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A1C (Attitude is 1 of Cranky or Conqueror)
Does it feel like we sometimes live our lives in 3 day, 5-8 day, 6 month & 5 year increments when it comes to living with type 1 diabetes? This is my experience. The 3 day increment is the timeframe in between insulin pump infusion site changes. We have to keep track of that & 3 days seems to go by in a flash so I find that I have to write the site change dates on my calendar. 5-8 days is the amount of time that my insulin lasts before it is empty in my pump cartridge. That is pretty easy to keep track of since the pump tells us exactly how much insulin we have left at any given time. I am very fortunate because my husband does an exceptional job at getting all the air bubbles out of my cartridge so he does up the new insulin cartridges for me. It is endearing. I sometimes joke that he is keeping me alive 5-8 days at a time by doing this. Absolutely I can do my insulin cartridge & I have but my husband does a phenomenal job at prepping it & it is an act of care that reminds us that we are in this life together diabetes or no diabetes. It is a small, big thing. Six months represents the time in between visits to the lab to have the A1C test done & subsequent visit to the endocrinologist & nurse. If you & I share the experience of living life with type 1 then you may be in agreement that the trip to the lab is not exactly one that is thrilling on many levels. To get poked by yet another needle is not something that anyone looks forward to. Even after we have finished up at the lab & are on our way home, the looming expectation of the results of the A1C test remain with us until we receive the results at our doctor’s appointment.
After almost 7 years of living with type 1 diabetes, you would think that perhaps all of these things would be treated like water off of a duck’s back. Honestly though, there is a rebel in me that feels like leaving instead of staying for the lab test. I have never left but I always have that “I want to make a speedy getaway” feeling each & every time every six months. It is that sense of not wanting to have yet another needle. I have never gotten used to giving myself needles but what I have conquered is making the decision to give another needle in one form or another. Instead, it is a decision that I made once because let’s face it, of course no one wants to be giving themselves injections or frequenting the blood lab but these are the things that sustain life. When we hear, “oh I could never give myself injections”, what goes through our minds? It likely is this, “of course you could if you had to, come on!” When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I had quite the fear of needles. I have not really gotten over that persay but I have gotten through it. I decided at time of diagnosis to make a one time decision about injections & that was that I would need to do them & stop thinking that it was a new decision each time it was time for the next injection. Strength I believe is there for each one of us to do what we need to do.
Have you experienced a timeframe where you worked your guts out in an attempt to receive a certain A1C percentage? Most of us living with type 1 will agree that goals for our A1C are great yet it can be an exercise in frustration achieving the percentage that we are working towards. There are so many variables that can mess up our blood sugar “scores.” This past A1C timeframe, I worked even more diligently than I had before. I felt so frustrated because for 2 solid years I had not broken the barrier of getting an A1C under 7%. Prior to 2 years ago, I was usually under 7% so it made me feel exasperated to be stuck even though I was working so hard. That is the beast of type 1 though. We can work really hard & do all the right things & still get stuck with a stinker of an A1C result.
During the week in between when I went to the lab & then to the endo’s to find out what the A1C result was the C in A1C stood for cranky! My husband had looked at the glucose results that were inputted into the report in preparation for my endo appointment. Approaching me gingerly, my husband broke the news to me that based on the report results that it was very unlikely that I was going to break free of the 7% yet again. I would love to say that I accepted this news with a zen mind frame graciously. The reality though is that I was more like a rabid animal. I would love to say that I brushed off the news with a logical statement like, “I tried my best so I will not let this get to me.” In the real world though, that is not the truth by a long shot. Instead, I got really mad at the beast of type 1 diabetes. I said things like what was the point to trying so hard if I was going to end up feeling like I was failing. My emotions got a hold of me for a good 10 minutes where I just got really fed up with diabetes big time. Every one is a beautiful original so each of us handle frustration with diabetes or other “365” challenges in our own way. When I was younger, my go to position was to either implode or numb out when I encountered bad news. That worked out to my detriment so I learned through experience that it would be healthier for me to find another way of dealing with difficulty. I learned that getting my feelings out worked out a heck of a lot better because then I could move on instead of re living a situation over & over again. Being diagnosed with type 1 magnified that decision. Getting feelings out over frustrations with type 1 feels better I have found. For those 10 minutes, I let diabetes have it & some of the words that I was using in the height of emotion may have sounded defeatist however it was just emotions that were journeying to the end point of pulling up an anchor & getting myself going again with greater strength. My husband understands that when I am super frustrated with type 1 & I am big time cranky & letting out emotions of this that it will not last long & that what I am saying at that time really is just part of my re strengthening. He knows that if he hears me say things about giving up or something along those lines that it is simply part of getting all the frustration out & that I will be more determined to fight this beast of diabetes after the cranky & short lived rant. He just listens & kind of waits & that is awesome. I always make sure that I tell him that I am infuriated with diabetes & that I just need to get really cranky in order to move beyond that. Emotions can be a messy thing right? To get feelings out & move on though is a gift that I appreciate even more since dealing with day in day out life with type 1.
