Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes


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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Weird days

I have had some weird days lately. I am just coming off of a pump vacation. I took six weeks off of my pump and am really glad I did. I proved to myself that I could do just as well with shots (as I did at the beginning of this adventure) as I have done with a pump. That was helpful to know. I had become too involved with technology and just needed to go simple for a while.  I did. Now I’m done with that and happy to be back on my pump again. It was a little weird for the first few days to get used to that bump on my hip again, but that soon passed as my pump became part of  me again. (As an aside, I knew I was ready to go back on my pump when the shots actually starting hurting again!)

Last week I had a couple of days of roller coaster blood sugars that kept me off balance.  The weird part was that it did not frustrate me nearly as much as episodes like that in the past have done.  I am extremely grateful for this. At the time, I was working on writing a testimony of how God has changed me since being diagnosed. The relative calm I experienced has a lot to do with the things I said in that testimony. You can read it here if you are interested.  I am hoping that this relative peace through the rocky times  is my new normal.

It also made me realize that living with diabetes is really just a series of weird days. No day is like the one before it or the one after.  A new and mostly unwanted surprise is waiting just around the corner.  The low that hit me last night at midnight was the same as any other midnight low and not as extreme as some, but sent me into a sweaty panic, looking for something other than the raisins I had at my bedside to treat it. Why did I go stumbling into the kitchen looking for  something else?  I ended up just grabbing another box of raisins and heading back to bed, knocking stuff off tables and making a racket along the way.  Why was this low different than the others?

But here’s the thing. Maybe because of having to write that testimony, which required me to think back on how I have changed in the past five and a half years since diagnosis, I feel more capable of handling ‘weird’. I feel stronger.  More confident.  I am not idealistic about it- I know the challenges of diabetes have not changed. But maybe I will feel less a victim of those challenges and more equipped to cope with them.

God really HAS changed me.

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A good friend suggested this topic for my blog today. At first I wasn’t sure I could find my way with it but the more I think about the more I realize that word – change – has certainly been the key word of my life recently.

A lot of this change has been good. I have grown spiritually, and I am so thankful for that. I have been challenged to look deeply within myself, and especially at the way I deal with the ups and downs of diabetes. What I have seen isn’t pretty. Frustration, anger, hopelessness – not something that should characterize the life of someone who claims to live as a Christian. So I am working on this, with the Spirit’s help, taking thoughts captive and letting God’s Word rule my heart, not the emotion-of-the-minute. It’s good. Really good. I’m not perfect at it by any means, but I’m growing.

But some of the change is more of a challenge. I went back to taking a medication I had been on before with hopes of flattening out some of the roller-coasters in my blood sugar numbers (and hoping it would also help me lose weight). This time on the med was a disaster. Nausea, exhaustion, crazy numbers at night – it was a mess. So I gave up after a month and things are improving. But it was disappointing, as changes often are. I had high hopes of making my life easier with fewer highs and lows. But apparently that med was not the way that was going to happen.

And of course there are the constant changes that characterize life with T1D. A CDE asked me yesterday what the biggest challenge of diabetes is for me. I actually laughed when she asked, and said “I have to choose one?”. But finally I said “Unpredictability”. At the moment, my BG was sitting at 275, after being below 100 most of the day. I was frustrated by how long it was taking that high to come down, especially since I had no idea what had caused it in the first place. The moment by moment changes in blood sugar blow me away sometimes. On a good day, I can look at it and marvel at how incredible the human body is when it works to keep blood sugar in range all the time. When you have to be your own pancreas, you develop a great appreciation for physiological processes that regulate things like blood glucose so precisely without my even having to think about it.  I can’t keep my BG in range for more than a few hours at a time, but a living breathing pancreas just does it all the time with no problem. And so when I look at now changeable my blood sugar is every day, it is hard not to wish for the good old days when my beta cells worked.

I also have been feeling like my body is betraying me. First it turns on itself and kills off my beta cells, bringing diabetes into my life. And now my knee is shot, and I am looking at knee replacement in early May. And all through this, for the last six months or so, I have just felt so tired. Like someone pulled a plug and it drained me of energy that isn’t coming back. I am not resigned to just saying this is inevitable. I want to fight back against these changes and take charge. I know the beta cells aren’t coming back, barring a miracle or a cure. I am hopeful that a new knee will restore some of the energy that is now being sucked away by dealing with that pain.

Nothing in our lives is static. If it weren’t diabetes in my life bringing the challenge, no doubt it would be something else. Mostly I like change. I grew up as an Air Force kid, and moved around a lot. I liked that life, and get a little antsy if things are static for too long. But what I have realized is that I prefer the change that I choose, not the change that God chooses to bring into my life. And that is my growing edge.