Category Archives: Type 1 Diabetes

These posts are all about living with type 1 diabetes in particular.

Savoring the present moment

Being hot and uncomfortable, yesterday’s post had a negative tinge. I had something to get off my chest. Today, however, is a new day.

Spring is a wonderful time of year. Mother Nature reincarnates right before our eyes. Yesterday, the fear of lows – which is due to my experiences last year – blinded me to this. Having written yesterday’s post, I can see nature anew.

I have to live in the present, and savor it. I should rejoice in the good things that are presently occurring. Why worry about what is to come? Why worry about low blood sugar? Why? Is there a point? What is the benefit?

I am not currently dealing with hypoglycemia. Diabetes is behaving. These moments are rare. These moments are enjoyable. I should savor them while they last.

Complaining about diabetes is okay. In fact, it can be beneficial. With that said, why complain when nothing is going wrong? Doing so can only cause harm. It can only make me miserable. It can only make me feel worse Рunnecessarily. These are not my preferences.

There is a time and a place for everything.

I would do good to remember this. So would we all.

Summer (and hypoglycemia) is upon us

It is kind of hot today. Much hotter than I am currently accustomed to. It is 80 F to be exact. Excuse me if my writing isn’t quite as good as it typically is. I do not like the heat.

It would be no exaggeration to say that the impact that the heat has on my blood sugar is a major reason for me disliking the heat. It makes me go low…a lot.

My insulin sensitivity usually isn’t the greatest. Two things supercharge it: heat and exercise.

It is easier to plan ahead when it comes to exercise. It is easier for me to adjust my rates in accordance with my insulin needs. As for the heat…that’s a different story.

I live in New England. Maine, to be exact. This region of the US isn’t known for its predictable climate. To the contrary: our weather is insane. It is all over the place. It is unpredictable. It is much like my blood sugars ūüėČ

I would be fine – or, at the very least, more accepting – if I didn’t have type 1 diabetes.

As it stands, I do have diabetes, which makes New England weather a pain in the ass to deal with.

It is only the heat that I have to struggle with though. The cold doesn’t have much of an impact.

Today is an exception: the heat hasn’t had much of an impact. Perhaps that’s because I woke up high. Who knows.

This, if you can’t tell, is a free write – hence its rambling character.

I am also tired and unfocused. That certainly impacts the overall quality of my writing, and not in a positive way

My Blatant Hypocricy

I fancy myself wicked open-minded. At times, I even drift into the realm of the patently absurd, and honestly believe I am without prejudice.

HAHA
No! 

One thing I’ve learned is this: when it comes to ones self-perception, one is typically¬†full of moose shit.

I am a human being, not a mountain. As a human being, I tend to fear, and am therefore prejudiced against, the unknown. I strive to keep this under control. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I apparently succeed.

Yesterday I failed. I am prejudiced against any non-Medtronic pump – a rather innocuous prejudice indeed.

What were the circumstances surrounding my epiphany?

My sister is looking into various pumps. One pump that caught her attention was the Omnipod. Requesting my input, I readily obliged. Lets just say my input wasn’t nonpartisan..

Acting in the capacity of a voluntary salesperson for Medtronic, I dissuaded her.

Why?

I do not know much about the Omnipod, and lack experience using it. I haven’t bothered doing any serious research into¬†it either; however, I have heard a few horror stories, as well as stories of horror stories. Apparently that is all it takes to taint my judgement!

 

 

Intellectualizing Diabetes

Realization: I cope with type 1 diabetes by intellectualizing it. I still cannot look at diabetes as a mere disease. It has to be something “more”…

Examples:

I often reflect upon diabetes in a philosophical manner.

I often explore the psychological impact that diabetes has had on me.

I imagine that diabetes is an opponent, and try to out-strategize it.

At other times, I see it as being pertinent to my vocation.

Having realized this, I delved into my past.

