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The Need for Naps … I mean, Self-Care.

Ten years ago, if you told me I’d have to bail out of a conference in the middle of the day to take a nap, I’d have laughed in your face because I thrived entirely on insulin, caffeine, and chaos and what do you mean, NAP?  I don’t need to nap.

Funny how being in my 30’s and hosting almost three decades of type 1 diabetes in my body has changed my whole stance on naps, and self-care in general.

This past week, at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions meeting, there was a lot going on.  Informative sessions, meetings with colleagues, social things with friends in the DOC, and a big exhibit hall full of diabetes companies, both established and up-and-comers.  Lots of stuff going on, and the pace of the conference is enough to wipe you out entirely.  (To catch some of what happened, take a peek through the #2015ADA Twitter hashtag.  There’s quite a bit there.)

Self-care is important for people with diabetes, but it’s not something I used to focus on.  I don’t mean self-care as it pertains to the specifics of diabetes, like checking blood sugars and taking insulin, but more the overall need to listen to my body and take it easy as necessary.  Things like “eating lunch” and “sleeping more than five hours” are included in self-care, but I had a bad habit of not doing either of those things.  I used to power through, soldier on, keeping going, [insert more phrases about not taking a moment to rest here] even when my body was throwing up its hands and hollering, “HOLY SHIT WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP?!”

But the effects of pushing too hard oftentimes wore through my good intentions and left me exhausted, with crummy blood sugar control to boot.  This past week, I embraced PTMO (permission to miss out) in efforts to stay healthy and feel “present” when I was at an activity, and it was a nice change of pace.  I went to sessions and wrote up my notes, and then took an hour to decompress in my hotel room.  I took naps in the middle of the day, grateful for the recharge that 15 minutes with my eyes closed provided.  I did not over-schedule myself but instead tried to keep the flow of the day less frenetic.

Permission to miss out, to take care of my own needs, makes me feel a little meh, as though I’m not able to keep up and that makes me weak somehow.  It also forces me to acknowledge that some parts of diabetes are taking a bit more of a toll on me than they have in decades past (ex. I had a low blood sugar during the conference that wiped me out for two hours.  The hangover is real.)  To Me 10 Years ago, the concept of taking it slower sounds ridiculous and the stuff that weak-sauce is comprised of, but to Current Me, it sounds necessary.  Because I’m older.  And possibly slightly smarter.  I felt present and able during the course of this conference, and I blame taking advantage of PTMO.

Because ultimately, PTMO leads to TGC (taking good care).  And it’s NWF (not without fun).

With Marissa Town at the TCOYD / diaTribe forum where we learned, laughed, and Facetime'd her kid. 🙂

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Mike Bloom from Dexcom has awesome shirts. #2015ADA

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Collector card.

A photo posted by renzas (@renzas) on

Diabetes Hands hosts some of our diabetes faces. #2015ADA #honored

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Absolutely!!!! As we get older (and I’m well ahead of you) and start logging multiple decades of diabetes, taking moments to give ourselves a break when needed is so important. I’m glad you did that!! It can be so hard to do sometimes.

    06/9/15; 3:06 pm
  2. ria #

    when I was younger I felt like I had to prove that I could do anything my “non diabetic” friends, co workers, family) did.
    Now, after a 43 year run with D, I Know I am NOT indestructible.
    It is a freeing realization.
    BTW my mother in law took a nap every day .
    She was in excellent health until she turned 93.

    06/9/15; 4:13 pm
  3. Glad you acted on that realization. Chalk it up to hard earned wisdom. It’s far better to allow yourself an hour or two away that refreshes, than to try to keep going and not be fully aware of what’s happening around you. Too many people miss out on life that way.
    Take care!

    06/9/15; 9:19 pm
  4. Kristin #

    Thanks for the post. I’m at year 34 living with diabtetes and sometimes feel like I’m twice my age. I struggle with the self care thing (both the diabetic kind and the non-diabetic kind) and just hearing that it’s OK to struggle is really helpful. Reading your post just now I realized I don’t often give myself permission to maybe need a bit more rest than the next guy does…and that’s ok.

    06/10/15; 1:46 pm

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