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!

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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!

“Paging Dr. Cranky-Pants. . . “

It has taken me a few days to write about this experience because I was so taken off guard when it happened–I had a horrible, awful, no good, very bad doctor’s appointment on Wednesday. The strangest thing is that it only lasted about 7 minutes.  He came rampaging in the exam room, didn’t even look at me and said while leaning against the counter on the opposite wall, “I’m very disappointed–I’m SO disappointed.” He roughly took my vitals and said that  I must not be very serious about ever having kids, because at this point I never will.  He asked if I needed any prescriptions filled and quickly jotted down my Novalog request.  I was just kind of sitting there thinking, “What in the heck is going on here?  Isn’t this the doctor I love so much?”  Really, I was stunned.  It comes down to this: my A1C is not much improved from 3 months ago.  (Though it is better! Something that didn’t seem worth mentioning to Dr. Cranky-Pants.)  An A1C is the average blood sugar reading over the last 2-3 months.  I do have a list of reasons for my poor reading: My CGM broke on the way to Wisconsin for Christmas, which would have been extremely helpful.  I got the flu at Christmas; when I came home from Wisconsin, I left a few days later for fun in the sun in Florida.  The biggest struggle there is that it’s really hard to enjoy your Mom and Dad’s new hot tub with an insulin pump on, or I’d take it off and put it back on–think everything is great–and realize 2 hours later that I forgot to turn it on!  So both of my Christmases were difficult for control. No big deal, get back in the game. . . but then I got a sinus infection that had me laying on the couch for a week; I’m convinced the antibiotics and the sinus infection stayed in my body reeking havoc for about 3 weeks.  And cold medicine affects the CGM readings, so I just put in back on a week ago!  That series of events brought me right up to my appointment.  Anyway, I explained that to him in as few words as possible and he said, “Yeah, maybe that’s it.” Retorting, “I have you on file saying that you’ve made all these changes, but I don’t see it–It better be better next time. See you in 3 months.”  Exit stage left.  

In less than 10 minutes, I had been stunned, insulted, disrespected, accused of lying, and sent on a major guilt trip.  With much difficulty, I kept my composure.  For about 10 seconds.  While trying to schedule my next appointment, (that I was oh-so-much looking forward to at this point) I had tears streaming down my face and I was holding back that choking kind of crying that would have been really embarrassing.  Once safely in my car, I let the flow of emotion wash over my face and sink into my heart.  

I share this because this blog’s tagline is: Finding joy in my JOURNEY with diabetes.  This is part of the journey.  I don’t share it because “my life with diabetes is horrible and I want the world to know it.”  Talking through this is part of the process for me.  Thanks for letting me do that! 

Honestly, for about an hour it was very discouraging.  “I can’t do this!  I’ve tried really hard, and I CAN’T do this!!”

Here is the truth: I am NOT the same person that I was 3 months ago.  My thinking about diabetes is completely different than it was.  I may not have the numbers figured out, but I know that I have overcome some huge personal hurdles.  I am not taking care of myself because I want a doctor to be pleased with me. I’m not taking care of myself for any person to be pleased with me. 

 The guilt-driven decision never glorifies God.      

I spent 9 years of my life under the burden of guilt-driven diabetes management.  In those 9 years, never seeing victory.  Never able to embrace diabetes as a gift. Just guilt, wrapped up in resentment, with emotional trappings.  

Its hard for me even now to say that I’m thankful for that appointment.  But it helped me to take a deep breath and recognize that God has enabled me to change.  It’s always a battle in the mind first. Always. My mind, which was the territory of Satan’s lies for SO long, is now an open field, in which I toil to cultivate seeds of God’s truth.  I have taken claim of this ground that thrived with roots of disbelief and ungratefulness, hedged in stubbornness and watered with despair.  

I claim this ground.  

Pull out those weeds!

Break down that wall!

I know that I need to toil, I know it will take time–sowing seeds of truth causes blisters and aches–but I am committed to do that.  

…Even if Dr. Cranky doesn’t know that.  I’m not in it to please him.

 I’m here to glorify God.        

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are ALL things.  To Him be glory forever.  Amen!” 

Romans 11:36