The Invisible Doctor

I have an appointment this morning.. Soon! The last time I was at this doctor, I bawled my eyes out. It’s kinda this tradition I have with the doctor’s office. Eeeeek. I hope that becomes a less visited tradition in the future. Recently, I have found that in all my spare moments–when my mind drifts at work, while I lie in bed, as I fold laundry–I have had many, many conversations with an invisible doctor. Defending myself, mostly. Telling him why I don’t need to eat 45 carbs at every meal, why I don’t write down records and fax them in weekly, why I make changes to my pump (little ones) without consulting them. I explain my personality and why this new approach is best. I talk about my life and how what I am doing fits better. I talk about all the small victories and lifestyle changes I have made! I do not want a “great” Dr. appointment because i turned my life upside down for three months, wrote everything down, and became a crazy diabetes nazi. My motivation has been a new and completely different lifestyle. I want a sustainable change. In my journey, it has not been writing everything down. It has been arming myself with knowledge and actually making changes. Finding things that work for my body and life and embracing them! I LOVE the pace I have taken. I LOVE the changes I have made. I also LOVE the results.

Today, I will be respectful. I will be composed. But I will not apologize for finally taking my health into my own hands and owning it! This is my everyday journey and I am really enjoying it! My health is not in his hands… It is in mine.

Okay, be strong Briana! You are doing things differently, but you are doing them best for YOU!

…..thanks for letting me get that out. I just needed to talk through it out loud one more time.

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Little Steps in my Journey!

I am a list person!  For me, they are energizing, profitable, and heck… just lots of fun!  This list, is not one that will be crossed off, but rather laminated and used for wallpaper in my house!

Ben and I were driving this weekend,  and he helped me come up with a list of things I have been doing lately.  I am sure I will need help to remember them!  I also hope that they will be a to other diabetics out there longing for a lower a1c reading.  Mine went from 8.7 to 6.7 in 6 months!  Big news for this “most-of-my-life-in-the-double-digits” girl!

I made lots of changes in these areas…

My Pump

  • I changed it every 3 days instead of waiting until day 4 or 5.  This means I used more supplies, but the absorption is much better this way.
  • I used new areas for my pump instead of the same stomach locations; again, this also allows for better absorption.
  • I made use of both the “dual” and “square” bolus options.
  • I made adjustments to my evening basal rate.  I did not need a doctor to tell me what I was seeing was a pattern.  I trusted myself and did it!

My CGM

  • I faithfully wore my Continuous Glucose Monitor!  In the past, I would take it off and plan to put it back on in a day or two.  I NEED the constant feedback.  I would only take it off if I had time to changes sites RIGHT THEN.  If not, I did not take it off!
  • I changed the “low” and “high” settings on my CGM so I am notified the minute things start moving in the wrong direction.

My Highs & Lows!

  • I only correct with Skittles, and occasionally a spoon of peanut butter.   Before, I would use a “low” as an excuse to eat anything I had been eyeing up in the kitchen.. now, I only allow myself to use Skittles because I can predict how my body will respond to them.
  • My body has slowly become more used to the 70-90 range.  Before, I would correct if it were headed into the 70s.   I now feel pretty comfortable there, and feel no reason to correct, especially if a meal is right around the corner.

My Diet

  • I have read about health and diet recently.  Literally, thousands of pages… the most helpful have been a book called “Trim Healthy Mama” by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett and also the “500 Low Carb Recipes” cookbook by Dana Carpender.  I also read a few doosies concerning low-carb living, but I won’t mention those!
  • I had a total epiphany about the correlation between blood sugar and diet.  It’s so simple, I don’t know why I never realized it before: if I don’t eat high carbs, my blood sugar can’t go high.   (Take a moment to laugh if you’re diabetic… because you know that there really is not way to say “can’t” about high blood sugar.)  I can’t prevent it, but I can at least have the science on my side!
  • Armed with this knowledge, I decided to eat generally low-carb, including little low carb switches.  The list merits its own post… so come back for that!
  • I try to limit myself to 30 carbs a day.  Generally spaced out evenly: 10, 10, 10 at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • I do not snack on carbs.  Only at meals.
  • I do not eat carbs after 8.  For me, I have learned that if I eat any carbs late at night, I WILL have high blood sugar at night, regardless of how much insulin I take.
  • No food vacation days.  Before, I would say I probably took a little diabetes diet hiatus about once a week.. it just is not worth feeling sick!
  • I started weighing and measuring my dinner as I make my lunch.
  • I round up with I count carbs.
  • I am also trying to take insulin early if I know that I will be enjoying something higher in carbs than I usually have.
  • I keep almonds or walnuts in my purse for snacking
  • There is more to say on this, but I will stop here for now… :)

