Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

Knitting as my ‘cure’ for diabetes stress

We all need strategies for dealing with the stress that diabetes brings into our lives.  The highs and lows and sudden empty pumps and sites that malfunction and awkward questions that people ask and….well, you get the idea.  I have noticed recently that I am handling some of that stress better these days and I have been wondering why. Some of it has to do with a change in jobs and working fewer hours, so I have more energy left over to deal with the stress – because the level of stress from diabetes does NOT seem to let up. EVER.

In a conversation with a friend recently, I realized that knitting is one big way I cope with the daily ups and downs of living with T1D. I think that it is the ability to have control that makes knitting a great stress reliever. I can look at a pattern and know that (within certain limits) I can reproduce that object in a way that will bring me pleasure.  Knit, purl, yarn over, knit 2 together, these are regular, repeatable moves that result in the same thing every time.  That is not true for anything related to diabetes.  That kind of predictability is comforting and soothing.  Sure, I might have to rip out rows of knitting to fix a mistake, but even then, I know I will be happier having done so and I can always re-knit what I took out.  I can try any number of things to ‘fix’ a blood sugar ‘mistake’ and the results are far less  reliable.

So I knit. And knit some more.  I am soothed, I can relax and for a period of time, I can forget that diabetes is just lurking around the next corner, waiting to surprise me with some craziness.

How do you cope with diabetes-induced stress?

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Hope

A friend asked me this week how my Christian faith affects how I deal with diabetes.  It seemed like a question I should have thought about a lot, but it turns out that I haven’t. I have thought  lot about what I am learning about God and my relationship with Him due to the daily unpredictability of diabetes, and so how diabetes affects my faith. But turn that question around – how does my faith inform my thinking and dealing with diabetes? – and I was stumped.

So, this is my attempt to work that out. I am leading a Bible study of the book of 1 Peter. Peter talks a lot about suffering and how our hope in Christ is the key to holding on to our faith while we suffer.  He emphasizes the precious nature of our salvation too, to underscore that holding on to faith is worth the trouble.  There is also a  troubling verse: In this, (the living hope that is being kept in heaven for us), you rejoice, though now or a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7

Two things strike me from these verses that relate to how my faith affects my life with diabetes.  First, if necessary.  God has deemed it necessary that I deal with this. I trust in the sovereignty of God as well as in the perfect goodness of God. That means that I believe type 1 diabetes was no surprise to Him, and that He has a good purpose for me in it.  And that good purpose is the second point: The goal of my having diabetes is that the tested genuineness of my faith will result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus returns.

This goal then informs how I cope with crazy roller coaster blood sugars, or the emotional roller coaster that goes along with that, or the exhaustion or burn-out or frustration of not knowing why my body is acting the way it is.  It is more important that I honor Christ in all of this than whether my management of diabetes is perfect (which it NEVER will be).

The other thing that 1 Peter is teaching me is that honoring Christ begins in my mind.  Controlling my feelings and my actions begins with a mind that is turned toward Christ. I need HIM to steer me away from self-pity and toward thinking about His suffering on my behalf. I need Christ to show me that there is glory in suffering, in sharing a tiny bit of what He suffered.  I need Christ to help me persevere when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and just quit trying to manage a disease that does not want to be managed.

Having faith in that Christ means that I have hope.  Hope that I am never alone in my walk in this world. Hope that He is always faithful to give me what I need when I need it. Hope that He is faithful to forgive when I need it, and to restore me to Himself so that I can move on. Hope in Christ is not just for heaven. It is for this moment, for every time I feel like a failure and that I will never get it right.

Hope in Christ.  That is how faith affects my life, not just in dealing with diabetes, but in every part of it.  It is just more obvious that I need that hope to cope with the ups and downs of diabetes.  Maybe that’s why it is necessary that I am being grieved by this particular trial………..

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That elusive thing called discipline

Discipline.  It’s one of the things that is required to manage diabetes. It is also helpful to be disciplined about things like work, managing a home, raising children – fun stuff like that.  But what I have been confronted with lately is that I am not good at persevering at discipline.  I want a vacation from having to be disciplined!

But of course, diabetes does not take vacations.  If I drop my guard, chaos ensues.  It’s a downward spiral of eating badly, neglecting exercise and then the rotten blood sugars that result from all of this.  That makes me grumpy and I feel hopeless, so it is hard to muster up the energy to fix what needs to be fixed.

So I am trying to get back on the discipline bandwagon.  Exercise is a good place to start. When I am exercising regularly, I tend to eat better. Something about how hard it is to make myself exercise makes me want to make better choices about what I eat so that I don’t sabotage that effort.  It is especially hard to motivate myself to exercise in the awful heat and humidity that we are enduring right now.  I do love to swim, but it is more convenient to walk, and I feel like I need to strengthen my knee a bit, so I am trying to walk as often as possible, despite the weather.

And here’s the good news.  Starting to exercise regularly makes me want to continue. Maybe it’s the endorphins, but whatever it is, I am grateful that it works like this.  There is also something weirdly satisfying about coming in after a 2 mile walk all sweaty and hot and knowing I DID  IT.

So, I will hopefully hang in there with this for a while, varying between walking and swimming as I can, and seeing good results.  Diabetes being what it is, there is no guarantee that just because I do everything I think I should that I will see great blood sugars. But at least I know I am doing what I can to manage this disease as best I can.  For now.

 

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