Tag Archives: health

Relief 

Guess who hadn’t had an eye test for three years because she’s scared of anything going in or near her eye?*

This girl.

Guess who has nightmares about waking up and going blind because her first endo told her that it was basically inevitable she’d end up on dialysis with no legs and no sight? 

This girl.

Guess who finally built up the courage to go and get them tested and has PERFECT eyes?!

THIS GIRL! ​

I went today because I was assured this optometrist was good with eye sooks like me – and this is why it’s so important to work with your patients. If I feel judged or patronised, there is no way I’m heading back. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere else, but often I’ll withdraw altogether. Treat your clients as equals, and we’ll be loyal and back every time 👌🏻 

*stop sniggering, I hear you

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Food shamers? Leave my sight.

I’m proud of myself this week.

I stood up to someone who unintentionally food shamed the hell out of me.*

You know the people I’m talking about – they start a cleanse/paleo/vegan diet and all of a sudden your friend who is an accountant/HR manager/lawyer proclaims that they are the fountain of wisdom on all things ‘healthy’. Never mind that this person has not got a condition where they have to know way too much about food (*cough* diabetes), never mind that this new diet they are on will simply result in the weight being gained back because it’s not sustainable, the fact is that they’ve lost weight NOW and want everyone to know about it.

“Oh I couldn’t possibly have that cheese, so fatty, do you know what it does to you?”

I DON’T GIVE A FUCK IT’S DELICIOUS, HAND OVER THE BRIE OR SUFFER.

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I have no time for someone commenting about the food I am eating, unless it is one of two questions.

  1. “Oh my god, that looks so good, could I have the recipe?” Of course!
  2. “Oh my god, that looks so good, could I have some?” No. Especially if I’m eating Rondelé, bitch this cheese is mine.

Seriously, even if it comes from a well intentioned place and you honestly think you are doing the person a favour, say the sentence inside your head, swallow it (just like your herbalife smoothie) and move on. You have no idea about the mindset of the person who you are talking to – a ‘harmless’ comment about the fat content of their yoghurt could send them into a tailspin (I definitely did not cry in my car after someone told me that my yoghurt was fatty, definitely not).

I am ALL for healthy eating, some of my closest friends are dietitians and you should see the spreads we put on (OK, what THEY put on, I eat it and wash up). But healthy eating does not mean denial, or staying away from anything substantial until you whittle yourself down into society’s version of ‘health’. NO. Healthy eating means that you mindfully consider what you are eating, you eat a balanced diet, and sometimes you go out with friends and have fish and chips. You can eat LCHF/vegan/gluten-free without pushing it onto others – I have plenty of diabetes friends who do just that! Nobody wants to be ‘that guy’ at the BBQ that can only talk about his zucchini noodles – like c’mon, there are SO many more interesting topics, have you heard of a series called The Bachelor?

If you have found a way of eating that works for you, that is awesome, and I am happy for you, because goodness knows we all need some stability in this crazy, food-obsessed world of ours. What I do ask you to do, is consider others before talking about your food. I don’t know what it is about these last five years, but food talk seems to have slipped into small talk and it’s making me supremely uncomfortable. Frankly, I’ve had enough.

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Last week I scooted over to my workmate to ask her if she had anything to eat – it was 4.30pm after a long meeting, and I still had 2 hours of marking to do.

“Oh, I have a lollipop!”

“Perfect!”

As I turn around I hear “Oh but they’re so bad for you! No, don’t it eat Georgie”

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She was well intentioned, meant no harm, but after a weekend of family commenting on my dietary choices (let me eat the goddamn sandwich, carbs are not the devil) I had had enough.

“I would appreciate it if you didn’t food shame me, [Name]. My food is my business, I’m an adult, and I’d rather you not comment on it unless it’s something like ‘Yum’!”

It doesn’t sound like much, but I was shaking. I am SICK of people thinking they have a right to tell me what I should eat, and work is my ‘safe place’. Do not invade this last bubble, please.

