Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Who’s Running This Ship?

Someone has to be in charge.  Someone gets to decide which direction we head. For so long now I let Diabetes be in charge.  My condition was running the ship.  At times I’ve felt helpless and out of control.  I’ve blogged previously about my frustrations when I couldn’t figure something out or I felt that I had no control over what was happening inside.  I’ve recently had the pleasure of being confused as to why things were going so well!  I’ve finally been seeing fasting numbers between 100-119, mostly closer to 110.  HUGE difference from the 130’s I had been experiencing! (There has been lots of happy dancing around here lately.)  I couldn’t put my finger on any one thing that was making the difference.  Yes, the doc had upped my evening meds.  Yes, I have been exercising more regularly.  Yes, I’m continuing to lose weight.  I had been doing all that for a while but nothing much had changed.  Suddenly, Voila!  Better numbers appeared.  Now, I’m not complaining but I can’t understand why things suddenly improved.

During this wonderful improvement there has been a little voice in the back of my mind reminding me that this will change.  Someday my numbers will get worse again without any apparent reason.  Diabetes will rear its ugly head and remind me of who’s running the ship.  It seems kinda silly to have such a defeatist attitude in the face of success, but diabetes does that to you.  The depression isn’t all that far away at any one time.  I can’t help it, I’m just being pragmatic.  I’m just protecting myself from a hard fall.

Just this week things began to change.  See! I told you it would happen.  Damn diabetes!  My fasting numbers have been creeping back up towards 120.  I haven’t been feeling well and my mood is starting to slip.  I went to bed a little early last night with a headache.  While I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep, I realized that I have been sabotaging myself!  It’s true! I got to thinking about how I’ve been eating over the last few days and realized that I’m the reason that things are changing.  I’m the one who’s causing this shift, not my condition!  So what have I been doing differently?  I’ve been snacking too much.  I’ve been eating less veggies.  I’ve been craving sweets and indulging more than is practical.  I blew off exercising yesterday.  I feel like crap and it’s all my own doing!

Guess who’s running the ship starting this morning?  Go ahead, guess.  Is it Diabetes?  HECK NO!  Kate’s back at the helm and she’s easing the ship back on course.  No snacks for a while (unless I get to feeling shaky).  I’m back to exercising every day.  I will eat responsibly. I will continue to do everything in my power to keep my diabetes in check.  I may not have any control over what goes on inside my body but I sure as heck can do everything possible to help things along in the right direction.  We as PWD make choices every day.  We can choose to let diabetes run our lives or we can take charge and steer our own ship.  Just call me Captain Kate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The More I Learn, the More I Don’t Know

A person who is newly diagnosed with diabetes is like a baby sea turtle.  We pop out of the sand with no one there to protect or guide us.  We’re expected to make it to the sea on our own without being eaten by a passing bird. (Well, we don’t have to worry about being eaten by a bird but you get my drift.) We have no idea what is going on and we’re scared. We’re at the mercy of our doctor when it comes to answering the big question, “what do I do now?”  Some of us were lucky and had a doctor who took the time to explain about diabetes and how changing our diets and exercising will help.  Maybe they gave us reading materials or pointed us toward websites that are chock full of information.  Heck, we might have even seen a certified diabetes educator!  That was definitely NOT my experience.  I was told that I did indeed have diabetes and that I should change my diet and exercise more.  I honestly can’t recall if I was given any brochures or not but I was probably too stunned to read them, I’m sure.  No diet to follow.  No appointment with a dietician (ever!) No meds.  I was supposed to just do it, whatever “it” is. A baby sea turtle.

Now that I’ve been at this for a while (6 years), I’d like to think that I’m well educated about diabetes and how to deal with it day in and day out.  I have learned a lot and am well on the way to figuring out how to deal with MY condition.  I try to help others online and answer questions as best I can.  The frustrating thing is that people ask questions like: “What can I eat?” “What can I do to lower my high morning readings?” “Should I eat before or after exercising?” The problem with these questions is that they’re so vague. There isn’t one right answer.  Are you Type 1 or 2?  Are you on medication?  Injectables or oral or both?  I would love it if I could answer a question succinctly with something like, “if your morning numbers are high then you should do THIS and all will be well.”  Instead the poor baby sea turtle is faced with a dozen more questions to answer before getting any kind of response.  At the least, frustrating.

In my “baby sea turtleness” I bought books.  “Diabetes for Dummies” and such.  I think I probably read them….maybe.  I’m sure I did but it’s all a blur.  I found websites to look for answers.  The bottom line is that we are each responsible for educating ourselves.  No one else can do it for you.  YOU have to seek out the information and assimilate it into your own life.  Sure, others can give you advice and point you in one direction or another, but each person’s condition is different and it’s up to you to figure out what works for you.  There isn’t one diet or one approach that works for everyone.

