Just an FYI. This article was written last evening on November 14, the official World Diabetes Day. Instead of staying up until midnight to finish editing and get it published, I took care of myself and went to sleep! This will make more sense as you keep reading...
And yes, I choose the word 'battle' intentionally. Being holistically minded, I've read not to use aggressive words like this when talking about our health. But after 27 years living (surviving!!) with Type 1 diabetes, I think it's okay to use strong words from time to time that exemplify what our daily experience can be like. I know what it feels like to be brought to my knees more times than one and have to dig deep from reserves I didn't even know I had... to find the courage and strength to rise up once more. And have this cycle repeat, again and again. Again and again... Year after year. Yeah, it's not easy (to put it lightly...).
World Diabetes Day... In what is supposed to be a day of celebration, I've been trying to figure out what to share publicly without coming off as too depressing or melancholy. While everyone else in the diabetes online community (DOC) is all smiles and adorned in garments of blue, do I dare share a message that I'm not up for it this year? That I'm having a terrible day? I feel like crap?! That I.... gasp! Am not wearing blue?!
One thing is certain. I knew I couldn't fake it and write what wasn't true. Be a fake cheerleader for something I didn't feel in my heart. So I didn't push myself to be inauthentic and not the real person I work hard to be and share with my blog's Facebook community each and every day. I started writing a post to greet my blog community this morning, but couldn't find the words. Nothing felt right. Yet to omit a post on World Diabetes Day almost feels... sacrilegious!
I put away the few sentences and sentence fragments I had written the remainder of the day. And gave up striving to pull something out of me that just wasn't there. Some ideas about what to write started coming to me as I sat down to eat dinner. Now, after dinner and walking on the treadmill, here I am at it again, 12 hours later. (Yes, us writers are a determined group!). :)
I'm sorry to say that today I am not the super excited World Diabetes Day person like maybe I "should be" or have been other years, so over the top enthusiastic with smiles as big as a child at Christmas. And with pics posted to social media declaring that today is "like a holiday for those of us with diabetes!" with friends dressed in blue at my side.
The truth is that this year wasn't supposed to be like this. I didn't intend to be a scrooge about this important day of recognition and advocacy for us -- something I work hard for the other 364 days a year. I had made special plans to have 8 dear friends with diabetes (and some of their spouses) get together tonight for a World Diabetes Day party at my house! I had a full menu planned that my husband Jaim would grill grass-fed burgers. I would make some kind of healthy gluten free dessert (tapioca pudding? Or maybe apple crisp??). And each of my friends would contribute a healthy side dish of various vegetables to complement the meal and multiple food sensitivities present.
Unfortunately, with health that has not yet reached equilibrium after some unfortunate events the last several months, I made the difficult decision Wednesday evening to cancel the party I had planned for Friday night. Frequently doing whatever I can to not let my health to get in the way or disappoint others, this was an agonizing decision for me. It took several tries to send the email, letting my friends know we would no longer be hosting our planned celebration.
Fortunately a very dear Type 1 friend of mine, knowing the full impact of the ways my health has been challenging me, gently coached me that canceling might be in my best interest. We all know how much work having people over to your house can be! No matter how fun the plans are. Much more energy and effort than I had the energy for this year.
Fairly quickly, my body let me know I made the right decision. The next few nights, requiring 13 hours of sleep and rest before being able to find the energy needed to depart my bed. This was a very strong sign about what my body needs and might currently be able to handle.
It felt uncomfortable today as I spent time on Facebook in the diabetes online community, not to be posting about World Diabetes Day when everything in my newsfeed seemed like every person with diabetes was in blue celebrating. But that is not where I was at for this World Diabetes Day 2014. And I think that's okay. I'm working closely with my holistic care team to get over this temporary health hump.
And I think I am getting there, slowly but surely. I am giving my body the rest it needs. And I am being true to myself. Eating really healthy foods. Putting on hold lots of emails until I have the energy needed to give a heartfelt response (sorry, if this is you). Exercising as my body is able. And doing my utmost best to not forget how far a little patience, faith and positivity go in my healing journey.
And after thinking about it all day, I guess this is my message for you. Whether living with diabetes or another condition or a bunch more... we HAVE to be true to ourselves.
We must honor our body, mind and spirit and be willing to do what is not popular or potentially disappointing to those around us. Hopefully our friends and family will understand and support us in our decisions. If not, we might need to find some new friends and surround ourselves with more compassionate people!
The last thing I wanted was to be alone on World Diabetes Day with no special plans. And instead of celebrating with close friends who share this same path, be downstairs in the basement on this super cold day, walking on the treadmill to take care of my health. Even though it took the entire day (until tonight) to get the energy needed to get on my purple workout shorts for a walk on the treadmill, it is the very thing that will help me keep going on multiple levels (blood sugars, energy level, detoxification, mood...) and assist me in rising above my current stage of depletion..
I may not have posted a cheery pic of myself in my blue... But I am sending out heartfelt wishes of joy and peace. Love. Confidence to follow your own path and heart. To have the freedom to go against what the crowd is doing -- the rest of DOC is doing... To risk letting down your friends and peers with diabetes.
One thing I do know this World Diabetes Day is I'm thankful for each of you. We know this journey is challenging on many levels, but with each other's support, we are able to get up just a little bit quicker when we stumble and know we aren't alone. Laugh together too and so much more. These are things to be grateful for.
This World Diabetes Day I am taking care of me. And not forgetting about those that aren't afforded even a crappy day to live with diabetes or other health conditions because they do not have access to the insulin, supplies and education needed to keep them alive. (see the #insulin4all project on Facebook & Twitter).
Here's hoping next World Diabetes Day will be surrounded by some of my local friends who keep me strong and encouraged on this brave journey we share together. And not alone in my office sitting in my purple workout shorts (that I still haven't taken off yet after my walk...), chewing mint xylitol gum while writing. And about to get ready for bed! (the very place I spent far too long at this World Diabetes Day!) Maybe if I'm lucky, in 2015 a few friends might be willing to resurrect my World Diabetes party idea from this year with a healthy potluck dinner, pictures of all of us in our blue, laughter and fun.
ps. It took a lot of energy and I collapsed in a long nap afterwards, but I attended an amazing local JDRF Type One Nation event today! (the day after World Diabetes Day). Feeling uplifted after such an inspirational event, I got a pic of me in blue anyway... Just one day late! :)
In Peace & Wellness,