This person spent the next five minutes saying things like “I’d never heard of food shaming before you…I didn’t mean anything by it…I’m just trying to help’ which is completely understandable. I explained why it affects me, and why it would affect other people. I explained that so many people have issues with food, that it’s safer to only comment if you are asked or invited. I hope some of it got through – they may have left just thinking that I’m some precious, indulgent, easily-offended Gen Y, but at least I know that I won’t have any more comments on my lasagna or salad in the staff room.

Food is more than fuel. Fuel is culture, enjoyment, family, and memories. Food can bring back thoughts, experiences, and people. Every time I dip buttered toast into soup, I can hear my French host grandparents indulgently laughing at “l’australienne” who dipped baguette into her brouillon. “C’est comme ça en Australie? C’est bizarre!”

Our relationship with food is intensely personal – you wouldn’t walk up to my partner and say “Oh, that’s a terrible way to kiss!” – so why comment on something that’s equally as close? Unless you’re invited, keep away from my plate. 

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*Food shaming is linked to body shaming, which I will examine in another blog post further down the line, when I have a fresh story to relate it to (don’t worry, it won’t be long, the d*ckheads of Melbourne love a body shaming insult or two).

The Healthcare Experience

Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What’s your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!

I’m not going to focus on healthcare professionals in this post – you guys do an incredible job, which I could never do. What I think really needs to be talked about is the accessibility of healthcare. Who can access it, and who cannot?

The word ‘accessibility’ covers a lot of ground – how do I travel to my healthcare provider? How do I get my meds? What treatment options are open to me? How do I get the best care? However, the most pertinent aspect for me (and the only one that I really know anything about, due to earning fuck all) is the financial question of accessibility.

Good healthcare should not revolve around your ability to pay. We are so lucky in Australia to have a public healthcare system, however this system is overstretched and under resourced, and I have a terrible feeling that it’s going to remain like that unless people start seeing the gift that is universal healthcare. People wait months to be seen, while those who can afford it skip the queue. This applies to diabetes as well, many people don’t see an educator or endo due to the fact that we can’t spare a couple of hundred dollars! We’re already stretched with paying a couple of hundred per month for diabetes supplies, add on healthcare costs and you’re stuck eating rice and frozen vegies for the next fortnight. I’m lucky enough to still be young enough to count as a ‘dependent’ on my parents private health insurance, even though I haven’t lived at home for years and pay them every month for that insurance. The pump works for me, and I shudder to think of the situation I’d be in if I had no PHI and couldn’t afford to treat my diabetes the way I need to.

I am SO blessed in my healthcare professionals – I see them though a clinic at The Alfred, and it is all bulk billed. My educator is an absolute treasure and I’m hoping to follow her until she retires, but when I want to have kids, I’ll need to see her privately. With the extra BGL supplies needed during a type 1 pregnancy, as well as all the extra scans and checks, will I have the money there and waiting for her?

It blows my mind that governments around the world are trying to rip up universal healthcare systems (I’m looking at you, conservative British and Australian governments!), when we already have a lovely dystopian preview of what a society that dictates care through ability to pay may look like (hi USA!). Healthcare needs to be accessible to EVERYONE, not just those who have the funds.

If I could choose one way to improve healthcare, it would be to mimic the best version of universal healthcare, worldwide. There shouldn’t be a need for organisations that send insulin to people that can’t afford it,and it’s an absolute tragedy that this even exists. However the sad fact is that there are still people living with a lower quality of life, or even dying, simply due to the fact that they can’t afford to manage their diabetes. We need to find a solution, and fast – because every time someone can’t access healthcare, humanity itself becomes a little less human.

 

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.

I feel everything

I feel everything.

I feel the insulin seeping into my body as I press a button on an external organ, pumping in life and stinging as it enters.

I feel the guilt as I calculate a dosage that is over “normal”, over what my pump tells me is “correct”.

