Driving Over My Fear

Photo by Ben McLeod

Have you ever been afraid of something that to others and maybe even yourself seemed completely irrational but you are afraid of it anyway? It is something you avoid doing even though it may be present in your day to day activities. You see others doing it and nothing happens to them but you fear the unknown or maybe it was an unforgettable experience that kind of rubbed you the wrong way.

I was afraid of learning how to drive. I had a really bad experience and I allowed someone’s opinion to get the better of me. It was about two years ago and I was eager to learn how to drive. I had a light goods permit (which is just a fancy way of saying stick shift or manual) but my instructor was teaching me on an automatic. After a couple lessons, I asked, “When will I start on manual?” His response was one of shock saying that I should stick to automatic because manual was hard. On my first lesson on manual (in his old rusty truck that was leaking oil), he parked the van in the middle of a steep hill, we switched seats and after hastily going over the instructions once, he told me to move off.

Move off I did, except the van was going in the opposite direction! I pulled up the handbrake and was pressing gas but no matter how I pressed the gas the van keep rolling down the hill. Panic struck when an SUV then turned into the gap that my out of control vehicle was rolling down. The instructor waited until the van nearly hit before he stopped our vehicle. The lesson was over and so was my eagerness to learn how to drive.

I took me two years to get back behind the wheel through the urging of a friend of my mom’s who believed I should I be driving. I really didn’t realize how strong a fear it was until I was asked to start my mom’s van. There we were in a huge, flat car-park and I broke into tears. I told myself I could not do it, that manual was too hard but eventually, with some coaxing, I started the engine. Fifteen minutes later, I was driving around in circles, changing gears but more importantly I was conquering my fear.

I have realized that sometimes we make things out to be harder than they are. It can be in any area of your life, your health, job, relationships, etc, etc but the only way to conquer a fear is to go right through it. Do whatever it is you are afraid of. It might not work out but on the hand, there is a good chance that it will but you would never know unless you try.

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Type 1 On The Streets

There is a saying that my grandmother loves to quote, “There’s always someone out there in a worse situation than you” and she is absolutely right. I met a man a couple of weeks ago in A&E (Accident and Emergency, not the TV show). This man was very polite, well-spoken and was also a Type 1. However unlike most of us, he was homeless.

I found this so incredible and could not even begin to fathom what it would be like to live on the streets with this condition, so I asked him a few questions. He was in his late sixties and was diagnosed as child. He made a few wrong decisions in life and lost contact with his family and eventually his house. He sleeps anywhere he can find shelter from the elements and sometimes shop owners would allow him to sleep in their shed but he has to get up before they come to open their store. He collects his medical supplies from the hospital since it is free because it is on the drug service and a welfare check each month.

He explained that he spends half of his check paying someone to store any extra insulin he has and to wash his clothes while the supplies that he currently uses, he keeps with him in a plastic bag and in order to keep his insulin cold he has to beg for ice.

He stills has the challenges that many of us face such as low blood sugar and said sometimes it can be hard for him to get help during an emergency. He told me that one time he started to feel bad and when he tested his blood sugar was 2.3 mmol/L. He asked a guy for a ride to the store in order to buy sometime sweet but the person’s response was that they don’t allow vagrants into their car. Thankfully a good Samaritan came along and he was able to get the much needed soda.

Amidst all of struggles, he doesn’t complain and is thankful for the full life he has lived. So the next time we are having a bad day we should remember – There’s always someone a little worse off than you are. I hope we all remember to be thankful for the good fortune we have.

Some Catching Up

Sorry I have been away for so long. I guess I was going through a period of diabetes burn-out. I wanted to be perfect and I was hard on myself when I was not. The harder I was on myself, the worst my control got so I had to take a step back and re-focus. Yes I want to be in control but I had to realize that I am only human. There will be good days and bad days, ups and downs, highs and lows. That’s life. Now that I relaxed a bit, my numbers have come down.

I also had a really busy summer so far. I got a new puppy named midnight for my birthday and I went to the accident and emergency twice last month. Don’t start panicking… I was not the one in need of treatment, instead I was the worried family member because my mom hurt her ankle and had to get a cast. As one doctor put it – I was on the other side and very proud of it (my record continues…5 months and counting lol).

However, that is not what I wanted to share. I have big news! I am going to the states at the end of the month and I am so excited. How long will I stay? Well, that’s undetermined right now but I hope to make the best of it. I guess in a weird way I could say that I am going home but being raised in Barbados doesn’t make my trip feel that way. The scariest part of moving for any period of time is adjusting (ie packing, saying goodbye to friends and having to find a new Dr. WonderfulEndo).

Unfortunately all of this change means that I probably won’t be blogging quite as often but I will try to keep you updated as often as I can. Hope everyone is doing well and I will try to catch up on reading other great d-blogs.

What They Should Know – DBlog Week Day 5

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Prompt: Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September.  The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?”.  Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes.  Have more than one thing you wish people knew?  Go ahead and tell us everything.

