Diabetes Art Day 2011

By Courtney | 3 Rookie Marks »

The opportunity to use the very trash that I create with blood checks, pump changes, and all other things diabetes related to create a work of art excites me and I’m even more excited because we have a day where we get to showcase that art, Diabetes Art Day! Which just happens to be today.  I’m coming out of blogging haiatus just to share my masterpiece! (I think I did the same thing last year.)

As I was making this piece, which has been in my head for almost a year, I had several thoughts.

  • Me being a perfectionist and seeing things in my head and not being able to get them out the way I see them made me wonder if it was that kind of scenario that caused Picasso’s art to go all funky and if that’s why Salvidor Dali’s art was droopy.  Those movements had to start from something, so was it that they had one bad day where the art didn’t come out of their head the way they imagined and BAM! check out this new art revolution.
  • Lee Ann, who was the mastermind behind Diabetes Art Day, is an art therapist.  And I was thinking that if I was actually in art therapy, nothing would ever get created because it takes a year for my idea to perculate in my head and then there’s lots of time waiting for stuff to dry and it’s so meticulous…basically I’d have a session, wait almost a year, and then it’d have to be like a week of nights where the art therapist observed me while I cut and painted and put stuff in the oven and got mad because I did things in the wrong order, frowned because stuff didn’t come out of my head the way I wanted, bled because my art was a hazard to myself, and then smiled because my masterpiece was complete.
  • If my masterpiece was in a museum it would be in a glass case because it’s hazardous.

And now, without further ado, I present to you my grand masterpiece:

Diabetes Art Day 2011

so we have to start slow and be consistent…that’s today’s brick that hit me in the head.

Sometimes we’ll talk with friends about something about us and it won’t fully hit us…but then when we talk about the same thing, but about someone else, and it’s like getting hit in the head with a brick because we realize what we’re talking about is us, ourselves.

This happened to me this morning.  It was a conversation about marathon running and how when we go out to fast we can’t maintain pace and we end up not being able to meet our goals because we lose steam in the end. 

I have a bad habit of doing that in my races, I go out way to fast, get so far, get tired, drag butt to the end, and do worse than a negative split.  I always get told, start slow, and be consistent.  That’s something that really hasn’t set well in my head.  I like to go fast, and I pay for it. 

It’s something that’s not just a trend in my races, but in regular life too.  Last week I was talking with a friend and she said “you get all gung ho, and then you burn out”.  That comment was heard, I maybe even said “I know” and that’s as much thought as was put into it.

But then this morning…talking to another friend, about a different friend, in a similar conversation, I went “OMG, I just had this same convo with friend x and it was about me”.

Far too often, in so much that I do, I get told, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  I know the difference, I’ve run sprints, and I’ve run a marathon.  I have a personality that says “I want it now” and I’ll admit, if I can’t have it now, I often don’t head towards it, I change directions and head for something I can obtain quickly…we’ll call it instant gratification.

A highlight of this happening, when I attempt to get back on track with the mess I’ve made of my diabetes, when it doesn’t immediately behave the way I think it should, I lose hope, get angry and quit.  When I’m on track and something throws it off, like last week when I was so high that the meter read HIGH for 5 hours and then I spent 4 days in the 350s and was taking ungodly amounts of insulin, I lose hope and get angry (didn’t quit) but wanted to give up.

An example of going out to fast and then burning out is me saying, ok, I’m going to take care of myself and then I decide I’m going to check my blood 8-10 times a day, take insulin, count my carbs with precision, and log all my numbers.  I burn out so quickly when I do that, and then I quit.

When I sprint, I rarely reach my destination, because almost nothing in life is a sprint, it’s all a marathon, it’s all something that we need to take the time to get to, we need to start slow, be consistent in what we’re doing, build ourselves up, and then perservere and not give up.  We can’t quit and we can’t take shortcuts because we’re just not going to get where we’re headed if we do it that way.  We can’t go in all head first and expect things to work out as though we’ve been at it for years and years.  When we run into an obstacle (when we hit a “wall” for all the runners reading this) we have to remember our end goal, push aside the negative thoughts in our mind, and press on.  Those obstacles/challenges are stepping stones, they exist to make us stronger, help us push harder and farther; we can’t do what so often I do, and that’s see the obstacle and turn hind tail and run the other direction towards something different, better, easier.