The thing with type 1 & the cranky in A1C is that I refuse to let the crankiness take on a life of its own. I refuse to allow diabetes to turn me into someone that I am not permanently. I refuse to become a “woe is me” kind of gal. I refuse to allow diabetes to reduce me in any way. My heart’s hope is that you have this determination too. The great thing about getting the “cranky” out with a trusted, caring & understanding Dear Heart is the moving on part with increased strength. I find that I come out of the “cranky” state pretty fast naturally. I don’t get super cranky about diabetes too often but when I do I notice that there is a pattern. I have my cranky rant that lasts around 5-10 minutes. Then the next thing is that I declare that there is no way I am going to allow diabetes to steal anymore time & I go & do a physical job that has been way down on my to do list for months & months. Then I kind of physically wipe myself out with that task & it gets the residual what feels like adrenaline out so that I feel more peaceful again. I love that I then have something accomplished with the excess frustration instead of going on & on in a temporal loop of crankiness. Instead, it is a decision to let the crankiness out verbally & then physically too in a productive way. It is kind of an in your face thing to diabetes too I think. Because of this recent cranky outbreak I have finally gone through years of medications & tossed out expired ones & reorganized our kitchen shelves so that I can reach the things that I want to access most often. Crankiness put those tasks at the top of the list & that is okay. I remember after completing the jobs that I was back to being my determined self again ready to fight this beast with greater emotional & physical muscle.
Receiving A1C results really can stink. There are times when we can feel like we have bombed an exam that we studied for. There are other times when it is like receiving a guilty verdict when we are innocent. What have we been doing to get a result like that we may ask ourselves or be asked. Sometimes we feel some vindication in realizing that a lot of the reason that we received the result that we did was because we were tested during cold & flu season & had caught all of them all season long. Stress may be another culprit for elevating the A1C. Short of hermitizing, how does one avoid stress? That is really a rhetorical question because I realize that we don’t avoid stress but rather find ways to manage it even though it is easier said than done. How ironic though that at times wringing our hands about an upcoming A1C may be adding to the stress.
Over the past A1C “exam” period of time, I have been really unwell. Despite that I was determined to work towards breaking through the 7%. It was a huge treat to receive the news from my endo. that my A1C this time around was 6.9% Finally! Take that diabetes! I am a huge advocate of celebrating the little moments & little wins in life. This is worth celebrating. It has been a very long time since I was able to celebrate an achieved goal A1C wise.
Life may also be lived in 5 year increments if we are “pumpers.” In the next couple of weeks, I will be hugging the Fed Ex person for the second time in my life. You see, life sometimes comes in a cardboard box. My new insulin pump will be arriving via Fed Ex in a cardboard box very soon. Five years went by in a blink of an eye too. I cannot wait to rip that box open & get to know a brand new friend that will be with me everywhere I go for the next 5 years.
Although life has been described as sometimes being lived in 3, 5 & 8 day increments as well as 6 months & 5 years, I know with all my soul that life is actually truly lived moment by moment. Every minute is precious. This reminder has also been magnified through the lens of living with type 1. What will we do with this moment, this hour, this day today? How about do something compassionate for someone else? How about listen to someone else who needs to get his or her feelings out? What about visiting someone who is lonely or telling someone that they are loved. How about sharing time & really being present with others? And what about letting others be truly themselves around us & us ourselves around others? How about telling dear ones that we love them? If today were all that I had, I ask myself what would I do with it? Do that. Then do that again tomorrow & every tomorrow.
My heart’s hope for you is that you live every single day in the magnification of the gift that it is.
Smiles, Saundie :D
Life is messy. We each release our feelings in our own way. May you find your healthy way to move through the challenges along the way. My heart's hope is that you have at least 1 person who will listen without judgement & bring along extra empathy & compassion. Next Monday's sharing is "No Longer Freakishly Invisible." :)