Diabetes? Who Has Time?

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Yikes! It’s almost August! That means I have to gear up to begin doing the monthly (except for July and August) bulletin for the synagogue. And I have a Jewish calendar to put together for a Sisterhood fundraiser. And I need to get my grandchildren ready to fly to South Carolina to visit my parents. Get ready for another year of religious school — I’m the director and teach a class. Plan for the High Holy Days, which are coming up way too fast this year. School will be starting soon, both for my granddaughter and my husband (she’s a student, he’s a professor). The blonde child and I already have been shopping for clothes and school supplies. Plant my second garden, which includes purple carrots. (Yes, purple carrots. Check out Burpee.com.)

Whew! And that’s probably not all. Oops! In fact, I have an anniversary coming up in August. Thirty-five years with my Sweet Baboo. And a short trip with my traveling bud, Sandy.

I’ve already checked off helping with a luncheon on Sunday and having surgery on Monday, but I still need to finish the “sleeping off anesthesia” line.

Diabetes? Who has time for diabetes?

Sometimes I get the idea that all our health-care professionals want us to do is eat, drink, and breathe diabetes.

Those of us with diabetes, however, know that we also have a life outside of the blasted interloper. You know — work, families, community service, a little playtime… This is what we need to fit diabetes around. I don’t believe we need to fit our other — I would say “primary” — lives around diabetes.

But how do you do that? The only way I know is to learn as much as you can about diabetes so that it becomes second nature to make those little adjustments that crop up every, oh, five minutes or so. (OK, maybe not that often.) Be aware, however, that diabetes has its own plan to thwart your efforts now and then.

I’ve read that controlling diabetes is something like barreling down a steep mountain road at night with no headlights while you’re sitting in the back seat navigating the car with rubber bands attached to the steering wheel.

Actually, learn as much as you can about how diabetes affects your body. Diabetes is not a “one size fits all” — or even “one size fits most” — condition. It’s pretty much different for each person.

Before you can put your diabetes on autopilot for the most part, however, you need to spend some time learning and experimenting. As in “my body, my science experiment.”

Back in the day, when I had to appear in an office at 8 AM each day and had a fairly inflexible diabetes regimen, I figured out what foods I could grab on my way out the door to eat breakfast on the go. As I recall, it involved foods such as peanut butter sandwiches, fresh fruits of all sorts (i.e., whatever we had in the house), toasted waffles eaten plain, yogurt, eggs that had been boiled and peeled and put in the refrigerator…. Things like that.

It works for other meals, too. Since my husband usually teaches at least one night class, I would make sure to have some healthful frozen meals handy which, along with a salad, made a quick and easy dinner.

Have you ever gotten sick, had your diabetes control go out the window, and not had a clue as to what to do? Not if you had a sick plan before the first sniffle. Mine even has foods that are easy on upset tummies. Yours might list medication changes, scenarios in which you need to call your health-care professional — and those in which you need to present yourself at the emergency room.

Remember that stress of any sort, including illness, can cause your blood glucose to rise. Or not. In my world, physical stress shoots my sugars up, but mental stress causes me to crash.

What physical activities are best for you? What do you enjoy? Dancing? Gardening? Roller-skating? Bicycling? Walking? Exercise is good for lowering blood glucose levels, so you’ll need to figure this out. Don’t forget to include physical activity in your daily life, but remember that it also can be useful if you find yourself running high. Don’t sit around and wait for your glucose levels to come down: Go for a walk or play Frisbee or something.

For your safety, be sure to ask your health-care professional if there are any physical activities you need to avoid. There are diabetes complications that can put the kibosh on some activities.

Have some physical handicaps? Dance in your chair. Go find an accessible swimming pool. Consult with a trainer to see what activities you can handle.

Figuring out how different foods — or new foods — affect your blood glucose is easy: You just check your glucose right before you eat and again two hours after you’ve taken the first bite. Knowing how different foods affect your control is very handy.

This is just a starter list. You’ll have things that are specific to your lifestyle. Consulting with a CDE also is a good thing to do. And going to a support group, either in your community or online.

In time, you’ll find that caring for your diabetes is easier because you’ll know ahead of time what works for you.

Well, most of the time. As I said (and I’m sure you’re aware), the Diabeastie will sometimes rear its ugly head just to keep you in your place. Just take it for granted that the unexpected will sometimes happen.

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