This isn’t something new to me, it’s something that’s always been known…I’ve just never really taken the time to think about it or apply it.  I guess I’m now in a better, more open place to receive things and they’re starting to hit me in a way they never did before…I’m gaining revelations to accompany my knowledge :)

When I’m taking care of myself I’m very sensitive to the symptoms of high and low blood sugars.  When I’m taking care of myself and my blood sugars are within my range, lows take me for a trip and anything above 180 gives me a stomach ache that has me hurting.

It’s on days where I have high blood sguars that make me sick to my stomach that I wonder how…how I made it a year when I was younger with regularly high blood sugars and not taking insulin.  It makes me wonder how, this past year, I made it several months with regularly high blood sugars and not taking insulin. 

This morning I woke up with a blood sugar of 308.  I had sorely miscalculated my carbs for a late night meal last night and when I went to bed  with a blood sugar of 306.  I didn’t properly correct for that blood sugar because I wanted to be a little higher this morning for my run.  What I didn’t expect was that my miscalculation was so far off and that my undercut correction would do nothing.  I woke up with a stomach ache.

This blood sugar and the fierce stomach ache that came with it make me wonder how I can handle those times where I’m an active diabulimic.  Diabulimia is being in a constant state of high blood sugars due to not taking insulin (for reasons I’m not going to discuss that here at this time).  It amazes me how when I’m taking care or moving into a place of taking care of myself that the high blood sugars and stomach aches and nausea/vomiting will move me into a place of needing to take insulin to fix the problem the way a heroin addict needs to shoot up to curb their craving and yet that need isn’t there when I’m completely not taking care of my diabetes.

As I sit here and think about this, I don’t understand how I’m missing that piece when I’m off track the way I was…where were the stomach aches, was I so immune to them the way we get immune to low blood sugars when they’re happening constantly…an insistivity…it’s just so crazy to me…I was so miserable this morning…I didn’t even want my daily chai latte or breakfast!  And I eat a good breakfast daily these days!  Where is that same feeling when we go off track??? 

And the bigger question, how the heck do I deal with the constant highs when 1 high today made me so miserable???

The thought of the day…how the heck…

We make goals and plans and we have intentions, but unless we figure out how we’re going to make it happen, it’s not going to happen. At least, that’s been my experience. I can say that I want to do something, but wanting to do something doesn’t make it happen. It’s just there as a want and I want to do a lot of things…a whole lot!

I want to be in shape, I’d like a 6 pack that isn’t buried by dormant muscle. I’d like to be able to swim without swimming out of breath. I’d like to run faster and farther. I’d really like for the work I put into trying to control my blood sugars actually work. I’d really like to fit into my size 7 jeans by being healthy, not by not taking insulin just because it keeps the weight off.

These are just some high level wants that are at the forefront of my brain. But they’re just that, they’re wants. They’re wants that I’ve almost always had in the past 10 years at some point, but I’ve never worked for them. They never truly grew beyond a want.

Now, I know what it’s going to take to get where I want to be, it takes consistency. Consistency is something that I’ve regularly struggle with. I don’t didn’t get up at the same time daily. I don’t didn’t go to the bed at the same time nightly. I don’t didn’t train on any kind of schedule or plan. I don’t wasn’t check my blood regularly. I don’t wasn’t eating with any kind of system. Everything was completely off, if I could avoid routine/consistency/schedules, I was doing it. I was my own wind blowing myself around in whichever direction I the wind wanted to blow.

