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The One About the Gym.

UUUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHH the one about the gym.

Dude, I wanted to start this post with a story about how hard it’s been to regain traction with losing the baby weight and then end with a BAM I NO LONGER WANT TO BURN MY SHAPEWEAR IN A BONFIRE.  But no.  That is sadly not the case.

The road to my last pregnancy was paved with fertility drugs, miscarriage, depression, and other terrible crap.  Ends eventually justified the means and I was beyond grateful to find out I was pregnant after such a journey.  (The little Guy is my favorite guy.)  My son was born eight months ago and he is exactly who we had been waiting for.

Table all the parental happies for a minute, though, because this post is not about infertility.  Or the little Guy.  It’s about the tarnish that’s settled onto the word “just” in the sentence, “I’ve just had a baby.”

No.  I did not just have a baby.  I had a baby eight months ago.  And I still feel like I’m trapped in the postpartum schlubby chub club.

So I joined a gym.

I used to go to the gym a lot.  It was kind of a family thing and while I never sculpted a physique that would stop traffic (unless a vehicle actually hit me), I was stronger and healthier and slimmer than I am now.  I didn’t feel ashamed of my shape and I wasn’t avoiding my closet in favor of athleisure wear.

Oh yeah.  “Doing absolutely nothing in my active wear” has been a theme these last eight months.

Postpartum anxiety didn’t help (better now, though) and neither did the c-section recovery.  I didn’t feel great after my first c-section and, despite rumors I’d heard that the second one is easier, I did not find that to be true.  Add in some wrist and hand issues (I ended up with breastfeeding injuries, which feels silly as eff to type but is actually a thing) and my body felt like something I was renting out instead of taking ownership of.

That did not feel good.  I want change.  Can’t wait around for change, though.  Have to chase change.  Change is exhausting.  So is this paragraph.

So about a month ago, I joined a gym.  It wasn’t a cheap decision, but the gym feels low pressure, has great hours, and also provides childcare for small baby people, so I have no excuse NOT to go.  Also, something about paying for it makes me less likely to NOT go because I hate throwing money away.  So I’ve been going.  Despite feeling shy (is exercise timidity a thing?) and despite feeling flumpy, I’ve been going.  I use the treadmill and the free weights and I’m debating a class or two if I can find some glasses and a fake mustache to wear while participating.  I’m trying not to weigh myself but instead using a particular pair of pants as my barometer for progress.

I hope to see some progress soon but I’m trying to find small victories in the steadier blood sugars and increase of energy.  And also in the “hey, I left my house and didn’t spend the entire day juggling kid requirements only.”

Hopefully, in time, I’ll schedule my shapewear bonfire, but in the meantime, I’ll try and find some pride in taking small steps now.  Especially wearing these mad cool glasses and this fake mustache.

What I Did On My Bloggy Vacation.

Whoa – this was the longest unintentional blog break I’ve taken in ages. Maybe ever. And it’s not like I didn’t have diabetes-related things to say or conversations I wanted to contribute to.

I just didn’t feel like writing. Which is weird. I usually feel like writing.

After the Target low, I was on break with my family for a while, and then in Dallas for a TypeOneNation event.  I took a short pump break. I saw some PWD in the wild while traveling and the urge to hug them was unrelenting. I read a bunch of crap about “diabetes in a cup” and had that desire to climb on a soapbox clutching a unicorn frappuccino in one hand (but not taking a drink of it ever because my insulin has better things to unpack and also I keep picturing a liquified unicorn, which grossed me out further). I read a blog post and watched our community react to it. And I saw a bunch of angry Tweets and uncomfortable people and hurt feelings and just so much stress.

Oh, never mind the fact that I open the CNN homepage whilst looking through my fingers because there’s always some new yick storm.

I needed a breather.

Random street art ❤. @spacegirlw, thought of you.

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

So I guess I pulled back for a while. We celebrated Birdy’s seventh birthday as she crossed that threshold into an age that I remember (I totally remember second grade and my friends back then and riding my bike in the neighborhood and reading books and all that stuff – I have some clear and vivid memories of seven. I was also diagnosed with diabetes that year, so I keep looking at her through that lens, wondering if I appeared simultaneously so big and so little to my own mother.) We traveled without the Guy for the first time and it was kind of stressful for me, being away from my smallest little, but made me grateful for my mom and stepfather once again, how they are always willing and thankfully able to mind my kid(s).

