Saturday, May 14, 2011

D-Blog Week: Saturday Snapshots

Oh what a difference a year makes.
Last year for D-Blog Week I posted pics of my diabetes drawer:

. .which was housed in a chest of drawers
in a room that once looked like this . .

. . . and now looks like this . . .

Since then, the extra supplies got shoved here
(in that same room):

And my go-to stash has found a place in my nightstand drawer:

Oh what a difference a year makes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Major Malfunction!

Blogger went down yesterday afternoon for maintenance but was still available as read-only. As many of you know, this little maintenance issue did not go smoothly. Posts were taken down and comments were deleted. Major bummer! Bad Blogger! BAD!

So I've re-posted the posts from yesterday and today, in case anyone missed them. This post will have to be short and sweet because I'm at work and it's raining babies. TGIF!!

D-Blog Week: 10 Things I Hate About You

1. That diabetes comes with so many (false) stereotypes.

Aren't diabetics fat? Doesn't diabetes mean you'll die? Can you have a baby without going into kidney failure? ::cough:: Steel Magnolias ::cough:: All diabetes is the same and it means you can't eat sugar, right? If you are on an insulin pump, that must mean you have really bad diabetes. You're an adult, so that means you can't have juvenile diabetes! Guess what! If you lose wait/eat a special diet/ take a pill full of lizard spit you'll be cured!

Huh? WTF?!?

Some days I'm so fed up with all the media hype and falsehoods and stereotypes that run rampant about diabetes. It seems like everyone is stuck in the 80s when it comes to diabetes management and complications. Can someone please explain to the media and the public at large about insulin pumps? And the differences between Type 1 and Type 2? And that I didn't do this to myself? I try to be patient and I really do want to educate people but some times I feel like I just can't it explain it one more time! And even worse are the days when I try to educate people and they just smile and nod and I can tell they are thinking I'm the one who doesn't know anything about my own condition! Arggh!

2. Meters that make you wait before you put the blood on the strip.

Because inevitably, I'm going to screw up and put the blood on before its ready and I'm going to get a big fat ERROR and I will have wasted my $1.20 strip. Grrr!! I loved my Freestyle that was ready for blood the second you put the strip in, it was so nice. Unfortunately, my Ping meter is a One Touch and it is constantly out to get me!

3. The fear that creeps up unexpectedly.

Most days I don't think about my mortality. But there are days (usually during one of my annual appointments) when I worry that the other shoe is going to drop and my first complication will crop up. And I get this image in my head that one tiny complication will blow up into my entire body falling apart. And with Katie here, the idea of diabetes getting the better of me or slowing me down in any way just scares me that much more.


Ok, most diseases are all the time as in, they never technically go away. But asthmatics don't wheeze every couple of hours. People with sickle cell don't hurt every day. Epileptics don't have a seizure every time they want to eat something. I'm not saying that ANY of these folks have it easy or that I would want to trade. But for me one of the worst parts of diabetes is that there is no remission. It's not like if you get your blood sugar under control you can sail for a few days or even a few hours. Diabetes is an every-hour-of-the-day kinda disease. Blood sugar seems to be one one thing in your body that is affected by every single, tiny, little thing you do. With every bite. With every physical activity. With almost every decision, you have to be aware of diabetes and plan for it. It's mentally exhausting! And some days I just want a frickin' break!

5. The math SUCKS.

The are some days I'm just sick of all the equations. There are the "easy" ones that I can almost do in my sleep: Insulin sensitivity + carb ratios -blood sugar correction=bolus. And for those I feel very lucky that God invented the bolus wizard on my pump. Amen! But then there is all the extraneous stuff that doesn't have a hard and fast value assigned to it like exercise + hormones + sickness + how old is the insulin in my cartridge? + could my site be going bad? + breastfeeding = who knows how much insulin and who knows what blood sugars! Good luck and have fun with that. GAH!

