Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

Knitting as my ‘cure’ for diabetes stress

We all need strategies for dealing with the stress that diabetes brings into our lives.  The highs and lows and sudden empty pumps and sites that malfunction and awkward questions that people ask and….well, you get the idea.  I have noticed recently that I am handling some of that stress better these days and I have been wondering why. Some of it has to do with a change in jobs and working fewer hours, so I have more energy left over to deal with the stress – because the level of stress from diabetes does NOT seem to let up. EVER.

In a conversation with a friend recently, I realized that knitting is one big way I cope with the daily ups and downs of living with T1D. I think that it is the ability to have control that makes knitting a great stress reliever. I can look at a pattern and know that (within certain limits) I can reproduce that object in a way that will bring me pleasure.  Knit, purl, yarn over, knit 2 together, these are regular, repeatable moves that result in the same thing every time.  That is not true for anything related to diabetes.  That kind of predictability is comforting and soothing.  Sure, I might have to rip out rows of knitting to fix a mistake, but even then, I know I will be happier having done so and I can always re-knit what I took out.  I can try any number of things to ‘fix’ a blood sugar ‘mistake’ and the results are far less  reliable.

So I knit. And knit some more.  I am soothed, I can relax and for a period of time, I can forget that diabetes is just lurking around the next corner, waiting to surprise me with some craziness.

How do you cope with diabetes-induced stress?

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It’s all in the numbers. Right?

I will admit it.  I am struggling.  I know that is probably not the best way to start a blog post after being absent from my blog for months, but it’s true.  I have been driven back to this place of honesty and acceptance to admit where I am and hopefully sort out how to move forward in this fog.

It’s all because of numbers.  Numbers drive diabetes.  A1C, current blood sugar, how many days have I worn this infusion site, this CGM sensor and how many days until I have to change them, how many carbs in this meal (over and over and over everyday)…..you get the picture.  But really only a couple of those numbers are persecuting me right now.  It’s the blood sugar number and the A1C.

At my last appointment with my doc, I got yelled at (it wasn’t really yelling – it was genuine concern for my well-being, but to me it felt like yelling) by 3 different people because my A1C was too LOW.  Yeah, you read that right.  And I totally understand why they are concerned – the low A1C is associated with too many low blood sugars and they are dangerous.  So, why if I know all of this did it still feel like they were yelling at me? Because that number is my judge. And I felt like the number was terrific. Yes, I agree with them that I am going low too often. But still, when they encouraged (no, that is too weak – they exhorted) me to allow my blood sugar to run higher in order to keep a safety margin, it felt like judgment and I was a failure.

And that relates to the second number that is causing me to struggle. I KNOW I need to let my blood sugars run higher to keep that safety margin, and that I will still likely have a very acceptable A1C next time around if I do.  But.  (That word should be removed from my vocabulary.)  I admit it. I don’t like seeing blood sugars in the 150s-180s. I would rather see 100-120.  The problem is, when I am running in that lower range, it only takes a trip through a grocery store, or some yard or housework to plunge me downward to the 60-70s.  Thus, I need a safety margin.  See? I know this in my head.  I KNOW this in my head.  So why can’t I just accept it and get on with it?

Because the numbers are my judge. And 160 is a guilty verdict.  You ate something you shouldn’t have.  You don’t have enough self-control.  You did it WRONG.

That’s my struggle.  I wish I had a neat answer for how I am going to get out of this.  I don’t.  Yet.  I know where my hope lies.  And it is NOT in me. I know that God is teaching me important lessons that I must learn. I know that He is wiser than I and that He loves me.  So I rest in that.  And struggle on. For now.

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Hope

A friend asked me this week how my Christian faith affects how I deal with diabetes.  It seemed like a question I should have thought about a lot, but it turns out that I haven’t. I have thought  lot about what I am learning about God and my relationship with Him due to the daily unpredictability of diabetes, and so how diabetes affects my faith. But turn that question around – how does my faith inform my thinking and dealing with diabetes? – and I was stumped.

So, this is my attempt to work that out. I am leading a Bible study of the book of 1 Peter. Peter talks a lot about suffering and how our hope in Christ is the key to holding on to our faith while we suffer.  He emphasizes the precious nature of our salvation too, to underscore that holding on to faith is worth the trouble.  There is also a  troubling verse: In this, (the living hope that is being kept in heaven for us), you rejoice, though now or a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7

Two things strike me from these verses that relate to how my faith affects my life with diabetes.  First, if necessary.  God has deemed it necessary that I deal with this. I trust in the sovereignty of God as well as in the perfect goodness of God. That means that I believe type 1 diabetes was no surprise to Him, and that He has a good purpose for me in it.  And that good purpose is the second point: The goal of my having diabetes is that the tested genuineness of my faith will result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus returns.

This goal then informs how I cope with crazy roller coaster blood sugars, or the emotional roller coaster that goes along with that, or the exhaustion or burn-out or frustration of not knowing why my body is acting the way it is.  It is more important that I honor Christ in all of this than whether my management of diabetes is perfect (which it NEVER will be).

The other thing that 1 Peter is teaching me is that honoring Christ begins in my mind.  Controlling my feelings and my actions begins with a mind that is turned toward Christ. I need HIM to steer me away from self-pity and toward thinking about His suffering on my behalf. I need Christ to show me that there is glory in suffering, in sharing a tiny bit of what He suffered.  I need Christ to help me persevere when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and just quit trying to manage a disease that does not want to be managed.

Having faith in that Christ means that I have hope.  Hope that I am never alone in my walk in this world. Hope that He is always faithful to give me what I need when I need it. Hope that He is faithful to forgive when I need it, and to restore me to Himself so that I can move on. Hope in Christ is not just for heaven. It is for this moment, for every time I feel like a failure and that I will never get it right.

Hope in Christ.  That is how faith affects my life, not just in dealing with diabetes, but in every part of it.  It is just more obvious that I need that hope to cope with the ups and downs of diabetes.  Maybe that’s why it is necessary that I am being grieved by this particular trial………..

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