- As I just mentioned, I have started my fourth semester in grad school (in case you are new, I’m getting my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy). My classes this semester all have insanely long titles: Ethical Issues and Professional Practices in Marriage and Family Therapy, Advanced Application of Relational Theory, Assessment of Children, Couples and Family, and Therapy with Couples and Intimate Partners. I’m also taking two one-credit classes, Professional Issues and Orientation (I transferred between the Counseling & Psych program and the MFT program, so I’m a little late taking this) and Special Topics: Medical Family Therapy.
- Medical Family Therapy is, as you can probably guess, what I’m really interested in doing as a professional but it is proving really difficult to pursue as a graduate student. There aren’t any internships in the area that really focus on counseling people with medical conditions, and most of the education is at the doctoral or post-doc level. Which means if I really want to get specific, I will probably need a PhD. The jury is still out on whether or not I will actually do that.
- People ask all the time when I’ll be done. The answer? I don’t know. Probably sometime in 2017, as that’s probably when I’ll finish my internship. But I will be done with classwork next summer.
- I have put in a call to Dexcom to get the new G5 system. Unfortunately when I followed up I found out that they had my old New York endocrinologist on file, which is probably why I hadn’t heard anything yet. But I corrected that so hopefully I should be getting the system soon. Has anyone else received it?!
- I was hoping that it would arrive by the time I run the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon (on October 4!!) but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I have been doing a lot of testing on my training runs and I think I have more or less figured out how to run long distances without dying. I’ll share some of what I’ve learned in an upcoming blog post (yes, I will try to blog more than once a month!)
- And finally: GOOD LUCK to all of the Riding On Insulin athletes who are tackling freaking IRONMAN Wisconsin this Sunday! There are 70 people participating, and over half have type 1 diabetes, including one my best friends and a DOC favorite, Caroline. Crazy awesome!! I wish I could be there this weekend (kinda sad since it’s only 4 hours away in Madison), but I know everyone will rock it! Can’t wait to read all the stories!
It’s no secret that I have been writing about diabetes, in one way or another, for a long time. About half my life, actually. And I’ve had the disease itself for about three-quarters of my life. That’s a lot of time centered around one not-so-great aspect of my otherwise very full and happy existence.
Diabetes social media, whether that blogging or Facebook or Twitter, has always been just one aspect of what I do to stay involved in the community. My biggest contribution, I think, is the freelance writing that I’ve done for different publications. I’ve written for my own websites and I’ve written for other websites and publications, but they have by-and-large been about others: other people, other organizations, other insulin pumps, technology, cure research, what have you. Occasionally a personal essay may make its rounds, but the diabetes writing that I really enjoy has nothing to do with me.
And I like it that way. Personally, I don’t find my diabetes to be very interesting. Sure, I could write about how my low blood sugar this morning thwarted my training run because I had a limited amount of time before class. Sure, I could write about the screaming high blood sugar I had because I wasn’t paying attention to how many delicious chocolate chip cookies from the Minnesota State Fair I was actually eating. Sure, I could write about a variety of other situations that happen on a near-daily basis that I’ms sure could give plenty of fodder for this blog but you know what? It’s boring. (To me.) I have never been able to sustain a five day a week posting schedule because I don’t find it terribly interesting, and if I don’t find it interesting, it’s going to be difficult to convey it in a way that is interesting for other people.
So I don’t do it.
I think has really helped me not burn out from diabetes social media, because I don’t place any kind of expectations on what kind of volume or what kind of stories I’m going to churn out for the masses (that would be you guys). When I do find something interesting to share, then I’m really grateful that I have a place to do it, and I’m even more grateful that I have readers who are willing to stick with me even though I’m not entirely dependable for new material.
I go through waves on other social media platforms. Sometimes I’m really engaged with Facebook groups and Twitter chats, things like that. And other times, I want to focus on the other interests of my life. For instance, I’m reading a lot of running blogs right now because, hello, running a marathon in five weeks!
In general it’s important to be a well-rounded individual and not feel like you have to be solely dedicated to just one aspect of your life. People should be free to come and go as they need the help and the guidance. Personally, I’m doing pretty well emotionally with living with a chronic illness, but I know that I always get a little depressed and mopey about it when January comes around and I’m facing down another diaversary. That’s when having the social support is really crucial for me, and luckily I know that it will be there.
