Spring fever

The weather is warming up, flowers are starting to bloom and the birds have begun to sing in the mornings again. It’s spring, and with it comes the relief from the dark, cold winter months.

My birthday is right around the corner, in just a few days, and as I did last year the urge to groom myself more than usual is strong. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve begun wearing makeup again. Not to please the eye of anyone else, but for the routine of applying it, the routine of taking it off, and feeling like a slightly different me and being excited to discover new things about myself.

I know makeup is often vilified as a tool to ‘deceive’, and for some it is a tool to hide who they really are out of shame. In my life, I consider makeup a method of accepting myself and building upon who I am, rather than to hide or change myself. In order to apply makeup, I need to accept my face the way it is. I have hooded eyes, and no amount of applying makeup the way everyone else does will make it look good on me because my eyes are shaped differently. By saying “Okay, what can I do with makeup that complements my hooded eyes instead of forcing techniques that don’t look nice to me?” I encourage myself to see my body positively. In order to stick to the routine of applying makeup, I need to truly believe that I’m doing this for myself, that I’m worth the gussying and that I deserve to feel good about myself. For the longest time I felt like I didn’t deserve to wear makeup because I didn’t think I was pretty enough. Now I feel I am.

Sometimes I see comments rolling by (particularly from men) who tell others “You don’t need to wear makeup, you actually look prettier without”. Well intended or not, you have to realize that nobody is dressing up and wearing makeup for you, and unless it is specifically asked for your opinion on a person’s makeup and appearance is very unwelcome. Maybe a few people are doing it for those reasons, but a majority do it for similar reasons to mine. It is a method of self-caring, like taking a shower and brushing your teeth. To create routine is to stabilize your mental well being. To groom yourself is a reflection of feeling worthy of taking care of yourself. Makeup is also a hobby, the act of applying it and discovering new ways to use it is just fun and makes you feel good.

At the end of the day, most of us look into the mirror with bare naked skin and consider ourselves attractive and pretty. Most of us don’t wear it to lie to others about our appearances. We don’t invest a lot of money into products just to hopefully appeal to someone else – this is for us.

The comments I’ve received recently are not “you look so much better with makeup on”. They are “You look so much happier and brighter wearing makeup” – because they understand I’m doing this for myself, not for them, and it makes me happy to do things for myself.

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Not life-changing for everyone

I read a lot of blog and forum posts, almost every day, of people who share their experiences with diabetes. Whether it’s the auto-immune variety, the lifestyle variety or one of the more obscure varieties, the message generally start the same: it came as a shock, I was in denial, my entire life changed dramatically overnight.

I don’t recall ever feeling this way and I often try to think of why. When I was warned of being prediabetic I paid it little mind, not because I was in denial, but because I was dealing with the worst long-term episode of chronic depression since my teenage years. There simply was no space in my life to worry about diabetes at the time. When it came to being diagnosed type LADA, I’d already gone through so many changes and adjustments it didn’t even really matter anymore, it just happened and that was it.

Maybe I’ve always just been very accepting of the things that happen to me. Due to my depression and anxiety, I was forced to learn that I have little to no control over what happens in life. The only thing I do control is how I respond to it. In the past I did worry and fuss and panic over every little potential thing to happen, but as of 3-4 years ago, that mostly stopped. Herniated disc? Better adjust and deal with it. Busted kneecaps? Better adjust and deal with it. Diabetes? Better adjust and deal with it. Gotta spend the next 3-5 years on a super tight budget so you’ll be debt free? Better adjust and deal with it. It is what it is, let’s work with it instead of against it.

None of it legitimately feels like a burden to me. Yes, it’s annoying as hell. Yes, it’s obnoxious to have to adjust all the time. Yes, I would really prefer to do without all of it. But this is how things are. Can I change them? No. If I could, I would have years ago. So my only option left is to deal with it to the best of my ability. If I can’t deal with it on my own, I ask for help until I got it figured out. The end result is that I’m kicking ass, preserving my independence, dealing with my illnesses in a healthy way with good results and not expending energy when I can’t spare it.

I gotta say, it’s working out super well for me. I don’t beat myself up over my conditions. I don’t ask questions which answers are meaningless – there’s no point in asking “Why me?”, the only question worth asking is “Am I doing okay and can I do better?”. It’s hard for me to read messages from people who do ask things like ‘why me’ because it feels like wasted energy. Does the answer help you manage your condition in any way? Does it control your values? Does it make your condition go away? If you’re going to ask questions, ask the ones that help you in a tangible way or don’t ask any at all.

Life fucks everyone over one way or another. That’s just how it is. One person gets diabetes, another gets cancer, another gets hit by a car, and if you drew the short stick then all three happen one after another. If you believe in a higher power, then you can say your deity works in mysterious ways and be content. For me, I just accept that life is this way. We get dealt shitty cards. We get dealt amazing cards. We have some minor influences over things, but at the end of the day it boils down to opportunity and sheer luck for most things to happen. We should always be trying, but when shit happens, it happens. Your moaning and crying and shock won’t change that it happened. But you can choose to fight it, to deal with it, to manage it, to overcome it.

This is what brings peace of mind to me. It took a while to figure it out and to learn, but it’s worth it all the way.

Stupid piece of glass

Last week this time was carnaval in the Netherlands. More specifically, most of it happened in the South-East of the country. This means the roads are riddled with broken bottles of mini Flügel, beer glasses and other questionable glass sources.

I rode to the doctor’s office last Tuesday on my bike and as I arrived, my tire was hissing and deflated quickly. Great! They took 4 vials of blood from my arm and I got to walk home with a bad knee and back. Naturally I overcompensated as I walked, and I ended up limping home for an hour over a 3km stretch. That was fun. (Not.)