… oh, and I am the last person on the planet to learn that if you are typing a text message on an iPhone and you turn the phone sideways, you can create a handwritten text message. THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE THING and I am madly in love with this feature. I have sent several ragtag cats, two ten gallon hats, a pair of jeans, a plane that looked more like a shark, a bunch of grapes, and boobs to unfortunate recipients. Anyone in my contact list is at risk of receiving nonsense and I AM NOT SORRY.

After a few days, I felt a little clearer. I cracked open my email and confirmed calls for the coming week, met deadlines that were looming, and created a document titled “Shit to Write About” with bulleted ideas of shit to write about. We paid our taxes. The tulips bursted up in the front lawn and they look like an army of happy. I felt a little bit productive, not so drowning in diabetes, and kind of ready to open a “New Post” tab on my blog platform.

So I did. And here I am. And here it is.

It was nice to work a little bit on a non-diabetes writing project I’ve been tooling around with. I liked sending the plane shark. I really enjoyed dealing with diabetes as a stand alone thing instead of repeatedly documenting it. Diabetes is all day and sometimes it needs to be tabled as a content source, with “shit to write about” waiting until I feel ready.

Which now I do.

Target Lows.

“Can you scan these so I can open them now?”

“Sure thing,” as she reached her arm over the conveyor belt to scan the package of Skittles in my sweaty palm.

BEEP.

I ripped open the package clumsily, my phone screaming out the Dexcom urgent low alarm tones.  Jammed a handful of Skittles into my mouth – way too many to be chewed at once – while simultaneously and awkwardly unloading the carriage.

“Do you have a Target red card that you’ll be using  today?”

” … mmmfff …”

My jaw was busy processing a dozen Skittles at a time.  I took a second to hang on (hopefully casually but most likely looking like a drowning man clutching the edge of a raft) and concentrated on chewing.  When I remembered, I would retrieve another item from the cart and place it on the moving track.

The lady behind me switched lanes, properly assuming I was a hot mess.

“Are you okay?”  The cashier was about 20 years old and probably accustomed to a flurry of weirdos coming through her cashier line.

I finally mashed the Skittles into something I could swallow.  “I’m fine.  Sorry – I have diabetes and my blood sugar is really low.  It happens here a lot.  Target makes me low.”  I was rambling and couldn’t stop.  “It always makes me low.”

She nodded slowly, putting my items into a bag as I loaded them onto the conveyor belt, one every fifteen seconds or so.

“I bet.”

She was kind.  I was probably drooling colorful drool.

“You can keep eating those,” she added.

So I shoved the rest of the package into my mouth, a hypoglycemic cow chewing on taste-the-rainbow cud.

BG 56 mg/dL. Eff off, Target. You always make me tank. (But I ❤ you anyway, you sassy store, you.) #diabetes

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Signs of Distractabetes.

My endo appointment is coming up fast, and I’ve just realized that I don’t give much of a shit.  Not good.  I’m deep into distractabetes.  Signs?

Your fasting blood sugar is taken at 10 am.

You think coffee is breakfast.  And is also lunch.

You carb count by glancing at the food and going “meh.”

You accidentally end up on a raw food diet only because you don’t want to cook anything anymore.

You changed your lancet last week and you’re still all proud, despite it needing to be changed again.

You wonder if it’s finally time to look under the bed and retrieve the many juice box straw plastic sleeves that have taken up residence there.

You go to dump out the dead test strips from your meter bag and there are only a few instead of a giant pile.

You notice a week long trend of overnight highs and instead of gently tweaking the overnight basal rate, you ratchet it up and hope for the best.

You deleted the Dexcom Clarity app off your phone … because the idea of looking at that estimated A1C thing is stressing you out.

Your CGM high alarm goes off and aside from humming the tune back in response, you don’t take any other action.

You go to write a blog post but end up writing a list about distractabetes from the third person POV.

(Also, by “you” I mean me.  Entirely  me.  I’m a little burnt out after 3 years of either pre-pregnancy-then-actual-pregnancy-then-breastfeeding.  The years of obsessively tracking blood sugars have given way to something I can’t entirely call diabetes burnout but instead feels like wicked distraction.  I’m maybe a teeny bit looking forward to my A1C draw next week so I can at least know what data point I’m working from.)

Guest Post: My Magical Disney Moment.

The power of peer-to-peer connections is not lost on the diabetes community.  While insulin remains our strongest medication tool, our mental and emotional health is nourished by connecting with like-pancreased people, making any diabetes burden that much lighter.

One of the most amazing peer support cultures in the diabetes community is found at Children with Diabetes’ Friends for Life conference.  As a board member, I’m extremely proud of the influence FFL has on families affected by diabetes.  Which is why stories like Noor’s are so powerful, because they illustrate how finding your tribe can make all the difference in your health.  