I’d like to think that, by now, I’m a wise old sea turtle swimming through this vast ocean.  Knowing all the answers and navigating without issue.  Not.  Diabetes is not a disease that stays constant.  Things are always changing!  Just when I think I have things figured out, they change.  Joanne is the mother of a type 1 child who blogs at  Death of a Pancreas.  She recently had this to say, “The only constant with diabetes is that there is none.” Smart woman.  Another blogger, Karen G who has been dealing with type 1 for many years, recently posted about how regardless of how long we’ve been at this diabetes thing, we never have all the answers.  She blogged here: The Common Thread about attending a support group.  She had this to say, “None of us, whether we’d been living with diabetes for two years or fifty years, none of us had it completely figured out yet.  Diabetes is constantly changing.  What works today might not work tomorrow.  We are all just trying to do the best we can every day.”  Another smart woman.

If I’m going to be a sea turtle then I’d like to think of myself as being Crush in Finding Nemo.  He’s wise, but cool and hip.  In reality, I’m more like “Squirt”.  I know some stuff but I have a lot to learn, Dude.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dreaming of Oblivion

I was thinking.  We all do it.  The interesting thing is that we can never really know what someone else is thinking about.  It’s a very private thing.  I realized that I’m nearly always thinking about diabetes, how I’m doing with my control, what will my numbers be, what should I cook for dinner, will this ever end?  I began to try to remember what I used to think about prior to my diagnosis.  What do non-diabetics think about all day?  I began to dream of diabetes oblivion. Wouldn’t it be lovely to think about something else, ANYTHING else?  I could spend my days thinking about quantum physics or how combustion engines work.  I could focus on solving the economic crisis or maybe I could just not think at all.  Oblivion…..ahhhhh.

The reality is that a lot of my daily thought revolves around food and that’s pretty much what I used to think about before my diagnosis, as discussed in my post  Confession.  Food has always been important to me and on my mind quite a bit.  There is, however, a big difference in my food thoughts now compared to B.D. (before diabetes).  I look at food from a different angle these days.  While I still strive for flavor, I tend to focus more on health.  Back in the day I would think about fast food fondly and try to see how I could manage to fit some into my day.  Now I’m more apt to think about how I can have some of the same flavors in my life but do it in a healthier way.  How can I tweak a recipe to make it friendlier to my plan?  Can I have a couple of cookies if I bake them with sugar substitute and applesauce instead of oil?  Are there other ways to make a pizza crust that are lower in carbs?  I’m here to tell you that B.D. I NEVER gave any thought to “friendlier” cookie recipes or alternative pizza crusts.  That could be a huge part of why I’m diabetic today.

Having thought through this post, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really don’t want oblivion after all.  Thinking about diabetes most of the time has caused me to re-think my relationship with food.  It has helped me to be a healthier person; one who is happier with herself now than she’s been in a long, long time.  I might still crave veggie lover’s stuffed crust pizza or long for a time when I just ate whatever I wanted, but I’m learning to curb those cravings and approach food from a healthier perspective.  I’ve learned so much about myself and how to be a healthier person.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if I was oblivious.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Let’s Make a Deal

Oh the games we play!  Games are fun, but the games we play with ourselves to justify just about anything aren’t.  Fooling ourselves doesn’t gain us anything but upset down the road.  For instance, if I’ve been exceptionally good with my diet or had really nice numbers on my meter I think I deserve a treat.  I seem to immediately think, “Wow, I’ve done so well!  Maybe today I’ll just eat something yummy even if it’s something I should probably avoid.”  I do think that it’s ok to have a treat now and then; that’s not the issue.  The issue is my frame of mind during these sessions of Let’s Make a Deal.  Rewarding myself for “good behavior” by eating too much of a bad thing only negates my success.  It just doesn’t make sense.

I’ve been this way for most of my adult life.  Back before I was diagnosed with diabetes I would play this game while dieting.  I’d work really hard and lose a few pounds and then reward myself with a goodie.  The biggest problem with that is I have a tendency to eat too much.  I’m not good at “just a little”.  If I cave in and indulge I have a good chance of wiping out all my hard work!  That sounds kinda stupid, eh?  Why would I do that to myself?

I recently discovered that I’ve been following this same ridiculous pattern when it comes to my diabetes.  Just this last week, in fact, I managed to play my silly game.  I was finally seeing fasting blood glucose numbers in the 1teens instead of the 130’s!  I’m sure this is mostly due to the switch in my medication but I’ve also been trying very hard to make changes to my evening meals.  I’ve discovered that my glucose readings stay about the same all night.  If I have a decent reading at bedtime I’ll see the same in the morning, and vice versa: high bg at bedtime = high morning numbers.  Therefore, it’s important that I eat responsibly at dinner and avoid snacks at night (damn the luck!).  So what did I do after seeing great numbers all week?  I blew it and fell off the “I’m eating responsibly and taking care of my condition” wagon and my morning numbers are reflecting that.  What a dolt!

So here’s how I’m feeling this morning: Kinda bloated, lower energy, slightly pissed at myself and somewhat sad.  Is all that worth the extra food I ate?  HELL NO!!!!! Not to mention that my weight has been dropping and now I’ll have to work doubly hard to make up for the “game”.  Grrrr.

So learn from my mistakes, dear friends.  Stay focused on your goals whatever they may be.  Avoid eating things that you have trouble controlling, ie: bread, crackers, cookies….whatever flips your switches.  Reward yourself with other treats like time with your grandsons or shopping with your daughter.  (Kate, are you listening???)  Let’s make a deal, shall we?  I’ll do a better job of rewarding myself if you will too. We're worth it!