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Living eclectic, freezing time & perpetual "football"
Life can be one eclectic adventure. My home & life are like that. How about you? My spice cookie aroma-filled home was owned by 7 other families before we found our family home. We celebrated our 11 years of living here last September. We love our home madly. It is far from perfect to the discerning eye of the critic as it has a real need for some fresh paint inside & attention to our less than perfect gardens outside however what the heck is perfect anyhow? Being a sworn off perfectionist after attempting to live that way for years before I knew better, I just plain relish in the beautiful mess within our home & our lives. Of course I would never welcome type 1 diabetes but it too is part of the mess which teaches me to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground & reminds me to laugh at the mess & even embrace it daily. Type 1 has taught me that life is precious & to live a genuine life complete with the messes. Type 1 has resulted in me swearing more & laughing more & caring not one iota about the critics that surround many of us throughout our lives. Sometimes we have the critic living within our own minds. If you have a critic living in your head, I too had that experience magnified for decades until I gave it the big heave ho. That lightened the burden because we really need to be surrounded by sincere encouragers including finding it within ourselves to lift ourselves up. Diabetes can be brutal so let’s be gentle with ourselves as much & as often as we can.
Who amongst us is going to admit that if it weren’t already a pipe dream to achieve that Norman Rockwell Christmas that mixing type 1 into it puts an exclamation mark at the end of that thought big time! Type 1 during the Christmas season can be hell in my experience. First of all, the excruciating high & low blood sugars roller coastering for generally 2-4 weeks during the “jolly” season is trial worthy & swear worthy. I would love to love the Christmas season more yet for a decade now Christmas is an especially tough time maneuvering with. There is the Christmas shopping lows where I never seem to realize how much walking I have done & then feel the shakes, sweats & resemble a junkie coming off something..all in public. I detest type 1 in public & the responses that people give you. Forgive them I tell myself after the low blood sugar has been treated. They think they are seeing someone who is drunk or impaired & why would it occur to them that what they are actually seeing is a person with type 1 diabetes whose brain is starving for glucose & is fighting an unforgiving disease. The thing is that thankfully I have learned to not give a rat’s ass what others are thinking when I go into low blood sugar. I am aware & intuitive of people’s reaction however that is not my responsibility to make others understand. My job is to keep myself alive 24-7 with a ton of help from my guardian angel, technology, my circle of Battle Buddies and more. The Christmas tree is up & decorated & every few days another pan of gluten free, dairy free spice cookies bakes in our wee oven. They are truly delicious & they are my guilty pleasure with lemon tea each day during the season. I have not perfected the carb/insulin ratio as each cookie is also eclectic, a different size & shape so I have had to correct for cookies. Cookies are correction worthy to me so I will keep enjoying the cookies throughout the season. In the little bit of shopping for the season, I have gone into low blood sugars 80% of the time making my basal reduction a work in progress. An especially irritating experience while Christmas shopping was during a check out & the check out lady giving me the marketing spiel that I know they have to give everyone about taking out their store credit card. The part that was annoying was trying to keep upright while I felt the shakes of a low come on & her looking at me like I was a lunatic. Just say “no thanks” my inner voice conflicted with another inner voice that was swearing like a sailor on the inside. Sugar, sugar, sugar…needed sugar. Had sugar, but then was slowed down by the fact that by law you cannot drive for 45 minutes after a low is resolved. My family is used to getting a call to say that I am running an hour late due to low blood sugars. Germs abound this time of year & my immune system sucks so usually the Christmas season equals sick day (s) management which is a moving target. Those are the sucky realities however rather than let that part of things get the best of me I concentrate on the best parts of Christmas like having our sons home for 2 weeks & their faces & joy, the beauty of the decorations, time shared with loved ones, favourite traditions, humour, spice cookies & other holiday yummies & most importantly the exact reason that our family celebrates Christmas. I like getting out the pictures of our sons over the years & displaying them. It is hard to believe they were that small especially our oldest son who is quite tall at 6 foot 5 inches…over a full foot taller than his mom. These are our final months where all our sons live with us around the calendar year for the foreseeable future since our oldest son is preparing to go a considerable distance away to university next Fall. For sure he will be home next Christmas & I am sure I will savor it more. I am profoundly proud of the fine young men our sons are. Our lives are far from perfect yet the things that matter are so magnified that I feel gratitude that cannot be captured in words. If this sounds syrupy I find it easy to understand that emotions can be magnified as you realize as a parent that holidays and even each month is going to change over time as children grow, move out & create their own traditions. It is the most natural thing in the world & countless parents have gone through this similar feeling.