I feel the shame and confusion as my weight creeps upwards, despite every effort, and I am told by doctors and specialists to “eat less”, “exercise more”, and “don’t you want to get this under control?”

I feel the shaking of my hands and the wobble in my voice as I breathe in and out, willing myself to just insert the stupid cannula, “get it over and done with and you won’t have to do this again for three more days”.

I feel the sting as another piece of metal pierces my skin, and the dull pain that seems to pulsate through my stomach and hips, as though it’s berating me for doing this to my body yet again.

I feel the bumps and scars on my skin from five years of injections, insets, and infections, red and raised, as though my pancreas has decided to claim its territory on the outskirts of my body, having lost its autonomy on the inside.

I feel the embarrassment as I raise my arms to write a lesson aim, and a student sees an infected pump site on my hip. “Miss, did something bite you?”

I feel the fatigue as I drag myself out of bed at 6am, trying to teach 125 kids how to write after having spent the wee hours of my morning peeing and vomiting, and considering whether I would get more rest if I just slept on the toilet.

I feel the red hot flush of anger as I’m told that I’m not in control. I feel this anger slowly seep through my body like a warm tide, my body turns to syrup, and static noise fills my ears as I’m berated for trying my hardest. What’s the point in trying your hardest when neither your body nor the people around you acknowledge it?

I feel the hope when someone takes my hand and softly says “I know you’re trying, I know that this is all your body will let you do right now”, and the cool tips of their fingers as they squeeze my hand in a promise of solidarity.

I feel the tears roll down my face and my throat tighten, trying to remember those words as I look at yet another “HI” screaming at me from a meter I try to ignore.

I feel the fear, settling in amongst my thoughts like a thick fog in the early hours of the morning, growing ever thicker as another high refuses to budge.

I feel the gnawing sense of dread, praying my body will carry me through, that I will find a way to halt my organs destroying themselves, that I’ll die old and happy, not young, sick, and scared.

When it’s been five years, and nothing seems to be improving, I feel everything. 

Resolutions…sort of.

I’m a Bridget Jones when it comes New Years Resolutions. I firmly believe they should start on the second of January, and I usually break them on the third, with excuses like “it’s still 2013 somewhere. v. good effort.”

So, learning from my past experiences, this year I have decided to set little (a.k.a. achievable) diabetes related goals. No huge ones, like GET YOUR A1C DOWN TO 5.5. Just ones that I’ll be able to tackle slowly.

Resolution One: Stop making up your numbers.
I’m a shocker. I will test before breakfast, then usually not test again, or maybe test once, until dinner. I’m always on the go in the middle of the day, my tester is always buried at the bottom of my massive bag, so I usually have a thought process like “Well I was 8 this morning and I had vegemite toast but it was white bread so I’m probs like 12.” I need to respect my health enough to take 20 seconds to test. The world will not end.

Resolution Two: Remove yourself from food talk and do what is best for you
Low carb, no carb, schmo carb. I’ve spent the past 3 years walking through an environment which is constantly triggering, and to tell the truth I don’t particularly care. I eat like a normal person, and I will continue to just carry on eating a balanced diet. I will not weigh my food, cut out fruit ‘because of all that sugar’ (FFS! Biggest pet peeve right there!) or stay below 50g of carbs a day, because that shit is triggering, and I would rather be healthily rolling through life than end up sick.

Resolution Three: Don’t push yourself through hypos.
This year, I’m not going to say “I’m fine!” while trying to keep it together at 2.7. People know I’m diabetic, it’s not like a low blood sugar is a surprise. Hey, it might even be educational for them to see me not looking 100%…sit down, treat, and just accept that you can’t control your body all the time.

I’m looking forward to this year – I’ve found a great group of people to start up an organisation for diabetics with eating disorders in Australia and New Zealand, I’m in my last year of my undergraduate degree, and I’m much more confident in telling people to f*** right off if they feel the need to comment on my diabetes. Here’s to 2014.

