We're now three-quarters of the way through Diabetes Blog Week 2014, and today we're asked to take a positive spin on yesterday's topic of what brings us down:
Today let's share what gets us through a hard day. Or more specifically, a hard diabetes day. Is there something positive you tell yourself? Are there mantras that you fall back on to get you through? Is there something specific you do when your mood needs a boost? If so, maybe we can help others do it too?
Our youngest team member Cait Patterson, fresh from final exams and now officially a senior in college (congrats!), takes this one on and shares the mantras she tends to live by when it comes to diabetes. Take it away, Cait:
Special to the 'Mine by Cait Patterson
Sometimes diabetes can be frustrating (ya think?) Because even when you count your carbs diligently, carefully calculate your insulin, align your chakras, and say your prayers to the pancreatic gods, sucky meter readings can still happen. A 300-something blood sugar is discouraging, annoying and most importantly makes you feel like crap. Sucky blood sugars happen, and it's important to find methods to get through them so you can live to do better another day.
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For D-Blog Week today, we're supposed to share our "mantras" and other ways we get through those bad days. Since I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 20 days before starting my first year of college, and was forced to adjust to diabetes and college life all at the same, I can tell you I've developed a boatload of mantras and tricks to get through the many not-so-fantastic days.
My personal fave mantra: Try. Just try. I feel this phrase is the most genuine and logical mantra to get me through a tough situation. Trying is the only aspect of life that I have complete control over. It also sets realistic expectations for myself. I can't promise a day of straight 100's in meter reads, but I can try to do that. I will try to correctly count carbs before a meal, and if I'm still high or go low, I try to correct to the best of my abilities. It's important to never stop trying.
After my first semester of college, my GPA was so low and my A1C was so high, I knew I needed to try to improve. So, I found a new endocrinologist that could offer better support in learning this new diabetes lifestyle. I made myself "get over" taking an insulin shot in a dining hall by telling myself: "just try to make yourself take your insulin shot." I told myself to "try to test your blood sugar, count your carbs, and take care of yourself." Luckily, my A1c dropped from 9.6 to 7.4 in three months; and I've gone from barely holding on to a good standing GPA to (hopefully) and graduating cum laude next year. So, trying isn't a guarantee of success, but it brings you a hell of lot closer to success than if you didn't try.
Also, "try," is a lot more comforting than "build a bridge and get over it."
Besides that personal mantra, I use some other tricks and tips to ease frustration on bad diabetes days. For starters, I only give myself five seconds to be upset. After that, I have to deal with the situation and move on. I can grimace and groan for five seconds, but after those five seconds, it's just not allowed to upset me anymore.
Diabetes is a lifelong learning process. It's ridiculous if I let one bad reading or one day of bad readings upset me. I have the opportunity to have a better blood sugar just a few hours later, so I need to remember that it's an average, and one blood sugar won't ruin everything. But I have to allow myself five seconds to be irrational and upset; and if it's a really bad day, maybe 20 seconds.
Other things I do to handle bad days could be considered the typical health educator suggestions: I exercise. Yes, I know there's a bunch of eye-rolling happening right now. But seriously, exercise releases all sorts of happy hormones, it can help lower your blood sugar and most importantly — being attached to an elliptical machine prevents me from going to the local cupcake shop. I love ending a stressful diabetes day by putting in my headphones or watching TV and getting my heart rate up by spending some time on my elliptical or treadmill. Even a half hour of exercise can relieve stress and have a positive impact on your health, so why not?
And yes, I have more health educator advice: drink water. Staying hydrated has so many benefits for many different aspects of health. Meeting your daily water intake goals keeps blood vessels healthy and gives insulin the ability to move through the body more efficiently. Without getting into full detail, water keeps everything moving and functioning in the body, and really helps with keeping blood sugars a little more regular. And I love when my endocrinologist or nutritionist isn't particularly happy with my blood sugars, I can say 'Well, at least I drink 70 ounces of water a day."
Overall, it's important to remember that diabetes is chronic because it is manageable (otherwise none of us would still be here). And with any chronic condition, there will be bad and good days. It's important to not let a bad diabetes reading cause an entirely bad day; there's always a chance to adjust and correct diabetes care.
In turn, I suggest we all really enjoy the good days, and recognize them as good days. And if everything I said above seems crazy or unreasonable, count to five and just try them out for yourself.