51

One day this past week I decided to keep track of how many times I think about my blood glucose level.

I was curious about how much of my brain power / time / energy that managing my diabetes takes on a daily basis.

51.

FIFTY-ONE!!!

And this was on a day when my blood glucose levels were actually pretty stable – no wild swings, no shake-inducing lows or nausea-inducing highs.  When that happens, I’m pretty sure the number would be higher than 51.

I knew the number would be significant – I mean, why else would I be curious enough to count the actual number? – but the total kind of surprised me.  Considering I sleep about 7 hours a night – that is three times every hour that I’m thinking about diabetes while I’m awake!!

I have had diabetes for so long (going on 34 years) that it has become second nature to me – analyzing the highs and lows, figuring out how much insulin I need, etc.  But to really see how often I think about it is amazing.  This disease really does take a lot of time and energy to manage.

Considering that, I think I’m just gonna cut myself some slack next time I forget something.  Ha!

 

 

Trim Healthy Mama – How to Get Started

So this post is for those friends and family who’ve asked about my dietary changes… if you’re not one of them you may want to skip!  🙂

One of the things I’ve struggled with for my entire life is my weight.  About 9 years ago I was successful at losing about 40 pounds by counting calories and exercising – the type of weight loss plan recommended for years and years.  I maintained that weight loss for about 3 years (I’d stop counting calories, gain about 10 pounds, then start over again to lose it).  Then I stopped counting calories for good and the weight crept back on.  Honestly, I hated constantly counting calories and spending so much time focusing on my food.  It depressed me to think about having to live that way forever in order to keep the weight off.  I think all that focus actually encouraged an unhealthy relationship with food – I would become obsessed about what I was going to eat next and started a lot of emotional eating when I was stressed or upset.

Last year my nephew was getting married and my sister wanted to have a family weight loss contest.  Perfect motivation.  Around the same time, I started hearing about the book Trim Healthy Mama and because I was altering our family meals so much already trying to eliminate gluten from my son’s diet, I thought I’d try it.

The basics of the plan:  eliminate sugar and processed wheat products, eat every 3 hours, every meal/snack should be based on a protein, and don’t mix fats and carbs.  In other words, each meal/snack will have protein and carbs, or protein and fats.  Easy, right?

Ha ha, I know it doesn’t sound easy, but honestly this is the “easiest” way I’ve been able to lose weight, ever.  It quickly becomes second nature, and even though it’s a huge change to my diet I feel as though I can eat this way the rest of my life!  I’ve lost nearly 35 pounds in 16 months – which isn’t a fast pace for sure, BUT – the other changes have really been more important than the weight loss.  I have more energy.  I am completely satisfied with what I’m eating – I don’t feel at all deprived.  I no longer turn to food for emotional satisfaction (which is HUGE for me).  I don’t have cravings for sugar-laden foods.  My diabetes is under much better control.  And I feel like for the first time I have a healthy relationship with food.

Here is a link to the Trim Healthy Mama website, where you can learn more.  The original Trim Healthy Mama book is huge and there is a ton of great info in it.  (FYI, Just recently they came out with a new, more condensed version).  Ordering the book is highly recommended because at least at first, changing your diet completely can be hard!  The authors of the book go into a lot of detail about why this way of eating works, and as a diabetic it just makes so much sense to me!  They are Christians and their faith is also a part of the story.

Here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Buy a book and READ it.  You can get the original Trim Healthy Mama on the Trim Healthy Mama website or you can get the new Trim Healthy Mama Plan at your favorite online bookstore.
  2. Ask questions!  I’d be happy to answer any, and the THM Beginner facebook page is also a good resource.
  3. Start out simple.  Don’t go crazy buying a bunch of special ingredients you’ve never used before.  Simply try to separate your fats and carbs for a few days.
  4. Look through your well-used recipes or meals and choose those that are THM-friendly or that can be made THM-friendly by either leaving out or substituting ingredients.  You’ll be surprised that many are!  And remember a meal can be as simple as protein, veggies, and if you have kiddos, you can add something for them that you won’t eat.
  5. Know that you may experience some withdrawal symptoms from sugar within the first week.  I had a headache and felt pretty cranky for about 5 days and then it was gone.  And amazingly, with it went all my cravings for sweet stuff.  I couldn’t believe it!!
  6. Once you get used to separating your fats and carbs, then you can branch out and buy some special ingredients to give you some variety.   The first ones I’d recommend – truvia (or some other stevia or erythritol-based sweetener), almond flour, and almond milk.  These are pretty readily available, too.
  7. Know that when you first start using those ingredients you’ve bought, things might not turn out right.  Baking with low carb flours and stevia-based sweeteners is completely different.  My hints:  I always use about 1/3 to 1/2 of the sweetener recommended in a recipe to start out with, then taste before baking and add more if needed.  I also find that the low carb flour recipes that come out the best usually have something in them to add more moisture – like sour cream, zucchini, etc.  Just know there will be a learning curve!!

If it’s something you’d like to look into more, there are a whole bunch of bloggers who have been amazing resources for me.  Here are a few:

Gwen’s Nest – she has a Quick Start Guide which is really helpful when you are just diving in!

Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen – she has some great recipes that my whole family loves

The Coers Family – another site for delicious THM recipes

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!!

 

National Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes kills more Americans every year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.

1 in 13 Americans has it.

1 in 4 don’t know it yet.

 

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. Recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.  Here are the most common symptoms of the disease…

Type 1 Diabetes

(Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.)

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and Irritability

Type 2 Diabetes*

(In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin).

  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections

*Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms

~ from the American Diabetes Association

Raised to Life

I read the following paragraph in my devotional a few days ago.  It is a comment on 1 Corinthians 15:42, “It is the same with the dead who are raised to life.  The body that is “planted” will ruin and decay, but it is raised to a life that cannot be destroyed.”

Often when we are racked with pain and unable to think or worship, we feel that this indeed is “the body of our humiliation,” and when we are tempted by the passions which rise from the flesh we do not think the word “vile” at all too vigorous a translation.  Our bodies humble us: and that is about the best thing they do for us.  Oh, that we were duly lowly, because our bodies ally us with animals and even link us with dust! 

But our Savior, the Lord Jesus, shall change all this.  We shall be fashioned like His own body of glory.  This will take place in all who believe in Jesus.  By faith their souls have been transformed, and their bodies will undergo such a renewal as shall fit them for their regenerated spirits.  How soon this grand transformation will happen we cannot tell; but the thought of it should help us to bear the trials of today and all the woes of the flesh.  In a little while we shall be as Jesus now is.  No more aching brows, no more swollen limbs, no more dim eyes, no more fainting hearts.  The old man shall be no more a bundle of infirmities, nor the sick man a mass of agony.  “Like unto his glorious body” [Phil. 3:21].  What an expression!  Even our flesh shall rest in hope of such a resurrection!

~ Charles Spurgeon in All of Grace

It hit me that I have never before thought of eternal life as me being without diabetes.  I suppose I have had it for so long-  it is such a part of who I am- that I’ve never even harbored a thought of never having it!  I have thought of heaven often enough – eternal life with Jesus with no pain or suffering.  But I have never made the connection of no more diabetes!!

But now I’m starting to think about it.  May I dare add to Charles Spurgeon’s “no more aching brows…” – no more trial and error for controlling blood glucose, no more finger sticks, no more blood draws, no more carb counting, no more guilt after indulging in sweets, no more second-guessing control decisions, no more pump, no more insulin, no more doctor visits, no more analyzing results, no more thoughts of early death hanging out in the back of my mind, no more worrying about my kids getting diabetes, no more, no more, no more

It’s hard for me to even imagine!  Living with diabetes IS how I live my life.  I don’t remember living without it. 

But eternal life in heaven WILL be living without diabetes and all it entails.  Wow.  I can honestly say in this moment that it makes heaven sound all the more wonderful to me.  Come, Lord Jesus.

To Bake, or Not To Bake

I totally have a love-hate relationship with baking.

Baking is in my blood.  I have sweet memories (ha – get it?  “sweet”?) of my mom’s baking as a kid.  A warm and inviting kitchen, my mom & sisters & I working together, baking yummy stuff.  Have I mentioned that my mom is an awesome cook / baker?

Baking = love = family = togetherness = deliciousness.

And that carries over into my life today.  I love trying new recipes.  I love to make foods that my kids will enjoy. 

But I have diabetes.  And I could stand to lose a few pounds (umm, that may be an understatement of the facts.  But nevermind.)  And my kids and husband don’t really need a whole lot of extra calories, either.

Soooo, I hate baking, too.

It’s so tough when your brain associates making yummy stuff for people with a way to show your love to them.  I know there are other ways, but I do really enjoy baking.  And I love eating.  Therein lies the problem!  It’s hard for me to bake without trying some!  So lately I’ve been trying to cut back on the baking (both for my health and my family’s health) or bake only when I’ve got others to share the results with!

(I know I have a couple of diabetic friends out there who read this- does any of this make any sense to you??? )

Anyways… I wanted to share with you an article I found that gives some tips for healthier baking.  I think the tips are really useful and practical.  Hopefully you might get something out of it, too!

