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Shall We Wish One Another a Messy Christmas
Some people say, “Happy Holidays”, others, “Happy Hanukkah” or “Merry Christmas” this time of the year. Although we are unlikely to wish one another a Messy Christmas, it may be something that at times fits the season. Please don’t get me wrong…I embrace the best parts of Christmas. I believe that we make Christmas what we want it to be. If we choose to make it about giving into marketing trickery/commercialism then that is what it will be. If we choose to somehow find a way against all the forces out there this time of the year to get a little quiet each day & centre ourselves in the waiting & anticipation of joy then that is hopefully what we will find. The thing is though that whether we embrace the season with either a buying frenzy mentality or a reflective spirit, it can get messy either way I have found.
Life can be messy. If we happen to layer on a Norman Rockwell view of the holidays how does that work out? I confess that for more years than I can remember I really bought into the whole picture in my head of what a perfect Christmas looked like. I wiped myself out & came up short each year. For sure I had fallen for the Norman Rockwell Christmas picture of perfection big time for a long time. My first year with type 1 diabetes though broke that snow globe of a picture in my head & although I would never want to relive that Christmas ever again, it did I realize provide something lasting that our family has turned into something awesome.
As I have shared before, I was diagnosed with diabetes on November 29, 2007. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I was misdiagnosed since although I had type 1 diabetes, I was misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes & medical treatment went accordingly. Oral medications for type 2 were prescribed & I followed the medical instructions to a t. And I got sicker & sicker & my blood sugars stayed sky high because I had type 1 & needed insulin. Everything that year was exhausting in terms of preparation for Christmas. And my heart was heavy because the diagnosis was new & I was freaking out since I had so many questions about what this would mean for my family & for me. My endo. at the time was not exactly open to questions let’s say to be polite. It was a bad experience on top of a bad experience. It took me 6 months with that first endo but I finally did find a new endo & she is fantastic. You know I believe firmly in a happy middle & ending…yes, I actually insist on it so I am thrilled to share that I absolutely am over the moon happy with my endo. now. Okay, back to December 2007.
If you have experienced sustained high blood sugars, I do not need to describe what a day looks like just trying to do anything at all. It is beyond exhausting. Putting up the Christmas tree was exhausting & making & decorating cookies was exhausting & well the outside decorating did not even happen that year. As a Mom with 3 small boys at the time I had to keep going & more than anything I did not want my diagnosis to steal the joy from their Christmas under any circumstances. There seemed like an ocean of tears behind closed doors that I made sure our little boys did not see or hear. I was still of the mindset that they would have their Norman Rockwell Christmas celebration come hell or high water. What a mess that Christmas was when I remember it. Our 2 younger boys don’t remember it at all since our youngest son was a baby & our middle son was just 3 years old at the time. Our oldest son remembers it as a very happy & funny & eccentric Christmas. My heart is glad that is the way that he remembers it. Maybe the foreshadowing of how the celebration was going to go is best portrayed in the photo with santa of our 3 sons that year. Our youngest son, a baby then, was crying in the photo, and our oldest son looked like he was falling asleep. It is kind of difficult to look at this photo even today as it brings that year back very vividly. To get very real, it was a gut wrenching experience literally. If you have ever taken Metformin you will get exactly what I mean by that. Prior to going downstairs with my husband & our sons I was spending a lot of time with “Heuy” on the “Big White Phone” hurling due to the side effects of having been recently put on a “trial” of Metformin 3 days before Christmas that Christmas morning. And I also remember being told that because my blood sugars were not coming down that maybe I might have “juvenile diabetes” however that was unlikely as I was an adult. And I was told that on January 2nd if my blood sugars did not come down that I would have to begin injections as the endo at the time was then beginning to wonder if I might have type1 diabetes. If you don’t have diabetes, imagine the worst stomach flu that you ever had & imagine it lasting & then imagine flu in general & then multiply that by at least 10 times & imagine it not going away…that is how I would attempt to describe sustained high blood sugars. It knocks you on your kester big time. If Lake Ontario was low that year, I will admit to drinking an incredible amount of it in 2007. You know exactly what I mean. So we did our stockings & I put on a happy face for my family through the beast of type 1 during Christmas of 2007. It was our first Christmas