Yesterday was the first time I shared something on this blog in almost three weeks.
Ordinarily I’d quickly put up a bunch of back-dated content to fill out the illusion that I’m publishing something here every day. But that’s not the truth. That’s not me. At least right now it’s not.
Last week I attended QS15, Quantified Self’s annual conference and Expo as a part of my role as the new Associate Editor for Quantified Self Labs. My mandate was simple: attend breakout sessions and show-and-tell talks from the Quantified Self community with the goal of finding some interesting people to interview, and some interesting stories to tell. Having never attended a local Quantified Self meetup before, I didn’t really know what to expect of these three days. I figured there would be a lot of numbers and graphs and wearables – lots of wearables. And while some of what I encountered wasn’t far off from those preconceptions, I came away with a much different feeling about the entire Quantified Self movement than when the conference began.
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.
I get really mad with posts that say things like, “We may have diabetes, but we’re strong! That’s OK! Don’t let diabetes get you down!” Like, yeah, I’ve been trying, and it’s not working. Shut up and let me be rightfully sad.
Shared on My Diabetes Secret
I’m not sure if My Diabetes Secret is, or will ever be the proper place to grieve for the loss of your pancreas’ functionality. But there should be a better, safer way for people to share their frustrations without feeling singled out. Anger is just one of those things we have to deal with. Some days the world doesn’t make sense and diabetes doesn’t play fair. Other days you think about diabetes a little less than you normally do and everything turns out alright.
Where is that middle ground?
Do you ever have days when you care too much about your diabetes, yet nothing seems to go your way? Do you ever have days when you care too much about your diabetes, and all that hard work pays off?
Do you ever have days when you don’t care about your diabetes, and your blood glucose numbers perfectly complement your apathy with wildly out-of-range readings? Do you ever have days when you don’t care about your diabetes, and everything goes swimmingly?
Do you ever have a day when you experience all four of those mindsets, and struggle to find balance – to find normal?
May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?
I won’t lie and say living with diabetes is easy, but the tools and technology at my disposal certainly reduce a lot of the external stress and frustration that are often associated with this disease. When I talk about my own diabetes, I understand that control is largely within my grasp, and up to me to follow through on. When we’re talking about someone else’s diabetes, like say, the woman I’m going to marry. Keeping calm is a bit more difficult.
As I wrote 3 years ago:
I think I feel even more helpless when that low blood glucose registers on someone else’s meter. I can get a caprisun or glucose tabs for you, no problem, but then the waiting game starts. I hate waiting for the correction to kick in. I hate that I can’t do any more than what I’ve already done. I want to move mountains but have to settle for twiddling my thumbs. I literally know exactly what you are going through, but I can’t settle on the fact that I’ve done all that I can. I’m glad I can be around to help out, but seeing what diabetes can do to you is a thousand times worse than whatever it can do or has done to me. If I could take on twice the diabetes so you didn’t have to deal with any of this, I would. For now, I’ll keep a caprisun on standby.
Last week I had the privilege of attending Dr. Larry Chu’s (of Medicine X) Engage and Empower Me course, serving as the moderator of the Tweetchat portion of the class. The topic was the “Neuroscience of Engagement”, featuring guest lecturer David Eagleman. I encourage you to watch the entire presentation if you have time, but I want to focus on the specific action items David mentions when talking about ways to improve our own engagement with our health.
- Minimize Temptation
- Risk Money
- Recruit Social Pressure
- Leverage Emotion
- Establish Habits
Proper diabetes management unfortunately has the potential to frequently brush up against diabetes burnout if I’m not careful. The harder I try to keep things “normal”, the more frustrated I become when I don’t see results. That frustration leads to more aggressive efforts to control my diabetes, which in turn leads to less control and more frustration. Eventually I have to take a step back and refocus my efforts, but not without taking a “break” from my typical on-the-nose diabetes care that I need to implement on a regular basis if I want to be as healthy as possible.
David’s presentation discusses some ways to help with taking control of our health and, in my case, ways to minimize the potential for diabetes burnout. These tips start around the 30 minute mark of the video above, if you’re curious. Of course this is all easier said than done, but the core concepts are enough to get me thinking about better ways to approach my own diabetes management.