Like you have a choice anyway!

Just a warning to all men in my future: I come with accessories.

No, they’re not your typical female-type shoe collections or extensive makeup cases, although I do own both. And it’s definitely not limited to the usual past relationship emotional baggage (which I also happen to have). I actually come fully equipped with an arsenal of doctors, a bevy of prescriptions, and the flex spending account to prove it.

My diabetes is going to be the red-headed stepchild in our relationship. You’re going to have moments where you hate it for how frustrated it makes me. You’re really going to dislike how tough it makes things like going on vacation and eating out. It’s going to be an adventure planning and preparing to have children someday.

But you know what? I don’t expect you to love everything about my diabetes. Honestly, when it comes down to it, I just want you to love me for me! Yes, diabetes and I are kind of a package deal, but it is definitely only one very small part of who I am, and it definitely doesn’t define me. I had 23 years to form an identity before Big D showed up, and I’m not going back on it now!

I also ask that you be patient with me. I’m going to have equal moments of rage and sadness. I’m not always going to feel like testing or doing insulin. I’m going to have astronomical highs and catastrophic lows. And I’m going to need you to be there. I do a good job of taking care of myself, but every once and a while I’m going to need someone to deliver me a swift kick in the rear and remind me why I put up with this stuff every day.

Love me, love my diabetes.
I can’t promise that it will be easy.

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One year later.

I feel the need to pick this blogging thing back up.

I’ve had a number of revelations lately that I’d like to share, plus, I’m now working on my second year of being diabetic. I find that the second year of anything (college, relationships, making car/rent payments, etc.) is a time of huge growth, in which you take the things you learned the previous year and either repeat them ad nauseum because they worked and were awesome, or you vow to never repeat them again because they were an epic, horrible failure.

Diabetes-Related Things I Did in 2011 That I Will Not Repeat in 2012:

– Waiting too long to order pump supplies (Duh, Alyssa. Big duh.)
– Ever taking my local pharmacist and pharmacy techs for granted. (They. Are. Amazing.)
– Feeling sorry for and/or being too hard on myself.
– Letting numbers rule my life.
– Worrying too much about The Future.
– Ever ever EVER letting diabetes ruin my day. (Though the temptation is definitely there.)

Non-Diabetes-Related Things I Will Not Be Repeating in 2012:

– Working night shift because I’m pretty sure it’s SLOWLY KILLING ME. (This is still a work in progress.)

I spent the majority of this year cycling between feeling happy with my diabetes, and intense short periods of hopelessness and self-loathing. I mean, let’s be honest, in 12 months, I had to take 23 years-worth of (albeit irresponsible) living and taking care of myself, and throw it out the window. You know the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” Well, I don’t know about old dogs, but I think I’ve developed a whole new repertoire of tricks this year. But let’s not forget the good things that have come out of my December 2010 diagnosis: weight loss, better eating habits, lower A1C, my zippy green pump… I could go on forever.

I’m so proud of my progress this year. My endo tells me all of the time that he wishes all of his diabetics were as goal-minded in their first year as I have been. Growing up surrounded by diabetes allowed to me to simply accept my new situation and move on. I hope that when/if one of my children ends up being diabetic (genetics says it’s very very possible), I can help him/her have a similar experience. I have a lot of plans, and I’m expecting diabetes to keep up with me, and not the other way around.

So here’s to you, 2011. I wasn’t sure what to expect from you, my first year as a diabetic, but I’d say we’ve had a good run. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about the disease, and the wonderful DOC. The insight, knowledge, and experience that exists in the online diabetes community has helped me achieve so much success this year, and I am eternally grateful.

Here’s wishing everyone happiness and health in the new year. 🙂

30 Things About My Invisible Illness.

Hey guys, it’s Invisible Illness Week. As diabetics, we enjoy a certain level of transparency, which can either be a good or a bad thing. Nevertheless, it’s good to put a voice and face to what we’re quietly living with. I’m coming up on the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis, and thought I’d do a little bit of reflection on where I am now.

