Compromising with Illness

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The sunshine seems to have returned to the east of Scotland. We keep switching between sun and warm-ish weather and well, winter. Or that is what it feels like anyway. This Saturday was nice though. The sun was out, skies were blue, and the wind wasn’t too severe. I decided to venture outside into the real world of my garden, kindle in one hand and a bowl of rasperries in the other.

It was nice but I spend 90% of the time in a jumper and had tracksuit bottoms on all day with two pairs of socks. Really, I was too cold and it was difficult to look at my mum sitting enjoying the heat in her t-shirt. It was frustrating to think that the weather was right for sitting out. I could hear lawnmowers going and smell barbeques in the air. Children’s screams and laughter filled the air and my dogs retreated to the shade. Evidence of the heat was all around me. I just couldn’t feel it.

I think it is important for the mindset that I sat out anyway, even if I did go through a period of actually shivering. If I didn’t go out it would have been over a year since I had been able to sit out while others had done it any times. This way I adapted but I still did normal things. I didn’t want my thyroidism to take that experience away from me completely. There were times I did feel a heat at my back and that was nice. It was good to get fresh air reading my kindle and I loved seeing my two dogs running around the garden. At one point I even pulled on my roller blades and went up and down the garden path several times. I didn’t want to do too much and strain any muscles and there was no hypo from either the heat or the exercise. I was very aware that just because I couldn’t feel the heat did not mean it was not there and would leave my diabetes alone. My mum dipped mid afternoon as tends to happen.

I’m not outside today because the tennis is ok and I feel that is a good compromise. I went out and got vitamin D one day so the other I can sit inside and really feel warm while watching one of my favourite sports. I didn’t get up at 8am for the formula 1 as I knew I would be too tired later so that was another compromise. Tennis and one day outside. One day inside and missing the formula one. I think that is how best to deal with chronic illness, compromise. I can’t have it all at all times but that doesn’t mean I have to live with nothing either.

Easier to See when you Look

 

I have known for ages that food is an important part of how you feel health wise. If a person’s diet is not balanced they can feel tired, ill or worse suffer from terrible medical conditions like scurvy. Ya know I put that in there because a lot of people associate that with pirates and hundreds of years ago but it is returning to young kids because they are not eating right. Scurvy! So yeah I know it is serious business and I also know that from various experiences.

I used to be overweight and unhappy with myself. I was bullied a lot in a way I couldn’t call out and I was desperately unfit. Of course, weight and fitness are not the same thing but I sure wasn’t helping my cause. My insulin reacted strangely all the time because injections might go into fat. I couldn’t always inject on my legs or thighs because that can lead to lipohypertrophy which is nasty. Anyway I decided I wanted to get my weight sorted for the diabetes and my fitness and such and joined Scottish Slimmers. I then lost over two and half stone in weight but that is not my point. The point is to lose that weight my diet changed a lot. It turned out I wasn’t eating enough when I tried to lose weight and eating the wrong things when I wasn’t. Despite being at my worst point health wise and all but being dragged to classes by my mother half asleep I felt a change in myself as I changed my diet. Vegetables man. So much of my diet became fruit and vegetables because if I ate more of them I could still have my cheese toasties and biscuits. I gave up nothing on my diet. I’m still on it now I’m at my goal weight. I can’t judge portions by looking at them. I have to count it up. So I will always be counting my calories and I don’t mind at all because I hardly ever have to alter my insulin now. I feel great. I like how I look. I eat everything you can throw at me. I’m happy. Ok, so that is the ‘diets are not evil’ part.

Now onto the details. I notice when I eat just carbs. I don’t have as much energy. I feel foggy. I struggle to focus. I get dehydrated and my lips get dry. High carb foods make me feel sick even if my insulin is perfect. My diabetes comes out perfect but it is like it is at war with my body so I feel crap in the span it takes to digest stuff. My week in London showed me just how healthy I am and therefore just how intolerant I have become to a high fat, high sugar and high carb diet. That was basically all I ate all weekend and I sure as hell felt it.

It inspired me to keep a food diary is the point I’m rambling towards. I keep enough records as it is. I record what I do each day for anxiety and depression. I record the carbs I eat and the insulin I take and the insulin I take in the background. I record the calories I eat. All the things! I am hoping another won’t tip me over the edge but I think it will be helpful. I want to know how certain foods make me feel. For example, I love porridge. I have found a low calorie sweet tasting porridge that ticks all the boxes for me and is cooked in the microwave while I boil water for my tea. Oh yeaaaah. However, about an hour after I eat it my stomach churns. I feel lethargic and slow. Despite everything it says on the tin I don’t feel full for longer. I am hungry two hours later just like with cereal or toast because I am actually a giant giraffe. I’m going to take notes for a least a couple of weeks about how I feel after eating certain things. I used to think that it was just because I was struggling to get insulin right but now I see the numbers are fine, I just feel crap. So, I may end up having to get rid of my porridge if the differences in how I feel with different breakfasts are so drastic. I won’t be pleased about it though. I have felt crap in the morning for years now because of the dawn phenomenon so given the insulin pump has finally sorted that I don’t want to throw it away over some porridge.

