Our Diabetes/365 Community IS our cuppa!
You Can Squeeze My Hand
Mercy matters. I promise you that mercy matters.
Most of us can relate to times in our lives when we have received or provided an act of mercy. I believe mercy is part of being a more beautiful human being. Some of us endure what can feel like a brutally unmerciful treatment from type 1 or another “365” 24-7 disease. Still other people in our human family are challenged by other struggles of an emotional or spiritual crisis. At any given time we never know who it is out there that is hanging on by their fingertips so for crying out loud we need to recycle mercy every single day I believe with all my might. It does not have to be in the form of the grand gesture. Little acts of compassion and mercy make the difference between stomping on the hands that are hanging on by a fingernail or grabbing those hands & lifting others up.
One of my favourite writers is Maya Angelou. She had one of those rare, beautiful voices that reached others at the centre of their hearts whether you read her words or heard them. The quote that has been a guidepost for over half of my life by Maya Angelou is “When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from that grantor’s gift.” I have come to more fully appreciate & notice the downstream mercy received as the profoundly precious gift that it is.
While my experience is that type 1 is at times monumentally unmerciful I have found that some things in life are like that for reasons I will never understand. Next month I will have been living with type 1 for 10 years & parts of this disease remain a mystery to me. A lot of us can relate to cycles in type 1 that appear & disappear even though we have not changed anything in our day to day lives. At times our blood sugars are going along pretty well and then bam out of what seems like nowhere the diabetes train derails & blood sugars go berserk in either a high or low direction. When I am under extreme stress I never know if it will cause my blood sugars to spike to the clouds or dive underground. Case in point is that last week I was on my way to the lab for a blood test for the not so beloved A1C in preparation for this week’s follow up appointment with my endo and nurse. Bam, at the traffic lights 3 cars ahead of me 2 cars had a small collision yet the sound was really loud. After making sure both drivers were ok & the police on the way we continued to the lab. Once I arrived at the lab I checked my blood sugar to see if I had gone low or high from the adrenaline rush that the crash had surged. This time around my blood sugar plunged 3 full points in 20 minutes taking me very close to going into a low at any moment. The problem was that my lab was not going to be done for another 15 minutes and I was told to continue fasting. Usually I try to not inconvenience anyone ever so it took all my might to make my way up to the receptionist to ask if I could eat a sugar as my blood sugar was going to go low soon. She said, “No, surely your blood sugar won’t drop low in a few minutes.” My advocate voice spoke up & said, “Well you see I dropped 3 full points in 20 minutes so it is very possible that I will go low.” Mercy set in as the lab technologist overhead this & told me to come in right away. I made sure I thanked her for her kindness, had the lab & then gobbled down a portion size of bunny gummies & this low was headed off at the pass.
The jury is still out in my case as to whether it is good or unfortunate that the lab results can be accessed within 24 hours. My lab appointment was last Thursday so Friday morning I rolled out of bed & made a bee line for my tablet to check my lab results online. My follow up appointment was the following Tuesday so that left a weekend as well as Friday & Monday in this case to agonize over the results which were not at all good. I made choices during the summer and early Fall months between being a super mom or a super diabetic. The mom part of me won out. In looking back on my labs from this time last year the labs were similar other than this lab was worse. I know I can get my A1C back down into better range again but I will have to basically fixate on it & put my health in top spot to do it. It pisses me off that this disease gets so much time & effort & anguish but this disease is not one of mercy in my opinion. The thing is that I can be pissed off about that all I want but it does not change the fact that I have to once again pull up my big girl panties & get my numbers back into range. It is what it is. That does not mean that I feel resolve constantly to inspirationally fight the good fight. Sometimes I close a door and cry my eyes out. I feel the frustration, the sadness and exhaustion of this marathon disease & then when I have those feelings out I find ways to get back up & take the reins again. Some days I have to let my emotions out to rise back above the circumstances. None of this is in a pity party kind of way. I just plain know that for a sensitive soul like mine that if I squash my feelings & don’t let them out that I will be miserable. And miserable is miserable so that is not a choice. I am a dust myself off kind of gal after I feel my feelings & acknowledge the truth head on. Frankly I don’t have much respect for faking behaviours or cowardly not facing feelings that come into my life so I take the hard road to avoid the harder road. The part about receiving lab results within 24 hours that is great is that if the numbers are good there is extra time to celebrate a win. On the flip side of that is that if the results are less than stellar it provides extra time to either mentally beat myself up or be bummed out about it. That is life.
