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.

The Dog Days of Summer…with Diabetes

August is just ’round the corner (!!!) and that…feeling is creeping up on me.

That uncomfortable feeling that’s intensified by hot and humid weather.

That annoying feeling that happens when my CGM sensors and insulin pods seem to fall off my body and wither in the summer heat – the adhesives are no match for the sun’s merciless rays.

That restless feeling that creeps up when it’s too damn muggy out for my daily afternoon walks…the walks I rely on to help regulate my blood sugars and my mental health.

That fed-up feeling that’s the result of me going outside for 15 minutes, hoping to get some fresh air, only for my blood sugar to drop rapidly thanks to the high temps.

That creeping feeling of needing some kind of relief: Relief from the hottest days of summer and from every facet of diabetes management becoming just a bit more complicated because of it.

The Dog Days of Summer...with Diabetes
Is this the picture associated with this post just because I wanted to show off my dog being cute on a boat? No! Never! Absolutely not…okay fine yes.

And now that I’m acknowledging how much I’m craving relief, it honestly just sounds like I’m going through some genuine diabetes burnout.

It’s not surprising: This year’s been a wild one for me (and let’s face it, the world) in multiple ways. Overall, my stress and anxiety levels are up and my motivation to do everything that I “should” do to manage my blood sugar levels is way down. I’m very aware of what’s good about my diabetes management lately (such as my daily exercise routines) and what’s maybe not so good (my constant desire to snack on carbs and not measure them out and/or bolus for them).

I’m hopeful, though: Maybe as I continue to cope with my seesawing emotions and blood sugars, they’ll find a way to balance out on their own and be a little less intense…just as the weather will become once Autumn rolls around.

Why Does Everything Have to Be so Complicated? (Musings on Diabetes and Emotions)

I hope that the moment you read the title of this blog post, Avril Lavigne’s smash hit from 2002 got stuck in your head (sorry, not sorry).

On a related note, it felt like it was the right phrase to use as a title for this post.

In the past, I’ve written how diabetes has turned me into a bit of a control freak (meaning that I don’t do well with the curve balls it sometimes launches into my path). I prefer a schedule – nothing too regimented, just enough to know what to expect in terms of diabetes issues in a day. And that’s not always possible; hence, I have some control-freak tendencies.

Lately, I’m also wondering if diabetes has made me more emotional.

The thought occurred to me when I was deep in self-reflection mode, a place I’ve found myself going to again and again throughout my quarantine. I started thinking about instances in which I let my blood sugar influence my mood, and I realized that it happens more often than I care to admit.

White and Blue Emojis Animated Social Media Graphic
Life with diabetes sometimes means reacting like all of these emojis within a matter of moments.

I wonder if the tie between my emotions and my diabetes exists because my diabetes requires me to be so attentive to my body at all times that it’s also caused me to have a heightened awareness of my emotions and what may be causing them. I definitely allow blood sugars, both high and low, to affect how I feel when they happen. I let the successes and failures of diabetes technology influence my mood. And when I start to get down in the dumps about non-diabetes things, it often turns into full-blown diabetes burnout.

Diabetes is complicated on its own.

But to think that it interferes with my emotions, too?

Isn’t it enough for diabetes to impact me just physically and leave my mental state out of it?

 

A Tough Topic: Diabetes Complications

I’m broaching a subject I’ve never openly discussed in an online forum in today’s blog post…and that is diabetes complications.

The reason why I’ve never talked about complications is straightforward: They absolutely terrify me.

It’s a topic that’s so foreign and frightening to me that I don’t even know the full extent of diabetes complications. You can Google them, for sure, and discover a long list of scary conditions involving the heart, eyes, extremities, and other internal organs. But I’d rather not do that to myself, let alone the audience of this blog.

I don’t want you to think that I’m naive, though…I know that not talking about something doesn’t mean that it’ll just go away or never happen.

Recently, I became glaringly aware of this fact through the form of (what I presume to be) my own diabetes complication: tendonitis in my left hand.

In the last year or two, I’ve felt sporadic sensitivity in my left hand when I fully extend my wrist, bear any weight on it, or even when I do simple wrist rotations. I never really knew when to expect the pain, but it happened every few months and lasted about a week each time. So when I felt it again around the time I was due for my annual physical with my PCP, I decided to ask him about it.

He explained to me that, based on the type of pain and its duration, it wasn’t carpal tunnel (numbness and tingling are symptoms of that, not pain) like I thought it might be. It also wasn’t arthritis (I didn’t have swelling or reduced range of motion) or neuropathy (I wasn’t experiencing pins and needles), but he did say that those aren’t uncommon in people with diabetes. That’s when he located the exact inflamed tendon – the thick, fibrous cord that attaches muscle to bone – in my left hand/wrist that was giving me trouble.

A Tough Topic_ Diabetes Complications
Me with my new (but occasional) accessory.

