Take care of your diabetes, but don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.

Well,  January has already [almost] come to an end. I can’t believe how quickly this past month went by. Anyway, remember the term “when it rains, it pours”?.. that’s been proven true this past month. HOWEVER, I’m starting to see the sunshine and that pretty light at the end of the tunnel that I’ve been waiting for! As I’ve had a lot on my plate this month, it’s given me a lot of time to think.. about everything. The truth is, I haven’t written a lot lately because amongst life happening, I just haven’t been feeling positive about where I’m at with my diabetes, or my health in general. Then it occurred to me.. I promised to blog with integrity. I promised to write about the good, the bad, AND the honest truth.. right? So why was I feeling like I “had” to write the HAPPIEST post ever to share with you guys, or that if I didn’t.. I shouldn’t write at all? This.. this was wrong of me, and for that, I sincerely apologize to you guys. So now, don’t get me wrong.. this will not be a sad, or depressing post, but rather honest talk.

As I previously blogged about, my a1c before I got omnipod and dexcom together was a whopping 12.2 (I KNOW, don’t be like me!!!!!-please). From there, it quickly came down to a 9, and in less than 4 months, it was down to a 6.6 (my best a1c EVER, excluding the 5.8 I had ONE time when I was always sick and couldn’t eat due to gastroparesis- before I got the pacemaker put in my stomach). To get to a 6.6 A1C was amazing for me, knowing it was MY hard work, my efforts, me watching dexcom on my phone like a crazy person trying to “beat” my blood sugars and make every day better than the previous day. I know a 6.6 isn’t perfect. For me though, that was the first time I ever felt proud of myself in my whole journey with diabetes. So proud that my father got that a1c framed for me, and now sits on my desk at  work. If I could pick my a1c, I’d probably chose to sit at a 5.8.. but unfortunately, we won’t ever get to pick that pesky little number (that means oh so much to us).

Well, that 6.6 was back in August. I went back later in December, knowing my a1c was going to be higher (based on dexcom). Gastroparesis and diabetes together can be a REAL piece of work. One can make the other worse, and vise versa.. and when they decide not to cooperate with each other, that leads to a tired, high blood sugared, grumpy Chelsea. That’s okay though! Because I have way more good days than I do bad, and even on my worst days, I’m HAPPY. For some reason, when my doctor came back in with the results, my eyes watered up before he could even tell me that number…. “So how bad is it?”, I asked. “7.1… it’s not bad at all, you’re still doing great!”. My heart sank,  I didn’t feel like I was doing great. I had worked so hard for it to come down, only for it to go BACK up .5 points!? No! This crushed me. But why!?! An a1c of 7.1 might not be the best it could be, but it’s DEFINITELY not a number to be ashamed of. My parents would have been thrilled to see me with an a1c of 7 when I was back in high school. So why was I so upset?

Diabetes can be so overwhelming, so frustrating, but it’s not going anywhere. Our a1cs are going to vary, and we have to accept that and not be angry at ourselves. It’s great to work hard for a good results, but you can’t beat yourself if you tried your hardest. Just keep trying, and keep fighting! I let myself be upset about this for too long, instead of moving on and trying harder. If you’re doing your best, you’re already doing great. I wasted too much time and energy being upset over something that I CAN change. Maybe not that last number, but I can change the next one. It’s important to have goals with your diabetes, but it’s also important not to drive yourself crazy with those goals. Don’t drive yourself to diabetes burnout – make small changes at a time and be proud of yourself for what you accomplish. You’ve got to take care of yourself, your happiness, and your emotions AS WELL AS your diabetes; but you can’t forget about you! That’s where I went wrong, I focused so much on my diabetes that it was all I was focusing on anymore. Take care of ALL of you, and you’ll be much happier, I promise.

 

It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, & to make your HAPPINESS a priority. It is necessary.”

This is also  when I realized how important having a GOOD endocrinologist is. It’s not a want, it’s a necessity.  I went years with doctors telling me I wouldn’t make it to my 21st birthday (I’m almost 25 now, so HA to them!) , telling my parents I was slowly committing “voluntary suicide” … what these doctors didn’t know what that I was struggling with diabulimia. How could they know if I didn’t tell them, right? I was a teenager, though, and in my early 20s.. I was scared. I just needed a doctor to show me a little compassion, and that they cared – for ME as their patient. I’ve now referred 2 people to the doctor I’m seeing now- and they both love him as much as I do. He’s kind, and caring, and he WANTS to help. He understands we experience burnout, and he reminds me to NOT always focus on my number if I want to keep my sanity. If you’re in the DFW area and are looking for a great doctor, contact me and I’d love to give you his info. The dietitians there are so great and supportive as well. It’s just a great office & staff and I actually look forward  to my appointments now- instead of dreading them with extreme anxiety.

