Giving an old tradition a new spin

The following post isn’t meant to be coherent. Rather, it’s meant to: A.) give a vague representation of how I see the present moment; B.) offer a unique perspective on how to come up with a New Years resolution; and, C.) practice appropriating common metaphors from elsewhere and use them to make a different point.

The present moment is a field, and we are the farmers. The seeds we plant now, the care with which we cultivate the field, and other factors – including one’s that we don’t control – will determine what our field will look like at harvest time. Regardless of what happens, this remains certain: harvest time will come.

How we act in the present matters.

We are continuously sowing seeds – whether we realize it or not. The care we take now will determine our yield at harvest.

Unfortunately, many of us are incompetent farmers. We go about accomplishing the task at hand mindlessly. We act unskillfully.

Our thoughts, our words, and our deeds are seeds. Some of the seeds are big, while others are small. Some fall on fertile ground, while others do not. Like seeds, each thought, word, or deed will either take root or die at some point in the future.

To survive and thrive with diabetes – both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes – takes mindfulness. We must act as the guardian’s of our thought’s, word’s, and deeds. We must strive to make sure that they are conducive to our own well being as well as the well being of others.

As we formulate our New Years resolution, let’s us take a long, hard look at ourselves.

Here are some of the questions we can ask ourselves: What type of seeds have we sowed? Have they been beneficial, or are they doing us harm? What type of seeds are we sowing now? Have we sowed similar seeds in the past? If so, what was their fruit like? Was it bitter or sweet?

Start by looking at your thought’s. Observe the way that you habitually interpret your life, and ask yourself the questions mentioned above..

Take a break if you feel the need…

Proceed by observing the type of words you tend to use. How do they impact others? Do they help other people who’re struggling with diabetes (or any other problems)? Could you be doing more to support them?

Take a break if you feel the need…

Lastly, observe your deeds. Ask yourself the aforementioned questions.

Here’s one last piece of food for thought:

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at. – Bruce Lee

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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.

Flipping the Birdie to Perfectionism

ADHD is being particularly meddlesome today. I can’t stay focused. As soon as I focus on something, my mind starts to wonder elsewhere. I’m not even able to absorb myself into the act of writing. I’m struggling to write, and it’s not do to a lack of ideas. Rather, there’s an overabundance of them.

I say this to bring to light a fact about blogging: it doesn’t always come easy. Oftentimes, a lot of work goes on “behind the scene’s.” What the reader is left with is a heavily polished product. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. I just don’t want my blog to be like that.

I want to have a blog that takes a more avant-garde approach… yet, I want readers – a lot of them. These two aims can and will clash.

I don’t want to allow any facade’s to be erected. I want my imperfections as a writer to shine through. This contrary to my own perfectionism, my societies unhealthy obsession with perfection, and, sometimes, writing conventions. I do this not as an end in itself, but as a statement.

Perfectionism isn’t good for anybody. For people with type 1 diabetes it’s particularly bad. [distracted by snow] Prior to being distractedly, I did have a complete thought – and I still remember it – but I’m not going to complete it. [briefly distracted by nothing in particular].

I’m not leaving that thought incomplete in order to be an asshole. I’m leaving it incomplete in order to given you a taste of what it’s like to have ADHD. Look on the bright side: you don’t have to deal with a mind that’s so unfocused…so easily distracted.

Anyways…I to get some more coffee and get back to putting finishing touches on the post I’ve been trying to get done. You’ll see that one later.

PS this short post (somehow) took 48 minutes to complete

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.

This is Life – A Reflection on a High Blood Sugar

Question markYesterday I was 324. I know what you are probably thinking: “So? What’s the point?” Please, read on… fight the urge to give up, and the point will be clear to us eventually.

As you read the proceeding words, keep this in mind: I mention something that’s seemingly so insignificant for a reason. A very good reason…

Here’s a hint: it is here. That hint isn’t helpful, I know. It is too ambiguous. Ambiguity leaves us feeling… uncomfortable, and we often have the urge to flee. For those who say no to this urge, however, there may be a reward.

Back to my number… that mere number… that not-so-uncommon-especially-as-of-late blood glucose reading.

Numbers in the 300s have become a common occurrence. This number in the 300s, however, was unique…. the singularity of this particular number is something that language fails to adequately grasp.

Words often fail us, and that which we’ve been struggling to express is left unsaid.

When I experience blood sugars like this I typically, out of habit, correct it.  If other people are around and they do anything annoying I’ll express my displeasure through my not-so-subtle tone of voice. Anyway… That’s beside the point.

Now, if you’ve managed to read your way through these meandering words you deserve a cookie for your patience. Patience is often a virtue. If you have given up, I’m sending you a sugar free cookie because sugar free food sucks and you’re a big meanie. :p

Back to our main point… whatever that may be.

Something stood out about this number in the 300s… this number in the 300s was different from the countless other similar one’s. This difference was there, but wasn’t fully present to me at first. All I could see were broad outlines.