Burning out…

So, uh, sorry for this two month break. I’ve been burnt out.

All kinds of burnt out, but mostly diabetes burnt out.

I go through phases with the ‘betes – I’m either super motivated and my levels are pretty good, or I go into denial and hide in my imaginary hole.

To be honest, I’ve been avoiding my blog, because being active on my blog kind of means that my diabetes is there, and avoiding my blog seems like I’m avoiding my diabetes. It’s stupid and silly, but it’s how I’ve been feeling lately. I’m just over it really, there have been so many sad stories in our community lately, and combined with some of the IDIOTIC comments I have received from people in my life, I have not been up to facing up to diabetes.

BUT here I am! I’ve put my big girl pants on and am going to try and pull myself out of this diabetes funk.

So, what has been happening in my diabetes corner lately?

– The ConnecT1n weekend was held at Melbourne Uni, and I met more amazing young people with type 1. Ash Doss did a great write up of it here , but basically I made more diabetic friends (you can never have enough), learned heaps, got a free t shirt (which I promptly bled all over when doing a tipsy site change, good job me) and had an awesome time. I also felt like a bit of a celeb because Ash and Matt talked, and I totally knew them and the things they were talking about. We successfully recruited one person to OzDoc. Baby steps, baby steps! It was really nice to see people meeting other people with type 1 for the first time, I remember that feeling – it rocked!

– We’re in the middle of (we being the JDRF YLC) creating a kick ass event for JDRF with  at the moment, and guys it is going to be awesome. Get excited.

– I’ve had a lot of stupid comments lately and it’s made me sad. A sports coach, while the younger kids were tucking into some homemade brownies, told me I shouldn’t have any. This coach weighs easily over 120 kgs. EXCUSE ME. I laughed it off and subtly told her to mind her own business, but I was furious. Take your own advice Ms. Coach, how dare you! If I want a brownie I will have my damn brownie, thank you and good night.

– I spotted someone at a 21st on Saturday night with the same pump as me and got really excited. One of my best friends got too excited and drunkenly tried to set me up with this guy, even though he had a girlfriend and I wasn’t crushing on him at all not even a bit. Hilarity ensued. I wanted to talk pumps and diagnosis stories, she wanted me to…take my pump and his pump off, if you know what I mean. (diabetic humour is the best kind of humour)

– On a sadder note, there have been a lot of sad stories in our community which have come to my attention. I recently heard the story of a young man (who will remain anonymous) who died after a night out – came home, gave himself insulin for dinner. The alcohol shot his levels down, he ended up hypo-ing, going into a coma and dying. I’m not going to lie, I heard this story and as soon as I left, sat in my car and cried. I cried for him, for his family, and for the rest of us. So many of us have had near misses, it’s only through sheer luck that I’m still here. If I hadn’t disconnected my pump while it was malfunctioning before passing out and having a seizure (somehow managed to pump a days worth of insulin into my body in 15 seconds, that was fun…) I could have slipped into a coma and Mum would have found me dead the next morning. Diabetes is terrifying, I never forget that because I’m the world’s biggest drama queen but others tend to…

Basically, I’m burnt out as heck, but trying to get back onto the bandwagon. I will be at OZDOC next week, I promise. I just needed some time.

x

Why I’m quitting the gym

We all know exercise is fantastic to control our blood sugars, increase insulin sensitivity etc. which is why I joined the gym in the first place. I thought that seeing money come out of my account every two weeks would motivate my stingy ass to pump some iron. I was running every second day and keeping my BGLs mostly in range, but I thought I could improve.

It HAS been good, I’ve lost 10 kgs since joining (through body pump and spin I’m pretty sure!) and gained a lot of muscle and tone…but I just can’t do it anymore. After my contract runs out in a month I’m done.

