Friday, September 22, 2017

Sadness is not Weakness

         I am currently studying clinical mental health counseling and have been learning so much about the mind-body connection and how it affects one’s mental health. All of this new knowledge has brought me back to the days of my T1D diagnosis and some education that I feel may be missing during those first few critical days and months following diagnosis. 
When I was first diagnosed, the number one thing I remember the doctor and nurses continually telling me was that I could do everything anyone else does, it just takes a few extra steps. And while this is a very true statement, it minimizes the true day to day impact that Diabetes has on all our lives. Because sometimes those few extra steps feels like a steep mountain to climb. And when you are faced with climbing several of these mountains each day and even throughout the night, it can get burdensome, tiring, and just plain annoying real quick. And sometimes it is necessary to stop that climbing and feel that burden. Feel that sadness and let your body sit in it for a while. In our world’s culture, happiness often seems to be the only acceptable emotion to have. But all the emotions, whether that be sadness, anger, jealousy, fear, or happiness, are meant to be felt. And as T1D warriors we do not need to put on a brave face all the time. 
It is ok to get sad, to get stuck in the mud that is life with Diabetes and lay there for a moment. It is ok to cry in the middle of the night during a low over the loss of that ‘simple’ life and wish things were different. It is ok to be scared to go to sleep at night with fear of not waking up. It is ok to get angry when your carb counting does not work out and you end up high and miserable. And it is darn ok to not be ok. Because Diabetes is hard. And the mountains will not stop. But we will not stop either. Because we are fighters, and we are brave, and we got this! 
    So when you are having one of those days, let the sadness come and stay for just a little while. And then as the sadness begins to pass, surround yourself with those who lift you up. And continue to walk with them in this crazy journey that we call life. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

When Diabetes leaves home, you can't do it alone: Getting along with a little help from your friends!

* I apologize for my lack of updates on this blog. Life has been so crazy but so good in the past year! It has involved me beginning my graduate studies and moving! The following is a part of this new journey...* 
On my Own! 

               Last August I embarked on a new journey in my life, graduate school. Not only was I starting a new chapter in my educational journey, but I was also leaving my parents nest for the very first time to live in a different state in an apartment all by myself. Going in, I only had minimal connections to people in the area. With Type 1 Diabetes along for the ride, I knew there would be some extra confusion, sleepless nights, and stress, but I was ready for this new adventure and to spread my wings. I knew I was in for a major adjustment, but at the time I never realize how life changing the experience would be!       
             The first few weeks living on my own were full of new things that kept me going and distracted me from my new reality. Diabetes was cooperating as well as could be expected allowing me to adjust to my new environment, classes, and cooking all of my own meals. But as the newness of my new journey began to wear off, my diabetes management began to slip slightly. In October my Dexcom sensor died early and I simply stopped wearing it. I couldn't bring myself to call it in and get a replacement. I just wanted my diabetes to go away and I could not bear to continually face the numbers and alerts coming from my phone. During this time, I experienced many hypoglycemic episodes in the night. I do not feel my lows at all, so many mornings I would wake up to a bg in the 50's and immediately go for fruit snacks and juice boxes to bring it up. Looking back, I realize how dangerous these situations could have became but at the time I was determined to do everything for myself. 

              This continued for several months until I had an appointment with my new amazing Endocrinologist in May. He is a fellow T1D so he immediately made me feel at ease. During that appointment we talked a lot about living on my own and what plans I had in case anything were to happen. And the honest truth is that there was no plan. He suggested that I get hooked back up to my Dexcom, use Dexcom share with friends nearby, and give them keys to my apartment just in case. That seemed like an amazing idea in theory, but it scared me to death to ask a friend to follow me on Dexcom share because I didn't want to be a burden or an annoyance to anyone. I wanted to be independent and do it all myself. 

           Around this time, I began to build closer friendships with my classmates as I continued to settle into my new life. And after watching me struggle through a challenging diabetes day, a dear friend asked me if there was ever anything she could do to help just to let her know. I was amazed by her kindness because so often people are frightened about the realities of diabetes and do not want to be involved. After about 2 weeks of rough diabetes nights and scary lows, I took the plunge and asked her if she would be willing to follow my dexcom and be alerted to urgent lows and
Friends who paint pods with you are special people <3 
she agreed! Since that day, this sweet girl has called me multiple times in the wee hours of the morning to wake me up and is always creeping on my dexcom graph to make sure all is well. The peace of mind of knowing I have a friend living 5 minutes away checking on me is incredible. Having people in your life to help lift the burden that diabetes brings is a indescribable gift. I am abundantly blessed human to have the most caring people in my life. 

         So if there is one piece of advice I could provide to a T1D about to embark on a life of independence and living alone, I would encourage them to be open with their friends and not to hide diabetes. Being vulnerable is a scary feeling, but going low alone in the middle of the night is even worse and can result in serious consequences. So start small, educate your friends about diabetes and see what happens. You may be surprised by their responses and willingness to help. Diabetes a marathon not a sprint, and having a team of supporters behind you to help makes the journey a whole lot easier!