There’s More to Me

Posted by on Jul 15, 2013 in Diabetes & Emotions | 5 comments

No matter where I’m going, or what I’m doing, my health problems are always with me.  Type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure impact pretty much every aspect of my life in some way or another.  While that may be the case, it is also true that I’m not merely a person with diabetes and heart problems.  There’s more to me than that.

I’m a son, a brother, a nephew, a grandson, and a boyfriend.  I’m fortunate to have a mother who’s always there when I need her, even if it means having to drive 250+ miles to get to me.  I have a younger sister who always asks when I’ll be coming to visit.  I have an aunt and uncle whom I can’t thank enough for everything they do for me and the rest of the family, and a grandmother who has, quite literally, been there for me from the beginning; she helped deliver me.  And last, but certainly not least, I have a wonderful girlfriend who has stuck with me through the good times and the bad times for over 10 years.  April & I met on move-in day at the beginning of our freshman year of college, and have been together ever since.

I’m an educated man, and an employee.  I earned a Bachelors of Science in Internet Technologies from Indiana Tech, and work as a systems guy for a morning newspaper.  Being a code monkey is both a hobby and my means of paying the bills.

I’m an artist, a photographer, and a writer.  I love to draw all sorts of things.  Landscapes, still-lifes, and portraits are my favorite things to draw.  And that transfers into the photographs I take as well.  I love taking photos of nature; flowers, animals, rivers, and clouds.  Many lend themselves well to the poetry and stories that I write from time to time.

And believe it or not, I haven’t always been as open and outgoing as I am now.  I’ve always been a rather private person, almost a hermit really.  I know, it’s probably hard for some of you to wrap your head around what I just said, considering how forth coming I am about things in my blog posts and tweets.  Nevertheless, it’s true.

So, what influenced that change and got me out of my shell?  Being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and Congestive Heart Failure! Like I said, they impact every aspect of life, and they change perspectives.

And I like to think it’s changed mine for the better.

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Roller Coaster Ride

Posted by on Jul 14, 2013 in Diabetes & Emotions |

When you go to an amusement park, many people want to ride the roller coaster. The anticipation. The excitement. The fear. It’s thrilling! Most people who ride roller coasters enjoy what observers would call sheer terror, at least from their facial expressions. The unknown at the top of the hill. Not knowing if it is a turn or a drop. The ups and downs of a roller coaster and the speed are what make it exciting.  At the end, many want to take that ride again.

It’s not the same with the diabetes roller coaster. The ups and downs are terrifying, but not in a thrill ride sort of way. The uncertainty of complications. The anticipation of how food and activity works to benefit or harm of glucose levels. This fear is not exciting. The unknown of when the ride will once again be on steady ground. Faces showing terror that doesn’t end with someone begging to take that ride again.

Many times guilt comes along for the ride. If only I hadn’t eaten that. If only I took a walk today. If only I could keep on top of things. Anger joins in. Yelling. Sometimes cursing. Bitterness toward a disease. Sadness also sits in the next car. Tears. Possible depression. Fear tags along. Hoping to keep complication away.

Yes, diabetes is a roller coaster ride. Not only dealing with glucose levels going up and down, but also the mixture of emotions that go along with it. It may not be a fun ride, but it can be a little less scary with the support of family and friends.

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Not As Planned

Posted by on Jun 28, 2013 in Diabetes & Emotions | 6 comments

In life, there are plenty of things that don’t go as planned. Last week I had plans with two people. One forgot and didn’t show. The other had a sick kid and had to cancel. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, really, but it changed my plans. It was out of my control. There was nothing I could do about it.

Things didn’t go as planned.

I could have gotten upset, but I knew there was no point. Letting myself have a moment of disappointment helped me to move on. I was able to quickly come up with a new plan for the morning.

However sometimes it’s not as easy to recover from a change of plans. There isn’t always a pleasant alternative.

I knew there was a high probability that I would become Type 2 at sometime in my life. My grandfather was Type 2. My mom is Type 2. I had gestational diabetes for all five of my pregnancies. The odds were not in my favor. Heredity was not in my favor. I was expecting to develop Type 2 some time in my 60s.

Things didn’t go as planned.

I was diagnosed two weeks before my 38th birthday. That’s not what I had planned. I have to admit the diagnosis wasn’t a surprise though. After all, I was the one who requested the blood work. Something told me to ask.

After getting the diagnosis, I had a plan. I was going to test my blood sugar four times a day every day. I was going to exercise every day. I was going to eat low carb every day. Of course I also knew I was going to let myself have occasional treats like ice cream or Snickers bars, but only when my numbers agreed.

Things didn’t go as planned.

I don’t always test my blood sugar. No every day. Not even every week. I still eat french fries every now and then. I don’t always check my glucose levels before having a Snickers. I’m not the perfect diabetic that I planned to be.