Here you go…

http://www.diabeteshealth.com/read/2010/01/26/6538/ten-tips-for-baking-wisely-/

~ knowing what I didn’t want to know ~

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged.  For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged.  For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

How ironic that this verse was my kids’ memory verse for church last weekend and we repeated it over and over on the way to church (yes, we are procrastinators!). 

The following day, I got a call from the TrialNet coordinator and I learned some info that earlier in the month I had been wondering, Do I Really Want to Know?  I had ended that post with the same verse – Joshua 1:9.  It IS ironic.  But it’s not a coincidence.

Jesus assured us in Matthew that the Holy Spirit would be with us, reminding us of all God has said to us.  (John 14:26  “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”)
The Holy Spirit has obviously been whispering to me!

What I found out is that my oldest child has elevated levels of one of the three autoantibodies that is tested in Phase 1 of TrialNet – these autoantibodies are used as a screening test for increased risk of Type 1 diabetes.  I have done much reading since then, and as far as I can tell, this translates into her having about a 15% chance of getting diabetes in her lifetime.  (To give you some perspective, a child with no family history of diabetes and no elevated autoantibodies has a 0.2% chance of getting diabetes.)

Honestly I have had a difficult time dealing with this news.  And in a way that surprised me.  I have had diabetes for 26 years.  I knew when I had children that they would have a higher risk.  But this news just made it real to me.

I keep telling myself that things could be worse.  People can live active, healthy lives with diabetes.  This is not a death sentence.  However, I also know the day-in and day-out struggles of living with this disease.  The way the word “complications” and all that it entails is a stark reality that never leaves the back of my mind.  The fact that people with diabetes have a shorter lifespan.  These things are what makes this hard for me.

So what does this mean for us in the short term?  Well, it means another blood draw to confirm the results, probably within the next week or two.  Then if the results are confirmed, she will be included in Phase 2 of the study.  Phase 2 is additional testing (including genetic testing) that will give us a more exact risk of her being diagnosed with diabetes within the next 5 years.

Wouldn’t you know it – she was the only one of the three kids that had trouble with her first blood draw.  It definitely didn’t go well for her.  Blood draws don’t phase me in the least, but she’s not me.  They had to stick her twice and they even had trouble getting enough blood.  It was traumatic.  Would you please pray that the next goes smoothly and for her peace of mind during the testing?

I would also ask you to pray for me as I continue to deal with this news.  Pray that God’s words become my true reality…

learning new patterns…

I’ll admit that I’ve been seeing a counselor over the past few months.  Life felt overwhelming, and I needed to talk about it.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you might remember me saying in this post how I probably should have seen a counselor as a teenager about having diabetes.  Now I’m sure of it.  I’m amazed at some of the things that came out during counseling with regard to having a chronic disease – here now 25 years after being diagnosed.

One of the things we talked about was the fact that when it comes to dealing with my diabetes, if I don’t do the right thing (take my insulin, check my blood sugar levels, eat (mostly) right, get regular physicals) I would die.  The more things I do right, the longer I live.  There’s a direct relationship there.  Wrong actions = death.  Right actions = life.

I’ve realized that I’ve applied this thinking to just about everything in my life.  My counselor says I’m an “awfulist”.  In other words my thinking pattern is that if I don’t do everything right, then the most awful outcome I can think of will happen.

I now recognize that I’ve subconsciously been thinking about my parenting like this.  Let me give you some examples…

If I blow up at my kids… they’ll end up as adults with serious anger problems and feel like I never loved them.  (They’ll also hate me and we won’t have any kind of relationship.)

If I’m not consistent with doing devotions with my kids… they’ll end up rejecting Jesus.

If I don’t keep the house clean… they’ll end up being slobs forever.  🙂

If my kids see me sin… they’ll think it’s ok and start down a wrong path.

All this over-analyzing, the super-high expectations I have of myself, the resulting guilt, and the fear of the future outcomes is exhausting.  It’s also self-defeating.  It makes me feel overwhelmed.  And it makes me feel hopeless… because no matter how hard I try, I can’t be a perfect parent.

But I’m starting to see it’s all not true.  My mind might automatically follow these patterns because of a diagnosis and because of my history… but it doesn’t mean it should.  I’m leaving no room for God’s grace in my life.  I’m not really in control of the future – He is.  I am responsible to follow Him to the best of my ability, and ask for His forgiveness when I fail. 

So I’m not sure how to change my thinking patterns.  But I think just realizing that it’s happening is a start.  Beyond that, I am seeking God’s help and his grace.  And I’m seeking to trust Him for the future.

Romans 12:2  “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”