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Stress: You’re Stressing Me Out!

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Lately, I have been pondering the idea of “stress.”  Do you ever find yourself snared into a conversation where the other party does nothing but complain about how stressed out they are – these stressors being sometimes legit, sometimes mundane?  These types of conversation do nothing more than stress me out on their behalf.  I even sometimes (wrongly, I will admit) want to yell at them: “Yeah?  This is stressing you out?  Try doing it while trying to wrestle type 1 diabetes!”  (Disclaimer: I have never, and would never actually say this to a person…stress is real to everyone and everyone has their circumstances…I was merely trying for a little humor)

But I digress…

Stress does nothing helpful for people with diabetes (hereafter PWD for all you non-diabetic folk!)  I, of course, am speaking from MY experience, which could be different than yours, but: stress sucks.  Stress makes my blood sugars soar to crazy heights and stick there like a kite lodged in a tree; my glucose levels become stubborn as mountain goats refusing to budge.  Stress seems to have a way to become all doom-and-gloom before I even realize I’m falling down the stress-rabbit-hole.

Who, in their sick sense of humor, decided that stress should have this awful effect?

Isn’t it bad enough that I am stressed out by outside things, that now I need to be stressed out about high blood sugar?  Oye ve!  This stress on my diabetes control is stressing me out.  It’s all a very ugly vicious cycle sometimes, isn’t it?  Well, stress can hereby sit on it and spin.

Stress management has never been my strong suit – then again, I have always leaned towards being a more high-strung, wound tight individual (darn my brother for inheriting the laissez-faire, everything will just work out attitude…).  Back in college, I used to thrive on stress – I performed better (example: I wrote my 30-some-odd-page senior thesis a day and a half before it was due and got an A! Whaaaat!?!)  But this just doesn’t work for me anymore.  Stress isn’t good and especially being a person with a chronic illness, stress is of no use.  So.  I am hereby banishing stress from my life!  …Nice try.  It’s still here.

I’m going to try to find ways to unwind and let all of the extra stuff go.  Maybe I’ll start going for more walks.  Up my mediation a bit…go back to yoga.  It’s Spring – maybe it’s time for a master breathe-and-reboot!

What types of things help you de-stress and unwind?

The One Thing I Cannot Do Right Now…

…is something that I never imagined would be so hard.  More on that later.

     Since last posting, I’ve been up to a lot.  As I’ve previously posted, I have now had two major surgeries where my eyes are concerned.  Multiple last surgeries ending with two vitrectomies in the right eye.  This past Monday, I was lucky and most fortunate enough to experience an emergency vitrectomy in my LEFT eye.  Oh, joy.

     My retinopathy is extremely aggressive and Dr. B felt that my only option was surgery.  Keep in mind that I cannot fully see out of my right eye at this point because of the silicone oil that has for the moment permanently taken up residence behind my right retina.  I knew this is where everything was headed.  But I never, ever, EVER imagined just how quickly my retinopathy would move. 

     I was back at work in a functioning capacity for a week and a half until I came in, sat down at a computer and completely lost it.  I could not see anything.  Now, let me clarify.  I am not and was not completely blind.  My right eye is 100% blurry (think looking out the skewed bottom of a glass bottle).  I can see big picture, but it is useless to read, look at a computer or even watch TV.  Glasses can’t help my right eye.  My left was a mess of floaters and a total curtain of blood behind my eye with…drum roll…a retinal detachment.  With a detachment, and most specifically my detachment, it was dark.

     Fast forward to last Friday.  I was signed up for surgery Monday morning (I bumped three of her other cases if that gives any bearing on how completely RUDE my eyes are…).  Fortunately, one of the optometrists was able to fit me for a contact lens for my right eye to give it some “workability.” 

     I made it through surgery OK and I am getting used to my momentary disability…It’s very frustrating to only be able to see minimally.  With my lens, I can watch a little TV and my parents were awesome enough to buy me a new phone that I can see enough to get by (an iPhone is WAAAAY too small now).  It’s not as bleak as I had envisioned prior to surgery.  I’m not useless.  I’m getting by and I am in a much better mood than I forsaw myself having. 

     I haven’t let myself dwell on the stuff I cannot do.  I know my vision now is temporary-ish.  I will see better in the future – whether that be through stronger contacts in both eyes, special glasses and/or more surgery.  Things will get better – are better already.

     BUT.  The one thing that pisses me off the most, is the one thing I cannot quite do.  And that is put toothpaste on my damn toothbrush.  WTF.

 

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(I either put too much, too little, it’s hanging off the side, I miss completely or once already, I failed to squeeze any onto the bruch at all)

Cool Experience

Because I work in a hospital, I hear a lot of different stuff – both directly and overhearing people talking.  I usually do not interject my two-cents into any patients’ personal conversations.  I was milling around the clinic’s front desk the other day when a patient came to check in – he is around 10 or 11.  I overheard his mother say the word “insulin” to him.  Huh.  That got me listening with half an ear. “Pump.”  Oh, what the hay. 

     “Did you say insulin?” I ask.

     Mom stops and answers, “Yes! My son has a friend who is a diabetic and he just got an insulin pump…{Kid’s name] thinks it’s neat.”

     “Oh! Well then…” I pull my purple_pancreas out of my pocket and show the kid. “I’m a diabetic and have a pump, too!”

This prompted the patient to sit down next to me and engage in a rather lengthy conversation about what an insulin pump is and what it does.  For some added diabetes fun, my CGM started beep-beep-booping to tell me that I was going lowish which then prompted a CGM discussion.

 

It was just such a cool moment.  Someone who is not a diabetic who wanted to genuinely know what this technology was.  And it was even cooler that he has a diabetic friend and he wants to be able to understand what his friend has to deal with in a more in-depth way.  I just felt lucky to have been a part of this.  

Ah-Ha!

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The other day, I came across a post on Facebook from one of the diabetes-focused pages I follow and they posted the question: “When did you first realize that you had diabetes forever?”  I read some responses from other diabetics and/or PWD’s parents.  That got me thinking: when did I realize this was a permanent thing?

 

I’ve had diabetes for so long now that I am not quite sure when it hit me.  I have an answer if I have to answer, but it was gradual.  It started a little while before when it actually hit me and my parent’s attention.  I always counted myself as lucky that I was diagnosed at an early age so that I never really knew life without it.  I never had that “oh, crap! Now what?!?” moment where I had to reroute my entire way of thinking.  I knew this was supposed to be bad and it came with some pretty craptastic stuff such as injections and the like.  But, all the like?  I just did it.  I never really questioned it so much as it was just something I did.  I learned more and more about diabetes, but never had that angry, FML moment.  I accepted it.  I don’t even remember being depressed or sad.  It didn’t slow me down. 

 

And then there was the end of high school and beginning of college.  Aaaahh – there it is.  That brick wall that everyone at one (or more) point(s) or another sees.  I can’t escape this chronic illness?  The eff you say!  Stop checking my blood sugar?  Sure.  Don’t count carbs and eat what I want?  Absolutely.  Run amok for years?  Oh, bring it on.  An HbA1c result in the double digits?  I’m down. 

 

So, my response to this Facebook query, gun to my head, would be my late teens.  The realization reared its ugly head and finally pulled me under.  Multiple years later, I’m still digging out of that mind set and dealing with the repercussions. 

 

Oh, Hindsight: you are a real jerkface JERKFACE

 

When was your ah-ha moment?