Friday, December 19, 2014

Couples Therapy

Another post in such a short time...I guess my inner blogger is coming out a bit more now! Or perhaps I'm just feeling especially that it's been a few months since my diagnosis, I feel like there has even been a few full days where I've managed to not have to share my diagnosis story/management techniques with ANYONE at all. Which is a really liberating feeling that I hadn't even noticed I was missing...

But apparently I want to talk about it more than I thought I did. Isn't that always the way? Also I am feeling inspired by the community online. I did a few halfhearted initial searches for blogs over the summer, but I mostly found parenting advice. Then last weekend, while googling "Dexcom CGM insertion does it hurt" (the answer is a big fat YES, imho), I found this blog:  and it's kind of sent me down a rabbit hole. In a lot of ways, it's been great to read about the experiences of fellow T1D-ers, especially since I've only found blogs of "lifers" aka people diagnosed as children. They are inspiring, offer great tips, and also commiserate over issues that were making me feel like a real fail-betic.

However, there's something they lack that I still have a lot of--and that's the SURPRISE. The dang novelty of HAVING A CHRONIC DISEASE. That's new to me, and right now, that's A LOT of the struggle.

I mentioned in my last post that the closest thing I could relate it to was a betrayal in a romantic relationship.

Cue my go-to breakup band:
Seriously. Try not to cry and lament over the last bad boy (or girl) (or non-gender normative person) who broke your heart. 

As a healthy young adult, I have always been lucky enough to assume that things will "just get better." At worst they might require a quick trip to the GP for a prescription. This explains why I spent 4 months of my life peeing every 20 minutes, guzzling water from the tap in public restrooms (not an exaggeration), popping 3 Pepcid ACs with every meal, and sleeping for 12+ hours a day...without considering SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION.

As "they" say, you don't cook a frog by plopping him down in boiling water (presumably he will hop out). You put him in water and slowly turn the heat up and he will cook without even noticing.

So once my frog was thoroughly cooked, and I went into and came out of the hospital, there was no real depression for me, as this song might suggest. Instead, I was more like, "I'm aliiiiiiiive!!!!" I had SO MUCH ENERGY! I felt SO MUCH BETTER! I was SO HAPPY with my body, and my body was like SO HAPPY with me, since now I was helping my pancreas out and whatever.

We had some great times together, sleeping through the night, eating spicy foods, walking 2 blocks without dying of exhaustion. There were even times when I accidentally walked too far without noticing, past my destination, simply because I was walking that much faster now. It was great. It was basically the makeup sex after the fight.

But then. But then, the real work began. The cracks began to show. My body and I had made up, decided to stick together, started (insulin pump) therapy together. Things should have been great, right? Except one day I was running late to get a haircut, and so I had to push lunch until after the cut. No big deal right? As a freaking adult who pays taxes and occasionally doesn't get carded buying alcohol, shouldn't I be the one to decide when I push lunch if I want to? As the poor hairdresser whose hands filled up with drenched and clammy hair while I scrambled to suck down a juice box can attest--NOPE. That was a dumbbb idea and I was not in charge that day.

Nor was I in charge the many nights when I had to eat a massive snack 40 minutes after dinner due to a bad carb ratio/basal rate issue. Nor was I in charge when the word HIGH (no number, just those shameful letters) flashed on my PDM screen after a slight popcorn binge during "Guardians of the Galaxy." Nor do I feel in charge when I have to test my blood sugar before every long walk, before every yoga class, before every time I drive or am left alone with a child.

I don't feel in charge when I walk into a commercial building and instantly think--low blood sugar or A/C? Low blood sugar or genuine exertion? High blood sugar or just tired and distracted? It's like flying on a trapeze and there's a net at the bottom most of the time.

It doesn't help that I'm used to being an independent adult who barrels towards challenges. When I hop out of the car for a quick walk during a road trip, don't bring my kit for 10 minutes, and realize I'm dropping due to a breakfast over-bolus? NOT COOL BODY.

The list can (and does) go on. But I guess I should focus on the fact that we, my body and I, we're working on things. It lets me down sometimes, definitely. But having felt the true powerlessness of DKA, I can still appreciate that at least I can walk for 10 minutes at a time without panting. When I balance in standing half-moon pose, I try to breathe in and out thankfulness for the muscles in my thigh, calf, and core, that let me stand in this pose. When I walk home from work, with TSwift buzzing in my ears and my basal rate reduced, and make it all the way without even a snack break (okay so the snack break's not always mandatory...), I try to thank my body.

Have we (my body and I) ever had a "no hitter" day? No. Not yet. But we will, probably. Have I gone 2 full weeks without a low? Yes, and that's something I couldn't say a month ago, so. Have I completed a hike without dropping low OR overcompensating while reducing my basal insulin? As of very recently, yes. Has my body regained it's natural shape and size after I unknowingly starved it for months at a time? Yes.

