Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘diabetes’

From NOPE to Yes.

My friend Susan is a huge part of the Postpartum Progress group, and on her Facebook feed I saw an article that she had shared.  I like to see what my friends are working in and sharing in and out of the diabetes space, so I clicked.

Reading through the postpartum depression list had me nodding a little bit.  But the postpartum anxiety list had me leaning forward, nervous that I was finding myself in almost every bullet point.

This one in particular:

You are worried. Really worried. All. The. Time. Am I doing this right? Will my husband come home from his trip? Will the baby wake up? Is the baby eating enough? Is there something wrong with my baby that I’m missing? No matter what anyone says to reassure you, it doesn’t help.

After my daughter was born, I did not worry all the time.  I worried in a way that felt normal, about her eating patterns and my ability to meet them, or whether I buckled her in the carseat the right way … that sort of thing.  The worrying started right after she was born and was background noise by the time she was six months old.

With my son, everything was worry.  I worried the whole time I was pregnant, reluctant to get too excited or attached.  I kept thinking the pregnancy was ending, even though I saw his dancing little self on the ultrasound screen every few weeks.  My friends and family wanted to throw a baby shower and I avoiding committing to the idea for weeks, nervous that celebrating his soon-to-be arrival date would somehow make him not come.

After he was born, I worried incessantly about my health, and his.  My second c-section wasn’t as easy as my first, and I recovered slowly.  My son had swallowed some amniotic fluid during birth and he spent the first three days choking slightly and needing to have the fluid cleared from his mouth and through via suction.  We knew he needed assistance when he would gag and cough and then flap his arms because he couldn’t breathe.  The nurses in the hospital told us to push the call button immediately if he did this, so they could come in and help.

“This is normal.  It’s common for babies to experience this the first few days after birth.  He will clear the fluid out and be fine; don’t worry.”

Except I worried.  Like professional grade worry.  I was afraid to leave his side because I thought he was going to choke to death in his sleep.

No one on my medical team was panicking about anything at all, yet I was panicking about everything.  When my son settled into a pattern of waking up every 20 minutes for the first 11 weeks of his life, exhaustion and anxiety dominated my mind.  I wasn’t myself for the first three months.  Which makes sense, considering the little bits of chaos we were managing, on so little sleep.

But around the 3 1/2 month mark, he started to sleep.  And my incision was healing.  And blood sugars were becoming more predictable, even with exclusive breastfeeding. Things should have been feeling better, but I had some trouble appreciating the things that were going right as I was already halfway down the anxiety slide at all times.  I had horrible thoughts all the time, born out of innocuous moments.

Like I’d be pushing the stroller around the neighborhood and mentally picture the stroller tipping over and my son’s body crushed.  Or a big hawk would fly overhead and I’d immediately picture the bird coming down and jamming its beak into my son’s leg.  (Fucking bird.  I had this particular thought often.  Weird shit, the mind.)  The thoughts would come ramming into my brain and I’d immediately banish them, saying, “Nope.  Nope, nope, nope,” to myself and physically shaking them free from my head, but I was feeling anxious regardless.  I had zero desire/thought to hurt myself or my child, but I kept picturing some scenario where he’d get hurt.

I felt like I was in fight-or-flight mode at all times.

Reading that list of symptoms jolted something inside of me.  I showed the list to Chris to see if that list put words to any concerns that he had.

“Seeing this all written down, I do see a lot of these in you,” he admitted.

I called my OB/GYN that afternoon and made an appointment.  After a screening process and a discussion about my concerns (including telling her that I called mainly because a list of symptoms had me nodding “Yes” to almost every single one) my OB agreed that there was some kind of postpartum thing going on.

“You have experienced a few things that would influence this kind of response, like infertility for several years.  And pregnancy after loss.  And then a complicated pregnancy due to diabetes.  And then deciding on permanent sterilization.  And then the sleep issues after birth.  One of those things might be enough to warrant intervention; all of those things definitely might.”

I felt weird that I was experiencing this stuff five months out instead of immediately after birth.  She reassured me that it happens often enough this way.  She made a recommendation for medication, I told her I wanted to try therapy before medication, and she deferred to my requested treatment.