If you don't know what I'm talking, about here's a great video from George and Scott about the suckage that is diabetes math and a post from Karen about how complicated and unpredictable that math can be! What? You didn't know that sometimes 1+1 doesn't equal 2? Well, with diabetes, sometimes it doesn't!

6. That it can take me out of my life when I least expect it to!

It doesn't matter if I'm at work or (more importantly) at home with my little one, I have no desire to be forced to put my life on hold because I'm groggy and low and need OJ. It's not fair. Sometimes I can squeeze out a few extra minutes of coherence but eventually the foggy mind and tingly lips will overtake me and, whether I like or not, I need a time out. And for a Type A like me who doesn't like to be told what to do (even by my body!) that's rough. :-(

7. The horribly misplaced guilt.

Every blood sugar seems to have the potential to serve up a big plate of guilt. I can't believe I guessed the wrong carbs? (But how could I have known that a side salad would have 80 carbs?!?) Maybe I shouldn't have had that dessert. (But it was my birthday!?!) Maybe I should have replaced that site instead of keeping it another day longer. (But it looked and felt great and it was a really inconvenient time to put another one in!?!)

How is it that a disease that is so unfair and unpredictable can still make us feel so guilty for every decision and/or indiscretion? Guess what?!? Most people don't have to Google every carb they eat just to double check it for accuracy. And most people don't have to feel guilty about a piece of cake on their birthday. And most people don't have to worry about slinking away to the bathroom so that they can hoist up their shirt, rip out one site and jab another one in themselves just in case it goes bad.

This is WAY out of the realm of what most people call normal. But "normal" for a diabetic is what most people would call over-the-line, hyper-awareness combined with incredible patience and willpower. But we don't see it that way because it's just what we have to do to be healthy and feel good. Yet I still berate myself every time I "am bad" like I am such a horrible person for not having the willpower to power through all the crap. Well, I call BULLSH!T.

8. It always crops up at the worst time.

How does a cartridge that last 3 days always need to be changed during an hour-long errand when you didn't bring extra supplies? Why do the low symptoms crop up the second before I'm about to breastfeed my frantically hungry baby girl? Why does my site go bad during the 5 hours I actually sleep at night and not during the day when it's SO much more convenient to fix? It's like Murphy's Law of Diabetes!

9. It totally messes with my fashion and gets in the way.

I'm so super sick of the little rectangular, pager-shaped protrusion that juts out of my right pocket every day of my life. (Yes, I always wear my pump on the right side no matter where my site happens to be. Yes, I've tried to change it up but it just doesn't feel right anywhere else. No, I don't know why.)

I hate that I can't seem to hide it in my cleavage on my favorite dresses and if I clip it to my underwear it pokes out and gives me freakishly pokey/angular/uneven hips. It's so obvious and it drives me insane. I hate that I have to think about where I'm going to put my little pink external pancreas with every fashion decision. And that sometimes wearing a skirt or a pretty sundress (and as a result trying to find a place to secure my pump) is sometimes a hassle that I'm not willing to deal with. Oh! And I hate that my tubing seems to jump out of my pocket and lasso every knob/door handle/baby's foot that is within reach. Gah! Cut it out!

10. That with all the bads of diabetes, it's not just me in this boat.

That's right. I really don't like that diabetes has to drag my loved ones down with it. It's bad enough that it can make me a crazy person some days but it sucks that it has a way of affecting everyone around me as well. Whether it's because I'm super grouchy because my blood sugar is high and taking it out on the nearest loved one. Or because super needy and loopy because my blood sugar is low and need the closest friend/relative/husband to drop what they are doing and help me procure some fast-acting carbs ASAP.

But mostly I hate seeing the look of worry flicker over my mom's face. I hate that when I'm upset about a day of unrelentingly high blood sugars and worrying aloud to my husband about what havoc they might have wreaked on my eyes/kidneys/heart, that he has to worry along with me. I hate that maybe he (and later, Katie) may worry about how they will take care of me if anything goes wrong. Or, God forbid, what they would do without me. That's not something that husbands, mother's and children should have to worry about with any regularity. The people around me shouldn't feel responsible for taking care of their adult wife/daughter/mother and it breaks my heart that for my loved ones it's a thought that is sometimes forced to cross their minds.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

One Year Ago Today

I am taking a break from D-Blog week today because I can't help but want to acknowledge something mind-boggling, life changing and completely amazing today. So I'm pushing back today's topic by one day so that I can comment on something more important.

