If I were to send a care package to one of my d-buddies, this is what I’d put in it:
– Chocolate because everybody likes it.
– Alcohol swabs because we all go through them like water.
– A book with encouraging messages on how to handle the daily struggle.
– A card made by me because I like being crafty.
– Something to treat one of those blood glucose lows.
– Sugar free treats because sometimes we need them.
– Chicken noodle soup. Who doesn’t like that?
– A teddy bear with a blue circle pin.
– A pair of soft, fluffy socks.
– A Starbucks gift card because… yum, caffeine!
I have to admit that I don’t post as often as I did in the past, and I usually go the self-centered way and write about something that’s on my mind. But when I mention other people here, it’s usually because they have inspired me in some way or another. I wouldn’t be where I am right now in the online health community, especially the diabetes online community, if it wasn’t for the amazing people I’ve met. So every time I write about my community, I try to highlight what really makes an impact in my life.
Here are some posts where I talk about others:
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
One of the things I struggle with the most in my day to day life is being mindful, not only of my surroundings but also of myself. I believe it requires practice and a lot of discipline. I’ve tried to meditate many times, but I never stick with it. Ask me how many books on meditation I have, and I probably can tell you the number is bigger than the number of minutes I’ve actually spent in real meditation. I’m not giving up, though… I think it’s important to be present in everything we do.
When it comes to managing my chronic conditions, there is a lot of it that depends on what I eat. Mindful eating is one of the things I want to achieve and practice well. To know what I eat, to enjoy what I eat and to be aware of what it does to my body; also to learn to choose what I put in my mouth based on what I know because I pay attention to myself and how I feel. It’s a big task, let me tell you. Just a few minutes ago, before I sat down to type this post, I ate some cheese curds and I don’t even remember finishing the bag. That’s what I’m talking about.
I guess I’ll try it again… and I’ll probably fail again… but I won’t give up. Here’s a post I wrote a while ago on my old blog about being mindful.
Wouldn’t you know it… there are instructions for this: Take a deep breath. In for five, out for five. Close your eyes to get the full effect. Repeat if necessary until you feel like you’re back into control. Then smile. Look the person directly in the eye and give them a knowing smile. Usually, people find this disarming and want to smile back. Sometimes, this is all it takes.
When it comes to health conditions and each individual’s experience, there will always be someone who doesn’t agree with me. And lately I’ve found myself trying hard not to say something, especially about people with type 2 diabetes. Somehow we’ve been deemed the fat and lazy who deserved to get diabetes; the media doesn’t help and opinion are so divided, I really don’t know right from wrong anymore. I know my personal history, I know I probably could’ve delayed the onset of my diabetes, but the magic cocktail was there for me to develop it. Whether I deserve it or not… that’s another story.
One of the things I struggle the most as diabetes advocate is trying to make other people in the community understand that because I have type 2 it doesn’t mean I have no awareness about other types of diabetes. The constant bashing of type 2s makes me really sad sometimes, and I wish other people wouldn’t be so quick to judge and condemn. Things have gotten to the point that it’s bad that we’re all called diabetics. But that’s a rant for another day. What I’m trying to say is, that in the middle of this struggle, I decide to take the high road and keep on doing what I’m doing: caring, helping, educating.
Sometimes it’s better to smile and keep silent.
Today’s NHBPM prompt is disclosure. How did I decide what to share? What do/don’t I share? The first thing that comes to mind is something I read on Kerri‘s page a long time ago: “Diabetes doesn’t define me, but it helps to explain who I am.” So when people ask me about myself, I tell them about my chronic conditions right off the bat. I am not ashamed or scared to tell them that I have a cranky pancreas and a lazy thyroid. It’s chronic, it won’t go away; if I live with it, I may as well disclose it.
