Archive for the ‘Blood Sugar Swings’ Category
Four interesting things happened recently that made me think about how much of a struggle it sometimes is to live happily and passionately in spite of a lifetime of health issues like diabetes, and how critical it is to throw yourself with passion into doing the things that make you happy. Things that bring joy into your life. Activities that are so consuming that they make you forget, even if just for a little while, the burdens of trying to stay healthy and all that means.
First, my sister had a birthday and turned, well, three years younger than me. Nope, not telling! But I was thrilled to read her post at http://Beanygetsablog.wordpress.com and feel her growing happiness and appreciation, post-breast cancer, of everyone and everything in her life. She epitomizes what life’s all about–greeting every day with zest, loving her time with family and friends, immersing herself with gusto into cooking and city life, travel adventures and singing. Yes, my sister, I’m proud to say, is singing once again. That says it all: I am happy enough to sing my heart out and share my passion with others.
Then, I read an article on the internet that grabbed my attention–mostly because of what is not commonly seen these days in the news. It was about coping with Type 1 diabetes–and the article acknowledges how very hard it is.
Although it gives just a simple glimpse into some of the burdens of this disease, it still made me ponder how often (healthwise) I feel like a “bad” person when my blood sugars aren’t in control–despite my best efforts at maintaining my willpower, managing an insulin pump, trying to fit in healthy meals and exercise, and overcoming the high blood sugar rises that accompany stress. Or how often I fight feelings of sheer panic when I start to envision a future where I succumb to the often-reported scary complications of long-term Type 1 diabetes. I try not to do that too often, but it’s always there. And the best I can do is to keep trying, refuse to give up and live as normal a life as possible.
The third incident was happy and fun. I was on an agility course last week with my 6-year old whippet Zoe. She and I have been in the process of becoming a team where we can interpret each other’s signals, verbal commands and moves. The resulting bond from working together is awesome! When we finished a particular sequence of running several obstacles, the trainer’s words rang out to me. “Party her! Party her really well! She did a great job following you!” That made me smile so brightly that it could have lit up a room. First of all, I love playing with words, and here was a perfect example of turning a noun into the most amazing verb; it was perfect! Then I realized, that this word–as a verb–is so powerful, too. I couldn’t think of a better way to say what needed to be said. I thought later, as I drove Zoe and myself home, we all need to “party ourselves” in the issues and things that matter. We need to recognize the importance of taking the smallest steps forward on our life journey and be sure to celebrate doing so.
Finally, I had the absolute joy of running Zoe in an AKC agility trial last week. My sweet little whippet who is so shy becomes a driving, maniacal force out on the field–so much so that she (and I) often make mistakes (which we learn from) and of course then get disqualified (DQ’d). (It’s humbling, but you have to imagine trying to keep up with a whippet who can run like the wind!) So after a long dry spell of four trials and eight runs over five long months with no qualifying scores at all, on our very last run of the day, we finished the course. I knew Zoe had erred once when she went around, instead of through, the tire. So I’d brought her back and, this time, she soared through it, bounding over the last two jumps to the finish line. Had we “Q’d?” OMG–yes and more! Zoe and I had earned an astonishing FIRST PLACE!
A miracle? Perhaps. But I thought of all of our hard work and the challenges I faced struggling to not give up! That work and passion gave me such joy. I had tried to fly like the wind, too-channeling my beautiful soaring dog–and I was thrown into another dimension where diabetes, for once, didn’t exist, and the feeling of success was so sweet, so tempting, that it moved me to vow that I’ll keep on trying and loving life in spite of all its imperfections.
Power to partying your passions, and your steps forward no matter how big or small!
B well, be happy. Until next time, kath
This weekend, I’m off to shoot (with my camera, that is) cyclists in the Albuquerque Century Tour de Cure sponsored by the American Diabetes Association–NM affiliate. Looking forward to everything but the early start time, when the first group riding 100 miles officially takes off at 6:30 a.m.
Ugggg; getting up and out at 5 a.m. is not the most ideal scheduling for controlling my blood sugars, but the sacrifice (that’s me, this time ’round) has to be made. Will just have to channel the enthusiasm and energy of all 600+ riders to get there and into the zen of great photo ops! Once there, I know my adrenaline will kick in and I’ll be totally into the moment, working the camera from all angles to capture the excitement.
Cool; just thinking about it, I feel better already about the early hour rise time! Since we are what we sow, I shout: go, cyclists, go! The more, the merrier, as we come together to raise funds to cure diabetes and minimize its impact on so many people’s lives!
Today is just one of those days when I find myself running around like a chicken with my head cut off! BUSY and catching up, like we all find ourselves doing so often. So when I stopped for a few minutes to test my blood sugar level before fixing lunch, I played my daily guessing game. “Sixty-seven,” I announced to myself. “Sixty-five,” came back the reading on my meter. Hmmmm, not bad . . . you rock, girl! I was thrilled to be in such close touch with sensing my body signals and being in “good” control.
Ah–there’s that word that invokes guilt; control. What does it mean? Not every day is under your control when you live with diabetes, right? Hour to hour can find me moving from plummeting sugars to skyrocketing ones that make me feel sick as a dog. This happened to me earlier in the week during a four-day local dog show where I showed my 9 month old puppy Tess. I started off the morning congratulating myself on having a great blood sugar of 109. Ate a plate of eggs, knowing the protein would hold me. Three hours later amid the jitters (and adrenaline) of waiting, worrying, and then going into the show ring, my body was itching from the inside out. What was it? A blood sugar level of 311! Had I eaten anything? No. But stress and stress alone did me in. I had to go home after taking a large bolus of insulin from my pump and sleep it off–aggravated to have wasted the rest of the day.
A friend later asked, “Hey, isn’t the reason you wear an insulin pump so you can give more insulin when you need it–or not?” Guilt being my middle name, the question about why I didn’t test sooner to pre-empt my terribly high sugar level really bothered me.
Then, I realized what I was thinking at the time–sometimes, to figure out what works in terms of patterns, we have to grant ourselves time to experience what it really is that we have to do to function well and maintain control. In other words, I knew I had to observe the impact of stress on my blood sugar while handling my dog in the show ring. After it happened, I knew for sure that I had to counteract the rise in my sugar level the next day with just a touch of insulin.
What a fine line we have to walk–always deciding on not taking or doing too little versus not taking or doing too much–just to stay in control. Food, special treats, exercise, sleep, meds, travel–it’s all the same. Doing what works best to control your own health and enjoying your own life is what counts. That’s what I call being in control–but in a meaningful way.
And speaking of control, this week, the TCOYD (Taking Control of Your Diabetes) conference comes to Albuquerque! Looking forward to sharing my blog with others and inviting you to join in on sharing your thoughts about the challenges of living with or being touched by diabetes, as well as how and where you find the inspiration to overcome its challenges and live life to the fullest every single day!
Until later, b well, b happy. Kath
Just a quick thought to share today as spring tempts us to be more active outdoors and blood sugar levels start to drop . . .
I love challenging myself to guess my blood sugar several times every day. It’s like playing a game, but the reward of being satisfied that you are close to being in the right range is great! Except, of course, when you’re not, but that’s a different story!
Today, for example, I was lured outdoors by the warmth of a sunny morning. Before I knew it, I began to trim a few roses and collect fallen leaves from the garden soil. An hour later, I started to feel a little shaky. I’d only eaten a light bf of egg and tea since I’d awakened at 170. But gardening worked its magic in more ways than one; I knew I had to check my blood sugar, and I used the moments before doing so to guess what it would register on my meter. Hmmm; I’ll bet it’s 48 right now, I thought. And moments later, voila! 52 appeared on my meter.
Not a bad guess at all! And a fun way to check up on affirming I’m in touch with reading–correctly or not–what’s happening with my body and blood sugar shifts. Such a strange way to poke at living day to day with diabetes, I know, but also an important tool to focus on connecting with my state of health, too.
B well, b happy, b FUN.
Until next time, Kath
Oh brother, what a week. After returning from the hottest week on record spent in Los Angeles with my kids, the phone call about my results from 5 long days of wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) finally came, and the news wasn’t what I expected. The conversation went something like this:
“Kathy, your HA1C (hemoglobin A1C) was high.”
“Oh? Well, I’m not surprised. How high was it?”
And I thought: OMG, in the years since we’ve been able to measure average sugar levels carried by blood cells, I’d never had a higher number. I felt AWFUL. Actually, like I was really a bad person and deserved some type of punishment. This . . . despite the fact that I’d been closely monitoring my blood sugars almost every 2-3 hours during the time I was awake, and trying to fight rising glucose level readings. Truthfully, I was terrified, even before the nurse’s phone call. I wondered if, for some unknown reason, I’d started to become what they call “insulin resistant.” Not a good thing when you have to take insulin 24/7 and try to thrive on it!
But then, my thoughts bent on the why’s and ways to problem-solve them were startled by the nurse’s next comment: “We can’t include you in the Type 1 Study.”
WHAT???? My heart thudded. Me, a virtual poster girl for “talk with me and be inspired about how to live well with–and in spite of–diabetes?” I was positively horrified. But there it was: I didn’t qualify for the study. I was . . . in a word . . . rejected!
It wasn’t the high HA1C that booted me. The study’s goal is to analyze how much impact the timing of insulin prior to 3 major meals/day impacts control. In my case, being small (5 ft tall when cheating), I’ve learned to try to control my blood sugars and try to avoid big ups and down swings by eating very small amounts of food throughout the day. This works a little better for me than eating a few medium-large meals each day. So, yeah, I’ll admit I’ve known my eating patterns are a little outside the norm. And it turns out that study participants need to eat a lot more carbs at each mealtime than I typically do. So I understand this issue and my (gulp) disqualification from the study.
That reasoning, I can take. The abnormally high HA1C, not. Monday I’m off to the gym. Punishment or reward? It’s such a thin line. Only time will tell.
B well. B happy. Until next time, Kath
How hard could it really be, I wondered, to get myself down to the local University hospital to answer some questions and be prodded to find out if I would qualify for participating in a new research study about Type I diabetes and the impact of insulin timing on post-meal blood sugars?
Like so much in life, apparently more than I bargained for. The reality of checking my blood sugar and worrying–that’s the thing: always worrying–about having to rebook my fasting early morning appointment if I was too low or too high according to study criteria, was–and always is–stressful. Not to mention (altho I am!) that I wasn’t allowed to give any insulin after midnight to try bringing down my too-high blood sugar to a healthier level.
But I actually made it to my appointment this morning, with a blood sugar of 190 (not my norm and not my ideal!). Getting the flu shot yesterday afternoon (yep; should have delayed it for a day) pushed my sugar level up, mostly because the side effect of my aching arm and upper body forced me into graceless snore-enhanced slumber for two dead hours! But who knew?
So I discovered this to be, after all, an interesting study; great people! Eight months long, with two study arms of volunteer “healthy” diabetics; one will be a control group who takes care of themselves according to their normal routine. The other will be the intensive study group; those who must follow an insulin timing protocol and see if it makes a difference in lowering HA1C levels (a powerfully informative blood test which measures the average glucose level over approximately three months’ time). All to find out the impact of lowering glucose levels post-meals by giving insulin 15 minutes or so before eating. It’s hoped that this simple step will help lower HA1C levels . . . and thus theoretically reduce the risk of heart disease in those with Type 1.
So over 3 hours, I was EKG’d (results = normal); blood-pressure checked (102/58 = great!); bloodsucked (fasting glucose and assorted other tests); subjected to a general physical check-up (“You look like a healthy one!”); height- and weight-checked (none of your bees’ wax!); and then came the icing on the cake (I’m joking; by then I was imagining myself starving at 11:00 and never able to eat again). The study nurse Elisabeth harpooned me with a CONTINUOUS GLUCOSE MONITOR, aka a CGM. Sheesh; a big blob-of-a-thing stuck into my abdomen for 5 entire days.
The CGM will collect continual information over 5 days on how my blood sugars move up and down. But I have to provide not only the body host and mental willpower to do this, but be able to take time to keep detailed written records for the study team. When I test my blood sugar. What I eat (to the gram, if possible!). When I bolus insulin. How I feel. What my activity level is. Oh, and I musn’t forget any naughty highs or stealthy lows. Even if my blood sugar bottoms out, I am compelled to remember to hold onto my brain cells and write down every speck of what I eat (not so easy during or in the aftermath of the shaky carnival ride of reactions!)
Okay, so I like to use the thorny challenges presented by diabetes to complain sometimes! Who doesn’t, once in a while? But let’s be real. Before I even left the office, I knew that I’d get back even more than I’ll give. The funding support from the American Diabetes Assn, the intense commitment of study staff, the open sharing of information about diabetes, and having a chance to think about how I can use it to make a difference in my life and the lives of others; that’s simply priceless.
B well, B happy. Until next time, Kath
I’ve been crazily busy the last two weeks with really cool pursuits; entering three of my photos into the local state fair, assisting the professional judging panel for three straight l-o-n-g evenings of judging professional and amateur images, running my dog in our very first agility fun match, putting together my first tile mosaic project. All great stuff. And so demanding of immersion and my attention that I started to lose focus on managing my blood sugars.
