Hugging the Cactus Turns Three!

On October 2, 2017, I publicly shared this blog for the very first time.

Oh, how much has changed in three years…

…heck, a lot’s changed in the last year alone!

Forget everything that’s been going on with the world since 2020 began – that would be a very depressing laundry list – I’ve personally experienced so much change in the last 10 months that it makes me dizzy when I stop to really process it all…but here’s a quick glimpse at the life transitions I’ve dealt with throughout the year (some of which I’m keeping deliberately vague because they’re painful to write about):

  • Made a major move
  • Mourned the hardest loss of my life
  • Said goodbye to a physical office location for my job
  • Dealt with depression and anxiety
  • Made the biggest purchase of my life so far

Yeah, it’s been quite a year so far. Not just for me, though: It’s been a doozy for all of us. I guess we can take mild comfort in the fact that we’ve all struggled together.

But on a more positive note, in this year of enormous, earth-shaking change, I’ve had a constant in this blog and the diabetes community.

Seems like I was anxiously anticipating the launch of my blog just yesterday…hard to believe it’s been 1,095 days.

I’ve taken solace in blogging and sharing stories three times each week. I’ve enjoyed seeing comments from regular and new readers alike. I’ve relied on the consistency of the diabetes community: its strength, knowledge, resilience, and of course, support.

So as Hugging the Cactus celebrates its third birthday, I remain grateful for its existence as my platform to connect with others, make new discoveries about my diabetes, and learn from it all in order to live the healthiest and happiest life possible.

Happy 3rd birthday, Hugging the Cactus!

Happy Birthday to My Brother!

Today’s blog post is taking a personal turn because I’m using it to wish an extra-special birthday to my big brother!

It’s a milestone birthday – let’s call it age 29.999999 – and as such, I wish that I could celebrate it with my brother in person. But seeing as he lives about a thousand miles away from me (no exaggeration), coupled with the fact that travel isn’t exactly something that I personally feel is a smart idea right now, we’ll have to settle for a virtual celebration at the moment.

Happy Birthday to My Brother
A sunshine-y birthday graphic for the kind of guy that is FAR from dull!

So before I continue with this birthday post, one thing you should know about my brother is that he’s just about the polar opposite of me in every sense of the word – I’m 5’3, he’s over 6 feet tall. I have blue eyes, blonde-ish hair, and fair coloring, whereas he has brown eyes and hair, and a much tanner complexion. And I choose to share my life pretty freely on the Internet (case in point: this blog), but he’s much more private in comparison. (As a result, my bro shall be known as “my brother” to help maintain his privacy.)

And now to tie everything together a bit – this blog about diabetes, this post for my brother, and my relationship with him – another thing you should know is that I don’t have a single memory in my lifetime of my brother treating me differently because of my diabetes.

I’ve never heard him complaining about living with two T1D women (my mom and I), not once.

I’ve never felt judged by him for any choices I’ve ever made about my diabetes.

I feel like he may be the only person that I’ve ever met (and possibly will ever meet) who is completely, 100% impartial to my diabetes…and that’s really cool to me, for a bunch of reasons. But mainly because I think he realizes that I have plenty of other sources in my life that will judge me, treat me differently, or react in some way to one or more facets of my life with diabetes, so he just stays out of it.

I’m thankful for that.

One final thing you should know about my brother (besides today being his birthday, how different he is from me, and how nonchalant he is about my diabetes) is that he’s pretty effing fearless – he goes beyond being chill about my diabetes, he is chill about errrrrythang. He moved to a brand-new state, met all sorts of new people, found a nice living situation, started a new job, and oh, he also got into the best shape of his damn life and has officially run a marathon and become a certified personal trainer, all in the last three years. And he’s acted borderline blasé about all of his achievements. Like, WTF!!! In contrast to my high-stress, always-anxious, and wound-up-tight self, he’s the coolest cucumber and I hope that he knows I’m proud of him and can’t wait to see what he does next.

Happy birthday, bro – please don’t be mad at me for telling the world (okay, the 7 people who read this blog) about how awesome you are.

