IMG_5464

The Body Shutdown: Feeling Like Your Body is Telling You to Die

20140413-231036.jpg

Last night, I think I consumed an all-time high of carbs. I was slurping in Coke with a straw, my lips barely able to grasp the stupid thing. Candy, chocolate, you name it, I ate it.

My stomach was churning and I just laid on my couch, feeling the energy being sucked right out of me.

That’s when things got weird. I’m not sure if I ever felt this way before (maybe I blocked it out of my mind), but last night, I felt my body shutting down slowly.

Breathing became eerily calm and slow. My body felt light and airy. My physical body felt defeated.

It was over an hour before I felt like something inside me sparked and back I came. This was one of the most frightening experiences. And yet today, if you saw me, it was like nothing ever happened.

This. is. invisible. illness.

bodymapping

Drawing it All Out: Body Mapping for Diabetes

 

bodymapping

I’m lying down on a life-size piece of brown paper, having my body be outlined like I’m in kindergarten. At 33-years-old, I’m surrounded by paint, Mr. Sketch scented markers, and even crayons. Do I feel foolish or childish? Yeah.

This is what every Thursday looked like for me as I took my first ever Body Mapping For Diabetes workshop. It was a 6-week commitment that took me on a wild ride through my life…back before my diagnosis and into the depths of my belief systems about what it meant to live with a chronic illness.

“Participants will be using a life-sized sketch of themselves to map out their own narrative of diabetes. These stories will provide the basis for conversations around some of the challenges of living with diabetes. No background in drawing or art is required.

The body mapping technique was first developed by artist Jane Solomon, in her work with women living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa.”

-DiabetesTalk.ca

Don’t get it twisted: the inner work was hard. It wasn’t as if I drew myself on a large paper and finally had some type of cookie-cutter Hollywood ending (me and diabetes holding hands into the sunset).

There were days that what I discovered was painful. And confusing.

When you take action to deal with your relationship with any illness, it’s important to realize that you will be opening yourself up to vulnerability and for me, it included a lot of shame. I still struggle today with telling people I have diabetes. Deep deep down, I feel that I am flawed, that I’m “damaged goods”, and that their rejection of me means I’m just not worthy to be here.

What this program reaffirmed and brought to light was that I am much more than someone who lives with diabetes. It is so easy to create a single-story narrative of your life, when in fact, there are so many facets that make you, you. And knowing that is essential to healing.

crayons-627895_1920

Getting back to basics is an incredibly powerful tool. During this art therapy, I drew out circles of my support system, illustrated major life events since birth and symbolized the effects of diabetes both mentally and physically. What I just described is only the tip of the iceberg.

I wish this was available sooner. I’m eternally grateful that I got the chance to see this program from start to end, and now, like always, I move forward armed with more knowledge, another form of support and most of all, hope for a brighter future.

To learn more about Body Mapping for Diabetes, click here.

J

world-diabetes-day

Confessions on World Diabetes Day #WDD

google-insulin

I’m not going to search “cure for diabetes”, because in all likelihood, I’m going to get results such as tea from Asia, a pill from a company with no address or some type of scary diet that involves me only eating with my left hand and on Tuesdays.

I don’t live day by day hoping for a cure. A cure doesn’t even cross my mind as something feasible. Maybe that’s the pessimist in me but I really live like there will never be a cure.

Maybe that’s a blessing and a curse all rolled into one.

Now, four years later since my diagnosis, I am sure of a few things that I never thought I would be.

  1. Whatever you think is bad, could be much worse.

Diabetes puts things into perspective. Fast. To say that I hit my anxiety and depression bottom at the time of my diagnosis would be a huge understatement. Although it was a burning, incredibly painful, dark time, I have come to realize that things could have been much, much worse.

I am alive. I have access to insulin. I am not in danger of being killed for having a disease. I try to think of this as much as I can. Things can always be worse.

2. It is up to us to help break the barrier when it comes to talking about mental health.

I’m surprised at how little support there is when it comes to mental health and diabetes. It’s certainly something I had to fight for in my own health journey. We have to raise our voices and create, demand and advocate for more resources. So many suffer in silence, and we are at a pivotal time where we can help bring this issue to light.

