goals

The New World Of Martin

Back On Track

188. That is the number that greeted me Saturday when I stepped on the scale to see just how bad things were. After making significant progress in losing some of my heft, making as much progress as getting down into the mid-170’s by June of this year, at the beginning of July I had a bad diabetes moment, and despite my intentions to throw myself back into exercise and eating low carb, I’ve really lost focus.

My clothes fit a little more tight than they used to, and certainly more tight than I want them to. I look at myself in the mirror and I’m not happy with what I see. I want to look and feel sexy, and make the mistake of asking my reflection for my phone number when I walk by. I need to get new clothes too, as most of my clothes are well worn, some even with holes in them. But I refuse to go buy them when I’m at a weight and size that I’m not happy with. I don’t want to buy the size clothes that I am. I want to buy the size clothes that I want to be.

I’m also tired all the time. I don’t really sleep that much, and when I do it is restless and dream filled. Part of that is because I’m stressed all the time. I feel like I have for more to do than I have time to do it, all the time. It’s not just work, or life at home, or people I need to see, or things I need to do. It’s just the culmination of everything. It’s as if I can never get enough accomplished, and despite my generally optimistic view of the world, lately I feel frustrated because I end every day with a list of things I didn’t get done.

My eating habits are just plain gross since July. When I had my seizure, I really chewed up my tongue and mouth. For two weeks I could only eat soft foods like macaroni and cheese, applesauce, soft cookies, breads, and sometimes soup if it wasn’t too hot. Because I could barely chew or move food around in my mouth with my tongue, it completely broke down my low carb routine that I had been sticking with and was doing so good at keeping up. Now, because my routine changed, I’ve gotten accustomed to foods that I can eat fast, because I don’t have a lot of time to stop and put together a meal that is healthy and good for me. Rather than a breakfast made of something in the 20 grams of carbs or less family, I end up grabbing the blueberry or banana nut muffin that is 58 grams of carbs, just because it is fast, easy, and available. Rather than opt for a healthy salad or protein heavy lunch and taking time to pause and use both hands to enjoy it, I end up with the carb loaded option that I can eat with one hand so I can continue working with the other.

Emotionally, because I feel so far off track, I’m not happy. Sure, I still have a good time with friends, when I can find the time to get to hang out with them at least. A-Flizzle and I still enjoy doing things together. It’s not a social unhappiness, but rather a disappointment in myself for putting back on nearly all of the weight that I was so proud of myself for losing in the first half of this year. I don’t like the way I look, and I don’t like the way I feel.

So, all that said, the first step is looking at the situation objectively and admitting that there is a problem. Now what?

I looked over my 2011 goals, and I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m not severely off track. I got my A1C down, I joined a gym and started taking spin classes to have a group of people to regularly pedal with, I paid off my insulin pump, I’ve gotten to have adventures in Washington D.C., New York, New Orleans, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and I celebrated 30 years with diabetes and jumped out of an airplane.

I still struggle with wearing my CGM every single day, I haven’t ran a 5K, I haven’t made it to the dentist yet this year, and obviously (given the topic of this blog post) I haven’t made it to my goal weight yet.

I’m making an effort to be transparent. I want others to know that diabetes isn’t easy, but there are other things in life with and without diabetes that are also challenging. I’m going to get back on track. Maybe it’s shallow, but I want to look in the mirror and like what I see, so much that I throw dollar bills at my reflection.

Starting yesterday, I’m back in the gym. My BG’s are better when I’m active and working out, my disposition is more positive, and in time it will all translate to a lower number on the scale and a higher number on the miles I can go on my bike and the things I can accomplish with my body. I have to make time to do this, for me, and I have to stick with it, stay motivated and encouraged, and share my progress. That means my friends on Twitter and Facebook get to endure my constant status updates about my gym adventures, how I’m in spin class, working on my core, flexing in front of the mirrors, and looking like a complete amateur with my weak self trying to bench press and look all hard in front of all the juice heads.

I may not accomplish every one of the goals I’ve set for 2011, but I’m okay with that. If you achieve every single goal you set, you’re not setting them high enough.

I will feel better about myself and my body. I will get back to liking what I see in the mirror, enough so that I sneak my reflection a high five or a wink when nobody else is looking.

Right now I’m telling myself, “Self! You can do this.” And I will too.

The New World Of Martin

Me and Fireflight

What I’ve Overcome

Fireflight is a band that you’ve probably never heard of, so I hope you’ll humor me for a moment and let me give you an introduction. A Florida-based Christian rock band, Fireflight has put out three albums of music that just connects. After listening to their albums dozens of times, the songs are always the same, but I change, and I can identify with different songs at different times.