Just like all the aforementioned conditions, my tendonitis is probably due to my diabetes. Although my PCP didn’t explicitly state that I definitely have it because I’ve had diabetes for 22 years, he did identify a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. But, fortunately, he also reassured me that my occasional flares of tendonitis are nothing to worry about. As long as I continue to do what I’m doing (which is supporting my hand and wrist with a brace when I experience bouts of pain, as well as rest the area as much as possible during those times), then I’ll be totally fine.

While I’m not exactly thrilled to have to deal with tendonitis, I am very relieved that I know there’s an explanation to help make sense of it all, and that I’ve been doing the right things to handle it. So even though I won’t be going out of my way to research any other diabetes complications any time soon (why on earth would I want to stress myself out unnecessarily), I have come to terms with my tendonitis as a possible complication for me. And rather than seeing it as a completely negative thing, I’ve decided to just keep doing what I’m doing, and continue to take the best possible care I can of myself and my diabetes.

They say prevention is the best medicine for a reason, right?

 

 

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

My 22nd Diaversary

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve (already) and it just so happens that it’s also my diabetes diagnosis anniversary…or “diaversary,” as it’s colloquially known.

This means that tomorrow marks 22 years of living with diabetes.

For some, that might mean I should celebrate with a cupcake or another special, carb-y treat. And I probably will, because it’s Christmas Eve and sweets are sure to be bountiful at any gatherings I attend tomorrow. But I don’t really plan to do so with my diaversary in mind; for me, it’s the holiday that’s got me in a more festive mood than the fact that my diabetes is 22.

I don’t really know how to feel about this diaversary. My feelings last year about my 21st were very clear: I was down in the dumps about it. I was desperate for a break. And I really didn’t say much more beyond that.

Hey Christina,.png
If you were me, would you do anything special to celebrate 22 years of diabetes?

This year is a little different. I feel the same as last year in that I would do anything for just a single day off from diabetes, but also…I guess I’ve just learned to embrace the routine of it?

I dunno. My relationship with diabetes is always going to be a bit of a roller coaster, just as my blood sugar can sometimes be. I’ll have my highs and my lows, and in between all that…is how I feel now. It exists. It’s just…there. It’s been part of me for 22 years and it will continue to be a part of me as we head into this next decade. (Where’s that cure they’ve been promising us…oh, it’s another 5 years from now, right?)

So my diabetes is 22 and I’m feeling “meh” about it. And that’s perfectly okay. I won’t deny my feelings (or lack thereof). I’ll simply just continue to live my life with diabetes, learning from both the literal and figurative highs and lows as I go along.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, dear readers. Be well, hug your loved ones, and enjoy the spirit of the season.

My Diabetes Turned Me Into a Control Freak

I am the type of person who always has “a plan”.

On second thought, that may be an understatement. I’m the type of person who always NEEDS TO HAVE a plan.

I always need to know the date, time, location, and what to expect during my length of stay when it comes to anything in life: a night out with friends, a quick trip to the grocery store, a vacation.

I always need to know what the plan is for dinner…and breakfast, and lunch, and snacks…every single day.

I always need to know what my options are should a plan not go according to my carefully thought out course of action; in other words, I take a great deal of comfort in having a Plan B…and a Plan C, Plan D…

The bottom line is, I think that my obsession with planning has a lot to do with how my diabetes has turned me into an absolute control freak over the years.

Weekend Sale
My diabetes is the reason why, for much of my life, I’ve felt like I needed to plan out everything that I do.

Let me explain: Try as I might, I will never have complete control over my diabetes. This has been a difficult reality for me to accept, but it’s the truth, and I know that nobody can ever truly control diabetes. It has a mind of its own sometimes, and the best that we can do is react accordingly to the curve balls it throws.

Since I won’t ever have control over this major, major thing in my life, I think this has triggered me to feel compelled to control everything else in my life…even things beyond my control. And yes, it’s as maddening as it sounds.

It affects myself and everyone close to me.

It is the reason why I worry so much and waste a lot of brain space on things that I shouldn’t.

And it’s something that, though I’ve come to terms with it, I would like to change because the rational part of me knows that it’s not healthy to maintain the unrealistic expectation that I can control everything that happens in my life. If I can accept things like random pod failures and unexplained high blood sugars, then shouldn’t I also be able to accept that other random things can just happen in life, such as a pipe bursting in my apartment or the car I’m driving getting a sudden flat tire?

The more rigid version of myself that existed a year ago would’ve absolutely panicked and melted down in the face of those scenarios, but the type of person I’m trying to be now actually recently handled both of those unpredictable events with a lot more coolness and calmness than I ever could have imagined.

So I guess what I’m getting at here, in a very long-winded way, is that my diabetes may have turned me into an obsessive planner control freak…but I’m just beginning to discover my ability to let go a little more and not let my diabetes affect my thinking and reactions to many other things that happen in life.

