The vast majority of the time, I’m relatively unbothered by my diabetes.
I accepted long ago that it’s not going away any time soon. While that acceptance has made it easier to live a full life in spite of diabetes, I definitely still experience the occasional day that diabetes bothers me more compared to other days.
It’s the days that I’m trying to enjoy time spent with loved ones.
It’s the days that I want to eat whatever I want without any consequences.
Heck, it’s the days that I want to eat, period – I’ve had days in which diabetes has restricted me from eating much of anything at all.
It’s the days that I need a really solid night of sleep the night before, but don’t get it because diabetes interfered.
It’s the days that I’m feeling so burnt out from it all that I just want to be normal.
Obviously, I’ve learned how to power through these days that I’m truly bothered by diabetes. But the ones that I simply can’t find the strength to do so are the hardest, and that’s when diabetes really gets to me.
I think that after 23 years with it, I’m allowed to be bothered by my diabetes every now and then. I don’t have to radiate sunshine and positivity about life with diabetes 24/7.
However, I think it makes the times that I’m unbothered by my diabetes that much richer because that’s when I get to stick it to diabetes.
When I think of January, the color gray comes to mind. This time of year is notorious for being a bit of a dull lull – a period in which everything abruptly slows down. The cold weather feels even colder and it can feel a bit like being trapped inside sometimes.
But we’re all pretty familiar with how that feels by now…
Anyways, that’s what I used to think of January. Now, I’m trying to shift my thinking and find the color and vibrancy in this month. After all, a new mindset – sort of like the one I touched on in Wednesday’s blog post but am still struggling to identify clearly – seems like it should just go together with a new year. If I keep the old mindset, I’ll get old results, and I don’t think I necessarily want old results (unless they pertain to the stretches of time in which my blood sugar levels have been spot-on, then I definitely want those results).
I’m rambling, I know. But this is my way of encouraging myself – and you – to do something that makes you happy today. Need some inspiration? I’ll share my plans: I’ll have a lovely homemade lasagna made by my mother, hang out at my parents’ house with our dogs, and text all of my loved ones to wish them a happy new year. If the weather cooperates, I’ll take a walk at some point to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Maybe I’ll even get to totally veg out for a few hours and shirk the responsibilities of adulthood, pretending that a new workweek isn’t just around the corner.
All that sounds like a pretty great way to ring in a new year, don’t you think?
Here’s to a new year, your good health, hope, and of course, fabulous blood sugar levels.
This blog post is NOT going to be a recap of how “unprecedented”, “historical”, “chaotic”, or “uncertain” this year was – we all know exactly what it was like and we most definitely don’t need a summary of it.
Instead, this post is going to be a short reflection on some of the cards I was dealt with this year…
What exactly did I do in 2020?
Well, for starters, I made one of the most heart-wrenching decisions of my life to move back home last January.
In February, I was trying to heal from the damage caused by this decision.
And then, well, March happened, and suddenly nothing was certain.
I stumbled through April and May along with the rest of the world, trying to adjust to this “new normal” (I promise I won’t be using that phrase again in this post).
I flailed into the summer months, a time in which it seemed like things might be getting better, only for a bout of depression and anxiety to darken the light at the end of the tunnel I thought I had seen.
In September and October, I chose to dip my toes back into adulthood. By November, I was moving into my new place and getting used to living on my own.
Now it’s the final few days of December and I’ve got a dog (more on that in a future post) that’s joined me in my home, making it a little less lonely.
I’m marveling how in all the changes, challenges, and emotional upheavals lead me to this place that I’m in – and I’m not referring to my dwelling.
I’m talking about this new mindset – one that I haven’t quite defined yet, but one that has developed because of my determination to get through all of the above and still somehow maintain a good grip on my diabetes (and regularly keep up with this blog, to boot).
Please don’t mistake all this self-reflecting as tooting my own horn; in fact, I struggled for weeks as to whether I should share any of this. (Funny how my diabetes is less personal to me than, well, my entire personal life.)
I guess the point of this post, though, is to finally catch my breath and let everything I’ve accomplished and survived this year to sink in…and you should allow yourself that moment of recognition, too.
I doubt there’s a single person on this earth who can truly say that they were untouched in some way by any of the events of this year…so now that we are about to put 2020 into the past, I say that we all deserve to take some time and think about how we’ve adapted to everything and find some sort of joy in that – especially if you’re someone who also deals with anything like diabetes on a daily basis.
I’m not naive enough to think that everything will go back to the way it was “before” the second the clock says 12:01 A.M. on New Year’s Day, but I am hopeful that 2021 will exceed 2020 in many ways. And hope is a good thing to hold onto in times like these.
Happy New Year to all my Cactus Huggers, online friends, and IRL loved ones alike.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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…!
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 (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.
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.
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.
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.