Me and Fireflight

Me and Fireflight - February 2010

Now, I realize that some folks read the words “Christian rock band” and have probably already stopped reading this post. That’s okay. The beauty of music is that it appeals to so many and not to everyone, at the same time. I’m diverse in my music preferences, which includes an affinity for metal bands such as Stone Sour, punk bands such as Green Day, pop bands such as Paramore, and even swing and jump blues bands such as Brian Setzer Orchestra.

For those of you still reading, there is a song out by Fireflight right now called “What I’ve Overcome.” This song is about the times when we fall down, and how much stronger we become when we find the strength to pick ourselves back up. It’s also about how much stronger we become when we have faith, and allow ourselves to be picked back up again by something bigger than just us.

The main line of the chorus of the song is, “I’m not what I have done, I’m what I’ve overcome.” We have all had struggles in our past. Many of us are struggling right now. For me, this song serves as a source of encouragement that we can overcome our challenges if we have faith, if we push forward, and if we can somehow find a way to use our past to fuel our future. In my world, that applies to a lot more than just diabetes. Maybe that fuel is finding faith in God. Maybe that fuel is accepting the things that we cannot change. Maybe that fuel is exactly what the lyrics of the song say, that we find grace, and healing.

Whatever it is that enables us to heal and move forward and overcome the ugly things in this world, I know that it is powerful, and I know that sometimes when I feel helpless, the only solution that works for me is to simply let go…and trust. When the chains that are holding us down are broken, and we rise up, that is when we are no longer defined by what holds us back, but rather by what holds us upright.

NYC D-Meetup

30 Years With Diabetes

Today’s Diabetes Blog Week topic is diabetes bloopers. You know, those things that make you go, “D’Oh!” and facepalm yourself. I’ve had my fair share of diabetes bloopers: Dropping & shattering glass vials of insulin, running off on trips without all of my diabetes supplies, forgetting to dose for a meal, forgetting that I already dosed for a meal, finding the cat playing with rogue pump tubing, catching the dog gnawing on a perfectly good tube of glucose tabs…the list goes on and on.

The blooper that is really on my mind today is the one that my pancreas made 30 years ago when it decided to quit working. Or maybe it was my immune system that decided to work too well. Or maybe it was because I had chicken pox. Or maybe it was because someone got me wet or fed me after midnight. Or maybe it was because a butterfly flapped its wings in China. 30 years after the fact there is so much more we know about diabetes, but what exactly causes it and how to cure it are still not on that list, despite what we were told about how close we were to a cure when we were diagnosed.

Today is a day of celebration, of blessings, thankfulness, and appreciation. I have learned more in my 30 years with diabetes than some people learn in a lifetime. Living with diabetes has taught me so much, and coupled with other life lessons, I would be remiss to not stop for just a moment and appreciate the gifts that I have been given…thanks to diabetes.

The 1st 10 Years

  • If you’re low, anytime is snacktime.
  • Bananas and peanut butter on vanilla wafers is the best snack in the world.
  • You can’t go play when you blood sugar is high. But if you can sneak away when your parents aren’t looking, it’s fair game. The back door doesn’t squeak and make noise like the other ones do.
  • Swimming always makes you go low.
  • Visiting the cute nurses on the Pediatric floor at the hospital when you’re there for lab work is always a treat. They know you by name.
  • When you hear the term “A1C” you think of steak sauce and hamburgers.
  • You don’t know anyone else with diabetes.

The Teenage Years

  • If you’re low, it’s a nuisance, and you have to stop what you’re doing and take a break to feed it. Not always ideal when you’re being paid hourly at a part-time job.
  • Whatever is fast and convenient is the best snack in the world.
  • You hardly notice when your blood sugar is high. Until it makes you feel awful. Then it is all you notice.
  • Swimming still makes you go low.
  • Visiting the cute nurses on the Pediatric floor at the hospital when you’re there for lab work is still a treat. Other floors are acceptable as well, as long as there are cute nurses. You know THEM by name.
  • When you hear the term “A1C,” you also hear words like “goal” and “lower.” Those cute nurses are a good distraction.
  • You’ve heard of other people with diabetes, but you still don’t know anyone that has it.

