What I was able to read last year, sitting in front of what I actually wanted to be reading. Getting there.
What I was able to read last year, sitting in front of what I actually wanted to be reading. Getting there.
Anyway, baking. I find it very therapeutic because it can be stressful in itself so it makes me focus on something completely. If I don’t something will go wrong so I forget all about the noises outside, creaking floorboards, people passing by, what that shadow was and if that knock on the door is someone trying to kill me. I have flour to knead. I busy myself with sensible worries concerns like my oven being at the right temperature and not chatastrophising thoughts about someone kicking my door in. I love trying new things and trying harder things. I recently made bread from scratch for the first time and was so proud of myself. I didn’t have a proper airing space or a machine but I improvised and got results. I love the smell of baking and watching things cook while I clean up after.
Then, there is nothing better to me than sitting down with a nice cuppa, a sample of my work and relaxing. I’m exhausted after I bake; too exhausted to get overly anxious about anything. And then until all the goods are eaten I have a constant reminder in my kitchen of something I achieved and did well at which helps both my anxiety and depression. It is the reward side of things that has literal cookies at the end of it all.
Today’s effort led to chocolate sugar cookies. Ideally they would be shaped like hearts but my only funky cutter is a teapot and I didn’t think that would work. I got to dye sugar cool colours to sprinkle on top at the end and nothing in cookery amuses me more than colouring things oddly. So yes, it was stressful and yet relaxing all wrapped into one with tea and cookies at the end of it and a big smile on my face.
My HBA1c, or average blood sugar level, is a lie. Well no it is what it is but what that means to people is a shoddy representation of the reality in which I live. My HBA1c is 8.6%. It was 7.1% when this all blew up in my face so it could be a lot lot worse when you look at the figures as just that, figures. The thing is that number is a lie because it is an average. It is a great big stinking heap of false security and confusion.
I’m high a lot. 6 hours a day my numbers are ridiculous because of the dawn phenomenon and how noneffective MDI is in treating it. The numbers go up and I try drag them down and it is no fun. The next 6 hours depend on what sort of day I’m having and what I’m doing but tend to be in the ‘they will do’ range. The other 12 hours I am happy to say tend to be in the lower numbers and so in ‘target’. That isn’t healthy or good or positive in any way. It feels horrible and makes me want to rip my hair out but the average….the average of that roundabout is 8.6%, a HBA1c many would envy in a heartbeat but I’d swap how they FEEL in a heartbeat. What sucks even more is if I was 8 years old that number would have been perfect and I’d have probably got a shining report at clinic, but then they changed the targets. Boo.
I can’t function with my diabetes the way it is right now. I can’t work and I can’t go to school, yet people with HBA1cs the same as me work full time, play tennis once a week and pump iron in the gym another day on top of that. They can function and live and do things I can’t. The numbers say if anyone should be struggling it shouldn’t be me. That is the lie in a HBA1c. I take very little interest in the HBA1cs of others because I don’t think it really tells me jack about them. I would never put my number on my twitter profile because it lies. It protects me from future complications but it suggests I’m somewhat ok. Lies, lies and more lies. A steady glucose level of 9 might be out of target but it feels a whole lot nicer than roller coaster of 22,12, 9, 7, 6, 4, 7, 18, 6, ect. I’m not advocating higher HBA1cs or suggestiong anyone should strive for that but I’ve had perfect 7%s and I’ve had hellish 7%s and they look no different on the paper at the end of clinic but are two very different ways of living. That 8.6% was a creep up over winter when things went crazier than usual but for a long time while ‘ill’ my average hovered just out of target, sometimes IN target. While numbers are a lot to diabetics, that number is not everything.
I destroyed myself growing up worrying over that number. A good average became more important than the numbers my meter was reading to get it. My first good scores came frm horrific swings and roundabouts. Either I was hyper or hypo as a 14 year old but hey, I had an average of 7.6 so wasn’t I fabulous? No, I was still in a horrific place mentally and physically and being shifted from one insulin to another while the doctors felt I was fine and the nurses dealing with my pleads for help knew different.