My Holiday

  • Celebrations being so prevalent in the past months, I had to rethink how I celebrate.
  • I had my first cookie exchange without eating a single cookie.  Whew.. that was rough!  I almost stayed home.  Glad I didn’t!
  • I can remember the two Christmas cookies I allowed myself to enjoy: a  Scottish Shortbread Cookie and a round little powdered sugar shortbread morsel.  Can you tell I love shortbread.  Please don’t ever bring Sandies to my house.  I will not be able to contain myself.
  • I tried to tell people ahead of time if I thought that I would need something different to eat or if I would not be eating at a gathering.  Sometimes this is appropriate, and sometimes it is unnecessary.
  • I tried to not think of the holidays in terms of food.  I actually went to my Grandma Drendel’s house without eating her thumbprint cookies.  It was hard!  So hard, but I knew that ONE would not be enough.  But you know what?  I still had a wonderful time with my Grandma Drendel & family.  I don’t need special food to celebrate!  I need special people! :)

My Team

  • One word: BEN!  He has been my biggest cheerleader throughout this whole process!  He literally said to me as I was trying to make wise eating choices, “Bri, if we spend all of our savings on groceries so you can figure this out, then that’s what we’re gonna do.  Get what you need!”  He has trusted me and supported me, and he is one of God’s most supreme gifts to me.
  • I have joined many diabetic Facebook pages.  They are SO helpful.  I wish I had found these about… oh, ten years ago.
  • My only true strength is Christ.  Anything right I ever want to do is from Him.  I am elated when I consider Him, grounded when I look to Him, and strengthened when fall before Him.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness. Ps 115:1

This list is long and fractured, but it is some of the things that have been helpful for me recently.  I really needed to write some of them down.  The more I write, the more solidified it becomes in my heart.  I hope to continue to chronicle the journey.  I have been learning so much!  I can’t wait to share it with you!

Hey, Where are YOU from?

Perfect & Fun

These are my people–this is “back where I come from.”  On the itinerary of my “personality passport” it says, “Hometown Perfection, Frequent Visitor of Fun Country.”

Ben and I took a personality quiz a while back–we answered questions about what pumped us up, what disappointed us, what made us crazy.   We also figured out things like our top motivations in life; not necessarily what you’re good at, but what you really enjoy.  I came to a startling conclusion while reviewing the results of the test: my personality’s “home country” as the lingo of the quiz labeled it, is FUN!  I want to hear “it’s gonna be SO AWESOME”  “You’re gonna love this!”

 “WOOHOO” is one of my favorite words!

Ben’s home country was PEACE.  He spends a majority of his time here.  A huge canyon of space separates his home country, Peace, from his favorite vacation spot, Perfection.  So, he’s a steady-eddy who likes things in order.  Agreed.  This quiz nailed it for my B.

When it comes to my favorite vacation spot, there is not a canyon of space between–more like a revolving door–because I spend so much time there.  Destination?  Perfect Country.

It was hilarious when we were talking to Paul, who helped us talk about the results of our quiz because he turned to me and said, “Do you ever feel that those countries (Perfection & Fun)  are at war?  And all of a sudden, SO MUCH made sense to me!  I often feel a conflict within me of competing desires.  “The things I want to do, I don’t! The things I don’t want to do, I do”  comes to mind.  Everyone has the flesh v. spirit conflict within them, but this is not what I’m talking about here.  There is nothing inherently better or less sinful about either of these dispositions, they just don’t tango together very well.

I can clearly see how each of these sides to my personality take over at different times.  Some days, my house is picture-perfect.  Everything is neat and orderly.  Picturesque.  Other times, even days (Moments?)  later, there is chaos!  I like both because usually chaos = crafts.  :)  But some days, I just love the crazy mess.  Other days, I long for the order.