A year ago today, I wrote this letter. I didn't post it that day but I did write it last year on May 12th. I can't believe it has been one year. So much has happened. Our lives have changed in wonderful ways. It has been a challenging, awe-inspiring, wonderful, exhausting journey and a year later we have amazing things to show for it. Well, mostly just this little amazing girl. (Though my several A1C's in the 5's ain't nuthin' to sneeze at neither but mostly I'm just happy about the little girl. The A1C's just remind me that I gave her a nice, safe oven to bake in! ;-)

May 12th is branded into my mind as the day that Brad and I knew our life would change. As the anniversary of that day has approached it's made me so happy to remember back to what we were feeling that morning and think of everything we've gone through since then. It's amazing how quickly it's flown by and yet how far we've come!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

D-Blog Week: D-Bloopers

Today's topic is about our diabetes blooper moments. And, alright, this one is another cop-out for me, kinda like yesterday's D-blog Post . . . but I seriously couldn't think of any other diabetes-related blooper! (Cut me some slack, will you? I have a tiny-needy-yet-completely-adorable human that I'm dealing with at the moment!)

The only d-related "Oop's" that were popping into my noggin' were the ones that are usually followed by four-letter words. And I'm thinking this topic is geared more toward the smack-yourself-in-the-forehead-Homer-Simpson-style blunders rather than the R-rated, furry-inducing kind.

And since I had already written a post about the only d-blooper I could think of I'm just going to reference it here. Ironically, this post was written during last year's D-Blog Week.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

D-Blog Week: Letter Writing Day

Today we are supposed to write a letter. The letter could be directed to your pancreas to tell it off for being so lazy for the last fill-in-the-blank years (that's 20, for me). Or to your endocrinologist as a thank you for the support. (Or to your endocrinologist as a tell-off for all the crap you've been given over the years.) Or a letter to the company that makes your meter or pump describing the diabetes gizmo of your dreams and how the company could tweak their machines/customer service/software/etc to make your diabetes life easier. . . .

Wait. Stop there. I just did that.

Recently I got fired up when I heard that Medtronic had hosted a forum for a group DOC bloggers to get their input on how they could improve their services and products and, in turn, to give a few of their consumers the inside scoop on how their company/product development/customer service operates and why things happen the way they do. The reason that I was fired up was because I so desperately wanted my pump company (Animas) to do something like this for it's customers. Even if I'm not a part of it, it would be great if they would invite a group of Ping users to a forum that would allow them to offer opinions on the pump and meter, ask why certain changes or upgrades can't be made and get to know how the company works and what can be expected for the future. Not only would they get great feedback that I'm sure would help all of their customers, but the bloggers who were invited could spread the word on what was shared at this meeting.

Since it seems pointless to rehash the entire letter again, please go here to see what I wrote to Animas.

Monday, May 9, 2011

D-Blog Week: Admiration and Inspiration

For me one of the best things about the DOC is the encouragement and inspiration it offers. Even when you don't realize you're doing it, some of you bloggers offer so much to buffer my hope and my spirit. As a community I learn a lot from all the Type 2's, parents of PWD and adults with LADA. It's been so nice to hear other perspectives and hear other's stories.

I know that today we are supposed to pick a group of bloggers with a totally different perspective and tell why we admire them and how they inspire us. But as much as I've learned from bloggers with T2 or LADA or spouses/parents of PWD, it wouldn't come close to how much I've learned from or been inspired by other bloggers with Type 1 diabetes. These T1's have shown me how much we can really accomplish. When I've thought I was the only person struggling with something, they've shown me I wasn't alone. When I thought I'd found a diabetes-related hurdle that I couldn't overcome, they've proved me wrong.

