As of today, I’ve officially had type 1 diabetes for two years. I say “officially” because it was a few months longer than that, of course: I got thirsty, peed a lot, lost weight, lost most of my hair, etc, etc, etc. But now it’s been two years, and I have some things to say about it.
I planned to do exactly this last year, but I guess I never got around to it. My first instinct on my “diaversary,” as it’s called, was to eat a cupcake. I bought a pair of running shoes instead, thinking I was well enough to get back into it. Except that’s not gonna happen, apparently. I’ll get to that.
It’s certainly been an interesting two years. I guess I can say my life is Back Together at this point, if only because I’m still employed and it looks like I’ll FINALLY get that master’s degree in December. As I said, last year, I celebrated with a pair of shoes because I wanted to Conquer the Beetus or the like. This year, I edged more toward the cupcake: I bolused for 100 carbs and ate a burger and some froyo. That’s more carbs than I’ve had in a sitting since all of this started. It didn’t even kill me.
Anyway. Here’s a List of Things I’ve Learned over the past two years:
Most doctors don’t know what they’re doing or don’t care. Diabetes, at least, is an art, not a science, and I’ll run this damn thing myself, thank you very much. (I’m not going to rehash the part about where the hospital internist told me that I probably had type 2 at the beginning because I learned pretty quickly that that was pure bullsh*t.) At my last endocrinologist appointment, the doctor “suggested” that I lower my nighttime basals (even though I told her I had just lowered myself the night before), then, after she left the room, had the nurse watch me do it. Which is funny because I can just change them back myself once she’s not looking. She’s not the Basal Police. Just to see what would happen, I didn’t change said basal rate back, and the next morning I woke up with a blood sugar of 160. I felt crappy and had a hell of a time getting it down because waking up with high blood sugar makes you high for most of the day. So I changed the basal rate back. Things like that make me hate doctors. There’s also the crazy stomach problems I suffered with for over a year. I went to a gastroenterologist and had a colonoscopy and endoscopy, neither of which turned up anything. I hated traveling, and I stayed home from lots of social events because of what my stomach was doing. Turns out that I was just eating too much fat for my body to process because my pancreas doesn’t produce enough enzymes to digest fat properly. Guess who figured that one out and then fixed the problem? ME. Not a doctor. I dislike doctors now.
Distractions are fantastic. One of my favorite things about Zelda is that she keeps me occupied with something other than my blood sugar. I’ve been running it higher to deal with her without worrying about lows, and I feel better because of that. My A1c went up a tiny bit, but oh well. (That’s another thing with doctors. My A1c should not be treated like a report card. Ugh.) I like having to make plans around Zelda rather than around my blood sugar, and focusing on something that generally makes me happy is much more healthy for everyone.
My life can be pretty normal. Humans can get used to anything, and I think I’ve gotten pretty used to having to run my pancreas manually. I have some of the best technology available, and it’s easy enough with all I’ve learned over the past two years. I’m now an expert carb-counter, and I’m confident enough that I’ll make an educated guess on the carb count of whatever I want to eat – within reason. I have yet to eat Pad Thai again.
I have fantastic friends. For a long time, I was afraid to eat food when I didn’t know the exact carb count, and my friends have tried so hard to help! They carb-counted their own recipes for parties! That amazes me. I should also mention the husband‘s infinite patience here, but I think I’ve talked about that before.
It’s not a huge deal. If I miscalculate, I won’t die. I might feel crappy for a while, but my blood sugar will level back out eventually. Which means I shouldn’t be afraid to eat what I want (again, within reason) at local restaurants that don’t post nutrition information. And that’s what I’ve been doing for several months now: I discovered that food from chain restaurants (and not even fast food – I haven’t touched that stuff in forever) is packed with added sugars and fat, and it tears up my stomach. I do much better eating at local restaurants despite having to guess on carb counts.
It’s a learning process. Just because I think something works doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice. When I was first diagnosed, I thought (and was told) that low-carb was the answer, so I started eating nuts and cheese. I LOVE nuts and cheese and ate too much of both. I gained more weight than I should have. I hit 175, which was unacceptable, and started counting calories – and immediately stopped eating almost any of either of those things because of the crazy calorie count. That’s when I noticed that my stomach problem stopped. Yep. I also have to figure out how to eat lots of food without skyrocketing. There’s a bolus setting on my pump called dual wave that gives me a chunk of insulin up front, then the rest of it over a period of hours. At first, I didn’t eat pizza or pasta at all because they’re difficult to get right, but then I figured out this magical dual wave. But it’s a juggling process because I have to choose the percentage up front and then how long to let it continue. I make lots of lists. I’ve also changed breakfasts several times, trying not to spike. For a long time, my go-to was oatmeal, first plain with stevia, which drove me low. I moved on to packaged gluten-free (which is the best oatmeal), but that spiked me badly, so I make regular oatmeal with cinnamon and one carefully-measured teaspoon of sugar. That wasn’t so bad. But then I discovered English muffins, and so on and so on. Learning process.
I figure that if I could get through the first year, I could get through all of them, and this second one has only gotten easier. The rest of my body has gotten more into line and everything has generally settled down. I still won’t eat All of the Things, but I’ll eat Most of Them and be happy with that since I’m more likely to keep my limbs and vision if I behave. It’s really not so bad, after all.
Once more unto the breach.