Thanksgiving, Birthdays and Diabetes: Triple Threat!


As perhaps one could guess from the title of this post, today has a lot of different variables going on for me. Not only is it Thanksgiving — major carb fest — but it is also my 32nd birthday. And, as anyone with diabetes knows, birthdays and holidays are each blood sugar challenges in their own right. So how about this: I’m also in Thailand, land of rice and bananas and sweet-and-sour sauces. And I haven’t even vaguely exercised in two days. How do you like me now?!

Judging from the numbers on my glucometer, I don’t have reason to like myself too much. I’m having one of those horrible diabetic hangovers where you unhook your pump for a while (I was getting a cheap birthday massage — highly recommended) and then eat a big dinner. My blood sugar was fine after the massage, but as has happened before in such situations, the merest touch of carb afterwards shot my blood sugar up way more than normal (I think that basals, in addition to steadying your blood sugar, keep you primed for further bursts of carb — and if you haven’t had your basal for a while, it doesn’t take much to send you out of control).

So now I’m exhausted, but I’ve been stacking insulin for several hours and am still above 300 and am worried about going to bed with a. blood sugar that remains high all night or b. blood sugar that plummets while I sleep. I’m harboring hope that in Thanksgivings to come, I can express my gratitude to whomever it is out there who comes up with a faster acting insulin than Humalog. I mean, seriously. My stomach’s a cheetah compared to how slowly it starts working.

To be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty crappy these past few days. Thailand doesn’t offer great options for blood sugar management (rice, how I curse you!) and I’ve been riding high far more often than I like. I’ve also been getting angry at myself for what I’ve eaten, despite the lack of choices (hell, I wouldn’t be eating like this even if I didn’t have diabetes) and my seeming inability to keep my blood sugar in my target range.

My default in moments like this is to descend into a further spiral of self-loathing and frustration about blood sugar, letting myself get sucked into the idea that every time I eat breakfast, I’m damaging my body. So instead, in honor of Thanksgiving and my birthday, I’m going to try to spend a few minutes doing exactly the opposite: being grateful to myself.

It seems weird even to type that. Grateful for what? For eating a big dinner and allowing my blood sugar to go higher than it has in weeks? For not having the motivation to move my body for the past two days? There are so many avenues for me to get angry and frustrated at myself.

But I’m going to try not to, and I encourage you to do the same. So here goes. I’m grateful that, despite my frustration and fatigue, I’m able to keep on managing my diabetes day after day. I’m grateful that I’ve learned not to mind pricking my finger 12 or 15 times a day, or jabbing needles into my stomach. I’m grateful that I don’t really like donuts to begin with. I’m grateful that I’ve gotten a tiny, tiny bit better at not letting a number on my glucometer screen make me hate myself. I’m grateful that if I can get my blood sugar to a decent level before I sleep, I can usually stay steady through the night. I’m grateful that I successfully convinced my insurance company to cover a CGM (even though it’s totally broken at the moment!). I’m grateful to myself for muddling through life for this disease, for not letting it control me, for having the courage to travel for seven months even though I know that it’s affected my control — it has been so worth it. I’m grateful that I’m not defined by my disease — that when my friends think of me, they think of Catherine, and not of diabetes. I’m grateful for the inner strength I didn’t know I had, the part of me that keeps frustration at bay, that diligently switches pump insertion sites, tests my blood sugar, estimates carbs, forces myself to exercise, calculates and does its best, day after day after day. And I’m grateful that, having lived with diabetes for what will soon be 10 years, I don’t yet have any signs of complications.

There’s plenty more about my diabetic life that I’m grateful for — my supportive husband, the readers of this blog, the diabetes community that I’ve been a part of. But all too often, I forget to be grateful to myself for all the work and patience and control and acceptance it takes to live with diabetes. So for one moment at least, while I’m waiting for my glucose to drop so that I can collapse into bed, I’m taking a moment to give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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12 years ago

Happy birthday, Catherine!  I’m grateful for your fantastic blogs.  Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to properly estimate the carb content of fried spiders.  (I almost never get to say that.  Felt good.)

Lulu M.
Lulu M.
12 years ago

Dear Catherine,
I am grateful for intelligent, sensitive PWDs (like you!) who remind me that we are doing the best that we can given the fact that we are on duty 24/7. You are an inspiration to me. After reading your blogs, I feel connected to others with this disease and I feel even more committed to doing what is necessary to living a healthy life.
Thank you,
Lulu M.

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