A scary situation (told using bitmojis)

I recently found myself in a very scary situation as a diabetic. Let’s just say that I was about to drive myself to the hospital for my blood sugars, which I’ve never had to do before. Spoiler alert: I didn’t and everything is fine now, but it was still a frustrating and slightly alarming afternoon.

It started at my company picnic. It was a beautiful spring day and I was happy to be outside with my coworkers.

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But my blood sugar was high and rising fast.

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I had bolused for my lunch and figured it would eventually come back down. I was away from my CGM playing frisbee, running to catch it, and figured the activity would probably help lower it too.

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Not a frisbee, but closest I could find

After playing for close to an hour, I checked my CGM, but instead of my blood sugar going down, it was still going up.

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I corrected for the high giving more insulin and headed back inside to the office. My CGM started to point downward and I figured I was in the clear.

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As soon as I got back to my office, I went straight into a meeting. I sat there trying to pay attention to what was being said, but I was starting to feel nauseous and out of it. I felt so sick, I knew something had to be wrong.

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Luckily the meeting was short and I immediately checked my blood sugar number again, this time it had risen to over 500! I was shocked!

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I texted my dad and my sister (who is a nurse and soon to be a nurse practitioner) and filled them in. Then I rushed to the bathroom and gave myself a shot and changed my infusion set.

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I went and told my manager that I had to leave work early. I decided that if in one hour, my blood sugar wasn’t clearly going down, I would drive myself to the hospital. If all the insulin I had been giving wasn’t working, I knew I needed to get help.

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I got home and checked my ketones, which looked fine. Then I got a large glass of water and laid down on the couch, praying that my blood sugar would start to drop. About a half an hour later, I started to get some good news. And as it continued to fall, I gave my dad and sister a play-by-play.

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I was slightly bummed that I was missing my weekly bootcamp workout class, but I was just so relieved that my blood sugar was coming down. And as it dropped, I started to feel better physically too.

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I continued to lay on the couch, taking it easy as I watched my blood sugar fall. Soon it was dropping double arrows fast.  I started to worry that I may have given too much insulin and I was going to crash, which has happened many times before. I just wasn’t in the mood to be caught on a roller coaster of highs and lows.

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But finally, after about a total of 3 hours later, my blood sugar was almost completely back to normal and I could finally relax.

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So everything was fine and life went on, but it definitely was an experience that I hope never happens again!

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A day in the life

Some days I’m surprised I get anything done with how preoccupied I am thinking about my blood sugar.

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No excuses

Ugh it’s been too long! I feel terrible for neglecting you for so long! A lot has happened that I want to tell you about, and I will…eventually. But I feel like I need to rewind to the first notable thing that happened since my last post.

About 2 months ago I had an appointment with my endocrinologist. This is not unusual, I have one every 3 months. But I knew this appointment would be different.

When I was younger, I used to say on the day of my endo appointment, “I’m going to the doctor to get yelled at today.” Now my doctor wouldn’t really yell at me, but I knew that I wasn’t doing that well and that they would in a nice and appropriate way, tell me to get my shit together.

I approached this appointment with a similar attitude. I was dreading the appointment. The previous three months were just not great. My numbers were all over the place, but mostly too high. Trust me I had my excuses ready…sicknesses, bent infusion sets, a bout of insomnia. But deep down I knew those really weren’t the reasons for three months of high numbers. It was more like apathy, laziness, and lack of discipline. I knew that really I only had myself to blame.

I got my A1c back. It was high. The highest its been in 3 years. In fact it was the same number that prompted me to start this blog in the first place and make some major changes.

I wasn’t surprised, but I was disheartened and disappointed.

My endo looked at me. “So what happened?”

My excuses were on the tip of my tongue. But I held back. I knew I had to take responsibility for my actions (and lack there of) and for the consequences of them.

“It’s just been a bad three months.”

She nodded. “Do you want to make some adjustments or do you want to try again?”

“I’ll try again.”

It wasn’t a good appointment. But I have to admit, in many ways I feel proud.

I’m proud of myself for not making excuses, I’m proud of myself for taking responsibility for my health. I’m proud of myself for only momentarily becoming discouraged, and instead vowing to “try again” and do better next time. I’m not proud of my A1c, but I know I’ll get back to what I was.

I found a quote online, “Every set back is a set up for a come back.” Well watch out, because I’m making a hell of a come back!

Explanations

I’ve learned over the years that I’m someone that craves explanations. I want things to make sense, I want to know why something may have happened. I need logic.
Granted, I don’t always need to know exactly why something happened, sometimes we just don’t know, but I find myself still wanting to make an educated guess. And when there is a disconnect between what happens and a proposed explanation, I get frustrated. “That’s impossible! There’s no way that what you just said could have caused that.” Those close to me are all too familiar with my need for logical conclusions, and my irritated response when I’m not satisfied with the answer.
But I know we don’t always get answers. Why do bad things happen to good people? Life is random, mysterious, and unpredictable at times, it’s part of what makes it both devastating and exhilarating. In many cases I’m perfectly content with the explanation that sometimes things happen that there are no logical explanations for, it’s the universe at work.

My diabetes falls somewhere in the middle.

Too many times I’ve found myself frustrated with a high or low blood sugar, not understanding why it happened when it seemed that I did everything “right” to avoid it. I rack my brain trying to come up with a logical explanation, but sometimes there are just too many variables to consider. Was I really that far off in my carb counting? Is this a delayed effect from the exercise I did earlier? Is something wrong with the insulin? Is there a bend in the tubing? Is the insulin not being absorbed at the site? Am I getting sick? Am I stressed? So much to consider, I can’t always draw a one-to-one connection for a high or low.

Last week I was shocked to see a blood sugar that was over 500. A rare event, my first thought was why?? Well really it was “Oh f*ck” but then why did this happen?!? I ran through the list in my head as I tested my ketones, gave myself a shot, and changed my infusion set.

You don’t always get answers for everything in life. I’ve learned to accept it and move on with the information that is available.

But sometimes, when you’re lucky, you get exactly the explanation you need.

bent infusion set cannula blocking insulin from being delivered

The Shift

This week, four seemingly disconnected events aligned to cause a shift in consciousness. You may be thinking, “Reva, what the heck are you talking about?!” Well, allow me to elaborate.

Event 1: The Conversation

This past weekend, I had a conversation that clearly had a more profound effect on me than I initially realized. We were conversing about a raw food diet and all the benefits of adopting such a diet. While you will never be able to convince me that a raw foods diet is a cure for type 1 diabetes (no matter what some documentary says), I absolutely see the benefits of that lifestyle. It is very true that a raw foods diet would require much less insulin and would drastically reduce spikes in blood sugar. Not eating breads and processed foods that immediately get turned into sugar in the body is very beneficial for controlling blood sugars. When the conversation ended, I was left with the thought that perhaps I could benefit from a less carbohydrate heavy diet, although I still don’t think a raw food diet is quite for me. While I tend to eat pretty healthy, I still use a lot of insulin for the food I eat or to chase high blood sugars. Maybe it is time to see what happens when I cut down on the carbs.

Event 2: The Documentary

My mom and I sat on the couch, surfing through movies to watch. We found ourselves in the documentary section and settled on a movie called Hungry for Change. The documentary “exposes secrets that diet, weight loss and food industries don’t want consumers to know about: deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more.”

While I think some of the claims in the movie are overstated and a bit sensationalized, the general idea of the documentary is quite compelling. Essentially, we are “overfed yet undernourished”. We are getting plenty of calories from the foods we eat, but the calories are empty and leave our body unfulfilled and still craving nutrients. But the thing that struck me the most in the documentary was the talk about the “low-fat”, “fat-free”and “sugar-free” foods. Basically that these foods may have zero fat, but they are full of sugar and as soon as you eat them, they turn into sugar in your body that later gets stored as fat. They also are full of artificial sweeteners that are not easily processed by your body and can leave you craving for more. The thing is, I thought that I was being healthier by buying the low-fat version of foods and being diabetic, sugar-free seemed like a good option. If you were to open my fridge you would find: low fat sour cream and cottage cheese, light laughing cow cheese, light greek yogurt, light dressings, sugar free jello and puddings, 100 calorie english muffins and 35 calorie light wheat bread, light lemonade, fat-free half and half, and even low fat wheat thins and granola. Basically my fridge and pantry are filled with the low-fat, sugar-free options! When the documentary was over, I walked to the fridge and pulled out some of these foods and began reading off the ingredients. Half of them I have no idea what they are. It was then that I decided that perhaps eaten in moderation, it may be worth the extra calories to not be putting all the artificial ingredients into my body. Ingredients that my body was not made to be able to process, ingredients that are probably doing more harm than good, and ingredients that are essentially making me more unhealthy when that is the complete opposite of my goal.

Event 3: The Scale

I consider myself a healthy person. I am a healthy weight, I eat well, and I exercise often (5-6 days a week). However like most people, I have a few extra pounds that I would love to lose. In an effort to achieve this, I upped the intensity of my workouts and began tracking my foods and making a conscious effort to eat healthier and cut down on the extra calories. However, in the last 3 weeks, I’ve watched as my weight increased, rather than decreased. It’s true that this may be attributed to gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat, but it seemed like something else. Over the past year, even though I am a consistent exerciser, my weight has remained relatively constant. I realized that if I really wanted to see a change, I would need to change my diet.

Event 4: The Holiday

In the back of my head, these events were telling me “eat less carbohydrate heavy and processed foods, eat more vegetables and naturally low fat and low sugar foods”. What better time to cut down on carbohydrate than the week of Passover?? It was perfect timing. This week, to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover, Jews refrain from eating unleavened foods, this includes wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt. This means no breads, pasta, cereals, cookies/cakes, rice, oatmeal, basically all the foods high in carbohydrates. Bread is replaced with matzah and matzah meal can be used to cook various foods, but honestly, I’m not a huge fan of matzah anyway. Here is the perfect opportunity to see how my body feels when I’m not eating those high carb foods.

The Shift in Consciousness

I’m not about to completely change my diet. I’m not only going to eat raw foods, I’m not cutting out all carbohydrates, and I’m not switching to all full fat, full sugar foods. I’m also not going on a “diet”. I’m not restricting the foods that I’m eating. But here is what I am doing. Instead of taking away foods or restricting them, I’m adding foods to my diet. However, I’m adding healthy, natural, nutrient-rich foods. I’m adding more green vegetables, more fruits, more nuts, and more foods with natural fats like avocados. As I add these healthy foods that my body craves, I’m hoping that I will become less hungry for processed, artificial, and high calorie/fat foods. I’m drinking more water and making vegetable juices and drinking less diet pop and artificially sweetened juices. While I’m not replacing all my low-fat or fat-free foods, I’m making sure that the yogurts and cheeses and breads that I do buy are not filled with artificial ingredients and sweeteners. I’m giving my body the foods that it needs to function properly in a way that it can easily digest and use. And I’m working to lower the amount of insulin that I need in hopes that I can help to further stabilize my blood sugars.

None of this health information is new to me, I’ve been hearing it for years in my classes, in the news, from studies and even from other people. However it was the coming together of these 4 events that was the tipping point to motivate another healthy change in my life. I know it won’t be easy, and I know I’ll still have that piece of pizza or ice cream from time to time, but I also know that I am on a path to a healthier me.

Join me?