I’ve been noticing a few more people these days posting (even before this Diabetes Burnout Day) that they didn’t really want to blog about diabetes and they were taking a break. Or some people just took a break without saying anything. Or the frequency of their posting has, like me, slowed down. But those were also the people that I have known the longest. Meanwhile I know that there have been dozens of newer blogs who have been writing with great fervor. I think that’s exactly the way it should be.
It’s a circle of life of sorts. Those who started a long time ago will need a break, and the new guys will take over for awhile, and then they’ll get tired. And so on and so forth. Because nobody can sustain the same thing endlessly, especially when it’s something as frustrating and irritating as diabetes. Living diabetes is tiring enough, but making it a hobby? That’s really hard. Remember to diversify. Give yourself a break. Just like diabetes, we’ll still be here.
I started this series a couple of years ago but only managed two letters before I promptly forgot about it. But now I’m back with the latest edition all about diabetes camp.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband, Erik, and I visited my homestate of Oregon for a week. We were in town for a friend’s wedding and then stayed the rest of the week so that I could celebrate my 30th birthday with my family (yep, I’m officially 30, in case anyone is keeping track). One of our favorite places to visit while in Oregon is the Oregon Coast, which is unlike the typical beach that most of you are probably familiar with because the forest literally goes up to the beach. We decided to spend one of our days driving out there (it’s about 90 minutes away from my parents’ house).
On our way out there, I told Erik that we would be driving right by the diabetes camp where I went when I was growing up. I asked him if it would be alright if we stopped by so I could show it to him. It seemed silly to drive literally past their driveway and not at least take a peek, even though I wasn’t sure we’d be allowed to walk around.
I had attended Gales Creek Camp for a couple of years right after I was diagnosed, and then I attended again for three summers when I was in high school. I met some great friends there, several of whom I’m still in touch with via the magic of Facebook (I even interviewed one of my camp friends for Diabetes Forecast because she’s kind of a big deal in the D-community).
Driving down the gravel road from the main road to the camp brought back so many memories. I started getting giddy and excited and I wasn’t even going as a camper! That’s how much of an impact this place had on me — and the kind of impact it can have on a kid with diabetes.
When we parked, I immediately recognized the pool (a favorite activity) and the basketball court (never once stepped foot on that thing). As we walked further, we were met by two camp counselors who were very sweet but seemed maybe a little suspicious about what two strange adults were doing at the camp on a Tuesday morning. I told them I used to be a camper, and when they asked me when I was a camper, the phrase “fifteen years ago” got stuck in my throat. Considering I was about to turn 30 just a couple days later, the whole thing made me feel really old!
The counselors got permission to walk us through camp, but almost everything looked the same so I didn’t really need a tour guide. I showed Erik the Medical Building, where we did all of our “tests and shots” (it’s still called this, even though I’m sure many campers are on the pump), the Arts & Crafts building, and the dormitories.
We crossed Gales Creek (yes, an actual creek) to the dining hall where Bubba, the camp director from when I was a camper, was working in the kitchen.
It was so fun to catch up with Bubba and introduce her to Erik. We reminisced about the counselors and campers, and I updated her on who was married and who had kids. Again feeling really, really old.
Bubba invited us to stay for lunch (Taco Tuesday) which we graciously accepted. The camp food was pretty good, although I was surprised to see they still use carb exchanges for their meals. I suppose it makes it easier to carb count, but I always thought it was kind of weird. But in most instances, camp is cutting edge, with the best medical staff around. We even saw one of the endocrinologists who worked as the Camp Doctor when I was at camp, which just goes to show the kind of loyalty that people can have with a diabetes camp!
We sat down to eat with the counselor who originally welcomed us, and a couple of campers joined us. They were about 9-years-old, which is about the same age I was when I started going to GCC. I wanted to find out what their favorite activities are, so I asked “What’s your favorite thing about camp?.”
Without missing a beat, one girl replied, “A chance to be normal.”
Amen, sister. Amen. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you’re doing it. When you’re with your people, that’s all that matters.
I had my quarterly A1C appointment this morning. I didn’t have very high expectations for it. Truth be told, I haven’t been doing much in the way of proactively managing my diabetes. I don’t log my blood sugars and I haven’t worn my Dexcom CGM in weeks, which means I’ve done very little in the way of making changes.
The reason I stopped wearing a Dexcom is because I noticed that the accuracy was starting to falter and I was irritated with all the false alarms. It was weeks before I decided to put another sensor in, and when I did, I noticed that all the CGMs I had were expired. But I still didn’t call and order new supplies because… it’s expensive? Alarms suck? I didn’t want to? All of those are probably correct.