There. I admitted it. I’m not perfect. That’s not so bad, is it? Then why am I tearing up as I write this? Why can’t I remember to test as often as I should? Why is it so hard to exercise every day? And why are those treats so tempting? Why is it that I get so upset with myself when I don’t do it “right”?

Things didn’t go as planned.

I may feel out of control, but there is something I can do about it. Maybe today I’ll start by testing my blood sugar once each day. Ideally it would be fasting, but for now I’ll just try for once per day. Baby steps. Just one step at a time.

 

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Motivation and Effort

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in Diabetes & Emotions |

Life is full of ideas that most of us just accept without examining them or even being aware of them. Here’s one:

“You can do anything if you want to badly enough.”

This idea is what leads some doctors to try to instill fear in their patients. The approach would even seem to have some merit, because some people do respond to a disease diagnosis or serious warning by making significant and lasting changes.

Before we look at whether this idea is really true, let’s flip it around:

“If you can’t do something, it’s because you don’t want to badly enough.”

Here is where our idea starts to become dangerous. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years either feeling guilty that I wasn’t sufficiently motivated to lose weight, trying to psychoanalyze myself to figure out why I wasn’t sufficiently motivated, or trying to artificially pump myself up to a higher level of motivation. None of this has helped in the least.

It seems to me to be useful to break our idea into two ideas:

“Greater motivation produces greater effort.”

and

“Greater effort produces better results.”

Both of these statements are suspect, but let’s concentrate on the first one. Does greater motivation lead to greater effort?

There are at least two things that can get in the way of motivation producing effort. The first is when we either do not know what action we could take to move us forward, or we don’t believe that the possible actions we know about would be effective. The other is that though strong desire can spur us to action, it can also paralyze us.

People differ in how they respond to crises. I myself too often responds to a crisis with both mind and body seeming to shut down. Even in a situation that is not a crisis, strong feelings about something that I want to do seem to strangle clear and creative thinking. I have to find a way to view the situation more coolly before I can make progress. This is part of why I think it is dangerous to try to use fear to motivate others.

I once read a friend’s concern for a relative that had been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This relative was not testing his blood, was not making needed changes in his diet, and was not doing the exercise which would have benefited him. It may indeed have been, as my friend assumed, that the relative did not understand his situation and was therefore unmotivated. But, it may also have been that he did understand his situation but was frightened past the point where he could take effective action.

If there are changes that we want to make in your self-care that we can’t seem to pull off, it may not be that we don’t want to change badly enough but that there are other barriers we need to find our way around.

 

 

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Then and Now

Posted by on Jun 11, 2013 in Diabetes & Emotions | 2 comments

This month marks my 8th diaversary.  Wow, 8 years ago I got that fateful phone call from my doctor that dramatically changed my life.  Then: the change felt awful, impossible, unfair and overwhelming.  Now: I feel much better.  Yes, I still feel all of those earlier emotions from time to time, but I don’t spend my days feeling as if I drew the short straw.

I began my personal blog about my life with diabetes 2 1/2 years ago and, when I read over the early blog posts, I realize how much has changed in my life since the beginning of my journey.  Sometimes I say “What was I thinking?” because the early Kate with diabetes did some silly stuff that I don’t do now (like thinking that sugar free candy was my savior!  Give me a break, I was desperate).  Now I’m able to eat a moderately low carb diet when back then it seemed like I would never be able to adjust my diet successfully.  Now I manage to fit regular exercise into my days (well, ok, most of the time, not always) but back then I groaned and whined and railed against the need to exercise.

If I could give one bit of advice; one bit of wisdom I’ve gained over the years living with diabetes, it would be that you can change.  It may seem impossible now but if you take things one step at a time and focus on the big picture, you will get there.  I don’t claim to have the answers and I certainly have my days when I need someone’s shoulder, but I am content with my life, despite my diabetes.  It’s along for the ride, but it’s not steering the ship.

Cheers!

Kate

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Good Grief

Posted by on Jun 7, 2013 in Diabetes & Emotions | 1 comment

Although I am generally pretty bad at maintaining and “positive attitude” on things like living a healthier lifestyle, I also work pretty hard at not allowing myself to feel much in the way of self-pity. I’m beginning to wonder if that’s been a mistake.

Of course it’s not healthy to spend much time feeling sorry for oneself. But perhaps in trying not to do that, I’ve failed to allow myself a healthy degree of grieving over my body’s broken metabolism and other issues. Perhaps occasional episodes of sadness or anger about this disease are necessary as part of a healthy attitude.

I’ve only begun playing with this idea. (My business card should read “Overthinking Things Since the 1970s!”) It may well be that I will change my mind on it. But I do believe it’s worth considering.

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