That’s kindof been the story of my life, unless it was forced, I was avoiding it at all costs. Why would anyone want to live on a schedule or do the same thing every day was my thought process. This mentality, was like a disease that rotting me. Affecting everything that I was doing (this is a recent discovery). And I know it was a rebellious spirit and I blame that on diabetes and it pushing me into this robotic life where everything was controlled in 2 hour increments…That’s not a scheudule I want to live on either…I digress.

With recently wanting to get things in order and keep them in order, I had to figure out *HOW* to get where I wanted to be. The want to get there was no longer enough…

I have found something that works, and actually, it’s something that works for most anyone if we just accept it for what it is and don’t fight it…ACCOUNTABILITY!  I hate being accountable but I thrive under accountability. There’s something to be said about both being accountable and holding someone accountable.

An accountability system has been established that is working for me and has been working for me now for almost 3 weeks, and it’s a bit extreme, but like I said, we’ve got to find what works, then stick to it.   

This system is specifically linked to me working out and staying in shape…I’m not a morning person, I enjoy staying in my nice warm bed until late hours of the morning or early hours of the afternoon.  The alarm clock fades into my dreams and I may or may not wake up to it, there are times where more often than not it becomes part of my dream and I don’t wake up.  This is not conducive to the early morning get up and go to the gym mentality.  It’s not enough to know that there is someone I need to go meet at the gym to work out with, half the time it’s not enough for me to get up and go running or cycling early on a Saturday morning.

There is an epic accountability in having to wake up and go pick up my workout partner.  There’s a knowledge that if I don’t show up at her house, she won’t mind sleeping in, but I’ll hear about it later, and there’s also a guilt that comes with me not waking up to go get her and head to the gym.  The two of us hate the early mornings, but as I said the other day, I never regret when I get up and go workout but I do regret when I don’t.  Once I’m out of bed and I’ve worked out, I’m good to go.  This system works for us, and it’s what we’re sticking too.  We’re establishing a lifestyle that works for us right now, and since it works, there’s no sense in changing it. 

I know what I want:

I want to be in shape, I’d like a 6 pack that isn’t buried by dormant muscle. I’d like to be able to swim without swimming out of breath. I’d like to run faster and farther. I’d really like for the work I put into trying to control my blood sugars actually work. I’d really like to fit into my size 7 jeans by being healthy, not by not taking insulin just because it keeps the weight off.

And I’ve figured out how to get there.  I’ve also established that it works, and now, I’ve just got to stick to it.

but I always regret it when I don’t…

I’ve been talking about having fallin into the pit of despair and climbing back out again, and it’s a yearly thing that I’m working on halting this year. One of the things that happens when I fall into this pit is whatever I’ve worked to gain athletically, I lose because I stop doing whatever I was doing, be it running, cycling, or swimming.

Every year, I have to start all over…because I’m stupid. (A smart person keeps working out because they know it’s easier to maintain than to build back up.)

Two weeks ago I got an unexpected txt from a friend that wanted to go to the gym and go swimming. I didn’t think of them as a gym person or a swimmer, but I got excited…that night at 9pm, I renewed the gym membership that I hadn’t used in over 2 years and when I did have it I think I maybe used it twice.

Ever since then, we’ve been getting up early, we either go to the gym and swim or do the stair stepper or we go running on the local river trail.

I hate 5am, I hate 4:30am more…we won’t even talk about 4am…

But here’s what I know, once I’m up and out the door, I’m ok. If I get out of bed when that alarm goes off, I’m going to be good. It’s the best thing in the world for me. I never regret getting out of bed, even if I have an attitude when I do get out. My day always turns out better having gone to the gym or for a run or a ride.

But if I don’t get out of bed, I regret it. Big time. Wednesday was one of those times. I was supposed to be up at 4 and at the gym at 4:30 to swim with a different friend, not my usual gym partner. I woke up at 5:56 and the day went down hill from there. For both me and my usual gym partner (who I had excused from waking up way early early to swim with me and other friend). The day was just completely rotten from the moment I did get out of bed (8:10) till my work day ended.

The consequences of not regularly exercising be it at the gym or cycling or running go beyond the general “having a bad day”. It affects everything…my blood sugars, my mood, let’s talk about my mood for a moment, exercise produces endorphins, endorphins make people happy, and happy people don’t kill people (Legally Blonde reference), not that I’ve ever killed a person, but I get into a mood where I’d like it if all people that were annoying me that day would die. I’m a calmer more happier person when I have a workout thrown into my day. It’s just better for everyone all around if I go to the gym. And it’s exercise, which just in general makes us a healthier people.

The bed is a warm and comfy place and I love nothing more than to be wrapped up in my covers in dream land, but as I’m trying to get my act together and start taking care of myself it’s important that I take the time to do things like start my day right and go to the gym or a run. I never regret it when I do it, but I always regret it when I don’t. (This has never mattered before, but it matters now.)

The Pendulum Swings

By Courtney | No Rookie Marks »

On several occasions I’ve heard it, and it’s true so I can’t deny it. I’m like a pendulum. I’m either far to one side or the other and rarely on middle ground when it comes to diabetes. The swinging has become less often, but the time I spend on the good side is far less than that spent on the bad side.

The way I see it is that the sick reality of diabetes is that it sucks. No matter how I spin it, it sucks. Blood checking, counting carbs, taking insulin, logging food and numbers, the general interruption to life…but, it could be worse right??? Of course, that’s what they always tell us, those who aren’t in a position of “our worse”. But I’m going to go with this for a minute…it could be worse.

So let’s just say that I spent 9 days on the good side.


Last Friday I woke up with an attitude, I didn’t want to check my blood, count my carbs, or log anything. This was 9 days into my changed attitude that I needed to stop camping next to death and start taking care of myself. I got up, checked my blood, ate, and went to the gym to swim (I did this because I had an accountability partner and while I would’ve gotten a comment about not getting up and getting her and going to the gym, she wouldn’t have been so sad if I had let her sleep in)…I was good up to this point…and then after the gym, I had a screw it attitude and was like minded in my actions.

Ok, that’s the bad side…

But then here’s a good side thought…

What kind of life am I living that I have to do all this stuff to live…well, I’m living, I’m alive, I get to wake up in the mornings and go to the gym, because I’m healthy and doing what I need to do to take care of myself.

But then I spent some time on the bad side…

Friday I at least semi logged. Saturday I didn’t log and my number of checks went down to about half of what I was doing (of course, I didn’t get up until 11:30 so that automatically reduces the numbers of checks I do anyways). Monday I logged all of Sunday’s numbers and Monday’s numbers… Tuesday – Wednesday my checking of the numbers was where it should be but the logging was non-existent.

I don’t know what it is about logging – which does me so much good – helps me identify patterns, see which foods cause me problems, know what time of the day my numbers are all whack – that frustrates me so much. I don’t like to do it on the computer because it’s mindless and doesn’t mean as much to me even though there’s like a million tools for charts and graphs. It just doesn’t take effect like paper does, but the desire to write things down on paper is pretty small too. Maybe because it takes time and effort to actually do it and I don’t want to put down what I’m doing to pick up a pen and write down a few facts…because you know…it’s a distraction…

Middle ground

Today I back logged all my numbers from all the days I didn’t log them. And I decided that I need a day where I don’t log. Like when you’re on a diet and you get a cheat meal/day. I need a “don’t log day”…but I made a rule (that will probably be broken because that’s what rules are for)…the rule is that the “don’t log day” can only stay in existence as long as I am checking my blood like I’m supposed to. If the blood check starts slipping the “don’t log day” has to go away.

This is me moving to middle ground. An attempt to slow the swing of the pendulum.

[side note] I think it’s possible I do things backwards, I start too intense and then have to put things in place to stop the burnout…I should try starting slower next time.[/side note]

There are things that athletes know, like, if you decide to take a break from training and racing you’re going to have to rebuild to where you were. You can’t start where you left off, you have to do lower reps, less weight, slower speed, shorter distances and build back up. I’m cool with that part. I haven’t done anything since Oct 28 and I recognize that I have to start back at the beginning…Not a problem.