When my endo came in and asked me what I thought my A1C was, I said, “Probably the same as last time.” I didn’t think it had gotten any worse, but it would have been a miracle if it was more than a couple tenths of a point lower. My endo looked up my last A1C and lo and behold, yep! My A1C is exactly the same as it was just a few months ago.
The good news is that I have managed to stay pretty stable, but the bad news is that my A1C isn’t really that great. I need to get back into action.
Between now and my next appointment, I feel like I need to bring my A-game back. A few months of just coasting along has been, well, relaxing as it can be in living with diabetes, but it’s not getting me where I want to go. A few things I want to change:
- Wearing my Dexcom and downloading the data at least bi-weekly.
- Trying to eat more low-carb, both for blood sugars and weight loss.
- Exercise even more consistently — shouldn’t be too hard since I’m training for a marathon.
The main thing with eating more low-carb is because while I lost 15 pounds on Victoza, my weight seems to have plateaued. It’s helped decrease my appetite and increase my insulin sensitivity but I still have a lot farther that I want to go. Working on my diet seems like the most logical place to go, because, well, that’s the area that I need the most work!
But most importantly, I just need to be a more active participant in my diabetes management. I need to pay attention to numbers, ratios, calories and carbs. The issues that pop up in diabetes aren’t going to resolve themselves, no matter how many times I tell myself that maybe it’ll be different tomorrow.
So that’s the latest news on the D-front. I’m getting ready to leave for Oregon on Friday for a friend’s wedding, visit my parents and — wait for it — TURN THIRTY.
When I started my first diabetes blog, I was about to turn 20 years old, so yes, I’m feeling terribly old right now. Where does the time go?!
Is this thing still on?
Hey there, folks. So it’s been a little over a month since my last post, which also happened to be a guest post so that almost doesn’t even count, does it? It wasn’t even about me.
Well in the last month, I’ve been swamped with school work. I’m finishing up my third semester of grad school, getting my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy (in case you still thought I was going to school for dietetics, or heaven forbid, nursing — that was so 2012). At the end of July, I will officially be halfway through the program, although technically it may go a bit longer than next summer since the start date of my internship could be anywhere from January to September depending on where I get in, and then those programs can be anywhere from six to twelve months. But, uh, hopefully I’ll graduate someday.
In addition to that, I’ve been training for a couple of races, the Twin Cities Marathon — my first! — at the beginning of October and the Great River Ragnar Relay, which I mentioned awhile back.
The Great River Ragnar Relay is actually why I’m here blogging today. You see, since I’m running the relay on behalf of Team JDRF (we are the first JDRF team to run a Ragnar!), I have to do a bit of fundraising. JDRF is a charity near-and-dear to many of us. Children’s Congress is happening right now in Washington, D.C. and that was actually where I got my “start” in diabetes advocacy almost 15 years ago (I can hardly believe I just typed those words).
JDRF has been an amazing champion of not just the diabetes cure, but of also living a long and healthy life so that we’re actually around to see the cure when it happens. From smart insulin to the Artificial Pancreas, to islet encapsulation and much more, JDRF has supported so much ground-breaking work. But as you know, we have a long way to go. Plus, we also need to prevent diabetes from happening in the first place, and after the tragic events of last weekend with Kycie and David, I think everyone can agree with that.
So with that being said, I’m going to post the link to my fundraising page. I know we all have our own special interests in diabetes research, so if you don’t donate to JDRF via my page, I hope that you find another way to support the cause. Research can’t be done without funds, so I encourage you to do your homework and find something to support!
By Corrine Logan
When I was 6 years old I first started on the insulin pump. It made my life (and my parents’) so much easier. I could eat whenever and whatever I wanted and didn’t require as big of a bag wherever I want. One thing that quickly became a problem, however, was keeping the insulin pump in place. It was just too heavy for my little 6 year old body and was always falling off and ripping sites off.
Flash forward 14 years, and I am now 20 years old and the pump still makes my life so much easier. It makes diabetes so much more manageable, but it still gets in the way. While working out and wearing dresses, figuring out where to put my pump becomes an endless dance of sticking it one place, having it fall out, sticking it somewhere else, again and again.
I’ve realized I am not the only one with this problem, which is where Pumpstash comes in. Pumpstash shorts and spandex shorts designed to hold an insulin pump (and CGM, and phones etc) with the option of a front or back pocket to keep them safe and out of the way.
This is fix to a minor solution in diabetes, but I also want to help support finding solutions for the biggest problems, so 10% of all proceeds are going directly to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in their pursuit of finding a cure.