And even though we share the same form of diabetes, the T1 bloggers who inspire me the most are the ones who've done things that I aspire to do. Not just done them but done them well. Truly excelled. It's so inspiring to be able to look a few steps ahead and see how other T1's have prepared for or dealt with life's challenges. Pregnancy, for example, is something that I was really looking forward to in life but was very scared to endure because of my diabetes. But it was amazing to follow other bloggers' journeys and see the ups and downs and witness them come out on the other side as healthy moms of healthy babies. Even though I knew it could be done, following these bloggers showed me it could be done. Proved that it could be done well, not with results that were okay for a diabetic but with results that were great even for a non-diabetic! It also showed me that there could be bumps along the way, a bad blood sugar here or there, and that there could still be a happy, healthy ending.

And now that I'm a mom, it's so wonderful to follow the journey's of other new-mom T1's. How are they handling their blood sugars and their babies at the same time? Are they packing their meters in with the diapers? Is breastfeeding making their blood sugars go crazy too? It's so nice to have such a wealth of inspiration and information from other T1's who are going through the same things I am, just to know that it can be done!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I would like to thank my Mom . . .
and my Grandmother for being the awesome, strong, wonderful women who raised me.
But I would also like to take a minute on my first Mother's Day to thank the amazing, beautiful baby girl who made me a Mama . . .
I love you Katie! Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Second Annual Diabetes Blog Week

For the second year in a row, Karen over at Bittersweet has organized Diabetes Blog Week. I loved being involved last year and I'm going to do my best to be involved this year . . . in between feeding, changing and wrangling my little one!

For those of you who don't know, Diabetes Blog Week is basically NaBloPoMo but shorter (thank-the-Lord!) and Karen has assigned each day a topic. In addition, (obviously) each topic is related in some way to diabetes. So while it's nice not to have to think of a topic to blog about it will still be a bit of a task finding the time. But because I really love being part of the DOC and had such fun doing it last year. . . here goes nuthin'. See you Monday!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kate’s First Month: The Unexpected

After this I have just one more post about our first month home with Kate. This post in particular was the hardest to write and I feel a lot of guilt writing it. I follow a lot of blogs and several of them are new moms or I'm reading posts from back when the bloggers I follow have had their babies. And I'm not hearing a drop of bad. But I know out there somewhere, there has to be someone who's having a rough time. Not postpartum depression bad. But not all unicorns and gumdrops all the time either. And that was me. So, even though I'm a little ashamed and embarrassed to be putting this out there when it seems like no one else is, I'm doing it because I have to believe that I'm not the only one who feels like this. And it makes it worse thinking that I am. So here it goes.

I love Kate, more than I can express in words. In fact, the first couple of weeks I was blissfully happy, though tired. I mostly stared at her. I couldn't believe she was mine! But as the weeks passed and she grew more active and the lack of sleep piled up, things started getting harder. I was trying to get over some serious bad mojo from my delivery and felt a lot of guilt and shame about the way it went. In addition, Kate had some rough nights and the occasional rough day that would leave me exhausted and praying for something to help her because obviously I wasn't enough.

Once we got home with Katie it was so strange to have her there. Bringing her home was an amazing, wonderful change. But it was definitely a change. Also, I think I was especially worn out leading up to her arrival for several reasons. First, I had been so sore and uncomfortable the week leading up to the delivery and had been unable to sleep more than a couple of hours at a time for weeks. Not to mention that the week before her birth had been Christmas and was packed with a lot of activity. Add to that an exhausting delivery and stressful hospital stay and I was so overwhelmed and discouraged. I was sure all I needed was to get home and everything would be ok.

Instead, I was surprised how I continued to feel overwhelmed by everything. For the longest time it had just been Brad and I and now there was this beautiful little creature living with us who needed us for everything. And (surprise, surprise!) being there for another little human 24 hours a day is kind of a lot of work! And it didn't leave a whole lot of room for anything else to get done. The first couple of weeks I was lost in baby bliss and totally fine with that. (What dishes? Laundry who? What clutter?) But as I slowly crawled out of my new mama haze and looked around at my wreck of a house I started to twitch.

You see, I'm a little bit of a neat freak. Even my messes and my piles have to be organized. When I go out to dinner, I'm one of those people who stacks the used dishes in a pile for the waiter and puts them near the edge of the table in a not so subtle, please-take-them-away-now gesture. Being Type A and a neat freak and not being able to get anything done or cross anything off my growing to-do list was so stressful for me.

People offered to do stuff for me but who wants people doing their laundry if it means digging through their unmentionables?? Plus I'm kind of particular about housework and I had a feeling I'd end up re-folding or re-doing whatever anyone else did. (I'm becoming more and more annoying as I drone on, aren't I?) And as much as I LONGED for people to bring over food so I didn't have to cook every night, I hated asking for it. And while there were a few people who asked if we needed anything, very few actually offered specific help. No one said "I'm coming over and doing your laundry" or "I'm coming over and bringing you dinner." They just asked if there was anything they could do. And the thought of saying "Why yes, would you be so kind as to spend your money and drive your butt all over town to grab us take out?" Or even better: "How about spending your money and slaving over a hot stove to make my family dinner while I'm sitting on my butt, not working, ogling my own baby?" I hated to outright ask for help! It seemed so selfish of me, not to mention embarrassing! So instead I told them how sweet it was for them to offer and politely declined.

Even though the housework was piling up, you might think the baby was the easy part. I know I thought it would be! I expected that since I've worked with infants for years that having one of my own would be a breeze. Shoot, I was used to having 3-5 babies at a time as a nurse and 8-12 patients as a nurse practitioner! Surely one baby was nothing! I definitely expected to have just as much free time during the day as I would between patients at work, if not more since I would only have ONE baby and wouldn't be taking her vitals or charting her assessment! But when people say it's different with your own child, I never realized how right they were. Somehow my entire day was eaten up by diaper changes and breastfeeding (not to mention feeding myself). It seemed like my entire day revolved around a continuous cycle of changing and feeding. And it seemed like I barely finished when it would be time to start all over again! And it just made it all the worse when people would come up to me and say "Wow this must be so easy for you since you work with babies all the time!" Um, no, and now I feel like even more of a loser. Ugh.

Not to mention the constant worry and wonder. Is there something wrong? Is there a way to do this better? There has GOT to be an explanation for this that I'm not thinking of? Why is this so stinking difficult? And in an effort to answer these questions, I found myself Googling things I already knew the answer to. Wondering if I could find some golden nugget of information that would make our lives easier. And I had to laugh out loud every time I would stumble upon an article that would answer a question using the same words I would use to answer the same question asked to me by parents of my patients.

It knocked me back and made me realize that I needed to relax and trust in what I knew. And what I knew was how to care for newborns. I'd been doing it for several years and rethinking everything just because this particular newborn was mine was just stupid. I found myself falling into the trap of so many new parents that I counsel at work; thinking there HAD to be an answer to every question, a way to make everything better and a reason for every little thing. After a while, I realized that I had to have more faith in myself and (again) trust in my own knowledge. And when there wasn't a clear answer, I had to tell myself what I tell my patient's parents: trust your instinct and don't overreact. Sometimes babies just cry. And sometimes they sleep. And sometimes they spit up. There isn't always an answer to every tiny thing. There's no magic bullet that will make life with a baby easier. But you'll know when something's wrong.

In general, I'm a pretty on-top-of-it kinda girl. I'm used to crossing things off my "To Do" list and never getting too far behind. My house is neat, my life is organized and everything is in order. And when things do get a little behind and life starts getting messy, I can only take it for so long before I go on a cleaning/organizing/catching up binge and all is right with the world again. (Yes, I have been accused of being psychotic by my husband, why do you ask?) I don't necessarily need to be the best at everything but I'm used to at least being good at things and doing well. One of the reasons that I think that first month was so hard on me was that it felt like the standard that I held myself up to was now completely unreachable. I prided myself at being on top of things and now that I (really, really) wasn't, my confidence and self-worth crumbled.

As much as I wanted to go on a cleaning binge and try to catch up with everything that needed to be done, I just couldn't. There wasn't enough time. And I certainly wasn't going to make Katie sacrifice because Mama didn't have her sh!t together. And sitting in the middle of that mess and knowing everything that I had to do (for work, at home, for Kate, etc) just made me more and more miserable. As for me, I averaged a shower every other day to every third day or so. Not only was it hard to get away from Katie (even more so when Brad went back to work) but recovering from a C-section made showering more difficult and uncomfortable. My house was a mess, I was a mess and it's not like I as doing one thing well to the exclusion of everything else! Nope, I felt like I was letting everyone down and not doing anything well. Crappy wife, lousy mother, shoddy homemaker. Why couldn't I handle this?

That first month we had to learn how to do every thing differently. Things took longer to get done, we were slower. The house was a mess for a while and it was mid-January before our Christmas tree came down (which is a big no-no for this Type-A-by-the-rules girl who always has her tree down the day after New Year's) and even longer before all the Christmas presents were put away. Brad was amazing the first time I told him how I felt. He said that he'd love to help but he didn't know what needed to be done. He told me to write a list of everything that needed doing and he would work on it. Even after he went back to work, he wanted me to be with Katie so he would come home and do some chores at night. Bless that wonderful man.

It felt like our house was a disaster but we slowly got through it. Laundry always needed doing but it got done eventually, and we even switched to paper plates so that we didn't have to do dishes as often. Also, I started ASKING FOR HELP! I still couldn't bring myself to ask friends but I did ask family to help with meals when they offered (aka I asked if Brad would ask when they offered). And I also asked my family if someone could come over and sit with Kate while I got some stuff done. That way I could be crossing stuff off my "To Do" list and Katie could still be getting the attention she needed. That, in and of itself, was a huge help and made me feel productive and worthwhile again. It was so nice to be on my feet bustling around the house, cleaning up, folding laundry, etc. I can't explain the high I feel when I'm being productive and getting things done. Whether it's at home or at work, I really enjoy being busy and accomplishing things. Brad calls it a sickness but I love it!

By the end of the first 4 to 6 weeks, we had gotten our rhythm down. And gradually I needed less and less help staying on top of things. And by the time I headed back to work Katie and I had worked out our own rhythm and we were able to get all our tasks done without any help. I was even back to getting home-cooked meals on the table most nights of the week. And since I love cooking, I was so happy to be doing it again.

My biggest piece of advice for new moms is not to be afraid (or in my case, embarrassed) to ask for help. And I will remember in the future that instead of asking new parents if they need anything I'm going to TELL THEM what I want to do for them and ask if they need anything else, that way they don't have to feel bad about asking. Also, as hard as this lesson has been for ME to learn, it is so important not to judge your worth based on the length of your "To Do" list.

I read somewhere that as a new mom, you have to think of your baby as your "job." Priority #1 is the baby, priority #2 if the baby is fine and you have free time is doing chores related to the baby (laundry, preparing feeds, cleaning bottles, etc) and priority #3 is taking care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of priorities #1 and #2 (eat, shower, sleep, etc). Very far down the list falls housework and the like. Looking at things like this made it a lot easier for me because it helped me realize that by taking care of Kate I was getting things done, the most important things.

Of course, this far out we are doing fine. Even better than that, we are amazing. Kate is such a joy to take care of and she is so full of smiles and personality. She loves going out. It's no big deal to run to the grocery store or to Target or out to meet her Daddy for lunch during the day. And I can do almost all my household chores while she's napping or if she's awake I just put her in her bouncer in the room with me and she'll happily play and keep me company. She sleeps better at night but somehow I'm still tired ALL THE TIME . . . but the best part is I've never been happier.