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I’m Not Your Type, Or Am I: Living With Type 1 Diabetes
My eyes open as I lay in bed. I can tell by the quality of light piercing through my shades that it’s the middle of the night.
It’s 3:30 am.
I’m not a good sleeper, so I’m not really surprised. I roll over, and out of habit, and also curiosity I grab my phone and look at my Dexcom7 app. It’s the app connected to the glucose monitor that I have inserted in an inconspicuous location on my lower back. It checks my sugar levels every 5 minutes.
I look at the number.
What the absolute f#@k?
It’s just one of them days (cue Monica: It’s just one of them days, that a girl goes through)
For those who have pancreases that operate every day as they should – healthy/normal glucose levels are somewhere around 80-120.
So yea. My number is high.
I drag my ass out of bed to get my insulin. Insulin is basically a steroid that allows my body to process sugar. I have to decide between taking 6 or 7 units. Not taking enough units means my sugar could stay slightly elevated. Taking too much means I could possibly have the opposite problem – low sugar and that would mean I ‘overcorrected’, and would have to eat some fast-acting sugar to get it back to the healthy range. Sound confusing? It’s ok – you don’t have to get all of that right now. Just know that I’m playing a guessing game and guessing wrong could make things even more frustrating.
I opt for taking 7 units because well, this sugar is high, and something tells me my body might be in a stubborn mood.
I thankfully go back to sleep without much trouble (which isn’t always the case) and to my surprise open my eyes again at 8:42 am. Without thinking, I roll over and hope that my sugar levels are good. I would take the 140’s as a big win. No win today.
What the absolute f#@k?
I’m still exhausted, but I drag my ass out of bed and shoot up another 7 units.
It Is What It Is.
First of all, I hate this saying. I always have. Ask my husband Ryan. I sort of, kind of, slowly helped to eradicate this from his vernacular, but I digress.
I still dislike this saying, but I changed my relationship with it to mean acceptance. In the past, I looked at it as giving up on something that can be influenced or changed.
I could just put my hands in the air and say, ‘It is what it is!' Accepting this would enable me to know that I did what I could to ‘fix’ my sugar (by shooting up) and keep it moving.
But that’s not the response I have.
My mind goes through a list of questions:
- What did I eat last night?
- I had corn on the cob, grilled chicken, and raw veggies. Not too bad. Those seem like pretty good choices to me. CHECK
- Did I take my medicine with dinner, or did I forget?
- I took it, I remember distinctly being on the roof shooting up. CHECK
- Did I eat anything else after dinner?
- Yep, I had a graham cracker. Wanted something slightly sweet. CHECK
- Did I take medicine with this snack?
- No. S**t. Maybe that did it. But no, that’s crazy, it wouldn’t cause that kind of issue overnight. CHECK
- So what changed? What was different about yesterday, anything?
- Well, it was hot and humid. That can make things tough. (yes, temperature/humidity can impact sugar levels, because every damn thing impacts your endocrine system…but, I digress). But no, that can’t be causing THIS right now. I was in air conditioning all night. OOOOHH, my acupuncture appointment.
There it is. We have the culprit. And in this rare moment, I get to let myself off the hook. I don’t go into blame for my choices, which can be another route I go when I choose the pizza, the pasta, or the dessert. But not this time. I was trying to do something good, but there was a short-term implication.
In My Head
Yesterday I went to an acupuncture/Eastern medicine appointment with Stephen. I had been to him once before and knew it was time to go back. My lower back was acting up for the past few months, and then actually when I was in the appointment, realized that my appetite had also been a bit off the past week or so. I get excited to see what else is possible to improve my health. Acupuncture is supposed to be really good for blood glucose control, as well as a bunch of other things.
As I go through the mental gymnastics, I slowly remember that when I had acupuncture a long time ago, my sugar was way off for a day or so.
I text Stephen (so cool, he makes himself available!) and the energy behind my message to him says something like; ‘my sugar is a sh*t show so, just checking in to see if this seems normal, or if my brain needs to keep searching for answers…’.
My brain is satisfied. It found a reason (I don’t always get the satisfaction); Stephen confirms – yea sometimes the sugar can get out of whack and can take some time to settle.
I close my eyes. I take a deep breath. I relax, having solved the problem. My food inner critic lets me off the hook. She says ‘Oooh, it wasn’t your fault’. Good ‘ole FIC; THANKS (said in my head sarcastically).
Now let me just be real. From my particular experience … nobody knows. Nobody knows why sugar levels are going up and down, it’s all guesses.
You know what impacts your sugar levels? EVERYTHING –
- what you eat
- what you drink (or don’t)
- your stress level
- your activity level and type (ie. cardio or strength, 45 min or an 8-hour hike?)
- your emotional state
- your hormones (yes, those)
- your elevation level (yea, you heard me – higher elevations – as in Denver, CO – can play you like a violin)
- your sleep health
Shall I keep going?