The Last Ten Years

  • If you’re low, your CGM alarms and you drop everything and treat it. Except when you have low-brain and can’t seem to focus. Then it becomes more of a struggle, and is sometimes followed by a hangLOWver.
  • Cheese, nuts, and other low carb foods are the best snacks in the world.
  • Because you are in better control of your diabetes, you can feel a high blood sugar in the upper 100’s now. 200+ makes you feel like dog’s ass.
  • Swimming still makes you go low, and now you have to replace a pump site when you get done because the sticky doesn’t stay stuck in the water. You are able to ride a bike for over 100 miles in one day. You’ve discovered OTHER activities that have the same effect as swimming on your BG’s, and are just as much fun.
  • Visiting the cute nurses, wherever you can find them, has become a rarity. Now you mostly settle for Helga, the former wrestler with the mustache and gallon sized syringe and harpoon needle to do your lab work. She knows you as a number.
  • When you hear the term “A1C,” you start thinking all about decimal pointed numbers like 5.6 and 6.5.
  • You meet an amazing community of people online and in real life who also have diabetes. You start a blog, and start sharing your life with diabetes. They inspire you.

The Next Ten Years

  • Your diabetes is tightly controlled, and you don’t have any of the complications that others who don’t take their diabetes seriously often suffer from.
  • You’re slim, fit, and eat right so that you’re able to do the things you love and experience the world. You look fantastic naked.
  • You accept that there will always be things that make you go low. You’re prepared for them, and never let diabetes keep you from being able to do anything that you set your mind to.
  • You have a family now, and your diabetes is not the center of the universe, but just a piece that helps explain your awesomeness during bedtime stories.
  • You vow to only have lab work done from cute nurses in the future. You have diabetes, so you deserve it.
  • Your doctor rarely mentions the term “A1C” anymore. He’s more interested in what awesome things you did in the last three months so that he has success stories to share with his other diabetes patients.
  • You continue to write about diabetes, speak about diabetes, advocate for diabetes research and better treatments, and share your world with diabetes. You challenge others to take control of their own diabetes, and cherish those stories of how you inspired someone else to save their own life.

Today, May 11, 2011 is my 30th Diaversary. Thank you all for being such an amazing part of it.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” — Mae West

 

NYC D-Meetup

Allison, Caroline, me, and Brenda at a May 2011 D-Meetup in New York City

May Day Reflection

Sunday night I was running behind schedule. I was scrambling to finish laundry, pack, gather my diabetes supplies, and get everything together for a last minute business trip to New York. Then my phone chirped with a text message: “Turn on the news.”

I knew that I was traveling the next morning, and given the news I expected elevated security at the airport, so I stayed up late and evaluated everything that I had packed to try and limit any security issues I might have with all my diabetes accoutrements. So focused on the business of travel, I didn’t have time to get online and look at Twitter or Facebook until right before I stretched out with my cat in bed for a couple hours of sleep before getting up to go to the airport.

I was encouraged and comforted by some of the short status posts and tweets about the event. Many were hopeful for peace, for healing, and for the closing of a terrible chapter in our lives and nation’s history. At the same time, I saw many negative and passive-aggressive remarks that came across as almost a jubilation of hatred, and made my heart hurt for those lost. After Sunday night, I decided to let Facebook go for a few days. I honestly couldn’t handle the hatred and celebration of death that was overwhelming my news feed and inciting arguments, both amongst my friends and within myself.

I believe that things happen for a reason. I have faith, and allow myself to trust sometimes even when I cannot see the bigger picture of things. I had no plans of going to New York prior to a week ago, but then I got a call for a meeting and packed my bags, never imagining that I would be in the city 12 hours after news that the world had been waiting to hear for nearly a decade.

After my plane landed on Monday morning, I took a cab to my hotel, dropped off my bags, and made my way to Lower Manhattan and Ground Zero. I stood next to people who were cheering and waving American flags, and observed their transitions from previously defeated to recently victorious. I stood quietly next to people who were praying, remembering, and would always have a hole in their soul from what was taken from them one terrible Tuesday morning. I walked through St. Paul’s Chapel, and through the cemetery behind it nearest Ground Zero, imagining the many resting souls there who had shepherded to the other side those that had lost their way on September 11, 2001, just out of human sight.

It occurred to me that no matter what the news of the day was, the history and loss was still there and present. The death of a single terrorist while I was standing amid the headstones in a graveyard with a front row seat to the tragedy of 9/11 had as much effect on me as a cure for diabetes for those that have already been lost to the disease. That is to say, it didn’t really change much.

There are men and women from all different nationalities fighting for a better world right now, who are leaders, soldiers, and heralds of change, who realize that the reality of terrorism and injustice may always exist, but believe that it doesn’t have to keep anyone from the opportunity to achieve their dreams. The goal is to one day eliminate terror and violence from this world, but even if that never happens, they will at least have made positive changes in the quality of life for so many.

