Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

Numbers

I love the TV show Numbers.  I realize it isn’t on anymore, but through the magic of re-runs and Netflix, I can still enjoy it.  I always liked the part at the beginning where they do the 3-D graph with various statistics related to the story in that episode.  It occurred to me recently that my life has become kinda like that.  A bunch of numbers that describe my life.  I’m not sure this is  a good thing, but it is reality.

IMG_1263It starts with the blood glucose numbers.  There’s the ever elusive “good” numbers, which vary depending on the time of day and other stuff.  100 is great sometimes, but not when I’m getting ready to swim, when I want something higher.  And what exactly IS a “good” number?  I try not to think of the numbers that pop up on my meter as good or bad, but really, it’s impossible not to.  These numbers crowd my life with data, and when I pull out my Dexcom to check the numbers it presents, I find myself doing quick calculations about where the number is going and if I am going to have to intervene to keep it from going too far up or down.  I’m plagued by numbers.

Then there’s the carbs. Always counting carbs.  When I look at a meal or a menu now, I’m thinking numbers.  What’s the best thing I can have within the range of what I think I should eat at this meal? Is it worth eating a really high carb item? Will I enjoy it enough to risk the awful numbers (there’s the judgment again) that will probably follow?

Exercising even enters the picture.  How long should I swim? Is my BG too low to swim and do I need to eat something before getting wet?  What happens if I don’t swim, but I haven’t changed the settings on my pump to account for that? The numbers will really be whacked out.  I find myself counting laps even though I don’t swim based on the number of laps.  And I get myself in trouble with those numbers when I am driven to complete a certain number of laps or minutes of swimming even though I can feel my BG dropping.

And of course there’s the hemoglobin A1C number – my report card every three months.  I don’t live in fear of that number so much anymore, but honestly, it really is in my mind when I spend hours with high BG numbers (as in “Rats, I was doing so well staying under 200 and now that’s going to ruin my A1C!”).

My insulin pump presents a whole new set of numbers – Insulin sensitivity number, Insulin:carbohydrate ratio, the amount of insulin on board, temporary basals to compensate for unusual circumstances – the list is really long and boring. Fortunately I don’t have to remember all of these, but they are not unchanging. Every once in a while they need tweaking because something in my body or about my life has changed, so I have to pay attention to them.

Numbers are a huge part of my life, but I’m trying hard not to let them rule my life.  But I do love data, I admit. I love having information about how I’m doing. I want to figure out why the numbers are what they are. I want them to behave the way I THINK they should behave. Right. The blood sugar fairy is laughing hysterically right now.  It’s hard to let numbers just be numbers without letting my feelings get all tied up in them.  I’m not sure I want to become completely disconnected from those feelings, since it seems that doing a better job of managing this disease depends on how I handle the numbers.

So numbers will continue to be a big part of my life.  And I’ll keep enjoying Numbers the show too.  I’ll never be a brilliant mathematician who solves crimes for the FBI. But maybe sometimes, I’ll get the numbers right for solving the day to day issues of diabetes.

 

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Emotions

Apparently strong emotions play havoc with my blood sugar.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. What DOESN’T play havoc with my blood sugar?  We took our son to college yesterday and unloaded all his stuff into his dorm room, then rearranged all the furniture (well, the guys did that part) and unpacked most of his stuff.  Then it was off to shop for the stuff he forgot or didn’t know he needed (when you loft the beds as high as they did, you have to come up with some way to get in and out of them!).  Then back to campus for the Dedication Service, guaranteed to make every parent in the auditorium tear up. I have never been so happy and so sad at the same time. Well, unless it was when we took our daughter to college. The thing that was different this time was the spiritual depth of the experience. Since our son is attending a Christian school which takes both learning and discipleship extremely seriously, the service was more than a ceremony. It was truly a dedication of our sons and daughters to the care of God for the next four years.  It was really even more than that, but I can’t really explain it all yet.

