Cartoons by Haidee Soule Merritt. Used with permission.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be frank, where in my brain would there be room for them? From the second I open my eyes to the moment I close them, my head is full of diabetes tasks and calculations.
First I roll out of bed and lumber into the kitchen. I pull out my glucose meter. Pop open vial. Place test strip in meter. Lance my finger. Line up blood perfectly so strip can suck it up. Wait… to see whether I’m going to be happy or pissed off at myself.
If I made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, as most people do, when would I have time to count calories? I’m already donating heaps of mindshare to counting carbohydrates. And that’s just one food group.
When could I read the latest articles on Facebook — 5 foods I must eat to lose 10 pounds and what 5 foods will sabotage my efforts. I suppose if I worked really, really hard I could slip some reading in after I find my misplaced continuous glucose monitor (CGM) receiver. Or instead of googling when faster insulins are coming. But that two hour check after a meal is such a let down.
And while I walk 20 blocks to the farmer’s market for fresh, whole foods, what is this new vegetable — a mix between broccoli and cauliflower? I now have to figure out if it will be as kind to my blood sugar as its parents. And what do I call it — Broccoflower? Romanesco broccoli? Roman cauliflower? Broccolo Romanesco? All this takes time away from checking the vegetable bin in my fridge to see if I have enough insulin for the next two months or need a new script.
Another popular resolution is to get organized. Hmmm… already aced it! I’ve got a dedicated drawer in my kitchen for my every day diabetes supplies. A mug on my kitchen counter for my insulin pen. A plate next to the mug for pen needles and lancets.
My glucose meter is always in front of my toaster oven. Yes, a stupid place. I have to move it whenever my husband makes a piece of toast. But if you’ve been in a New York City kitchen you understand space comes at a premium.
There are five boxes of lancets, syringes, adhesive tape, test strips, cables and instruction booklets on the top shelf of my pantry closet fighting with a 32-ounce bag of quinoa. Each diabetes box is precisely marked for contents.
There’s a box of dedicated supplies for my CGM in my bedroom closet between a shoe bag and a twenty-five year old briefcase. What that’s doing there I have no idea! And there are two utility size plastic bags of glucose tablets below. Raspberry, my favorite flavor. They were a gift.
The last resolution I could possibly even think about is exercise. But strength training and powerlifting raise your blood sugar. Really? I’m going to burden myself with exercise only to pay for it with higher blood sugar? I don’t think so.
If you don’t have diabetes you may not be aware that when you speak to someone who does, they’re not listening to you. How could they? Their mind’s chattering incessantly, “When did I last eat?” “When am I eating next?” “What will I eat?” “How many units of insulin will I need for that?” “Will I walk home after?” “Should I take the bus?” “Gotta factor that in before I dose for dinner.” Oops, sorry, that’s my mind.
Truth is I think resolutions are a set up for failure. I believe whatever you want to do, you’ll do.
A few years ago in lieu of resolutions I chose to remind myself throughout the year to “Be bold.” The next year I chose to remind myself to “Be bolder.” Maybe it helped, I’m not sure.
But one thing I do work at is being kind. As an everyday practice. To myself and to others.
So while you’re wondering what the weather is, remember your mate is thinking, darn, now it’s not going to rain?! Do I have to take another injection? If I walk should I finish those left over bites of muffin? What if it rains while I’m walking and I have to come back early? I’ll need another shot again. Better check my blood sugar again. But it looks like it might…
Originally published in The Huffington Post.