Saturday, December 19, 2015

If Everyone Loved and Nobody Lied

It's the season. The season where people eat too much, drink too much, and get together with their friends and loved ones. We often reflect on the year and talk about what was good, and how to improve on what was bad. We post pictures on social media of our kids having a wonderful time decorating cookies, our holiday celebrations, our animals dressed up as reindeer and wearing funny costumes, and hilarious memes about what the holiday season REALLY means. It can be warm and fun, stressful and scary, hopeful and joyous, or exciting and great expectations. Sometimes, it's all of these.

There's been a lot of talk lately about how people get offended on everything on the internet. There is always someone who you can offend by anything you post. I'm not offended. I'm not angry. I'm thoughtful and curious, though. I've seen this meme a few times in the past couple of days, posted by various friends:

Again, I'm not offended. Let me tell you why. Before July of 2011, I knew NOTHING about diabetes. I thought I did. But, I didn't. I thought it was about overeating, lack of exercise, poking your finger, giving yourself shots, and not being able to eat sweets. Man, it would be cool if this was true. I wish it was. I know what you're thinking: “It's not cancer. You can get through this and manage and take care of yourself and CONTROL it. It won't kill you.” Again, man, it would be cool if this was true.

Holidays are the hardest time a year for me. Really, it goes much deeper than diabetes. But, that's for private discussion. Every year, I get together with my loved ones and we overeat and over laugh (if there is such a thing) and reflect on the year. Every year, we sit down at the table and EVERYONE digs in. Everyone, but me. I sit and I look at the table and decide what is worth the insulin and what is not. I don't care if I use more for a holiday meal than I would for a weekday breakfast. After I calculate, I check my blood sugar (sometimes my diabadass comes out and I do both at the same time.) Then, I insert the carbs I'm about to put in my body. It's never right. I usually go back for seconds, or decide I am too full and cannot finish. So inevitably, I go high or low. I feel like crap about an hour after eating. It's okay, because it's only one season. I don't get mad at the people not waiting for me to do all these things, because, like me before July 2011, they have no idea. I'm seated at their table and they don't think about it, because they don't have to. AND THAT'S OKAY.

Holidays are hard because I go through more insulin and then treat and then sleep and then wake up. But there's a chance it could go bad EVERY YEAR. I could die in my sleep, or go into diabetic-ketoacidosis. I could do the same thing every day and use restraint at meal times and my diabetes could still decide what it wants to do. But, because it's not a beast that can be tamed, and it's a crazy stressful time of year, I don't get to decide. I didn't choose diabetes: it chose me. While I love the people and opportunities I have had, it's still not easy, especially this time of year.

As for a time of reflection. This year, I joined advocacy like I never have. I went to MasterLab 2015  in July, courtesy of Medtronic Diabetes. There, I met the amazing Kristen Ewing and Phyllis Kaplan and MY GOD SO MANY OTHERS. In October, I joined The Betes Organization and became a patient ambassador. We are working on an AMAZING project to educate health professionals on the stigma of Mental Health and how long term diseases (much like Diabetes) often go hand in hand with psychological problems. Look for more, soon, although you have already seen some from me. I had knee surgery in March and maintained great blood glucose levels through it all, completed physical therapy with a gold star, and have slowly been able to start exercising again, which is an amazing feeling. My A1C is great according to my doctor and good for me-although (I know many of you don't know this) I am a perfectionist.
So why did I bring up the meme, and the holiday table, and the reflection? Because I want you to know that diabetes isn't coming for you because you had too many holiday get togethers with food. Diabetes isn't coming for you because you made poor decisions. If Diabetes decides to come for you, it will. There are many types of Diabetes, but it doesn't matter. We are fighting something together. And none of us did it to ourselves. We couldn't decide to get it or to avoid it. And it would be mixed emotions for all of us if we never got it because we would not have the knowledge, or the friends, or the experiences, or the fight to live without it. But life would be a lot less risky and lot less expensive if we didn't, that's for sure.

Here's what I am asking you:

Part 1: please stop posting these memes. Whether it's the one about overindulging like I posted before or about a mathematical problem with candy bars, where the main subject ends up with diabetes in the end, or it's Wilford Brimley and his crazy mustache saying I'm going to give you diabeetus, just don't.

Part 2: If you personally know a diabetic, no matter the type: give them a hug and say you're proud of them. Wait until they test and bolus before you eat, even if you're the only one at the table that does. Smile at them and know they are thriving, even if it is the hardest time of the year. They need that support from you. They can eat what they want this time and THEY SHOULD. They are enjoying themselves, much like you are. Know this before you ask the if they should eat that.

Part 3: If you want education, or just have a simple question, I am always here. Please feel free. If I cannot answer it, I am blessed to know a team of professional doctors and long term, well-educated, diabetics that are always ready to listen and help.

I refuse to be offended any more about this. It doesn't do me any good, and it doesn't do you any good. The only thing I can do is try and help spread awareness and education. That's what 2015 was about for me. And it can only get better from here.

Happy Holidays. And a VERY MERRY NEW YEAR.

I was not paid to write this article or promote any companies. I was not approached or encouraged to put these words on the internet. All thoughts are my own. And, for that, I'm proud. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I Wrote the Gospel on Giving Up

I hate Fallout Boy, so forgive me this one time for quoting them. I always use a song lyric on the title of my blogs, and unfortunately this one was the most appropriate.

