In honor of Valentine's Day, my love and I have done an interview with Glooko about being in love and the role diabetes has played in our relationship.
You can read it here.
Happy Valentine's Day, all. < 3
Monday, February 4, 2013
Another creation made from his and hers d-supplies which, for a little while, managed to take my mind off of the fact that I'm currently battling the flu "with complications."
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
A month ago, I wrote about the difficulty I’ve had writing lately.
That was only part of the story.
The other part stems from these posts. After they were published, I found the people whose support I was seeking were harshly judging me instead. My faith in the D-OC was shaken but I refuse to let a few bad apples ruin the generally awesome bunch.
I haven’t been writing because these issues with food and my body have been at the forefront, even moreso than diabetes, and I was afraid to open myself up to judgment when I’m already judging myself. But it’s something I need to deal with, and I deal with things by writing, so here we are.
Disclaimer: this post contains a discussion of body image issues and harmful eating patterns.
Before I joined the gym over 10 years ago, I wasn’t in the best shape. I was a healthy eater but between an injury abruptly ending my dancing career, and medication for a reproductive issue that was nameless at the time, I gained some weight. I didn’t feel “fat.” I wasn’t unhappy with how I looked. I was comfortable in my own skin and didn’t mind being curvier. After my freshman year of college, I decided to join the gym with my mom to work on really rehabilitating my injuries. The first thing they do when you join a gym is weigh you. When I looked down at the scale, I rapidly went from feeling ok with my body to feeling like I was disgusting.
My eyes welled up with tears and I went into the locker room to hide. I was ashamed of myself. I couldn’t believe that I’d gone from a dancer’s body to weighing that of 2 ballerinas. In that moment I decided I had a choice. I could either look at that number as something I’d never be again, or I could let it defeat me.
I decided that I had gotten my body into that “mess,” and I could get myself out of it.
As I started incorporating exercise with my already healthy eating habits the weight flew off. A year later, I had lost 40 pounds and reached my goal weight. I felt great and exercise was by far the best stress reliever I had ever found, it was even better than playing my guitar.
Then my weight loss plateaued as often happens. I gradually stopped taking rest days. I started questioning my food choices. I wouldn't allow myself the occasional "treat." I started counting my calories. I started working out longer and became obsessed not with how I was feeling, but with the number on the scale. Whenever the number on the scale would fluctuate upwards, I’d be overcome with fear that I was getting “fat” again and fear that everyone would be able to tell that I’d gained weight.
This was where the stress eating started. I had no problems eating healthy but when the stress became more than I could manage through exercise, I turned to food. As soon as I got around the foods that I wouldn’t let myself have normally (ice cream, potato chips, etc.) I’d start eating and wouldn’t be able to stop. It literally felt like I was blacking out mid calorie-fest and the next thing I knew, whatever I had been eating was totally gone and I felt like crap.
When I realized what was happening I went right to the counseling services at school. That worked for me for a while. My weight became just another number but I still refrained from taking rest days from the gym and made healthy food choices as often as possible.
A few years later, my body inexplicably started to change, I started to feel sick, and I was eventually diagnosed with diabetes. I had an excuse to become obsessive over my weight and food choices again. Since diagnosis, I’ve found myself in this pattern where I’ll experience a stress weight loss and then I’ll beat myself up to keep it off. Every time this happens I think I look great at my new weight and the mere thought of getting back to my previous weight (which I had been content with) makes me sick to my stomach with fear. Last summer I ended up losing a considerable amount of weight when I started working. While I expected it to come back during the semester, it didn’t, and I was proud of myself. Even my doctors didn’t think I’d be able to maintain that weight, but I did. I’ve accidentally become a vegetarian. I’ve gradually cut healthier foods out of my diet (like almonds) because they’ve become binge foods for me and once I start eating them, I can’t stop. It feels like I can make ANYTHING a binge food and make anything that’s healthy incredibly unhealthy. I can’t even have saltine crackers in my pantry for the occasional stomachache because once I open them I’ll eat a whole sleeve. I even found myself a eating peanut butter out of the jar as if it was ice cream. Yes, I know this is disgusting. The only way I know how to stop it is to just not buy things I could potentially binge on because I have no restraint when I’m around foods that aren’t fruit, vegetables, or lean proteins.