By now, if you’re not exasperated and/or trying to figure out why I keep blathering on about a stupid number, you might be wonder “what made this number different?” The answer is: absolutely nothing made this number different. Yet, there was a difference.

Welcome to the land of apparently trite distinctions.

The difference was this: this number, although ordinary, had an extra-ordinary impact on me.  I experienced it as something inspiring, and not as something merely mundane.

Now “back” to a main point: the Main Point is a lie. There are many points, but no Point. The point’s are what you appropriate from my blog postYou are free.

This blog post is life.

Life is strange. As our life takes its twists and turns, we are faced with many unexpected occurrences. There are moments of bewildernment, moments of exuberance,  moments of inspiration, moments of dullness, etc. There are seemingly infinite possibilities.

What you choose to focus on, and how you choose to approach events both give your life a certain tinge and help influence the lessons we gain therefrom.

In life, what might be mundane for one person might me a source of great inspiration for another. Who are we do say for sure what is ordinary and what is extraordinary?

In our lives, the opinions of other people often act to circumscribe our interpretation of events – often times without us even noticing. In fact, the previous 3 paragraph (perhaps more), did just that.

Perhaps, in the end, that which was hidden from you in the very beginning will be unveiled.

The Law of Life

imageChange is the only constant. – Heraclitus 

Today is winter solstice. As autumn flows into winter, so does each moment flow into the next. Nothing remains the same. Change is the law of life.

Life is a flux. This is both a blessing and a curse… as are most things.

For those of us who have struggled in the past, or who are struggling now, change is a blessing. We are not enslaved to the past, or bound to the present. We are constantly marching on towards the future.

For those of us who’re thriving in the present and are unwilling to accept that things will change, this is a curse. However, for those with open minds and receptive hearts, it’s a cause for overflowing joy. The joys of the present moment fill their hearts.

One of the greatest fallacies we can make is to mistake the present for the future. Where we are now isn’t where we’ll be tomorrow.

All of these realizations have grown in me over the years. Every event in my life… every person… every book… every interest – all things I’ve encountered have left their mark.

I have changed; I am changing; I will continue to change.

My life has been a crash course in philosophy.

Since March of 1993: I have been near death, and I have been full of life; I have been frail, and I have been strong; I have been fit, and I have been out of shape; I have had beta cells, and I have lacked beta cells. The only constancy has been change.

I have come to accept uncertainty. I have come to accept the fate of all things. I am no longer afraid. In these realizations, there’s freedom… In them, there’s peace.

I am free: the present doesn’t bind me. The past’s influence isn’t set in stone – I am free.

As all things must come to an end eventually, this is where I’ll end this post.

Mugged by Diabetes Burnout

Diabetes burnout feels like being mugged. It comes up behind you, seemingly out of nowhere, and robs you of any positive (or neutral) feelings towards diabetes that you may have had. In its aftermath, you are left feeling vulnerable and discouraged… temporarily stunned and immobile… And, although there’s nothing wrong with these feelings (in fact, something’s probably wrong with you if you don’t feel them), there come’s a time when you must get up and take action, despite how you’re feeling. You must report the crime to the police, and put your trust in them. You must accept that you’ve done all that you can, for now.

I was recently mugged. It seemingly came out of nowhere. My most recent A1C was the best it had been in 9 years, I was testing as often as I needed to, and I was exercising almost every day. Things were looking up! I was proud. The days (years) of not paying close attention to my type 1 diabetes were behind me…so I thought.

Something happened. My attention became lax, and, gradually, all my progress became unraveled. What once came naturally had turned into a disgusting chore. All of this happened right under my nose.

That’s the thing about diabetes burnout: it seemingly hits you out of nowhere, and it takes time to register what has just happened to you. Although it might be obvious to an outsider that all is not going well for us in dealing with diabetes, it isn’t immediately clear to us. Awareness comes in time. We’re not often immediately cognizant of diabetes burnout. It appears gradually; once it appears, our awareness of it is also gradual.

During my most recent encounter with diabetes burnout, it took me a good month to become aware that I had fallen. Until then, life seemingly went on as it had before.

Self-awareness slowly established itself. Initially, I was only aware that I wasn’t feeling as well as I had when I was testing more, exercising, etc. Then I put two and two together. Being aware of this, however, wasn’t enough lift me out of diabetes burnout.

Then things took a turn for the worse. I ended up – somehow – in the unenviable position of having to live my life while almost constantly being over 200. Numbers in the upper 300s, and even the 400s, had become a regular occurrence. Although, by then, I was painfully aware of my burnout, that awareness wasn’t enough to lift my out of the whole I’d fallen into and spur me to action. If anything, in the short term, my awareness only succeeded at torturing me.

At this point I knew that I had fallen into a deep hole. I was painfully aware that my ever-present hyperglycemia was slowly killing me. None of this helped. It only fueled the flames of negativity that hyperglycemia had started. It only succeeded at increasing my feelings of dread. I dreaded all of the habits I’d have to reestablish. I dreaded the thought of having to experience more hypoglycemia. My self-awareness still left me stuck in inaction. However, there are no eternal nights; this mental state did not remain for long.