As an aside, recently a lovely & enthusiastic Italian lady came out to our home to help me choose some fabric for 2 chairs & a stool that had belonged to my Grandma that my Mom & Dad generously gave to me this Fall. The furniture restoration lady , Maria, told me that she felt a welcoming & cozy feeling in our home. She agreed that our home is eclectic yet she said it is a family home with a feeling of love with a traditional, old fashioned style. She gave me some wonderful advice & as we discussed the wood work that needed significant restoration she said to me that these pieces that had been my Grandma’s are going to be gorgeous when the work is completed. I am terrible at matching things up I confessed. I had some ideas that she gently explained would not flow together & she showed me exactly what would work. I am very excited about these sentimental chairs & stool & I can already picture them & I love that TLC is really the only element separating us from taking something that needs work & a thing of beauty.
By now, you will see that this story sharing is best described as well as eclectic. Something kind of like an a ha feeling hit me this morning. The alarm clock went off the same as any other morning. I detested that sound the same as the rest of the mornings. I reached for my blood tester the same as every morning for the past 10 years. “ Crapatate “ I thought to myself while I said a different word out loud (ha ha). It twas to be the breakfast of champions. My blood sugar was low & I reached for a portioned snack bag of bunny gummies & ate them at the speed of light. Meanwhile, it was time to wake everyone else up in the house. I am a morning person so I kind of fell into the role of the Turkish person who wakes everyone each morning. “Think brain” I felt like demanding as I felt that sense of slow motion that the low blood sugars bring making every thought & step a herculean task. Don’t fall down the staircase, don’t slur words & other prompts were spoken silently to myself. Our oldest son had slept through his alarm so I learned a long time ago to call a spade a spade especially when it comes to safety & diabetes. I told our oldest son that he would have to rush to make it to his bus since I could not drive due to the low. Questions drive me crazy big time if I am in a low blood sugar because my brain is in slow mo. I have learned to tell my family to stop asking me any questions while I am in a low or recovering from one. It is what it is. After about 15 minutes I felt like myself again which is always a relief. Our older sons are pretty great about giving & receiving hugs & I count myself fortunate about this as well. A hug in the morning is a lovely way to start the day. Our youngest son is an especially snuggly person. I love the kind of hugs when the other person does not let go for a long time. Those kind are rare don’t you find? This morning our youngest son gave me one of those kind of hugs & just naturally I said to him, “Freeze time.” I said to him that just like freeze tag is something that he loves to play that I now love a new game called “freeze time.” It can be something as simple as a hug, smile, sip of tea/coffee, smell of fresh baked cookies or anything that makes you feel joy. Freezing time is just stopping for an extra minute or two to take a snap shot for your memory bank…no technology required. This is my new favourite thing…freezing time. I want to collect as many “freezing time” moments over my lifetime. If you are not a sentimental person you can definitely roll your eyes about this yet I make no apologies for wearing my feelings on my sleeve. We each get to reveal as much of our true selves as we choose to.
