Friday, September 23, 2011

I'll Fly Away.....

Tonight I fly off to Costa Rica for two weeks!  I'm so excited (and so sick with allergies/cold).  Controlling my blood sugars will be a challenge but I can do this!  I won't be able to post while I'm gone because trying to type on that teeny Ipod keyboard is beyond ridiculous.  I hope my readers (if I have such a thing) won't give up on me while I'm gone.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Learning is a very individual process.  We all learn differently.  One of my sons was struggling in 3rd grade even though he was (is) a very smart young man. It was discovered that he was more of a visual learner.  Once he “got the picture” he excelled. I greatly admire good teachers because they are able to take a classroom full of young people and figure out how to make each of them understand a concept that is foreign to them.  There’s the alphabet in preschool, addition in 1st grade, division in 3rd and reading comprehension at some point.  If you think about each of those areas, language, reading and math, you realize that each concept is learned by practicing.  A concept is introduced, it’s practiced and then….there’s a review.

Learning about diabetes and how to deal with it is no different.  Unfortunately, most of us don’t have a classroom to sit in with a good teacher up front walking us through this new and confusing concept.  Most of us have to learn it on our own.  We figure out what we’re supposed to eat and then practice doing that.  We are shown how to test our blood and then we practice that (over, and over, and over and OVER again.) We’re introduced to a new medication that our doctor thinks will help us control our glucose and we practice taking that.  The list of things that we, as PWD, are expected to learn is endless!  It sometimes seems that new information is being flung at us on a regular basis.  Either some new idea is being researched to control diabetes or maybe the doctor wants to try a new treatment/regimen.  Maybe something we’ve been eating all along suddenly spikes our blood sugar. We’re always learning.

It occurred to me recently that I’ve been missing a very important step in my education with diabetes….the review.  I’ve spent over 6 years learning about diabetes and the best way to deal with it in my life.  I try new things and tweak what I’m doing.  I test and eat and test again.  I fall off the wagon and then I’m reminded of how crappy I feel when I don’t follow my plan. But have I been doing a good job of reviewing what I’ve learned?  Nope.  I recently blogged about learning and how it felt at the beginning of my diagnosis….whether or not I had received brochures or information from my doctor.  Writing that post pushed me to go back and read some of the books I bought at the beginning of this journey.  I was surprised when I actually learned something!  It may have been something I had known at one time but it got lost in the vast sea of information I have taken in over the years.  Maybe it was just a reminder of how/why to do a certain thing.  Possibly it was something I had never even realized!  The point is that regardless of whether or not I had read the material before, it was a good exercise to re-read it now.  I was reminded of some important aspects of this disease and that there are ways to fight it.

Another thing I have done recently is to read through my old blog posts. It was enlightening!  It was interesting to go back, for instance, and see how down I was in the early spring.  I relived how it felt in the beginning of my diagnoses.  I read my words of advice to others.  I learned something all over again.  You see, the original reason that I started this blog was to help myself.  I had hoped that writing about my life with diabetes would help keep me on track. (I think it’s working.) I had also hoped that someone else might get something out of all these words.  (Is there anyone out there?  Hellooooooo!)

Review.  It’s a very important step in our diabetes education.  We should all do it now and then.  Don’t assume that you know it all.  It’s too easy to forget information that we’ve received in the myriad of things we learn and hear each day.  Educate yourself!  Practice, practice, practice….then review.

Friday, September 16, 2011

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

I’m about to embark on an adventure.  One week from today I will be boarding a plane and will eventually land in Costa Rica.  My oldest son, Eric, will be marrying his sweet Elena on October 1st on the beach at Playa Cocles, Costa Rica.  I’m actually going to leave the country.

At the age of 56, I have never set foot outside of the United States.  I’ve never been to Mexico even though I grew up not more than 2 hours from the border.  I’ve never walked on Canadian soil (although I was about 2 miles away from it once).  I’ve never even ventured to Hawaii or Alaska.  I’m a travelling virgin.   I am a virgin traveler.  I’ve not travelled much.  : /

Since deciding to go on this trip, I’ve been through many emotions.  I began as quite nervous (ok, scared), traversed the “I can do this” phase, survived the “giddier than is realistic” stage and am now happily content and excited!  I’ve researched the country; learned what to expect; listed the things I’d like to do/see; picked what book to take so I can relax on the beach and read; packed gallons of sunscreen and DEET; loaded umpteen albums, books and games on my new Ipod touch, including Skype so I can talk to Ray and my mom.  I am ready!!  I even loaded a translator on my Ipod.  Do you know how to say taxi in Spanish?  (It’s a good thing the translator app was free). But through all my preparations I didn’t really put much thought into what I’m going to eat while I’m traveling abroad.  Now I’m back to “quite nervous” (ok, scared).

