Diabetes Social Media Burnout Day

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Burnout. I’ve been there. In fact I just returned from about a two month hiatus from blogging. But my burnout was more self-imposed, independent from the happenings of the DOC. I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t encountered any hurtful, argumentative, or mean comments directed at me or what I wrote. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist in the DOC, but I’ve never felt personally attacked. But I’m sure that has to do with my own level of involvement. The more you put yourself out there, the more you dive into the DOC, the more vulnerable that makes you.

With anything on the internet, if you search hard enough, you’ll find information, opinions, and support for both sides of any issue. So while you’ll find people who have the opposite viewpoint as you, you’ll also find like-minded people. Everyone has opinions and everyone is not going to agree. But by putting your thoughts out into the vastness of the Internet, you have to be prepared for and strong enough to handle people who disagree with you. But that doesn’t mean your thoughts are not still valuable to others.

When you reach a state of burnout for whatever reason, instead of thinking about why you stopped, remember why you started.

Why did you start blogging? Why did you first become active in the DOC? What was and is your purpose for being here?

I started blogging because I wanted to hold myself accountable. But more than that, I wanted to share my unique experiences with a shared community. I wanted to educate those who don’t know what it’s like to live with T1D. I wanted to connect with others. I wanted to be inspired and to inspire others. I started sharing my story so that others could see bits of their own life in my posts, and for me to find pieces of myself in theirs. I started so that together we would strengthen one another, support one another, and together help each other through the ups and downs.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the day to day that I forget why I started. Sometimes when I don’t get comments on or offline about my blog, my purpose starts to drift away. Comments aren’t the reason why I blog, but they are good fuel. All it takes is one person telling me that they love reading my blog or commenting that I’ve inspired them to make some difficult changes that keeps me going. The hard part is remembering that even if no one tells me these things, there are lots of people who read my blog without commenting that still find value.

So from this social media burnout day, I’ve decided that the next time that I feel like I need to step-back and take a break, that I instead will write 3 nice comments on someone else’s blog. Because those comments might just be enough to help that person through their burnout.

Diabetes Blog Week- Day 1

Today begins the Fifth Annual Diabetes Blog Week, and I am happy to be participating for my second year! Each day this week, I’ll be responding to a different prompt, sharing my perspective on different topics within the diabetes community. I’m excited to share my thoughts as well as read all the different posts in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). I hope to discover some new and thought provoking blogs as well! So here we go!

Change The World- Monday 5/12

“Let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by talking about the diabetes causes and issues that really get us fired up. Whether or not you “formally” advocate for any cause, share the issues that are important to you.”

I love technology. I may not always be the first to have the latest and greatest, but I definitely get excited with every advancement. But more than the gadget itself, I love what technology can do to ease and even improve our lives. When used for good, technology can have a powerful influence in shaping people’s behaviors. Where I get excited is how technology can be used to help people live healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Take the Fitbit or other wearable sensors, for example. This simple, discreet wristband essentially tracks distance in the form of steps. Integrated with a smartphone app or wireless USB adaptor, it presents a user-friendly interface with real time tally of steps taken, distance in miles, calories burned, minutes active, and other tracking features. It gives the user simple indicators in a clear way, even using stoplight colors to show when you are close to your goal. It even incorporates with social media, showing you where you rank amongst your friends. Simply by wearing this wristband and having instantaneous access to my daily progress, I’ve found that I have changed my behaviors to reach my daily goal. These changes may be small but they’re still positive changes. Whether that’s taking the long way somewhere or opting for a walk during lunch, every step counts.

This is a post about diabetes, why am I talking about Fitbit? Well because I’m passionate about the integration, communication, and synchronization of all diabetes related devices into a meaningful experience. While there’s been significant progression, we aren’t there yet. My glucose meter talks to my insulin pump, but neither my insulin pump nor my meter talks to my CGM (yes I know some can). None of these are talking to my smartphone. I know there are some great apps out there, and even special meters that can be plugged right into my phone, but that’s not what I want. I don’t want to have to manually enter in my blood sugars or my boluses, I’m lazy and forgetful. I want an app that already knows because it’s collecting data wirelessly from all my devices.

