Saturday, June 30, 2012

Number Five

I don't even know where to start.

It's not often that I find myself speechless, but today, on our fifth wedding anniversary, I am at a loss for words.

Josh is my partner, my best friend, and the love of my life.  We've been through a lot together.  And I owe him so much.

Diabetes has been a part of our relationship since the beginning.  He is my partner in living with this disease.  Josh is my Type Awesome, and understands this disease as well as someone who lives without it can.

As Karen said about her husband, in what is one of my favorite blog posts of all time: "He is the solid rock I lean on when I can't bear the unrelenting chronicness of it any more."  Yes.  Just yes.  

This past year has been a rough one.  And Josh has been so patient, supportive, and understanding.  It was clear to both of us that I needed some professional help for a while before I was ready to seek it out.  But he didn't push.  He waited until I was ready to ask for help, and has been cheering me on ever since.

Josh knows about my binging and my emotional scars.  And he loves me anyway.  I am so incredibly blessed.  Is he perfect?  No.  Does he do things that drive me absolutely crazy?  Yes. But when it counts, he's there.  Always.

Happy Anniversary, Josh.  I love you.

Even though I shoved cake in your face...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm Still Here

Don't worry, I'm still here.

I know I haven't posted much lately.  After my awesome endo visit, you would think that things would be going great.  That I should be happy.

But the past couple weeks have been total crap.

Before I go any further, I want to say that the past few days have been much better.  Thanks to my husband, my friends, and my therapist, I am feeling much better.  But things have been pretty rough.  And I believe in being honest with you guys.

So back to the crap.  My fears about the binge eating monster proved themselves not to be unfounded.  I've been in a rut.  And the monster reared its ugly head once again.

I'm learning a lot about myself as I'm going through therapy, both in talking with my therapist and journaling (per her suggestion).  I'm realizing that there are behaviors and patterns that have been present in my life for years and years.  And it's going to take a while to learn to do things differently.

I don't like to deal with uncomfortable emotions.  Fear, stress, anxiety, etc.  My gut reaction to crave numbness.  Apathy.  To become detached.  And food is how I try to get there.

It doesn't work, of course.  Rationally, I know this.  But it's taking some time and effort to try to change my behavior.  Some days go really well.  I'm able to feel the uncomfortable emotions, and know that I am ok.  That these emotions will pass and are not going to destroy me.  Other days, not so much.

The kicker is that when I most need to reach out, I withdraw.  That's why I've been pretty absent lately. When things start to go south for me, I pull inward.  I go to work, come home, watch TV, and eat.  I don't interact with people.  I stop tweeting.  I stop blogging.

It's something I'm aware of, and that I hope will be able to change at some point.  Because I know the support is there when I need it.  My family, my friends, and you, my Diabetes Online Community.  I'm hopeful that next time I fall into a rut, I'll be able to reach out to someone.  Because I know it will help.

Monday night, I wrote in my journal, had a long talk with Josh, and a good cry. I started to feel better.  Then I sent a tweet. 

Just the tip of the iceberg.  A bit of an understatement, perhaps.  I got some responses.  And that helped more than I can say.  Major thanks to Stacey, Rachel, Mike, Jacquie, Scott, Scott, Lawren, Kim, Kerri, Cherise, Andrea, Bob, and Lisa.  Thank you so much.  You have no idea how much your tweets helped me.

I'm sorry I haven't been around lately.  Responding to tweets, reading and commenting on blogs.  I miss you guys.  And I'm so happy that #FFL12 is next week.  I need it.  Badly.

Thanks for the support, and thanks for understanding.  I'm still here. Strong at the broken places.

Friday, June 15, 2012

YOU CAN Have A Happy Birthday!

Today is a very important day in the Diabetes Online Community.

Today is the first birthday of the You Can Do This project!!!!
Kim first posted about the project and asked people to make videos on June 1st, 2011.  Go back and watch the original video- it'll make you smile. 

One year ago today, June 15th, 2011, was the first day people were invited to share their videos.  And Kim shared hers.

Most people don't realize how emotional and psychological diabetes is.  Yes, it's a physiological disease. My pancreas is broken and I have to take insulin to stay alive.  But diabetes is a part of your life every moment of every day.  And it can break your spirit and crush your soul.  Make you feel like you're the only one going through this.

But that is a lie.  You are NEVER alone.  None of us are.  And thanks to Kim and YCDT, there's a place where you can go 24/7 and actually see people's faces and listen to their voices telling their stories.  And their stories all say that you are not alone.

So thank you Kim, for starting this amazing project.  For putting in such long hours making it all work. The community needs this.  YCDT truly helps people.  It helps me.

Please take a moment today to thank Kim, and help us celebrate the first birthday of this amazing project.

You can support the You Can Do This Project by telling people about the project online and in person. You can also vote for YCDT (and other projects like World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange) to receive a Diabetes Hands Foundation Seeds Grant (LAST DAY TO VOTE), or donate to the project.  Anything at all you can do helps reach people.  I can't wait for YCDT's second birthday, so we can look back and celebrate how far the project has come!

Happy Birthday, You Can Do This Project!

Image courtesy of Elaine Ashton via Flickr

Disclaimer: I should probably disclose that I'm a member of the You Can Do This Project Advisory Team, which is a tremendous honor.  I love this project!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Living This Imperfect Life

The past few days have not been good food days for me.  I've been doing really well for the last month or so.  But the last several days have been a struggle.  I'm hoping that today will be better.  That I will be able to journal what I'm feeling instead of channeling it into food.

Because like I said, things have been going really well for the past several weeks.  I'm really starting to see some progress.  I love my new therapist now, and I know that making the switch was the right choice for me.  Having my own regular appointment every two weeks is making a huge difference.

