Food on Friday!

Taking a cue from Adam Brown’s recent post, write a post documenting what you eat in a day!  Feel free to add links to recommended recipes/shops/whatever.  Make it an ideal day or a come-as-you-are day – no judgments either way.

This topic reminds me of the “Day on a Plate” column in The Age newspaper. It’s usually has a celebrity’s daily meals, and has things like “Quinoa salad with a side of kale chips and cold pressed juice.” Well, I’m not a rich celebrity – I’m a pretty strapped-for-cash teacher who cooks and eats for one. My day on a plate? I’m going to be honest! My ‘good weeks’ and ‘bad weeks’ below simply mean how I’m feeling – sometimes I’m stressed as hell and eat nothing, sometimes my week is fabulous and I have motivation to spend time making delicious meals.

Breakfast: I usually skip it, because I prioritise sleep over food. I may grab an apple or banana on the way out the door to work. It’s bad I know! I’m just always so tired! My weekend breakfasts are pretty damn delicious though, I’m a big fan of the omelette, avocado smash, or rolled oats!

Lunch: A good week? Usually some sort of sandwich or bean salad with chicken. Bad week? Nothing, or a Cup-Of-Soup

Afternoon tea: Cheese and crackers,  fruit, or whatever is hanging around in the staffroom. Today it was lemon cake, baked by one of my mentors for my birthday! Such a sweetheart.

Dinner: A good week? Pasta bake, meat and veggies, stir fry – whatever I can throw together in less than half an hour? Bad week? Omelette, toast, or whatever my aunt or Mum is cooking. It’s so boring cooking for one!

My diet is pretty boring, so my difficulties with diabetes really lie in stress and exercise – I get stressed and anxious so easily, and my sugars react.

Change

Tell us what you’d most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people’s perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.

Changes – what would I like to see? Many other bloggers have focused on what changes they would like to see diabetes-wide, so I think I’m going to be a little bit selfish and focus on me. What changes do I want? I want my own feelings surrounding my diabetes to change.

Diabetes makes me feel weak. Note the inclusion of one word – it makes me FEEL weak, it doesn’t make me weak. But some days, that feels like the same thing.

I think that five years on I still haven’t really accepted that sometimes, diabetes makes you stop for a little bit. I see dragging myself through the day at 27.3 as weak and inefficient, when I really should give myself a pat on the back for continuing despite feeling like crap. I see asking my students to read silently while I lean against a wall and treat a hypo as lazy and disorganised, when I need to recognise it as doing the best I can under the circumstances. I feel like a child, like I need to be cared for – I am fiercely independent and like to be in control, and diabetes takes that away from me. I can’t control my body, but in my head I still think I can, and so I beat myself up for things that are not even my fault.

This needs to change. I would never say or believe these things about anyone else with diabetes, so why is it ok when it’s about me? I know what to think about diabetes, but often I just can’t make myself think it.

Clean It Out!

Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let’s clear stuff out.  What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you’re mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?

I am the definition of a messy and disorganised scatterbrain, and it definitely extends to my diabetes belongings – I hang onto expired supplies like a person from Hoarders (if you’ve never seen that show, it follows people who are such obsessive collectors that it overwhelms them and they basically die alone surrounded by trash. I’m really not far off it)

I have a diabetes drawer, like most of us do, but mine looks like a medical supply company threw up in it. I have the best of intentions to organise this drawer, but those intentions always fall by the wayside, as there are at least one hundred more things I would rather do than sit on my bedroom floor and sort through diabetes supplies.

What’s in this drawer? Old meters from diagnosis five years ago – never opened, never used, but I hold onto them in case one day all of my working meters suddenly rise up in revolt. I have heaps of test strips, for different meters and my current one, buried under scarves (they share the drawer with my winter woollies). There’s pump sites tangled in tights, and cartridges wedged between socks and hypo supplies.

My drawer isn’t the only victim. My diabetes supplies mark their territory everywhere. If you dare to delve into my trusty black bag, you may risk pricking yourself on rogue lancets or discovering a months old jellybean. I am TERRIBLE. My preparedness for every day involves trusting that I have, at some point, thrown some sugar and a spare inset into my bag.

I need to clean all of this out and start again, get a system going, but it’s overwhelming and I’d rather marathon Mad Men than go through everything I own and extract the diabetes supplies from under, in, or on top of them. Any tips? Who has a system?

Keep it to yourself!

What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself?

Let’s be honest here, I’m not a very private person in general. I’m Generation Y, the internet is my second home and I have no qualms about sharing my experiences. Maybe it’s narcissistic, maybe I’m just being open, but what I choose to share, I share for a reason.

When I write raw and personal posts, I write them so people can relate, or so they can have some sort of idea about what living with diabetes is like. What would be the point of keeping a blog like mine otherwise?  I’m not saying one has to get down and personal every single post, but I think a bit of personal sharing is really valuable in the blogosphere – that one post might make one person feel better, and if it’s done that, your blog has done its job!

HOWEVER

I don’t share with my non diabetic family and friends much, if at all. A lot of the time, family and friends will mention something that they read on my blog but they’ve never heard me talk about. I just don’t like to share the ups and downs of diabetes with those around me in real life – we all know how varied each day can be, living with diabetes, what would happen if I let family and friends into my thought process every single day? Can you imagine getting all of these in SMS form?

6.30am – woke up at 17, why?
6.45am – oh lol guess who pulled out their cannula in the night.
6.50am – I feel so ill, think I’ll skip brekky this morning
9am – 7.2, yeah buddy, back in business
12pm – This focaccia is probably like what, 40g of carbs?
1pm – Why do I need to pee again.
1.45pm – No that focaccia was definitely not 40g, that’s why I need to pee again. 15.4, bummer. Correct.
4pm – I don’t want to test my blood sugar in the middle of this meeting, I wonder if I can make it look like I’m just looking at the handout?
4.02pm – No, that doesn’t work, now I have pinky finger blood all over “Literacy and Learning”. But I’m 5.4, woo.
7pm – I could smash some pasta. I’m even going to weigh this serving,  this carb counting will be so spot on.
9pm – 7.1 BOW DOWN I AM THE DIABETES MASTER
10pm – oh god it’s so cold, I’m so warm in bed and my meter is over in my bag…I’ll just leave it.
10.05pm – but what if I’m low
10.06pm – I’m not low
10.07pm – but what if I am
10.11pm – 6.2. That was so not worth it.

People around me know what they need to, and when I think it’s worth hearing, I’ll share. The thoughts above? They’re just for me. The thoughts I write about on this blog? They’re for everyone – diabetes is an intensely personal but also deeply relatable, and ultimately human, subject. I share what will make a difference, and leave the rest for me.

With diabetes, I can…

This the first blog post for Diabetes Blog Week 2015. I’m a day late in Australian time, but I’m pretty sure it’s still May 11 somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, so I just snuck in!

This topic is asking us “What have you accomplished despite diabetes, or what has diabetes brought into your life?”

I love this question, I find it pretty empowering. I got diabetes at the start of my final year of high school, which was most probably the most inconvenient time ever! Yet in the past five years, despite diabetes, I have kicked butt academically, graduating high school in the top 4% of the state, being offered Honours in both French and Literature, and gaining admission into the first ever Mteach Internship at The University of Melbourne (I’m boasting but let me have it!). I’ve travelled and lived overseas, strategically filling my suitcase with supplies so I have enough room to fill it with shopping on the way back home.

However, what’s more important, is what diabetes has brought into my life. There is no way I would be in the position I am now if it wasn’t for diabetes. Diabetes brought a whole new family into my life – it started with OzDOC, then grew as I started to volunteer, write, and advocate. At the moment, I think my number of friends with diabetes is possibly nearly equal to that of my friends without it, which is amazing. Professionally, it has given me so many opportunities. I have been asked to speak at functions, and was invited to go to the World Diabetes Congress a few years ago as an Australian delegate. Hell, I just got asked to speak in Canberra in a few weeks and I’m still pinching myself. How is this my life? How am I this blessed to be surrounded by such passionate people who want the same things I do?

Diabetes has allowed me to harness my passionate nature (I never go at things halfway, it’s all or nothing in my book) and direct it into something which can actually create change. If I could write and speak to people about diabetes for a living, I would do it. It’s introduced me to a whole new community, who are a special breed of people – I have never met a group of people more passionate, warm, and welcoming than those in diabetes volunteering and advocacy!

It’s a horrible disease, but the people are anything but!

Diabetes Gals!

Diabetes Gals!

A thank you to the commuters of Melbourne

True story. This happened a few months ago, and I just found this sitting in my Notes on my phone. Please excuse the terrible writing, I was hypo while writing!

I’m on a tram,  five minutes past midnight, and my hands start shaking

Oh my god don’t be low. This is not the place pancreas.

Test. I’m 2.9.
Fuck.
I start shuffling through my massive bag, and the two old ladies next to me joke “don’t worry, it’s in there somewhere”
I exhale, smile, and say “I forgot to pack my lollies, I’m diabetic – my blood sugar is quite low”
The girl my age across from me goes “Oh god I think I might have some gum!” and starts rustling through her bag like she’s trying to find something that could explode at any moment. As she rustles, we all continue to chat (and I continue to insist I’m fine), and it turns out the girl my age is a nurse and one of the ladies has a “very dear friend” who also has diabetes – I’m going to call her Betty, because she was English and looked like a Betty.
The nurse (after establishing she had sugar free gum and apologising profusely while I simultaneously told her not to worry) is on her way to night shift in intensive care at the Alfred, and Betty sighs “Oh you must deal with some diabetes there!”, then turns to me, and says “You guys are so strong”. Taken aback, I say “Oh there’s many more serious things in there than my diabetes”, and this lady does something that brings tears to my eyes.
Betty looked at me, touched me on the shoulder and says “It’s a very serious illness love, don’t downplay it, you’re all incredibly strong people for dealing with it “
I don’t know what to say. I open and close my mouth like a confused, shocked, and hypoglycaemic goldfish. I manage a “I love people like you, thank you so much!” just before my three new buddies get up to head down commercial rd – nurse to the Alfred, old ladies to their apartment.
“Are you sure you’ll be ok?”
“I’m sure, I only have 10 minutes until my stop. Thank you so much”
They all give me a smile, and I stumble home 10 minutes later feeling warm and fuzzy – the fuzzy was only partly because of the low blood sugar.
The number 64 may be crowded and never on time, but it’s also full of lovely people.

They’re taking over.

Who is taking over?

The anti-food brigade. The I Quit Sugar brigade.  The paleo brigade. The “gluten is evil” brigade. Every bloody brigade that takes its food philosophy from an uneducated and unqualified celebrity “health expert”.

A google search does not a health expert make.

This way of thinking is taking over the minds of the people that are in my life. A close friend told me she was going off fruit, “because of the sugar”. Someone else told me that gluten is “poisonous”, and that eating dairy “kills you slowly from the inside”. The amount of times I have bitten my tongue when I’m sitting in a  group of people discussing food is huge – the fact that my tongue is still attached speaks volumes of the self control I have exerted.

I leave the room. I change the subject, I sink into myself and focus on my phone – I do everything I can to distance myself from it, but when it’s sneaking through my environment like a particularly noxious fog, it gets harder and harder to ignore.

I just get so FRUSTRATED – they are taking this “knowledge” from people who don’t know what they’re talking about! It irks me more because I have no choice but to know exactly what I’m eating – the only people that are more educated than me about the stuff on my plate are dietitians. I have countless rants with a dietitian friend of mine about this subject – why do people feel the need to ignore years of research into food, which essentially says “everything in moderation”, and instead eat in  a way that is essentially a crash diet? Why would you willingly create a disordered eating pattern for yourself?

Additionally, what is it about these diets that make them want to tell you about the evils of whatever you’re eating? They’re like food missionaries, determined to convert you! Leave me alone, what you put in your mouth is your business, I don’t care.

I want them to take food as food – it is there to nourish you, and to enjoy. I don’t have that choice, I have to know what is in everything to dose myself correctly.

Stop telling me that my apple is full of sugar, or that carbs are bad for me. Stop talking about how fat you are when you weigh 20kgs less than I do, and how fat people are ‘disgusting’. Stop telling me that illnesses can be cured by cutting out sugar. Just stop, take a breath, and choose to eat intuitively and with no analysis.

You have that choice, so make it.