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Stressing Over Spilt Milk, Splitting Hairs & Seeing Dots
Have you ever found yourself concentrating on things in such a micromanagement style that you have distracted yourself from the big picture? It is a little like having our faces so close to a painting that we cannot see what the painting is all about. To see the art piece, we have a better vantage point for fully experiencing it when we back up & look at it from a bit of a distance so that we can take it all in.
Perhaps at times we fixate on little, wee details in life because we need to take a break from the intensity of something that is draining our energy. That sure can be the case when we have type 1 or another “365” health challenge. For me, I have found that most days the managing of type 1 is almost mechanical. While we are in reality thinking about what we need to do next to work towards being as healthy as we can, we sure are unlikely to realize just how many decisions we are making & fully appreciate this. The thing for me at least is that I don’t want to think too much at all about having type 1. For sure I will manage it but I like to think of it as in the background with so many other things in the forefront of my life. We could think of it like an orchestra. There are many things that we are attending to at the same time like a conductor. I want my type 1 to blend in with the rest of my life & not blurt out in an out of tune fashion. That is not the way things unfold every day yet that is the goal all the same.
If there is something significantly stressful that gets dumped on top of type 1 or another “365” health challenge do we find ourselves micromanaging other aspects of our lives? It could be a conscious decision or we could be unaware at first that we are doing this. Yesterday, it occurred to me that I was doing both of these things at once strangely enough. There are some medical procedures that are coming up & like most people, I am nervous about this. The specialist’s office sent out paperwork outlining what was going to take place & how I was to prepare for these. The paperwork arrived in my mailbox 3 weeks ago yet the procedures were not happening for another month at that time. Purposefully, I decided not to open the letter until 1 week before the procedures. I know myself well enough by now that I knew that opening the letter sooner would simply mean that I would stress out sooner & for a longer period & there was no point to this. The “Serenity Prayer” has always been a guidepost to me. The guidepost within this prayer reminded me that I have done what I can do & that it was time to “accept the things that I cannot change.” The “courage to change what we can change” as outlined in the prayer had already occurred. Thinking of this also brought me back in time to when I was first diagnosed with type 1. I changed everything & affected everything that I could & then I put one foot in front of the other each day working on the “accepting what I could not change.” Realizing that brought me peace when it came to accepting this type 1 beast would be staying in my life. No longer did I keep going through the perpetual loop of bargaining for better health, being frustrated & angry about the loss of my working pancreas & what a huge job that was that got dumped upon me & finally I stopped asking the question, “why me…what did I do to bring this on” in a self blaming almost accusation towards myself. That did not happen overnight. The point is though that the only way I could get to a point of peace living with type 1 was to do everything I could to have the best health within this diagnosis & accept it. It was brutally difficult to get to that point because I had to allow myself to feel all the pain-filled & helpless feelings that I had about the diagnosis. Avoiding those feelings would have amounted to a worse kind of pain though so in a feisty way, I kind of met type 1 head on over time. There were lots of tears and the whole range of emotions but I know I am stronger for having met it all full on & feeling it. Okay, back to the present. I consciously did not open the letter with the details from the specialist’s office not because I was avoiding my feelings but rather because I knew that I am a natural worrier. There was absolutely nothing I could do for 4 weeks leading up to the procedures. Intellectually, I did know that at the 1 week before the procedures, I would need to be making practical arrangements like child care & making sure that sedated me had a ride home from the hospital. Behind the scenes, although my efforts were valiant in my plan to minimize the worrying, my body decided to scream at me in unexpected ways. In the last few days, my fairly good blood sugar control went skyrocketing up out of nowhere. That is the power of a subconscious stressing out. I suppose I could tell my mind to settle down but my body had a plan of its own. To add to that, 2 weeks ago, I broke out in hives all over my body. They are still here. The surprising thing to me though was that I had been going out of my way to keep things mellow & I thought I was doing a pretty good job of that. Again my body was telling me that was not necessarily the whole story.
