Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

Feelings

I think one of the things that has surprised me the most about having diabetes is the new ways my body has surprised me. Of course the biggest surprise is that my pancreas just up and quit.  But there are other things about diabetes that provide smaller surprises day by day.

First is probably how much my blood glucose level affects everything else about me.  Just 20 or more points below my target BG makes me feel like a walking zombie, and 60 or more points above make me woozy and thick-headed.  It takes me back to when I was in a Nutritional Biochemistry class (yes, I really do remember it) in college and was absolutely amazed at the intricacy of the body’s ability to regulate all aspects of our metabolism so precisely through feedback loops and other mechanisms.  When it all works, it is astounding. I was struck then, as I am now, with the obvious conclusion that this could NOT have been a random design, but that God was and is an amazing Creator.

Now that I am the victim of a regulatory system that doesn’t work, I see the beauty of the system even more and experience the consequences of that lack of regulation.  I simply cannot duplicate the things my body did to keep my blood sugar in the narrow range that allows for everything else to function well.  And how amazing is it that such a small thing (well, maybe not so small) as blood sugar has such an impact on the rest of the body anyway?  So, thank God for all the things in my body that DO work, and I’m praying that nothing else gets the idea from my pancreas and just shuts down.

I have also discovered that I can feel when my blood glucose is changing rapidly.  I know, it’s a little creepy. But I have realized (and my continuous glucose monitor confirms that I’m not just making this up) that I get this weird internal sinking feeling – kind of like goosebumps on the inside – when my BG is going up or down rapidly.  I get this warning before my CGM usually catches it (the CGM buzzes when BG is changing rapidly to warn you to pay attention, since you will likely go high or low soon).  I’m torn between being happy that I am sensitive enough to these changes that I can feel them and being totally fed up by it.  My typical response is “rats, I’m going to have to pay attention to diabetes soon because I’m either going to bottom out or hit the roof”.  If the feeling persists, the response after that is “really, again?  I’m too involved in what I’m doing to deal with this!”.  After that it’s “OK, I’m DONE with diabetes. I want my pancreas back now!”.

Mostly, I have been struck by the fact that my feelings can be so intense about this disease. I think I am a pretty level-headed person, not prone to emotional roller-coaster rides (though my husband might disagree).  But diabetes has brought out my emotions in ways I would not have predicted.  Fortunately I have a good friend who is willing to be the sounding board for many of those emotions and I am grateful for her sympathetic and helpful responses when I am flying off on rants about how I feel.  The fact that she also brings her knowledge as a CDE to the table is particularly wonderful, since her calming messages are right on target when I’m feeling irrational.

Diabetes is not just a physical condition. It’s a highly emotional one as well.  I wasn’t ready for that, even if I thought I was ready to deal with the physical aspects of the disease.  I’m not sure I’m doing as well at handling the emotional aspects of the disease as well as I am the physical ones.  My A1C level shows me how I’m doing at managing the physical part of diabetes.  There’s no such measurement for showing how I’m doing emotionally.  And that’s just something I’m going to have to live with, and hopefully get better at.

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Restraint

I’ve been preparing to lead another Precept Bible study lesson for this next Wednesday. This time it’s on 1 Samuel chapters 24-26. You should read these chapters – there’s some great action here!  But an overriding theme in these chapters is that God restrained David’s hand from doing several things that would have been really bad in the long run, even when they seemed logical and warranted at the time. It occurs to me that diabetes is a disease of restraint, so these lessons rang my bell loudly and clearly.

I think the hardest times to practice restraint is when I’m low.  Especially when it’s low enough that I feel like a slug (around 55 or lower).  The overwhelming temptation is to eat EVERYTHING IN SIGHT.  That will make the lousy feelings go away faster, right?  My lips and tongue are tingling (I hate that), my head is ringing (I really hate that) and all I want to do is curl up and sleep (I REALLY hate that, especially in the middle of a busy day).  So, those cookies in the jar?  The cranberry juice in the frig?  The oranges on the table? Even those lovely (I hope you catch the sarcasm here) glucose tablets in the tube?  Yeah, let’s just eat all of them so the low will go away sooner.

Only that’s not what happens.  The low takes it’s own sweet (yeah, pun intended) time going away, and if I have succumbed to the above temptations, I rebound well up into the 200s, which produces another round of symptoms that are as unpleasant as the ones I just got rid of.  So, restraint is called for. Eat the 15 -20 grams of carbs to treat the low and wait. And wait. And wait. Tie yourself down so you don’t go racing back to the kitchen when you still feel awful 30 minutes later.  For me, it takes really a full hour (sometimes longer, depending on how “sticky” the low is) to come back to normal.  I’m not usually patient enough to wait an hour, but God is teaching me this lesson slowly but surely.

And you know what is really cool?  The patience I am learning in treating lows is transferring to other areas of my life.  The past month has been pretty wild in our home, with a totalled van, my gimpy left arm, tons of teaching and other work responsibilities all at once and now a new (used) van that we have to take to the repair shop tomorrow.  I have to say, I have had a much better attitude to all of that than I would have expected myself to have.  (Is that even possible?)

Another area of restraint that I am learning is the ever-present temptations to eat stuff that I know is not in my best interest.  In reality, there is nothing forbidden to me to eat – as long as there’s enough insulin in the pump, I can theoretically dose for whatever I eat.  But not everything is helpful or wise (a stretching of 1 Corinthians 10:23) for me, and not everything is bolus-worthy. So restraint is called for as I make choices of things like food and how to spend my time (on things like regular exercise rather than vegetating).

So the theme of the week (and of life) is restraint.  I love it when God takes stuff I’m learning from one place and applies it in another. It’s probably the only way I’ll learn the lessons…….

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Surgery and other adventures

What a week it has been. Easter was wonderful, but has been eclipsed somewhat by two rather major events in our home.  On the day before Easter, our son was involved in a car accident. He wasn’t hurt, but it turns out that our van is totalled.  It wasn’t his fault, but of course, the other insurance company is disputing the claim.  And just in case you need some history, this is our fourth Dodge/Chrysler minivan – 3 totalled (but only one was our fault), one stolen.  So I’m thinking we need to stay away from minivans……

Secondly I had surgery on my left arm on Tuesday morning.  The surgery itself was easy enough and I was home by 9:30 in the morning.  Turns out that the days after surgery are harder. Today the local anesthetic has worn off and my arm hurts quite a bit.  My blood sugars were on a bit of a gentle roller coaster over the weekend (stress from dealing with the accident? or anticipating surgery?) and yesterday were on the high side. I didn’t worry about it much since I figure the sedation and trauma would mess with it.  Today seems much more predictable.

I’m also dealing with not being able to swim or do the hydro-treadmill for a couple of weeks, which is probably also messing with my BG control.  It means working out a whole new basal pattern, which I’m tweaking as I get enough information.  I can’t remember the last time I went two weeks without exercise.  It’s weird.

So, all in all, it hasn’t been a week that I would like to repeat any time soon.  But God is faithful and I trust that He is teaching me some things while I’m going through this.  Patience is one of the lessons I still need to learn.  I’m not patient in waiting for my blood sugar to go down after dosing – I want the insulin to work NOW. Not an hour and a half from now, which is more likely.  I also need to let my body dictate to me for the next day or so at least. It is demanding rest and that I don’t use my left arm for more than typing or working a remote control.  I need to listen to it, which is not easy when there are plenty of tasks calling my name.  So I’ll pray for that patience and listen to those who are telling me to take it easy.  It’s great to have friends who care and a God who gives what I need when I need it.

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