Many fellow friends of mine who live with type 1 diabetes describe their visits to their endocrinologists as that of going to the principal’s office. There is likely a kid inside most of us that can relate to that feeling. As a humorous aside, over the years being a mom to 3 sons has meant trips to the principal’s office for me as a parent too & that sinking feeling like that of a kid being called into that office. Let’s just say that it is rare to get called into the principal’s office for accolades. As another aside, the principal at our 2 younger sons’ school is awesome & I take my hat off to him in respect. When I arrived for my follow up appointment yesterday with the nurse & endo. I was greeted with a smile from my nurse. She is a gem & thankfully also has a sense of humour & I feel so at ease with her. She asked me how I was doing & my reply was “ I feel like I am going into the dentist’s office knowing ahead of time that I have a cavity.” She laughed because she had already looked at my lab results. I pinch myself because I have an amazing nurse & endo. that treat me with respect every time I have a follow up. I feel like I am still the manager of type 1 & with my stubborn personality the last thing that I would enjoy is feeling like someone was making choices for me or taking decisions out of my hands. My endo. & I just call a spade a spade & I come in with a plan as to how to improve my numbers. As another aside, I was disappointed to learn yesterday that yet another pump company has folded leaving our community with fewer choices on pumps. A year ago, Roche exited the pump market (that is the pump I have) and then yesterday my medical team shared with me that Animas is going out of the pump business too. In Canada that leaves us with merely 2 choices which is a bummer. I have just over 2 years life on my current pump & then it looks like I will have a pretty simple choice to make: either Medtronic if I want to continue with traditional tubing or the Omnipod. I am going to wait to worry about that for now since I have a lot of living to do before then. One new thingamajig that Canada has received approval on as of last month is the Freestyle Libre which could save my callused fingertips in a major way. I am going to apply for potential approval for that…callused fingers crossed. It will help give me a snapshot ( if I am approved) of blood sugar trends without analyzing the hell out of it via the software in my current pump program. Simpler is better & a snapshot helps me to make decisions without the complexity of my current software. Still I remain the brains behind decisions of increasing or decreasing bolus & basal which is a task many days of herculean brain strength. My math skills have advanced exponentially over the past 10 years. That is a hilarious surprise to me since I had been so weak in math in my youth. The thread of mercy during my follow up appointment yesterday is that when I go to the Diabetes Centre at our local hospital I am treated with dignity, a smile & a touch of humor built in. I joked as well with my nurse when she asked me to step on the scale. I don’t know too many gals who are eager to get weighed & I am no exception. The token good news for this visit is that I managed to lose 2 lbs. Although that is not much, at least it is directionally positive. There were several negatives on my lab results aside from the rotten A1C. I have a plan to try though & I came up with it so I continue to love just plain having choices.
The greatest mercy of all came from someone that I dearly love at an unexpected moment last weekend. Before I share that with you, I will add that our family received mercy from strangers last weekend as well & that too was unexpected. Our oldest son is currently researching universities to potentially attend next year. The fun part of that process is being able to go on tours of the universities. This past Saturday was a favourite tour (big time biased). This tour was one that was rare in that all 5 of us in our family went together. It was of my husband’s & my university, UW. We wanted to make sure that our oldest son got a tour from a current student versus his biased mom & dad. We booked 2 tours. The first one was a general tour of campus hitting most of the highlights. We added onto the tour afterwards by pointing out all the best coffee shops on campus as well since our son Matt is a coffee hound like his Mom. When we arrived for the second tour there was some initial confusion about where the tour guide was. Our family stood outside looking around & there were countless students that stopped & asked if they could help us out. The original tour guide could not be located so 2 students who were planning on doing a mock orientation tour did the real tour instead. The second tour that was lead by a current student was of a wonderful residence on campus. That student’s name was also Matt & the 2 Matt’s hit it off right away & the residence would be a wonderful place to live that’s for sure. Getting into university these days is a challenge since the top schools require 85% or more just to get in. Fortunately, so far our son Matt is maintaining an average exceeding this standard. It must be stressful to compete all the same. The other university tours continue over the next month and a half & it is an exciting time for our oldest son. Wherever he ends up I know he will have an incredible experience. By Saturday night while I was at home getting ready for an earlier sleep time I was hit with an overwhelming wave of sadness. It did not have anything to do with the day we had had which was lovely as a family. It was rather the looming bad news that I had received the morning before when I saw my lab results. Sometimes frustration, exhaustion and sadness intersect into what I described Saturday night as over sadness. (not to be confused with depression). My feelings were very intense & I had a big cry in my room with the door closed. Our middle son has a tendency to treat closed doors at times as open ones & burst in at any given time usually because he is bursting to tell me something. In this case he had just come in to say goodnight but he noticed that I was having a cry. Sometimes I shake my head while kids go through the teenage years. Our middle son can be a master debater at times & say some things in haste that are not the nicest but at the core of his heart he has a rare & pure kind heart. He asked me what was wrong & I just said that diabetes had made me over sad at that moment. He gave me a hug & said, “that happens sometimes Mom so you can hold my hand if you want to & squeeze it.” Yes that is exactly mercy & love perfectly given. Isn’t that what so many of us yearn for…a kind, caring hand to hold on to & to squeeze.”
Mercy matters & my heart’s hope for you is that you have or find that hand to hold on to & give it a squeeze. Just like putting on the kettle does not solve everything, the hand to hold on to and in my opinion a cuppa does make it all at least bearable. And then we dust ourselves off & get back in the marathon a little beaten up & a little stronger somehow.
Be gentle with yourself. Remember to show yourself mercy too. The next story sharing will be on Monday November 27th. Thank a veteran on November 11th . I feel grateful to live in a country filled with the profound freedoms in my wee corner of the world thanks to each of our grandfathers, great grandfathers, brothers, uncles, and friends who gave the ultimate mercy to our generation.