When I was home for 3 weeks at Christmas, I gained 10 pounds despite consistent exercising. I’m used to such clean eating that when I have a cookie or two, my body holds onto those calories for dear life. This has been met with dismissive comments of “oh you’ll get that weight off in a week,” "where? I can't see a difference in you" and “well I guess you’ve gotta get yourself to the gym.” Because, ya know, I’m not already in the gym 60+ minutes a day or something.
I’m so stressed with school and work this weight isn’t budging. I feel disgusting. I can’t stand the sight of myself. I put on more layers of clothes because I don’t want anyone to see me so out of shape. I workout until I’m completely exhausted. I run until I feel like my still injured knees are about to snap. My healthy outlet for stress has once again become destructive. When I workout or eat I have to stop and ask myself whether I’m respecting my body or abusing it. The very things that are lauded as part of a healthy lifestyle are the things that have made me battle with my body. The things that have made no weight light enough, no workout long enough, and no dress size small enough. And I’m stuck. I’m stuck turning healthy behaviors into self-abuse. I’m stuck hating what I see in the mirror. I’m stuck looking at my body and my weight as a point of shame.
And I can’t get myself out of it.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
I’ve wanted to blog so many times over the last few months but my heart just hasn’t been in it.
I planned to be part of a blogging project in November but when Blogger decided it would rather not publish my scheduled posts and deleted them instead, I didn’t have it in me to write them all again.
The last few months have tested me and beaten me down in ways that I haven’t felt in a while outside of school. This semester it was my personal life that was tested.
At the end of the summer, right before I was to head back to school, mom got a call from grammy’s nursing home that she wasn’t doing well and it could be her final moments. We raced to her bedside, and there she was, alone and scared in the dark, left to pass alone. I immediately turned on her lights and held her hand. Slowly she started to squeeze it. Then her eyelids started to flutter. She was scared. She alternated between saying “it just happened so fast” and “Grandma loves you.” Within a few hours her color began to return, she looked better, and was talking with us as if nothing had happened.
She was even “with it” enough to give my relationship with my love her blessing.
Mom went to check on her the next day and we talked on the phone for a little while. Grammy promised that she’d cook and give me “a good feed” when I came home for Thanksgiving… she hadn’t lived at home in a year and a half and hadn’t been allowed near a stove in even longer as she had Alzheimer’s and could not remain safe in a kitchen. But in her mind, she was at home and come hell or high water, she was going to cook for her granddaughter when she came home from school for Thanksgiving.
She continued to do well until she caught pneumonia. On a Friday as I was sitting to take my first mid-term, mom called and told me that if I wanted to see Grammy I had to go home ASAP. I took my exam in record time, threw some clothes in a bag, and jumped in the car.
When I got there, grammy looked so small and frail in her bed but this time she wasn’t scared, she was just asleep. This time she didn’t squeeze my hand. She didn’t wake up and tell me she loved me. She just slept. It broke my heart to leave her and go to work that Saturday. When I left I knew that would be the last time I’d see grammy. I cried the whole way home.
That Monday, Columbus Day, grammy got her final wish and passed away peacefully in her sleep. Wednesday my father had major surgery. That Friday we laid grammy to rest.
That whole week is a blur to me. Grammy was my only grandparent since my Papa passed away 24 years ago. She would have been 90 on the 28th of this month. Losing her has made me feel broken and empty in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I’ve never cried that hard or felt so lost and numb. Coming home for Thanksgiving and not getting to see her just didn’t feel right. When I was making my list of Christmas cards and presents, I still wrote her and her birthday on the list and it took a few minutes of looking at my list before I'd even realized what I'd done and the sadness washed over me all over again. Being home now without seeing her for Christmas and her birthday feels like I’m forgetting to do something.
The semester had its usual trials and tribulations. Moments when I wondered why I was putting myself through such stress keeping an impossible schedule and adding a weekend job which devoured all of the time I’d normally have to get work done and see my loved ones. Some weekends at work reaffirmed that I love what I do and I’m in the right field, other weekends made me want to walk away and never look back because it just wasn’t worth the strain it was putting on my life.