But I don’t want it to stop there, I want clear graphs and indicators providing me trends in my blood sugars and recommendations of what I need to do based on a personalized history and my doctors recommendations. I want it to alert me the way my CGM does when it notices a trend in a negative direction. But I want my alerts to be tailored to me based on the carbs it knows I ate and the insulin it knows I gave. Data is great, but not if I don’t know what to do with it and surely not if it doesn’t have meaning to me as a patient and a person.

We as diabetics do and track so much. There’s so much to remember, so much to calculate. I want something that will reduce my burden, not add to my list of things to do. Why do I love my Fitbit? Because it’s not asking me to count my steps and then enter it in an app, it already knows. It takes that information, calculates it into other meaningful statistics and gives me a sense of what my next steps are (no pun intended). I want this for my diabetes self-management. This is the cause that gets me fired up. I want integration. I want to reduce user burden. I want clear, meaningful data that is comprehendible by someone without a medical degree. Well, what I really want is a cure, but until then, I’m counting on technology to at least make things a little easier.

 

My Dearest Diabetes

My dearest Diabetes,

On this Valentine’s Day, I’d like to take a moment and express my true and honest feelings towards you. After all, as the men I have dated have come in and out of my life, you have stuck to, er I mean by, my side. You have been with me through the highs and the lows, never mind that you caused many of them. But you’ve never abandoned me, you’re always here, even despite my best effort to get rid of you. I have to admire that kind of persistence.

Our relationship is unconventional. You were an unwelcomed force in my life, bringing with you many changes, disruptions, and emotions. Dare I say, I hated you when we first met. But you made it clear that you weren’t going anywhere so I learned to make the best of our relationship. I want you to know that you can be a real pain. Sometimes I wonder why you’re such a prick. But other times you can be so sweet, so it’s hard to stay mad at you for long.

You’re needy, demanding, and all consuming. I think about you all day, every day. Sometimes you’re even in my dreams. It’s hard to remember my life before you, and to think of it without you, should that day ever come. I complain about you all the time. To my friends, family, strangers. Some understand completely, others try to, and some will never know what it’s like to have you in their life. You bleed me dry.

But you’ve changed me. I would not be who I am today, where I am today, without you. While you’ve taken so much from me, my time, my energy, my fears, my health, you’ve also given me so much in return. You’ve given me determination, a strong sense of responsibility, strength, a community, and purpose. I hate you, I wish you never found me, but I cannot deny that deep down, you’ve made me a better person.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Diabetes. I hope it is a sweet one.

Love,
Me

Diabetes Art Day 2014

I’m so pleased to be participating in the 5th Annual Diabetes Art Day! This is my second year participating. Art has always been valuable to me in my life as a form of expression, and I love creating art with a purpose. It’s a way to express thoughts or feelings that can sometimes be hard to articulate when it comes to my diabetes, and Diabetes Art Day is a great opportunity to share those feelings through a unique medium.

This year my piece is called “The Low Journey”. It’s an abstract interpretation of what low blood sugar feels like for me using sharpie and water colors. It begins in the first picture with the realization that you are going low, that dark, confusing feeling of being disoriented and out of sorts. The feeling is confirmed with a finger poke and reading on the meter. In the next picture, the treatment of the low is depicted. I use fruit snacks to treat my lows. Then comes the agonizing 15 minutes of waiting to feel better, but feeling helpless in the mean time. Finally, the last picture shows how the dark clouds hanging over you eventually begin to lift as your blood sugar returns to normal and the sun finds its way through the dark clouds.

The Low Journey
Thank you to Lee Ann Thill from the Butter Compartment for organizing Diabetes Art Day. Be sure to check out everyone’s wonderful submissions in the 2014 Diabetes Art Day Gallery!

Revolving Relationships

I have various relationships to my diabetes, relationships that seem to constantly be changing. When you live with a chronic condition, a 24/7 job, you’re bound to have different feelings towards it throughout the day, week, or your life. Here are a few of the relationships I  have with my diabetes:

The Annoying Sibling– There are days when it feels like my diabetes is being purposefully bothersome, pestering me and getting under my skin the way only a sibling can. It’s days when you are in a rush, running late, and then you get a “no delivery” sign on your pump. Or you’re out shopping and need to test your blood sugar and realize that your test strips must have fallen out back at your house. Not the end of the world, but annoying none the less. It’s the times when you just want to tell diabetes, “Leave me alone! Go annoy someone else for a while!”

The Obligatory Friendship- I think there are people in everyone’s lives that you are friendly to because you have to be or because you want to be nice. It could be a work relationship, a person that you’ve grown up with, or even a family member. You put up with that person because you have to, but it doesn’t mean that you necessarily enjoy your time spent with them. You just know that they aren’t going anywhere so you might as well make the best of it. Until there is a real cure, I’m stuck with my diabetes. And while there are moments when the familiarity is comforting, I would not say that I enjoy the time spent with my diabetes. I just try to make the best of it.

The Stubborn Child- I had the pleasure of dealing with this relationship this past weekend. I had a high blood sugar that for hours would not budge. I spent the night constantly giving more insulin, waiting for some sign that I was in the clear. But my diabetes decided to be stubborn. I would see the arrows on my CGM head downward, only to plateau at a level still too high. I felt like I was yelling to a child, “Get down from there right now! Are you listening to me? I’m going to count to 3.” And then my number would come down a little bit, enough that it was still following directions, but not enough to be helpful. “You stop that, you cannot be that high! Come down right this instant!” Then just to prove a point, my number did come down, and down and down. It dropped below 55 and despite waking up 3 times during the night to treat it, it stayed low. I could hear it saying, “You wanted me to come down. Well I’m down now, you got what you wanted.” Ugh, so infuriating sometimes!
The Coach- Living with a chronic condition has taught me a lot of different things and in many ways it has helped shape who I am today. It’s taught me about persistence, responsibility, perseverance, hope, determination, independence, and about taking an active role in my health and my life. Sometimes my diabetes acts like a coach, pushing me when times get tough. “You can do this, you’ve dealt with worse.” “Don’t give up, there’s hope yet.” Managing diabetes is not easy, but living with it has helped me grow in many ways that I am truly thankful for.

The Popular Friend- We all have or know that person that everyone seems to want to hang out with. When you’re with them, you get invited to the best parties, you get drinks sent to you at the bar, you feel like you’re on the inside and everyone wants to be your friend. Your association with this person is your ticket, and you are glad to be along for the ride. It’s odd to think of my diabetes this way, but there are times when it is my golden ticket. Ticket to what exactly? It’s hard to say. Sometimes it’s being able to relate and connect to someone in a way that others can’t. “Oh wow, that must have been so hard to grow up with (fill in with some autoimmune disease/chronic condition/difficult illness/food or physical restriction/other)! I can’t imagine what you must have gone through, but growing up with type 1 diabetes, I know that it’s not easy.” Having type 1 diabetes has been my ticket to the DOC (diabetes online community), a community of such supportive, informative, and inspiring people that I feel lucky to be a part of. It has led me to diabetes related events, causes, committees, and friendships that I otherwise may have never been involved with. This popular friend has been the subject of many school essays, interview questions, and hey, it even has a blog dedicated to it!

The Distant Roommate– Luckily, I spend most of my time in this last type of relationship. Yes, we spend a lot of time in each other’s business, but we’ve for the most part figured out a system that works for both of us. We live our lives intertwined, but without too many issues. We’re respectful of each other’s needs, we keep our distance when we need to, and even though we may not be friends, or even like each other sometimes, we still find a way to make it through together.

What kind of relationship do you have?


Disclaimer: this post was written in the abstract. It does not refer to any particular person in my life, but is instead meant as an archetype of possible relationships that may exist for others.