Perfect & Fun

I see this being especially frustrating in my journey with Diabetes.  I have spent some weeks recently being meticulous with carb counting, testing, meal times, and collecting data.  I loved those weeks.  It was fulfilling to put myself into something completely.  I felt great!  I had energy and strength.  I slept well, and I was happy to be doing something meaningful.  BUT those two weeks were SO HARD!  I was able to do it because I knew there was an end.  I was collecting data for a specific dr. appointment, so I knew the end was in sight.

I can live in Perfect Country with Diabetes.

As long as I can hop a plane to Fun any time I want.  But that’s not how Perfect works, is it?

It’s War.

I am currently in the process of processing this.

Scrutinized and/or Criticized? Part Two

(Continuation of the previous post..) 

After reading Part One a few times, I agree with my husband that it was quite an abrupt place to leave things.  I agree!  There was no strategy in that—I just had to run and was too impatient to not post.

What is the “big picture” here?

I’d like to state right here and right now that the goal is to not bemoan thoughtful inquiry of others regarding my diabetes or complain about the person who is quick to point out that they “brought sugar-free jello to the church potluck so I would have something to eat.”  When I really, (with the right attitude) think about these instances, it is simply overwhelming kindness from people in my life that care about me.  It is boggling to have so many caring friends in my life that actually think of me while making preparations for a meal or potluck.   Thank you, to each of you who have considered my diabetes in this way.  Thank you for asking how I’m doing and thank you for being concerned what is best for me!

Through these kindnesses, I have a heightened awareness that others do think about what I eat and what I should be eating.  As I said before, this causes me to think twice about what I put in my mouth while I’m out and about with the masses, which has caused a bit of a dichotomy between food choices while alone and food choices while with others.  Is food the big deal here?  No.

The need to hide is.

There is a group of masqueraders in the Bible known as the Pharisees.  They were concerned about how they appeared to others, not about the inside–even though located on the inside is all the important stuff, like motive, intent, genuineness, and spirit-given or spirit-quenching desires.  It’s like the Oreo cream-filling of a person; what’s on the inside truly counts.  When Jesus addressed the Pharisees he said that they “outwardly appear[ed] righteous to others, but within were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:28).  The comparison I want to apply to my own life is the lack of truthfulness that I evidence when I feel the urge or reserve the right to hide something.   Sometimes we intentionally hide, or practically hide.  For me this is less about intention to hide.  I want to appear to others as having it “all together,” but in my heart I do not have a true desire.

 Motivation for healthy living CANNOT be pressure to perform for others or please others.   

Guilt manufactures compliance for a season, while conviction yields true transformation.

I must not, and cannot seek an outward change in how I manage diabetes–how exhausting!  This battle rages within the thick walls of my heart–fortified by stubbornness and cranky-ness, and selfishness!  I need to stop treating my outside like prime real estate and my inside like a closet that only needs cleaning on special occasions.  Only as my heart is fully invested in diabetic responsibility, in conjunction with my desire to serve God and bring Him glory, will those outward gestures be meaningful.  And only in God’s strength and grace will my heart be changed!

“Change my heart, O God!  Make it ever true! Change my heart, O God!  May I be like YOU!”

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10 ESV

Scrutinized and/or Criticized? Part 1

I started thinking about talking about this.  Then I decided it would be a bad idea—no need to be too transparent, even though that’s kinda what I’m going for here.  BUT then three different people on three separate occasions mentioned struggling in similar ways, so this is something that needs to be addressed, I think. Even bigger than addressing it, it is something that I need to be honest about.

The things that we hide evidence much about what we value, what we truly care about.  Let me put it this way, is there something you would NEVER even dream of doing if someone else were around, but enveloped in the safety of solitude, you constantly run to?  Details aside, this “something” could be anything.  What are they called?  Guilty pleasures?  Mine include actually enjoying “Zac and Cody” on the Disney Channel.  Would I ask a friend to stop on that show while channel surfing—No.  Would I secretly wish their kids would turn it on so I could ease drop?  YES.  Ben hates this one: I actually like to crack my knuckles.  I know, gross, right? I do.  He does not.

