A Diabetes Blog Week Thank You

Diabetes Blog Week 2013

I want to thank Karen Graffeo at Bitter-Sweet for organizing Diabetes Blog Week again this year. I know it’s not an easy feat to prepare the writing prompts, get the word out, and keep track of the hundreds of participating bloggers, and I appreciate all of the hard work.

Even though I wasn’t able to finish out the full week, I was glad I had the chance to share some of my experiences and read posts from so many others. As in past years, the week was a powerful reminder that I am not alone with diabetes.

If you missed any of Diabetes Blog Week, you can find the full list of participants here and links to each topic here.

Thanks again, Karen! I’m already looking forward to year five.

Diabetes Blog Week Day 5: Freaky Friday

Diabetes Blog Week 2013

Just like in the movie, today we’re doing a swap. If you could switch chronic diseases, which one would you choose to deal with instead of diabetes? And while we’re considering other chronic conditions, do you think your participation in the DOC has affected how you treat friends and acquaintances with other medical conditions?

I have been thinking about this topic all week, but still have come up empty. I can’t think of another chronic disease I’d like to deal with instead of diabetes. That’s not to say I choose diabetes. I just know that I don’t know enough to say something else would be less scary/constant/expensive/energy draining.

If anything, this prompt reminded me of the things I have in common with anyone with a chronic disease. We share many of the same daily challenges: the constant focus on health, worry about the future, struggle with insurance, and general exhaustion. We also share courage and strength that we likely didn’t know existed pre-diagnosis.

What would make Freaky Friday really incredible is if everyone with a chronic condition could be free of it for one day…a 24-hour vacation of pure, disease-free bliss. I would soak in every second of that day, eating without thinking about blood sugar, exercising without fearing a low, and leaving the house without any diabetes supplies in tow.

Diabetes Blog Week Day 4: Accomplishments Big and Small

Diabetes Blog Week 2013

We don’t always realize it, but each one of us had come a long way since diabetes first came into our life. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 5 weeks, 5 years or 50 years, you’ve done something outstanding diabetes-wise. So today let’s share the greatest accomplishment you’ve made in terms of dealing with your (or your loved one’s) diabetes. No accomplishment is too big or too small…

My last three posts focused on negative aspects of diabetes, so today I’m glad to be writing about something positive. I’ve been living with diabetes since January 2010 and come a long way since that time. Below are a few diabetes-related things I’m proud of. I don’t know if they’re necessarily accomplishments, but they’re certainly positive things that have emerged from my life with D.

1. I no longer pass out every time I’m poked with a needle. Having blood work done every quarter and giving myself shots multiple times a day took care of that.

2. I have refused to let diabetes get in the way of exercise. I knew working out would be trickier the moment I started insulin, but haven’t let it stop me. That doesn’t mean the fear isn’t there, but I’ve focused on being prepared and learning as I go. I always have my meter and glucose tabs on me, and have frequent conversations with my endocrinologist about exercise-related adjustments.

3. I have found joy in food. Living with diabetes equals a challenging relationship with food. Despite those challenges, my love for cooking and eating has remained, or even grown. I’ve channeled my passion into many kitchen experiments, finding happiness in creating delicious low-glycemic dishes, like double chocolate cookies and baked oatmeal.

Diabetes Blog Week Day 3: Memories

Diabetes Blog Week 2013

Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere…. your or your loved one’s diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share.

I’ve written about many of my most memorable diabetes days before, like my initial diagnosis and the day I started insulin. I’ve also covered some positive diabetes memories, including walking for a cure with Team Ninjabetic, meeting up with other PWDs in Vegas, and winning Sam Talbot’s blogger contest. In terms of what I haven’t already shared, the memory that is freshest in my mind is a low I experienced on Easter.

My boyfriend and I had decided to walk to a restaurant in our neighborhood for brunch. It was a beautiful day, and we were happy to sit outside and enjoy the weather. After ordering an egg dish with roasted vegetables and farro, I did my carb calculation. Thinking I was playing it safe by likely underestimating the carbs in my meal, I injected insulin.

When my meal came out a few minutes later, I realized I had overestimated – by a lot. There were about two tablespoons of farro on my plate. I figured we could order dessert when we were done with our meals. Nothing jumped out at us when we looked at the dessert menu 30 minutes later, though, so we decided to just have ice cream at home.

It was only a 15-minute walk back, but it seemed like forever. I was starting to feel a bit off. Still, I stopped in one of my favorite shops along the way, wanting to take advantage of a free afternoon. I was skimming through a rack of clothes when it hit me. I suddenly felt low, low, low. Panic set in and I told my boyfriend we had to go.

I knew I should have stopped and tested, or started stuffing my face with sugar, but just wanted to get home. We were only a few blocks away. After what felt like a mile, I stumbled inside, soaking with sweat, seeing black spots, and likely seconds from passing out. My blood sugar was 45 and dropping.  My boyfriend sprung into action, handing me glucose tabs and a glass of cold water. Over the next 30 minutes, I made my way up into the 90s.