As I wrap up this post, I just wanted to share something for any of you who may be in the market for a new meter. I’m going to be dedicating a post to this company and meter soon (because I want to, and really think what this company is doing is awesome. It’s not sponsored and will be 100% my honest thoughts and opinions). This company is about making strips affordable for all, and for every 12 kits sold, they donate to a diabetic in need. Did I mention the founder is also a Type 1? They’re called good glucos, click here to go to their website and read more. If you DO decide to order, use my Instagram name, “chelsthebetic” for $10 off your purchase! Just apply it in the coupon section at checkout. You can’t beat the price. You can choose the amount of strips you want- but if you choose 100, I know that with the code above, you get a meter, strips, lancet, all for $25.. yes, you’re reading that right! Like I said a full post is coming soon- but I couldn’t wait to share. Mine just came in yesterday and the accuracy is right on point with my dexcom and my omnipod PDM! This company recently launched if you’re wondering why you may not have heard of them yet- I highly recommend checking them out!

 

 

I hope you guys have all had a great week so far, halfway to the weekend!

 

 

Stay hopeful my fellow diabuddies,

 

Chelsea- The Hopeful Diabetic ❤

Taking the highs with the lows, and lows with the highs.

Now, this is a diabetic blog, so you probably assumed I meant the literal (blood sugar) highs and lows of a type 1, right? Wrong (well, this time..)!  I’m not going to get personal with details, but I had a roller-coaster of a week, both emotionally and physically. This is not for sympathy, or a “poor me” post, in fact, it’s just the opposite.

I’ll be the first one to admit, I haven’t always had a grip on my emotions or how to deal with them. One day I can be so happy, and the next, lethargic and “gloomy”. Obviously blood sugars and other things come into affect here too, because our blood sugar REALLY CAN affect our moods. We just can’t let it get the best of us. I used to swim in my sorrow on those sad/bad days, but I never tried to make myself feel better (after all, it’s only YOU who can ultimately choose to be happy, right?).  And that brings me to my favorite Andy Warhol quote:

“You have to be willing to get happy about nothing.”

All I’m trying to really say in this post is.. you have to take the highs with the lows. You have to know there will be great days, and not so great days. Just like there will be amazing days, and flat out horrible days (this applies to diabetes too). Don’t let those bad days get you down and keep you down.. (I’m talking from experience, because I let that happen to me for years). Everyday isn’t going to feel like a vacation to your favorite place, or visiting family, or doing whatever your favorite thing to do is..BUT, that does not make it a bad day. It’s just not the happiest one you’ve ever had. Find little things that you love, and find the things that make you happy, and surround yourself in them.  When you feel sad, get up and take a walk with your dog, write a poem, read  a book, cook something you’ve never made.. Don’t let one day get you down.  Just do something to distract your mind from the negativity- and remember this feeling is temporary. Which brings me to another quote my Dad told me my entire childhood:

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

I first heard that quote from my dad when my grandfather passed away when I was only 11, and couldn’t cope with his loss. And it stuck with me like glue.  I’ve also heard him say: “pain is inevitable, growth is optional” and I love both, though I think the first is the “correct” or “known” quote. I don’t feel I even really need to say more on those… The quote itself speaks volumes.

Find your balance! Find little things that  make you happy to help pull you out of your funk… (for me.. It’s writing. Before I started this blog I’d been writing poetry for years and years in a private journal). Not every day will feel like a movie, but it doesn’t have to feel like the worst day just because work was stressful, and you got a stain on your shirt, does it? If you have food in your stomach, and a place to sleep, (and of course  insulin in your system!) you’ve got it a lot better than a lot of people already, and I’d say you have a lot to be grateful for (even though I know, some days are truly just rotten).

This post may be irrelevant to many, but I’m hoping some can relate..because I’m just learning this at 24– to take the good with the bad, and the bad with the good.  It makes those good times extra special, and is a reminder in bad times that “this too shall pass”. NOTHING in life is permanent (hopefully not even our broken pancreases, my fellow diabuddies). Change is the only constant in life. Just remember that on those hard days, and most importantly.. stay hopeful

 

“Perhaps, without the lows, the highs could not be reached.”