I guess my point is that for me, my HBA1c is for the future. That number is about my protection against future complications and where I will be in 20 years. The readings I get on my meter are the now. Hopefully one day I will get back to my 7.0% I had and be getting it again by actually having blood sugars that were stable somewhere around 6.5 most of the time because I did it once but I think it is important to make it more known that there is a bigger picture out there. I’ve wanted to get that off my chest for a while. Yes, they are important but they are NOT everything. Diabetes is far too big to become one percentage of a person’s life.
Today I started a new adventure in anxiety conquering~ Gardening. I say gardening but I’m not exactly getting involved with my actual garden. It had a falling out with a canal flood a decade ago and nothing has grown in it since. I bought pots. Expensive pots that look like barrels to be precise and made me do a bit of a jerk-flail at the checkout in Homebase. At least they earned me lots of nectar points and will hopefully stand up to the weather. They are an investment. These are things I keep telling myself. Anyway, I grew up gardening and loving it. My grandmother had a lot of stuff growing in her garden. Flowers were out the front for show and she was happy to leave that to Granddad as she wasn’t too fussed if he stabbed them and killed them dead. Her vegetables were out the back and they were the serious business part. I took care of them. * preens *
My grandmother would stand at the kitchen window which overlooked the vegetables and potter around while giving me instructions. I was trusted not to stab things and to be careful and harvest the veg. It was a cool bonding session if you will. I was very proud of my gardening abilities and then my grandmother wasn’t well and we didn’t re-plant things and now it has been over a decade since I got my fingers green in a way that didn’t involve hauling large piles of grass into the bin. I looked after everything from strawberries to rhubarb plants, potatoes, cabbages and green beans on their poles. At the time the only thing of the above I really liked were potatoes but it was still fun. In fact out of those things the only thing I don’t like now is rhubarb and it was always the most fun to haul out of the ground. I had my own wee tool box and set of gloves and I did I mention I was very serious at seven about the state of my potato plants?
Anyway, today I just decided to take the plunge. If a seven year old can keep these plants alive then twenty-one year old Grem could at least attempt it. So off I wandered into Homebase before I could change my mind. I left with ‘buttercup orange’ flower things, strawberries, compost and some vegetable seeds along with two large barrel pots and a trough thing. It did cost a lot but at least now I have enough nectar points for a 70cl of rum. Priorities. I haz them. Anyway, that was victory one over the general anxiety disorder because there were a lot of ‘what if they die?’ ‘what if I’m wasting money?’ ‘where will I put them?’ ‘I should just go home’, and various other questions floating around my head along with the general feeling that I had snapped. I challenged my way around the rose bush section. If they die, I’ll replace them and hopefully learn how not to kill the next lot, it is my money to waste and somewhere cause I have a pretty big garden. There.
Getting home I was filled with excitement. Excitement about being outside in my garden and that is unusual for me. People can see me in my garden. I don’t like that. They look and they make judgements and I don’t like it. Today I was too occupied with my strawberry plants to care. I get anxious about the shed usually, mostly because it is a death trap filled to the brim with stuff ready to fall out and dent my skull. It has happened to others so it isn’t just a figment of my anxiety. I actually spent ages trying to get out the relevant tools though and wasn’t thinking about the lawnmower threatening to fall off its perch and rearrange my brain. Part of it is basic distraction technique but I think a lot of it was being so happy about one thing that it overpowered the negative thoughts.
Plenty of people walked past my garden as I sat on my knees and wrestled soil into the barrels and dug out holes for my plants but I just didn’t think about them too much. They were not important; the positioning of my plants were. I was very proud of myself when I got all my pots ready and I spent a long time changing their positions and mucking around but it was great. I was calm. It really is therapeutic if gardening happens to be your kind of thing. Also, because it is only a couple of pots, I don’t think it will get too overwhelming for me. I’m not sure if my carrots will grow because I’m not convinced their trough is big enough but the seeds were 99p and 99p is worth the enjoyment I will get in taking care of them. I need to do things for myself because I’m the one with the illness, the one that needs to find ways to get better. So yeah, it was fun and creative and calming and I really want my strawberries to grow man cause omnom. In time for Wimbledon would be awesome XD
One of my biggest issues with knowing and interacting with other diabetics is how many can easily become the diabetic police. I was scared of coming back to the diabetic online community because I worried that too many would start policing me and I get enough of that in the ‘real world’ as it were. I think there are two types of diabetic. There are the ones that know that there are ups and downs, highs and lows and many different ways of doing things and those that are convinced there is their way or the high way and the highway is death.
