Thursday, May 16, 2013

Courage, Brains and Heart

Accomplishments Big and Small: Another topic in DBlogWeek's Series:
We don’t always realize it, but each one of us had come a long way since diabetes first came into our life. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 5 weeks, 5 years or 50 years, you’ve done something outstanding diabetes-wise. So today let’s share the greatest accomplishment you've made in terms of dealing with your (or your loved one’s) diabetes. No accomplishment is too big or too small - think about self-acceptance, something you’ve mastered (pump / exercise / diet / etc.), making a tough care decision (finding a new endo or support group / choosing to use or not use a technology / etc.)

As I've been writing about my diabetes achievements, it struck me that they are much like those that the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion faced in the Wizard of Oz.

The Cowardly Lion

Remember how scared he was? He was afraid of everything. I too was that Cowardly Lion as I faced that stupid orange as a newly-diagnosed 28 year old, during my short stay in the hospital. I can recall each dimple in that orange, and remember the fear that I was, at some point, going to just have to do that to myself. I could not fathom how that was going to "be just like" giving myself a needle. But I did it. That was my first step to finding courage. As it turned out, it was my first courageous step in my diabetes journey. Since then I've found myself in the Cowardly Lion role many times, but I've also found as many opportunities to find courage along the way.

The Tin Man

Diabetes is a sneaky sort. Just when you think you have figured it out, you are humbled and realize that you haven't figured out a thing. Low blood sugars will sneak up on you, and highs can slap you down. A quote comes to mind from a song that has absolutely nothing to do with diabetes, but the words resonate for me:

I get knocked down, but I get up again

Diabetes is just like that. Just when you think you've figured it out, it will knock you down. I have been humbled many more times than I can count. But through no shortage of strategizing, analyzing and sorting things out, I seem to still come out on top. I am not yet master of this disease, nor do I think that I ever will be. But I'm better at dealing with it than I used to be. As I evolve with this disease - along with diabetes technology, I'm getting better at it. As with the Tin Man, I have discovered that I have the smarts to figure this out, and one day hope to draw back the curtain on that diabetes wizard.

The Scarecrow

By far, I think that discovering the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) is like discovering my own heart and, even better, discovering that I am part of a bigger whole. It wasn't so long ago that I didn't talk much about diabetes. We've come together from different places, cultures, we are employed, unemployed, insured, uninsured, we are cool and we are nerdy. We have brought our talents, our skills, our perspectives and our challenges to the diabetes table. I am part of that community. Somehow we manage to be a big, messy and still, somehow cohesive group, supporting each other through it all. We are a community with heart and what can be better than being part of that?

To read great posts from fellow "Scarecrows", click here.

It's not too late to join in. If you don't have a blog, and would like to have some space to join in, just let me know and I can give you some space, or click on the banner below.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Not a Movie, Not a Nightmare - Memories

Today's DBlogWeek Day 3 post is about sharing a memorable diabetes day, taking it anywhere, whether you or a loved one's diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share.

For me this is a very dark subject playing out in my mind as a scene from a very sinister horror movie. I've tried to write about them before and just now, a post sits there in my drafts, unfinished.

To play it out again in my mind - and then writing it as if it were a screenplay brings everything flooding back, and I can't - I won't do it. At least not now. I'm not ready, and not sure if I'll ever be ready.

Think of your worst nightmare that you've ever had. Think of the fear, the darkness, the helplessness. You know it's not real, so the memory eventually fades.

Not so with my diabetes memories. Because they were real.

In the haze of a low blood sugar, on thee edge of consciousness, I can't remember much - just flashes or snippets of memory. But they can play out in my mind as if it were just last night.

I feel anxiety rising, remembering the real fear, and the fog. It starts in the pit of my stomach, but has nowhere to go, and I just want to hide.

But this is real life, and not just some bad dream. The worst part is, there have been some very real consequences. The most disturbing is that I have scared those who love me most.

And for that, there's only one thing I can say, and share with you today.

Damn you, diabetes.

You can find more Memories posts on the Wednesday 5/15 Link List.

And to join in, click below:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Solid B+ - Open Letter to My Endo

As part of Diabetes Blog Week, I'm going to do my best to post every day. So what if I'm already a day behind, right? Today's topic is:
Often our health care team only sees us for about 15 minutes several times a year, and they might not have a sense of what our lives are really like. Today, let’s pretend our medical team is reading our blogs. What do you wish they could see about your and/or your loved one's daily life with diabetes? On the other hand, what do you hope they don't see?

When I come to visit you, I may appear calm, cool, collected, and I even make jokes. This is not the real me. This is a fa├žade. I am a fraud. It's not because I'm hiding anything. I do this because I am really a basket case, just fraying at the edges, ready to come apart at the seams.

I know you are trying to help me, and I know you must be wondering why anyone would be this anxious when you're just trying to help me?

