Monday, October 31, 2011

Where Do I Fit In?

I’m feeling unsettled today.  I’m grumpy and a bit short tempered.  I’m restless but can’t think of anything that I really want to do. I had a great glucose reading this morning but even that didn’t do much to make me feel better.  

It’s not all that unusual for me to have a mood like this.  It doesn’t happen very often but it does roll around now and then.  I’m not here to blog about my mood, but, rather, what it got me to thinking about.

Where do I fit in?  The DOC (Diabetic Online Community) seems like such a wonderful place; a cool club to join.  When I first heard the term, DOC, I went searching for the website to join, called the DOC.  HA!  Newbie mistake.  You see, the DOC isn’t just one place, it’s lots of places where PWD “get together” sharing ideas and tips or just a shoulder to cry on.  The DOC is blogs where PWD pour out their frustrations or share their triumphs.  It’s people joining together with a common bond….diabetes.

I have found many blogs and a few websites that are inspiring.  Places where I’ve gleaned some bit of info or was inspired to improve my own health.  I’ve joined said websites and endeavored to jump in and contribute my bits of “wisdom” but it doesn’t take long before I feel like I don’t fit in.  Maybe that’s not the right way to put it.  I do fit in.  I am a diabetic, after all, and I have things to say but it sometimes feels overwhelming to jump in.  It reminds me of a time, when I was very young, when I went to a skating rink.  I wasn’t a very good skater and was nervous about falling and making a fool of myself.  The outer edge of the group of skaters was moving pretty quickly.  I couldn’t figure out how to get into the pack without being run over.  I wasn’t part of the group yet and didn’t know how to join.

I’m not much of a joiner.  It’s taken me a quite a few years to come to that conclusion.  I’m really good at thinking about it.  I excel at coming up with a plan to do this or that but I suck at follow through.  Even if I do join a group I don’t always stick around.  Dang, I’m beginning to feel kinda down on myself here.  What’s wrong with me???

Reality?  There’s nothing wrong with me (well… least in regards to this subject).  There’s really nothing wrong with not being a joiner.  It’s not like I’m an axe murderer or something.  I’m just someone who likes to keep to herself.  So why then do I feel compelled to join?  Because it’s cool.

This takes me back to high school, a long….LONG time ago.  You have your friends who you like to hang with.  There are clubs and teams to join where you hang with people who have common interests.  Before school and in between classes you see your friends and wave and laugh and talk about things together.  You have inside jokes and ways of communicating that others might not understand.  It’s cool….when you’re in the group.  I moved to my current town when I was 16 and a junior in high school.  I’m here to tell you that it’s hard to jump in, but I did it.  I had a great high school experience.  I joined and participated and excelled.  Maybe I’ve reached the age where it’s ok to hang out on the fringe.  The pull to be “cool” is still there but it’s ok not to be in the thick of things, right?

One word I keep bumping into when I surf through the DOC is advocacy.  So many people are doing amazing things in the world of advocacy.  They organize events to improve awareness or help others cope with this disease.  Maybe their advocacy takes the shape of a killer blog that reaches out to lots and lots of people.  I feel like I need to step up my advocacy, but how?

I’ve thought about joining a local diabetes support group, but we’ve already discussed my suckiness at joining.  Besides, I live in a very small town with very limited options.  I’ve thought about contributing to the AZ Diabetes Program but it seems too political or too organized for my tastes.  I went to their website and got lost in all the committees and official “purpose” guidelines etc.  Diabetes education needs to be simple enough to understand and yet the government seems to be unable to make it so.  There is a lack here in northern Arizona of easy to understand information for newly diagnosed diabetics.  Or maybe I’m just not looking in the right places.  Maybe if I actually joined a support group or attended a seminar I’d find what I’m looking for.  Maybe.

Le sigh. I need to stop beating myself up over this.  I guess my place in the DOC is to be here in my little corner; blogging about my life with diabetes.  Maybe, just maybe, someone out there in the ether will read something I have to say and it will make a difference to them.  Maybe that’s where I fit in.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Change……just one thing.

Discipline, I’ve never liked that word.  Disciplining my children was never my favorite thing to do, and if you’ve read my blog post: My Inner Child, you know that I’m still struggling with discipline.  Ugh.

The weather is turning and I’m looking out my window at a windy/rainy autumn day.  There are a multitude of bright yellow Cottonwood leaves in my back yard that will soon need my attention.  I love this season; it’s my favorite.  The only “bad” thing about this time of year is that it reminds me that winter is just around the corner.  For some reason, I’m not ready for it this year.  (Maybe it’s because I just spent 2 weeks in the tropics….)  The time is coming to hunker down and begin doing those indoor activities.

