I’m going to admit, I pre-wrote this post last week. The mood struck me. The theme of todays post is “What gets you down”, so without further ado, here goes:
Yesterday was a tough day. Not because my sugar was high or I had something terrible happen. It was a bad day because I am my own worst critic. In trying to balance weight management, insulin intake and eating habits I let myself lose it. I set my standards fairly high, and they sometimes seem like conflicting goals, but here they are:
- Blood sugar must be between 3.9 – 7.9 mmol/L at all times
- Exercise 5-6 days a week
- Caloric intake ~ 2300 calories (based on a moderate caloric deficit, and average exercise burning ~600-700 calories)
- Reduce/maintain total daily dosage (TDD) of insulin below 35 units
- Space meals at least 3 hours apart to prevent carbohydrate and insulin stacking
Yes, I’m one of “those” diabetics. I try to manage everything about this disease. Sometimes it’s a bit taxing, but I remind myself that so many others have it so much worse, so I put my head down, keep on trucking and HTFU! :) This disease doesn’t stop, it doesn’t take a break, so why should I? I’ve already started to have some complications (non-proliferative retinopathy), so I choose to be vigilant because I want to do all I can to stave off further complications.
Yesterday my mood wasn’t 100%. I was already a bit “not there” diabetes wise, but more on that later. In the mid-afternoon I was hungry. Fresh bread, white chocolate bark and other treats were left in the break room. I indulged, not even that much, but maybe 45g of carbs worth. I bolused, but when after the fact I checked my TDD calculations. We preplan our meal days, so we basically know what we’re eating. I saw how my TDD was going to be >35 (goal failed). Furthermore, I ate an unplanned snack (goal failed) less than 3 hours from lunch. It was going to put me over my caloric intake (fail). I let this get to me. I got snippy with others, including my wife – the best type 3 I know! So what gets me down? When I feel like I’ve failed myself. I don’t make excuses. This was my own fault. I don’t really get diabetes burn out though, I get diabetes rage. I was angry that I didn’t just walk past the food. I was angry that I was countering my own goals. So yeah, I kinda got down.
So what did I do about it. Well first of all, I apologized to everyone I was snippy with. They don’t need to put up with that! Then I worked with my wife to rejig our meal plan for supper. Items were substituted, spinach instead of freekah for a base, recipes adjusted, and at least I could get my TDD closer to where I wanted, my caloric intake more in line, and I didn’t feel like a failure. This is how I get out of the funk – I realize that while this disease isn’t a choice, how I manage it is. Yes, I may have “failed” my goals, but the power is in how I adapt my plans to get as close to my goals and move on. I feel a lot of empowerment when I stop making excuses and start taking action. I am accountable to myself. And, relying on the support of others, like my wife, helps me manage.
My type 3 wife – we can’t do this alone. This disease is so much easier with the help of others.
So earlier I mentioned about my mind not being totally there? During my lunch I was reading the book “The Diabetes Manifesto” by Lynn Crowe and Julie Stachowiak. This is considered by some to be crucial reading. The medical content in the book does seem to be quite great. I’m still working through it. I really enjoy reading other diabetes books to gain a perspective on how other diabetics think, feel, and live. However, in Lynn Crowe’s book, right in the very first chapter she made a very polarizing statement:
“Some people make diabetes the headliner. I have met many of these people over the years through my work and in other situations. You may know some of them – all they seem to be able to talk about is diabetes – a delicious gourmet dinner set in front of them becomes a plate of carb counts, a vacation to an exotic locale is described as a detailed account of the challenges of managing blood glucose in a foreign setting, with no mention of culture or scenery. It’s “all diabetes, all the time” with these people. To be honest, I find this extremely boring. To be really honest, I avoid these people like the plague.”
And there you have it. Talk about a gut punch. So the other thing that gets me down about diabetes? The stupid, unnecessary politics and pissing contests that erupt when diabetics compare each other, label each other, or choose to treat each other differently. The politics, the in-fighting, the “types”, the classification, the judgement. We all have a chronic disease, we’re all different, can we at least work together instead of picking fights with each other? We’re not doing any favours to the cause when we stereotype and typecast each other.
Yes, I live and breathe diabetes, but what Lynn Crowe fails to acknowledge in people like me is that we do actually live. I will eat and enjoy a gourmet meal, but I have diabetes so yes, I do try to count the carbs and the protein, adjust for timings, etc so that I don’t spend the whole night riding a hypo/hyper roller coaster only to feel like crap the next day and make my everyone around me suffer in the process. Yes, I love vacations and I do take everything diabetes into account because I don’t want the shit to hit the fan and leave my wife calling 911 because her husband is seizuring in a strange locale. Because of this vigilance during vacations I’ve been to the top of the Grand Teton to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and I loved every minute of it. These were lifelong dreams realized. They were a euphoric experience. They were only possible because I was so vigilant about my care and treatment. They were possible because I made diabetes the “main event”. By doing this I gain some modicum of control and take power away from the disease. Maybe the author could benefit from not avoiding us and instead understand that we are actually not just living, but thriving in spite of this disease, that we have different goals and embrace us as a part of her community rather than ostracize us as if we have the plague (and interesting choice of words given that we are afflicted with a chronic disease). I am utterly sick of the infighting that diabetics have. It’s not doing us any good, so let’s get over it and move on. By setting rules on behaviour and adding politics, we just give the disease power. So yeah, yesterday I was frustrated and I let this get to me in a bad way.
On top of the Grand Teton (17,770′); a lifelong dream realized (with no hypoglycemia and no hyper glycemia to boot!)
But the goal of this post is to talk about what gets us down, and then what helps us through it. Problem and solution. That’s a good way to structure it – why complain if you don’t have a plan to deal with it. Perfect! So what helps me out of the funk. I could get mad about all this infighting, but what’s the point. It just makes me mad, and like I said above, that doesn’t put me in a good place. Instead I think back to the Tour de Cure training rides I took part in while preparing for the DFW 2013 Tour de Cure. We had Type 1’s, Type 2’s, and lots of non-diabetics show out. People of all sorts of experience with cycling and their diabetes. People who were “always on” were sharing tips with people who were “never on” and everything in between. We shared with each other and we learned from each other. Things like that help me move past the negativity – working together instead of pushing off fellow diabetics because they are too lax or too uptight in their treatment. Also, this blog has been a great thing for helping me out of the “lows”. I choose to share my experiences about being an active diabetic – what I’ve learned, how I got to this place (seriously, I was a poster child of inactivity), and maybe hopefully I can help others out or at least open up a dialog. Writing about how I am empowered in the management of this disease helps me feel even better about it, so I keep writing.
My first Tour de Cure training ride, filled with Type 1’s, Type 2’s and non-diabetics. A true community experience that I won’t forget. And yes, I was riding a hybrid at the time. :)
This is a bit more touchy-feely than I planned to write, but I do think it’s a good topic and thought I should stray from my normal posts plotting data and what not. So fellow diabetics, what gets you down? How do you move past it? What are your management goals?