Years ago, when some days feel like yesterday, I wanted to give up on my life. It was a hard one. People would tell me, "some have it so much worse than you! Be thankful for what you have!" (Which is horrible advice to give to any one struggling, by the way.) But I struggled ALL THE DAMN TIME. It was hard to believe I could make it out alive. Luckily, even when my mental health didn't stick in there, my body did.

Tonight, I hosted DSMA on Twitter. And it was incredible. I wanted to focus on things that reflected National Suicide Prevention Week, that took place just last week. But, I didn't want to be bleak. I feel like some have talked about mental health and diabetes for years, but MANY have been discussing it as a problem as of late. Thanks to my attendance to MasterLab this past July, I realized I wasn't alone. And, I wanted to highlight to others that they weren't either.

You see, for many years, even before my 2011 LADA diagnosis, I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. While, at many attempts at my life, and many people telling me it wasn't worth it, I just couldn't take the depression. I cannot say that diabetes has made life easier. It hasn't. It affects my wallet, my emotions, and my every day struggles with diet and exercise. I know I have privileges where many do not. I recognize I have had some things come relatively easy for me. Mental health and diabetes has not been some of them. I don't regret most things. I think I've got a pretty good reality on what is going on in my life, TODAY. But there are some days, where I wonder. I wonder what I could do better. What I should be doing. What I can do tomorrow. That's the difficult part.

But, here's the deal. Diabetes threatened my ego. The depression and agoraphobia I had leading up to my diagnosis told me "You cannot do this. You SHOULD give up." For whatever reason, it made me stronger. Maybe I needed a kick in the pants. Maybe, I needed a doctor to look at me and say, "Do this or DIE."  Maybe I needed something to focus on, other than my mental health. Maybe I needed to be panicked about making car payments, rent payments, AND taking care of my physical and mental health. Whatever it was, Diabetes helped me kick my life into gear.

I started working out and making better choices about what I eat. (I'm not saying I don't indulge. I do. But now it's not every meal because, if it was, it would cost me a fortune.) I started looking at myself and realizing I really could make a difference to the lives I touched. I made friends that I would never know without diabetes. I began to advocate for something SO much bigger than me. I began to love my life and knowing that, if I didn't, no one else would.

That was the point I tried to make at DSMA tonight.

Maybe, I didn't get it across. Maybe I did.

All I know is that I learned so much from so many people. I pray I helped them, too.

A few years ago, I realized that I have so many supporters in my life. They come in all different lights. Some have no health problems. Some have diabetes. Some have so much more than that. Some have cried on my shoulder. Many, have let me cried on theirs. I'm lucky to have the people in my life. I'm lucky to have the support I have.

I want to extend that to the people who need it.

We can lean on each other. When you are falling, I want to catch you. When you are crying, I want to reach out and tell you I am here. When you are burning out, I want to put out your fire.

A very important supportive person in my life told me just recently: "I don't do these things because I feel obligated. I don't. I do these things because I know I can. And I know that, when you can, you will."

I've faced the rough patches. And I could again. But, for now, I am strong. And I am so happy to know all of you. Thanks for making my first moderation of DSMA amazing.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

On the Road Again

So, this is my first blog post in a while. I've been slightly unmotivated, mostly because of diabetes burnout. In March, I had knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear. I was only supposed to be on crutches for two weeks, so imagine my surprise when I awoke to find out they had to put micro-fractures in my patella to make the healing process easier. With all the stress of that, diabetes seemed like an impossible feat to face.

I went times without checking my blood glucose because I couldn't bring myself to do it. Exercise was impossible being immobile, with the exception of physical therapy, which was incredibly limited with one leg. I'm naturally an extrovert and I work as a bartender so I was on the couch for almost six weeks, spending a good deal of time by myself. Diabetes was put on the back burner.

As I started to heal, and my knee felt better, I started incorporating little diabetes regimens back into my every day. I got back on my pump after being on shots for about a month. Then I started checking my blood sugar again. Diet is back under control (I say that after I had pizza tonight, but every one gets a cheat, right!?) And now, I can exercise again. I missed the elliptical and swimming so much. It feels good to be back to (almost) normal.

Well, a few weeks ago, I saw a contest to win a trip to MasterLab: a diabetes conference in Orlando, FL. I never thought submitting what I submitted would win. You see, MasterLab is hosted by The Diabetes Hands Foundation and Medtronic, my insulin pump therapy pump provider, offered a chance to win a trip to go. To my shock, on Wednesday, I was called and said they were honored to invite me to attend. 

I WAS ELATED. I was excited, and nervous, and frenzied, and honored, and had a MILLION emotions going on at once. I rushed to make sure I could get out of both my office job and working at the bar. To my delight, I was fully supported by employers and coworkers alike.

Next step? Tell my loved ones. They were thrilled and amazing. My mom (being my mom) was maybe the most excited and proud, followed closely my siblings, my best friends, and boyfriend. 

So, I sit here, on the eve of my flight to sunny Orlando, with my blog up and running, and stoked to be apart of this very special experience.

I get to see diabetic friends I haven't seen in years. I get to meet people I've talked to online since my diagnosis on July 23, 2011. Even better? I am going to make new friends. I will talk to the folks at Medtronic and the Diabetes Hands Foundation. I am so lucky to be a part of this.

Now, the only trouble I'm facing, is if I will even be able to sleep tonight.

Look for pictures, tweets, Facebook posts, and blog posts. It's going to be an amazing few days!!!

*Medtronic nor Diabetes Hands Foundation paid me to write this post. All of these thoughts are my own.