What I want you to know is that I'm trying. Back in the day, I was a solid B+ student who got a good share of As. However, these days I know that I am a C student in your eyes - I am the student that never seems to get it quite right.

I know you never have criticized me directly. I know you want to guide me, to help me overcome the challenges that I have faced and will no doubt face in the future.

But we both know...

I don't exercise like I should.

I often miscalculate the number of carbs and even forget to bolus on occasion, which is obvious when you look at my logs.

Sometimes I even forget to hit the button on my pump that one last time to actually initiate a bolus.

I do mean to test more frequently, but sometimes, well, life just gets busy, and I don't quite get to it. I know my HbA1C may even be less than stellar with a 9 point something. And no, I can't even remember what it is. To me it is nothing more than a measure for you to grade me.

I know that you know that I live with this disease every day. But I also think that the words "every day" might mean something different to me than it does to you.

For example, when you go to work every day, then you go home, leaving the day behind, and enjoy what's left of the day with your family.

When you walk the dog every day, you get out there, play with your dog, come home and perhaps watch an episode of Modern Family or the Amazing Race, or call your mother.

Yes, I do all that too (admittedly I could walk the dog more, and I'd certainly like to have the luxury of sitting in front of the TV), but every day, I am wrestling with this blasted disease that permeates everything that I do.

I sometimes deal with lows that seem to come out of the blue, interrupting conversations with family members, fogging up my mind at work, and then must snack, test and deal with the subsequent roller coasting of blood sugars. I fight stubborn highs, which demand my attention.

I don't get to plan these things. They just jump into my life, and I deal with them.

I would like to share a story with you. Last night I was prodded by the CGM, insisting that I had a low blood sugar. When I got up to test, it turns out that my CGM was playing a stellar game of the Boy Who Cried Wolf - and insisted on playing it - all night long. The dog thought it was pretty exciting too, and thought she might need an excursion to her potty in the backyard.

This is not an unusual story. It is one story of many that interrupt me and demand my attention. This is my "every day".

To look at me, you may not see a B+. You may see something less than your definition of best. But in my eyes I'm still that solid B+; the plus because I am still trying my best.

All I ask is to please see beyond all the numbers and get beyond any assumptions about me. See me for who I am - as someone who is getting by and perhaps just needs a break.

I would like you to know that I know you are here for me. But next time we meet, take a minute to ask me how I'm doing, and then, really listen to my answer.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Little Help and a Lot of Courage

I'm writing this on Mother's Day, but today's post goes beyond that.

Today I'm visiting my Mom, for the first time in more than a year. But today I have a little bit of my independence back, and we are going on a road trip.

But first, before I get to the point, I would like to review the obvious, and the not-so-obvious things about mothers.

For the more obvious, our mothers:

  • Raised us
  • Put up with our crap
  • Kicked us out of the nest, only to have us return decades later after a crisis (ahem, thank you).
  • Patiently listen to us, endlessly going on and on about our daily stuff

They also:
  • Drive for miles to pick us up after a bad low blood sugar driving 'incident' and drive us home again.
  • Make a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) possible when our health fails us.

Okay, admittedly, those last two are very specific examples, but real nonetheless.

This is a simple celebratory day to say thank you.

The past year was a rocky one for me. It's almost been a year since I had a devastating low blood sugar while driving. It was likely due to multiple factors. My driving license was suspended for 7 months, and after a lot of hard work and a ton of support, even now I'm still being monitored by the Ministry of Transportation, so I'm not out of the woods yet. But the most important lesson that I learned this year was that I test a lot more, and never take anything for granted.

Gone are the days that I say, "I'm fine". I only say that now when I test, get a 6.1 mmol (110 mg), and then I say "I'm fine. For now." See the difference?

In the DOC (Diabetes Online Community), we say, "You Can Do This", and I can do this. But as much as I know I can do this, I haven't done it alone. I've done it with a ton of support from my family - my husband, my daughter (who reminded me today that I'm an awesome mom), my Dad, and on this special day, I am recognizing my Mom.

So now I'm sharing a tribute from one very cool (and Canadian) rapper Abdominal and his Mom. Of course, I don't rap, I can't sing in tune or the right lyrics, and I don't even draw. And neither does my Mom. Just ask her, she'll tell you that too. But this video just makes me smile, just as my Mom can make me smile.

Courage by Abdominal (and his Mom)

Today I'm smarter, I respect diabetes and the impact it can make on my life - good and bad, and today I'm decked out with a CGM (which is still a bit of a love-hate relationship, but I'll get there).

For all you out there with diabetes, and are faced with some life trials, you can indeed do this. We pick up ourselves and have the courage to forge on.

But most importantly, don't be afraid to reach out. To your Mom, Dad, life partners or friends, and of course, to the people online in the DOC.

I'd like to leave you with a little something, because you can do this, with a little help from your friends.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends,
Oh, I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends.