Photo by tyger_lyllie on Flickr

Wandering and Wondering

I needed to go for a walk a few nights ago. I didn’t have any particular destination in mind, I just needed to wander and get some air. My blood sugars weren’t low, and I wasn’t roaming incoherently. I was just regular roaming, like when you go to the mall and wander around and don’t buy anything. Just alone with my thoughts, listening to the sound of traffic, watching the passing cars, and considering everything that is going on in my world.

It’s important sometimes to just find that peaceful place you can hang out, if only for a few minutes. It’s like diabetes nirvana, where you can eat practically whatever you want and still maintain that perfect level blood sugar. For me, that’s somewhere between 80 and 120, but YDMV. You don’t have to share that place with anyone, you don’t have to fill it with distractions, you can just be, in that moment.

Right now in my day-to-day I’m swamped, so I need those peaceful moments whenever I can get them. My days are filled with phones that ring off the hook, a flood of emails, meetings, research, a lot of puzzles in the forms of invoices, budgets, reports and spreadsheets, a task list that somehow continues to get longer and longer no matter how hard I work on shortening it, and the overwhelming pressure to demonstrate leadership ability, progress, and that I have things under control. Maybe it’s the Fall season, and everyone trying to get everything wrapped up before the holidays get here and people scatter to the four corners of the world. Or maybe it’s the ghosts of deadlines passed.

Ghosts - Photo by Paul Sapiano - peasap on Flickr

In any case, when we’re so busy, the animal that is diabetes that we try to keep on a leash likes to try and show it’s ugly side. We’re teased with perfect blood sugars for hours on end, just to do a quick check before dinner to see a BG so high it would make an angel get vertigo. Yesterday afternoon for example, I lowered my basal rates for about three hours because I was too active and my BG was dropping too quickly. Perfection, until I checked a few hours later, and spiked harder than Misty May in a beach volleyball tournament.

Then there is the flip side. The activity of the days and nights catches up, and we wake up in the middle of the night plowing into the refrigerator for anything we can find to treat a low BG, including those week old leftovers that we’ll regret eating by morning. Stress and being stretched too thin results in a lot of flux in our capacitors. We’re working so hard to get to the future that the past catches up with us and knocks us flat on our DeLorean. (I also went to see Back to the Future on the big screen for its 25th Anniversary last week, which was beyond awesome!)

I don’t know what the secret is to managing and staying on top of diabetes, stress, workload, bills, relationships, and all the other responsibilities of life. I believe a lot of life is change management, and I strive with all the changes that life throws my way to make the choices that are positive and move me in the direction that I want to go. That works, most of the time, but I still stumble. Sometimes I excel in one aspect of my life just to see another suffer from lack of attention. It’s a seesaw, and one minute I’m on the ground with my feet firmly planted and everything is as it should be, then the next up up in the air with my feet dangling and trying to hold on for dear life to those things that are most important and trying not to fall off the edge.

Seesaw - Photo by tyger_lyllie - Flickr

People deal with stress and being overwhelmed in a lot of different ways. A long bike ride helps me sort things out. Sometimes I just need some quiet time to myself. I’m naturally an extrovert that draws energy from engaging with other people, but I can’t be the entertainer all the time. Sometimes I’ve got to get a little discontented so that I can find the fuel to push through obstacles. I try to find a healthy balance that favors positivity.

It’s that balance that we struggle with, in life, with diabetes…with everything. Things can’t be sunshine and daffodils all the time, but it also can’t rain all the time either. It can be hard work to climb over those obstacles that are holding you back from whatever next step you are trying to get to. It is especially hard to cut out those things that are bad habits that allow us to escape or provide a sense of security, even a false sense of security.

But it’s worth it to try, even if you don’t succeed every time. The more you try, the more success you’ll have. Nobody has ever achieved their dreams by sitting around waiting on them to come true.

With diabetes, I get aggravated when a day of low BG’s collides with a night of high BG’s that keep me up all night. I have to remember though that most days I am more in tune with my body than most people are. I have tools and technology that help me to be able to make educated decisions that keep me alive.

I save my life every single day by the decisions that I make. Can you say that? I hope you can. If not, maybe it’s time to make some changes.

Change - Photo by David Reece - Flickr

Never Give Up

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post, and acknowledge the loss of one of our own this week.

13 year old Eilish was taken from us by Type 1 diabetes. Her parents were active members of the Children With Diabetes community, and nurtured her since she was three years old living with diabetes. Eilish, like so many of us with diabetes, was compliant, and had good control. Yet, as we all know, diabetes doesn’t always play by the rules. From what has been shared, our understanding is that Eilish was taken from us by DIB syndrome, likely due to a severe low blood sugar level during the night while she slept.

I didn’t know Eilish. I have never met her parents, or her sister Ella. It’s likely I will never know them. Yet, every one of us in and surrounding the DOC, regardless of what type diabetes we have or if we even have diabetes at all, are feeling this loss. There has been no shortage of bloggers sharing similar sentiments today (list alphabetized by blogger, because I’m a librarian, and that’s how I roll)…

Amy (@DiabetesMine) – Diabetes: The Possibilities
Cara (@cerichards21) – Just Because…
Kelly (@diabetesalic) – Crying For Them
Kerri (@sixuntilme) – Dealing with the Fear of Diabetes
Lisa (@pyxiestik) – Tempting the Fates
Michael (@MHoskins2179) – It Could Be Any Of Us
Sarah (@Sugabetic) – Heavy Hearts
Sherry (@jennaspetmonkey) – Before Another Child Is Lost

Holly (@Arnold_and_Me) over at Arnold and Me reminded me today via a Tweet that there is a time for everything. It’s good, healthy, and necessary for us to take time to mourn Eilish, remember her, and show compassion for her family. There is a time for us to be angry, which is also why I have delayed writing this post. I wanted to spit out so much venom at diabetes that this post would not have been suitable for print had I wrote it earlier.

The New Living Translation of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reads:

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Depending on where you are right now, you may identify more with some parts of that passage than others. Being a person who strives to be optimistic, I find myself trying to move toward better things, and emotions that I am more comfortable with. Despite where you place your faith and beliefs, I believe that Eilish is in a better place now. A place where she doesn’t have to be burdened by finger pricking, getting tangled up in insulin pump tubing, or any of the other anchors of diabetes, and she can now experience a dawn phenomenon like no other we can imagine.

So through this tragedy, I see hope. I see people in the DOC who are more aware of the risks of diabetes than they were yesterday. I see people who want to learn more about the research that goes into developing better treatments and one day a cure for diabetes. I am humbled by friends who have found a way to give back to the diabetes community through fundraising, charity walks, and galas. I’m excited to see everyone even more fueled now to get the word out and increase awareness on World Diabetes Day on November 14. I am encouraged to see my friends who are leaning on each other, helping each other to laugh and find joy, not letting each other get bogged down in tragedy.

That is the spirit of the DOC, and the spirit of everyone who lives with and has been touched by this disease. We may get bruised, but together we can’t be beaten. That is why I know that one day we will find a cure, because we are like the frog in the crane’s mouth…we never give up.

Never Give Up