For about a month and a half I have experienced better than normal glucose readings.  Things were on track with my diabetes and I was feeling great!  However, things have sort of fallen apart in the last week and I’m again struggling with higher numbers and general malaise.  Damn the luck!  I was hoping to continue my successful streak so that I could relax and enjoy my trip.  The reality is that no matter how well I’m doing here at home, traveling will undoubtedly throw me a curve.  What the heck am I going to eat?

Thankfully we will be staying in a house with a full kitchen. (A house that is right on the BEACH with its own pool, screened porch with hammock etc.  YEEHAW! <end giddy explosion>)  Being able to cook for ourselves will be a blessing but I will still have to navigate a foreign grocery store.  Will there be nutrition labels? (hahahahaha….yeah right).  I have to make certain that the dairy products have been pasteurized and that the produce is well washed.  (I hope I don’t become a germaphobe).  Dining out will be different than at home too. Yikes!  I need to remember this quote I found online:  “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener.  I don’t want to stay home.  This needs to become my new mantra.

What I really need to do is relax and not fret so much about this.  It is inevitable that my BG readings will be a tad high.  I must remember that even if that happens I’m not gonna die (I also need to remember that I’m not gonna die during that whitewater rafting trip I’m contemplating).  All I can do is my best to eat sensibly and enjoy myself.  I plan to pack an assortment of meal replacement bars and snacks that I know I can eat without much issue.  

I may be a tad uncomfortable during the 13 days I’ll be gone but it will be a grand adventure!!  “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman.

I am truly excited about this trip.  I will miss Ray too much. I will miss my family who can’t attend.  I will miss my exercise bike.  I will not, however, miss this chance of a lifetime; not to mention the opportunity to watch my wonderful son marry the woman he loves.  Can you see me dancing?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Wanted To Be Normal

I’m usually content to be something other than normal.  I revel in it, actually.  I’ve always thought that being a bit “off” is a good thing.  It keeps people guessing and life a little more interesting.

Yesterday was my latest quarterly doctor visit.  It’s usually not a big deal; just something that I have to do.  This time, however, I looked forward to the appointment somewhat like a young child waiting for Christmas to arrive!  The anticipation of finding out what my latest A1c would be was tantalizing!  Exciting!  This could possibly be the day that I would be normal!  I could see it in my mind: the doctor walks in, shakes my hand and says, “Congratulations Kate, your A1c is normal!”  Sweet, sweet words.  Alas, my bubble was burst.

My glucose readings have been so much better lately.  I blogged, in fact, about how my numbers have been so good!  I just knew that would translate into a stellar A1c.  So what was my actual number, you ask?  6.2.  My A1c was 6.2.  It’s been 6.2 for the last year or so.  For those of you who don’t live and breathe diabetes and all its minutia, a normal A1c would be anything under 6.  The goal for PWD is something under 7.  Any sane diabetic would be ecstatic with an A1c of 6.2, but remember, I’m not normal.  (I wouldn’t say that I’m insane but definitely not normal.)  My doctor was surprised that I seemed a bit deflated with the news.  In reality, my visit was successful.  All my labs looked great, I’m losing weight and feeling so much better than a year ago.  Still, there was that nagging disappointment: I didn’t find that one special toy I was hoping to see under the tree.

I need to insert here that I’m aware of the fact that my diabetes won’t go away.  There is a chance that I could gain so much control that my tests would show a normal A1c, however, I will always and forever have to live a diabetic life.  Uncontrolled pizza parties with lemon pie for dessert are not in my future.  That’s ok.  I just wanted that damn number to go down, just once!

I’m not going to dwell on this for long.  In fact, upon waking this morning I was feeling energized and determined to keep on keepin on.  If I continue to work real hard at maintaining my current control I just might be gifted at Christmas time with that sought-after stellar A1c.  After all, I still believe in Santa Claus.