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.

Knitting and bolus

Things have been going well in the past couple of weeks. I’m nearing a 3 week mark on the bolus and basal regime for my diabetes and my values are definitely doing better. I’ve got a good control on how to use the insulin, I track it really well and I keep in mind that I have insulin on board when I correct my values. I had to up my basal by 2 units but it seems to be doing its thing well now. I’ll have to figure out a good way to rotate injection sites; right now I just look for any red marks and try to inject a cm or two away from that on whichever side of my belly I’m on. I think I’ll divide my abdomen into 4 regions and rotate them clockwise every 2-3 days. (Is this where I’m thankful for a big belly because it means more space?)

have been dealing with a bad depression low. I isolated myself for a week or two and spent all of my time almost exclusively with one person who always helps me feel better. I’m slowly getting back on track now after that episode, so let’s hope things will look up shortly.

During these two weeks I focused on my ten stitch blanket for a while.

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I made more progress on it since taking this pic but it’s coming along super well. I finished all the yarn in this colorway and moved on to more scrap yarn. It’s 2×2 feet right about now, and I hope to knit it up to 6.5×6.5 feet at the end.

When we slip

Oh boy. I’ll start out with the good news: my friend sent me his used smartphone so that I can replace my dying one (and also play Pokemon GO!, we’re both first generation players who never stopped playing 🙂 ). He included cards of some of my favorite Pokemon with it! The US won’t allow batteries being sent out through the mail in phones, so he had to send it without. I ordered a new battery which should be here first thing tomorrow.

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The bad news: my blood glucose control has been total and utter shit today. Cravings and random hunger pangs, a bag of chips (or crisps for the non-American folks out there), a bag of Dolly Mix and fast food elevated my values all day above 10. Boo Sanne. Booo!! Right now I’m miraculously low at 6.4 which I don’t understand, except maybe it’s thanks to the extra dose of gliclazide after dinner, and having a both carb rich and greasy dinner. I might spike during sleep again. I have a killer headache and foggy brain right now though. Not sure if it’s from riding the highs all day, or because I’m super tired (maybe from riding the damn highs?).

As I’m a type LADA with a 50/50 treatment plan (oral meds + basal insulin – bolus) a lot of the fancy diabetes tracking apps and sheets are either much too detailed for my regime, or don’t allow me to enter my basal units and meds as they’re too simplistic. I have an app on my phone installed that lets me be a bit more flexible about it, although the features I really want (like pretty PDF and XLS reports for a nive, detailed overview) are locked into a premium version that costs €28 a year or so. Money which I unfortunately don’t have. Boo….

I slipped up today, no use in crying over that. I was weak, I fell, tomorrow I get the fuck back up and eat properly as much as my supplies allow until I get next week’s grocery money on Monday. No dolly mix or chips, I’ll go for a nice bike ride if the weather isn’t going to roast me and I’ll focus on chores. I have peaches for those between meals snacks and a cucumber and I will eat them before they go bad. I have 6g carb crackers that pair well with a slice of Gouda and some salted cucumber slices. I have oatmeal and milk for a nice warm bowl of cinnamon oats. Plenty of options to have filling meals!

I will be meticulous about logging my meals at the very least even if I don’t test my values. I want to preserve my supplies for as much as possible until halfway through October.

Riding highs and lows (but mostly lows)

Early this afternoon, I decided to pay my parents a visit. I needed to do some repairs and maintenance on my bike and I didn’t have the tools for the repairs, but my dad does! Before I left I checked my mailbox, and what do I find?

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The medical bracelet that I ordered arrived! As I am on my bike every time I have to go somewhere, and I can’t detect hypos well while I’m biking, this was something that I really felt I needed. To my understanding, medical personnel is trained to look for medical bracelets and jewelry in emergency situations. There are medications that insulin does not go together with (even if it’s unlikely I’ll ever need those meds, you never know) and if I am passed out from low blood sugar or get into an accident, a bracelet like this would give the EMTs a heads up to give me the proper treatment. I don’t fit the usual profile of a T1D to most people, so this helps a ton.

I wore it on my bike ride to my parents’ and felt really safe. They really liked the way it looked and the quality of the bracelet too. 🙂 It’s comfortable to wear, not rough, and I forgot I was wearing it half the time.

Some well deserved plugging: this bracelet and many others are sold by Cobra Band on Etsy. (I can’t leave a review until next week, so my blog post will have to do until then. 😉 ) The bracelet is handmade from woven paracord, and the metal plate is custom stamped with whatever text you want within their set limits. The quality is very high and the bracelet feels very sturdy. It’s secured with a strap buckle on the bottom and won’t come off until you want it to. Even with sweaty skin during bike rides, the cord doesn’t irritate my skin!

They have more than an excellent customer service, as they are quick to answer any inquiries and reassured me that they add about an inch of give to make the bracelet feel comfortable even on snug measurements. I’m not disappointed! They estimated production to 1-2 weeks, and my bracelet was shipped out on the 2 week mark. It arrived within 5 business days as promised! All in all, a very transparent process with friendly communication and a high quality product.

The best part is that the price is very affordable. I think I paid €12 or €13 for the bracelet plus shipping to the Netherlands (from the UK). Should I ever need a replacement they will be the first shop I’ll hit up!

