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  A Irish Diabetic’s Blessing

I wish you lows to balance the highs. Life saving insulin that your body requires. To be surrounded by loved ones who lift your spirit when the weight that you carry pushes you almost to give up.  Moments to allow you to recall that although you live the DLife, truly LIVING is what matters most of all.

Jean

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

This might sound like a boast but there is so much more behind this post. In 2014, Sierra Sandison walked across the Miss Idaho Beauty Pageant stage for the bathing suit contest in a 2 piece bikini, sporting her insulin pump for the world to see. This bold move inspired so many who wear a pump and attempt to “hide” it so not to look different. Little girls and older ladies like me both learned something that day.


I am not in the public eye as Miss Sandison is however I do strive to demonstrate how someone with diabetes can live a fun-filled, adventurous and healthy life. I am a speech-language pathologist, dancer, actor and vocalist. Some days I want the world to see what it takes to live this SweetLife, with nothing at all to hide…. but then there are days when I want to tuck away the test strips and tubing, monitors and infusion sites along with the mindset of having to constantly manage such a complicated lifestyle.


Often I #hashtag #T1dlookslikeme as a way to form a somewhat cyber community of my DLife tribe.  I am not one to rack up a 1000 “likes” or even 100. Today a true hero “liked” a photo of mine (compliments of Tom Egan) out of the blue and with no other connection in this massive world other then a #!!

That made my DAY!

Miss Idaho 2014’s simple gesture of “liking” my Cider Mill playwrights festival pic reminded me how important it is to continue to strive to be a positive role model for those who may not feel as strong. My goal is to somehow inspire and educate those who are living lifeandthesweetlife or love someone with Diabetes!

Thank you Sierra for your courage and beautiful kindness!


#SierraSandison #T1dlookslikeme #insulinpump #T1d #LADA #Type1Diabetes #inspire #BeBoldBeBrave #MissIdaho2014 #LifeAndTheSweetLife

 Diabetes is on my mind 24 hours, 7 days a week but sometimes embracing life without the thought of blood glucose testing, highs, lows and everything in between for just a little while is exactly what the Dr. ordered. 

  
It has been far too long since my last blog. If you have read my past posts, you will recall I took an insulin pump holiday in preparation for a week of Key West, bikinis and “freedom”. I had a “late in life” diagnosis of insulin dependent type 1 Diabetes and only utilized insulin pens and needles for a brief 2 months prior to having the blessing of being approved for an insulin pump. During my stay in Key West, I basked in the glow of extremely gorgeous glucose numbers as a result of stress decompression, whole foods, walking (I did not board any form of transportation for a week) and euphoria. Handling the minimum insulin needs were a piece of cake (no pun intended). Shortly after my return to reality, my glucose numbers began to climb yet my carb intake remained the same. Proof that stress and decreased exercise can significantly impact blood glucose health.

One day on May 4th, the unthinkable happened, I found myself in the emergency room after I woke up with a tight shoulder that evolved into what mimicked the symptoms of a woman having a cardiac event. Here I am, a person that appears to be in relatively good health, trying to reason with the fact I might be having a heart attack. Turns out, the heart is fine. No heart attack but after an x-ray and a ct-scan, I was given a pain killer, a muscle relaxer and a steroid that might “mess up your glucose numbers a bit”. Yea- that was an understatement as my blood glucose tripled although triple the insulin wouldn’t touch it! It was a week full of pain, mess and shitty diabetes health. Since then I have been to a doctor, a chiropractor, and soon a neuro specialist. I still have numb fingers and an intermittent stabbing pain in various locations of my left arm. I haven’t danced, practiced yoga or barely exerted energy as I do not want to agitate anything. And all this time, I cannot identify what caused the trauma or the onset of the May 4th event. And…. All this time I STILL had to manage my Sweet Life (Diabetes). Now remember, I was still “pump-less”, dealing with significant pain and having horrendous blood glucose results. Bad glucose control tends to freak me out so let’s pile on an additional layer of stress. It was 2 weeks into the ordeal that I decided that I was going to pump again. I had taken the road of cultural identity, tried my best and succeeded in optimum conditions (Key West) but needed the additional support during a chronic pain crisis. I cannot even imagine what the toll on my glucose control would be if I actually was recovering from surgery or something worse. Steroids are definitely not a diabetic’s friend. And…. Now that I allowed myself the opportunity to understand my DLife culture and the multiple daily injection approach, I am ever so grateful for my ability to access insulin pump technology. It is not a failure either way but for me, managing my little health care world is complimented by the technological benefits of an insulin pump. And next time, I will ROCK that pump on my Key West bikini!

 

 My mind has been in the clouds. I feel that part of me remained on the tarmac of the Key West airport. 

The last few days have been consumed by my awareness and protest to allow my stressful, action-packed, non-stop lifestyle take over again.  If you know me, you can attest to my passion for driving nice cars, taking in life through art and performances non-stop in addition to being a mother of 2 young ladies, working full time as a speech-pathologist in the world of Autism and performing myself. As I re-read the last sentence, I can feel my stress increasing. Upon return from Key West,   I literally was depressed  that I needed to drive to get anywhere at my current residence. Granted I am extremely thankful for having those wheels but …… I craved walking to most things I could comfortably enjoy or need. Not to mention the fact that my blood sugar control was in such a better range for the majority of my “holiday”. Part of the fight to be a healthy diabetic is lifestyle choices. How can I re-create parts of my holiday that actual help my daily journey back in “reality”? 

 What is a holiday anyway? 

 Webster defines “holiday” as: 1-chiefly British  :vacation —often used in the phrase on holiday , 2- a period of exemption or relief <corporations enjoying a tax holiday> 

It is funny how what began as a personal choice to follow MDI insulin therapy rather then use my pump over the few weeks that led up to my vacation and during my stay for almost cosmetic reasons has turned out to be surprisingly liberating. What seemed the lesser convenient option of the 2 

has changed into a possible better choice.  Well at least a viable, “not so scary” option. 

 There are no holidays when you live the Sweet Life. No periods of exemption or relief. No vacations. Sometimes things are so beyond our control and logic.  But maybe, just maybe… A slight tweak, a little change in our routine or mind-set can give us a sense control and calmness at least for a moment in time. And that is the kind of holiday I am willing to embrace.