Am I thankful for this diagnosis? Honestly, no. Definitely not. There's so much more to think about now, and worry about (blurry vision or EYE PROBLEMS? Cheap shoes or PENDING FOOT AMPUTATION?). But I think that taking the time to realize that it's not ALL struggles, all the time, is important. It's not even all diabetes, all the time. There's more going on between me and my body. There's more to us than meets the eye. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How I fought off bears to defeat my first hypoglycemic episode

...or something to that effect, at least.

Being diagnosed with T1D this summer, after 24 years of pretty much completely healthy living was the most bizarre experience of my life. Which I will probably go into in more depth later. Suffice to say, at this point in my life, what I can most completely compare it to was a betrayal of a relationship. It felt like my body had cheated on me, and now, somehow, for some reason, we had decided to stay together and were attempting to move on and heal our partnership, despite some major trust issues on my part.

The simplest pattern of being in charge of when and where I eat, what exercise I do and when, had definitely been slowly eroded away from me in the months before my diagnosis as I slid into the heartburned, nutrient-depleted state of DKA. But for it to now be officially, glaringly, irrefutable--YOU NOW CARRY THIS ZIPLOC BAG OF SUPPLIES. YOU NEED TO EAT WHEN CERTAIN NUMBERS TELL YOU SO. Your schedule is no longer flexible, no longer yours (this is how it felt at first). This was the hardest part for me.

One thing that I was lucky about though, is that I felt very little fear (beyond my first few nights out of the hospital). While I definitely researched diabetes a lot, and spoke to my doctors at length, I mostly avoided forums in order to avoid having my judgement and perception of diabetes clouded, at least at first. Recently I have found a few more blogs to follow, and I have seen blogs from other T1Ders, diagnosed from a very young age, who grow up with fear of hypoglycemia, who fear living alone, who fear exercising too hard, who fear being away from civilization, etc, etc. For a very good reason, I might add. For me, entering at this age, with no T1D friends to speak of, I was (am) flying blind on a lot--including a lot of fears.

I am an active person. I practice yoga, I go hiking and backpacking with my boyfriend, I love to walk to destinations whenever possible, and I genuinely enjoy swimming, exercise classes, going to the gym--just being active in general. Obviously these passions had faded from my life during my DKA, but post-diagnosis I felt WONDERFUL. I sought immediately to begin to repair my relationship with my body and get back into some of the activities we used to enjoy together. My boyfriend was elated to have a girlfriend again, and not a comatose skeleton zombie by his side, so we decided to celebrate by going on a short road trip/weekend backpacking trip up north. I had been out of the hospital a sweet 10 days, but we cleared things with my endo and we were ready to go!! Plus an additional 12 lbs of juice, snacks, and diabetes supplies, we were ready to go!!

At this point, please keep in mind that I had been undiagnosed for 3-4 months prior to the hospital. Post-hospital, my team was easing me into insulin injections, not worrying about them too much since I was scheduled to get my pump in a week or two. Put simply, I was flying high. I regularly saw sugars of 200+, even waking up at 300 a few times. In the hospital, they gave us all this information about how to identify and treat hypoglycemia, and my boyfriend and I would look at each other like what???? We felt like maybe I would be the only diabetic in the history of the world who would never experience hypoglycemia. There were days where I would never see below 150, no matter what I did. Hypoglycemia? I was the frickin poster child for HYPERglycemia.

So, we head out on this trip with exactly that attitude. Things are totally fine during the day, we set up camp, eat dinner, hang our bear bag (we're in the backcountry, so). After a brief, furious debate hinging entirely upon my fear of death by bear rage (and from whence was born the name of my blog), we put all my diabetes supplies up in our bear bag. All the food. All the diabetes supplies. Only my glucometer stays out. We go to sleep.

An hour later, we wake up. Well, I wake up. I'm feeling funny. Cold, sweaty, and MAN IS MY BOYFRIEND ANNOYING WHY IS HE JUST SLEEPING THROUGH THIS I'M GETTING MORE AND MORE SCARED. Gingerly, I prick my finger and test. The beeping wakes the bf (a running theme in our relationship nowadays) and he checks in, everything ok? No, I say, not really, because I'm at 55 and I'm not supposed to be below 70 and I think I need that emergency granola bar RIGHT NOW. My first hypoglycemia was here, right now, and all my supplies were tied up in an elaborate setup designed to foil a 600+ lb wild animal who might be roaming beside our tent right that second.

We bust out of the tent, bf talking me through the procedure as we run over to the trees to take down the bags (a two man job), panic running through his voice. I snap, growl, and yell at him (apparently I'M the wild bear in this scenario), but we get it down. I eat about 6 granola bars while he keeps watch for bears (I presume). I don't die. We go back to sleep with my blood sugar spiking to a comfortable 285. I never said it was a job WELL done, but hey, I'm here to tell about it.

When I told my parents about it later, my mom just sighed and reminded me about the time I "decided" to start walking for the first time in the middle of a family camping trip, when they had no shoes for me, so I ruined all of my socks.

So, you know, I guess I've always been kind of difficult about things that way.

Here is a picture of the lake that was almost my last: