I Do It MY Way

First, a smile for the day. My 84-year-old mother was visiting and I arranged to have coffee with a local friend of mine who is 86. I got to the coffee shop first and was, with the help of one of the employees, carving out a space for us at the community table.

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“I’m meeting two octogenarian ladies,” I told him.

He then began wondering where their country was.

I worry about today’s youth and hope the little dude never gets diabetes. He might find the knowledge he’ll need to duke it out with the big D a bit overwhelming: Perhaps even more difficult than trying to find Octogenaria on a map.

How do you treat your diabetes? That is, do you blindly do what somebody else tells you to do (I call it fitting people into a box labeled “diabetes”) or did you work with professionals and do a lot of reading and experimenting to figure out what lets you be “free” and still maintain control?

Do you resent being put into a box or can you handle it, emotionally? Are you happy? Why?

I can’t imagine being happy in that circumstance. I would feel hot and sweaty and cramped and restrained. It wouldn’t last long. In fact, it didn’t. About two weeks. After that, I ignored the fact that I had Type 2 diabetes for about the next nine years. If I had to do all of “those” things to maintain control, it wasn’t worth it to me. It wasn’t worth the feeling of restraint; it wasn’t worth the deep depression that set in.

My HbA1c rose to 17.4%.

When a friend recommended I see an endocrinology group, I kicked and dug in my heels. “They’ll give me a list of things I can’t eat,” I said.

“No, they won’t.”

No, they didn’t. Instead, Amy the RD, CDE, asked me what I liked to eat and what brands and what my schedule was and stuff like that and worked WITH me to come up with a meal plan I could live with.

Sonja the RN, CDE, taught me the whys behind what I needed to be doing to maintain control instead of just saying “do this, do that…don’t, don’t, don’t.”

I had that kind of help. I had books and articles I could read and, if I had questions, I could ask the doctor or one of the CDEs. I could play lab rat with myself, as in “my body, my science experiment.” If I woke up with a high blood glucose and rode my bike around the neighborhood a couple of times, what happened with my BGs? How about if I ate low-fat cottage cheese instead of the high-fat variety?

I was having fun playing diabetes. I knew what I was doing and why it needed to be done. I could eat what I wanted as long as I kept to my carbohydrate counts. I was out of the box.

With a couple of forays into the 7th or low 8th percentiles, my HbA1c has primarily hovered between 5.9% and 6.4% for several years now. Diabetic complications? As far as I know, they consist of one tiny patch of retinopathy in each eye and dry skin, particularly on my foot .

Back in the day, I wanted everybody to know what I had done and everybody had to care for their diabetes just like I did mine. Looking back, I was pretty obnoxious! We each have to find what works for us. Some people can be obsessive about diabetes care; some (like me) are more loosey-goosey.

I like to cook. I like to eat. I like to nibble my way through some street food. That’s not to say I sit around and chow down on fat- and carb-laden goodies all of the time. It’s more like I usually focus on low-fat meats, fresh fruits, and veggies, but I let myself guiltlessly break outside of the box on occasion.

As long as I keep my blood glucose under control, I don’t see anything wrong with dealing with diabetes MY way. We get along a lot better that way — and I have a smile on my face instead of being curled up in the fetal position in a corner with tears running down my cheeks.

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