A Shout-Out to Fathers of Children with Diabetes

Yesterday was Father’s Day, but today I’d like to take the opportunity to give a shout-out to my dad – and all fathers – who care for children, young, fully grown, or any stage in between, with diabetes.

All dads, generally speaking, don’t get enough credit for all that they do for their families. I know that I am fortunate enough to say that growing up, and to this day, my dad (and mom) provided me with everything a child could ask for: a loving home, plenty of food to eat, and endless support, to name a few.

But on top of that, my dad took care (and continues to take care) of both his child and his wife with diabetes. He does everything in his power to make sure that we want for nothing and has dealt with alllllll the highs and lows – and everything in between – over the years.

Thanks for everything!

My dad has always been the “fixer” in the family. When a problem pops up, he just wants a solution to it. So it’s no wonder that he’s felt helpless on the occasions that there’s literally nothing he can do to help with diabetes except wait for the insulin or sugar to kick in (depending on whatever the case may be).

But the other thing you should know about my dad is that he gives everything in his life 110%. Professionally and personally, he never half-asses anything. And I’ve always found that extremely inspiring. He’s a role model for me in that his give-it-your-all attitude and work ethic has taught me to give my diabetes my all. For that, and so much more, I’m thankful.

My dad – just like my mom – is the real MVP. He has done so much for the both of us during this stay-at-home situation, between picking up groceries each week and running all of our errands for us in order to limit our time out of the house. My dad deserves credit, and so do all other T1D dads: You’re doing great. As you help us navigate this new normal, we realize that there’s already so much you do for us. You’re doing your best in these weird times and your loved ones see that and appreciate it more than you could ever know.

Thank you to all the dads out there, but particularly mine: Thank you for helping to keep me grounded during this “challenging time”, and for, well, everything else you’ve done for me in my 27 years (both the non-diabetes things and the diabetes-related things).

A Shout-Out to Mothers of Children with Diabetes

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, but today I’d like to take the opportunity to give a shout-out to my mom – and all mothers – who care for children, young, fully grown, or any stage in between, with diabetes.

All moms, generally speaking, don’t get enough credit for all that they do for their families. I know that I am fortunate enough to say that growing up, and to this day, my mom (and dad) provided me with everything a child could ask for: a loving home, plenty of food to eat, and endless support, to name a few.

But on top of that, my mom also acted as my pancreas (and her own) throughout my childhood. She counted carbs for me, injected me with insulin, scheduled and took me to doctor’s appointments, and offered her guidance whenever I was dealing with a difficult diabetes issue.

A Shout-Out to Mothers of Children with Diabetes
Mom, please consider the pretty cherry blossoms in this picture my belated Mother’s Day bouquet to you.

Even in my adulthood, though I’ve taken over all of my day-to-day diabetes responsibilities, my mom is still one of the first people I turn to when I have a diabetes question.

She’s the real MVP and she’s helped me a lot during this stay-at-home situation. So I want to give her credit, and credit to all T1D moms: You’re doing great. I know that it can’t be easy, especially for those T1D moms with little ones at home who are dependent on you for everything, but you’re doing your best and your loved ones see that and appreciate that more than you could ever know.

Thank you to all the moms out there, but particularly mine: Thank you for helping to keep me grounded during this “challenging time”, and for, well, everything else you’ve done for me in my 27 years (both the non-diabetes things and the diabetes-related things).

27 Acts of Kindness: Days 25, 26, and 27!!!

The 27 acts of kindness challenge is…COMPLETE!

Wow…this was truly such a special way to celebrate the weeks leading up to my 27th birthday.

I’ve spent time this weekend reflecting on how my thoughts and feelings about this challenge have changed over the last four-ish weeks. Some days were easier than others. I grappled with doing my best to make a true difference while also staying safe and maintaining social distance guidelines.

That was probably the hardest part – not being able to interact with more people throughout this whole process. It was really hard to feel like anything I was doing had any sort of impact. But given the limitations of the circumstances, I can end this challenge knowing that I tried my hardest to do something unique each day…and like I said at the beginning, if a single act made someone feel good or inspired someone else to commit an act of kindness, then I feel as though my mission was accomplished.