Somehow I survived with my GPA and scholarship in tact. I’m cleared to take my boards within the next 2 months and move on to the specialty portion of the NP program.
But my heart is still broken and it has been forever changed.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I’m absolutely honored to be part of a blogging project with some amazing DOC bloggers this month. This project aims not only to raise diabetes awareness, but also to raise money for The Joslin High Hopes Fund. You can make a donation by clicking here.
This Week's Topic: The Beginning - Share a story from when you (or the person you blog for/about) were first diagnosed
Being diagnosed as an adult, I have lived longer without diabetes than with it. Most of my memories are from a time when diabetes was just something I had heard about in passing (from this guy).
I remember when the only thing that made me think twice about what I ate was bikini season.
I remember going to the gym whenever I wanted and staying as long as I wanted without having to check and recheck my blood sugar and bring a small convenience store worth of snacks and glucose tabs “just in case.”
I remember the fear setting in when I realized something was wrong and we had to get to the bottom of it.
I remember when the “thing” that had been making me feel so awful for so long was finally given a name and the internal struggle that happened in those moments at the doctor’s office.
I remember lots of things from before my diagnosis that have been forever change, but the one thing that stands out above all else after I was diagnosed comes down to one word.
For at least a month, only my immediate family knew. I tried to tell some friends, but thanks to the perpetuation of diabetes myths, they told me I should just lose weight and I’d feel better. They examined and commented on everything they saw me eat or drink. They unabashedly questioned my decisions about my own health and frequently made it a point of conversation. I found myself being judged by the very people whose support I desperately wanted and needed.
So I stopped telling people. I kept it to myself and by doing that, my diabetes became something I had to hide. I’d check my blood sugar and do my injections hidden away in public restrooms.
I’d even do that in my own home if we had visitors.
Diabetes became my little secret.
While I had (and still have) the unwavering support of my parents, I needed more. I needed peers. I needed to know that diabetes was nothing to be ashamed of.
Then I found the D-OC. And I learned. I learned that just because other people had a problem with my diabetes didn’t mean that I had to have one, too.
Monday, September 24, 2012
For one year, one month, and 18 days (but who's counting?) life hasn't just been about my diabetes. It's been about his diabetes, too. It's been taking a look at his Dexcom receiver while he's sleeping soundly and I'm leaving for work. It's been waking him up and testing his blood sugar while he's sleeping through his alarms. It's been carb counting and learning how to make "man food." It's been doubling the stash of juice and glucose tabs "just in case." It's been having his arms around me when I'm low. Having him there to kiss my forehead when I have a blood sugar headache. It's meant that when diabetes gets scary and overwhelming, I can find comfort in the words of someone who knows exactly what it feels like - someone who knows me better than anyone else - and is telling me that I can do this. Someone I probably never would have met had diabetes not touched both of our lives.
And when I excitedly squealed over the phone that he had to bring d-trash because the first order of business after not seeing each other for a month was making an art project, he laughed and lovingly complied with the request.
The pen needles and needle covers are mine; everything else is his. Our respective d-lives coming together to make something beautiful. Just like us.
Monday, September 10, 2012
I’m so excited to share a project I've been working on this summer (because, ya know, the whole taking classes and working 40+ hours a week thing wasn't tricky enough). I’m a part of WEGO Health’s new sponsored video series, Diabetes Community Education, along with D-OC rockstars Cara and Scott.
We touched on a lot of topics throughout the series of videos and the videos on Burnout, Hypoglycemia, and getting on insulin have been released.
You can watch them (and hear my borderline illiterate/OMG I'm so nervous accent) here: http://sharinghub.wegohealth.com/diabetes-community-education
WEGO Health is going to be donating $1,000 to the diabetes charity we vote for after 100 people have shared the videos, so be sure to pass the info along to your friends!
I’ll keep you all updated as more videos are posted and, I promise, I got better at the whole “OMG I’m recording a video and talking to a webcam” thing by the end of the series :)