“If you can’t get out of it, get into it!”
I wrote last week about my diabetes burnout, which had been dragging on for a few years. After a surprisingly simple intervention by my 7 year old daughter, I’ve been taking proper care of myself ever since. I needed a few things to get me back on track: to talk to people who could help me, set short term goals, work out how to hold myself accountable, understand my diabetes better and take action. This is what I did to get out of my diabetes slump…
Admitting out loud that things weren’t going well was the first step. This happened unexpectedly during a professional coaching session on a “wheel of life” exercise where you have to rate how satisfied you are in each area of your life. I scored myself low on “health” and when I was asked why it all came flooding out. Is it because I was in a safe non judgmental space? Interesting that this conversation never happened in a doctor’s office.
Next was talking to my husband and kids. I told them that day at dinner that I hadn’t been taking care of myself as well as I should and that I needed their help and reminders to make sure my blood glucose testing kit was always at the table when we ate together.
My first goal was a simple one – to make sure that I always test my BGs at least 4 times a day as this was a habit I had found really difficult to stick to consistently. But my problem with this goal was that nobody would know whether I was achieving this except me and my pump. When you have long periods between hospital insulin pump clinics the pump isn’t being downloaded and checked by anyone else either so it’s just you and your willpower and in the past I’ve found that hard to muster.
I realised that I needed to feel accountable to someone (or something) else to do this, and to make it easier for my family to know whether I was testing that didn’t rely on them asking me all the time. I had an idea. I asked my 7 year old daughter to make me a sticker chart. I stuck it on the fridge and started using it the next day. It was instantly effective. My family were supporting me, I wanted to fill up the chart and everyone could see whether I was doing it or not. I didn’t want to let my kids down.
I only needed to fill in half the chart before I got back into the habit of frequent and regular BG testing (averaging 6 times a day actually) and didn’t need the sticker incentive anymore – but I left it on the fridge anyway as a reminder of my turning point.
Getting on top of my diabetes again
Once I started focusing on my diabetes again I started to reassess all aspects of my routine. As well as more BG testing I…
started uploading my pump and BG data and studied the charts
went back to basics with carb counting, stopped guessing, got my scales out again and started using the Nutracheck app (which I find really useful)
experimented with timing of exercise vs bolus to avoid lows when walking my dog
became more thoughtful about my carb intake before bed
moved my pump cannula from my lower back to my tummy to see if it would improve my insulin sensitivity
re-engaged with the diabetes online community as a reader and podcast listener
bought a Fitbit to track my activity levels and compare with my pump/BG data
But one of the biggest changes? I have consciously stopped attempting to hide my diabetes management from others and I’m now talking about it much more openly. That means testing BGs in work meetings and dinner parties, explaining what my insulin pump is, explaining what Type 1 Diabetes is, often to people who have known me for years, which seems crazy. It’s made a subtle difference to my mindset because I’m not just viewing it as “my problem” anymore. It’s just part of my daily routine and who I am, not this negative burden. I’ve decided that I can’t get out of it so I’ve got to get into it and that’s so much more positive and empowering. Fingers crossed for my next HbA1c…