I don’t think I have discoursed much using this platform in regards to my health. When I was 6 or 7 years old, (I honestly don’t remember how long ago it was!) I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It is a disease that has gotten the best of me at times and there are times when I have willfully pretended that it has not affected me at all. (Ahem… I’m looking at those teenage years – I survived by the grace of God!) In the last 30ish years, myths and management around the disease have changed.
There are a few *things* that drive me (and any other number of individuals with Type 1) crazy! Most of them are actually recapped really well in this post on Everyday Health > 9 Things People With Type 1 Diabetes Wish You Knew
There are a lot of factors involved in management and we’ve come a long way since the 80s, baby. Banting & Best are two names that will forever hold a place of gratitude in my heart… and despite my frequent complaints about the costs associated with managing my blood sugars, insulin is a precious commodity that I hold dear to my heart.
When I first found out I was pregnant with K, we were thrown into a barrage of appointments and various teams of medical personnel were looking out for the well-being of baby & I. Who knew that pregnant mama’s with type 1 are considered high risk? Not I…. well at least not then. With a lot of hard work and tears and the constant support of that above team, my A1C (a 3 month snapshot of my glucose control) was pretty darn near perfect. I had a little one depending on me and that made all the difference in how seriously I took things.
We maintained this fabulousness (not a word, I know) during pregnancy number 2 and delivered two relatively healthy children. Then real life kicked in and ummm… I don’t know if you know this, but babies are a lot of work! My self-care took a back seat and that unintentional busyness became a habit where mom came last. During this time I also had a great working relationship with many of health care providers, but not my primary endocrinologist. I left my appointments (while the boys were little) feeling berated and stressed without any practical help or support. In an effort at emotional self-preservation, I would skip appointments… but I also wasn’t finding the balance I needed managing Type 1 at home and this took a toll on my overall health and blood sugars. I was functional, but irritable, prone to other complications including headaches and UTIs, and just didn’t feel well or energized much of the time.
Quite a few years ago, I switched endocrinologists. My family doctor had had enough and bluntly asked why I wasn’t taking care of myself. After a few bumps in the road, my relationship with my new endo and her team is fantastic and with much encouragement, I’m also working with the team at our local Type 1 diabetes centre. My endo still looks at things through a slightly more narrow view than the clinic, but the clinic is amazing at reminding me to celebrate the small things!
About a year and a half ago I walked into an appointment and got serious. It was time to make some changes (easy, but not simple if that makes sense to anyone who doesn’t go through the day to day rigors of monitoring their health.) The first step we made was changing from multiple blood glucose checks (finger pokes) to a flash glucose monitoring system (Freestyle Libre) – game changer. I could see what was going on behind the scenes and wow, what a difference.
We also started being more active and accurate in our carb counting. We fine tuned our insulin formulas. We made some other small changes. And tried to find ways to disburse stress. (Have you seen this one? So much more than food and activity go into those highs and lows!)
I still wasn’t completely satisfied with my results, although my big picture was changing! So I made the decision with the encouragement of my team to switch from multiple daily injections to an insulin pump. We reduced my insulin intake from 4-8 injections, 3 different types of insulin, to a single insulin that injects steadily all day long (basal) and accommodates my carb intake with the touch of a few buttons. It’s not been an easy transition – the time involved on this level of care and the rocky technological issues that have challenged me at times has left me frustrated – but I had another appointment with my endocrinologist today and she looked at me and said, “This is the best A1C you’ve had in years! In three months, the improvements have been incredible and I can’t wait to see your next one. This is where I like to see my patients.”
So, I’m celebrating… celebrating the advances in technology, celebrating my will power to get things done, celebrating the small changes that have stacked up, celebrating the time I invest in myself. I am not exactly where I want to be, but I’m getting closer to my destination – so inside I’m doing a great big happy dance of celebration because it’s all been worth it – my little victories are huge to me!