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.

Bran Muffin Makeover

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One of my “roadblocks” on the journey with diabetes is breakfast.

I usually am not hungry in the morning.  That, coupled with the fact that I tend to run around like a crazy person on the way out the door, I tend to forget to eat it… or I just don’t want to!

Instead of planning elaborate morning meals that I would not follow through on, nor would I enjoy, I’ve landed at the conclusion that something non-fussy and fast is the way to go for me!  A friend suggested muffins.  At first, I thought that muffins would be too much carbs, therefore, not a good choice, but with a few modifications, muffins can be a great choice!

(If only those double-chocolate numbers from Whole Foods were a good choice….)

First, I made the traditional “Oven Ready Bran Muffins” from the back of the Hodgeson Mills Wheat Bran box.

With a few modifications….

  • I cut the called for 1 c. brown sugar down to 1/2 c.
  •  I used half Greek Yogurt and Half Ricotta Cheese instead of milk  (I ran out of greek yogi, so I used what  low-carb option I had on hand, ricotta)

After that, I saved 5 out for breakfasts now, and froze the rest to pull out some other lazy, crazy morning!

Tip: As you add ingredients to the bowl, write down their carbohydrate values; once you know how many muffins the recipe yields, you can divide by the total carb count and know the individual carb content of each muffin.

Then, write it on the box of wheat bran so you don’t have to do the calculations again!

 (Along with any changes you made to the recipe!) 

Eliminating half the brown sugar left the muffins needed a little something.  At first, I added honey, which completely defeated the purpose of reducing the brown sugar, plus, it’s very hard to be precise while measuring something so sticky.  Hard to account for the sweet nectar you lick off your fingers… :)

This morning, I knew that I did not want to use honey has I had previously, so I grabbed three fresh raspberries placed them on top of my muffin halves.   No other adornment, and the muffin was delicious.

Original Wheat Bran Muffin with 1T. raspberry preserves: 34 carbohydrates.

Makeover Muffin with Fresh Raspberries: 18 carbohydrates.

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With the addition of some plain chai white tea, this reluctant breakfast eater was satisfied, fueled for the day, and reduced carbohydrate intake by almost 50%!

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

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!)