3. We all want self-acceptance. We all want to feel unconditional love. Diabetes and any other autoimmune disease can make this process 100 x more difficult. For me, it’s been such a treacherous road. And I’m not sure what lies ahead. All I know is, I am so incredibly thankful for the people I’ve met through my diabetes journey. I couldn’t imagine life without them. So to you, you know who you are…thank you. You guys have pulled me out of storms and I hope to spend my life providing you the same type of love and encouragement that you’ve shown me.

world-diabetes-day

Happy World Diabetes Day,

Jess

 

 

 

Diabetes Defense

myabetic

Does this ever go away: When people speak about diabetes, I automatically get my back up. Is what you’re saying true? Do you even know what you are talking about?!

The fact is, I don’t know everything there is to know, and for someone who has lived with this disease for 4 years, my knowledge is pretty limited I’m sure.

If I flip the switch, I’m sure there are tons of instances where I have spoken about a medical condition or any topic for that matter-and in silence, maybe someone cringed at my ignorance.

So how can I feel better and more comfortable when the topic of diabetes comes up?

dexcom

Back to Lantus and Humalog

lantus

In another country, with no short-acting insulin, I started to panic and texted my fellow d-friend. I was higher then I’d been in years, super sleepy and out of it.

At that time I was just on Lantus, after a failed attempt at trying oral meds. New endo, new treatment experiment, same result. I need insulin. Period.

 

After what feels like a rollercoaster ride, I am back to where I started, on Lantus and Humalog (a short and long acting insulin). I could be screaming, “Why the hell did I go through all that?!” but I’ll take it and say that it’s just part of the process when they can’t figure out a concrete type for ya.

dexcom

These past few weeks have done a number on me. Crazy lows, waking up in the middle of the night in a daze (or not remembering at all) and jumps in bs levels that make me want to nap and or puke the day away. I’m exhausted.

I realize now that I’ve been living with x diabetes for about 4 years. Where does the time go? And the issues I have with this disease are quite the same as I started. Mental exhaustion, and the ongoing quest for peace and balance with a disease that feels like it has none.

So…does this mean pump time? If after all this, I am insulin-dependent, then does that mean the next step would be a pump? I guess I’m always striving for the ‘next step’ if that makes any sense. It feels like I’m pedalling backwards with all this testing and unanswered questions. Just diagnose me, treat me with what works and let’s all move on.

I count my lucky stars that I have so many d-friends to support me. Now, time to inject…

high

Fasting BGs, Can You Not

high

I feel like my body is just one giant experiment for diabetes health professionals.

No one can say 100% which type of diabetes I have, and I really have to get used to that fact that I will probably never know. The circumstances around my diagnosis and what has happened after make stamping me a particular type unlikely.

My bg’s now are creeping up in the morning, running higher than I’ve ever seen during the day-and now I’m angry. And frustrated.

The current Lantus dose seems to be not doing much, and any oral medication I’ve tried has not helped me at all.

Let go. Let go. Let go of trying to control the uncontrollable. Sounds odd for someone to say who lives with diabetes, but I think that’s what I need.

 

 

 

I hate exercise. How to combat the workout blues.

IMG_0203

By now we all know that exercise is good for us. I feel so lucky that I LOVE to exercise. Not like…but LOVE.

But what if you don’t? What if getting out and moving is torturous?

Here are some suggestions that I hope might help.

  • If you love movies or television, hit the gym with your Netflix app in hand. Catching up on your shows while getting a good sweat is a win-win. I find this helps pass the time a lot easier.
  • Commute it. Thinking of exercise as one big chunk of time can be intimidating and daunting. Building exercise into you commute can help. Park at the back of the parking lot, get off one stop early and walk, all these steps will add up.
  • Find a buddy. We know the stats. Accountability is King (or Queen, or whatever you want it to be). Knowing someone is there, relying on you to show up can make all the difference. You can catch up and bond too.
  • Don’t do what you don’t like. If you absolutely hate the vibe of a gym, don’t go. This year I’ve really gotten back to basics and I asked myself the question, “What did I love to do when I was young?” That was swimming, dancing, cycling…so that’s what I’ve predominately chosen this year as my main source of activity and it’s much more fulfilling.

Have any other tips? Feel free to share!

J