Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rooting for Jay Cutler

I wanted to write a post about fellow Type 1 Diabetic Jay Cutler and how I was cheering him on this past weekend ironically even before all of the drama that has come out since Sunday's game. I am not really sure the details of what all happened or even what his final injury was, but I know I was disappointed that I was unable to watch him finish the game and lead his team to victory on Sunday.

I was cheering and rooting for Quarterback Jay Cutler this weekend because I really admire his ability to manage his type 1 diabetes as a professional athlete. As much as it would have been awesome to have a Type 1 Diabetic be the QB of the team to win the Super bowl, it is still great for the diabetes community to have Jay Cutler as a role model. I know there are many individuals with Type 1 Diabetes that run marathons, play professional sports, and even go to the Olympics, but with each story of these individuals that I hear and the more time I spend with this disease, the more impressed I am of their accomplishments. As someone who probably has to end a run or workout a bit early at least once a week because my blood sugar is out of wack, I cannot begin to imagine how finely they must have to balance their sugars when they compete. I can just leave the gym early or take a break to have some Gatorade if my sugar is low but these athletes have a lot more riding on their ability to control their sugars. It could mean missing a critical play or losing a race- potentially in front of many many people. It takes a lot of skill and likely a lot of courage too.

For Jay Cutler as a Quarterback, not only is physical performance critical, but there is a lot of thinking and strategy involved too. The fact that low blood sugars can cause you to get very hazy and confused just adds to how impressive it is that Jay Cutler can prepare properly to avoid lows and avoid the effect a low could have on him or his team. I also admire how he balances not wanting to be treated differently because of his diabetes by his teammates or the media while dealing with the fact that he….well is different. It is a hard line to walk. Yes we are different but we don’t necessarily want to be treated as so. For example with my friends, would I ever want them to treat me differently? No, but at the same time I also expect them to understand if I need to bail out early or skip out on things if my sugars are not cooperating.

I give Jay Cutler a lot of credit for dealing with his disease in front the country and media with a positive attitude and for his effort to help kids suffering from diabetes through "The Jay Cutler Foundation". Not only is he a natural role model, but he is using his name recognition to raise awareness and help individuals affected by this disease. To me- this all is enough to make me a lifelong Jay Cutler fan.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nervous About My A1C

As I do every three months, tomorrow morning I will go get my a1c test and tonight I am feeling the same nervousness I feel every time I have my "diabetes check in". For those of you not familiar with what an a1c test is, it is a test that shows your average blood sugar over the past few months and in my mind it is my "diabetes report card". Every three months I experience the same feeling of nerves and worry as I get the blood work done and go to my routine endo appointment for my check up and to hear the results. The test is supposed to be the best indicator of how we are managing our diabetes overall and there are many studies that show the benefit of having low a1cs in terms of reducing various complications. As I sit in the office waiting for my doctor and the results, I try to prepare myself for the chance that it may be higher than I would like. I think of how I will react if the doctor comes back with a number that shows I am "out of control". For example if its over a certain number, will I consider giving up carbs completely to try to get it down? Will I break down in tears and lose it completely right there in the office? Will I be ashamed to tell my mom the results? Will I consider going back on the pump?

I have been very blessed with what I consider pretty good a1c's for the past four years of my diabetic life. In fact they have been so consistent when I was sure they wouldn't be, that I somehow feel like I am destined for higher a1cs eventually as I spend more and more years with the disease. And I feel as though if my "bad" a1c level is going to come at some point, it may be with this next test considering this test will include all of my holiday splurging and the cold/infection I have been fighting on and off since the new year. My sugars have been less than great over the past few weeks with the combination of fevers, sore throats and less trips to the gym. I know this is an enviable part of dealing with the disease and I will try to keep this in mind as I hear my a1c reading next week. As much as getting my a1c results can cause me stress, I also rely on it to "keep me going" in a way. A good result gives me the praise of a job well done for the hours of effort and energy I put into managing my diabetes. Whether the result is good or bad I know I will left with the same disease to deal with and with the same unknown of whether I will develop complications or not. A great a1c is not a guarantee of a complication free life just like less than ideal a1cs do not destine you for bad kidneys, but the results still make me nervous. The result has a crazy combination of feeling like your "diabetes grade" and is very personal like your weight or salary. And for me I think it makes me nervous the most because it represents both my hopes and fears for the future.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Coming up on My 4 Year Anniversary

This month will represent my four year anniversary with diabetes. It was January 29th 2007 when I was diagnosed and for the past few years around this time I seem to think back those first few weeks and months after I was diagnosed. There are certain things that stick in my mind, especially about those few days that will probably forever be cemented into my memory. I can still remember where I was sitting at my desk at work when I heard my primary care doctor utter those horrible words. "We got your blood work back, and it appears you have diabetes". I had no idea what those words even meant at the time. I had no idea that my world was about to turn upside down. I had no idea there were even different types of diabetes. I thought I would be able to take a pill and go about my daily life.

I didn't go to the hospital immediately as most people do when they are first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In fact my family and I were in disbelief about my diagnosis for the time between that phone call and when I visited a diabetes educator for my first of what would be many finger pricking's. We didn't believe it because I didn't feel that sick. Yes, I had lost weight and yes I had been dealing with some stomach issues, but diabetes and possibly having to be admitted to the hospital was not anything I imagined for myself. It wasn't until the over 500 blood sugar reading that that it even began to seem like it could be real. The diabetes educator sent me immediately to the endocrinologist who squeezed me in for an appointment and it was there my fate was sealed and I learned how to inject insulin. My mom and I left that appointment, overwhelmed and still in disbelief, and with what felt like a billion prescriptions that needed to be filled at CVS. Despite some distinct memories, those first few days are a bit of a blur.  Looking back I am amazed I somehow managed to still go to work while going to daily doctor or diabetes education appointments.

The one memory that sticks in my mind the most from those first days was waking up the morning after I was diagnosed and heading downstairs to my kitchen counter to test my blood sugar. As I looked down at the objects that were so foreign to me at the time (a lancet, test strips, needles, insulin), I looked over to my mom and began to cry as I realized this is how I would start my day, every day for the rest of my life. I think I might have broken my mom's heart when I said something along the lines of "I was hoping this would all be a dream".

My mom and I spent weeks just learning about diabetes, reading books, going to classes, while my dining room table was covered with all my new prescriptions and supplies. Those first few days and weeks were tough and certainly life changing but I deeply grateful for all of the support and love I received from my dear family and friends. As I look back on my 4 year anniversary, I realize I have come along way- learning and adjusting but I couldn't have done it without my wonderful family and friends. They got me through it then and four years later- they still get me through it today.