Have you ever had one of those nights when you’ll do whatever it takes to get your blood glucose above 60 to the point that sleeping through most of the night at 250 mg/dL is more desireable than what you’re feeling in the moment?
I had one of those last night. 2 juice boxes and 9 glucose tabs later, I didn’t care what I woke up at, so long as I woke up.
For the most part, I feel like I have this diabetes thing under control. I know what needs to be done to get by, and do well. I have a generally positive attitude about this stuff most of the time. But every now and then base instincts take over and the need to simply get by is satisfactory.
In moments like that, diabetes sucks. Big time.
My wife (becuse it’s still fun to say that) purchased some high-level coloring books over the weekend to help with stress. I’ve always viewed coloring books as a great way to show how little I know about color combinations (despite some of my attempts to match a shirt to a tie).
But I can see how the amount of focus required for something like this could do wonders for attempts to block out the shenanigans of the world.
What I’d like to know is if there’s any benefit to diabetes management. Obviously the primary tools like insulin, exercise, and carb counting are essential. But since stress can raise blood glucose levels, is it logical to think a stress-relieving coloring book could have the opposite effect?
We fly back home today after a week of wedding-related shenanigans. Traveling with an insulin pump presents a different set of challenges and opportunities compared to my times using insulin pens.
From a pure numbers perspective, there’s less stuff to pack. Rather than 8 insulin pen needles per day, plus another 25-30%, I need a full t:slim site change for every three days of travel, plus another 2-3 backup changes. Instead of going through TSA checkpoints like an ordinary traveler, I opt out of regular screenings for a pat down.
One thing I still need to wrap my head around, however, are the insulin adjustments required to stay in range during my excursions. Generally speaking, my diet is a bit more relaxed when I travel. This, of course, means more variable Dexcom graphs, and new basal rates. The big challenge with all of this, though, is that I still don’t feel comfortable with my “regular” basal rates.
Before I continue, please remember, I’m not a doctor.
I sometimes wonder if sharing my Dexcom and blood glucose meter readings is counterproductive. Reminding other people with diabetes that they aren’t alone in their struggles or successes with diabetes is great, but what happens when I start to self-censor what I share because it’s not “good enough”?
If I have a few consecutive days out of range, sometimes I prefer to keep that to myself. There’s nothing wrong with a little privacy, but when I become explicitly aware of that need, I think it has a negative effect on my diabetes management. Something to the effect of “I’m not doing my best, I need to focus more on myself, but that focus means I’m not sharing with the community, and sharing helps the community, but I’m not helping the community if I’m not doing my best.”
At first, I didn’t want to use that title, because escape feels oppressive, like something is holding me back. Escaping my Dexcom data for a weekend seems inappropriate when the reality of the situation is much different for other people struggling to pay for insulin. Saying I’m escaping from this device, its protections, its information, its everything seems inappropriately arrogant.
But that’s where I found myself this weekend, taking a break from the constant stream of data and decisions that are required to live my life with diabetes.
Choices like this are carefully thought out. Whenever I make the decision to take a step back from any normal portion of my diabetes management, I tend to do so in the safety of my own home – often over a weekend. I’m not a doctor, but I figure it’s best to be in a familiar environment in case things go bad, or I decide to get back on the horse and resume my regular diabetes management methods.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m better off remembering what life was like before my diagnosis. I don’t have many specific memories that are tied to food or a carefree lifestyle that didn’t exist before regular insulin injections and blood glucose checks defined my routine, so it’s not as if I can directly attribute a loss of life’s joys to diabetes.
I assume this kind of thinking, that diabetes is a thief, among the newly diagnosed. When the changes required to survive are still raw, it’s easy to draw immediate comparisons to a life that once was. I’ve lived with diabetes long enough that I don’t think about how my life has changed as much as how my life with diabetes has changed. I suppose it’s how I try to stay positive through all the easily-identifiable negativity. This Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor sure is great. Life with an insulin pump is a lot easier than managing insulin pen needles. The port light on my blood glucose meter is awfully handy.
Of course, cycling with diabetes is going to have its caveats and asterisks.