Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

Exercising Humility

on March 23, 2012

Exercise. I love it. I hate it. I started because I heard that regular exercise would help bring my blood glucose under better control and help maintain insulin sensitivity. Now I’m hooked because I know I feel better.  But it is does come with frustrations.

For the most part, I am pretty motivated to swim 5 days a week, and it isn’t all that hard to get myself there most mornings.  I have to drop my son off at school at about 7, so I just head for the pool after that.  I have found that tying my exercise routine to something else that HAS  to happen makes it easier for me to stick to.  And now, there is a small group of us who swim at the same time and have become friends, so there’s actually some accountability there. (In other words, I’m afraid they will give me a hard time if I don’t show up!)

But I struggle with unpredictability in my blood glucose (BG) levels after swimming.  For several weeks,  my post-swim BG would drop pretty low, which really cut into my mornings at work. So I’d eat something to counter that, and my BG would then soar really high, making me feel even worse.  Frustrating, to say the least. Turns out, this happened when I increased the intensity of my swimming, in anticipation of getting my continuous glucose monitor. (The sensor for the CGM is only cleared for 30 minutes in 3 feet of water – I had been swimming for 35-40 minutes, so I increased the intensity of my workout to make up for only being able to swim for 30 minutes.)  Once I got the CGM,  I discovered a surprise that explained my problem.  It turns out that strenuous exercise causes BG to actually go UP (after initially dropping during the workout) for a couple of hours after exercising.  That explained why my BGs were going so high – my eating a snack was just making it worse.  But just like everything else with diabetes,  it’s rare that the same thing will happen two days in a row.  Turns out that my job is to see where I am when I start swimming, and predict how my swim will impact the next few hours. These days I seem to be getting it right more often than wrong, but there’s no formula that works every day.

And there’s the rub! Dealing with diabetes is not a perfect science. It’s an art, a science, and a crap shoot, all rolled into one.  I have no illusions that what I do today to deal with my BG after swimming (or for a meal, or for any other reason) will work tomorrow, even if I have the same breakfast, do the same workout and do the same things after swimming.  I’m basically a scientist by training and I want things to turn out the same every time I do them. That is probably the most frustrating thing about this disease for me. And so of course, it is the point at which God is most stretching me.  I don’t know completely what God is going to teach me about this, but so far I do know that I have to let go of my desire to always be right, which I’m not when it comes to controlling my blood glucose. I need to be able to look at the glucose meter and see the number not as condemnation, but as information.  And then, to take the information and act on it, not to judge myself based on whether or not the number is “good” or “bad”.  But, see, that requires humility, and that’s hard.

The application to real life is hard to face, and even harder to do. When someone comes to me with a problem, or disagrees with something I have done, my gut reaction is to defend myself, and to automatically think that the other person is wrong and that obviously, I know better.  The more godly response is to take the information, assess it honestly without judging either the other person or myself, and act on the information without resentment and with grace. Humility does not come quickly to me, in dealing with errant blood sugar, or in dealing graciously with others. And so, I keep trying, and praying, and working out what God keeps putting in front of me. And claiming the truth of Philippians 1:6, that He who began a good work in me will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus.

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