We haven’t written much about our personal foibles with diabetes of late. That’s because Mike and I decided we’re both pretty fizzled at the moment… which lies somewhere between mild lethargy and full-blown diabetes burnout.
But the idea — with the ongoing drudgery of this illness — is of course to continually find something new to tackle, some angle on your D-management where you can muster motivation to do better (insert raspberry). Or at least you can always find new bits of information and challenges to chew on, right?
So we each made a list of:
5 Diabetes Things Happening Now
Amy’s D-Things (LADA, dx’d 2003)
1) Workout Hack: By accident, I discovered a new way to handle workouts with my pump. Since I usually exercise in the mornings, I typically cut my breakfast bolus back by 50-75% and then use a temp basal of -50% or more depending on the activity. But on a few days, I forgot to reduce my breakfast bolus, so was pretty freaked out that I’d go low during my workout with all that insulin on board. I ended up shutting off the pump for an hour — and whala! This actually worked quite well on several occasions. Taking my regular meal bolus meant that I didn’t have to allow myself to shoot into the 250′s pre-workout. By taking the regular bolus and then just shutting off the pump, I stayed pretty steady throughout. Anyone else tried this approach?
2) CGM Breaks: I love my Dexcom CGM, and I do feel lost without that constant stream of information. But I’ve found that I still need to TAKE IT OFF sometimes. Too much tech on the bod can drive a gal crazy! So I’ve gotten into a pattern of 8-10 days on, 4-5 days off. That is, when the sensor finally plops off my skin — usually at about 8-10 days for me — I pack up the Dex system into my nightstand and allow my skin and brain a break for about 4-5 days. How wonderful to have a shower with only one gadget attached to you! After that, I’m actually anxious to wear the CGM again — which is really, really motivating.
3) Low-Carb Chips: Everyone has their carb weaknesses. Mine are granola/energy bars and chips. I’m always on the hunt for chips I can enjoy without the BG spike (hah!) But I’ve actually found a few brands lately that are pretty great. These Kale Chips from Trader Joe’s are weirdly yummy, and I also like the Beanitos products we mentioned here recently. Quest Nutrition makes Protein Chips with only 5 grams of carb per bag and a whopping 21g protein! Totally on my list to try next.
4) Dedicated Measuring Cups: Yes, this is another carb-counting tip I got from Gary Scheiner’s diabetes education group. They suggested buying extra plastic measuring cups that you can actually keep in the package or in the cupboard next to your chips bag or breakfast cereal… or whatever your carb weakness may be. So if that particular food has a serving size of, say, 1/2 cup, then you have the half-cup measure right at hand to be sure how much you’re eating. This has helped me a lot to avoid just grabbing handfuls of stuff and then SWAG bolusing, if you know what I mean…
5) Diabetes Pet Peeves: I’m reading this new book, The Sisterhood of Diabetes (which I plan to review here soon). It’s all about women athletes with diabetes and how they’ve overcome the many obstacles. What caught my eye in the section on Ironman Triathlete Heidi-Jane Humphries was a note about how she and her colleagues once had a great conversation about “diabetes pet peeves” that started out really bitchy and then ended up in bales of laughter. Love it!
I started a new list on my iPhone to capture some of the most annoying things, that make me want to scream with diabetes, so I can “contain them” and hopefully laugh about them when I look at the list later. So far I’ve got down: People at the gym who stare googly-eyed at the OmniPod on my arm, but don’t dare to ask what it is; the “oh, you don’t need diet soda!” folks who think they are being flattering; and the way my CGM beeps so insidiously after every meal — gosh, I wish there were a setting for, “I know, I have just eaten! You can start beeping after the food has absorbed.”
Mike’s D-Things (Type 1, dx’d as a kid in 1984)
1) A Theme of Blah: I’m more burnt out on diabetes than Amy is, I’d have to say. Last thing I want to be doing lately is checking my blood sugar, counting carbs, or thinking about diabetes data. So, sometimes I don’t. And that just creates a cycle of glu-coastering blood sugars, one with ripple effects that roll into most other areas of my life and make me feel even worse. Sometimes, the professional diabetes side wears me out and makes me not want to focus on the personal side. Whether my control is glorious or grotesque, my interest in focusing on it during the off-hours really wanes and I tend to slack as a result. Yep, a theme of Blah is where I’m at.
2) Hypo-Brain Slacking: To make matters worse, when I go Low, any interest I might have had in eating low-carb or keeping my numbers in range goes completely out the window. Instead, my focus turns to Eating All The Things, and what my friend Scott Johnson describes as All My High Are Belong To Lows. (See also: all my low blood sugars are followed by sky-high numbers that linger way up there for hours, before crashing down and starting the cycle over again). It’s kind of depressing and makes me feel like a failure, because I really am wanting to do better but just can’t make it happen with hypo-brain.
3) Missing the DOC: Hanging out chatting with other D-peeps online casually and just doing regular #DSMA chats has fallen off the radar, and I think that’s adding to my overall theme of Blah lately. (Are you sensing a trend here?) I miss that carefree banter when I could just relax and chat about diabetes amongst friends online. I’ve had fun with a handful of D-Meetups in the past month or so, and those have really helped keep me sane when it comes to diabetes, but I do miss the DOC. Hopefully, I will be able to find a surge of new energy to just connect with the people who mean a whole lot and have done wonders in helping me improve my diabetes and outlook through the years.
4) Veggies & Dog Walks: Despite how I’ve been feeling, two points that I’ve managed to keep up on are choosing veggies over carbs (except when Low, as noted above), and weekly walks with our Riley Dog. And recently, I took part in the Sniffing Out Sugar 2014 5K Walk/Run that was coordinated by the diabetes-alert-dog-loving Lally family here in Central Indiana. Remember them, the folks with Fielder the Super Dog that I profiled here earlier this summer? My wife and I took part in late July and August, walking around the neighborhood and also some local city parks and other nearby venues. A small donation got a medal for both Riley and myself, and we can now wear them proudly knowing that we not only got some good exercise together, but also helped raise money for families in need to buy a D-Alert dog. Official word is that people from 14 states took part and together raised over $650 (at least we made a dent) — and this activity actually brought some fun into my D-world.
5) Return to the Endo: I have an appointment with my so-called “Dr. Health Bug” on Thursday morning, the first visit in about five months. He isn’t going to be happy with me. And I don’t feel good knowing my answers to “What’s Up?” will either bring on the response of: “My blood sugars and A1C” and/or “I’m burnt out.” Either way, my brain tells me that this appointment will be a good jumping off point to move forward from my Blah and talk about stepping stones to doing better. Hey, at least I’m walking the dog and trying to eat veggies!
OK, D-Friends: How have you been feeling about diabetes lately? Any specific diabetes things (peeves) on your mind… ?