I had an endo appointment last week.  I was hopeful that my A1c had stayed the same, and not increased.  The last month had gone well, but the two before that, not so much.  But I knew that no matter what the number was, that I could look my endo in the eyes and say that things were going better.  And that my last several weeks of CGM data would back me up.  Because while I can't control what my blood sugar does, my numbers are so much better overall when I'm not binge eating.

The paper slid under the door with my A1c.  I couldn't see it.  My endo picked it up, looked at it, and smiled.  He looked at me, still grinning, and told me the number.

I'm not sure how long I sat there with my mouth hanging open.  I was in shock.  My A1c had dropped by 0.4%! What the what?  How is this possible.

I sat there on the table, dumbstruck.  With tears stinging my eyes, I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from asking him to retest it.  Because not only had my A1c dropped, but it was lower than that number.  The number I set as a goal for myself after finding the DOC one and a half years ago.  I had been within 0.1% of that goal before, but now I was sitting 0.2% lower than my goal.  I could hardly believe it.

I still can hardly believe it!  The paper with my A1c is on my fridge, and I smile every time I look at it.  I CAN do this!

A little disclaimer before I go any further: I don't believe that an A1c is the be all end all when it comes to measuring how things are going with diabetes.  A1cs don't take into account all the crap we PWDs deal with on a daily basis.  Or the emotional and psychological warfare that diabetes can bring.

But A1cs are a measure we have to look at.  And my current A1c is the lowest I can ever remember.  And my standard deviation is good, so that means I'm not having a crapton of lows and highs that balance their way to a low A1c.  The average lines on my CGM data are pretty stable.  So I can feel good about reaching my A1c goal, because it's happened safely.

After calling Josh and completely freaking out, I called my mom.  She knew I was at the endo's.  She asked how it went.  I told her my A1c.  And my mom gasped.  I could hear her start to choke up.

Me: "And my standard deviation is good!  Mom, has my A1c ever been under (goal number) before?  It hasn't as far as I can remember."

Mom: "I don't think it has.  Oh Jessica, this is fantastic!  We need to celebrate!  I don't have time to bake you a cake..."

I'm actually not sure who's more excited about my A1c, me or my mom.  I think my mom.  She keeps texting me about it, still so excited, and telling me how proud she is.

And I'm proud too.  Because while my self-worth shouldn't be tied to this number, hot damn does it feel good to see some progress.  To see that conquering my binge eating is going to make such a difference.  That going to therapy is making such a difference.

So I am happy, and proud, but still guarded.  Because I know at any time I could go sliding backwards.  The past few days have reminded me of that.  The binge eating is still there, lurking, waiting.  It's not been conquered yet.  And nothing can sabotage my efforts to take care of myself like that monster can.

But I will cling to hope.  Today was better than earlier in the week.  Perfect?  No.  But better?  Yes.  And for right now, better is enough.  And tomorrow will be better too.

I CAN do this.  That's why this A1c means so much to me.  It's tangible proof that I can do this.  That I can live this imperfect rollercoaster life with diabetes.  That food won't have a hold over me forever.

I saw this picture and had to get it.  It's going up in our hallway.

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul." -Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Finding Our Strength

So at the suggestion of my therapist, I've been trying to read more.  As in actual books, not blog posts.  I'd forgotten how much reading really does relax me.  I love it.

I've been reading some great stuff!  I highly recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (which will blow your mind!) and The Wilder Life.

I was browsing the clearance section at a used book store, when this book caught my eye:

And I was immediately excited!  Let me explain.

My junior year in college, my roommate walked in, set a book on my desk, and said, "You have to read this."

It was a book she was reading for a class.  It was this book:

I had never heard of Richard M. Cohen, but he was soon to become one of my personal heroes.  Blindsided is Cohen's personal account of living with Multiple Sclerosis for 30+ years, as well as dealing with two bouts of colon cancer.  His story is truly and utterly amazing.  I cannot do his story justice in such a short space.

When I first read this book, it was long before I found the Diabetes Online Community.  Long before I knew such a thing even existed.  And I knew no one else living with any kind of chronic condition, let alone Type 1 Diabetes.

But in Cohen's story, I saw elements of myself.  Now, I have no idea what it's like to live with MS. Absolutely none.  I do know what it's like to live with Type 1 Diabetes.  And I saw some of my own emotions and struggles reflected in Cohen's.

I know how it feels to have your body betray you.  I know how the future can seem very scary and uncertain.  I know what it means to feel like a burden on your loved ones.  I know the mental and emotional turmoil that comes with living with a chronic condition.  If you live with any chronic condition, the similarities sometimes outweigh the differences.

Later that year, I had the opportunity to hear Cohen speak.  He and I share an alma mater, and he spoke at commencement that year (not the year I graduated, unfortunately).  I wish I could have talked to him, to thank him for sharing his story, because it had helped me. 

And so when I saw Strong at the Broken Places, in the clearance bin, I snatched it up, and started reading it as soon as I got home.  The book is the story of five different people living with five different chronic conditions.  A guarded woman living with ALS.  A college kid living with Muscular Dystrophy.  A deeply passionate man living with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  A young woman living with Chron's disease.  And a man living with Bipolar Disorder who seems larger than life.

Cohen spent several years corresponding and interviewing the five people profiled in the book.  And I want to have a big group hug with all of them.

I'm not going to lie.  Reading the book was an intense emotional experience.  I cried more than once.  And again, though I have none of these conditions, there was so much that was the same.  I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.  It is truly incredible.

And I found my new favorite quote.

"The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong
at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

I am strong at the broken places.  And so are you.