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.

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.

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.

tenstitchblanket

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.

FINALLY on bolus and basal insulin!

Good morning followers! I hope you’ve had fantastic holidays. 🙂 My life’s been super hectic, but in a really good way. My last post was in September, not because I didn’t want to blog anymore, but because all my energy went into my mental health and life circumstances. Now things seem to smoothing out a bit and my desire to write is kicking back in, woop!

Last Monday, I went back to my specialist. I’ve talked before about going off the oral medication (gliclazide) and starting an insulin bolus regime instead, but was met with quite some resistance when I finally reached out back in October.

At that time, the specialist (who happened to be an intern) was very focused on prescribing me Victoza, a medication used primarily for type 2 diabetics. Now while it sounded like a great medication, I had one problem with it; I’m a type 1 diabetic, not type 2, and my pancreas is already struggling like hell to give me enough insulin while LADA takes its course. Victoza is designed to trigger insulin release from the beta-cells when your food reaches a certain point in the digestive tract, which helps to even out your levels and leads to weight loss in most people who use it. Great! But only if your body can actually produce enough insulin of its own.

The running theme I got was “you’ll lose weight on this medication, but you’ll probably gain with insulin”. So I asked, why do people gain weight with insulin? Is it because they inject too much and need to eat to cover their insulin? Is it because they just don’t bother adapting their diet so they consume more calories than they use? Is it because they were eating everything and losing weight due to a lack of insulin production, and then on insulin their bodies can finally use all the fuel they’re putting into their mouths leading to weight gain? Is it because they don’t exercise much or at all while eating generously?

He said all of these are possible, and when I expressed interest in switching to insulin instead because I’m confident in my ability to control these factors, he backpedaled and wanted me to consider Victoza anyway. It just so happened that because I was already on basal insulin, insurance nationwide wouldn’t cover it. There are strict regulations and requirements a patient has to meet before they’re put on that med, and basal insulin use disqualified me. Initially he suggested I go off the basal and just take the other med instead, but I absolutely refused because my gut instinct told me that was a terrible idea. Then he informed me that regulations were about to change in the new year for this and suggested that we meet again in January to see what the situation was and take it from there.

I felt frustrated but relented. I didn’t have a lot of info on Victoza at the time, so I couldn’t really formulate whether or not I wanted it. After some research I was 100% confident it was not for me, and went to my appointment last Monday with that in mind.

He started the appointment with an explanation on the state of regulations; the change was approved, but not yet implemented, and he didn’t know when they would so I’d have to wait. Although I went in with “I don’t want Victoza” at the front of my mind, I hooked in on that and said I was absolutely not willing to wait any longer. I’ve been dealing with very hard to control values for almost half a year and I can’t afford to waste more time waiting for regulations to go through. He said that he could put me on Novorapid, but that it closed the chapter on Victoza.

Fine by me! I agreed immediately, and he prescribed the insulin to me and took me off the gliclazide. I walked out of that appointment feeling a lot of things. I texted my best friend immediately that I finally got the insulin because I was excited and happy, but I also felt bad for people who get thrown into situations like that and don’t have the ability to stand up for themselves or do the research I did. I’m not sure where my treatment would be at right now if I’d just gone along with this. I feel it would have been horrible for me, and I can only imagine that there are people out there suffering from bad decisions made by doctors who don’t listen to their patients in similar situations.

Either way, I picked up my insulin the same day and got started immediately. The specialist told me to take 4 units for every meal, but I find that I am very sensitive to insulin so 2 units is enough for most smaller meals. 4 works best for dinner. As my meals typically don’t exceed 40gr carbs that is actually plenty. I’m still trying to find my actual insulin:carbs ratio so I’ve been testing and experimenting vigorously to see what my body does with carbs so I’m still spiking after meals, but I’m getting the hang of correction dosages pretty well. It took me a day to wrap my head around “insulin doesn’t stack if you take what you need to cover the carbs you eat, even if you eat twice in 2 hours – total insulin for total carbs is what matters here”. I did learn very fast that you don’t correct shortly after eating when you injected enough insulin for the carbs even if you’re spiking at 13. My problem was the timing of the insulin, not so much the amount, so when I biked home I crashed from 13 to 4, nearly into a hypo.

insulin

This is why I love experimenting and pushing boundaries though; nothing makes me learn things quicker than to just go ‘let’s see what this does’. (I’m playing it safe, don’t worry. I always have glucose on hand for crashes and am very aware of what I’m doing and need to look out for.) It’s still too early for me to go low carb as I still need to get this figured out, but hopefully I can progress to 3 out of 7 days in the week of low carbing to get started.

I seem to roll around between 1:15 – 1:30 for my ratio, which is not uncommon for LADA diabetics I’ve heard. But my average values tend to be pretty alright so far, and I’m looking forward to getting this harness on my diabetes and making sure it behaves while I work on my health!