I’ve had bad lows before, but have never felt that low. It completely knocked me down, leaving me exhausted, shaken, and angry the rest of the day. I knew I had too much insulin in my body for what I had eaten, and I knew I needed to get more glucose in my system as soon as possible, but I didn’t want to feel like diabetes had control. So I waited for my choice of dessert, even though it was a walk away, and I stopped along the route, even though I knew time wasn’t on my side. I was furious at myself for causing the low to happen.

I’ve eased up a bit on the blame now that some time has passed, but I haven’t forgotten the low. It continues to remind me of the power of insulin and the importance of taking action as soon as things feel off.

Diabetes Blog Week Day 2: We, The Undersigned

Diabetes Blog Week 2013

Recently various petitions have been circulating the Diabetes Online Community, so today let’s pretend to write our own. Tell us who you would write the petition to – a person, an organization, even an object (animate or inanimate) – get creative!! What are you trying to change and what have you experienced that makes you want this change?

One of the most obnoxious things about living with diabetes is the constant barrage of inaccurate and sensationalized media coverage surrounding the disease. From TV news stories attempting to summarize a medical study in 30 seconds, to magazine features offering tips to reverse diabetes, much of the coverage harms more than it helps. Rather than educating the public about diabetes, the media tends to reinforce incorrect and harmful stereotypes. Sadly, these stereotypes are what most people know about diabetes.  (If I had a nickel for everyone who told me I look too healthy to have the disease or questioned if I missed eating sweets, I would be a rich woman.)

So, I’d like to petition the media to be more thoughtful in their coverage of diabetes. I’d like to ask them to take the time to explain what type 1 and 2 really mean, and avoid relying on stereotypes for either. I’d like to challenge them to think about the millions of people who live with the condition day in and day out, and how careless reporting may negatively impact them.  I’d like to push them to proactively educate the public and use their influence to raise awareness about diabetes.

I know I’m not the first one to make this plea and I certainly won’t be the last. Until the media consistently covers diabetes in an accurate and informative way, you can bet that we, the undersigned, will keep pleading.

Diabetes Blog Week Day 1: Share and Don’t Share

Diabetes Blog Week 2013

I’d like to get back into blogging again, but need a push. So, I’m thrilled that today kicks off the fourth Diabetes Blog Week, organized once again by Karen Graffeo of Bitter-Sweet. I’ve been participating in the annual event since its start in 2010, which occurred just a few months after my diagnosis. The week provided me with a helpful introduction to the diabetes online community back then and continues to offer an awesome forum for conversation and support.

For the next seven days, hundreds of bloggers will share their thoughts on a series of diabetes-related topics. Today’s prompt focuses on what we share with our health care team:

Often our health care team only sees us for about 15 minutes several times a year, and they might not have a sense of what our lives are really like. Today, let’s pretend our medical team is reading our blogs. What do you wish they could see about your and/or your loved one’s daily life with diabetes? On the other hand, what do you hope they don’t see? 

Thinking about this topic, I had trouble coming up with one specific thing I wish my endocrinologist could see. Rather, I realized that I wish she could experience an entire day in my life with diabetes. There are issues that we talk about in my brief appointments – my challenges with lows during exercise, or increasing insulin needs in the morning – but these are just the things I bring up. The things I don’t mention are just as important.

These are the kinds of things my doctor might consider the “routine” of diabetes care – the blood sugar checking, carb counting, insulin dosing, and injecting. While these activities are everyday, they are far from routine, having to be adjusted constantly based on the activities of my daily life. Everything from stress to travel to working out can throw things off, forcing me to think on my feet and make educated guesses as I go.

Some days involve what feels like hundreds of diabetes-related decisions, each of which has physical, mental, and emotional components. Yes, mental and emotional. My days include a wide range of reactions, suited to deal with any situation my broken pancreas throws my way. The satisfaction of correctly guessing the number of carbs in a restaurant meal can quickly be replaced by the panic that accompanies a sudden low or the frustration of a stubborn high. Self-negotiation and encouragement are as routine as finger pricks.

It is impossible to convey these aspects of my daily life in a 15-minute appointment. Yet, they are a critical part of my experience with diabetes. If my endocrinologist could truly see what a day in my life is like, I think it would bring her understanding and ability to troubleshoot to a whole new level.

The DX

A few weeks ago, writer Catherine Price interviewed me for a story for The DX, a website sponsored by Sanofi. The interview focused on how my passion for food relates to my experience with diabetes. Catherine and I had a great time chatting, quickly realizing we could have talked for hours. Along with also having diabetes, she shares my obsessive love for food.

The feature was posted earlier this week and can be read here. Catherine did a wonderful job capturing my story and weaving together my experiences with health and food (thank you, Catherine!).

The DX