I got a massage last night: my first in roughly two and a half years (thanks, global pandemic).
As I drifted away into a state of deep relaxation, one thought occurred to me about how something “special” and “extra” like a massage is actually one of the extremely rare times in which I stop thinking about my diabetes for awhile. Do I need a massage like I need insulin? No, definitely not. But do I need an opportunity to unwind every so often? Does my body and mind benefit from massage therapy? Yes, and heck yes.
This is why I think self-care is a critical aspect of diabetes management, and unfortunately, one that I do not make enough time for – and I know there are plenty of other folks out there who can relate.
In recognizing this, I’m going to start making time for little self-care activities for myself throughout the week. Sure, I can’t afford to get a massage all the time (though I certainly wish I could), but I can absolutely provide myself with a spa-like atmosphere right at home with some calming music, essential oils, and a couple of store-bought facials. And I can take 2 minutes out of my day to use the nifty meditation feature on my Fitbit, which guides me through a breathing practice designed to settle the body and mind. Last but not least, I can continue to do better to make sleep priority number one. I’ve had far too many nights this summer in which I got fewer than 6 hours of sleep, and that just isn’t sustainable for me or my diabetes.
I’m hoping that my Omnipod 5 will be conducive to me taking some more time for self-care, you know, with it taking some of the heavy lifting out of the way by being an automated system. I figure that if my Dexcom can integrate so nicely with the system, then maybe personal relaxation time can also work its way in there – so every component of my diabetes care toolkit can work in harmony, allowing me to enjoy some peace, too.
Do you ever let your blood sugar run high on purpose?
I do. But only when I feel it’s necessary. One such occasion is when I’m treating myself to a spa day.
I don’t do that often (because it’s hella expensive), but I looooove unwinding by getting an hour-long massage or a facial. And the last thing that I want to worry about when I’m pampering myself is my blood sugar.
I don’t want to hear any alarms going off, I don’t want to check my blood sugar, I don’t want to bolus, and I certainly don’t want to dwell on diabetes during a period of time in which I’m supposed to relax. Because diabetes is the opposite of relaxing, and anyone who lives with it in any capacity deserves to have a mental break from it as often as possible.
I also never, ever want a low blood sugar to happen when I’m practicing self-care. Talk about a total buzzkill! In my imagination, nothing could be more disruptive to a moment of zen than hearing a low alarm go off and having to roll off a massage table to grab a tube of glucose tabs, all while being mostly naked. NO THANKS.
So I will purposely let my blood sugar run high when I’m practicing self-care because for that window of time, it’s super important to me to forget about diabetes, the biggest source of stress in my life, and focus on enjoying a mini vacation from it. And it’s not like I’m ever letting myself climb dangerously high (because dealing with a 250+ blood sugar during self-care sounds almost as awful as having a low) – I usually aim for 150-180.
For me, it’s incredibly worth it to just let it go and embrace being slightly out of range for a blissful (but all too short) period of time.
Sometimes, you just gotta treat yo’self. (Parks and Recreation, anyone?)
One of my favorite ways to do that is through massage. I can’t think of a more relaxing way to unwind from various sources of stress than massage. Especially when your shoulders and neck are so tense that it feels as though they’re permanently knotted up.
So I went for a one-hour massage a couple of weeks ago to see if I could successfully take a mental break from everything while addressing my muscle tension. And I’m so glad I did that for myself. Plus, it didn’t hurt that my massage therapist was super attentive when it came to my diabetes.
I explained to her that I was wearing a tubeless pump on my lower back, and that she should feel free to massage around it. I also mentioned that if she happened to hear anything buzz or beep during our session, she should just disregard it – if my pump or CGM alarmed, I’d take care of whichever device that was going off at the end of the session.
The massage therapist couldn’t have been more reassuring. She let me know that she previously worked as a physical therapist and had experience in the field for more than 10 years. As a result, she’d seen just about everything over the course of her career – an insulin pump and a glucose monitor were nothing.
That short conversation before the start of the session really helped it start off on the right foot. I felt much better knowing that she wouldn’t be freaked out by my devices. My openness to talk about my diabetes also inclined her to ask me if it affected certain parts of my body more than others, and if she should be sensitive to that throughout the session. I appreciated her attentiveness, and she asked follow-up questions throughout the massage to ensure I was getting the best experience possible.
Not only did I leave feeling like a million bucks, but I also left feeling glad that my CGM and pump stayed silent throughout the one-hour massage: allowing me to truly free my mind from diabetes, even if it was just for a short time.