Saturday, May 26, 2012

Meditate? Me? Bwahahahahaha!

I was just now enjoying a moment.  I'm in the kitchen with a furry cat on my lap. I'm still in my bathrobe, but I've gotten a few things done. There is a clock ticking to my left. Everywhere I can see from this view is complete chaos. Every counter piled with papers and stuff and dirty dishes. Milk sitting out on the counter.

But there aren't any other humans in the house, no other noises, and I am just breathing (and now typing). And I realized that I feel really calm and peaceful. Just for a minute or two not thinking about anything. Or when I am thinking, only enjoying some nice thought at random.  Somehow, these moments are very rare for me. My massage therapist tells me I would be a perfect candidate for a practice in meditation. I don't know how to meditate, and the idea always strikes me as a little silly.

But if this is the endgame of meditation, maybe I should give it a try.

(WWHHHOOOOOSH!! Look out! Here comes the reality of my monkey brain back from her little break!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's just the way I am. And it isn't my fault.

Diabetes Blog Week continues.
Today's topic: "What They Should Know" - What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn't have diabetes about living with diabetes?

We can write more than one thing, which is good because the one thing I want to convey is really two things:
Diabetes isn't as bad as you think, but it's also probably harder than you think.  
Otherwise entitled "What you don't know about diabetics could fill a book..."
When I was first diagnosed 32 years ago, diabetes management was harder than it is now because we didn't have glucose monitoring, or insulin pumps, or carb counting.  I wasn't good at eating the same thing at the same time in the same portions everyday. I had different exercise and activities day to day at different times. I had either yucky glucose gel or yucky chalk tablets that were in blister packs and disintegrated in a backpack.  I had to explain to coaches and teachers about my diabetes regularly, and I didn't like the extra "attention" that diabetes brought down on my head.  I was an adolescent, which is hard anyway - so you can imagine that testing my urine (and then later my blood) and being careful about food choices was challenging, and that I rebelliously refused to acknowledge the reality of diabetes.  I just plain didn't like it or want to talk about it with people.

I still hate that people assume they know what I can and can not eat - it drives me crazy.  Or now as an adult, many people assume I can't even have a glass of wine. And they judge you when you consume something they are so sure you shouldn't.  (They really do - don't deny it. Don't we all judge others for one reason or another?)
Well guess what?  I have the same choices as every. body. else.  And like everybody else, I have to deal with the consequences of my choices. For example, if I overeat, I can take more insulin to keep my blood sugar in target range - but if I do this often I gain weight, just like everybody else. It's gotten easier over time to try and be more "boring" with food choices because it is just simpler.  So I often will forego a piece of birthday cake at work because it's just more hassle than it's worth with extra insulin bolus and testing. Not worth it sometimes for even a pretty decent Costco birthday cake (they really do have tasty cakes, FYI).  But if it is some special treat, like gelato in Venice, I will definitely make the effort.  Having a pump and carb counting have gradually freed me from the confines that I didn't "comply" with in my younger years. I have much more freedom and my choices can be better managed now.  Achieving HbA1C lower than 7 is still quite an effort for me personally because I'm just not a very perfect diabetic. I have a busy full life, which causes stress and sometimes puts diabetes management second or third in a queue of demands. I travel frequently for work, and routines are impossible to maintain on business trips. I respond too well to insulin sometimes, and my digestive inconsistencies muck up the rate that sugar hits my blood from my belly.  I am "brittle" - a term I used to loathe because I felt like it was some sort of moral or personal failing to be a brittle diabetic.

It's just the way I am. And it isn't my fault.  

(this is my  basic current set-up. I also find it irritating (literally) to have these gadgets attached to me 24 /7. I do usually hide my pump in my boobage somewhere though) A=pump B= tubing and infusion set, C= CGM sensor, D=CGM transmitter. They talk to each other, and my meter also talks to the pump to calibrate the continuous glucose monitor (CGM))
On the flip-side, diabetes management was also easier in a way in early 1980 because there weren't very many tools to use - so management wasn't a second full-time job the way it sometimes feels now. I had all these emotions about it all the time to compensate for the lack of control - fear, anger ( a lot of anger), frustration. But the mechanics of diabetes were pretty basic - take these 2 shots of insulin at these times every day, pee in a cup and test your urine 4 times a day and record the result in a 3-ring binder, . And here is your exchange diet plan and list of foods.
No sweets, set number of bread/starch exchanges, protein exchanges, etc.  "Free foods" were a big deal and they were as follows: 1) sugar free jello, 2) beef or chicken broth, and 3) diet soda (Tab or Fresca only). My folks weren't big on us drinking soda so I didn't have that a lot. I think they started buying it more to be nice to me - but it didn't taste like much of a "treat" with the saccharine aftertaste anyway.  Cookies? You may have vanilla wafers, graham crackers, or gingersnaps and only 2 (maybe it was 4 vanilla wafers...) for a starch exchange.

