Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

The end of another year

I couldn't resist showing off my sock and a half!

I couldn’t resist showing off my sock and a half!

As I sat here knitting the second sock in a pair of really cool looking striped socks, it occurred to me that perhaps I should do some reflecting about this past year with diabetes.  It certainly has been a year of ups and downs.  Blood glucose ups and downs, emotional ups and downs and spiritual ups and downs.  When I think about it all, it just makes me tired. Which, come to think of it, characterizes how I have felt much of this year – tired. I’m not complaining. I don’t mind tired.  Tired means I have worked hard at something, and perhaps even accomplished something worthwhile.

The ups and downs of blood glucose are something I realize I am just going to have to live with for the rest of my life. (This is not a particularly encouraging thought, by the way.)  While in general, my management of diabetes is pretty good (as measured by my A1C levels, anyway), there are still plenty of ups and downs that mess with my mind and body.  The past couple of weeks have been good examples of this.  For about a week or two earlier in December, my BG was running quite low almost all the time.  I had to set my insulin pump to deliver less insulin all day long, as well as to lower other settings for the amount of insulin I took for meals.  This seemed to come on very suddenly, and I admit, I whined about it a lot.  Going low two or three times a day was really messing with my life.  After a little less than a week of this, things seemed to go back to normal. And now, as if to convince me that I really am NOT in control of this disease, I am running high most of the time. I have restored all my pump settings to what they were before the run of lows, and try hard not to give in to the desire to rage bolus my way out of the highs.

This brings me to the emotional highs and lows of the year.  Despite what I just said in the previous paragraph, I do think I have made progress this year on bringing some stability to my emotions related to diabetes.  I still get frustrated, but the  swings are not quite as wild.  A lot of this is due to great advice and support, and encouragement to take a rational view of what is going on rather than considering every unpredictable swing in my blood sugar as my fault.  I am so thankful that I do not have to deal with this disease on my own.  I’d be a mess.

Spiritually it has been a rich year.  Not all of it has been pleasant or easy, but I can truly look back and see that the Lord has taught me some important lessons about patience and forbearance and reliance on Him that I could only have learned by dealing with some hard things. I also realize that my life is still incredibly blessed, and that my having to deal with diabetes, as consuming as it may be, is nothing compared to what many people have to deal with.  I have grown to love the Scriptures and the truths of the gospel more deeply, maybe because I come to the end of my own strength on a regular basis these days.

So at the end of 2013, I still wish I had never heard a diagnosis of diabetes, or learned more than I ever wanted to know about insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors and other diabetes related technology and treatment.  But I wouldn’t trade the things that have come along with that diagnosis – the lessons learned, the friendships that have developed because of it, the relationships that have deepened as a result of my sharing this journey, and the love that I have felt from God, family members and friends through it all – these are all precious to me.  If you have been part of that, thank you.  All of this makes me look forward to 2014, knowing that it probably won’t go the way I always want it to, but it WILL go in the way

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Three years…….

My third Diaversary passed last month.  That is a euphemism for “I’ve had this blasted disease for three years now”.  I didn’t actually celebrate this milestone, but I did notice it.  It has prompted me to reflect on the impact of diabetes on my life, and to wonder what the future looks like (thought honestly I think much less about the future, since I have no idea what is in store and I’d rather leave that in God’s hands).  So I thought I would take some time to record these reflections, even if they are things I have written about before.

First of all the day to day, hour to hour changes that diabetes has brought into my life.  Pricking my finger 5-8 times a day, doing math in my head to figure out if I need to dose or eat, having robotic parts now attached to my body and carrying around a couple of wonderful but sometimes inconvenient pieces of hardware, making sure I have what I need to survive every time I leave home – all of these things have definitely changed the way I live now.  Taking time to refill my pump, change out the CGM sensor, order supplies, pick up prescriptions – all of these small but important tasks require my attention and time.  My schedule has changed to accommodate exercise on a regular basis. That’s definitely a good thing, and I am thankful that diabetes has driven me to be consistent with swimming since in addition to improving my blood sugar control,  I know it makes me feel better overall.  But it does require commitment and carving out time in my schedule, as well as the determination to get out on cold snowy mornings when jumping into a pool is the last thing I want to do.

Then there is the constant niggling in the back of my mind: Am I doing enough to manage this disease? Why do I go high, or low, when I least expect it? How did I get diabetes in the first place? Is it my fault? (This is a biggie – and a great guilt inducer.)  Why me? Am I using diabetes as an excuse or does it genuinely impair my ability to work at times? How will I cope with this disease as I get older?

On the other hand, there really are some good things that have come from having diabetes.  I try hard to balance the worries with these – I don’t like being a whiner.  I know I depend on God in ways I never would have without the stress of diabetes.  The Scriptures have come alive for me in ways I have never experienced.  I understand my weakness better (it’s hard to ignore it) and so I appreciate the strength that I find in Christ.  I appreciate the suffering of Christ more, which has caused me to see the abundance of grace in our salvation. I know my suffering is trivial compared to that of many other people, but this is what God has given me to deal with, and I am trying to learn what He is teaching me.

I have grown closer to friends and family.  I would not be doing as well as I am at managing this disease without the support and encouragement of so many people.  I am especially thankful for those who “get” diabetes (that would be you, Betty and Jane and Diana) – they are the ones who bring balance back to my life when I obsess on something related to diabetes. (And oh, how prone I am to obsession!)  I am thankful for the many who tell me they are praying for me. Wow.  That is humbling. I am thankful for those who help me through the lows, when all I want to do is curl up and sleep, or who help me wait out the highs until that I can cut through the fog in my brain.  It may just be a hand on the shoulder, or someone to sit with me or pray with me, or ask me if I have eaten anything recently. You know who you are and I am thankful for you.  I cannot do diabetes alone, and that has reminded me of the value of friendship and my need (and desire) to be a good friend in return.

So, another Diaversary has passed. I have dealt with diabetes for three years, which doesn’t sound like much when I say it out loud.  But man, it has sure turned my life on its head in ways that I never could have imagined.  I don’t think I can say yet that I am thankful for diabetes.  I’m still a ways from that. But I can say that on the whole, the good that it has brought into my life balances the bad.  For now, that will have to do.

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