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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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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