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Twice the Everything
Type 1 has magnified absolutely everything in my life. How about you? Whether you are the person who was diagnosed with type 1 or you are a family member or friend who is a battle buddy to the individual living with type 1 you too may feel that magnification too. We may feel some things at an exponential of 2, 10 or 100 times or anywhere in between. The great news I have found is that the magnificent experiences in life since November 29, 2007 (the day I found out I had the sentence of type 1) are without a doubt magnified by at least a hundred. Often in life we are told that the important moments are those that appear to be the little moments. They are the things that are free to each one of us like the sound of a loved one’s laughter (or our own), watching our kids sleeping peacefully, the macaroni art made by our children, the sweet poems & priceless handmade artwork presented to us again by our children, time shared with a Dear Heart, a walk in the woods, a bright sunny day & the list goes on & on. For those of us living with type 1 the list may also include those moments albeit fleeting whereby our blood sugars are in that beautiful 5 point whatever range. (Canadian measures) As a light aside, I also add to my list of fun moments the smell & taste of gluten & dairy free snickerdoodles which I have finally perfected. Just saying “snickerdoodle” to someone kind of makes me laugh. I have lost track of the number of the homemade snickerdoodle cookies that I have promised friends “on the next rainy day.” It has been so beautiful out that I decided that instead of being cooped up in the kitchen for hours on end baking that I would enjoy the outdoors more on the sunny days & make the promised snickerdoodles on the next rainy day. The smell of these cookies baking is heavenly if you enjoy the smell of cinnamon. Okay, so many of us may agree that somewhere along the way type 1 has naturally led us to appreciate the little moments with greater zeal. How about the aggravating moments & times? We each answer that question for ourselves. My answer is that the not so great moments & experiences get magnified with the unwelcome addition of life with type 1 diabetes. As I have shared many times, I am an emotional (profoundly sensitive) animal. Sometimes my thoughts blow events out of proportion & I find myself choosing to check my thinking. For instance when an ugly 19 point whatever appears on my glucose meter my thoughts become a runaway train. The “what ifs” appear big time. My mind tells me things like: “what if my blood sugars go even higher & I end up with ketones or needing to go to the hospital” or “what if I correct & go to sleep & my blood sugars suddenly bottom out & I go dangerously low & don’t wake up.” If you are familiar with CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) you will know that thoughts lead to feelings & actions that may serve us well or not. Personally, I have always been a huge advocate of CBT. The neat thing is that you can learn it pretty easily & use it every day. When I was first diagnosed with type 1 for example I invoked CBT on the panic attacks that I had. I literally found it almost impossible to go to sleep at night for fear that I would not wake up the next morning. Sleep deprivation does not help in any way & I find that with that too come even more magnified emotions & flawed thinking on my part. CBT together with an indescribably caring small group of encouraging & loving Dear Hearts brought me out of the panic in those early days of life with type 1. Everyone is a beautiful original so what may work for me may not be the bee’s knees for you. Always, always speak to your doctor about what is right or not right for you. Few things in life are a true tragedy thankfully but have you noticed yourself & others around you saying things like that is “horrible, a tragedy, a nightmare” & other over the top descriptors for an otherwise more like an inconvenience of a situation. One of the things that I learned many years ago was that words matter in more ways than imaginable. The words we say or don’t say & especially the words that we speak to ourselves. Instead of calling an inconvenience a “nightmare” I learned long ago to reframe the wording to “inconvenient, a hassle, a bummer, a drag” & words like that. It made a difference at least for me. If you are interested in learning more about CBT be sure to speak to your doctor who will have resource information available on this subject & professionals who provide CBT in your area. Again, this may or may not be right for you. What works for one person is not always the answer for another individual since we are each beautiful originals.
The usual diabetes related nonsense has me feeling those magnified emotions. It is that feeling of twice the everything. Specifically, I am referring to the twice a year trip to the blood lab in preparation for my next appointment with my endocrinologist. I know I am fortunate that I only go to the endos two times a year. Some of my fellow friends with type 1 have to go 4 times a year. My heart goes out to them. My endo is exceptional. Still though, I feel that twinge of stress associated with the upcoming visit to her office to find out what my current A1C is & to hear the results as well about cholesterol, kidney function & more. The rascal in me wanted to know even ahead of going to the blood lab where my A1C is sitting at currently. I go to the lab in a week & a half. The trouble is that for the last half of February & the first week of March I was very sick with a punishing flu & that sent my blood sugars soaring into the 12 & above range 24-7 for nearly a month. Those numbers are naturally in my A1C average & that frustrates me to no end since I manage the hell out of diabetes but my average will not defend my hard work. That is the nature of type 1 diabetes. You work your guts out yet at times the numbers don’t necessarily reward us. Rascal me went out & bought a do it yourself at home A1C test for the first time a few days ago. Since I detest instructions I thought I could figure out how to conduct the test kinetically. Long story short, that did not work out & thankfully my husband came along, read the instructions & the second test worked. I could not believe the number though that the test provided me with. It is the worst A1C I have ever had. That just plain sucks. The fact that the A1C starts with a 7 point something % will not sit well with my diabetes medical team. It sits even worse with me as well as the rascal overachiever who remains in me. The same rascal though refuses to throw in the towel in somehow trying to shave off some of those percentage points before my “real” blood lab in just over a week. My understanding of how A1C works is that the heaviest weight of the numbers is placed on the most current month. February & part of March were crappy as far as the glucose numbers go for me but the last couple weeks of March & all of April so far have been pretty ok with a few freaky exceptions. Can I pull a rabbit out of the hat A1C wise? Maybe or maybe not. The rascal in me will try. It may be unrealistic to believe that I can turn that 7 point whatever percent into something starting with a 6 but I am going to try with all my rascally might all the same.
During the last few months I have tried something a little bit upside down with myself/my thinking. I have tried to take negative challenges related to type 1 & turn them into little bursts of gratitude. That is not always easy. Here are some examples:
- Several times I have been woken up in the night with low blood sugars (haven’t all of us experienced that living with type 1) & I am thankful that my guardian angel works nights so that I got to wake up to another precious day the next morning including this morning.
- The day after our youngest son’s most recent birthday he knocked on our bedroom door that weekend morning when I did not wake up at the usual time. I had been up the night before extremely late fighting a very high blood sugar so was especially exhausted. Alex kept knocking though & then opened the door & insisted that I check my blood sugar. It was 3.2 & I am grateful for the knock at my door.
- My all over the map blood sugars which can fluctuate 6 or 7 points within 20 minutes for no apparent reason are likely going to lend support for a future cgm. That would alert me to highs & lows in real time. That would provide peace of mind. Hopefully my body will cooperate with an additional device in the future. That’s a long story. I am however grateful that I have a pump & access to potential further technological “buddies.”
- I am even thankful to have the information from my at home A1C test. The result stinks however I would rather know about this percentage ahead of time. Additionally it will interesting to see if the next 10 days of tighter than tight blood sugar control will reward me with something starting with a 6 or something at least less than the current A1C home result.
The thing that I have noticed without fail about the extraordinary battle buddies living with type 1 is that each & every one of them has at least twice the determination & strength & this is inspiring beyond words.
My heart’s hope for you is that your list of the people & things that you are grateful for is at least twice as long as the challenges that you face each day.
Go ahead & be twice as gentle (at least) with yourself in the coming week. Celebrate the wins & never, ever throw in the towel on the days that stink…those are the days we perhaps need at least twice the rascally determination. The next story will be shared in 2 weeks time on Monday May 9th. Happy Mom’s Day on the 8th to my beautiful Mom & all Moms.