So, needless to say, my emotions were in hyperdrive and my blood sugar followed. High all day, never dropping much below 175 until of course, in the middle of the night, when it hit 60.  I knew those rage boluses would catch up with me.  I said to my husband this morning that I didn’t feel all that emotional, but I guess my blood sugar was a more accurate indicator of my emotional involvement than I realized. 

Today was better, as I tried to focus on the needs at hand, and listen to the presentations of the Provost’s Council (more interesting than it sounds).  I really am so very happy with his choice of school for many reasons, and that does indeed help with the sadness that keeps washing over me.  Dinner was tough tonight as both my husband and I gave into the tears, marking the passing of an era in our home.  And I sort of dread church tomorrow, with no violin-playing son up on the chancel.  Another roller-coaster blood sugar day in store, no doubt. 

Life is never dull with diabetes. Or with kids.

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The epic adventure

We traveled over 4000 miles in our minivan over the past week and a half, moving our daughter to her new teaching job in Las Vegas.  Yep, Las Vegas. Who knew that Vegas is a great place to teach music?  Turns out it really is, and we are happy to see her settled in her new apartment and working diligently to get ready for the school year.

Travel is always tricky with diabetes. First is the packing.  You have to pack for the worst case scenario.  I take this very seriously. If my pump decides to up and quit (not an unknown event in my life!) I need back-up sources of insulin, so that means pens (two of them for two types of insulin), needles, and alcohol wipes. Then there’s all the paraphernalia associated with a pump – infusion sites (and plenty of them, since they fail with regularity especially under stess), cartridges, more alcohol wipes, etc, etc. Then there’s the insulin itself that has to be kept at a relatively constant temperature, not too hot, not too cold.  And supplies for the Dexcom, new sensors in case the one I have on fails, and back-ups and more back-ups…..  And other meds.  So I cannot pack light anymore.  I overprepare because I do NOT want to be caught unaware by diabetes disasters.

Then comes the traveling itself. Turns out that my blood sugar does just fine when I am the passenger in a car, but rises steadily upwards when I drive. I have not tried to figure that one out, it’s hard enough just to deal with it.  And on this particular trip, since we started out with two cars (and ended up with one, but that’s another story for another time….), I was driving a lot. I tried increasing my basal rate of insulin to deal with the driving bump, but the problem is that takes an hour and a half or so to kick in, and by then, I was often a passenger again!

And finally, there is dealing with the destination, which in this case, was hot and dry.  Really hot and dry.  112 degrees and 10% humidity.  Amazingly my blood sugars were pretty stable. There were a couple of days when we were so active that I could pretty much eat any snack I wanted to without budging my BG.  It was wonderful.

So while this trip was certainly manageable in terms of diabetes, I really resented its intrusion into my life during the adventure. I could not just turn it off, or put off treating a low because the scenery was too beautiful to stop and test, dose and eat. (I did that once, ignoring the warnings coming from my Dexcom, and paid for it eventually with a stubborn low BG.)  I wanted to just enjoy being a family without the hassle of diabetes.  I think not being able to turn it off (or turn my pancreas back on) is the most frustrating thing about this disease.

But I am also very grateful for the small and great mercies of God that we saw on this trip. Protecting Sarah from harm when her car slammed into a guardrail.  Finding and signing for an adorable apartment within 24 hours of arriving in Vegas. A fun day with my husband strolling the Strip and seeing those incredible hotels.  The much unexpected early arrival of the Pod full of Sarah’s stuff.  Safe travel home (we passed some really horrific accidents.) The absolutely gorgeous landscapes of the West that just kept making my jaw drop, on the way out and again on the way back (twice the beauty!).   Friendly people in a new city.  I could go on and on, but my computer battery is about to die……

So I continue to learn patience to live with diabetes. I don’t really like it and I would gladly give it up.  But there are indeed some things I wouldn’t trade that have come my way because of this disease. Couldn’t it be just a little easier?

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