I don’t worry too much about talking about my thyroid, but with personal relationships, I learned the hard way to tell people about my diabetes. Yes, I used to be ashamed of it, or afraid that others would see me in another light if I told them about it. I found out I had diabetes during one of my long term relationships, and then I kept it from the next person I met… Let me tell you it isn’t fun to be reminded that you hid something from them all the time. So from now on, if I meet someone I’m going to be seeing on a regular basis (friends or more), I let them know what’s going on. Mostly because I think it’s a matter of respect, but also because I think people should know how to help you when something goes wrong. And for me, it also makes part of my advocacy efforts, and my desire to educate people. It’s refreshing to know how how many people actually want to hear and learn about anything that is different.
And then it comes work. I usually don’t hide my conditions from my supervisors. Especially with diabetes, I have to respect my eating schedule, I have doctors appointments, etc. I need them to know that sometimes I’ll have a small emergency, like having a low blood sugar that I need to treat. It’s still a struggle sometimes because most people don’t get the concept of “I need to eat something NOW!” But I prefer they know, so they give me the respect I deserve based on the Americans with Disabilities act. Yes, my conditions are considered a disability, and I think it’s important to disclose in some cases.
One of the things I like about my life is that I decided to be an advocate for people with diabetes even before my own diagnosis (you can read all about it here). But since I have type 2 diabetes, in order to be a true advocate, it has been my latest mission to educate myself more about other types of diabetes. I have to confess that until a few months ago I had no idea of what people were talking about when they mentioned the word “basal.” It made me uncomfortable not knowing, so once I met my friend Marie, I started asking all kinds of questions about insulin-dependent diabetes.
There is still a lot for me to know. I remember when I thought that diabetes only came in 3 types: 1, 2 and gestational. And then I started reading all about it… let me tell you, it’s a jungle out there with so many symptoms, treatments, outcomes, age onsets, etc. And that’s why I want to learn as much as I can about it. I have a pretty good idea of how my type 2 diabetes works, but I want to be able to help other people. I may not be able to give them medical advice but sometimes it’s good to talk to someone who has a clue of what’s going on. And like I said, what kind of diabetes advocate would I be if I only go for my type?
November is National Health Blog Post Month (#NHBPM). Wego Health is encouraging health bloggers to raise awareness and help others. 30 days, 30 posts. Here I go…
This morning I told my friend Melissa that sometimes I get tired of living. Yes, I know that sounds horrible and that life is a wonderful thing, most of the time. Then I get hit with several chronic conditions, recurrent depression and a whacky endocrine system, and the first I have to do in the morning is feed my thyroid the hormone it refuses to produce, so I can actually function. Then I have to test my blood sugar, figure out what I can eat, try to do good and still see that number raising. Then I have to remember to take my happy pills because everything else goes to the crapper if I don’t. Every muscle in my body hurts, not because I’m a weakling, but because there’s also an auto-immune inflammatory process of unknown cause. It isn’t bad enough to keep me from living, but it exacerbates during the cold months making me wish I could just stay in bed. And that’s just part of it. So yeah, some days I want to either throw the towel or throw a pity party and eat all the ice cream.
And days like this are the reason why I write about my health. When I sit down and put my thoughts into words, it helps me understand what’s going on with me. I stop and think about the choices I made just five minutes ago and how they affect my health. I stop and think that I’m 37 years old, I’ve had type 2 diabetes for 12 years and I’ve actually done my homework because *knock on wood* I’m still alive and kicking, and I have no complications. It makes me realize that I’ve become so acquainted with my depression, that as soon as the early symptoms hit I know what I have to do and I’ve been depression-free for more than over a year. Writing about my health makes me be aware of my needs and responsibilities, but also of my big and small victories.
Mind you, I’m not a model patient, I’ve had really bad bouts, I tend to forget things on purpose. Yes, you can enter periods of denial and it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived with a condition/illness. So I write, because writing about my health makes my conditions more real, and because it gives me the opportunity to share with others, mostly to tell them that it’s OK not to be perfect, and that we all have bad days. Living with an illness is not easy, so writing is cathartic.