What helped me begin the process of lifting myself up out of the hole I had fallen into? Honest self-expression. I didn’t let my pride get in the way of me expressing how I felt on tumblr. I didn’t let fear over what other people might think dictate what I published. I allowed my mask of strength to fall off, and showed my vulnerability by expressing my feelings of disgust, disappointment, and despair. Unlike in the past, I did’t let these feelings fester in me. By being willing to “stare into the abyss,” and express what stared back at me, I opened up the opportunity to take the necessary actions to restore myself to full health.

Where I stand now, I’m taking things one step at a time. Through my experiences of dealing with diabetes burnout,  I’ve been taught the dangers of being over zealous. By rushing to improve things too quickly, we often set ourselves up for failure. Life with diabetes is all about balance. I have yet to find the proper balance, but I have faith that I eventually will, so long as I persevere.

I am doing what I can do, rather than focusing on what is out of my control. I can’t always control what my numbers will be, but I do have the power to get into the habit of doing the things that are necessary to get back on track. In short, my focus will be on the concrete actions that are needed to be healthier, rather than the abstract goal of “better health.” If I stick to this approach, I shall return to my former glory in no time 😉

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.

Sculpting with a Sledgehammer

I’Ve had type 1 diabetes since 2001; however, I didn’t begin to talking about it openly until 2013. Why? Was it due to timmidity? Fear of judgement? Embarasment? No. The reasons were less obvious.

In part, it was due to a desire to pay as little attention to diabetes as possible. Talking about it felt like an unnecessary nuciance. I preferred to compartmentalize the condition – “unfortunately” for me, diabetes isn’t compartmentalizable. I was compartmentalizing the incompartmentalizable.

An even greater reason for not talking about my type 1 diabetes was this: it ain’t easy. Although I’m a talented writer and can be abnormally well spoken for somebody my age, I still struggled (and struggle) to explain.

Describing what type 1 diabetes is like to a non-diabetic can feel like trying to create a detailed sculpture with a sledgehammer. Words fail to adequately describe what it’s like for me to live with this condition. The nuances are “lost in translation.” At times, it feels like all I’ve succeeded at doing was sculpting a primitive sculpture.

I don’t blame other people for this, nor do I blame myself. Explaining the existentials of living with type 1 diabetes is inherently complicated.

There are innumerable nuances… Countless difficulties.

If I go into detail explaining it, one can easily lose sight of the big picture. Giving an explanation with too much detail seems to give a one sided impression of diabetes. Ironically, being vague often seems to give the clearest picture.

Type 1 diabetes is a mixed bag.

At the best of times, managing it is simply a matter of habit. True, some of the things you have to do aren’t pleasant. With that said, they become a normal part of your life.

On the other hand, it can often be pure hell. The highs. The lows. The fear. The pain. The burnout.

Why I Write

In the 21st century, the daily grind of life threatens to make us all grow dull. We are torn by a multitude of competing demands: by our innermost desires, by the demands society places upon us, etc. We are over-saturated: by information, by endless noise, by a flurry of activities, etc. We are all, to varying extents, caught up by this deluge, and swept away from our innermost selves. We’re all at imminent risk of losing our bearings.

For some of us, these difficulties are exponentially greater. As a person who happens to have type 1 diabetes and ADHD, this is especially true. Diabetes adds a  unique set of demands – ones that are ever-present – and my ADHD sharpens the all too common tendency to get caught up in and distracted by trivialities. It is all too easy for me to lose sight of what matters most to me. It is all too easy for me to lose sight of who I am at the most fundamental level. Introspective writing is my remedy to this.

In order to write, I need to concentrate. All external things are left at the door, opening up a space for me to delve deep into myself. Deep introspection is now a possibility. I am left alone: my thoughts, feelings, actions, etc. are before me in a way that isn’t possible when distracted. To prepare oneself to write is also to prepare oneself for introspection.

My method of writing helps my introspection in another way: it forces me to be self-honest. For me to write, I have to silence the inner critic, and let my thoughts and feelings flow. Improvement can come latter. Editing comes later. The first step is to simply write. Self-honesty flows from this method. Over-thinking is diminished.

In introspective writing, what lies within becomes manifest.  So long as the fruit of my introspection remains in my head, it quickly becomes rotten; I easily lose sight of the insights that I’ve gained. Introspective writing remedies this. Being made manifest, the fruit of my introspection is available to me in my time of need. When I’ve become lost in the demands of life, and I’m hungry for insight, it is there for me.

These are, for me, the most valuable reasons to write. They aren’t the only reasons I write, but they are the one’s with the greatest cash-value. These benefits permeate the rest of my life. It helps me to both discover and remember who I am, what my priorities are, etc. In a word, introspective writing is the ark that saves me from the deluge.

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