Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes


I decided the other day that one of the problems with having diabetes (and there are SO many to choose from!) is that we don’t get any instant feedback when we do stuff right.  When I get done with a great swim in the mornings, there not someone there to say “Way to go, Colleen!  Way to fight that insulin resistance!”.  When I forego the snacks throughout the day due to willpower (or more likely, because it’s just too much of a pain to dose for them), there’s no one cheering me on saying “Way to go, Colleen!  Way to limit those carbs!”.  When I carefully insert an infusion site and fill up the cartridge for my pump with insulin so that there are NO air bubbles, no one is there to say “Way to go, Colleen!  Way to be diligent with all those tedious maintenance tasks!”.  The fact is, that’s just reality.  It’s my life to live, my diabetes to deal with, my own self that needs encouragement from within.  Sure, I have a great support team around me – health care providers (that sounds so institutional, but you know who you are), family, friends, co-workers. I am grateful for their putting up with my whining, my lows, my highs and all the changes that have come into our lives due to this thing called LADA.  I have no basis for complaints.

I’m just looking for some way to get myself through all the everyday stuff.  There are “public” diabetes events – A1C numbers, computer records from pump and Dexcom, blood profiles, weight changes – all these things are celebrated (or not) with other people.  But the day to day slogging through diabetes is mine to deal with on my own.  No one else sees that great job I just did managing the insulin pump refill in under 10 minutes.  No one else is going to congratulate me every day that I exercise.  No one else is going to celebrate the tracings on my Dexcom that show an entire 24 hour period within my target range. This has to be okay.  I can’t need a cheerleader all the time.  But, I can dream, can’t I?  Long term  consequences for managing diabetes are great – better health, avoiding all those nasty side effects – but like a kid, sometimes I just want short term reinforcement.

And so it is with faith.  I heard an interview with John Piper recently that was done right after one of his talks at the Gospel Coalition’s National Women’s Conference. He talked about who we seek approval from – men or God.   His point was that we must not desire the approval of people more than the approval of God. But I do.  I know I do.  I hate it, but I do.  In the same way that I crave pats on the back for managing my diabetes, I crave the approval of people in general.  I know that isn’t the way it is supposed to be.  God is sufficient for me. I know that – in my head.  I should be satisfied – totally satisfied – when I am living in a way that honors Him and following what I understand to be His will for me. To quote John Piper,  “He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  I have that quote sitting on my desk these days to remind me that I don’t need people to approve of me, all I need is God’s approval, and in Christ, I have that.

The flip side of this is that I have realized that I don’t serve as a cheerleader for others nearly enough.  I can’t be the only person who needs encouragement regularly.  And so I will seek to be a better friend, a better encourager.  Not to gain the approval of others, but to bring glory to my Creator.  May God help me to do it!


Off balance

I knew posting about a honeymoon was dangerous.  The day after that post, my BG went ballistic.  Part of it was my fault, part of it was the blood sugar demon, as I predicted. The part that was my fault reminded me of the balance that managing diabetes demands of us.  It’s so easy to obsess on this disease – checking my Dexcom too often, micromanaging my blood glucose, second guessing what’s going on in my body.  But then along comes a day like Tuesday, when I was apparently sick and tired of managing diabetes and just checked out.  I forgot to give myself insulin before two different meals until I was halfway through the meal, which means my BG soared to stratospheric heights before coming down to the high 100s (not where I wanted it to be). Then, I actually forgot that my pump was low on insulin and it ran dry at an awkward time when I couldn’t get away to refill it for about a  half hour. My BG had been creeping up all afternoon, and this just made it worse.  Tired and cranky now, I opened a new vial of insulin. This in itself was frustrating, because I had forgotten I needed a new vial, and had not prepared it correctly so that I wouldn’t get a bunch of air bubbles in my pump.  Already, I’m bummed.  Shot in the new infusion site, and it didn’t stick.  That has NEVER happened to me. So of course it happened today.  Against my better judgment, I tried the same infusion site again, thinking it would work the second time.   Looked good.  I put everything back together and went on my blissfully ignorant way.  After dinner, my BG just continued to rise steadily, until it was way over 300 with no sign of slowing down.  I give it another hour, but no dice. So, I pull off the infusion site and lo and behold, the cannula that is supposed to be under my skin was kinked and sitting on top of my skin, and all the insulin I dosed with is sitting there too.  Yeah. Right. OK. Start over, and spend the night rage bolusing every couple of hours. (For the uninitiated, a rage bolus is a dose of insulin given under the influence of extreme frustration, usually repeatedly to bring down a high BG that just won’t respond the way we want it to. It usually results in a too-low BG, since the bolusing is not realistic, we just want to bring that high BG DOWN! )