As a diabetes advocate, I am one of many fighting for a better world also, where the reality of diabetes may always exist, but it doesn’t have to keep anyone from achieving their dreams. Our goal is to one day eliminate diabetes from this world, but even if that never happens, we will at least make positive changes in the quality of life for those living with the disease.

In addition to a productive meeting and an enjoyable time with friends from all over the city, I wonder if that realization and appreciation might be the real reason that I was meant to be in New York on the day that I was.

The Cross at Ground Zero

The Cross at Ground Zero

Stuart Smalley

Endo Affirmations

When I set my goals at the beginning of this year, #1 on my list was to get my A1C down to a 6.2 or better. That is a formidable goal, trying to achieve an average blood glucose over time of around 120, depending on what research you consult. At my last endo appointment back in December of last year, my A1C was still reasonable, but it had ticked upwards. I couldn’t let that upward trend continue.

I had gotten my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) and new pump just after my previous appointment in September of last year, and with all the change, I was burnt out. Or maybe just overwhelmed. But really, is there a difference?

I was wearing my CGM intermittently, and was dealing with major information overload with all the beeping and pricking and checking and counting and pumping and beeping and…I was exhausted.

After I wrote my A1C down in my notes, and realized that I had allowed my control to slip in the short three months since my previous appointment, I knew that I had to turn the ship around. I don’t want my A1C to continually creep northward, and me pay for it with problems down the road. I have too much life and dreams ahead of me to get lax with my diabetes management.

So I sat myself down and gave myself a stern talking to. I said to myself, “Self, all is not lost. I want you to look in that mirror, and I want you to repeat after me. I can do better. I have some awesome tools to help me get to where I know I can be. I can wear my CGM all the time, and not take several days off between sensor changes. I can carry around glucose tabs right there in my little pocket to treat a low. I don’t have to be a great diabetic. All I have to do is be the best Martin I can be. Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”

Stuart Smalley

Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley

 

I’m glad we had that talk. Since then, I’ve done really well with wearing my CGM. Every time the sensor battery runs out of juice, it hits the charger, and I’m already putting a new site in and getting everything ready for another round. I’ve gotten to where I really don’t enjoy being without my CGM, and am hoping that I didn’t do too much damage for all the years before now when amazing technology like this didn’t exist.

Lows are still creeping around occasionally, but they are manageable. Nothing a few glucose tabs can’t fix in a pinch. I expect my CDE and endo to want to make some adjustments, and I’m open to that. I’ve started a low-carb journey now, so I don’t expect that I need as much basal rate insulin at certain times of the day as I did with a diet heavier in starches.

Something else that I’m not happy with myself about is that I let myself get lazy, and stopped exercising the way I physically and mentally need to. The scale showed me the truth about that. So far I have lost six pounds, down to 184 lbs. It’s not a lot, but it’s progress, and that is the most important thing right now, to be moving forward. I’m making some big changes to my lifestyle to eat smarter and make better choices. I have my eye on my goal cycling weight, and to slim up and firm up so I look good naked, or at least in a swimsuit. Yes, I’m vain like that.

Back to the A1C, I know that we can’t base our entire diabetes report card on the A1C alone, but it still resonates with all of us where we are in our journey with diabetes when we see that number. I am confident about this upcoming appointment. I am determined. I have a plan. And it’s true, I don’t have to be the best diabetic. I just have to be the best Martin I can be. The rest will find its proper place.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The Joy of Reading

Sometimes we all need a vacation from diabetes. I’m not burnt out, and I’m not pitching an “I don’t wanna do this anymore!” fit, I’m just tired. Another post on that later this week. For now, here is a post that is NOT about diabetes, because any day can be No D-Day if you need it to be.

One of my goals for this year, among others, has been to find time to do more leisure reading. I am guilty of getting so consumed with the billion things that take moments from my day that I never stop to take a few moments of just quiet time to be still and read.

And I’m a librarian. Shameful, I know.

I wouldn’t trade many of the things that consume my time, but I believe that there is some peace in losing yourself in a good book.

The bit of reading that I’ve been doing over the past year or so has been work related, such as library journals, medical journals, business, political and technology news articles. There is no escape from reality when reading that kind of material.

