Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

A new life – for six months

I am sitting in the sunporch of my parents’ home in rural Illinois, my temporary home for the next six months.  My husband is doing sabbatical research at the University of Illinois and we get to enjoy a taste of country living. (My parents are living in assisted living and memory care about 45 minutes away – more on that in another post….)  As a result, my blog posts will take on a new character, not so much focused on diabetes as on just life in general and my thoughts and experiences of this new and different kind of life. It DOES affect my T1D, so there will be comments about that, but I have an entirely different routine and fewer responsibilities outside the house, so I am taking this time to reset and re-order my life.

Sounds ambitious. But I have the opportunity to spend six months away from my ‘normal’ life, to look at it from afar and to consider how it will look when we return from this little odyssey.  What things will change in my life? Am I satisfied with what I am doing now, or do I need to add or drop something? All of this is going to take thought, prayer and time to just stew on it all.

But, here’s how it is going so far.  We have been here 3 full days. Each day I have gotten up around 6, had my quiet time, then headed out to the garden by the driveway where my mom grew herbs and roses to clear it out and re-plant it. So far I have cleared the upper tier (there are two smaller lower tiers where the roses are) that had been completely taken over by peppermint. Now, I love peppermint, but this is truly an INVASIVE SPECIES. The root systems entangle themselves together and my whole body aches from digging, pulling, cutting and just generally whacking the daylights out of the ground to get it all out.  It has been totally worth it. The upper tier is now planted in a whole bunch of lavender and some rosemary, basil and parsley with room for some other things if I decide I want more. I have learned that lavender is a natural moth-deterrent, and with my, um, large-ish yarn stash, I am growing a lot of it to make sachets to protect it naturally.  It is incredibly satisfying work, I must say. So much more rewarding than just walking for exercise!

I am still figuring out how all of this affects my blood sugar.  I tried not giving myself any insulin for breakfast, and just assuming I would work off the carbs as I worked in the garden.  Nope. Went high and stuck there for a few hours.  Then really low about 7 hours later (which is what I usually do after exercise).  So, this morning I dosed about half of what I normally would for breakfast, went out to work in the yard, and so far so good.  This afternoon, about 6 hours post-yard work, I will probably lower my basal rate to try to prevent the low.  It’s all really a crap shoot, but I will give it a try….. All in all, I find I am much less uptight about my blood glucose numbers. I am not sure why, but I like the lower stress I am putting on myself….

Otherwise, life is pretty good.  In the afternoons, I have been doing some work around the house (which has been unoccupied for a year and a half, and needs clearing out, cleaning, etc.), starting my sabbatical reading (first up is Women and God by Kathleen Nielson), knitting (YEA!) and doing some more cleaning (it seems never ending).  I will be spending at least one day a week over visiting with my mom, doing errands with her, trying to find some fun places to take her and spending time with my dad (he is in memory care). Last night we went out around 10 pm and watched the International Space Station fly over. The fireflies are incredibly abundant out here and put on their own show. The frogs even sang to us.  It was pretty wonderful. We brought the telescope I gave my husband for Christmas with us (I had this sabbatical in mind, since the viewing should be good from out here in the middle of nowhere…..) so we hope to do some skywatching in the coming days.

Finally, I like seeing my husband starting to unwind and enjoy this time a bit too.  He was under a good bit of stress at work before we left and I think he is finally starting to be able to consider the work he will be doing here (though there is still stuff to take care of back there….)

OK, enough for now. There is much more to come, and I hope to post at least weekly if not more.  Blogging allows me to think things through and try out new ideas on myself, so you will get to share my musings over the coming months!

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Ups and downs

It has been way too long since I have posted anything here. I am hoping to get back in the routine of writing every couple of weeks. Since we have a sabbatical coming up, I should have more time to write.  It’s not as if I have not had anything to say about life with type 1 diabetes.  On the contrary, the last few weeks have been way too eventful.

The main issue is that I have returned to more or less regular exercise. This is a good thing, and I definitely feel better because of it and have lowered my basal rate and overall doses of insulin. This is the good news.  The bad news is that it throws a wrench in managing my blood glucose before and after exercise, and I have had to endure way too many lows in this process.   I want to make exercise fit into my life rather than allow diabetes to dictate when I exercise.  That really does not seem to work all that well yet.

I won’t bore anyone with the details of all of this, but really, the numbers are not so much what I want to write about.  It’s my attitude toward the numbers – the thing probably all of us struggle with. I really do try to see them as just NUMBERS, but, yeah, I am not always successful.  After a particularly frustrating day and a rough low that I did not really deal with all that well, a good friend (with whom I had been texting throughout the ordeal) finally got frustrated enough with me that she said “I wish you would learn to coexist with your diabetes instead of fighting it!”

Wow. That stopped me in my (complaining and whining) tracks.  I have been living in a battle zone within my own body.  She is right – that needs to stop.  Oh how I wish this were a simple thing to do.  I don’t have a nice neat strategy for how to do this, it is one step at a time, one low at a time and one high at a time.

As a Christian, my attitudes are all tied up with my faith. Do I believe God is good and that He loves me? Do I believe He is sovereign over my life? Do I believe my trials have a purpose?  My head says ‘yes’ to all of these questions, but my heart is not so consistent.  I have been experiencing a lot of fatigue these past few weeks, and that contributes to my discouragement, making it harder to control my emotions and attitudes.  It’s complicated. But I am trying to walk in the light rather than the darkness.  One step at a time.

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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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