Oh my… where do I begin? I guess the first I would like people to know is that there’s no such thing as a “bad” type of diabetes. They are just different. Whenever I meet someone new and they find out that I have to take injections, the first thing they usually assume is that it must be bad because their grandmother only has to take pills. Type 1 diabetics have to take insulin because our pancreas no longer makes it.

Then there is the belief that you must have eaten a ton of sweets as a kid. We did nothing wrong. Our immune system decided to attack our pancreas and the beta cells not longer function. It wasn’t caused by having a sweet tooth.

Oh… and the horror stories or magic cures that you heard about. We really don’t need to know that your aunt lost her leg, turned blind and is on dialysis three times a week. Dealing with diabetes is tough enough as it is without having to think of dreadful complications. We know the risks. We have heard them time and time again and as far as these ‘cures’ are concerned there is not enough research or proof to prove that any of them actually work. So let us stick with what we know will – insulin, healthy eating and exercise.

Last thing I would like to say would be to show any diabetic (Type 1, 2, LADA, etc) you’re support. No matter which type they have because we all go through challenges. It is a 24/7 365 days a year (366 on leap years) job. We have our ups and downs and many ‘normal’ tasks require premeditation on our part even when it seems like we do it so easily.

There is probably much more I could talk about but I will leave it at these for now. It’s my birthday today so I am off to go and celebrate. I hope everyone is having a great day and happy Dblog week!

One Thing to Improve – DBlog Week Day 3

As promised, here is Wednesday’s post

Prompt: Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at.  Today let’s look at the flip-side.  We probably all have one thing we could try to do better.  Why not make today the day we start working on it.  No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!

The one thing I would like to work on changing would probably be how I deal with stress. I stress myself out when my numbers are high (which only makes them higher), when I have exams, when I have to carb count something without a label, etc, etc. Basically it’s a roller-coaster that never ends well.

For example, Let’s say I have to study for a big exam, then my numbers usually go off, then I fret about my numbers being too high, usually followed by getting depressed that my insulin no longer seems to be working like it should, which usually ends with a ton of drips in my arm and a missed exam.

I am going to laugh more. The DOC has really made this so much easier. When I am down, I find that reading a couple of blogs and/or writing on my own really helps. It has become so much easier to deal with challenges when you realize that they are others like you who have been there, done that and are still smiling in the end.

I know that this small step will benefit every other part of my diabetes care. Hopefully some day really soon I will posting that I have a great A1C!

Fantasy Diabetes Device – DBlog Week Day 4

I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday’s post so I will post it right after I finish writing this one.

Diabetes Blog Week

Prompt: Today let’s tackle an idea inspired by Bennet of Your Diabetes May Vary.  Tell us what your Fantasy Diabetes Device would be?  Think of your dream blood glucose checker, delivery system for insulin or other meds, magic carb counter, etc etc etc.  The sky is the limit – what would you love to see?

My answer is probably not what you will be expecting. You see (at this point in time) my fantasy diabetes device already exists. In Barbados, insulin pumps and CGMs aren’t that common. I heard about them when I was first diagnosed eight years ago and at that time the doctor was like, “Well, they are available in the US but we don’t have them here.” There are only a couple of people with diabetes who have insulin pumps in Barbados (and I can probably count the number on my fingers). I saw a pump for the first time in real life only this week.

The idea of devices inserting needles by themselves, delivering insulin continuously for three days, bolus calculators and being able to view your blood sugar at any point in time by looking at a hand held device; they all seem like a dream come true.

DBlog Week Day 2 – One Great Thing

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Today’s prompt: Living with diabetes (or caring for someone who lives with it) sure does take a lot of work, and it’s easy to be hard on ourselves if we aren’t “perfect”.  But today it’s time to give ourselves some much deserved credit.  Tell us about just one diabetes thing you (or your loved one) does spectacularly!  Fasting blood sugar checks, oral meds sorted and ready, something always on hand to treat a low, or anything that you do for diabetes.  Nothing is too big or too small to celebrate doing well!

I have to admit today’s post seem easy enough until I actually had to start writing it. I can think of tons of things I do wrong and I admit I tend to beat myself up when my blood sugars are off. When it came to thinking of something I do well my mind drew blanks. I could list a ton of things I am just average at. So I asked my mom; her answer was that I always drink tons of water.

At first I felt a little disappointed (Oh great… Is that it? – I drink water – how interesting) but then I realized how important it is to remain hydrated (especially if you’re high). I probably drink at least a gallon of water everyday – no exaggeration. There are times I don’t want to drink juice because of all the sugar, don’t always feel in the mood for diet soda (maybe because we only have the choice between Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi or Sprite Zero). Water is just pure and I always have a bottle of water by my side (especially since Barbados is so hot).

Maybe it is because in the hospital the first thing they put in you is a ton of IV fluids – which consist of mostly water. I used to always be told that I was dehydrated, sometimes going in to ICU for severe dehydration. Since I have been drinking more water, I find I am healthier and I have only been in hospital once for the last seven months (which is a big deal given my track record of going in almost every two to three months)

I guess it is not as spectacular as testing every two hours or being the carb-counting bolus queen (hopefully I will get there someday) but I am proud to say I drink more than my quota of 8 cups a day.