This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but due to my recent struggle with discipline I’m worried.  I’m worried that, if I don’t regain some control, I’ll start eating too much of my favorite comfort foods and reverse all the hard work I’ve done these past 10 months.  March could find a fat, lazy Kate in her recliner; eating bon bons and reading romance novels.  Not a pretty picture.

Discipline, whether I like it or not, is a huge part of dealing with diabetes.  Without some discipline we will never achieve those wonderful fasting blood sugar numbers we all love to see or the stellar A1c test results we strive for.  I must improve my discipline.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my lifestyle.  I’m retired and love it; however I sometimes worry that I’m not doing enough. It’s too easy to develop the “manana” (manyana…don’t have a tilde) attitude when you’re retired.  When I don’t feel like doing something I tend to put it off until it has to be done.  This attitude, combined with my inner child struggles, could spell disaster.

What am I going to do about this?  Kate, the advocate of slow change, has decided to change just one thing.  I’m making a list of the things I’ve been doing that need to change and each week I’ll pick just one thing to work on.  For one week I’ll concentrate on changing that one bad habit.  The next week I’ll add a new challenge while continuing to work on the previous week’s change.  In a perfect world I’ll be in great shape by Christmas with my attitude adjustment!  This sounds so easy, doesn’t it?  Let’s hope I have the discipline to pull it off.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Inner Child

My inner child has been acting up lately and it hasn’t been pretty.  She’s been pouting and whining and completely refuses to do what I tell her to do!  For instance, she’s been eating cookie dough from the bowl in the fridge.  As she grabs a handful I tell her to stop, that it’s not good for us, but she just sticks out her tongue and ignores me.  Even as I type this, she’s contemplating another foray into the kitchen.  I can tell….I can see it in her beady little eyes.  She’s out of control.

We’ve had long talks, she and I, about how it’s time to get back to business in regards to our diabetes.  She simply refuses to accept the fact that we have a chronic disease and that what we eat has an effect on our health.  She had way too much fun celebrating weddings and new babies.  She indulged in the myriad of goodies available to her and now she will not stop!  What am I to do?

I’ve tried reasoning with her.  I’ve offered incentives and promised a treat if she will just behave for one day.  She only pouts and tells me that she’s tired of being diabetic and she plans to eat whatever she wants.

Well, I had no choice.  She’s grounded.  She’s not allowed to come out and play (or enter the kitchen) without my permission.  The grown-up Kate is determined to regain control.  Wish me luck.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Something that is routine may sound boring or tedious.  We have daily routines.  We make routine visits to our doctors and dentists.  A routine is something that is habitual and unimaginative.  A routine sounds like something to avoid.  Not having a routine sounds exciting!

My life has been anything but routine lately.  As you know, I had an amazing adventure in Costa Rica to celebrate my oldest son’s wedding.  Upon our return to the states, my second son and his lovely wife decided to gift me with my fourth grandson!  That entailed 2 days of babysitting his big brothers; fun but definitely not routine. (It’s been a long, long time since I had packed a school lunch!)  

Here he is.....isn't he sweet? (I look about as tired as I was.)

 During all of this, we were helping get ready for yet another wedding celebration here in AZ so those who couldn’t make it to Costa Rica could congratulate the newlyweds.  My daughter came over and we had a marathon baking session to make goodies for the party. (She is an amazing baker!) That party was this past Saturday.  My family who were staying with us during the festivities left this morning. (They will be missed.)  Oh, and in the midst of all that, my youngest son got a promotion at work and we helped him move into a new apartment!

Life has been grand; my blood sugar has not.  Kate needs her routine back.

During my 12 days in Costa Rica I decided to not worry too much about what I was eating in regards to my blood sugar.  I tried to be careful but also wanted to enjoy the country and its customs and cuisine.  I had a few days to re-acclimate myself to life in the US when all the above began to happen.  During this whirlwind of activity I barely took notice of my blood sugar.  I tested and took my meds but I didn’t do anything to ensure that my numbers were on track.  I nibbled.  I ate goodies.  Exercise was not part of my day.  All of this combined with the upcoming holidays is certain to make my December A1c something to hide from the world, like that unfortunate picture from my past. (Don’t ask.  I’m not telling).  I’m sure it won’t be stellar.