Where’s the balance?  Obviously, ignoring diabetes is a bad idea.  I only had one bad day as a result of my lack of interest, but what if diabetes burn-out lasts a lot longer?  I’m still not good at just letting high blood glucose readings slide by without at least some frustration.  It happened again today, when I was high for hours with no apparent explanation.  I found myself walking around the house doing chores and ranting at diabetes at the same time. Attractive, eh?  So I struggle with the balance between managing this disease and managing the rest of my life.  I refuse to let diabetes limit me, and yet at times, it is unavoidable that it affects my day to day life.

That’s when I step back and see the real balance that I need. It’s the balance between my own management of my life and letting the Lord lead, guide, and help me.  I’ve got it tipped way in the wrong direction.  I’ve been reading a book about Gospel centered discipleship that has hit me with the truth that I have really been ignoring the power of the Gospel.  (I’m also reading a book called Think like a Pancreas, so you can see my reading material is, um, eclectic!)  Among other things that I have been reminded of, the Holy Spirit is there to comfort and encourage, even in the most mundane ways, like dealing with diabetes. The power of the resurrection is so much greater than the power of this disease.  I’m not looking to be healed (though, I don’t rule it out and would certainly welcome it!).  I’m looking to rely more on the resources that I am good at reminding other people about but not so good at actually doing myself.  Come Holy Spirit.  Let my life be balanced according to Your priorities, not mine, including the way I manage my health.  And could you do something about the blood sugar demon, too?

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I’m almost afraid to write this for  fear of inciting the blood sugar demon, but here goes anyway.  I have been experiencing a kind of honeymoon for the past couple of weeks, much to my surprise.  I have not done anything really different, which is why I’m so surprised, and the honeymoon continued while I was traveling, out of my routine, which is another part of the surprise.  So it turns out that just persevering actually works sometimes!  Watching my Dexcom, adjusting for those pesky lingering above-normal readings, counting carbs – in restaurant food, not an easy task – adjusting basal rates when it’s hot, or I’m exercising, or any other time I can possibly imagine – all those things actually work! I’ve had a delightful few weeks where the line on my Dex rarely crosses 200, and most of the time is actually between the lines (80-180 mg/dl). Wow, a beautiful sight to see.  It sure makes me feel good, as if I’ve done something wonderful.  Yes, I’ve worked hard and helped make it happen.  But I’m also completely aware that part of it is just dumb luck.  But I’m going to enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts, and not ruin it by anticipating it’s end.

Being “on a honeymoon” does not mean however, that I can let down my guard.  This honeymoon requires continued work, continue monitoring, continued counting and calculating and continued attention to my devices that demand my time and energy to maintain so that they can help me.  I have now had my Animas Ping for a year and that has inspired me to look back a bit.  When I think back on what my life was like BD (before diabetes) and how it has changed, I am shocked and frustrated at times, but encouraged and triumphant at other times.  The “why me” question is never very far out of my mind, but the “Yes, Lord”  (well, maybe “OK Lord”, not sure I’m up to Yes yet!)  answer is right behind it.  I certainly feel better this summer than I did last summer.  I’m in better shape than I have been in decades (though I am the first to admit I have more to do here).  I have made wonderful friends because of this disease.  I am spiritually stronger because of diabetes, though again, I still have a long way to go here too.

Honeymoons are good, but they never last long enough.

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