The comfort with ones feelings is the next eclectic jump I was about to make. Last summer our family made a decision to discontinue cable as mostly we all grumbled that there was almost nothing on that appealed to us. We upgraded our internet & began a subscription to Netflix. I know, I know, we are late to the banquet since people have been doing this for years. My dear heart husband in particular is allergic to change. I will say that I am thrilled with Netflix. There is a plethora of BBC historical dramas & stuff like that that I think is the bee’s knees. One of the shows that I watched recently made me laugh my ass off. I was much more amused than my husband was with the show when he watched it alone. Then we watched the next episode together & he said that my laughter was contagious & he said that there was something about watching me watch the show while he watched it too that made the show funny to him too. The show is called, “Very British Problems.” The episode that I got the biggest laugh from is the one focused on “feelings.” The show described how the British don’t show their feelings & the discomfort to say the least of all things relating to feelings. It may be the sociologist in me that found this fascinating. Although there was a lot of mention of a kind of passive aggressiveness according to the show about the Brits, I can assure you that my British born Gran was the opposite of that. She would tell anyone in no uncertain terms if something was bullshit using that exact word. She was not sentimental like I am yet she was a caring person & a person of natural leadership. I admired her tenacity & the way she told it like it was. She was a hoot. Getting back to the show on feelings, I got a charge out of one part of the program in particular. It was the part about the one & only time that it was/is appropriate to show your emotions as a Brit. You can show your feelings at football games. (football is soccer to us in Canada). At those games, the Brits hug one another & shout & at times cry & let all those feelings out. I kind of thought to myself, it is time to call life one great big “football”(soccer) game then. I cannot personally imagine keeping my feelings suppressed until soccer games. For sure I am allergic to passive aggression. That is like grade 7 girl behaviour on steroids no offense. While I get that I lean more towards the get your feelings out side, I just don’t get the advantage of playing a game of make believe that everything is perfect & great. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not the girl either that people want to run away screaming from because when asked how you are doing you give the whole pathetic woe is me speech. I hope I land somewhere in a reasonable range of being a genuine person & not being a downer. The repressed feelings thing though I really don’t get. It reminds me on a humourous note of a scene from a Monty Python sketch where John Cleese is playing a knight & gets his leg lopped off & he says, “I’m fine; it’s just a flesh wound.” Humour is mandatory for a well balanced me. I don’t want to become too intense so I find humour anywhere that I possibly can. There are many shows on Netflix that I am enjoying in the comedy category. The Dana Carvey stand up for instance I found hilarious mostly because our sons are Millennials & laughter helps as we all get through those teenage years not just loving one another but also liking one another. We are a family thankfully that gets feelings out, resolves things & moves on. Don’t get me wrong, we are far from the Waltons or the Leave it to Beaver type family. Sometimes I use every ounce of my conflict/crisis intervention skills on all of us including myself when we are in the thick of resolving heated topics. And sometimes I completely seem to forget all my skills & end up needing to apologize for being less than tactful. No one has to guess how the other family members are feeling though & we all like it that way. We don’t live in a house of cards that will crumble down if we have a heated debate or many heated debates. Our home is a perpetual soccer game I guess you could say that way.
Fun fact: there is a real “cat hotel” a few kilometers from where we live that I drive by & laugh about every time. That is oddly specific I think to myself that there is a business set up only for cats on a spa vacation. The thing that makes me laugh the most though is that the home of the people that own the business is in front of the building that is the hotel for cats & the “hotel for cats” is at least 3 sizes larger than the people’s home. Okay, I apologize in advance as I am a big time dog person so maybe I should not laugh at this at all. Find something to laugh about though.