Although routines may sound boring, when it comes to my diabetes they are required.  It’s time for me to get back on track; exercise and eat properly.  I wouldn’t trade any of these amazing experiences for anything in the world.  I will have the wonderful memories to enjoy forever and, by taking care of myself, I will have many more years to experience much, much more!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pura Vida!

I have returned from my Costa Rica adventures!  There is so much to tell; so many stories, sights and observations to share, but this blog is about my life with diabetes so I’ll save you from my version of the “vacation slide show”.  You’re welcome.  I must, however, share a picture of my son and his new bride just after they were married….on the beach….looking out at the Caribbean Sea… Costa Rica!!

Aren’t they sweet?  So happy.  Beautiful wedding.

Ok….enough about that.

Costa Rica really is another world.  Being there was enough of an adjustment without throwing the whole “what will I eat” issue into it.  The first few days I realized that I was hardly eating at all.  I suppose that was due to the climate (85ish with 90% humidity, at least) and travel fatigue.  Our first foray into a grocery store was illuminating.  I realized that grocery shopping is usually pretty mindless.  However, shopping after traveling for 24 hours when you’re famished and all the labels are in Spanish is anything but mindless.  We settled on a small loaf of bread (that ended up being rather sweet), some ham, cheese, chips, mustard and mayo…..and beer.  Dinner was tiny little appetizer-sized sandwiches.  The next day, after some much needed sleep, we went into town (a 1 mile walk) and hit the “big” store.  Tuna.  Costa Rica has way too many different types of canned tuna.  I managed to figure out which was packed in water and bought several cans.  We bought ingredients for a spaghetti dinner, a frozen chicken, a few potatoes, bell peppers and some other random canned foods.  After paying roughly 13,500 colones for my half, we went home in a daze.  (Exactly how much did that tuna cost?)

Although we ate a few meals at the house we were renting, most of our dinners were eaten at local restaurants.  Rice and beans is a staple in Costa Rica and is served with pretty much every meal.  It was hard not to eat the whole serving but I did fairly well.  Arroz con Pollo….Yum!  Ceviche….YES!  The fish soup was delish.  Fish tacos on the beach.  I found a vegetarian plate at one place and ate falafel for the first time.  All in all the dining experience was both exciting and yummy.  I felt like an adventurer every time I ordered. I only had one meal that I regretted.  I ordered a pasta dish at one restaurant.  The plate consisted of a huge serving of pasta with a sauce.  No veggies, just a pile of carbs.  It was delicious but I ate the whole thing which, I’m sure, didn’t help my glucose.

At some point during the 12 days I was there, I stopped worrying about what I was going to eat.  I realized that there was no way I could find a meal that was completely diabetic friendly.  It was up to me to pick and choose and eat the best that I could.  Of course I could just stay “home” and cook for myself but who wants to do that when 60+ people were out there celebrating this union?  Besides, I couldn’t find a lot of the fresh foods I would normally buy at home.  

I really missed salad.  I’m sure that there was a store somewhere that sold fresh produce but I didn’t have the energy to walk all over town looking for it (HUMID!!)  Besides that, we were warned about leafy veggies and germs.  I did not want Montezuma to revenge on me.  I did eat a couple of small salads in restaurants but they were a bit more upscale and I just dug in and hoped for the best.

So how were my glucose readings?  All over the map.  Early on I had a 199 completely out of nowhere.  Did I mention that I was suffering from a bad cold?  Besides that, the heat and humidity surely must have had some stress effect on my system.  Other times I had nice 1teen readings, I even saw a 99!  I diligently tested each morning and then again before we went out to eat so I could get a feel for how many carbs I could have.  Other than that I just didn’t think about it much.  After all it was only 12 days.  12 wonderful days with family and friends in an exotic place.

I walked…a lot!  It was about a mile into town and I went that route scores of times.  Sometimes we caught a taxi home because we were too tired or were concerned about theft.  (Petty theft is a very real problem there.  Touristas beware!)  I also spent a day on a whitewater rafting trip.  I paddled my little heart out!  18 miles with 40 class 3-4 rapids.  Amazing….simply amazing.  I definitely got plenty of exercise.

My advice to any type 2 folks who aren’t on insulin and are going to travel abroad: Relax and enjoy yourself!  Try the local foods.  Don’t be afraid that your bg will soar.  Sample but don’t stuff.  Traveling is about experiencing a different culture so do it!  I don’t regret a moment from this trip.  It was a wonderful adventure experienced with wonderful people.  Diabetes was on the trip but it certainly wasn’t in charge.  Pura Vida!