Simple as it was, I much prefer the complicated management routine I have today. I like to bake cookies and pie for my friends and family, I like my complicated mom-scientist-traveler-athletic-craftsy-stressful life. No, correction please. I love my life. I am blessed and lucky.

The hardest thing about diabetes and having other autoimmune issues for me gets harder as I grow older.  The impact that my health has on everyone around me mainly. I struggle with depression (common in diabetics and little wonder IMHO), low blood sugar is disorienting for me and that scares people who see me as a strong, competent, decisive person suddenly unable to make a decision.  More and more as I grow older, friends and family know of people with diabetes who've suffered amputations, heart attacks, painful neuropathies, laser eye surgeries. Painful complications and/or death before it seemed like the right time.  Our D-lifespans are statistically shorter than "normal" people. I know for a fact that the people who love me and care about me worry about me, and that makes me unspeakably sad. I want people to be happier when they know me and think of me.  I want them to smile at my silliness, or idiosyncrasies, or just because they like being around me - not worried sick that my kidneys will fail, my stomach freak-outs will land me in a bad place (not all diabetes related, but gastroparesis is a big factor), or that a low blood sugar will send me into another bad place.  I've never passed out, or convulsed due to low bG - but I am way disoriented and blabbering when it happens. and pale and sweaty.  I'm sure it is almost as scary to see as it is to experience.

Despite all this, I want people to know that it is in fact much scarier for me - the one who can't think straight and is totally dependent on getting my glucose in and the people I might need to assist. The one who has to get constant check-ups and wonder every time if this is the time I'll have to take another drug, or get eye laser surgery, or start dialysis, or on and on and on.  Please don't get mad at me. I'm not doing this on purpose. I'm not a careless person who doesn't take care of herself.

It's just the way I am. And it isn't my fault.

I could probably fill a book with more on this topic, but I don't really want to.  I like dealing with diabetes with a sense of humor and living my life in the fullest way possible despite having diabetes.  And that's probably a better book.
But I need to give it more thought...

*Blue was negative for spilled sugar (over your renal threshold which varies from person to person), and there was a scale of color through the greens and yellows up to orange which was something like +5 high sugar.  I very seldom hit the blue after my first year (a "honeymoon" period where my body still made a little insulin).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One Thing to Improve...move along

One thing? I have to choose one thing to improve? one thing.

Diabetes Blog Week day 3 - On Thing to Improve - "Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at. Today let's look at the flipside. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!"

And all my loved ones and friends who aren't diabetic, you can still be part of the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) via me - cheer me on, dammit! And you can be in our cool D-club. (sorry to be a smart-ass, but picking just one of the myriad things I'd like to improve is really difficult).

What I really really need to improve is making time for exercise. I used to be really good at this, carving time out of lunch hours, quick after-work jogs, even early morning jogs or yoga.  I used to really include exercise as just a part of my life that was a given.  Somewhere in the past few years, we had a second child, and my job responsibilities and travel went up. And "poof!" like mysterious magic I found myself plumper, lumpier, and with more volatile blood sugars.


Lately, I have started going to a yoga class once per week (when I'm in town). I have the option of 2 other exercise classes per week (went I'm at the office) on Mondays and Fridays too. but I haven't really committed.  And the expensive gym membership that has bee under-used for over a year now? yeah. like I said...underused.

So what should I choose? Obviously exercise is on my brain so I think something physical.  What gives me the most well-being feeling for the buck? yoga. What gives me the most feeling that I've created a few muscle fibers? A good strength/weights workout. What gives me the feeling I'm breathing hard and will be burning calories and bG for another couple of hours? Something really aerobic like running (meh.), eliptical trainer (eh), or Zumba! (okay, fun). Walking will count for me in a pinch, like when I'm traveling - if I can get an hour or two of "casual" walking, relatively brisk, around a city, I'll let myself off the exercise hook.  Otherwise, my goal is to exercise at least something like that or a yoga session (not always vigorous or aerobic), but preferably with 2 resistance workouts, and 2 high intensity aerobic workouts minimum per week.  The most recent studies say that women my age need to exercise moderately to vigorously for 60 minutes every single day to maintain our muscle mass.  I don't think I can commit to that right now, but 20-30 minutes minimum on the days I can't find any time would be an achievement at this point.