1. The illness I live with is: type 1 diabetes.
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2010.
3. But I had symptoms since: earlier that year.
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: finding a place for diabetes to fit in my life. I was 23 at diagnosis, so I already had a life before I became a PWD.
5. Most people assume: that my diabetes will go away if I lose weight. (Are you saying that I’m overweight?!) It also drive me nuts when anyone asks if something is always wrong when I pull out a gadget. The worst offenders are my coworkers at the hospital. (I know, right?!) I feel like I’m constantly having to explain what I’m doing so people don’t freak out and assume that I need medical attention. No, I’m fine, I stick my finger at least seven times a day. No, I don’t need to eat. Yes, I’m fine, I was actually just checking the time. (I like the bright colors on my pump screen, okay!)
6. The hardest part about mornings are: waiting to eat. Breakfast is my favorite time of the day!
7. My favorite medical TV show is: It used to be ER. 😦
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My Macbook Pro. ❤
9. The hardest part about nights are: working! Night shift bites.
10. Each day I take 1 pill & a billion vitamins. Not to mention infusing insulin 24/7/365 ad infinitum.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: feel like it’s important to factor things like exercise and diet into your treatment plan, of course, but I kind of have to take insulin. It isn’t a choice.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I don’t know that I would choose either. I feel like diabetes does a good job of remaining invisible most of the time, but then it makes itself VERY visible at the most inopportune times, and I just feel vulnerable. Then again, I suppose I’d rather only have it be visible sometimes than all of the time.
13. Regarding working and career: I’d like to find a way to use my experiences to teach other PWD’s. I’m starting my RN next fall, and I imagine I will probably become a certified diabetes educator down the road.
14. People would be surprised to know: that I am the ninth type 1 diabetic on my mom’s side of the family.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: that it’s going to be like this forever. That I’m going to have to explain this to my children. That I am most likely going to watch one of them go through the same experience.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: feel normal. It gets easier every day, but I’m still working on it.
17. The commercials about my illness: don’t do anything for me.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: going on unapologetic carb binges.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: the Navy. I was in the enlistment process at diagnosis, but apparently not far enough for them to still be able to take me.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: being open and talking about it.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: eat a whole pizza. Yup.
22. My illness has taught me: to be flexible and to always be prepared.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: “So it will go away eventually?” NO. This is forever. There is no cure for diabetes.
24. But I love it when people: look at me and just see ME.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: from Fred Rogers — “You know, you don’t have to look like everybody else to be acceptable and to feel acceptable.”
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: that they aren’t alone. And there is a very good, very full life, even after diagnosis. (Kerri said it best.)
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: that life does go on. Also, humans are exceptionally resilient and adaptable creatures.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: to be a calm and patient presence in a somewhat chaotic moment, allowing me to tell them what I needed instead of making assumptions.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: my illness may be invisible, but I am not.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: like you like me and may have learned a thing or two. Knowledge is power! While you’re at it, why don’t you do this meme as well!

Insanity.

Sorry for the gap between posts, I’m in the process of changing jobs within the health system I work for, and things are really crazy. I’ll update very soon, promise.

Retrospect.

In a way, I should have seen it coming.

My mother was diagnosed almost 15 yesars ago, so D and I were very well-acquainted. Our family had visited Mom in the hospital, talked to the nurses, and gone to the support group meetings. When my brother received his diagnosis, it wasn’t that big of a deal. We already knew what a D diagnosis entailed. We were used to it.

I knew the symptoms. I’ve lived in the same household as D for as long as I can remember! So why did I not notice how fast I was losing weight? How did I miss the endless bathroom trips and the 4-5 glasses of water I just HAD to have at dinner? My diagnosis hit me like a tractor trailer — diabetes? How? Why? What am I going to do?!

That night I came home and told Mom I couldn’t read the road signs, I saw the look in her eyes. She knew. “Come here, let’s test your sugar.” (We all got our BG tested whenever we felt really bad. You can never be too careful.) The beep of the meter a few seconds later was all the confirmation we needed: 395. It had been 2 hours since my last meal. I was screwed.

Some days, I feel very sad. Other days, I feel angry. I accept the I have the Big D. I'[m not over it, not by a long shot. I feel like that’s going to continue to be a work in progress. At times, I do wish that I had taken more time to enjoy my life before D, but I wonder what I will accomplish and learn as I live with and (maybe) grow to appreciate and love my disease.

Number 9.

Introductory blogs, IMHO, are all the same. My name is ____, I’m x amount of years old, and I’m writing a blog for you to read. Blah blah blah.

I have Type 1 diabetes (T1).

It’s a relatively new development. I’m Number 9 in a family with a long history of T1 and other assorted autoimmune deficiencies and issues. My mom and my brother have T1 as well.

I was diagnosed December 3, 2010. I had been feeling horrible for about a week, and when I came home with vision so blurry that I couldn’t read highway signs, my mother tested me and it was 395. Not too bad, but family history and growing uneasiness made us take that evening trip to the ER. I remember when both my mother and brother were diagnosed, at ages 36 and 11, respectively. I remember how scared the rest of us were. I remember wondering who was going to be next.

And now it’s my turn.

I’m finding it difficult to connect with other 20-somethings that have this disease, especially the newly-diagnosed. I created this blog with the (vain?) hope of networking with T1 diabetics like myself, and maybe learning some things about myself along the way. Any and all input is welcome, and I’ll update ad frequently as possible.

Be well!