Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

Those pesky lows

I was encouraged to write about lows by my diabetic educator and friend Betty.   Lows (when your blood glucose drops below about 60 or so) are a pain. Pretty much every diabetic has experienced them at one time or another.  Lately I’ve had a lot of them and I’m working on making that stop, but until I get things under control, at least I can write about them.

You can feel it coming on.  It’s like a strange, hollow, sinking feeling in your stomach. You know it’s coming, but you can’t really do anything about it because at that point, it’s too late. I pull out my Dexcom, hit the OK button and the number I’ve been dreading pops up.  57. or 42. or *shudder* 39. By this time, some other instinct that I cannot fathom kicks in.  I have this compulsion to do as much as I can before dealing with the low.  It’s as if I think “If I just keep moving, maybe the low will go away by itself”. In other words, it’s denial, since giving in to the low is an admission that I’m not in control.  So I finish the dishes, clean all the counters, straighten the cookbooks, sweep the floor, then straighten up the living room. Oh, right, I need to eat something! That’s why my Dexcom keeps buzzing in my pocket!  So eventually I remember that in order to get rid of that hollow feeling that has now turned into shakes and sweats, I need to get some carbohydrates in fast.  Then comes decision time – and when your blood sugar is at 40, you’re not really good at making decisions.  Granola thin or peanut butter crackers?  Cookie or  Starburst?  Or am I desperate enough for glucose tablets?

Then, it’s time to wait it out.  My instinct is to keep eating until the weakness and shakes and dizziness go away. But if I do that, next thing I know I’ll be at 250, feeling equally bad in a different way, only now I’m stuck getting rid of a high.  So I eat about 10 grams of carbohydrate and hope it’s enough.  But the feeling doesn’t go away for at least a half hour – or longer.  It takes enormous will power not to just grab the cookie jar and eat everything in it.  The worst is when a low hits just before bedtime – then I’m really grumpy because I have to postpone going to bed in order to deal with the low.  All in all, I usually lose an hour or more dealing with this problem.  It’s not so bad in isolation, but when this happens several days in a row, you get pretty tired of it.  Even cookies don’t sound good anymore.  Wow, I can’t believe I wrote that.

This is the number I hope for after a low……

So that’s what it’s like.  I’m doing a basal test as I write this (which means skipping a meal and checking my blood glucose every hour for 5-6 hours), because I  want to work on adjusting my basal and bolus numbers so that these lows come a lot less frequently.  I really hate doing basal tests, so this should indicate how motivated I am to stop experiencing lows so much.

Diabetes. It’s like a moving target.  And my aim isn’t very good right now.

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Forgetting diabetes

Something happened this week that I had thought was impossible. I actually forgot I had diabetes for a little while.  That might sound really odd to those of you who don’t have diabetes or some other chronic condition, but I think most other type 1s would agree with me that this is not a disease that lets you forget it for very long.  But I actually sat down to eat dinner with my family this week, and had started eating and talking when all of a sudden I remembered that I’m diabetic and needed to check my BG and dose with insulin for that meal!  This incident was refreshing and scary at the same time.  It was refreshing  because it reminded me that my whole life is not about diabetes.  Yes, diabetes is now a big part of my life (much bigger than I would like for it to be!), but it is not by any means all of my life.  I was able to get so involved with my husband and son in conversation and fun that diabetes took a back seat for a while in my mind.  Nice.

But also scary.  In two ways.  First, scary because if I had not stopped and taken the insulin I needed for that meal, I would have had to deal with the consequences for hours, probably interrupting a good night’s sleep, and so perhaps even affecting the next day.  If I forget or ignore this disease, things go haywire very quickly, and getting back on track is not all that easy.  And the long term consequences of uncontrolled blood glucose are frightening, and I want to do everything I possibly can to avoid them.

Second, it was scary because it reminded me how easy it is to become obsessive about diabetes.  My whole life could easily become wrapped up in managing my BG and keeping track of it all.  That’s not hard for me to imagine, since I really love having control of things.  Diabetes, at least type 1 diabetes, does not like to be controlled, so the struggle is to manage as best as we can.  And I could really let that management dominate my life to the detriment of some other really wonderful stuff, like my family, my work and my faith.

I would much rather become obsessive about other things. Like prayer, or studying the Scriptures, or caring for my family and my church family.  I really do NOT want diabetes to upstage any of those things, and it can.  There are days when I just don’t feel up to the demands on me, when I just want to crawl back home and sulk about how awful I feel.  There are other days (more of them these days fortunately) when I’m strong and full of energy and want to take on the world.  Problem is, on those days, the challenge is to understand that those other days really do happen, so I must be careful about overscheduling.  (See, Joyce, I AM listening!)

So, I’m looking for the balance between forgetting about diabetes and obsessing on it.  Life is full of challenges these days.

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That humility thing, again

It seems that one of the lessons God is determined to teach me is humility.  It just keeps rearing its ugly head.  This time, it is in the realization that diabetes sometimes gets me in a strangle hold, and that no matter how hard I might try to fight my way out of it, or deny it, the diabetes always wins.  This past weekend was the perfect example.  I had a few things planned that I thought were going to be fun.  I ended up doing quite a bit more than I had planned, partly because things needed doing that I had committed to, and partly because I was enjoying being part of a really wonderful project at our Pastor’s home. It was a very busy three days, and they were indeed pretty fun at the time.  But, I paid for it.  My blood sugars were all over the map all weekend – sometimes predictably, sometimes randomly.  I just ignored my Dexcom most of the time, buzzing and beeping in my pocket, warning me of highs and lows to come.  I was too busy to deal with diabetes.  I just wanted to do what I wanted to do, without the interruption of dealing with whatever diabetes was dishing out.

But guess what?  That didn’t work.  Monday morning I felt just awful.  No energy.  No motivation.  Exhausted.  Emotionally spent.  That lasted well into Tuesday.  It’s only today, Wednesday, that I have really felt something like normal again.  So what’s the tie to humility?  I’m still trying to figure it out, but I think my pride is getting in the way of my figuring out how it is I’m supposed to get the most out of this new life with a chronic disease.  That sounds really pathetic when I say that out loud. But to be honest, I feel limited.  I feel cheated.  I feel a bit ticked off that I can’t just do all that I used to be able to do without thinking about it.  How does having the  limits placed on my life by diabetes fit in with living a life totally sold out to serving God?  I feel like I’m compromising by making allowances for managing my diabetes.  The need to slow down in order to maintain better control of my blood glucose seems like a cop-out. And yet, there’s last weekend, looming in my rear view mirror like a silent nightmare, warning me that if I ignore the weaknesses that diabetes imposes on me, I will pay a price.

So I am humbled to accept the weakness God is making me aware of.  I will listen to the Dexcom.  I will listen to the advice of friends who see me when I am at the bottom of my reserves, and take care of this body that God has given me, flawed as it is. I will listen to the verses that God keeps bringing to my mind:

“So to keep me from becoming conceited….a thorn was given me in the flesh…Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Does that mean I am any less sold out to serve Him?  I pray not.  I think not. But it does mean that I need to stop whining and keep trusting that His grace truly is sufficient for me, whatever limits or weaknesses I might feel.  It means getting creative in my work, finding ways to continue to do what the Lord calls me to do without harming the body He has given me the responsibility to care for.  For what He calls me to do, He has equipped me for, and He will accomplish.  And it means putting on humility, that I am not sufficient in myself for this journey.  The power of Christ rests on me, thanks be to God.

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