With that said, here is what I was up to this weekend:

Friday, 5/1 – Act of Kindness #25: I wanted to make sure I made another effort to support small, local businesses as the week drew to a close, so I purchased a gift card for future use as well as ordered takeout from two separate places. Yes, I’ve done that a couple of times since my challenge began, but I feel strongly about supporting my community as much as possible these days.

Saturday, 5/2 – Act of Kindness #26 and Sunday, 5/3 – Act of Kindness #27: Lumping these together may seem like a copout, but I swear, that’s not what I tried to do with the last couple days of the challenge! Instead of focusing on very specific/deliberate acts, I decided to just…be. I wanted to be there for family and friends, whether it was in-person or virtually. I had conversations with loved ones. I helped out my parents as much as I could. I started to learn more about my new role advocating for T1International (more to come on that). I enjoyed the outdoors and tried to reduce my overall screen time. I soaked up the sun and appreciated a beautiful birthday celebration for what it was, not what I wished or thought it should have been.

I just…wanted the people and things that I care about to feel some of that in a more pronounced way. I admit that I wasn’t perfect the entire time – I said some things without thinking and could have done more – but I’m now reflecting on it and trying to learn from it so I can be the kind of person who doesn’t have to think long and hard about certain acts of kindness that I can do each day: I want it to come naturally.

So even though the formal “27 acts of kindness” thing is done, the meaning behind it is far from over for me. I want to continue to do things that make people smile or that have some sort of impact going forward.

The only difference between the start and the end of the challenge is that I now have greater insights on how I can do little things on “ordinary” occasions that mean something, to someone, somewhere.

And I think that realization is a great gift to receive for my 27th birthday.

27 Acts of Kindness_ Days 25, 26, and 27!!!
One last fun GIF-image hybrid to round off the challenge.

Thanks for following along with the challenge, Cactus Huggers. There’s a recap of the last 27 days below, and I’ll be publishing new blog posts again starting Wednesday this week.

The 27 Acts of Kindness Round-Up

  1. Sent some money to a loved one as a special treat
  2. Wrote and mailed a card to a hospitalized child
  3. Emailed a hardworking coworker to let her know she’s appreciated
  4. Donated to a fundraiser that was delivering pints of ice cream to essential workers
  5. Gave a large tip when ordering takeaway from a restaurant
  6. Sent a thank you message to my church’s priest
  7. Invited friends to join me for a virtual yoga session with an instructor
  8. Posted Instagram shout-outs to some of my favorite accounts
  9. Donated to my community’s food pantry and got a double match from my employer
  10. Reconnected with old friends virtually
  11. Made coworkers smile and laugh by dressing up as Dwight Schrute for meetings
  12. Gave half of my CWD FFL 2020 registration fee back to CWD after it was canceled
  13. Spent the day helping my parents
  14. Reached out to a friend who is struggling
  15. Visited fellow diabetes bloggers’ sites and left comments on posts
  16. Filmed a video to spread some cheer to those living in nursing homes
  17. Volunteered virtually and talked to high school students about my career
  18. Wrote a special thank you card to my father, who is an essential employee
  19. Made a sign for the yard thanking ALL essential employees
  20. Made digital greeting cards and expressed words of encouragement and appreciation to essential employees
  21. Virtually adopted a red panda
  22. Purchased and sent requested supplies to a local animal shelter
  23. Signed up to become a digital advocate for T1International
  24. Donated in my mother’s name to a cause that she supports
  25. Bought a gift card to use at a local business at a future date
  26. Tried to live in the moment and be more mindful…
  27. …and reflect on what this challenge taught me!

27 Acts of Kindness: Days 5, 6, and 7

Long weekends are weird when you’re quarantined.

Normally, I’m a big fan of long weekends…for obvious reasons. But the fact that I had this past Friday off from work just felt bizarre. I put a lot of pressure on myself to use the time off wisely and be super productive, but to be totally honest, I just…wasn’t. I got tired halfway through the day and did nothing but perform my best couch potato impression.