Having delved into my past, I came to noticed this: when I interpret diabetes as something mundane, my focus tends to shift elsewhere.

I have discerned a pattern.

I only decide to dissipate¬†mental energy thinking about diabetes when I recognize that it has a ¬†“greater significance.”

All signs point in one direction. Thankfully, I am content with the destination.

Focusing predominantly upon the everyday realities of type 1 diabetes does me harm. Having realized this, I can now adapt in a more mindful manner.

————

To exist is to change; to live is to adapt.

At diagnosis, we were thrown into a new reality. More or less skillfully, we all adapt – each in our own way.

How does this apply to you?

Putting together the puzzle pieces

My sisters diagnosis with type 1 diabetes has brought to light just how sloppy I have become.

She has shown much greater care in managing diabetes than I currently do.

She changes her lancet every other day; I change mine every time it dawns on me that I cannot remember when I last changed mine.

She still uses alcohol wipes; I do not.

She still shows discipline in her eating habits; I am inconsistent.

If I desired to, I could innumerate many other contrasts between us. I do not desire to do so.

I am lazy at times. Openly so. This post is not meant to conceal this…

“…who wishes to concern himself with such dangerous “Perhapses”! For that investigation one must await the advent of a new order of philosophers, such as will have other tastes and inclinations, the reverse of those hitherto prevalent–philosophers of the dangerous “Perhaps” in every sense of the term.”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Does laziness get unnecessary flak? Perhaps sloth has been unfairly maligned. Of course, this flies in the face of everything you and I were brought up to believe.

Honorable custom tells us that to be lazy is a bad thing. That it is something to be avoided in oneself, and shunned in others. Why should I bow down to such a stern master?

(On second thought, there are exceptions. Laziness is not always bad. At times, when we are in a merciful¬†mood, we will¬†describe slothfulness with the phrase “laid back”.)

Conversely, why should I make laziness my idol? Is sloth a benevolent master?

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Own thyself.

————

Both knee-jerk nonconformism and mindless conformity are less than ideal.

Admittedly, I have engaged in both. Who hasn’t? With that said, I prefer opening myself up to accusations of hypocrisy to selling my ideals for a little comfort.

————

I fall short. You fall short. We all fall short. Does this justify giving up?

¬†“I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that others less esteemed were really wiser and better.”

~ Socrates

Having picked up on the contrast between my sister and myself, I began to think…

———–

Not all sloppiness is equal.

————

Examine & probe assumptions.

————

Exercise:

Periodically ask myself “have I been sloppy in managing my diabetes lately?” List them. Examine. Judge on case by case basis.

Practicing what I preach

My sister is angry about being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Do you remember being angry when you were diagnosed?

I assume it’s a common reaction. Assumptions – although necessary at times – are often incorrect. Therefore, I’m testing that assumption of mine.

As for myself, I don’t recall being angry – not initially. I do remember being in denial a week after being discharged from the hospital. That didn’t last.

Stone cold reality refuted my delusion of having complete pancreatic functionality. I soon accepted the circumstances I found myself in, and went with the flow.

At some point I began fighting against the current.

Loneliness. Alienation. That’s what I remember feeling early on. Perhaps those emotions morphed into anger. That’s just speculation though.

I am certain that I did go through a period where I was extremely angry. Most of this anger was due to school though Рat least, that is what I attributed it to.

Having spent the majority of my school career with undiagnosed ADHD, I chronically fell (woefully) short of my own expectations Рin addition to the expectations of others. My potential remained untapped. Teachers constantly reminded me of that fact. In a word, I struggled.

Naturally, I was angry.

Why was I struggling in school?! What was wrong with me? Why had I fallen through the cracks of the system for so long?! Why don’t administrators and teachers care about helping students who are in the greatest need of help? These¬†were¬†my thoughts…

In retrospect, I can see how these  thoughts catalyzed my anger.  I can also see how my type 1 diabetes might have aggravated the situation I found myself in. Again, this is speculation.

I communicated my emotions only on rare occasions. These instances were the exception, not the rule.

The causes of my lack of communication were numerous, not the least of which being the inherent difficulty of expressing one’s emotions. Perhaps diabetes compounded this difficulty.

As I mentioned earlier, diabetes made me feel alienated. Describing what it’s like living with this chronic disease is futile. The communication gap cannot be bridged completely.

You are marooned on a barren island. Whether you survive is – at least in part – in your hands. Will you adapt to your environment or will you let your environment destroy you? The answer is in your hands.

Amidst a sea of uncertainty, one thing’s for sure: you are alone in your struggles.

Nobody else understands what it is like having to go through life with diabetes. Nobody else can understand.

This is how I felt. I feel this way no more.

This post = me following the advice that I gave to some one else on tudiabetes
This post = me following the advice that I gave to some one else on tudiabetes

Anger, left unchecked, will destroy you. This realization – although seemingly insignificant at the time – was a turning point. It led me to seek change.

In  order to mitigate my anger (and other counterproductive emotions) I began:

  • practicing mindfulness meditation;
  • exercising (there were other reasons as well);
  • writing as a form of therapy;
  • absorbing myself in music

This is what I can think of off the top of my head.

These practices have enriched my life.

My anger has subsided.

I have come to learn that negative circumstances are transitory.

I have realized that there are positives and negatives to all situations. The world doesn’t exist in black and white.

There is always something to complain about.

There is always something to be grateful for.

 

Sometimes diabetes is TOO easy

Stasis is the antithesis of life. Like a river in springtime, life flows constantly.

This philosophy – this process metaphysics – has been my personal philosophy for the past 5 years. It’s a worldview that I was first exposed to through two great traditions of the East: Taoism and Buddhism. ¬†Although I’m neither a Taoist nor a Buddhist, they’ve certainly influenced my own philosophy.

Initially, this change-centric conception of the world merely intrigued me. The novelty of it seduced me. In time, I began to reflect  upon my life and knowledge of history. I discovered that, in the main, change is the law of life Рboth of people and of nations.

Life is the Great Teacher. Over the past 5 years, I’ve learned countless lessons. My awareness has expanded. The implications of change is now clearer to me.

What was once a philosophy learned mostly from books ( such as the Tao Te Ching) has become deeply personal. Life is the ground out of which our philosophies grow and receive their nourishment.

My recent experiences with type 1 diabetes has nourished my understanding.

What I have come to the realization of can be sumarized thusly: With new circumstances come new challenges.

Let me show you what I mean.

Back in December – prior to starting this diabetes blog – I was burnt out. On a brisk December night – in the first week of the month – I experienced a stubborn high. Everything I did was for naught.

I drank water like a fish. I did a correction with a syringe. I did everything that I’ve been taught to do over at the Joslin Center. My actions helped, but only a little. My blood glucose levels remained above 350 for 12 hours.

Did I mention that I was panicked?

This event made me realize that I was experiencing diabetes burnout, and I realized that I’d have to climb out of the deep, dark hole that I’d stumbled into. I procrastinated.

Just to be clear, at this point I did desire to liberate myself from my situation. The psychological barriers to me doing so were still too high. It would take another unpleasant event to spur me into taking serious action to rectify my situation.

It took another stubborn high to motivate me to take decisive action. I knew that I had to rise above the frustration and fear that I was experiencing. I coped with it (mainly) through writing. This d-blog played an essential part in that process of recovery.

Back then, managing my type 1 diabetes adequately was too difficult. Therein lied my problem. It’s the reverse today. Now that managing diabetes is no longer a psychological burden, T1D has become¬†too easy¬†to manage.

The ease with which I’m managing my diabetes isn’t bad,¬†per se.¬†The problem lies in how it impacts my attitude and actions.

There’s a very real possibility that, given my psychological makeup, I’ll become lax, and allow unskillful diabetes to creep back in.

