Individuality matters the most

No one size fits all. Clothes that advertise this lie. Healthcare professionals who try to sell you their programs with this idea lie. People who try to convince you to go on their diet and say their diet works for everyone lie. Fact of the matter is, there is always going to be a group of people for whom something isn’t going to work out. Diabetics in particular are a good example of this, regardless of their type.

Some diabetics have very poor control on LCHF (low carb high fat). Some diabetics have the best control they’ve ever had in their entire lives on LCHF.

Some diabetics are constantly in a state of hyperglycemia on a plant based, high carb (vegan) diet. Some diabetics have never seen better numbers in 40+ years of being diabetic ever since becoming vegan.

Some diabetics can’t eat ‘regular’ meals consisting of carbs, proteins, fibers and fats because it skyrockets their values. Some diabetics have excellent numbers as long as they take their medication properly for what they eat.

Being involved with the diabetic community I’ve seen all of the above and then some. It’s becoming ever more obvious to me that there is no “One” diet for diabetics, just like there is no “One” treatment in general. It’s also why it becomes so aggravating when people get pushy in sharing their success with their diet and treatment. They’re so glad that they found something that works that they insist it works for all, without taking into consideration that two people can be on the same exact diet, meal after meal, and have wildly varying results. Where one person drops weight like crazy, the other gains. Where one person sees dramatic improvement, the other just gets worse.

I deeply encourage every person to explore their options. Give diets a try, see which lifestyle change works for you. You’ll notice soon enough whether it’s effective for you or not. But please, pretty please, be considerate of those who have something that works for them. I can’t even begin to express my frustrations with people carelessly pushing their way of life onto me without knowing anything about my history or situation. Yes, I am very happy that it works for you. Genuinely, I am, because diabetes is a bitch and struggling for years with a diet that makes you feel bad is not fun. It’s fantastic when you find your holy grail in your diabetes treatment.

Just accept that it is probably different from that of others. Don’t lecture unless someone asks you to share information. Don’t try to guilt-trip them into it by saying ‘But don’t you want to live long and healthily?!’. That’s very disrespectful and dismissive of the nature of this disease. I’ve only been diabetic since 2014, and on insulin for 4 months now, but I’ve already heard most of it and I’m already exhausted from other people trying to meddle in my affairs.

I know my body. I know what happens when I eat x food. I know what my wallet allows me to buy. I know what foods upset my IBS and give me unbearable cramps. A stranger on the internet can’t ever possibly know enough about my body and my life to give me adequate advice. If advice is asked for, it should be suggestive and encouraging, not demanding and reprimanding.

Be kind to each other, especially if you’re fellow diabetics. Trust that someone knows themselves well enough to make the right decisions. Give guidance only when asked for because nobody likes it when others stick their noses in your business. Embrace individuality and respect it, because that’s how we can be our best and bring out the best in others.

My life out in the open

Yes, my life revolves a lot around diabetes. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, my mind is constantly involved with how I feel, what I’m eating, what I’m going to be eating.

I’m testing 4-9 times a day. I’m injecting 4-9 times a day, ranging from injecting for a meal, to injecting for a correction, to injecting my background insulin, and injecting for random surprise snacks. When I step on the bike or go out, I have to have all my stuff with me – insulin, sugar, glucometer, alcohol wipes, backup batteries, lancets, needles and bandaids. Before I go outside I have to make sure I either ate enough or my bloodsugar is high enough so that I don’t pass out and cause accidents. When I go to bed, I have to make sure I don’t have a nigh time hypo from which I’ll never wake up just in case I fucked up somewhere during the day and evening.

I have to put up with the horrible feelings of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Shaking, feeling confused, hungry and fog brained, often not immediately realizing you need to fix this NOW, is a horrible way to spend your time when you run low. Feeling exhausted and lethargic, fog brained, unwell, hungry and dealing with headaches is really awful when you run high. It can take hours to recover from these and sometimes they happen even when you do everything right.

I don’t think diabetes defines me, but if I want to be healthy and take good care of myself, it’s a full time occupation and difficult to avoid. It’s on my mind constantly. It can make you weary. I like to share everything about it because it keeps me motivated and pulls me through the times where I’m putting off my injection or struggling with the guilt of overeating (when you count carbs and inject to what you eat religiously even when you’re stuck in anxiety induced binge mode, it’s very confronting to see how much goes into your body).

My view on food has changed dramatically. I’m constantly thinking “Can I eat that? How many carbs? What will it do to my levels? How much fat is in there? How long do I have to wait between injecting and eating?” Whenever people ask about dietary advice, it’s hard to give that from outside the diabetes perspective. (Sorry if I sometimes forget not everyone has to be so mindful of their food!)

A lot of the time, people don’t take care of their diabetes the way they should, or they have learned to hide it from everyone. I’m very open and diligent so I’m sure it can appear as if I’m constantly shoving it into everyone’s faces especially when other diabetics are mum about theirs. But this is my life, and I want to grow old, so I want to make sure I got this and don’t fuck it up. I’m gonna talk about it because it makes up a lot of my day, even if it’s annoying, and it helps me avoid feeling burned out and isolated.

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.

Diabetic Crafts

Carrying around two separate pouches/cases for insulin pens and a glucometer, all of which can be difficult to handle because they’re kept in place by elastic rings, has become very tiring for me. I sometimes forget one of the two, it can be a hassle to open two cases that can be clumsy in use, and in public places it tends to be awkward.

I’ve looked at diabetes clutches online, but they only provide room for 1 insulin pen. This baffles me, when I’m out and about I want both my basal and bolus insulin on hand in case I get stranded somewhere, or my plans run late etc. And what if I’m visiting family and staying around in the late evenings? I take my basal at 8pm every day, so that doesn’t work out.

