briefly contemplated another pump break, but I think my month-long vacation in November was enough to get me over my rut for the time being.

The one symptom that warm weather doesn’t produce for me is hypos. Sure, physical activity without carbs or basal adjustments sends me low. But a hypo just because it’s hot? It simply doesn’t happen.

I’m very much looking forward to this sleepy Summer daze coming to an end, and hopefully finding my diabetes mojo again soon.

Until then, I’ll be spending as much time as I can at the beach.

Normal Person Sick

I spent my final days of 2017 feeling under the weather. Which is a mild improvement on last year, when Dad grazed the back of his head on a running ceiling fan while changing a light globe, but that’s a whole other story…

At the time of year where I wanted nothing more than to enjoy leftover cheesecake, munch on Nonna’s biscotti and sip on icy cold percolated coffees, I was devoid of all my appetite. I could feel bloating, wind and a great deal of discomfort in my stomach.

As I thought back to Christmas Day, I honestly felt that I hadn’t done anything extremely out of the ordinary.

Our family brekkie of bacon, eggs and grilled tomato, with Baileys and a few choccies was nothing out of the ordinary. I only picked a few of the more tempting options for dinner at my Uncle’s place, rather than attempting to try everything and then feel the food and high blood sugar coma for the remainder of the night.

There were a few small blips throughout the day, but the highest I could remember my blood sugar peaking at was 13mmol. I was feeling super proud of myself at the conclusion of Christmas Day.

Two days after Christmas, I was left with next to no explanation for my symptoms. I went without dinner, and breakfast the following morning. I had a few water crackers for lunch, before finally feeling able to manage small meals.

I was shit scared to give any insulin until I’d actually stomached anything, for fear I would be forced to finish something I physically couldn’t. I even remember suspending my basal rate to bring myself away from a very minor hypo, because I really did not want to eat a glucose tab.

However when the symptoms still hadn’t passed by the weekend of New Year’s, I began to think about the implications of my diabetes.

The rational side of my brain was telling me that I had been managing my diabetes well, and that I was far too young of a d-baby to be expecting anything more serious. That this was likely normal person stuff, such as indigestion and possibly over-consumption of gas producing foods? That I couldn’t identify any other symptom that would point towards some of the diagnoses that Dr Google had planted in my brain. 

But the irrational side of me was jumping to all sorts of scary conclusions that Dr Google had matched with my symptoms. I was shit scared that I had done something to myself, feeling myself fill up with guilt over everything indulgent that I had put into my mouth in recent weeks.

I was reluctant to visit my GP, feeling that he probably wouldn’t take it too seriously, At best, he might have pointed me to some over the counter stuff that I was already taking. So, I decided to play a game of wait and see over the New Year’s weekend.

After a few days of very minimal food, near perfect blood sugars, a few basal tweaks and no dairy, the hunger pangs finally returned on New Year’s Day.

So, what did I learn from this little ordeal?

My diabetes still bothers me, even when it’s not bothering me.

And I’m still kind of bummed that I missed out the leftover Christmas desserts…

Festive Isolation

Diabetes is an extremely isolating condition to live with. I think I’ve dealt with that isolation quite well over the past couple of years, both by building good support networks around me and simply acknowledging that it exists. Diabetes is not normal, and I feel more normal just by saying that out loud.

But there’s still something about this time of year, where that isolation feels a little greater.

It’s hard being surrounded by loved ones who don’t have diabetes, or don’t seem to care about diabetes, at this time of the year. Watching others being all merry and carefree and sometimes living like there’s no tomorrow, can make that isolation feel somewhat greater.

Hey, that’s fine. I don’t expect extended family members who I see a few times a year to remember about diabetes. I don’t expect, nor do I want special treatment just because I have diabetes.

But I also find it extremely insulting to be asked about diabetes the minute I’m sitting down with my helping of dessert.

“How do you manage sweets with your diabetes?”

“Do you have to be careful?”

“It’s not too much sugar?”

I manage my diabetes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 366 in a leap year. Diabetes extends far beyond dessert time. It extends into my nights. Into my weekends. Into my physical activity. Into my work. Even into my sleep. Misconceptions like these do me a great injustice.

As someone who actually has to live with this condition every day for the rest of his life, it’s ludicrous to suggest that I don’t know what’s best for me. Or that I would, you know, be tipping poison into my mouth if I knew it would kill me.

I don’t think anyone takes pleasure in inflicting feelings of guilt and shame, and yet ill timed comments like these do just that. In fact, feelings of guilt and shame can spiral even further into anxiety, depression and even disordered eating.

So if you are planning on seeing a loved one with diabetes during this festive season, here’s a better way that you can support them and help reduce those feelings of isolation.

Check in. Say hi. Ask them how they’re doing. Genuinely, and not just in passing. Show them that you care. Ask us about day to day life with diabetes, because hell, it’s a bloody big part of our lives!

However when it comes to dessert time, the only question a person with diabetes should be asked is how delicious it is.

While I’m at it, check out these pearls of wisdom on best supporting a loved one with diabetes from My Therapy App!