A lot of what I do in controlling my diabetes would utterly appal many other diabetics. The simple fact is that unless other diabetics are asked for their opinions or advice it is none of their business. My regime is agreed and approved by my care team at my hospital and I approve of it. That is all that matters. End of. Case closed. Delete the words you’re ready to throw at me. Yes, I am the main giver of my care and ultimately I know my own body best but the doctors haven’t failed me so far. There have been a lot of tears and tantrums and homework on my part but the doctor’s basic instructions have always proved correct. Their methods always found the results in the end. Even now when they have been forced to admit defeat, I got on the insulin pump list because that is the ace up their sleeve to try again. I don’t do 10+ tests a day and any diabetic that wants to judge me for that can come and meet my hand. With their face. Aggressive? Yeah, sure, but I’ve had enough of all that crap. It is what drove me away from the very people that should have been able to understand what I was dealing with in the first place. My doctor doesn’t want 10 tests from me a day. My doctor doesn’t want ANY test from me that is less than 4 hours after I have taken novorapid unless I’m convinced I’m hypo or hyper. Even if I’m in the teens, dafne principles say I’m not allowed to touch it until 4 hours has passed because only then do I know what is really going on. The food and insulin is messing up the result for me so the doc wants none of it. In my doc’s eyes, it tells them absolutely nothing so why put myself through it? Other diabetics have no right to judge me for that, none at all. In the future, more tests will be demanded of me but that is the future and I’m taking the now to rest my weary fingers.
What I eat, how much I exercise, where I go and what I do are not things to be judged by other diabetics or by anyone else. How those things may or may not impact my health are between me and my team. The more diabetics say ‘you shouldn’t do that’ or ‘you should do this, eat that, try that’, the more people feel alienated from what should be our community. There is nothing wrong with saying, I did this and X happened or I’ve heard about Y but once you put the ‘should’ in there you’re going to upset people. I mean, take my blood sugar monitor. It is a freestyle optium meter and it takes a lot of heat from the community. Even things like that upset me because ok, someone as an individual may not like it and it may not fit their needs but that doesn’t mean it is useless and doesn’t fit mine or that I’m doing anything wrong or stupid by using it? A diabetic has to be comfortable with their meter and I’m comfortable with mine so nothing else matters. Just, too much in-judging goes on and to make progress and make even bigger steps forward it has to stop. I don’t test at 3am, some do, I eat white bread and some eat brown bread, I’m not a vegetarian and some are. We’re all diabetics and that is the only thing that matters.
A few months ago I challenged myself to do 101 things in 1001 days. I did it because I was feeling crap, hardly able to stay awake and my diabetic control was long flushed down the toilet. I needed something to focus on. Some things are simple enough like baking with my little brother or re-watching the Lord of the Rings movies. Others are more challenging like a challenge to ‘walk to Hogwarts’ and I did that by walking the distance from Harry Potter’s house in Surrey to ‘Hogwarts’ in Scotland. I’m a geek ok? At the time it seemed impossible. I had to walk an average of 7000 steps a day for several months and I was in bits. Yet I did it. To be fair getting my dog helped.
Another of my challenges is to go to the cinema by myself. I love the cinema but the thought of going alone sets me into quite the anxious tizz. I don’t know why I think of it as strange but I do? I know I see people there alone all the time but the thought of doing it personally was a big deal. And then Star Trek happened. My friends are not that fussed at the Star Trek films but I want to see Star Trek: Into Darkness so bad! So, I’ve decided that anxiety be damned I ruddy well will. If I don’t go alone I won’t be going and I hate missing out on things because of my anxiety. So, this is the task I’m setting for myself. I’m going to try make it easier by going at a quiet time in the morning during the week when hopefully there should be less people around. I’m going to conquer my anxiety for a few hours and enjoy myself. I’m hoping that by putting it here I will have even more motivation to make it happen.
Then when I succeed I’m going to go next door to Pizza Hut and screw up my diabetes as a reward XD
Window cleaners dressed as superheroes at a Children’s hospital. Because there are always good people doing good things for those who need a smile. It is important to remember that, because there is still a chlid in all of us and damit if I was ill in hospital I’d so get a kick out of batman cleaning my window.