Then there’s the question for this summer: how am I going to manage this with my Frio case? It’s not designed to fit in any clutch, and I’m not interested in carrying three separate bags in hot clammy weather.

So my solution was to make my own bag, big enough to toss everything in there without those awkward straps, with pockets on the inside for my needles and lancets, bandaids and alcohol wipes, and disposed needles and lancets. Best of all, big enough to easily hold my Frio case and flexible enough to stuff into another bag if necessary!

My only problem was that I had zero experience sewing bags and zippers, and I needed to step it up a notch by including inside pockets too. I sewed a little experimental bag with leftover denim from old jeans I no longer wore and was very successful! No lining in this one because it was unnecessary.

The sewing machine and sewing case I have are my mom’s cause she no longer sews, and she’d collected quite a few zippers. So naturally my first zipper bag was destined to become… a zipper bag!

On to the actual project, it was a moderate success. 🙂 Of course I made mistakes. I sewed the zipper on the wrong way the first time around, and had to undo all the seaming I did while cursing and being fed up. Second time around I noticed way too late that the zipper had been sewed on slightly askew, so it looks a little off now. Most importantly, it’s functional, fits everything I need and has room for then some, and it closes and opens properly without issues. I value functionality above looks at all times, so I don’t mind!

Fabrics used were more denim from old worn jeans, and the leftover cuts from my curtains that I had to trim. Zippers were picked from the assortment in my case based on length, not color.

One inside pocket is to hold my needles and lancets. The other is meant for the disposed needles and lancets, but also carries some alcohol wipes and band-aids for those pesky glucose checks that keep bleeding. The main pocket holds both my insulin pens, my glucometer, lancet device, testing strips and has room for glucose supplies, like little bags of Skittles. 🙂 Also featured it an activated Frio case with both insulin pens fitted nicely inside.

The case is pretty big at 18x25cms (7×10 inches) but I like it this way. The fabric is flexible enough that it will fit into most hand and shoulder bags easily. The opening is wide which means it’s easy to fish out the exact item I need. And I don’t have to deal with shoving everything back into an elastic band to keep it in place!

All in all, for my second attempt at a bag I’m very, very pleased. I’m happy I managed to recycle fabric as well. I’m looking for an iron-on design to put on the front to break the monotonous denim look now!

It really makes you think

I started watching the film “The Impossible” this afternoon. It’s about a family vacationing in Thailand when a tsunami hits. Movies like this are hard for me to watch.

I’m sure we all pause and try to imagine what it’s like to end up suffering like that, losing family members, the shock and disorientation in the aftermath and trying to survive. Then it hits me how screwed I would be because of my diabetes.

Because I’ve had my diagnosis for a couple of years, with the clear message I would become insulin dependent eventually, I’ve thought of it a lot. Not until I became insulin dependent did I fully understand what any kind of disaster – natural or man-made, like a war – would have on my ability to live. Slowly but surely I am getting used to the idea I’d be one of the first people to go. I would be one of the first to die if I survived in the first place. I would be the first left behind if things depended on it. Probably also the first to sacrifice myself because I’m very aware of my chances of survival compared to others.

Sometimes this depresses me immensely, but then I also realize there’s not much use in feeling that way. If something is going to happen, it will happen. I have this illness, without my medicine I’m fucked, and if I don’t have any on-hand when shit goes down I know exactly what my fate will be. I might live for a few (miserable) months at most, depending on how much insulin production I have left, before DKA sets in and I die a pretty awful death. Fretting about it won’t change this. There are tons of others like me. When civilization falls, it’s all about natural selection anyway, isn’t it?

Has anyone else ever thought about this? There are a ton of websites where diabetics speculate about what to do ‘when the world ends’, how to survive, how to make your own insulin, how to ration, how to eat. But it all seems to come down to ‘you can extend your chances of survival but you’re not going to grow old either way unless you can get your hands on a proper batch of insulin again’.

On the upside, chances are this won’t ever happen in my lifetime. You never know for sure, but I seem to be in a good place at the moment, so it’s all just speculation. For now I’m proud that I’ve got a fairly good hold on my diabetes at the moment, on a (mostly) moderate carb diet no less. I do have days where I exceed 200g carbs, but I’m so bound by my budget that I don’t always have the choice. Taking what I can get!

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I’m super stoked about the HbA1c value in this calculator. I’m getting lab work done next week and expect it to be higher than this, as I only started insulin beginning of January, and I’ve only logged a little over a week’s worth in this app. Obviously it’s not a good indicator for my actual A1C, buuuut if this trend continues I predict a great value around June!

Also had my first hypo last night since on insulin (1 in almost 4 weeks!). I’ve always caught every single one early, but there’s a first time for everything! I think now that I’m able to sleep at night and get enough rest, my insulin sensitivity has gone up, and therefore my i:c ratio has changed slightly. (I needed it at 1:11 during my insomnia bout, I think I’m going to try 1:13 for a bit now.) So after shoveling a couple of oatmeal cookies into my face as I watched the newest TWD episode, I probably bolused too much. I tidied up around my place after finishing the episode, and as I sat down I tested 3.3mmol/L. Whoops. Got the shakes and disorientation, but a baggie of Skittles fixed me right back up.

I’m pretty much always in range now with the exception of a few stragglers here and there. Proud of myself, after my checkup with my DSN I’m going to see what I can do to do better.

I’ve also received a request for more knitted knockers, so I started this last night (in the middle of my hypo because I’m dumb) and hopefully will have the pair completed in a day or two!

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