Change – we all experience it. Whether it’s by choice or whether it’s forced on us by this thing called life we are all a part of.
In my life the last year or so has been difficult as far as diabetes management. My (roundtrip) commute clocks in at just over 2 hours (which is not only sedentary but can be stressful too). The stress of living life “in the real world” outside of grad school, the stress of grant-writing and publishing pressures, coupled with the stress of not knowing what lays ahead for me and my husband (next year) has (to say the least) made for an unsettling trend in my blood sugar and A1C this year.
Knowing full-well that stress is unlikely to just dissipate, and not wanting to continue on the roller-coaster high-low in my struggle to chase sugars in either direction, I tried to focus on specific concrete changes I could make to improve the state of things. I settled on changing my food intake, slowly shifting towards (what I now estimate to be) 90% grain-free low-carb home-prepared choices. II set out in this simply experimenting, but over time I must say that I am happy with my success. What is success? How do you measure success? I measure success by how I feel (not necessarily by the numbers). The stress that Diabetes used to impose (daily and nightly) has faded, and (in addition to improved glycemic control) this is the biggest measure of accomplishment for me. I don’t worry about low blood sugar anymore, because I never take more than 2U of short-acting insulin at a time. I don’t eat after 6 PM, most days, and thus am able to achieve great stability overnight. In addition, the focus of high-quality proteins and fats in my diet has seemingly smoothened exercise-induced dips (e.g. these days I can hike on a handful of nuts and maybe 1 lifesaver if needed, as opposed to pre-gaming with granola bars or even juice in anticipation of a crash…) These are changes that I have chosen to make in order to improve my health and quality of life. In a way, sometimes I feel like I HAD TO make these changes (or some changes) that would make a difference, because I was really starting to get depressed and angry that I had to work so hard just to be chasing bgs in every direction on an almost daily basis (not to mention the averages on my meter, which had the potential to make me cry some weeks). I have mentioned that I don’t really miss high carb foods, and if I do I (wait for it) I EAT THEM! Usually, I regret it, but I am not one of those people who has to be extreme or perfect about my diet in order to gain what I need from it. This way of eating and dosing insulin in much smaller quantities has greatly improved my stress and anxiety levels. It has made a permanent dent in my bg trends (as an example, I used to have spikes into the 200s almost daily, but now anything like that gets a weird raised eyebrow, because that just doesn’t happen most days anymore.. AND I have had exactly ZERO LOWS. Sure, I was always vigilant about not having serious lows, but with this way of eating I am much more comfortable running in the GASP! Normal range!) Anyway, this isn’t to brag about my sudden morph into some diabetes dominatrix. I still have work to do – there is ALWAYS more work to do with Diabetes! J
This change in eating habits has been coupled with another lifestyle change – my ethanol consumption has gone down dramatically. When I found myself using alcohol to help deal with stress, I recognized right away that it wasn’t a very healthy outlet for stress, simply because it’s bad for your health and (for me) provides an excuse to run higher BGs in anticipation of the over-night crash after drinking. I am happy to say that I am much more comfortable right now with my alcohol consumption, and that I have been actively using other means of stress relief more times than not (such as putting my work away and training my dogs or sewing.) Sewing has been something that I didn’t expect to fall in love with but did, much to my (sewing) grandmother’s delight. There is something about sewing that earnestly teaches me the patience I lack and Diabetes has failed to teach me. When the thread catches or (worse) when the needle breaks (Arghh!!) all you can do is stop and fix it. Kind of like with blood sugar. Or life.
My mom always said – life is like a sine graph. We do the best we can, and we ride the waves. There are things we can control. There are things that are out of our control. Important to remember (for me anyway).
As life doesn’t slow down, and with even more changes on the near horizon in my professional and personal life, today I am stopping for a moment to acknowledge how far I have come. Also, to acknowledge how excited I am for my future.
<3 You DOC J Peace out.