I go to a women-only gym, not because I want to avoid men or like the colour pink, but because it was the closest gym to me and had hair straighteners in the changing rooms. I think this was my first mistake though, because it seems as though everyone there – instructors and  clients alike – place a huge emphasis on going to the gym to get conventionally “hot”. The place is plastered with posters of size 8 models dressed in Lorna Jane, with bold slogans blasting “GET FOXY!” or “BIKINI BODY CHALLENGE!”.

Do you want to know how I get a bikini body? I put a bikini on my body. My size 14, thunder thighs, 10E, junk in the trunk body. Fuq da h8ers.

Additionally, the emphasis on diet is really getting to me. I spend every single day of my life counting food – that’s how I treat my diabetes, that’s just how I roll. I’d rather ignore all those numbers as soon as I bolus, but the gym makes food and numbers omnipresent. Instructors talk about how “bad” certain foods are, how many calories we’re burning, and I usually end a class feeling deflated, fat, and super guilty about the pasta I had for lunch before the gym. Why should foods be bad? (Why are bad foods always so extremely delicious? Surely calling sticky date pudding “bad” is a bit of an oxymoron?!) It’s like my Catholic guilt, but instead of feeling guilty about my moral sins I’m feeling guilty about my dietary sins. WHY should I feel guilty about a delicious homemade plate of lasagne?

Essentially, I’m sick of instructors telling me that food is only there to be burnt off.

I’m at the gym to be healthy. I may not conform to society’s version of what healthy should look like, but my doctor says I’m healthy and that’s good enough for me. I have a great a1c, fabulous cholesterol and perfect blood pressure.  I don’t want instructors telling me how to get rid of my flabby arms or massive thighs because you know what? That ain’t going to change. When I was 16, weighed 10kgs less than I do now and danced 10-15 hours a week, I still had huge thighs and an arse the size of a bus.

I don’t like my gym telling me that I’m not healthy just because of my size. My body fat percentage is higher than average, my BMI puts me in the morbidly obese range. On paper I look like the worst diabetic in the world. But in reality – I’m fine. I spent months in recovery trying to stop seeing food as numbers and as the enemy, and although diabetes knocked that around a bit, I’ve still made headway on that. I don’t want the gym undermining my efforts!

I have nurses, doctors and endos talking to me about my body constantly. I don’t need my gym telling me I need to ‘lose more, do more, BE more!’ when the people that know what they’re talking about think I’m fabulous.

“It could be a lot worse”

This is a thought that has been running though my mind a lot the past week.

On Saturday night I ended up in the ER at Sandringham Hospital with a crazy HI blood sugar and extreme nausea, thanks to, we found out, my Roaccutane (acne medication). Apparently the fact that I am now diabetic caused a whole lotta side effects.

I had a bit of a sneaky cry when they told me. Granted, it was 4am on Sunday morning, I had a huge IV in my arm and I had been awake for nearly 24 hours, but I was shattered. Roaccutane was the final hope for getting rid of my horrible acne and diabetes had mucked that up as well. 

However, one thought made me suck it the f*** up and wake up the next morning exhausted but relatively positive. It could be a lot worse.

Usually I hate it when people say that to me. I want to kick them in the face, I know they mean well but it also could be a hell of a lot better! Funnily it’s never the people who also have chronic illnesses or a serious medical condition who say that, it’s always the healthy people. Yet someone said it to me today when we were talking about it (it came up in conversation) , and I didn’t have that reaction. Due to my crazy diabetes weekend. I actually found myself agreeing with her.

I’m not denying that we’re not allowed to throw ourselves a pity party once in a while. That’s what my tumblr is for – to rant and rave about how shit this disease can be and be heard by other diabetics all over the world (and then delete the post when I’m over it). A bit of self pity is good for us, in small doses! 