 

 

-The Hopeful Diabetic

 

P.S- Have any of you guys heard of or been to the “Diabetes UnConference” in Vegas? There’s one in February, and one in October of 2017. I read about it last year and was unable to go.. but this year, I’ll officially be there and I’m so excited! If you want to read about it, click here. If you’ve ever been, I’d love to hear feedback and what you thought!

 

“Life is not about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

Hello, and happy Saturday! I’m going to dive right in.. I always actually liked this quote, but could never truly relate to it.. until now.  (Incase you haven’t caught on yet.. I really like quotes. So expect to see one at the beginning or end of.. well, likely everything I post.) Bare with me, I’ll get back to this.

After being diagnosed at age 15, I felt pretty lost for a while, along with many, many other emotions. I was angry, I was sad.. I felt like my body had completely failed me. I was confused, I didn’t understand. I mean.. One day I’m a typical sophomore in high school, drinking Vanilla sprite from Sonic nearly everyday, and the next I’m told I can only have sugar free drinks (by the way this isn’t actually true for type 1’s, I can technically have a sugar drink if I WANT .. it would just be a LOT of insulin and I chose not to- but don’t you dare tell a type 1 they cannot have sugar) , and will need to take a shot every time I eat for the rest of my life (um, WHAT!?).   My whole world turned upside down in a matter of days.. I don’t think being depressed at the time was totally unusual (scratch that, I KNOW it wasn’t).. and truth be told I still have days I struggle to overcome that feeling.

I believe they called it “situational depression” .. when I heard that, I’m willing to bet I rolled my eyes, and my response was something like “well who wouldn’t be depressed if they JUST found out they will have this disease and be stabbing themselves with needles for the rest of their life?” (Am I right, Mom & Dad?) “It’s normal” said all the doctors.. feeling sad or depressed is 100% NORMAL. And I stand by that today..whether you were just diagnosed, or you’ve been living with this for 20+ years.  Yet.. I was still so embarrassed by it at the time, and I didn’t/wouldn’t talk about it. Instead I  stored that pain and that hurt, and that feeling of embarrassment in the back of my mind, and tried to deal with it all by myself.  If you read my previous post, you know that didn’t end well for me.. I fought with my parents, I didn’t take care of myself, and there’s a lot of stuff I wish I would have done differently… and here is why I’m writing today!

There is nothing wrong with seeking help, and being vulnerable and honest with somebody who can truly give you their best advice. For some reason, I just wouldn’t do it. I wish I would have, I imagine I wouldn’t have gone though a lot of the things I did if I would’ve had someone to share my “deepest and darkest” thoughts and secrets with someone medically trained to give me the best advice they can. I was just too scared. But of what? Probably of what they would tell me.. That I couldn’t keep living that way, that it was unhealthy, that I would lose limbs or go blind.. they would tell me everything I’d already heard from doctors, parents, and friends (by the way, if you’re not diabetic.. I beg you not to tell your diabetic friend about your moms friend or your whoever who WAS diabetic .. we hear enough dark stories, I promise, please don’t add to the list.. we know the consequences). I was scared to talk to someone- because I knew I wasn’t trying my hardest on my end (actually, I was hardly trying at all). I was scared of having to actually admit to that, and take action, and take responsibility and get my life back in order. So I didn’t. Please note, this is not me persuading you to go see a professional. I do however encourage you to just think about it  IF you or your kid/friend/ whoever you know with diabetes is having a hard time accepting this disease on a day to day basis. I really could have used someone to open up to those teen years, and my parents really really tried, I just wasn’t interested, and like I said.. ultimately was just terrified because I knew I wasn’t taking care of myself and I  wasn’t ready to admit that yet.

At 24, I’ve finally accepted that my diabetes is a part of me- and probably both my favorite and least favorite part of me at that. I wouldn’t be who I am today without everything being type 1 has put me through. I might have a working pancreas.. but I wouldn’t have the strength, perseverance,   and “it’ll pass” mindset that I’m so thankful for today. I’m not perfect, (actually, I’m FAR FAR FAR from perfect) but I like the person I’ve grown to become today. It’s been quite a journey to get here.