It all makes me feel frustrated, hurt and a bit angry though. I feel my health has taken away so much from me and now it is stealing porridge? I felt like a good person for eating such a healthy breakfast! Toast can be awesome or taste like cardboard and I can get bored of cereal really quickly but I have been eating porridge for months and loving it. I just feel I have enough things to be getting on with health wise and now I need a new breakfast. Sometimes it is the little thing that becomes the back breaker and all that.

The food diary has not been all doom and gloom though! For one it is in a pretty notepad and that is always awesome. For another it has shown me that my nuts and seeds selections that I have taken to munching on don’t require any insulin but give me a nice steady stream of energy and actually fill me up for a decent time too. As mentioned, porridge is meant to do that and two hours later I’m hungry because yay snacking but apparently nuts are the answer. It can be hard to commit to something like this. It feels like more work and given how tired I can be, it is a lot of effort but it is always great to see actual results. It really is easier to see some things if you look at them written down in front of you.

Anxiety Progress with Phonecalls and People. And Stuff.

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With trying to overcome my anxiety I am constantly told that once I experience something once it will continue to get easier. Often I finally do something and realise it really wasn’t all that bad. Still, it is really damn hard to get myself to try it the first time. I’m pretty good at forcing myself to repeat things but that first step is always hard. I have needed to change my bank details with the Department of Working Pensions for several months but the idea of having to phone up, go through security, and do it without being able to get my mum to do all of it was terrifying. Even just getting her through security was daunting. So I didn’t and for months every time my money comes in I transfer it and it is a right faff. I decided enough was enough.

A recent run of good form with my anxiety prompted me to gather the information I needed. I wrote everything I might possibly need down and wrote myself notes on what to say if I ran into trouble. I planned everything I was able to and that is a hugely effective coping mechanism for me with my anxiety problems in general. Anxiety is basically a fear of the unknown, the what ifs, so removing as much of that as I can is always my plan A. As it turned out? It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It wasn’t flawless either but I coped with it and I’m extremely proud of myself for that. My money now goes into the bank account I actually use. Harrah. (the bank account I only pay for so I get better travel insurance being diabetic. Oh gremlins~) The biggest obstacle wasn’t information I feared I would not have to hand or something going wrong and me having no money, though to be fair I won’t know that for sure till May. No, the biggest hurdle was my accent. I live very near Edinburgh and statistically have one of the clearest and easiest to understand accents in Britain. Apparently. That is until you get someone from Blackpool on the phone or are in a particular Irish bar in London. Then apparently I sound like I’m speaking a different language. I did get a little anxious having to repeat myself several times but more I was just frustrated. I have many friends with many different and broad accents and they all agree I have the softest and are baffled that people struggle. Maybe that is the problem. I don’t have a strong accent so I have not worked on one of those robotic phone voices a lot of people have to get understood. My mum sounds like another person I swear.

Anyway, I did it and it was a huge step for me. I cannot say that enough. For months that has lingered on my to do list and I have shied away from it. Conquering it makes me feel why not other things? Why not other phone calls? I made two more that day. I felt less anxious with each of them. I felt like a healthy able person. Sure I will have my struggles again and get worked up over the phone but I do feel that was a really important moment and I can’t wait to tell my therapist about it.

However, that was not the only phone call I made as suggested. The other shouldn’t have been such a big deal but it turned out to be. I have finally received word that my GP surgery is able to offer me sessions with a nurse to get more therapy based support for my depression which hasn’t really been treated too much outside of medication and my own work since I stopped seeing the diabetic department’s nurse. Basically, yeah I was still depressed but I had come to terms with my diabetes and didn’t feel there was anything more she could do for me there. So, I got a letter saying if I still wanted an appointment to either phone or send in a slip. I took the phone call option as a challenge and tried my luck. Well it turned out reception had no idea what I was talking about, couldn’t make apps to see that nurse and said nurse was not in that day. I was put on hold while the receptionist scrambled around and in the end had to say it was ok, I’d just hand in the slip (which I did today). Before I would have…well probably not phoned in the first place but then I would have felt bad for causing the receptionist stress. Despite that being her job. I would have felt like I was causing trouble or worse that I was wrong and had the wrong number or information despite having it all printed out in front of me. I stayed calm, understood they couldn’t help, and dealt with it. It was another step that to people who don’t suffer mentally the way I do doesn’t seem like much but to me it was a huge step again.

On that note I followed up that day of phone calls and such by going down the town, handing in said slip, picking up prescriptions, visiting libraries, book shops, banks (Scary) and the shops for food messages. Normally I’d be too emotionally drained but I managed fine and feel bright and cheerful now because I have snackajacks and pumpkin seeds. Now I just need to phone the bank and get them to help me unlock my credit card I managed to lock on a London tube ticket machine. Oops. Thing is, I really think I can manage it.