The difference between you (assuming you have a working pancreas) and me (living with Type 1 diabetes) is that for you, everything is working perfectly to adjust all the things that need adjusting in your endocrine system. The more I really think about this, it’s a damn miracle how amazing our bodies are! Your inner system is doing all the adjusting and you don’t even know about it! For me, I get to see through my sugar levels and how I might be feeling, what’s off because things aren’t correcting as they ‘should’.
So, the things that help me with my health journey aren’t just the western meds. There are other very helpful things I can do – and trust me, I’m sure there is so much more that I haven’t discovered yet.
So, I went in for that appointment with Stephen to move two steps forward on my health. And when I walked out of there, I thought to myself – ‘yea this was good, we are moving the needle’! Not just because of the impact in the moment, but because of the science he is giving me about what is happening when he helps my blood get moving and helps release my lactic acid buildup.
But the following morning I wake up and go through this mental workout to ‘figure sh*t out’.
And at the same time, frustration builds. Sadness builds. I want to have lots of energy today. It’s July 4th. We’re having people over for a BBQ later. It’s my day off. I want to bounce around the house with energy and joy and follow what my heart wants to do.
But I can’t. I’m exhausted, despite sleeping for over 10 hours.
In My Heart
I’m frustrated – I have no control over ‘fixing’ this – no matter how much insulin I take. And by the way, since insulin is a steroid, the more you take, the harder it is to control/lose weight. So…it’s not good to just go crazy and pump yourself with insulin.
But my frustration on this day went beyond the numbers. It’s frustrating to do something for my health that makes me feel like I took a big step backward. I’m human, I want instant gratification.
I’m sad – Why me? Why do I have to deal with this? Why can’t things be easier? This is stressing me out!!
I’m disheartened – Now I have to consider all my food choices today more rigorously because the best thing is to eat extremely low carb and drink lots of water. But we’re having a party and I want the chips, the vino and the potato salad (yes, I love all things potato).
I’m also grateful – I made the appointment on a day before a holiday. At least I don’t have the pressure of working. Not something I was planning on, but it could be worse if I had work commitments.
I’m inspired – I’m inspired to remember this is my journey in life. This experience reminds me why it’s so hard for anyone to understand how Type 1 impacts you on so many levels. I’m inspired to use this moment to write about it – to serve others in helping their friends, family, community, colleagues, and beyond to understand more about the weight that’s carried for folks who have special diet needs and the myriad of ways our inner critics can show up. I’m inspired to help others release shame and feeling alone in the journey and to find more self-compassion and empathy. And I’m inspired to help those who don’t have the condition, to better understand and have empathy and non-judgment for those who do.
So here I am, writing to you. Sugar level?
Still a stubborn 268.
But I feel better. I feel better using this hard moment to make it easier for someone else. It’s how I alchemize my pain… in service of others (and myself).
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Such is life, is it not?
I talk all the time about life not being linear. Career paths. Healing. Relationships. Leadership. You name it. What makes it hard is that we want to SEE THE RESULTS and we want to see them NOW. Immediately upon doing the hard thing, we want to see things miraculously change:
- We want to get on the scale after the workout and see the difference.
- We want to shift our mindset today and see the manifestation of our desires tomorrow.
- We want to clear our unresolved history and welcome in the new vibes, like yesterday.
I know that going to that appointment with Stephen was a good idea and that it’s moving the needle on my health. In fact, I went because I had an intuitive hit to do so.
But the journey also required that I honor that my body had to go through some adjustment – and actually, isn’t that great? Isn’t that evidence that something shifted in my system? The journey also requires that I honor my need to rest and chill. And isn’t that a blessing? For my body to be very clear with what it needs in this moment? Yes, yes and yes.
AND it’s also emotional. AND I desire linear journeys.
So, I give myself grace. I write this post. I sit on my couch with my puppy. I let a friend know the truth about what today has brought, and that friend told me to ‘choose me’ today. Always, but especially today. Thanks, Deb.
And yes, I choose self-compassion. I allow the tears to fall. I allow the emotions. I reflect on this journey I’ve been on for over 20 years.
How far have I come? What am I celebrating? What am I still grieving?
So Much More…But First, Reflection
There is so much more to say about this topic. It’s not one that I have opened up about in-depth, but it’s time. It’s time because there are lessons to share about empathy, non-judgment, language, identity, support, illusion, denial, unresolved history, boundaries, our healthcare system, limited beliefs, and cultural implications … you catch my drift.
But I will continue in a future part two – because I think this post needs some space for processing.
So, here are a few journal prompt questions for you:
- What part of you needs more self-compassion?
- What in your life needs a deeper level of acceptance and surrender?
- What, or who in your life needs more patience, understanding, and empathy?
- How tuned in are you to the health needs of those you spend time with?
- How can you use your life experiences to serve someone else?
- What do you want to experiment with, in finding solutions to challenges you might be facing?
- Where do you want to pass the reigns from your head to your heart?
I take a quick last glance at my sugar.
I guess my stubbornness manifests in many ways. HA!
I wink to myself. I see you. I love you. And we got this.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and be sure you don’t miss it by signing up for my newsletter here: www.toscadimatteo.com/optin
Contact me to learn more about how I can support you in unleashing potential for you or your team by addressing the inner critics who are zapping energy and potential.