And I was disappointed in myself for being so lazy.

I’m trying to reconcile the compulsion to make good use of all my time in quarantine with the desire to lean into my feelings and allow myself to be down in the dumps over the whole situation. It’s hard to find a happy medium between the two. Luckily, though, my determination to complete 27 acts of kindness each day leading up to my 27th birthday does help me feel like I’m putting a small iota of goodness back into the world during a time that I feel so listless.

Plus, it was a special weekend: a holy weekend. It only felt right to celebrate the holiday (in part) by continuing my kindness acts…

27 Acts of Kindness_ Days 5, 6, and 7
Acts of kindness over Easter weekend carried a special meaning.

Friday, 4/10 – Act of Kindness #5: I decided to do an act of kindness that would benefit my parents, so I did a semi-detail of their cars. I say “semi” because it wasn’t the full detail that I wanted to give them; I’d planned on washing the cars, but the weather forecast prevented that from happening. But I still managed to vacuum the heck out of their cars’ interiors, as well as wipe down the windows and remove as much dust and dirt, in general, as possible from the seats and dashboards. This act of kindness was only half-fulfilled in my book…but at least the effort I put into it yielded great blood sugars, so it was technically a fairly successful act nonetheless. It’s “to be continued” another day!

Saturday, 4/11 – Act of Kindness #6: Nobody in the house felt like cooking Saturday night, so we placed an order with an area restaurant for takeaway instead. I was in charge of ordering, so when it came time to pay I decided to leave an extra-large tip for the restaurant waitstaff because I know that this small, local business is struggling to support its employees during these difficult times.

Sunday, 4/12 – Act of Kindness #7: I felt so much gratitude on Easter Sunday this year. I was thankful for nice weather and a large, delicious meal cooked up by my mother, as well as the opportunity to experience a semblance of normalcy by attending church virtually. I decided to write to my church’s priest to thank him for his dedication to our parish, and for calming our anxieties in this uncertain time. This particular act of kindness might seem minor – especially since I’ve already done a couple acts of kindness that involved me using my writing skills – but this actually brought me out of my comfort zone a bit because I simply had no idea how to properly express my thanks. But eventually I found the words that felt right, and I’m glad that I got over my hesitations and sent the note.

And with that, one full week of acts of kindness done…and I’m just getting started.

 

Spare a Rose this Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day in a couple of days. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, I’d like to make you think about something that represents the day well: a bouquet of a dozen roses.

A dozen roses is a classic Valentine’s gift, right? But what if you received 11 roses in your bouquet, instead of 12? What if you knew that a rose was spared because the value of that flower helped support a child living with diabetes in a less-resourced country?

I bet you wouldn’t mind getting one less rose in that case.

SquareTag
Who knew that the value of a dozen roses could pay for a child with diabetes to live another year of life?

This Valentine’s Day, please consider sparing a rose. Life for a Child is a nonprofit charity that created the Spare a Rose campaign. They’re able to support nearly 20,000 young people living with diabetes by using donations to buy them insulin, syringes, clinical care, diabetes education, and more. Anyone who’s familiar with diabetes realizes that access to care, education, and resources is critical to living a healthy and normal life. No one would want to deny another, especially a child, from having to forgo these resources because of the financial burden associated with them.

I’ve written about the Spare a Rose campaign for the last few years because I think it’s a beautiful way to celebrate a day that makes some swoon and others sick to their stomachs. A common complaint among people in this day and age is that too many holidays are all about raking in the dough for companies like Hallmark; in other words, most holidays have lost their original meaning and have become too commercialized.

So here’s your chance to bring back some significance to Valentine’s Day, whether you’re single, partnered, or married.

Spare a rose and save child this Valentine’s Day.

Happy New Year!

They say that hindsight is 2020…well, I say that because it is officially 2020, we’re going to be hearing a lot about that little pun in the coming days and weeks.

So today marks the beginning of a new year; more significantly, an entire decade. The last time a new decade began, I was the tender age of sixteen. Ah, how young and naive I was then. If only I knew then what I did now…!