  *   *   *

Born and raised in the Middle East, in a culture where a lot of stigma is attached to people with medical conditions, growing up with T1D was very isolating, lonely and resentful. I was diagnosed at the age of 5, the first 8 years went by smoothly; my mom took on majority of my care load and those pesky hormones still hadn’t made their grand appearance. My doctors put me on a pedestal; I was their most “compliant” patient (yes that was a word that was actually used back then). Puberty kicked in and life as I knew it was over; the hormones took me on a never-ending whirlpool ride. I was embarrassed, tired, exhausted and done with diabetes. I was done with being different. I didn’t know how to explain that to my family and doctor. I felt like I was failing them and they wouldn’t understand, so I decided the easiest way to deal with it is to not deal with it at all. The next 3 years were a nightmare; I was in and out of the hospital more times than I can count. I was in severe DKA 3 times, once so severe the doctors said that I was going into cardiac arrest. I was in a coma for 5 days due to a hypo seizure. My a1c was 13%.

My parents did everything in their power to try and help; they tried soft love, tough love, grounding, reasoning, bribing, yelling, etc. but nothing worked, nothing fazed me. My doctor back home recommended attending the Friends For Life conference in Orlando; he thought it would be an encouraging experience. Little did he know it would save my life, LITERALLY. My parents dragged me kicking and screaming (maybe less kicking and more screaming); the last thing I wanted was to be in a room filled with “outcasts” and “weirdoes,” because you know as a teenager I was a “cool kid.”

The turning point of my life wasn’t when one of the amazing inspirational speakers talked about how he won the super bowl with T1D nor when a world renowned researcher talked about the effects of high and low blood sugars on our organs. It was on a Disney bus on the way to EPCOT with a group of teens who took me in and invited me to join. Kenny, a T1D teen, who was on top of his diabetes game, was checking his blood sugar using his forearm. I asked him the reason behind it and he casually answers, “In case I ever develop complications and need to read braille, I don’t want calluses on my fingertips.”

THAT was my wake-up call, THAT was my holy moly moment, THAT was all it took, THAT was my magical Disney moment.

Fast-forward 13 years; I haven’t missed a single conference, besides one because I was too busy having my twins (I know my priorities are off psht). I am not a mushy cheesy person; sarcasm is my language but brace yourself for this. These people have become my family, my friends for life and my squad. We have been through birthdays, relationships, breakups, marriages, childbirth, graduations, political turmoil (yes that’s a big one), highs and lows together. They inspire me everyday to do better and be better, not only with T1D but also with life in general. They made me comfortable in my own skin (after that summer I agreed to go on a pump after years of resistance); proud of the person I am with my diabetes and embrace it every day. When I’m having a screwed up T1D day, I know I can text them and they “get it.”

When I manage to workout and stay in perfect range they “get it” and understand what a huge deal that is. When I send them a screenshot of my dexcom with 2 arrows up after eating pizza, their “but that was worth it” response lets me know they “get it.” They have normalized this disease; suddenly I wasn’t alone, an outcast, or scared. They are nurses, doctors, advocates, athletes, chefs, photographers, businessmen/women and the list goes on. They proved to me that you can be anything you want to be and be amazing at it, in spite of the struggles.

That is the power of a community.  This is what they meant when they said “it takes a village.”

  *   *   *

Noor Alramahi has been living with diabetes since the age of 5 and since she wrote her own bio, I’m going to paste it here in full.  Mostly because she adds “had twins” as this NBD sort of thing when it is SUCH a BD.

“I’m a 28 year old curly brunette who’s in love with Tiramisu and Justin Timberlake. I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 5, since then I have learned to play piano, played varsity soccer, competed in horse jumping, travelled to more than 19 countries, had twins and can’t think of one thing that having diabetes has stopped me from doing. I am married to my best friend and have 2 year old boys. I have been part of  CWD FFL staff for the past 8 years, I also help run their social media platform. Five years ago CWD FFL inspired me to leave my corporate job and join the T1D nonprofit world and focus on helping people. I work as the community manager at Carb DM and am the co-founder of T1D females group in the family planning, pregnancy and post pregnancy phases called Sugar Mommas

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Thanks for sharing your story, Noor!

If you’re interested in seeing how Children with Diabetes can change your life, check out the website and consider coming to a conference.  If you already know how Children with Diabetes can change your life, please consider donating to support the organization.  And if you’d like to share your story about how the support of CWD has influenced your life, please email me at kerri (at) sixuntilme (dot) com.

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