The part I’m not cool with is the diabetes part and how I can’t just use the algorithm I left off with when it comes to training. How I have to start all over with the diabetes aspect as well. (Nevermind that I’m having to start over with all aspects of diabetes anyhow right now.)

The point here being, before I stopped training I knew exactly what to eat and how much to lower my insulin regardless of the amount or kind of exercise that I was going to be doing…my basal rates are still the same…it should all work the same…that’s a foul assumption on my part apparently because it’s not working…

I know this is another one of those areas where I’m going to have to learn from the idiocy called not taking care of myself…but this is probably one of the more frustrating areas of regaining control of everything…there’s nothing worse than the low blood sugars while working out…except maybe the excrutiatingly high blood sugars…

I’ve got to find my balance again…and it takes forever to get there…but I’ll get there…hopefully sooner rather than later.

The point of being the places we’ve been in life when they’re bad is to learn from them and not repeat them…but I have a bad habit of often repeating the bad places I’ve been with diabetes. I fall into the “I don’t care” place and everything falls apart.

It’s starts with one small little thing that derails me because I get aggrevated and next thing I know I’m in a very BIG bad place with no desire to climb back out because the amount of work to correct the wrong is…well…a lot of work.

I’ve fallen back into the BIG bad place and it’s so bad that my a1c is at 9.1 which the likes of hasn’t been seen since 2006ish. It got very easy to be in a place of not taking insulin, eating whatever I wanted, barely checking blood sugars and watching weight fall off me. At the same time I derailed, I stopped running and cycling. This is always a mistake and I’m well aware of this, I have to keep on track with my exercise because it forces me to keep on track with my blood sugars…bad blood sugars = no exercise…likewise, no exercise = bad blood sugars…

I knew I was in a bad place and I’ve known it for months, but then I just couldn’t pull myself out of it. Then I had the realization that I’m mortal last week and I pulled my act slightly together…enough to start logging my numbers, checking my blood, watching what I eat, and taking insulin.

The fear at that time was, ugh, all the weight is going to pile back on. I hate that part, the putting the weight back on part and in a sense, to be honest, it drove me not wanting to take care of myself. How easy it was to eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight…to even just lose weight. In December I lived on Diet Mountain Dew and Payday bars and cheetos…that was my happy place, not the healthiest of happy places, but it’s where I was.

And now I’m here…having seen my endo Tuesday and being put on diabetes probation…having 6 weeks to pull my act together or be pulled off the pump. Being pulled off the pump and having to go back on shots and prove again that I’m capable of being a responsible person that can responsibly use the equipment that is available for me to use.

The hope is that after the ephiphany I had last week that I don’t end up here again. But it’s rough.

I told my doctor the other day, the more I “control” my diabetes, the more I feel that it controls me, because I’m bound to it, having to check my blood, count carbs, write things down, take insulin. It drives me nuts and puts me in an unhappy place. It interferes with all I want to do because it’s an inconvience. I hate having to stop what I’m doing in order to do what I have to do. I just so badly want to be free of it, but even there, there’s a diminishing hope. But then there’s the flip side of how I can’t do all I want to do if I don’t take care of it either. So it’s a constant internal struggle, go do the things I want to do and take diabetes with me or don’t do them at all and don’t take diabetes anywhere either…neither are quite satisfying and I’ll get into places where I’m doing what I want to be doing and diabetes is there but then there’s the times where life gets dark and happiness gets lost…and I destroy everything that I’ve worked for by not taking care of diabetes.