“While you wait on your therapy appointment, I’d suggest that you get outside.  Often. And don’t stay holed up in your house; see your neighbors, call your friends, be as social as you can in efforts to help keep you from feeling so overwhelmed by the worries.  It might help.  And if you feel worse in any way at all, you need to call us,” she said, handing me a card with the therapist group’s number on it.  “This team will call you today or tomorrow.”

It felt oddly comforting to identify what was going on in my mind as something that could be addressed.  That I wasn’t stuck feeling this way forever.  That others have felt this way, too.  That there’s a light at the end of this sometimes dark tunnel that has made me feel so very much unlike my normal self.

And now?  I’m trying to ask for help instead of feeling like I have to shoulder the anxiety and chaos on my own.  My mother has been instrumental in helping me maintain my mental health, coming by regularly to spend a few hours with the baby and help with laundry.  My son is currently at my aunt’s house while I work from a coffee shop down the street.  My husband is quick to step in and make it possible for me to exercise daily.  And my friends in the neighborhood and beyond are vital to my mental health checklist, serving as people I can see throughout the week so that I don’t feel confined to my house. (Working from home with the baby makes for very long and lonely days without much grown-up interaction.)

There’s a network of people I can lean on, helping whittle some of the anxiety off me and reminding me that I’m still here, underneath all these worries.  That it’ll be okay.

And that?  That gets a big Yes, yes, YES.

 

A Valentine For My Pancreas.

(A post from the past, but still relevant, as my pancreas remains lazy.)

Oh rotting, feeble pancreas of mine,
Won’t you be my Valentine?
Won’t you wake from your long sleep
And make some insulin, you creep?

What makes you sit, all shaped like a wiener,
Lazy and dull, with a pompous demeanor?
What makes it okay, that for your enjoyment
You’ve spent twenty plus years filing unemployment?

We need to start over; we need to be friends.
We need this whole type 1 diabetes to end.
I’m tired of shots and I’m sick of the lows,
So I think we should talk about ending this row.
I could use a break, my corn-cob-shaped friend.
I’d love to have ‘old age’ listed as my end.
I think that your time off has drawn to a close.
I’d like working islets, and plenty of those.

How ’bout it, old pal? Care to start working?
Care to start minding duties you’ve been shirking?
I promise to be an attentive best friend,
I’ll thank you each morning and as the day ends.
I won’t take for granted the hormone you make
And I’ll forgive you for the last 25 years’ mistake.

I’ve brought you some flowers and a Border’s gift card,
In hopes that when I bring milkshakes to the yard
You’ll be so inclined to jump start all those islets
Who’ve been holding their breath for so long that they’re violet.

So what do you say, oh pancreas of mine?
Won’t you be my Valentine?

(Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your rotten old pancreas by sparing a rose.)

Spare a Rose.

I’ve been writing this website for almost twelve years.  The support, advice, and camaraderie I’ve found in the diabetes online community has made the last twelve years with type 1 diabetes among my healthiest and most successful.  The supply of insulin carefully tucked away in my fridge, along with access to an excellent medical team and the financial means to manage my disease, keep me alive.

I’m lucky.  In a lot of ways.

Today is my birthday.  The greatest gift I can have is another year of life, and I don’t take that for granted.  If you’ve found hope, or support, or joy, or friendship, or love in the diabetes online community, I’d really appreciate it if you would consider donating to the IDF’s Life for a Child campaign through Spare a Rose.  If you aren’t able to donate, would you mind sharing the donation link?

Flowers die.  Children shouldn’t.  Every small donation helps save a child.

 

Imagining Life Diabetes-Free.

I read an article today – Imagining Life Diabetes-Free.  This quote gave me pause:  “She said her mom equates living with diabetes to being ‘like a duck on a pond: it looks graceful and calm just swimming along, but below the surface, you don’t see the paddling, and all the work it’s doing to keep moving forward.”

What would it be like to not be paddling so furiously?  I tried to give that thought pattern a go.