What a double-edged sword; such joy in throwing myself into tackling projects and activities that make my heart sing, and make me nearly forget about shouldering the physical and psychological burdens that come with living day to day with diabetes. Yet, in the totally blissful immersion of my mind and body, comes an affront in the shape of creeping blood sugar levels that I can feel in my aching hands. Inattention to the diabetes, I guess, gone unnoticed and maybe even subconsciously tucked aside because I didn’t have time to deal with it while having so much fun, loving life and all I’m doing!
When I had an opportunity to print out some photographic images with my friend Eric, president of our local camera club, he posed an interesting challenge to me: ”To get better and move to the next level, you need to think about choosing a focus, immersing yourself in it, and learning all you can about it; so what topic do you think will be your focus this year?” And of course, immersed in the context of striving to be a skilled photographer worthy of National Geographic stature, I was willing to struggle with that issue. Portraiture? Abstracts? Landscapes? Cultural Photojournalism? Motion photography? My mind spun with delight at the possibilities. All important to learn; each one filled with lessons and opportunities.
And then I thought (a little grudgingly, I’ll admit); Hmmm. Not so different in terms of what I have to do every day and every week of my life with diabetes. Strategize about compositional elements: what makes me strong? Analyze what’s right, and what’s not working for me. Readjust my position. And sometimes, hit delete and be willing to start over and forgive myself for my mistakes. Focus, I realize, is key to everything.
Definitely not easy to do when it’s so personal, but I’m still learning, every day, how life and art are so integrated. CLICK.
While I’ve been working like a dog on preparing photographic images for entry into the local Photography Arts exhibit of the NM State Fair . . . Wait; what lightweight ever came up with such a lame phrase? It doesn’t approximate today’s cushy lives of most family dogs (like my 18-20 hours-a-day sleeping whippets), so I’ll start over and say . . .
While I’ve been working like a mad dog (yes, that captures my recent workflow perfectly!) on preparing photographic images for entry into the local Photo Arts exhibit of the NM State Fair . . . I’ve been stressing. Didn’t even stop to think, in the time spent editing my images into the wee hours of the morning (lots of finishing up at 2:00, 3:00, even 4:00 a.m. over the last two weeks), that my body would have been much happier with its customary routine of plopping into bed by 1 a.m. Yeah, I know that sounds crazily late for anyone who’s an eager earlybird riser, but 1 a.m. is typically perfect for me!
So pressing on to extend my working hours has had a few repercussions not well accepted by me. Definitely not easily digestible by my endocrinologist or medical team–not that I’m gonna give myself up to them just yet. I know, down the road, that the HA1C (the gold-standard 3-month measure for checking on the average amount of glucose bonded to my cells over that time period) will rat me out just fine.
So I’ve found myself trying to logically analyze how to control and bring down those HIGH blood sugars of 375, 400, 450 and upward (geez; they’re almost medal-worthy, really, in that I just try to keep plugging on despite getting such high readings). My thoughts and actions have traveled along this line: Switch out to a new infusion set/pump-despite having just changed it two days ago. Throw away that bottle of nearly new insulin and open a new one; somehow, the insulin must have gone bad. Uh-oh; I’m starting to be insulin-resistant (not a good circumstance for anyone but definitely the pits for someone with Type 1). That is, I’m struggling to implement a logical plan to bring my sugars down when they’re not so high that I succumb to sleep against my will.
Have any of these pro-active decisions helped? A little, and too little. But I’ve learned to be grateful for every little miracle in everyday life.
But why no real turn-around? And then it dawned on me; the sneaky slinking culprit. STRESS. There is no logical comfortable meaningful way to combat the effects of stress, except by getting rid of it. So finally, today, I can say I cast this one culprit out the door. Photos, all photoshopped, are turned in! Stress-b-gone . . . blood sugar just now b creeping downward . . . until the next event.
B well, b happy. Until next time, Kathy
sun’s up! birds are chirping! and so am i! happy, that is! and why not?!? spring into summer is finally, really, truly here! thank goodness, because last week we nearly froze to death in the high desert southwest–being pummeled with 50 mph spring winds, sleet, rain, and snow showers! mother nature obviously has her own terms and conditions.
so the last rose is going in this morning–after i treat my waking blood sugar of 40 (now rising to 54 !)–along with my 4 big tomatoes and two gorgeous purple basils that have been waiting ever so patiently for enough consistent warmth to flourish. rest of the herbs were planted yesterday, so we’re ready for a mahvelous summer feast . . .
but for now, a bite of not-so-garden-derived deep chocolate brownie will have to do! blessings, all of it . . .