I also told my endo my ephiphany and she didn’t realize that I didn’t think I was mortal…she didn’t realize that I was playing with my life as though I was immortal. I also told her that I understand that there’s no perfection in diabetes and that I can’t make it perfect no matter what I do, that even with counting every carb exactly and regularly checking my blood and taking insulin that things are still going to get off track. Like right now, with logging, my blood sugars are great until I wake up and then my blood sugars soar…it’s not a time thing, I can wake up at different times daily and within 40 minutes of waking up my blood sugars are rising. This is one of those places where a schedule and consistency are required, but I hate that too…

Again, the more I control diabetes, the more I feel it controls me.

It’s just all so frustrating…but then, I went on to tell my endo that I understand now that this is a lifestyle…that it’s not going anywhere…that I can’t treat it like people treat a diet and yo-yo with it. I have to be consistent…*sigh* how I hate consistency.

I said a lot of things that my doc never thought she’d hear out of me. It’s been almost 20 years with this disease and only now am I to a point where I’m realizing that I’m mortal and if I want to live long I’m going to have to take care of myself with a seriousness that I’ve never had before.

This has to be the year where I don’t crumble and fall. This will be the year where I establish my lifestyle not because I have to, but because I want to live long…it’s become a reality now, I don’t want to be the first of all my friends to go because I didn’t do my due diligence in taking care of this damn disease. I don’t want to get to a place in life where I finally have all that I want but then there’s the regret that I destroyed the longevity of it by not taking care of myself.

I want to be able to sit and write about all I have accomplished with this disease instead of letting it tear me apart mentally, physically and emotionally because I can’t deal with the realness of it and all its side effects and ending with me just giving up.

It’s a lot to take in…but I have to start heading in the right direction with all of this…I don’t want to be the next dead diabetic.

I was talking with a friend last night, who made a comment that made me think deeper than I’ve ever thought on this subject before.

She said “would you please take care of yourself, I don’t want you to die”

My immediate thought was “I won’t die”.

This morning it made me realize that I take for granted the fact that God has saved me so many times.

It used to be that I’d yell at him for not putting me out of my misery because there were so many opportunities for Him to take me home because of my antics with diabetes. Now I have the default attitude that the next time I end up in ICU hanging onto life by a thread that I’ll come out alive. Because of that attitude, I don’t even care anymore about taking care of my diabetes at any level that would be appropriate to keep me healthy and alive…that half assing it is ok.

This morning I realized that the next time I end up in ICU because of stupidity where diabetes is concerned I may not come out alive. That toying with diabetes care is like playing russian roulette with my life; and that the next time I decide that diabetes isn’t worth having and therefore isn’t worth taking care of can be the bullet in the gun.

It was a deep thought. The mentality I had basically said “i’m invincible” and the reality is that I’m mortal and I have to behave like I’m mortal.

I’m not going to sit here and write now that because I had this ephiphany that I’m going to take emmaculate care of my diabetes…but at a minimum, it kindof put things into perspective.

What started as good intentions to complete #Reverb10 quickly melted away with my over 300 hour work month called December. That being said, there were a lot of good prompts for Reverb10 and I want to complete it, so I’m picking up where I left off.

#Reverb10 – December 9 Prompt – Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Karen Walrond)

I don’t think I attended any parties in 2010, but that’s ok, because I attended other events that were far better than a party. I went to 3 Tour de Cures. My favorite, and really the highlight of my year this year was the Tucson Tour de Cure.

I met so many people and I connected in a different way this year, I don’t know what it was, but it was different. There’s something about leaving that tour, friending people on facebook, still being in contact with them 9 months later, and knowing that if I ever go back to Tucson, I have places to stay.

In reality, it’s those kinds of events that I look forward to, not a “party” persay. Actually, it really is a party. I guess it all depends on how you define party. All you need are people and food and a common interest and that’s all there when I go to a Tour de Cure.

We dress up in our spandex shorts and colorful jerseys and we take our party out on the road. We mingle in groups and talk about what got us into cycling and more specifically why we’re riding in the Tour de Cure. We meet new people with similar interests as ours but with completely different back stories. We stop for food and drink and then we continue riding. When it’s all said and done, we gather over a meal and we get to tell the stories of the group we were with.