Happy New Year!
Welcome, roaring twenties!

On a more serious note, this decade of diabetes is bound to be much different compared to my last decade of diabetes. For starters, I’m beginning this one with a whole lot more T1D tech than I had in 2010: I’ve got my Dexcom CGM and my OmniPod insulin pump. I was also still in high school ten years ago; in the last decade I graduated, earned my bachelor’s degree, and I’m now five years into my career. Oh, and I also moved out of my parents’ house for the first time. Needless to say, much has happened in the last ten years, and I can’t believe I was able to summarize the biggest changes in just a couple quick sentences.

Anyways, they do indeed say that hindsight is 2020. Vision becomes clearer and you learn lessons from the mistakes you’ve made.

For me, this blog is actually a bit of its own 2020. It serves as a record of how my thoughts and feelings toward diabetes have changed, and with that comes a bit of clarity and insight. And I like it. It helps me process my diabetes and stay in tune with the emotions that come with it. So in that regard, I think a little hindsight can be healthy, as long as I don’t dwell in what I could and should have done – only what I can and will do.

With that said, Happy New Year. I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020.

Merry Christmas!!!

Dear Reader,

Merry Christmas (and if you do not celebrate, happy holidays)! I am taking today (as well as Friday) off from blogging in order to give myself a much-needed break – though I will republish an old blog post on Friday, just to keep pace with things. I’ll return with fresh content on Monday, December 30th.

DEA6BF6A-4CF6-4FAB-9EC5-0C530A4A9733
This silly, seasonal GIF of me is too funny (and appropriate) to not use today – and all throughout the holiday season as my blog’s banner.

Until then, here is a friendly reminder to be kind to yourself. I understand that this is not the most wonderful time of the year for everyone, and no matter how you feel about it, know that it’s okay – I hear you. Don’t beat yourself up over your blood sugars. Forgive yourself and look for the bright side when things don’t go your way. And whether you do or do not have diabetes, it’s important that you know that I genuinely appreciate you for visiting this blog and that I wish you nothing but the best today, and every day.

Warmly,

Molly

It’s the Most Bolus-Worthy Time of the Year

It wouldn’t be the Christmas season if I didn’t attempt to rewrite a classic Christmas carol…

I apologize in advance for the cheesiness of this “new” tune, but I was thinking about how there are just so many parties, gatherings, and opportunities to eat absolute junk food this time of year. But even though I’m feeling pretty disgusting by the time January rolls around, I don’t regret it because I love everything about this season…so you might say that I think it’s worth every extra unit of insulin I have to take to cover the food I eat, making it the most “bolus-worthy” time of the year.

So naturally, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was the perfect song to redo for this blog post.

it's the most bolus-worthy time of the year.png
Please sing along to this blog post in your best Andy Williams voice!

I sprinkled in references about questions that people with diabetes commonly get, as well…because with all the time that’s spent with family and loved ones, they’re bound to come up again just as they do year after year.

Without further ado, here is my rendition of the song…please feel free to read (sing!) along to the tune of the original – it makes it so much more fun, trust me!

It’s the Most Bolus-Worthy Time of the Year

It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year
With the Dexcom CGMs yelling
And everyone telling you “what’s that I hear?”
It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year

It’s the ca-carb-iest season of all
With those holiday sweets
And so many treats when friends come to call
It’s the ca-carb-iest season of all

There’ll be parties for pumping
Temp basals a-bumping
And answering the same old,
There’ll be “can you eat that?”
And all that chit-chat
You can’t help that your eyes rolled

It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year
There’ll be so much indulging
And insulin will be flowing when goodies are near
It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year

There’ll be blood sugar for checking
Marshmallows for correcting
And sensors and sites to change
There’ll be silly relatives’ questions
And answers in your irate expressions
They should know by now ‘betes isn’t so strange

It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year
There’ll be so much indulging
And insulin will be flowing when goodies are near
It’s the most bolus-worthy time
It’s the most bolus-worthy time
It’s the most bolus-worthy time
It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year!