Anyway, I think we can all relate on some level…

…specifically, this is how I want to focus this concept of “guilty pleasures”

FOOD

There I said it.  I love food.  And I spend a LOT of time alone.  So I can basically eat any food I want without the shame of a witness.  Which is SWEET!  (literally and figuratively, people!)  As I have said from the beginning of blogging, guilt played (plays, sometimes) a big part in diabetes control.  From the beginning of my diagnosis, I have always felt that anywhere and everywhere I go people look at, study even, what I eat and comment, “Is that something a diabetic should be eating?”  “Can you have that?”  or even, “You can’t have that; YOU’RE DIABETIC!” At that time, I usually feel like, “Oh, thanks for reminding me that I’m not normal and automatically in need of your constant supervision now!”  GRRRR.  Other times, I am able to see those comments as what they truly are in most cases, love and concern.  People have not appointed themselves as my food-police, they are just concerned or curious about my health.  “Oh, I didn’t realize that you, as a diabetic, can eat that.”  Also, diabetes technology has come so far in the past 20 years that diabetics today can live a different lifestyle than those in the past. Then comes in the complication between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. (One day, I will try to clear up the confusion, but today is not that day!) So generally, people are not trying to condemn or shame me in comments about food, they are just curious.  I think.

Growing up “under the microscope” as a scientific specimen, a person with diabetes, I have come in ear shot of many comments regarding what I eat, what to eat, what NOT to eat; all the while feeling my food choices constantly scrutinized and most often criticized.

Hm… what does a person do in this situation?  This person just decided to not ever eat something in public that might be considered by some on-looker as inappropriate for someone “with my condition” to be eating.  Ideally, this would be the way I would always eat, making healthy choices, making diabetes-wise, nutritional choices.  Really, the choices that everyone should be making regardless of disease-label.  We all want to be healthy, right?  So I got in this mentality of eating one way in public and another way at Home, Alone. (I’m looking forward to watching this next week!)

A very anticlimactic place to leave it, but I need to get ready, and I want to keep you coming back.

(to be continued…soon, I promise!)

Resolved to a Relationship.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

You know all those “really fun” camp games where the announcer just asks for two volunteers and creates lots of hype surrounding the mystery activity–“someone is going to have more fun than a cat with a McDonald’s ball-place amount of yarn spheres, and it could be you who has all this fun!”  So you jump up and down and you cheer and you scream till your lungs shake and you try to contain your excitement when it is in fact you who is chosen?  There you are–up in front of everyone–ready to represent your team–anxious to find out what feat you must perform and be crowned victor for your team.  And suddenly, the stage hands bring out a circle of golden-crusted blueberries–a pie eating contest.  Yuck, you think to yourself.  I didn’t come to camp to snarf down baked goods.  It will be embarrassing to be up here in front of everyone devouring this lump of sugar and berries. I’m going to look ridiculous.  I do NOT want to do this and I DON’T want to be seen doing this.  Why did raise my hand again?  Why did I shout and jump up and down and draw attention to myself?  Why did I ask my friends to point at me and jump up and down and shout and draw attention to me?  Because now, here I am, all in front of everyone, on the brink of dashed expectations and disappointment.  Maybe I should have just sat in the crowd and let them choose someone else.  Someone more qualified and skilled at eating pie.  Someone who enjoys eating pie.  Someone who would not let the team down.  

Have I bitten off more that I can chew? 

      Well team, this is where I’m at (minus like everything involving camp). I’m feeling like I can’t do it.  And  now I have to fail in front of everyone!  I’m feeling like, “why did I draw attention to this?”  “Why didn’t I just keep my head down and try to figure this out on my own?”  In some ways, I love the pressure of people knowing about my diabetes and where I’m at.  I love the prayers and encouragement when I go to an appointment or as I’m trying out some new equipment.  But here, up in front of everyone, (the whole virtual world–theoretically, though I know just a little corner of my world reads this) I don’t want to let the team down!  By this, I don’t mean that I have thrown in the towel and I’m “NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE!”  I do mean that I feel very exposed and aware that others want me to be successful–“eat the pie, so we can win, Briana!  We’re all watching!”

My expectations of myself have been rather high.  I thought, go see a good doctor, have some accountability, (this blog, for instance) and a good attitude, and you’ll beat this thing!  I do have a systematic plan to work through, but I feel like I’m caught on number 3 in a list of 50!  I still hold on to this mentality that I need to balance all of it in perfect harmony (meal plans, diet, exercise, schedule, carb counting)  or I can do none of it.  My all-or-nothing personality and great if I’m in ALL mode.  It is so difficult for me to be satisfied with some success.  I haven’t let on how difficult the nutritionists’ suggestions have been to follow through and do!  I have only been successful to eat 45 carb meals at breakfast.  I have eaten a few lunches and dinners with a conscious effort to count carbs, but for most others I have been on the run or just not in the mood to eat and/or count!  Ugh.  So, I find myself wondering, do I need, like, smaller goals?  Do I just need to suck it up and DO IT?