Let's see... My schedule could look like this:

Sunday - Gym for strength and/or aerobic workout depending on week plan, or Yoga session
Monday - bootcamp like class at work (or you'd better pick a suitable alternative, wimp!)
Tuesday - minimum 30 minutes run/walk (gotta start again somewhere
Wednesday - Yoga class
Thursday - gym for some resistance/ weights
Friday - bootcamp like class at work (or you'd better pick a suitable alternative, wimp!)
Saturday - Zumba! with Wii

Well, it's Wednesday night here in Basel Switzerland, and I can tell you that I did Zumba and Yoga last week, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - each day I did some city walking (30-60 minutes), so I'm letting myself off the hook. But I should have squished in a gym visit in the morning (oh, well it's already 2:30 in the morning now!). No. I'm not going to do that because sleep is something I also need.

I will do something tomorrow, preferably yoga or somatics, then Friday I can go to the gym and/or do Zumba.

On the weekends, we are full of excuses because the whole family life thing is pretty full without a need for padding with exercise. But that is of course the completely wrong way to look at it.  Today I realized we haven't done any family bike riding for awhile. Maybe it's time to bring those to the outdor parking spot for the summer!

(move along)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One Great Thing

Second entry for Diabetes Blog Week: One Great Thing.  As in giving yourself credit for doing one diabetes thing really well, even though it is impossible to be perfect.

I have to say, this is a really hard one for me. I don't generally feel like I do any diabetes related thing "spectacularly". I forget to bolus, I forget to carry glucose, I forget my test kit at the restaurant we ate at...200 miles back, I don't adhere tightly to diet guidelines, I don't exercise enough. 

Yeah, I can see why you'd need to give a diabetic a specific instruction to name something they do very well.

Okay - here's two things: 1)  I do always get my checkups for kidneys and eyes, and my HbA1C regularly.  If there is any damage or complication developing I am committed to address it head on and not bury my head in the sand. I've always felt that way, and after 32 years, the only complication I've had to address  so far is the gastroparesis. Hopefully, being diligent with those annual and periodic screenings will assure that anything else is detected early enough to avoid drastic consequences.

2) I still have my sense of humor after all these years.  In the D-blog world, I'm clearly not alone in this - but I also know several people with chronic disease who seem to get consumed in the anger and depression that pretty much all of us have to fight off at least sometimes.  I do get pissed off about diabetes. I do get totally down sometimes.  But I often surprise myself with some witty or sassy or funny take on the situation that helps get me back through the day to day grind of managing this disease.

Find a Friend - it's Diabetes Blog Week!

Normally, I'm really good at finding a friend. I was the little girl of 4 who met my neighbor girl friend through a knothole in her fence - "hi, i'm janet. what's your name?"  And something similar when I met Mr. Wonderful, who I thought was 10 years younger than me (only 3 as it turns out), and he had 2 saxophones with him (another story), and I wasn't even thinking date let alone boyfriend (Husband!?  But still I walked up to him by the mini-quiche platter with "Hi, I'm Janet. I live just up the street with my 3 year old daughter." I'm sure it sounded more perky than it looks in print. I was in a really good mood that evening for the first time in what felt like a decade.  Mr. someday going to be Mr. Wonderful looked scared. I think he thought I was a complete nut. I followed up with a question about where he lived, but  between loud live music and a glass of wine, I only got that he lived in Alameda. My new home. Quiet family town.
Who knew?

At work, in our community - anywhere I physically meet people, I usually make some dear friends.

I have a harder time making friends in the virtual world. I think because I read blogs on my own time which means not often real-time. I'm a busy working mom with type 1 diabetes who travels for work a fair amount.  And my first blog was about knitting and crafting and sewing and there isn't a huge overlap in the circles (though maybe a lot more than I know.) Plus, since I only have 41 followers on that blog after a year and a half you can tell I'm slow at making real connections via my blog.  I'm old. I don't Twitter (not that old people don't, but I think I would if I were still in my 20s or 30s).  So the few D-bloggers I follow so far are probably already famous in the D-blog world, like Lee Ann of The Butter Compartment, Ninjabetic with the B.A.D. Blog, and (duh) Karen at BitterSweet. I didn;t start to really look around at other health related blogs until very recently, and I took on the HAWMC (Health Activist Writer's Monthly Challenge) in April through

I hope that this will be a week that I can reach out and find a new friend or two!  Certainly I didn't expect to find such a rich D-community

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Never give up

I have about 5 minutes for this post, but I saw this video clip on another blog, and it made me tear up.

Now, this is the 2nd time in a week that I've teared up and both times yoga was involved.  On Saturday I woke up from this weird and bad dream in which I was trying to re-learn how to do a handstand.  Surprisingly, it wasn't my Dupuytren's hands preventing me - for some reason I just couldn't get my legs up off the floor. I tried over and over again, and the dream yoga instructor was saying "I'm sorry. I just can't help you. I don't think you will be able to do it."

So okay. That is not the part where I got teary eyed. It was just a dream, so I dismissed it as an anxiety dream manifest as a goal I'd like to achieve. My fears and physical vulnerability, blah blah blah.  Basically I just got up and carried on with my day.  My day included Zumba!. Do you Zumba?!  No? Well, it's a pretty pre-packaged routine franchise of some sort, but I think it's fun. I like learning the dance moves and the music is good.

In the middle of Zumba! I finished a particularly tricky dance move song, and at the end I felt triumphant. And the yoga anxiety dream came flooding into my brain, and I teared up. Out of gratitude maybe? That I can still move around and learn new things and so nothing is ruled out. Don't give up.

It lasted like 2 seconds because the next song started and it was time to dance some more.

Anyway, the blog I saw this on is called Ninjabetic, or The B.A.D. Blog. Ninjabetic - I love that.  And B.A.D stands for "born again diabetic".  Who doesn't need to be reborn, right?
Just reading his post was moving because I too suffer from Hypercritical Inner VoicE Syndrome, or HIVES as I like to call it (actually I just now made that up).

This video is awesome and moving and it reminds me that I was right on Saturday. Never give up.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

HAWMC 2012 Wrap-up

I'm a day late with my wrap up post, but still want to write at least a brief one...
Prompt: Recap HAWMC. You did it! 30 posts in 30 days. Which was your favorite prompt? Which was the most difficult? Which ideas will you reuse? Who was your favorite fellow blogger?

Writing a post every day was a real challenge for me - especially with business travel and Spring Break thrown in the mix.  I don't think I would have had as much fun without the writing prompts, for sure.  The ones that elicited the most personal response were the ones that got comments and a little more traffic. Especially the "Letter to your 16 year old self" and the "Memory in the third person", as a couple of examples.  Some of them gave me a chance to use humor (legit) - I liked that. Like the Pinterest board, the "Stay Calm and Carry On", the "Six Sentence Story".  Actually I was a little sad more people didn't read my six sentence story - I thought I was being so clever. but maybe not.  I guess the most difficult prompts were the ones I didn't write - like "Writing Style". I don't know what my writing style is or how it's changed. For my health blog, I haven't been writing very long so maybe this will be more clear to me at some point.

Ideas I'll reuse?  Probably the word cloud, and pinning more health related things on Pinterest. The "Letter to 16 year old Self" is not one I'll likely use again on this blog, but maybe at a retreat or workshop. I think this is something everyone can relate to and would learn from.  I'll likely use the "memory in the third person" as a way to indulge in some creative writing - it became so obvious how authors can incorporate their own experiences into stories and this was something I didn't really think about before.  And I loved the 6 sentence story challenge.

Anyway, the last on the prompt list - my favorite fellow blogger. This will sound a little dense, but I hadn't tried very hard to connect with the larger community of health bloggers before HAWMC. I've added several to my Google Reader, like Linda at Leading a Healthy Life, and a bunch of diabetes bloggers like Karen at Bitter Sweet (even though her laptop bonked), smartDpants, and several others including some that were links I found through browsing blogs from HAWMC. I want to make some effort to get involved in this online d-community especially.

What's my next challenge? I'm so fricken goal-oriented. Something I could blog about my experience, the research I'll do, etc. I'm thinking of a 6-week exercise challenge of some sort. Or a challenge to try the super low-carb diet approach (even though I'm pretty sure I don't want to do that forever).  Any ideas or suggestions?