If you’re diabetic, allergic, have epilepsy or any other conditions where a bracelet like this will be beneficial, I highly recommend you consider this shop and their bracelets. They make ICE (in case of emergency) bracelets for young children too!

With that addressed, I am proud of myself and mildly frustrated by my body today. My parents live 9km away from where I live, and there are many hills between us. Biking is no joke. I don’t mind, except for the last part where I am basically forced up a very steep hill and then have to ride it all the way back down, THEN BACK UP AGAIN because that’s how things just are around here in the Southern parts of the Netherlands. I don’t relate to my country as ‘flat’, that’s for sure! Those fellows up North and West have it easy with their flat roads.

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This added up to about 18km to and from my parents’ (which my phone didn’t track properly, god I wish I could afford a Fitbit) and took me about 1 hour and 45 minutes total. (The purple in the circle is some walking, the red is biking outdoors.) It wasn’t too hard, the hot sun was really the one thing that made it more difficult than it had to be, but overall I was handling it well.

I did have ridiculous low glucose levels throughout the afternoon though. I left my place at about 9.0, and when I got to my parents’ I was down to 5.9. Not too bad, but my levels consistently continue to drop after that kind of exercise, so I was snacking all afternoon to maintain that level. I didn’t manage to get up past 6.0 anymore despite the whole wheat crackers and biscuits with dried fruit, which was frustrating. My mom and I went on a brief grocery shopping trip and I bought more fruit biscuits and gummy candies mix (we call them Tum Tums, but as I understand it these are antacids in other parts of the world – I’m talking about straight up candy!). I shoveled a small handful down my gullet before I left to go back home, biked my ass off and managed not to drop below 5.2 as I walked into the door.

This is a good example of my low carb and I don’t mix. My body doesn’t want to listen! I had a lot of whole foods during the day, moderately low carb (40-60 grams for breakfast, about 30 for lunch) and the results are too many almost lows that I have to hastily fix with sugar bombs and more complex carbs just so I can stay on top of it. Slow (fiber heavy) carbs are included but they don’t prevent the lows, I’ve noticed.

That said, I did end up burning 800 calories on my bike rides today AND I avoided hypos throughout it all. Can I get a HELL YEAH? I may had to pull some dirty shots with the candy to stay on top, but I did it! 🙂 I’m waiting for my timer to go off to test my post meal values for my day curve, but I don’t expect anything terrible.

Low carb and me

I don’t do low carb. I try to on most days, but it’s not a lifestyle diet I can maintain right now.

I’ve connected with a lot of diabetics around the globe and one ‘helpful piece of advice’ that gets thrown at me all the time is “go low carb!”. Every time I have to politely tell them “That’s not an option for me right now, sorry” and hope that they won’t pester (bully) me into accepting this choice of diet.

Let me break it down in a few simple points.

  1. I am bound to a very tight budget. I have €30-40 a week to buy all the groceries I need, which is more than just food. Cat litter and cat food, toiletries, household items like cleaning supplies and anything else you can imagine that are needed on a weekly basis. It doesn’t get you a whole lot when everything is added up, and there are choices to make. Sometimes the carb rich junk food is cheaper than the fresh plants and proteins that are the better options. Meat isn’t cheap. I don’t eat pork so I’m down to chicken and beef – both expensive meats if you can’t get them on sale. I buy according to whatever is discounted most of the time, and the fresh, healthy alternatives are very often not included (or items that I can’t stomach). Healthy food is expensive where I live. (To illustrate, I can get two cheese or chicken burger that you reheat in the microwave, buns and cheese included, for just a little over €1 a pair. That €1 combo counts as two whole meals to me. Do the math when two pieces of chicken breast cost almost €4.)
  2. My diabetes doesn’t play nice. I caught my type LADA early, and my pancreas throws random insulin parties and I have to bring all the carby snacks because nobody else will. I can’t do without my basal insulin which my values and day curves are testimony to, along with my general sense of feeling healthier, and I can’t do without 40-60 grams of carbs in a meal when my glucose level decides to drop to 3.0 because of my body’s own insulin production. Low carbing is something I strive for on days that my glucose runs high, but as long as I am still riding my (very long) honeymoon wave, it’s not something I can faithfully and consistently pull off. And that should be okay. 

I understand the many benefits of the diet, but we’re all different. Everyone has unique needs and I’m so frustrated that, within a community where ‘individual needs’ are at the front of all treatment and diet methods, this is so easily disregarded when it comes to giving advice about low carbing.

When you have been T1D for 15+ years and your insulin production is zero, then low carbing means lower/less insulin injections are necessary to meet your body’s needs. That just doesn’t work for me. It will one day, but not right now. I am frustrated that my weight problems and dietary choices are somehow turned into a blame game of me not doing something right, when I’m doing the best I possibly can. I can’t inject less insulin and exercise without eating heaps of crackers because of the way my body works. If you’re the kind of person who advocates low carb, that’s alright, but please be considerate of who you advocate to. Understand that my issues happen to others as well.

Be less judgmental and less eager to preach, and take some more time to listen and consider in silence.