So here are some things that are helping me get back on the joy of reading wagon:

  1. Be in bed by midnight (or whatever your bedtime may be). Not necessarily asleep, but just in bed and settled. Great time to turn a few pages.
  2. Visit your local public library. My local public library allows you up to six weeks with a book before you have to turn it back in, and it affords you the liberty to try a book that you may know nothing about. If it’s terrible, you’re only out the time it took to go to the library and get it.
  3. Take your book to work with you. I know that not every job allows for the opportunity to crack a book, but I’ve found sometimes when my brain is full and I need a quick mental break, I can open a book and read a couple pages and it helps. Plus, if you use public transit to get to and from work, reading is a much more entertaining way to pass the time than awkwardly trading stares with strangers. Well, most of the time. Sometimes making people in public feel uncomfortable is fun too.
  4. Read when traveling. I have to go out of town and teach every so often, and I try to drag along a book that isn’t work related to read while I’m at my hotel. I like to orbit near the hotel lobby coffee and a big comfy chair where I can alternate between reading and people watching, but that’s me.
  5. Get a bookmark that represents your personality. As crazy as it sounds, I think if you save a place in a book with a bookmark that matches you, it marks that place as YOUR place, and you are more likely to revisit it and continue reading sooner than later. (Sidenote: E-readers and apps need to get on this concept. You read it here first.)

Now I’m going to go continue reading “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” because it has absolutely nothing to do with work, diabetes, or anything else.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

CGM Almost No-Hitter

The Difference A Day Makes

With the exception of a couple lows in the past few days, my blood sugar levels have been exemplary lately. I mean, in serious 2011-goal-A1C-of-6.2-or-better getting contention. I have my CGM rates set to alarm if I drop below 70 mg/dl or spike higher than 160. Just the other day I was 20 minutes (not units…MINUTES) away from getting a no-hitter in that tight range. The stupid dawn phenomenon managed to thwart my efforts in the early morning hours with a CGM reading of 165 around 4:00am before dropping back down to normal, preceded by an ever so slight low around bedtime the previous night. Vengeance will be mine!

CGM Almost No-Hitter

My Almost No-Hitter

On Saturday of this past weekend I went to the gym, something I’ve started recently as part of a one month trial with a gym here in my neighborhood to get back in the habit of exercising regularly. I’ve been hitting the weights, trying to get my muscles to wake up and remember what they are there for, and the past couple visits I’ve added cardio back into the mix.

Cardio plays all kinds of tricks on my BG’s, usually with sneaky lows during and sometimes hours after the actity. I have had issues in the past of pushing myself too hard while exercising, especially cycling, and seeing numbers on my meter that are too low for me to continue, so the CGM really helps me and allows me to correct problems before they get out of hand. The CGM is another valuable tool in my arsenal that I use to control this diabetes beast within, and on Saturday it was working great.

The thing about cardio is that I sweat…a lot. I get into it, get my heart rate up into that aerobic calorie burn zone, and really push my limits. I enjoy the stationary bike in the gym, and I challenge myself while trying to hold a particular cadence (rate of pedaling) or speed for a certain amount of time on the bike. It’s an absolute blast for me to rock out with my iPod in my ears while conquering a ride intensity level that I’ve set into the computer of the bike. It’s not as much fun as a real ride, but for training and gym work, it keeps my attention.

So I did my bike work on Saturday, got home, and after a rest I realized that the sticky on my CGM sensor was just barely hanging on after all the sweating and training. I went ahead and removed it, as it was starting to irritate me, and since it was late I decided to take the night off before putting a new one in. That was stupidity on my part, and not the first time I’ve done it.

On Sunday morning I woke up later than ideal to get ready for a family event that I needed to get to, and I was in a rush and didn’t take the time to put a new CGM sensor in before I left the house. I went about my business at full throttle all day, and didn’t take a break to eat anything. By the time I finally got around to eating something for an early dinner, my BG was 43. I sat there cramming carbs like it was my job, and didn’t bolus enough to cover them. On top of the that, I’m trying really hard to ween myself off of carbs, so my body seems to be very hypersensitive when I do eat them, causing my BG’s to spike through the roof. By the time I got home and settled a couple of hours later, my BG was 292.

Both the low and the high could have probably been avoided, or at least better acted upon, had I taken the time to put a new CGM sensor in immediately after removing the old one. This is a challenge that I seem to continuously battle. I love it when I have the CGM, and I am a bit of an addict about keeping my BG’s within normal range. I’ve been doing SO GOOD! But once in awhile I convince myself that I need a break, and I take it, and then I regret it when my BG’s decide to go all random on me, with a stubborn high here and a severe low there, which was what happened on Sunday.

One day with CGM and I can keep my BG’s in tight control and quickly react to changes in blood sugar levels, whether they start to sneak up from an inaccurate count in carbs or drop from excessive activity.

One day without CGM and I have severe lows and highs that make me feel like I’m the world’s worst at managing diabetes, guilt trip included.

One day, I’ll learn.