What is on your wish list this Christmas? Are any of these things priceless? I don’t want to seem jaded but I don’t put the ornament on my Christmas tree that says, “All I wish for is a cure to type 1 diabetes.” I use to really like to put that one up but now truthfully that ornament kind of serves to piss me off so I just leave it tucked away. I may not always feel that way but this year I do as in 2 days I will have lived with type 1 for exactly 10 years. I have friends that have lived with this beast for decades so 10 years does not necessarily sound that long. The time flew by & yet some days felt like very long days. One of my friends recently said to me that they heard that there is going to be a cure for type 1 on the news. It was not my most grace filled moment as I replied, “Yes, sure, our diabetes community has been promised a cure in 5 years for decades now.” The grace decreases as I added, “diabetes is a billion dollar industry & so where would the motivation come from to end that on the part of pharm. Companies?” My friend meant well & I did add that I thank them for having their heart in the right place. Our youngest son asked me what I want most this Christmas. I answered easily that I just want to see my sons have a joy filled holiday. He smiled from ear to ear & said, “Thanks mom; I love that.” The 2 gifts that I gave myself early in an effort to better manage my health are: a better diet on purpose & a Libre. I have gotten my A1c down .3% in the last month & I have .5% to go to get to my target & I get it that I need help because I have been struggling for well over a year or more now with my A1C. I hope the Libre will help me reach my goal. It is too soon to tell if it will be the game changer for me. I feel a bit like an experiment since in Canada we just got access to this device. It would appear to fall short of the Dex in that it is not blue toothed to send alerts for example to a person’s smart phone when low blood sugar hits or high blood sugar warnings could be of huge benefit in my opinion. Overall though, there are many aspects of the Libre that I already love including: being able to get glucose readings every 15 minutes on demand, the use of the scanner vs the finger pricks allowing the calluses upon calluses to maybe heal after 10 years, neat graphs that give a simple to understand overview of how my blood sugars are behaving, I get to check blood sugars as many times as I want vs being limited by my allowance of test strips, the not leaving a trail of used test strips everywhere I go since I don’t use them often at all when the Libre is attached to me, the not having to change the sensors for 2 weeks, the reasonable cost of the sensors for the benefits to my management, the easy to use menus & the device ease itself, the experience of the sensor not hurting when it was inserted which was an unexpected happy surprise, and more. The jury is in quickly with an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up on this new addition in my experience. I remain a realistic optimist in this life with type 1. The healthier diet is nutrition based & without boring you to tears, it is mostly a case of getting as much nutrition per calorie as possible by adding in green smoothies (but still eating the spice cookies because hey I am human & it is the Christmas season & these cookies are out of this world delicious in my opinion.) I still eat solid food of course but my snacks are really counting when I get so many greens & more as well that otherwise it would be difficult for me to make room for in a day. As you know, I am not a doctor or person with any medical background at all so what works for me will not be the answer for you. Dietary choices are not a one size fits all, neither is my management of type 1 or anyone else’s. We are people not machines after all so we need to customize what works best for us along with our medical teams. My experience is that I feel more energy with these tweaks I have made with the added greens in a day. For sure it was an acquired taste but I have come to a point where I honestly enjoy the taste now & my taste buds are enjoying the taste of my meals in general. The jury is still out on how I can sustain the Cat in the Hat like new additions to my health. Being a human can mean 1 step forward at times & 11 steps back, fall down, get back up, swear & keep going.
May your Christmas or holiday season be filled with hope, swearing where needed & lots of “soccer.” Most of all, my heart’s hope for you is that you “freeze time” every chance you get. Hug a lot longer…sure others may start patting you on the back when you do but you are a “soccer” player, right?
Have a gentle Christmas/Holiday season. May type 1 behave more for all of us. May we be surrounded by encouragers who are compassionate & kind. Let it be us that are the biggest encouragers. Let it be safe to be yourself even at times to swear at type 1 when needed. It is a marathon of a disease in a hectic, expectant time of year. Blood sugars don't care it is Christmas. Give yourself some extra time. Sometimes we are going to be late due to low blood sugars. Don't beat yourself up about that. Be present & be that person who lets go during a hug last. Be a "soccer" player in the best sense of it all. That means saying the things that can be uncomfortable to say like, "I love you." God Bless you & your family all year long. The next story sharing will be in the New Year On January 22, 2018.