I have reached the publishing deadline that I have set for myself. This post will come to an¬†abrupt¬†con…….

As free as a bird

untitled Since posting “Holiday Confession Time” yesterday, I’ve felt liberated. The ghosts of my past no long hold sway over me. A weight has been lifted from my chest. I’m as free as a bird.

Lately, my past has been haunting me. I’ve been keenly aware that the years of terrible control could only have done harm to my body.¬†Looking at how I inadequately I had dealt with my type 1 diabetes evoked fear in me. Thoughts of all the horrific tales of diabetes complications began creeping into my mind.

The fear that my past evoked in me was acting as a smokescreen. My fearful view of the past was something I had to move beyond. It wasn’t doing me any good.

I need to clarify something. I’m¬†not¬†saying that fear is bad per se,¬†and needs to be suppressed. What I¬†am¬†saying is that there comes a point when fear becomes detrimental to our own good, and it’s at this point that we should find a way around it. The question then becomes how to find such a way around it.

Writing provided me with a way to begin to do just that.

Having aired my dirty diabetes laundry in my previous blog post, I’m now in a position where I can look at my past from a higher perspective.

My thoughts are now free to move in more fruitful directions. The past has been transformed from an object of fear into a resource for the future.

I’ve only taken the first step. A long road remains up ahead. This journey will continue – this journey shall never end.

Holiday Confession Time

It’s an inevitability…

Whenever I attend family gatherings,¬†that¬†dreaded question is apt to get asked: “is your diabetes under control?” To which I invariably respond with a lie: “Yes.”

Sure, sometimes I¬†do¬†in fact¬†mean¬†it, but my intentions don’t wipe away the dishonesty of my reply. The dishonesty is multiplied.

Lately I have been doing better; however, despite this year being my best year on record, the lowest my A1C has been in 2013 is (if I recall correctly) 7.9% – not nearly as deathly as 14, but there could still be some improvement.

Before proceeding, I must clarify something: I am¬†not¬†ashamed of these facts, nor am I defensive about my past. What has been done has been done, and no amount of shame will wipe the past away, nor will trying to defend it do me any good in the future. My past is a resource: it’s there for me in the present as a treasure trove of wisdom as I wonder onwards into the future.

Continuing…

Once upon a time (2001-2003), when I was on an anachronistic (and oppressively strict) meal plan and was testosterone deficient, perhaps I could have honestly given an affirmative reply. Like my beta cells, those years have irrevocably gone away.

When I transitioned from MDI to the insulin pump in 2003 (a blue Deltec Cosmo), I was handed an unprecedented level freedom. There’s, of course, nothing wrong with freedom. Freedom rocks…but, as the cliche goes, with freedom comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, as a youngling with undiagnosed ADHD, responsibility wasn’t my strong suit.

I abused my freedom. I used my insulin pump as a free pass to eating whatever the hell I wanted when I wanted. This was the start of my not-so-helpful habit of ignoring my diet as a factor in managing to live with type 1 diabetes.

Then puberty hit, and extreme insulin resistance set it – on top of an amplification of my already rebellious spirit. It was during these years that I rebelled against diabetes.

In the ensuing years, I ignored diabetes. I tried to compartmentalize the incompartmentalizable. As a result of my efforts, my A1C peaked at around 14. Even worse was the effect that it had on others.

Given my desire to expunge all “unnecessary” thoughts of diabetes, I never attempted to help other people with type 1 diabetes. I never considered taking part in a diabetes walk. I didn’t seek to be a part of a diabetes community. I had isolated myself.

In retrospect, I was in denial; however, it was a softer form of denialism. I was in denial about the impact diabetes can have on the rest of our lives. I was in denial about my dependence on others in dealing with diabetes.

This gloomy period didn’t last forever.

Around the time I was 16, my A1C naturally started to lower on it’s own. My type 1 diabetes remained an evil that I tried to ignore.