in our home. We purchased a home with great “bones” & lots of potential & it really felt like home from the moment I walked through the door. My husband & I knew that it needed some TLC & that we would & could work away at that. I have always been someone who believes that if you love someone or something enough, miracles happen. I felt that way about our home instantly. I love it in our home with our family & we still have projects to do on our older home & I am forever laughing at the mess at times however that is life & I am finally ok with that. Our home is about 45 or so years old & had been neglected over the years. We are either the 7th or 8th owners of our home & so it is quite an eclectic combination of decorating. I kind of love that though & we have added our touches too of course & will continue to. This home has been witness to the tears, the laughter, and a lot of sounds of our sons playing. It knows how messy life is & how that became magnified at the end of 2007. Our home though also knows that it houses warriors within it. Our family does not give up any day & we never will. Sometimes our celebrations may appear to be kooky to some but they are just right to us because we have learned that diabetes for sure throws curve balls & you have to move to catch them. Plans sometimes have to be modified…the fun however & the love within any celebration remain strong & flourishing. Diabetes is insidious because it refuses to be ignored & it may as well have had a fog horn in December 2007. Just before we were about to put the turkey in the oven, our very old & dilapidated furnace decided to konk out. It made an unmistakeable “I am giving up” rattling noise that was so loud that I am sure that our neighbors could hear it. Thankfully, my husband has “the knack” (wink, wink engineers…you will get the Dilbert analogy here) & he went downstairs to fight the good fight with our furnace. As I often joke with him, all he seems to need is an elastic band & a wet suit to get almost anything mechanical working again. That is a wee joke in the spirit of the show McGuyver & how the engineer in the wild can just somehow figure “stuff” out. I big time appreciated the frustrations that my husband was going through & that left me with running between “Huey” & our 3 young sons on my own that day & well, the turkey went back into the refrigerator in the meantime…well until Boxing Day. Here’s the very good news & that is that was the one & only year that we did not have company for Christmas. I would not have wanted to subject anyone else to the bad Country song of a Christmas that we were experiencing. Through it all though thankfully our kids were totally oblivious to the “challenges” that their mom & dad were having. The only place open on Christmas day around our area that we could find was a very greasy Chinese Food spot so we ordered that for Christmas dinner which our oldest son thought was a hoot & great. It was disgusting but maybe it was not as bad as I thought since I was already hugely nauseous compliments of Mr. Metformin already. Let’s put it this way though & that is that we have not revisited that restaurant again because life is too short & precious to have another greasy experience like that one. Once our sons were in bed after that Christmas, I was able to let myself shake my head at how not Norman Rockwell the day had been. And at that moment I realized that it was definitely time anyhow to give up that Norman Rockwell picture of Christmas. That picture was not realistic before diabetes & it sure is not realistic now. Now with each Christmas I look at the to do list that most of us will agree is too long for each of us anyhow to realistically complete. I look at it & laugh knowing that there is not a chance I am going to knock myself out to make it all happen. Instead, I embrace my own version of Christmas which is messy beautiful. That means for instance that if I have a low blood sugar before we are about to put the main course on the table that we instead bring out the desserts (gluten/wheat & dairy free this year) & start with dessert. You can imagine that I will not get any flack from our sons should that happen. Oh my, imagine cutting into either your dessert pie or cake or whatever delectable you have created prior to dinner & when dessert time comes, that dessert has a piece missing & does not look perfect. Imagine…I can & I think isn’t that beautiful messy & absolutely my new version of Norman Rockwell.
Let’s redefine perfect. To me, perfect is beautiful messiness in life. Perfect means, I am okay with rolling with whatever the day brings. Best of all, there is no pretending to have the Norman Rockwell Christmas. Life is messy, and Christmas celebrations can be messy & when you layer on the beast of diabetes, it can all get pretty magnified. I choose to back away from the Norman Rockwell fantasy & instead embrace a picture of just being okay with my own messy version of the holidays.
My heart’s hope for you is that you know that you are loved big time. Please be with your loved ones during the holidays & just focus on what truly matters…love. The rest is just stuff. Love absolutely lasts forever.
Smiles, Saundie :)
Please be gentle with yourself & if you can please just be okay with messy beauty too. Be at peace. Next Monday's writing is "Comfortable, Gentle Softness." :)