I want to take some time to think about this.  I just wanted to let you know where I am at.

Meanwhile, my goal for tomorrow is to check before and after each meal and eat 45 carbs at 2 meals (at least).

Please don’t get the idea that I am super discouraged.  I’m not.

I just wish it were as easy as starting a blog and seeing a good doctor.

This can only be accomplished in a strength that is not my own.

A commitment that seeks for more than good health, but also obedience.

And a resolve to a relationship, not merely a “better living” resolution.

Wait a minute, I know JUST where to find those things! 

A Beautiful Mind, Indeed!

Whilst I type tonight, my brow is indeed furrowed.  I find myself on the eve of another appointment.  Tomorrow, it’s to the nutritionist’s house I go.  I was told that paperwork would be coming in the mail for me to fill out for this appointment, so I carefully observed each parcel for the following days.  No mail came.  I called the lady who said that some paperwork was coming and she said, “No, I changed my mind, you would fill it out when you come in.”  So, I stopped watching the mail–and what should arrive the next day?? Paperwork from the nutritionist.  I’m not sure who sent it, but it came.  The unopened envelope sat kinda in the open for a few days; I would glance at it and think, “what sorts of honest, unhealthy reports await to be written in there, I wonder.”  Not that I’m “unhealthy” in a buys-twinkies-and-stuffs-my-face kind of way, but I know I don’t pass the gold-star-from-a-nutritionist test.  (I’m hoping for a bronze-ish star tomorrow, actually)  I know the only way for these people to help me is if I am completely honest with them and with myself about my health, but I also know there are about five versions of myself health-wise.  Let’s see, there’s “just hand over the chocolate” Briana; there’s “Zumba is like my new favorite thing EVER” Briana; “No, I’ll pass on that soda and drink my coconut-flavored-seltzer water” Briana; there’s also “okay, that sleeve of saltines was a bad choice, now I need take insulin and make better choices” Briana —- there’s the making of one of those great movies where the main characters eventually prove themselves to be one person with split personalities in the end here.  Sheesh.  I started filling out the paperwork  and got completely overwhelmed.  WHO AM I?? What are my top 5 snack choices, and does a Caramel Macchiato count?  How often do I work out?  Does being a preschool teacher count?  There was this one time I was going to the gym–and I plan on starting that back up real soon—so how do I answer that question??   Do I need a “refresher” on diabetes management, or do I want them to start over? What are my biggest hindrances?  Honestly, when it comes to what “derails” me, it changes daily.  hourly?  like minutely. They also asked questions like “What are your top 5 questions on diabetes.”  I think that I do have many questions about diabetes, but right now I’m asking all the questions of myself–who am I, why do I do the things I do, is it possible to change, will I ever get this right?  Do I have to go to the doctor’s tomorrow?? I do get anxiety about going, even now my heart is beating fast and I’m a wee bit scared.  I really don’t want to cry, but the truth is, I often do.  I really don’t want to take an honest look at who I am and changes that need to be made —WAIT A MINUTE, YES I DO! — at least, sometimes I do.  I really, really do!  I am so overjoyed to have the opportunity to care for myself.  So many others with terminal illnesses would look on diabetes with envy.  It is NOT something to just “put up with.”  It is a gift to be embraced.  My heart knows that.  God chose it for me and me for it! But on nights like tonight I feel like the wind is out of me–heart rate up and spirits down.  As I picked up and set back down my pen tonight–uncertain how to proceed–echoing in my head was the song, “Lead me to the Rock that is Higher than I.”  I don’t always need the wind “in me,” so to speak–I have the Holy Spirit Who invites me to take each step in His strength.  (Gal. 5:25)  I don’t need to have it all figured out, because He does.  (Jer. 29:11) I don’t even need to dismiss or be ashamed of my struggles, because God longs to my strong in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

I am still apprehensive about tomorrow.  I’m not sure which Briana will show up at that appointment, but I do know my God.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation.  He only is my Rock and my Salvation, my Fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

Psalm 62:1-2 ESV