Pumpstash is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for manufacturing. We need to raise $5000 by June 18th, and have already raised over $3000. Please check out our campaign to help us reach that goal. Find out more information about Pumpstash at www.pumpstash.com.
The other day I posted a message on Facebook that was a little bit misunderstood, so I decided to take it down and make it a blog post instead. Hopefully the expanded words will make it a little clearer what I meant.
What I had posted was something to the effect of this:
One of the hardest things about meeting a newly diagnosed family is the heartbreaking optimism that things will get easier. It never gets easier. It gets different, but it doesn’t get easier.
Now, my interpretation of the comments is that this came across way more depressing and hopeless than I had intended to convey. I don’t think life is hopeless and I don’t think life with diabetes is an endless slog of misery.
What I actually meant when I said “it never gets easier” is that I don’t think managing blood sugars ever becomes simple. So maybe that’s the word I should have used instead of easy. Simple conveys a sense of thoughtlessness that I don’t think you can ever attribute to diabetes. Managing diabetes for some people might involve periods of time of “going through the motions” and that’s fine, but really good diabetes management, I think, requires a lot of deft and flexibility. And that only comes from constant vigilance, interpretation, action and evaluation, all which are not easy.
Over the past few months, I’ve occasionally heard someone (usually a newly diagnosed parent) share that it seems they had just figured out the [enter diabetes management tool or technique here] and now all of a sudden, blood sugars are mysteriously high. And I have to bite my tongue sometimes because it feels like the logical answer would be “Well, of course it changed. It’s diabetes.”
Earlier this week, after I had gone on a run that had required a careful balance of a pre-run snack and a temp basal, I tested my blood sugar and was pleased with a 158 mg/dl. And I thought to myself how long I had been running and yet how every run that didn’t end in a high or low blood sugar was a major accomplishment. I’ve had diabetes for 21 years and yet I still find myself pleasantly surprised (or, conversely, deeply horrified) with so many of my blood sugars.
And it’s not that living with diabetes itself is always hard. After so many years of unpredictability, you can almost train yourself to be comfortable with those unpredictabilities. Not always, but you can try. But the expectations of chaos doesn’t mean the diabetes easy. It just means you’ve trained yourself not to fall into self-blame or self-judgment when they happen.
Another thing that can make diabetes easier is our own life transitions. What was once difficult for me is now easier because I’ve lived through it and it’s no longer an obstacle. Dating with diabetes used to be hard. Now I’m married. Standing up for myself and explaining diabetes used to be hard. But now I’ve done it many times and I’ve learned to advocate for myself. It’s not entirely enjoyable, but it’s not difficult.
But the diabetes management? It’s still really hard sometimes. I still haven’t figured out a predictable way of managing my blood sugars during PMS or while exercising. Sometimes what worked last time works again, but a lot of times it doesn’t. My days are never the same, and therefore my blood sugars are never the same. I don’t think diabetes is impossible and I don’t live dreading each day.
I’m two decades into living with diabetes and I’m no closer to having this thing “figured out.” It takes a lot of work, every day. It changes constantly. I’ve never felt “done” with my diabetes. Even though I know and understand the major influences of my blood sugar, I still find myself with highs and lows when I’m not expecting them. That’s what I mean by “it never gets easy.” It changes. It’ll get different. The things you find difficult today may not be the same things that you find difficult tomorrow, or next week or next year. And I feel badly for people who think that it does become easier.
I did like what Scott Benner commented on Facebook, before I deleted my post. He said, “It doesn’t gets easier, you just get better at it.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that, but I would add that what you get better at is dealing with the fact that it’s not easy. I think a lot of us get used to it being hard. We learn to expect it and it doesn’t throw us for a loop or under the bus when it happens. Sometimes that understanding doesn’t last forever. We go through periods where we can’t cope with constancy of diabetes and we burn out. Diabetes ebbs and flows differently for people.
It certainly isn’t my intention to bum people out or fill our space with negativity. Saying diabetes never gets easy probably sounds pretty bleak, but I personally think that truth and realism is more important than false expectations.
I have been reading a little bit about grief lately, and from what I understand, there might be some similarities between grief and diabetes management. Grief for someone that you love never goes away. It’s ever-present, but you learn to live your life in spite of the loss, or maybe because of your love. With diabetes, I see it being similar in that even though it’s hard — and it never stops being hard — you learn to live with the difficulty, you learn to live in the difficult, and you learn to live through the difficulty.
You learn to live differently, proudly, fiercely. And I can’t think of anything more hopeful than that.