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.

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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I guess it was bound to happen.

I woke up soaked in sweat this morning. This is after tossing and turning in bed for 5 hours before finally falling asleep. My fasting value was 9.6mmol/L. Figured I’d slept through a hypo, had my 25g carb breakfast and bolused with the correction. Went to the store and then to group, tested an hour later, and then this beauty happened.

I recently installed the app mySugr and it has a bolus calculator built in (Europeans only). It’s a LIFESAVER. I love it!

Let’s see if I can whip my sugars into submission today.

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.