Over the past few weeks there were many things going on to distract me from the upcoming procedures. My husband has been working double shifts for a month so it has been more hectic at our place with our 3 sons. I was spread thinner & that was okay & expected & in many ways the just right way of concentrating on what was more important vs worrying about something else that I could not affect. I have also been looking into some Paleo recipes. Recently, I had been trying to find ways to replace dairy foods especially milk. I had been mixing up cappuccinos at home in an effort to find a replacement for dairy milk. It was a strange distraction. I could not see the forest for the trees on that one. I did not realize that figuratively speaking I was stressing over spilt milk or splitting hairs. As a funny aside, perhaps I was a “split hare” myself as my nickname is bunny. I had been drinking kind of gross tasting substitutes in an effort to replace the dairy milk. Today it occurred to me that I had my face touching the painting so to speak since I was missing the full picture. First of all, the Paleo for me is an experiment & it will not be the end of the world if it does not work out. Also, I only drink 4 ozs of milk in the cappuccino whenever I have this treat. I was stressing I realized over trying to replace 4 ozs of milk. Suddenly I realized that I had really been using the substitutions & experimentations in the recipes as a distraction from what was going on medically to the point possibly of absurd. Since I am not lactose intolerant, I realized that 4 ozs of milk every once in a while was never here nor there “hare.” There was no point getting “harried” about it.
The weird part about having these darned hives appear is that I really thought I had been doing a pretty good job keeping myself calm & collect. I was not freaking out about the medical stuff. Most of the time, I was really not thinking about it at all. The body is a mystery. Another time that I felt calm yet had hives appear was at the end of the first semester of first year university. In that case though, the hives were so severe that my eyes swelled closed & the rest of my body swelled up & I ended up in the hospital right before I was scheduled to write my last exam. I remember the doctors & nurses quickly concluding that it was me stressing out majorly that had caused this. The strange thing though was that in my mind I did not feel stressed. I had studied & loved my courses & really did not think that I was stressing out any more than anyone else. I could certainly remember feeling way more stressed than this. Still though, for whatever reason, I guess my body decided that maybe I was suppressing my emotions & gave me a neon sign that something was going on.
Stress does bizarre things to our bodies sometimes with or without type 1 I have come to realize. Another case in point of this was that last night I was attacking the laundry monster & had tested my blood sugar a few minutes prior to going to the laundry room & it was sitting at about 8. About 20 minutes later, I started seeing all kinds of black dots all over my eyes. That is something that I seldom experience yet when I do it means that my blood sugar has taken a nose dive. That’s stress again working in full force. Stress is strange where my blood sugars go with type 1. Sometimes stress will send my blood sugars into orbit…like if I watch a scary movie or if someone pops out at me or I see a reptile. Then other times stress will send my blood sugars into a sudden nose dive…like if I am worried about our sons, my family or friends or about a medical challenge.
Maybe about now, I could write a true joke about what has black dots & red dots all over it & the answer would be me. Neither of these things are permanent so I am not stressing over the stressing. I am keeping it in perspective at least emotionally & intellectually. There are a couple of positives & they are that all the spots are temporary & at least it is not shorts & t-shirts season & so far the one place that I don’t have the hive spots is on my face so no one needs to see me sweat so to speak especially since I don’t really feel stressed. My body I suppose has decided to stress out yet our body is just one part of us. I am still okay…better than okay dots or no dots.
Through all of life’s ups & downs the “Serenity Prayer” in its wise simplicity has been a welcome & peace-giving guide post. My heart’s hope for you is that you too have a guide post for peace. The ups & downs will always be there yet we get to choose to pursue peace through all of the mountains & valleys. And best of all, we can choose to share the ups & downs with one another & feel supported & care for. That’s what battle buddies are best at!
Smiles, Saundie :D
May your week ahead be dot-free & next week's sharing is "Question or Exclamation Mark" :)