Taking Care of Me

We’re too busy. We’re too busy from a very young age. A couple of weeks ago, I had to arrange for six children, aged 6–11, to be at the same place at the same time. The lady we (the children, some parents, and another person) were supposed to meet with had told me she could be available at any time, so I took her at her word and just worked with the children’s parents.


Once I got the children together, I called back.

“I’ve spent the better part of this week working around swim team, dance lessons, horseback riding lessons, chess club, arranging for carpooling for one mom who has to work, and who knows what else, and if you tell me 2 o’clock Friday isn’t good for you, I’m going to cry,” I spit out in one breath.

Luckily, her word was good: She was available then. But she was laughing very loudly and heartily.

I don’t know what my friend with celiac disease does. “I eat out of boxes,” she says. “I have three children with activities; I don’t have time to cook.” My feeling is that the children’s activities need to be cut back so she can take care of herself, but it’s not my call.

My grandson and I had a delightful evening out one day last week. We had dinner out and did some shopping. On the drive home, as part of a larger conversation on how you get freelance work, he asked why I don’t have a “real” job.

The short answer, I told him, is that I just couldn’t take the stress any more. I was a reporter for a daily newspaper and I burned out to the point that I was nonfunctional. I couldn’t even follow the plot of a Reader’s Digest article. Today, by making my own schedule and by picking and choosing how busy I want to be, I’m usually fairly laid back — and back to reading three or four books at a time.

It was a long road to get to this point, however; one that included taking a year off from working. (Might as well. I was, as I said, nonfunctional.) I baked a lot of bread, even though I couldn’t eat a lot of it. There’s something soothing about working the dough with your hands that eases the stress. I cooked. I rode my bike a lot. I played with my then-preschool-aged grandchildren. And, most importantly, I learned to take care of me.

Taking care of diabetes seems to be a lot easier if you don’t have a lot of “life” getting in the way. I had near-perfect blood glucose levels darn near all the time! Well, those are long-gone: “Life” has a tendency to get in the way again at some point. This time, however, it isn’t work. That I can handle. It’s all of those other things that crop up unexpectedly along the way: The children who miss the school bus, trying to get a dozen people in the same place at the same time, an abscessed tooth…

I use music to relax, and meditation. I still bake bread. And, once in a while, I have a visit and a laugh with a longtime friend, which is what I’m doing right now.

The stressful (holiday) season is about to begin, so get ready. Find your own de-stressors and just…take it easy. Having diabetes is stressful enough. We all need to do what we can to keep the rest of our lives as calm as possible.

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  • Barbara

    I’m not sure what kind of comments you want on this post, I’d rather get some ideas on how to juggle everything to allow time to do whats right for me.
    Sometimes being to busy helps me to contol my sugar because I don’t have time to over eat the wrong things, as long as I keep the wrong things out of the house. Then there is most of the time when I’m so busy that I can’t even shop for the right things to eat let alone plan out fixing and eating right.
    Also taking care of others gets me off track. My husband had gotten sick and lost a bunch of weight. Testing didn’t find anything wrong. He’s better and was trying to regain some of the weight back. His job is very demanding physically. But he has just started a new job that is even more demanding and is lossing weight again. So much so that we are afaid he’ll get sick again. The delemia is he has to eat to try and keep from lossing to much and I have to cook it. I need to watch what I eat to control my sugar. Throw in that I have my own business and I’m the one family calls when they need something like rides to the doctors and such.
    How do you take control of your life and take care of yourself when there is more than just you in your life?
    Maybe I should read the posted “A Good Cry?”

  • Ephrenia

    Barbara, I hear you. My son recently returned home from a 6 month stay in Europe (he is 21). The people he stayed with did not feed him properly and he came home grossley underweight. He is 6 ft and weighed about 120. So now I’m trying to “feed him up” to a normal weight. I’m keeping foods in the house that I can’t (won’t) eat, but its very hard not to want the cookies and chips that he prefers to snack on.

    Avoid stress? I don’t think we can. All we can do is make sure we take some “down time” as often as possible to recharge.

  • Jan Chait

    Barbara, I have no idea what kinds of responses I expected – I was so jet-lagged when I wrote that, I could barely drag myself upstairs to the computer. It was another case of “other” things cutting into my time so I didn’t get my blog written before I left for Europe. (I’m still there, by the way.) I think we all need to get other people to take responsibility for some things that we now do. My friend and I came back from three days in Prague to find a two sinks and a counter full of dirty dishes, despite the fact that her husband and 15-year-old daughter were here. How much trouble is it to load a dishwashwer? I told the girl that my grandchildren know how to cook, wash dishes, do laundry, clean counters and kitchen appliances and run the vacuum. She gave me a look of horror. Can you get somebody else to take over some of your tasks? Can you block out “me” time on your calendar? While it’s inevitable that stress will happen, it really isn’t good for anybody – and most certainly not those of us who have diabetes – so we need to try and eliminate as much as we can.


  • Barbara

    I guess when I think of taking care of myself in relation to having diabetes the first thing I think of is having the time to plan my meals and being able to shop and cook to control it. When my life gets hectic the first thing to happen is throwing together meals just to get them in because I have to feed others or grabing something on the run. Just trying to eat right is a huge stress. I dream of having someone else fixing all the perfect meals for me and all I have to do is eat them. SIGH! What a relif that would be. Oh and they would have to do the shopping for it. Use to be able to get Dreamfield Pasta around here but the stores here no longer carry it. (and I talked to the managers, they won’t be carring it) I really depended on it in a pinch.
    I’m learning how to block out some time for me every now and then, but as I get older I’d really like more. Ha Ha.

  • Jan Chait

    Ah, yes: Having a personal chef would be wonderful. The closest I come is to buy healthy frozen entrees (I prefer South Beach) and couple that with a big salad on my busier days. About Dreamfield’s: Isn’t it wonderful?! I love that stuff. Fortunately, I can buy it locally. However, did you know you can buy it online? Go to http://www.buydreamfields.com. But wouldn’t it be nice if grocers understood special needs?


  • Barbara

    Thank you. I will check out buying Dreamfield online. Since I’m pretty new at this are there any other good sites that you can get food products that are diabetic friendly for those of us that live in limited areas?

  • Jan Chait

    Hi Barbara

    I don’t know that there are any special foods for diabetes. We each have foods that we can’t seem to handle as well as others, but that’s individual. For example, I can eat popcorn with no trouble, but not pretzels. A friend of mine is OK with pretzels, but not popcorn. Go figure. You can check your blood glucose before you eat a new food and two hours after you take the first bite to see how different foods affect you. I like Dreamfield’s because I can eat what is (for me) a “normal” portion and not some piddly little side dish where you can count the strands.

    You can learn a lot about diabetes and food by reading Amy Campbell’s blogs: http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/Amy_Campbell. You’ll be surprised at what you can eat!

  • artmom36

    I have been in a deep depression lately. I l17ost my dad four years age and haven’t been sleeping. Just recently for some reason I just quit taking my insulin and my meds I just don’t want to take care of myself. I don’t know how to fix it or my attitude. Things are terrible including the fact that my doctor wants to see me because my blood glucose came back at an average of 360. I just don’t want to call her or deal with it.

  • Jan Chait

    Artmom, have you told your doctor about your depression? She may have a medication that can help you. Just as your body doesn’t have enough insulin to keep you blood glucose in range, your brain doesn’ always have enough of the right chemicals to keep depression at bay. Medications can supplement those chemicals. I take them because I’ve been in such a depressed state that I wished I would just go to sleep and never wake up. It isn’t a good feeling and I’m concerned about you. Please push yourself to call your doctor and tell her what’s happening.