London Adventures

Often I think travelling is about making a choice of whether to run higher or lower. Some diabetics have mastered the travelling thing but I am not one of them. It is easier on the pump as I can increase a basal when I am anxious. However, as my anxiety improves my reactions change and knowing what to do is harder. I can’t predict things the same way. The only thing worse than feeling sandy mouthed and dizzy on a train is going hypo on one in my experience.

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By the time I get around to converting this from paper to blog I will have left one of my best friends after five days with her. As I write this however I am sat in an Irish pub, writing, drinking white wine and gazing at the British library longingly. (If I go in I won’t come out). It is certainly not a bad state of affairs. J is one of my best friends but I don’t see her too often. Largely that is because she lives in London and I just freak thinking about the tube and the city and busy and stuff. However, Russell Howard is playing there and we love him so off we trot. I’m being brave. I am terrified or her seeing me hypo. Not ever hypo is terrible of course but I fear scaring her though I never think she would judge me over it. No one wants to see the people they love ill, in pain or anything in-between. I’m excited about spending time with her flatmates and yet scared of what they will see. They have been fabulous for J. I don’t want them to remember me because of a high or a low. They may see or hear or eventually find pump related rubbish in their bin but I don’t want to be remembered as the diabetic person with a problem. I’m diabetic but I’m more than that. I’m not ashamed but I don’t want their memory of me to be staring at the toaster trying to work out how it works.

So I watch carefully and probably shoot myself in the foot. The more I fret the more anxious I get then the bigger the impact it all has on my glucose levels. Doh! I went with a 10% reduction on the train from Edinburgh to London and it wasn’t enough. I arrived on a stomach swishy 19 by the time I sat down to lunch. However, normally I’m lucky to be under 25 so it is still a huge improvement and one I will be taking down as a victory. Just, I will try 20% going home. Going home is always easier so I don’t want to go up to 30% as I can be sensitive. It is hard to see out of target numbers and still see the positives in what I have done but they are there and facing up to the mistakes and thinking it all through in my head rather than just beating myself up is the only way to make real progress.

We have a lot of plans and I can’t usually handle that. It shows how much better my fatigue is which makes me happy. Russell Howard, Sea Life, Captain America the Winter Solider and more flat based fun is all planned. Still, what to do? Do nothing and see? Put a basal in for stress? Reduce on flat based inactive days? Then there is planning the probable bad food choices like carry outs and snacks for films which will be high carb, fat and everything else that screws with diabetes. I’m packed like a small pharmacy. Painkillers for endometrioses, insulin stuff and changes of sets plus many layers are in my bag. To complete this is spares of everything just in case. If I make the wrong choice I will kick myself, hopefully tell twitter and thankfully end up being told I did the best I could but it is still hard.

Unless I like it I hate silence. I don’t know how to deal with or fill it. I hope I appear normal. I have only stayed at a friend’s with flatmates a few times and I never really had to interact with them. Did I mention I’m in London, a noisy city the size of a small nation? Eep! I constantly think I will get mugged but I’m working on that and have yet to lose so much as a tissue any time I’ve been down here.

I feel like this weekend is a test of how far I have come with all the gremlins. Anxiety, depression, fatigue, diabetes, thyroid temps and endometriosis. They will all be put to the test. If I can cope and have a great weekend then I have come so far. If there are bumps then I know what needs work is all. I won’t get down on myself. Every step, whatever the direction teaches me something. I keep telling myself that.

I guess knowing someone is diabetic and living with a diabetic are very different. I feel I need to blend in but I guess that just isn’t realistic. I may go high or low or feel shit while my blood is perfect. I may have a panic attack or wake up sad for no apparent reason. I may need to borrow hoodies to wear and sit on my feet to relieve anal pain pressure. That is ok. It is no reason for shame. J knew I had all my gremlins before inviting me. I trust her to trust me even if I don’t trust myself so easily.

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And then I came home and can write about that. Woop. I went hypo on several occasions but lucky I was pretty with it each time and J didn’t make a fuss which I was very grateful for. I thought I had got better at telling people what I need but it seems that still needs a lot of work. I am bad at telling people I am tired and that I need a lot of sleep. I feel I need to try and keep up and that just isn’t realistic. I can’t. I can’t get up early to watch formula 1 races and sit up all night chatting with people at the same time. I need that 10 hours at least. I can only do one day with under 8. I’ very lucky in that I don’t feel so ill as I used to in the morning but I still had issues.

Friends of friends are always harder to deal with. They don’t know your story. Even friends struggle to understand limits so friends of friends are even harder than that. Struggling to speak of physical health always leads to mental dips and I was very aware of being on an edge all weekend. I had fun, don’t get me wrong I adored my time in the city but I need to work on myself more. I am proud that I was able to say I need main meals in schedules. I ate healthy food bar one pizza but it was a lot of carbs, some empty ones, and not enough fruit and veg and I sure felt it. Still, I did better than I could have and I’m proud of that. It did teach me how much my dietary changes recently have given me so much energy. I need my nuts, my fruit and my veg in my day and I feel it if I don’t. So again, taking the positives from negative aspects of things.