My dad helped me patch it up that day. I hadn’t done this… ever, despite riding a bicycle since I was 5 years old. I just never got many flats and when I did, my dad would fix it for me or have me take it to a bike shop. But I learned fast, we thought it’d been patched up and the piece of glass had fallen out at some point because my dad didn’t feel anything inside the tire.

But it hadn’t.

Next day I got ready to ride to Germany and I hadn’t even left the street before my tire deflated again. I was super pissed. We missed the piece of glass, my body hurt everywhere and I had to walk to a different, closer store because I couldn’t walk another 3km like that. I waited until tonight to fix it up again because I felt miserable, but I did it. I found the little jackass.

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Can you see the glass? I found it because I inflated the tube and listened for the hissing sound. I pried the fucker out of there and got to work on taking out the tube and patching it up.

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Now that my dad had showed me how to do it, this was a breeze. Sanded the tire, applied the glue and waited for it to dry here, then slapped a special patch on top of the hole. Stuffed the tube back into the tire and pumped the shit out of it. It was dark and raining outside so I decided to just hop on and roll through the basement with all my weight on the bike. No hissing or deflation, so I’m hopeful that was the only piece of glass. The tire didn’t deflate after patching and pumping so I’m hopeful I’m good to go now.

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This little sucker gave me all this heartache. Good grief!

I’m going to take the bike for a test ride to the supermarket tomorrow. Hopefully it’ll stay inflated, otherwise I’m walking 6km to and back from the doctor’s office for my quarterly checkup, and I’m not looking forward to the consequences of that activity. There’s a reason why I bike everywhere.

If it pops again I’m just going to take it to the bike shop and have them fix it. Obviously I’ve been doing something wrong and just need a new tube and maybe a replacement tire. Wish me luck tomorrow!

My favourite diabetogenic post ever

Diabetogenic

Two years ago today, I wrote my favourite ever post about one of my favourite ever diabetes encounters with one of my favourite ever people with diabetes. I met this kid just once and spoke with her for only a short time, but I often think about her and wonder if she is running a country, or at least her school, by now. I don’t doubt she is.

Anyway, when the link came up on my TimeHop app today, I reread it and it made me smile. Again. I hope that you enjoy it, too.  (The original post and reader comments can be found here.)

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A couple of weeks ago, I met a young child with diabetes. This was one cute kid who was clearly going to be boss of the world when she grew up. And a zoo keeper. I know this because she told me as…

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A letter to myself

Dear me,

I know you’re feeling like crap right now. All the good intentions and efforts you started this year out with, have sort of fizzled and gone up in smoke. You were very determined to make this work out as long as possible, but after 6 weeks that ended in a bit of a bust.

But it’s okay.

Remember that you’re still only 6 weeks into a new medication regime. Adjusting insulin and getting it all sorted, and sticking to it, takes time and experimentation.

Remember that you started your first period on insulin almost three weeks ago, and it’s still going. Insulin is a hormone, you have the hormonal birth control implant, this is not out of the ordinary that they affect one another but it is taking a toll on you. It’s no wonder you feel tired when you’ve bled nonstop for 18 days, while juggling everything else around it. That’s not your fault.

Remember that a few days into your period, you also came down with a cold. Now a cold is bad enough on its own to throw almost anyone out of their routine, but you know that a disruption of routine hits you especially hard. It lasted almost five days before you felt better. That’s not your fault.

Remember that insomnia is a real part of your health problems and that your best efforts don’t always work to get through it. You’ve had insomnia almost non-stop since your period started and this is killer on basically anyone. When you do get to sleep, you feel like a train hit you. That’s not your fault.

Somewhere along the way, for two days you didn’t give a flying fuck about your diabetes and just ate whatever with a few shots here and there. Your values were all over the place, but so was your mind and your ability to hang on through this shit storm. Nobody is perfect, and neither are you. What matters is that on the third day, you tested your waking up value, saw it was 9.7, and decided to fix it instead of despairing.

You’re still not fully on track, and your diet still sucks, but you’re taking your insulin properly and making the best effort you can at the moment. You’re still dealing with that motherfucking period, and that’s enough to enrage almost any woman and send her shrieking like a banshee through the streets, but the fact you’re taking it levelheaded as it comes is a good and admirable thing.

It’s impossible to control everything in life. Remember how we’ve vowed to live by that saying and not feel depressed about it? These are things that influence you which you can’t control, but what you can control is how you respond to and deal with them.

That includes doing the best you can with the foods you can afford. It’s important to remember you’re in a unique financial situation where your fixed income doesn’t offer much leeway. If you can’t afford to replace the staple whole carbs and the cheap processed box carbs with whole vegetables and proteins, then you can’t. Let’s be honest, a box of brown rice that costs eighty cents and feeds you for fifteen servings, beats a salad that costs twice as much and feeds you once hands down. That is reality. You did the math, you kept your body’s limitations in mind (don’t forget you also have IBS and a lot of vegetables cause very painful gas), and it doesn’t work out. You can’t be upset about that because being upset changes nothing. You’ve had many great days in your diabetes control with the diet you have right now, there’s no reason that with a tiny bit of extra effort you can’t keep that up.

You’re trying. You’re aware of what’s happening to you. You’ve made efforts to change that what you can change. You can’t do anything about that which you can’t change. Just keep doing what you’re doing, keep testing and taking your insulin, keep checking what and how much you’re eating, keep soldiering through this period; it’s bound to end sooner than later right about now.

Never forget that you have many people who love you dearly. Never forget that this disease isn’t easy to manage and takes a lot of care. Never forget that you are more than capable. Never forget it’s okay to falter sometimes, but it’s necessary to pick yourself back up afterwards.

You can do this. I believe in you. Keep rocking, Wonder Woman.

Sincerely,
Me.