When I wrote my first post, a little over a week ago.. I had no idea how good it would feel (while at the same time absolutely terrifying) to share my story and be honest and vulnerable about everything.. and there’s still so much more I can elaborate on. I wanted to thank all of you, for the nice comments whether on the blog, via Facebook, or e-mail… I am truly humbled and overwhelmed with the positive feedback and encouragement.. and it’s so nice to talk with other diabetics like YOU.  Two days after my first blog post, I did the step out walk to stop diabetes. It was heart wrenching to see how many people, but especially kids were wearing red hats (if you were a diabetic participating in the walk- you got a “red strider” hat).  This disease has got to end, guys.  Not for my sake, but for all those kids, for the struggling teenagers, for the adults who’ve just had enough, and for the poor babies not even born yet, it’s got to stop.  I encourage you to look into volunteering for your local JDRF  (go to the website and sign up and they’ll send you an email within a couple days) or ANY charity for T1D.  I cannot tell you how good it feels to give back, step up, and just tell your story and talk with others going through the same thing. I’ve actually had this conversation recently with a fellow type 1 diabetic that I had the pleasure to “meet” via a diabetes (Dexcom and Omnipod users) Facebook group we were both in! Actually, he and his wife and friends who also deal with type 1 in their life, have started a Facebook page to support families battling type 1 AND they’re doing fun events and activities to raise funds for T1D. How cool!? They’re in Charlotte, NC if you happen to be in that area! Either way, you should go check out and support their Facebook page “Families Fighting Type 1” (FFT1) . I hear they will have a website soon as well, so stay tuned!

If you want to simply interact with other type 1 diabetics, of any age, you should (if you haven’t already) check out tudiabetes.com .. they have so many forums, blogs, chatrooms, anything and everything a person with any type of diabetes, can benefit from.  When I first heard of it back in 2013, I went in the chat room almost daily and it was nice to be able to login at any given time and have people right there knowing what you’re going through. Also, another great charity, aside from JDRF that has recently caught my attention is “Beyond Type 1”. They’re newer to the game, but go check out their website and their new app! There’s even a place to sign up for “snail mail” with another diabetic somewhere in the world (you can choose your preference on male/female, and if you’d like them to be younger, same age, or older).  You enter a few things about yourself (or your child) and they’ll match you with someone, and in a matter of weeks you’ll have a starter kit in your mailbox! Pretty neat, I’d say. They encourage to donate and pay for your kit, but you CAN get it at no cost. I would have LOVED this when I was 15! I just want to add, these are all my honest opinions and I’m in no way being paid or sponsored, I’m simply just talking these places up because they truly are great. So check them out! My biggest regret is not getting involved in the diabetes community sooner.

I got a little off track there, but diabetes is hard, we get no breaks, EVER!.. and sometimes, we just need to be reminded that we’re not alone.

Now back to my original quote.. way up there at the top (sorry, can you tell I really like to write!?). As I stated up in the first real paragraph.. my diagnosis had me feeling lost.. and if we’re being honest, I don’t even know that I knew “who I was” a year ago. Ever since I got Dexcom CGM back in April it’s been truly life changing, getting to know myself again (without a foggy mind and no high blood sugars messing with my moods). I’ve been trying this whole time to “find myself again”.. well, last week after my first post, I was reassured.. Life really isn’t about finding yourself…It IS about creating yourself. It’s about becoming WHOEVER and WHATEVER you want to be. As for me, that’s this. Writing, sharing my stories, advocating for diabetes. THIS is what I want. Whether I have 2 readers, or 2,000.. I will keep writing. I will keep sharing my stories, and I will keep advocating.  And I will continue to enjoy doing so. (If you’d like to be e-mailed when I post again, be sure and click “follow”- and thank you in advance!)

Stay strong my fellow diabuddies, and hugs to all you parents with “type 1 default diabetes”, as I like to call it- you know their struggle, and you fight that fight every day with them, in a way, you have it (by default) even though your pancreas may be fine.

Okay, I have to add one last thing… I have had music playing on a shuffle in the background, and as I’m wrapping this blog post up I hear “even the best fall down sometimes” .. Take that for what you will. Just remember that it’s okay to “fall down” as long as you get back up and keep fighting the good fight!

 

-Chelsea, The hopeful diabetic ❤

 

 

PS-  I have a lot of things I know I want to write about. But I’d also love to know if there’s anything you’d like to know about or read. Anything! (Whether it’s how I personally control my sugars, things I wish I knew then, my favorite carb free snacks.. or if you’re a parent with a T1 kid, maybe anything you’d like to know from my parents, etc.. you get the point) Comment, or email me privately through the contact section because I’d love to hear feedback. And if you made it this far….. breathe, it’s over. Thank you for hanging in there, and thank you so much for reading!  🙂