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!

Advertisements

Little Less Conversation…

… a little more action!

That’s right.  In the past 3 months, this blog has seen very little attention from me.  In the case that I have been silent on this blog, one of two fundamentally opposed things are taking place.  Option 1: I have fallen off the wagon into an abyss.  In this abyss, there is lots of cake.  And with my mouth so full of cake, I just can’t find my diabetic voice.  Option 2: I am grabbing that feisty diabetic bull by the horns and can’t be bothered to write about it.

Headed into the “holiday months,” I must confess, I was extremely nervous.  Last year, I was doing well up until those pesky pilgrims came out to share their cornucopias and pie, I fell into more of a rut.  That followed through Christmas and into January.  In February, I was bitterly assaulted by a sinus infection that left me on the couch for weeks.  (The plus side of this: watching the entire first season of Once Upon a Time.)  In March, I had my blood work done, and it was horrible.  I was very discouraged, because I knew that my heart had changed so much regarding diabetes, but it was not showing up in the labs.

THIS YEAR MUST BE DIFFERENT.

I must stop Post-Christmas Blood work from coming!  …But how?

Knowing the tendency to “relax” around the holidays, I determined to make the same choices over Christmas as I had been implementing already.

The bloodwork:  in. 

The results: Fantastic!  

My a1c is finally, for the first time in my whole diabetic existence, in a “normal” range.  For those familiar with the test, my number is 6.7.  I had not even dared to hope that it would be below the 7’s, but God’s gracious gift to me was much better than I anticipated.

Thank you, Jesus!

The Perfect Doctor

… that’s all I need,

Someone who will answer all my questions, and care about me personally, and understand how my uniquely contradicting personality roles in diabetes care…

Yep.  He/She’s out there somewhere, and I just need to keep looking..

{We interrupt this search to bring you reality}

Last Wednesday, I drove to my NEW doctor in Willow Grove, filled with both calculated anticipation and trepidation.   This would be a step in the right direction, this would be the person who would understand me and politely listen and answer my questions.   I would have been better off hanging my hope for victory on a three-legged horse in the Kentucky Derby.  (Which I truly would love to visit for the sake of wearing a huge hat!)

I arrived early to my appointment at one of the quaintest little Dr. offices that I have ever seen.  It is part of a collection of cottage-looking professional offices set off the road surrounded by the color-stained Fall trees.  Idyllic.  THIS was the place where all my dreams would come true.  As I waited, I tried to think through a good explanation for why October was so horrendous for diabetes care… “I was SO busy, tired, etc…” “I usually do so much better, but…”

When I got sick of that, I just waited.

waited…

Finally, I was called back, weighed, blood-pressured, and what followed really doesn’t merit explanation.  It impersonal, rude, and condescending.

I bawled my eyes out in the parking lot like I have not cried for years.

Which is saying something.

So many emotions surging at once, how could I keep from crumbling under it? I had been hoping so high.  This would be the key.  The beginning of something wonderful.  But, it wasn’t.  Once again, a new doctor, and it wasn’t.

I called Ben and said things like, “I .. don’t.. want this!!” Waaa! “I feel so stupid” Waaa! “I will NEVER BE ABLE TO DO THIS.”  Waaa!  etc.. etc…

Somewhere in the middle there, I also said something like this, “I think all this was supposed to teach me that maybe a good doctor is not the answer.” (I’m still trying to hold on to the fact that good doctors might actually exist,.. but that is a conversation for another day.)  Couched in the lies I was telling myself about the situation was actually a bright beam of truth.   I thought about this truth during the days to follow, and it only became more concrete in my mind.

Who is the answer to great diabetes control?

I am the answer to great diabetes control.  I see a doctor every 3 months.  But I’m “in the trenches.” I’m the everyday go-to expert on myself–my motivations, my struggles, what helps me to be successful!  While other people join me–friends, family–the choices that I make, the food that I eat, the insulin I take, the carbs I count; these things are controlled by me.

Seriously, in the past week, I have been lovin’ the driver’s seat!  I have made intentional choices, intentional purchases, and intentional declines.

Who’s driving this thing?  This girl right here.

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.

“But God…”

“Bri needs her spontaneity, I need my schedule, and we need each other!” — Ben Frei

I always thought my husband said it best by describing us in this way.  I don’t do too well in boxes.  I like to wander.  I like midnight movies.  I like to feel freedom to make choices on a whim.  Ben likes to plan.  He enjoys knowing each step and what will be next.  We are a good balance to each other in this way–I keep his eye on the horizon and he keeps me grounded.  I’ve always thought that it would be someone like Ben that would do great with diabetes.  Someone who already has a set schedule and a routine way of proceeding through the day, they could just add a few extra steps and voila! diabetes managed.–but not a crazy like me!  In a way, I am more like a hurricane, flying through the house grabbing things, doing my makeup in the car (maybe), leaving the house with at least 3 bags in the morning (usually a cup of coffee too–it’s a balancing act for sure, I should charge admission for this show!) and still HOPING I have all the things I need.

Sometimes Christians like to say, “I can see now why God gave me (insert trial), because it has smoothed out my rough edges.”  I think that this is a true enough statement.  But I don’t believe that it is right to consider this the motivating factor for a trial.  Let me explain:  for a LONG time, I said, “I can see how having diabetes really works against my natural tendency to be unscheduled and under-planned.  God gave me diabetes to help me smooth out these rough edges.”  Which sounds nice enough.  What I was really thinking:  God doesn’t love me the way that I am so He gave me this stupid disease because I’m not scheduled enough!  This caused me to see my diabetes as a punishment for “the way I am.”  I truly did.  How could I, with a perspective like this ever think of diabetes as a gift? You know what, I didn’t.  It made me boil under the surface when people would suggest such a thing!  It even made me resent those who were able to joyfully embrace their difficulty as “a gift.”  “Pha!  That’s not how you really feel,”  I would think.  All the while I would struggle with my own guilt of not seeing my diabetes that way and not understanding why God saw fit to punish me in this way—especially since He is supposed to know what is best for ME!  This was not best for me–for the crazy, unscheduled girl!  It might be good for someone like Ben, but certainly not for me.

It is destructive for me to label my diabetes as God’s little sanding block in competition with my rough edges.   To be clear, it does do that.  Each step in our life is designed by God to make us more like Christ.  “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:16).  We are meant to be growing to be more like Christ–and that takes a little elbow grease on the corners, but God’s disappointment with us does not send the sandpaper–what does?

His emphatic LOVE for us! 

It is not God’s disappointment in us that motivates Him to do anything; it is His compassion and love.  Changing our natural tendencies is a “fringe” benefit, not the spark that lights the fire, but a bystander receiving heat from the flames.  My misunderstanding of this truth gave me a warped, crooked view of God and His love.  He is not a heavenly “life coach” looking to help me make improvements.  He is no more in love with me as a hurricane-crazy than He would be if I were as scheduled as the orbiting planets–His love and approval do not hang on me.  His love and approval have already been purchased for me as Christ hung on the cross.  He died for me–not to make me a better person, but to demonstrate His eternal love for me, and for those that accept His death as payment for their sins.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us,

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–

by grace you have been saved!

So that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:4-5; 7

Because of God’s LOVE He saved.  Because of God’s LOVE He “sands.”

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