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.

Less Is More?

The only resolution I set for myself in 2018 was to be more productive.

I want to get more shit done, by spending less time working at it.

(I know what you’re thinking right about now, but just hold up and let me explain for a minute…)

One of my greatest shortcomings is this uncontrollable urge to get anything and everything done in one hit. It’s easy to tell myself that I’ll smash this column out tonight, or that I’ll clear out my e-mail inbox in half an hour and then put my feet up and binge watch another two episodes of The Crown.

But that doesn’t always produce my greatest work.

I’ll tire of the seemingly infinite task at hand, and end up wasting away more time yawning, rubbing my eyes or trawling through social media once again. The longer I sit there, the more I begin to obsess over my work and do more harm to it than good. There are days where I’ll go to bed feeling lousy about myself, failing to remember the last spare moment I had to take some time out for myself.

So, back to my new motto – less is more. I’m learning to set boundaries. Spend an hour writing, or working, or whatever it is that I’m doing, and then stop and come back to it again later. Or even tomorrow.

Walking has been so therapeutic for me over the last few months, and just taking the time out every day to feel the afternoon sun on my face and collect my thoughts makes me feel a bit more human. Which is especially important when I’m living with a condition that involves so many different robot parts and feels monotonous at the worst of times.

I’m also trying to read more. Reading was a pastime I really enjoyed as a child, and I’ve really fallen off the bandwagon in recent years. I’m being realistic and aiming for a book a month. Besides, sleep feels so much more…restful after burying myself in a good book before bed. And, you know, it’s nice to take a break from reading about diabetes once in a while…

So what does all of this have to do with diabetes?

Tending to things like my self care and mental wellbeing helps me to feel better about living with this damned condition. I manage better. I’m not stuck in autopilot mode so often and then swearing at myself over a stupid mistake.

Besides, it feels surprisingly good not to have a resolution directly centred around my diabetes for a change…

What’s on your bucket list this year?

Finding Independence from Continuous Glucose Data

In my latest column over at Diabetes Daily, I’m talking about how I’ve arrived at a place where I don’t feel dependent on continuous glucose data to manage my diabetes.

“The FreeStyle Libre was my first foray into the world of continuous glucose data. After knowing nothing other than pricking my finger up to 15 times per day for six years, it was amazing to be able to check my blood sugar levels so conveniently. The small round sensor that sat on my upper arm provided me with a blood glucose reading, a trend arrow, and an 8-hour history graph each time I swiped my reader over it.

However, the data was addictive. Within the space of a few months, I felt heavily reliant on this device. When the life of my sensor came to an end, I really missed it. I felt lost, and even a little anxious about how I would cope without it. I had lost a great deal of confidence in my diabetes decision making.”

Check out the full column over at Diabetes Daily here.

Channeling My Inner Superhero.

I simply wasn’t feeling in the spirit of World Diabetes Day yesterday. I didn’t wear blue. I’m not doing the daily photo challenges like many of my Facebook friends are during November. I settled for a walk over OzDOC last night. I don’t think I’ll be jumping into the World Diabetes Day chat today, either.

I’m at a point where I’m struggling to identify with all of the smiles and positivity and we-can-be-superheroes posts that are flooding my social media feeds at the moment.

I’m not channeling my inner superhero at the moment. If anything, I feel like my cape weighs a tonne and it’s dragging me back down to earth.

I don’t feel like a superhero when I crawl into bed at night, feeling exhausted from the long day that’s gone by.

I don’t feel like a superhero when I haven’t had a spare moment to put my feet up all day, feel the fresh air on my face or sun on my skin.

I don’t feel like a superhero when I’m doing the same boring (but necessary) diabetes management tasks over and over again.

It’s not like I’m drowning. Or that I don’t feel like I’m able to manage. But when you throw everything else into the mix, I really feel just how hard this is. The physical and mental effort that diabetes management takes away from the rest of my life is huge.

I’m not sure burnout is the right word here. But I’ve been struggling a bit lately, trying to find somewhat of a balance between managing my diabetes, keeping up with all of the other commitments I have going on in my life, and having some time out for myself every day. I’m at a point now where I’m really thinking about what I want to commit to over the upcoming year, and where I would like to take a step back or even let go.

Self care is a pretty big priority for me while I’m managing my diabetes.

Without self care, I’m not able to channel my inner superhero as often as I’d like.

Relentlessness.

There are days where I find myself exhaling loudly out of exhaustion. My alarm wakes me for work at 6.30am, while I want nothing more than to close my eyes and go back to sleep. I find myself unable to muster any enthusiasm for the new day ahead of me, nor for the people around me. I find myself walking around with a long face, and an expression that will put a damper on everything and everyone around me. There are days where I feel like coffee, toast and swear words are the bane of my existence. Then, there’s the inevitable feeling of limping toward the finish line on a Friday afternoon.

Over the years, I’ve told myself that I was burned out. Or that I wasn’t eating the right kinds of foods. That I was overworked, and trying to juggle too many different things. I wondered if it was the exhausting nature of rollercoaster blood glucose levels. Or the mixed bag of emotions that came from dealing with an unpredictable condition that was downright isolating.

Time has gone by, however, and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve addressed each of these issues to the best of my ability. The variability in my glucose levels are far less significant than they once were. I am more connected, supported and engaged in my management. I have a far better understanding of a condition that even at the best of times makes no sense. I am far more conscious of taking time out for myself and not burning out.

But I’d be lying if I said that those feelings don’t linger, like flames from a fire that simply will not go out. There’s only one rational explanation that I keep coming back to.

Diabetes.

Diabetes is relentless. The physical and mental effort required to keep those flames at bay is huge. Throw in a full time job, freelance writing, friends, family and time out for myself, all while working towards financial independence, a career and other life goals, and it’s no surprise that at times I feel like I’m only further fanning those flames.

Diabetes is no easy feat.

When I look on in envy at the person with a spring in their step while I’m limping it toward the finish line of a Friday afternoon after a challenging week, I remind myself that most people around me don’t have to deal with the relentless diabetes demands that I do.