This girl made me think about my natural response to “It could be worse” and my whole way of thinking about it has been turned onto its head. I really do think that ‘it could be worse” is the key to staying positive. Not so much in the way that people say it to me – “Oh my god shut up you could have cancer!!” – but just keeping perspective on what diabetes is. Yes, it is a shit disease that is a 24/7 job. I’m not going to deny that it sucks. It does. I’ve had people say to me that they’d rather kill themselves than have diabetes (I know, I know, I was speechless too). You can’t pop a couple of pills and be done with it,  you get way too used to injecting and pricking yourself, and you will never look at food in the same way again. It is so much bloody work for only a little bit of your body going wrong.

However I think that maintaining a healthy dose of reality is good for us. We can do whatever we want with diabetes – the only thing that holds us back is our lack of organisation (well, in my case anyway), or institutions not allowing us to do certain jobs (that’s another rant for another day). I’ve backpacked through more than 20 countries, am a high achieving student, work three jobs and spend time volunteering. Diabetes has affected all of these things, but it is the kind of disease that we can USUALLY keep on top of. I ran into trouble overseas because I was too unorganised to bring hypo supplies. I hypoed at work because I forgot to set a temp basal on my pump. Some things we can’t do at the moment, but we’re working on that (driving with a ‘poor control’ hba1c for example – 3 monthly average BGL does not show the level of control accurately, VicRoads are idiots).

Diabetes is unpredictable, that is true, and the hardest thing for me so far has been accepting that my body is not as invincible as I thought it was. I would say that 20% of the time diabetes is a bitch and I can’t control it, and have to run with whatever it has chosen to dish out. The rest of the time however, I can, and that is a lot more than many other people living with a chronic illness can claim. There’s no use dwelling on how much I don’t have, if I could be focusing on the things I do.

 

Striving for perfection

My diabetic educator (a.k.a the best educator in the entire universe) brought up a very interesting point on Friday, about Type 1 diabetics and perfectionism.

Up in level five of Centre Block at the Alfred, I was going through what I had eaten that week and bashing myself up for it, looking at bad blood sugars and bashing myself up for that, and basically looking at all my stats and bashing myself up for everything.

My educator listened, and listened some more, then sat back in her chair and said something along the lines of  ‘See what I told you? Perfectionists!’ to the student sitting in the room with us.

I opened my mouth in protest, but promptly shut it again when I realised that she had got it in one. Despite barely being able to count the number of type one diabetics I know in real life on one hand, I really do think this is a constant theme. Online diabetes forums and communities provide proof of this! Perfectionism. I know I shouldn’t generalise, but I do think we place far too much pressure on ourselves to achieve that ‘perfect’ hba1c, those spot on post meal levels and a perfect range of 5-8.

As my educator said “What came first G? The chicken or the egg? It’s always hard to say whether a Type 1 was like that before diagnosis, or diagnosis made them that way.” I’ve always been a perfectionist. If I’m crap at things, I either work ridiculously hard to get better OR give up completely. In my head it’s better to not even try than to try and fail miserably. This was my logic when I happily failed my year 10 maths exam, and now it’s my logic when it comes to diabetes. Most of my days are hard working days, but there are soem where I wake up with a level in the high teens and I think ‘Fuck it. This day is shot already. Gummi snakes for breakfast it is.”

I think the fact that management of our disease revolves around numbers, graphs and statistics is a bit of a catch 22, for the majority of us who are constantly wanting to do better and aim higher. On one hand, it gives us amazing resources to improve our health and lessen the risk of complications. BUT, and this is what I find most difficult, it can become all consuming. Seeing your daily management in cold hard numbers gives your efforts a concrete element, something to grasp onto. Something to stress about…

I beat myself up when I have a piece of cake, or I get a random 18.4 out of nowhere. I look at that huge spike in my 24hr BGL graph and focus intensely on that angry red line, when really I should be celebrating the other 90% of levels that were IN RANGE!

My aim during Invisible Illness Week (and beyond!) is to cut myself some slack. Honestly, all of us diabetics are bloody brilliant, we self manage a chronic disease 24 hours a day. We are experts in our disease, we try our absolute hardest to keep our bodies healthy, and that should be enough! You can’t try anymore than your hardest can you? 🙂