I pictured waking up in the morning and leaning into the baby’s crib to give him a smooch, then rubbing the sleep from my eyes while shuffling into the bathroom to brush my teeth.  No checking my Dexcom graph immediately upon waking, no pricking my finger and challenging myself to put toothpaste on the toothbrush before the result comes up on the glucose meter.

I would put the little Guy on my hip and go wake up Birdy, not worrying if I was impaling my son’s buttcheek on my insulin pump.  No low blood sugar would keep me from bringing my kids downstairs in time to eat breakfast before the school bus came roaring by.

Super wet diapers or requests for more than one glass of water at dinner would not make my stomach drop and my heart feel heavy.

My day would consist of emails that had nothing to do with diabetes and video calls where I didn’t keep a juice box just out of sight.  I’d breastfeed my son without concerns about going low afterwards.

I’d go for a run with only my car keys and my phone – no glucose tabs.

Lunch would be a meal instead of a math problem (If my blood sugar is 103 mg/dL and I’m eating 15 grams of carbs and I pre-bolus 1u of insulin, will two trains leaving at the same time from New Haven have enough glucose tabs on board to bring me up, should I start to tumble?).  I’d plan my meals around what people wanted to eat and when they wanted to eat it.

I’d think Steel Magnolias was a really sad movie and that Sally Field is a tremendous actress instead of wondering for decades if it was going to be me.

My body would be absent the scaly, itchy rash that comes up as a result of my diabetes device adhesive allergy.  My fingertips would be smooth and unblemished.  If I had a brief millisecond of clouded vision, I’d think, “Meh – something in my eye,” instead of “DO I HAVE DIABETES IN MY EYE?!”

I would think dresses with pockets are cool instead of finding a cute dress with pockets and buying that same dress in every frigging color available.

I’d only have one pump at my house.

Bank account balances would ebb and flow as a result of non-diabetes purchases and responsibilities, without that nagging need to have a clot of cash for constant copays, premiums, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.  That need for medical insurance would be a source of stress but not a point of panic.

I’d see cupcakes and giggle about how they’re “diabetes on a plate,” blissfully unaware of how fucking ignorant “diabetes on a plate” sounds.

I’d worry about the future like everyone else instead of worrying like everyone else and then adding the unscratchable need to have three year’s worth of insulin and syringes in my house at all times.

I’d fall asleep at night and expect to wake up in the morning, without issue.

I’d have a family and friends and would travel and write and experience things that are scary and exciting and a mush of both …

… wait a fucking second.  I have a family and friends.  And I travel.  And write. And I experience things that are scary and exciting and a mush of both.  Diabetes does not keep me from living the life I want.  It’s an enormous pain in the ass at times and I have uneasy feelings about what it will look and feel like twenty years from now, but I am still here.

Imagining life without diabetes sounds nice and I can’t wait to find out what it will be like.  But I’m holding my own either way.  Paddling on.

I’m Not.

I’ve never had nightmares like this one before
Problem is, when I wake, it’s still there and I’m floored
Because every damn day there’s another news flash
Showing me that some leaders just follow cash.
I used to be iffy, and then was concerned.
But panic is what this new paradigm’s earned.

I’m a person and with me comes chronic disease
Not my fault but it’s mine until I cease to be.
I spend many hours maintaining my health
Despite big bites that it takes out of our wealth.
I have so many bills, premiums, and copays;
I sort them by health issue, person, and phase.
Hours on phone calls that are beyond numbing,
Yet bills for the baby I lost keep on coming.

“It’s not covered.” “Denied.” “You’re a burned down house.”
I wish I was that squeaky-cured research mouse.
“You can enter this risk pool.” But I need flotation
Not rejection from this powerful first world nation.

I’m scared and I’m nervous but I am empowered
Refusing to believe our whole country is soured.
I stand with my peers and I hope for the best
And until this is sorted, I refuse to rest.
I marched in a march and written my reps.
But there’s more I can do. There’s a series of steps.
Time to act, to rise up, to realign thoughts.
I know there’s a system.
It’s broken.

I’m not.

* * *

If you know of places where people can take action and raise their voice, please leave links in the comments. Liking a Facebook status or a Twitter post is good, but making phone calls, writing letters, and standing up for your rights can be so much better.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers