Being Adventurous with Diabetes

The holidays are always a tough time for someone with Type 1 diabetes. I’m constantly surrounded by holiday treats and carb-heavy foods. Holiday parties tend to be the worst culprit.

This could be why I’ve been a bit anti-social lately. I don’t want to be tempted. This past year, managing my blood sugar levels became increasingly more difficult. Maybe it’s because I’m older and my body is less resilient? Maybe it’s because I “cheat” more than I used to? Maybe it’s because I’ve had this disease longer, and it’s starting to take its toll on my mental and physical health?

Maybe all of the above? I recently took out a life insurance policy. That felt weird. And although I do my best, I know there is no guarantee with this disease, and in case anything terrible should happen as a result, I want my loved ones to be taken care of. But in the meantime, I’m still rooting for me. Continue reading

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A Day in the Life with Type 1 Diabetes

Halloween is a surreal holiday. It’s my favorite holiday, but it is also a reminder of how much life with an incurable chronic condition affects my perception of positive childhood memories. I’m lucky that I could grow up with trick or treating without Type 1 diabetes, but I am also cursed in that I will never relish in the same devilish appetite now that I have a disease that negates sugar.

So, it seems appropriate on this almost All Hallow’s Eve and in preparation for November — National Diabetes Awareness Month – that I should write about what it’s truly like to live a day in the life of someone with Type 1 diabetes. A few weeks ago, I took an ordinary Monday (well, as ordinary as a Monday can be) and tracked every time I thought about my diabetes – every time I checked my blood sugar, every time I calculated carbohydrates for a meal, every time I felt something was “off,” and every time I administered insulin to keep my body alive.

Even I was amazed at how much managing diabetes has become a part of my everyday life. With advancements in technology, I’m able to do more, and I’m able to have more variety in the foods I eat. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it any less. That doesn’t mean I can take a break from being there for my body.

So, here’s one example of one day (because no day is the same) with Type 1 diabetes (there are no days off). It’s a long one, so bear with (just keep in mind that this is really how much I think about diabetes on a daily basis – believe me, it sucks). Continue reading

It’s All Mental (Except When It Isn’t)

I’m 30. People said my metabolism would slow down the closer I got to this milestone. But it’s not just being 30. There’s something else I have to contest with – something called Type 1 diabetes.

I don’t have the energy I had when I was 22 or 25 or even 27. Something has changed in the past year. I’m exhausted all the time. I’m lucky when I can work out more than three times a week. Hell, I’m lucky when I can manage to do weights after a 10-hour work day.

Any kind of physical activity is a struggle. I want to be in shape. I don’t want to be overweight when I age, but over the last year, I’ve gained 10 pounds. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s hard for someone who used to have to body image issues to tell herself it’s okay I’m a little heavier. Continue reading

Low Glucose Alert

I stretch my legs and sprint down the paved path along the four-lane highway in Silver Spring, Maryland. The sun sets behind me, and the bugs eat at my exposed calves, but I relish this 70-degree temperature. After 5 miles of gravel pathways, wooden bridges, and cracked sidewalks, I only have one more uphill battle of this last mile to conquer.

And then my speed starts to wane. I can’t seem to muster the strength to push myself harder even on this decline. Something feels off. My muscles are tired and weak, and my heart rate is accelerated past the point of normal. I stop at the next intersection, and as the stoplight turns red, I look down at the phone strapped to my right bicep.

Low glucose alert – my Dexcom app reads. Continue reading

Saying Goodbye to Gizmo

As much as I love Gizmo, I’m kind of tired of my insulin pump. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain. Having a $6,000 piece of equipment attached to me 24/7 has been an immense help in the management of my disease over the past four years.

But I am starting to understand why fellow Type 1 diabetics take a break from the pump every now and then and sometimes forever. It’s not easy having something attached to you 24/7. Right now I carry three devices around with me to manage my disease: my insulin pump (aka Gizmo), my continuous glucose monitoring receiver (aka Cosmo), and my glucometer. That doesn’t count my phone.

Gizmo is about the size of a pager. I usually conceal it clipped to my bra strap or waistline of my skirt or pants. The clip is currently taped together with duct tape, and the Medtronic label is practically worn away. I’ve had Gizmo for four and a half years. I’ve only had to replace it once when the battery container froze shut. For the most part I have no complaints.

But lately I’ve been more annoyed with Gizmo than happy. Take for example: Continue reading

Today I Bought a Scale

I recently bought a scale… to measure my weight… over time.

My former negative body image-self is terrified.

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But every time I come to grips with my single status again, I need something to focus on whether that be my writing, my work, or my fitness. Four months ago I started building muscle. I didn’t have much of a strategy. I just started lifting weights and varying my exercise routines.

And then I did gain muscle. I could feel definition in my biceps and abs. I could do things in yoga I’d never been able to do before, and I ran my fastest mile… ever. So I thought if I just put a little more thought and energy into it, I could actually be fit. Okay fitter.

But in order to do that I would need to start watching what I ate. I would need to start monitoring my fat and protein intake. I would need to start counting calories and checking my weight. I struggle with counting calories. I already have to watch my carb and sugar intake for my diabetes. I monitor my blood sugar constantly. Did I really want to add more to my daily math excursions?

Five Weeks

So I’m giving myself 5 weeks (only because after 5 weeks I’m taking my first week-long vacation in five years). See what I can accomplish with a strict regimen. I am a perfectionist after all. But that’s the catch. I have body image issues. I used to struggle with different types of eating disorders. I haven’t had a scale in my home in more than 10 years. The counting, the weighing – it encourages my obsession with an unrealistic body image.

Or at least it did. But it’s been 11 years since I’ve been that close to a scale. And I’m not doing this to lose weight. I’m doing this for my diabetes. I’m doing this for my physical being. I’m doing this for my health. I’m doing this for my mental and emotional well-being. I’m doing this for me not because I think I have to but because I want to. Continue reading

Making Up for the Break-Up: 10 Hard-And-Fast Rules

Break-ups are hard. I don’t know what it is about them that makes one question everything. Like why am I in DC? Why did I go to grad school? Why do I have so much student loan debt? Why am I still single? Why did I give up everything for a job I only semi-love?

I just went through my second hardest break-up in two years. Didn’t really know it was going to be hard until two weeks later when I spent eight hours of the day crying. Seriously, isn’t there a limit to how many waterworks one can produce?

But I guess it’s hard when you come to depend on someone for certain needs – a certain happiness so-to-speak – and then that happiness is taken out from under you and you’re left with a stark image of yourself in the mirror. Seriously how was I ever not single?

Anyway one thing I have learned from break-ups is as much as your friends and family may be tired of hearing about your failed single life, they kind of get it, and they’re totally there for you. And since I may be single for a long time now (okay just my pessimistic self speaking here), I might as well come up with some fun rules to get me back on the road to recovery and feeling excited about being free again.

So the next time I decide to end things for my own benefit (I’m being optimistic here) I’ll try to keep the following in mind: Continue reading