A1c: Keep it a Secret or Share it with the World?

This post originally appeared on ASweetLife.org on May 12, 2015. I felt very strongly about keeping my A1c to myself four years ago. I’m still not too keen on sharing it with the world for the reasons I explain in this post, but I have been known to celebrate A1c victories on social media by posting particularly exciting results. Where do you stand on the spectrum? Keep it a secret, share it with others, or somewhere in between?

Over time, I’ve grown more comfortable with the concept of sharing as much of my diabetes story as possible. I’m open to the idea of answering questions that others may have for me, but there’s a key piece of information that I don’t think I will ever willingly share online: my hemoglobin A1c.

Some might make the assumption that this is because I feel ashamed or defeated by that number. I won’t lie, there are times in which I do get disheartened by my current A1c – particularly when I expected to hear a more favorable report from my endocrinologist.

Rather, I think the real embarrassment stems from the comparisons I make between my own A1c and the numbers reported by others. When I began blogging for ASweetLife just over two years ago, that marked the start of me exploring the world of T1D blogs. It was awesome to connect with others virtually by reading about their own personal experiences with diabetes. I admired the courage that many demonstrated by revealing some of their greatest challenges and obstacles they had overcome in their journeys. It seemed that improved A1c numbers were a common theme for nearly all of them.

HUGGING THE CACTUS - A T1D BLOG (1)
What do you do with your A1c information?

At that point, I started to compulsively compare my number to everyone else’s numbers. I seriously questioned myself and my ability to obtain a better A1c reading. I mentally berated myself for having a less-than-perfect number. The rational part of me knew that it was not wise to measure myself against others, but I just couldn’t seem to help it.

After a while, it dawned on me that the road to better A1cs had not been smooth for any of these individuals. It was marked by divots, twists, and turns along the way. As such, I wasn’t being fair to myself as I sought to see a better A1c. I know that it’s hard work and that I just need to focus on my own overall health and well-being (as opposed to that of other people) as I continue to strive for that 6.

Regardless, don’t expect to see me posting my A1c to my blog any time soon. I don’t really think I need a daily reminder out there for all to see of what my A1c was at a given moment in time. Instead, I think it’s important that I focus on what’s happening now and what I can do to help my current state of being. So for now, I’m content with keeping my A1c to myself.

5 Things That I Don’t Mind About Having Diabetes

I thought about how I should title this blog post many, many times. It didn’t feel right to say “5 Things I Like About Having Diabetes” or “5 Things That Make Diabetes Okay”…because I will never like having diabetes, and I will never be okay with it.

But that being said, after living with it for 21 years, there are some “perks” to it that have made it somewhat more bearable. Okay, a LOT more bearable. Besides insulin, diabetes technology, and the like, there are five things that I came up with that make diabetes suck less for me.

5 things that i don't mind about having diabetes.png

First, and most obviously…diabetes has brought wonderful friendships into my life. I’ve written about these friendships many times before and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so in the future, because they’re invaluable to me. I have some regrets about not realizing the importance of peer support when it comes to diabetes when I was younger, but maybe I figured it out in adulthood because some part of me knew that was when I would need it the most.

Second, diabetes has made me stronger. I won’t downplay the fact that it increases my anxiety and stress levels…but I also can’t deny that the trials and tribulations of life with type 1 diabetes has made me a tougher person.

Third, diabetes has forced me to be an obsessive planner. I do wish that I could live a bit more spontaneously sometimes, but honestly, I’m pretty proud of my ability to think ahead and plan well in advance of things. These planning skills have translated to other aspects of my life, too – I wasn’t on the party planning committee at work just for the heck of it!

Fourth, diabetes has taught me so much about nutrition. I’ve been reading nutrition labels before I could read actual books. I’ve met with nutritionists at various points in my life to learn how to eat a balanced, healthy diet that consists of the right amount of carbohydrates for me. I’ve educated myself on the power of the glycemic index and how it impacts blood sugar. Without diabetes, I’m not so certain that I’d have such a clear understanding of how different foods affect my entire body. I’m grateful to know so much about nutrition, because I think it makes me a healthier person, overall.

And fifth, diabetes has lead me to several interesting (and in some cases, compensated) research opportunities. Yes, you’ve read that correctly – my diabetes has allowed me to be a research study participant in a handful of studies and I’ve gotten paid for my involvement. The amounts have varied over the years – anything from a $5 Amazon gift card to a $200 stipend – but it’s not just getting paid that makes research participation worth it to me. It’s also knowing that I could be making a difference to the larger diabetes community. For instance, offering detailed feedback on a diabetes device or product might help make it better in the future, and if that means I spend an hour on the phone answering questions, then of course I’ll do it.

In times of diabetes hardship, it’s important for me to remember these five things. Diabetes was a shit card in life that I was dealt, but it’s not the worst thing that could happen to me. Reminding myself of these bright spots help to make life with diabetes a little bit better.