Ultimately, reaching adulthood was the turning point for me. It was only then that I started to take my health more seriously. It was only then that I began confronting my bad habits which had accumulated over the years.

All of this is in my past.

I confess these things not as an end in itself, but as a means. I am, through this post, taking a step towards cultivating a more skillful disposition. In recollecting my imperfect past, I’m preparing myself to flourish in the future.

Happy Holiday’s

On the eve of Christmas, I’d like to wish all of you a blessed time with those you love!

For me, this day has an added significance: it is the eve of my diaversity. This time of year is one of great gratitude:¬†I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful that my family weren’t subjected to the pain caused by losing me at a joyous time of year.¬†This¬†thought is what…hurts me¬†the most.

This thought rips me out of my self-centerdness. My thoughts, my concerns… These things no longer preoccupy my mind. I’m now permeated by feelings of compassion, sympathy…

It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of living with this disease that we forget… we forget that this disease hurts us all. True, we do recall this from time to time, but, honestly, how often is it on our minds?

And isn’t this true of our lives as a whole? We get so caught up in our own endeavors – work, school, our goals, chores, etc. – that we forget to step back and truly¬†show¬†our feelings to those we have strong feelings of love towards?

I’m¬†guilty¬†of all of these things. My ego, my pride… Not even these can cover that up. I’m a¬†deeply¬†compassionate person (thank you diabetes and ADHD), but what’s it worth? Do I show it? Is my compassion – at least some of the time – mere form without substance?

Compassion: this is what the world needs more of. Living with type 1 diabetes has¬†showed¬†me that. Having to struggle through school (despite my high intelligence) thanks to having ADHD has showed me that. We have a crippling compassion deficit, and my actions don’t always make this deficit any better… and there is nothing that can excuse that.

A great human tragedy is that while each of us lives in our own private hell, we all act as each others gatekeeper’s.

One Lucky Mofo

I’m lucky. Yes, type 1 diabetes sucks, but I’m still lucky… Lucky to be alive… Lucky to have the treatment options I have available to me… In a word, lucky to have been born and diagnosed when I was. Lately I’ve become profoundly greatful for the gifts I have received.

As type 1 diabetics, perhaps it’d be beneficial for us to put the daily grind of living with this chronic disease in perspective. It is all too easy to get caught up in the daily routine of pricks & pokes, boluses & corrections. Perhaps it’d be beneficial to rise above our current (limited) perspective, and see the big picture. Stepping back and looking at what our fellow type 1 diabetics had to go through can help us do just that.

I’m profoundly grateful to have been born after 1922. From at least 1500 BCE – when type 1 diabetes was first mentioned by the Ancient Egyptians – until the discovery of insulin by Charles Best and Frederic Banting, type 1 diabetes was a cruel death sentence. In the words of one ancient doctor, “life (with diabetes) is short, disgusting and painful.” For avoiding this fate, I am profoundly grateful.

I’m profoundly grateful to have been born in the era of the disposable syringe – something we take for granted. Prior to it’s invention, the only was a person with type 1 diabetes could receive insulin was through painful glass syringes. For avoiding having to use these medieval contraptions, I am profoundly grateful.

I’m profoundly grateful for having been born in the era of blood glucose testing kits – even though my actions have often betrayed a lack of gratitude. I take for granted being able to know almost exactly what my blood sugar is. For not having to piss on a strip or be a bathroom chemist, I am profoundly grateful.

All of these things are gifts – gifts that have been given to us solely because we happen to live at the right moment in history. Although it doesn’t change the fact that type 1 diabetes sucks, let us stop and be grateful for the gifts we have received. To do so is essential for our mental health.

When you begin to see your insulin, glucometer and all your other diabetes supplies as gifts, something changes – at least for me. A burden is lifted. This simple act of changing your perspective on these things can be a powerful means to lift oneself out of the darkness of diabetes burnout.