At 3:21am, I woke up covered in sweat. The feeling was familiar; my blood sugar was low. I reached for my meter to confirm what I already knew. Yep, 48 mg/dl..

But my immediate thought was: I could have prevented this late night low… if I had followed my instincts.

Last night included an evening run, where I was proud to keep my blood sugar between 100 and 140. Afterwards dinner and a before bed reading of 77 mg/dl. Given that there was still some active insulin in me (insulin-on-board, I like that phrase), I knew that I needed to eat 12g of carb. And I did.

But a little voice told me:
“You don’t usually run in the evening… you’re probably going to go low during the night. Maybe you should eat a little extra.”

Since I am really trying to avoid all night highs, I ignored that voice. As I fell asleep, I was even thinking that I should check again– or set an alarm to go off in an hour and check then. But the thought of a full night’s sleep in the midst of our busy lives was too enticing. Second good instinct ignored.

I could have eaten a small snack and woken up during the night to check, but I didn’t want to wake up during the night. So here I sit at 4am very awake and blogging about my night time low… brought on by the fact that I didn’t want to wake up during the night.

I think that it’s time that I start listening to my instincts a little bit more, even when I don’t want to hear what they are telling me!

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In the months before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I had applied for a scholarship that would fund a year of graduate studies abroad through Rotary International. With one year of college to go, I had my eyes, heart and mind set on returning to Hungary (a place that I had grown to love) after college.

All that stood between me and Hungary was an interview to determine if I would be awarded the scholarship. As I was sitting in the hospital bed, learning about my new lifestyle with type 1 diabetes, suddenly a question crossed my mind– can I travel and live abroad with diabetes??

Although after diagnosis, I was generally pretty positive and happy to finally have insulin in my body, this was the most sinking thought. I had been dreaming about living abroad in my twenties and I had lots of ideas about where to go and what to do. What I didn’t know was if I would be forced to give up that dream.

Then, like a good American girl, I remembered that “I can do ANYTHING that I put my mind to”. Then I made a PROMISE to myself (without consulting anyone).

I would NEVER let diabetes hold me back from living my dreams.

That was the deal. And it was somehow easy to make from that hospital bed. When I got home after two and a half days with diabetes, crisis set in and I realized that EVERYTHING had changed. When trying to figure out how much insulin I needed to give for dinner on my first night home, I broke down. I yelled:

“I NEED TO KNOW THAT I CAN LIVE A NORMAL LIFE. I NEED SOMEONE TO CALL ME AND TELL ME THAT I CAN LIVE, TRAVEL, AND DREAM WITH TYPE 1 DIABETES.”

The next morning the phone rang. It was a woman with type 1 diabetes. In fact, it was a woman that I already knew. I just didn’t know that she had diabetes. Even before we met and she taught me so much that I needed to know, I felt a sense of peace. Because this woman is a world traveler who has done amazing things to help people around the world. I calmed down and knew that it would be okay– and that my deal with diabetes was still on.

After I got the news that Rotary would fund a year long experience for me in Hungary, I didn’t think twice about it. I just bought lots of supplies and learned as much as I could before I left. I told my endo that we would only be able to meet a year later. And I left, me and my diabetes, for an adventure of a lifetime.

Long story short, I’m still in Hungary. I learned to manage my diabetes with annual trips to the endo and home A1c tests in between. I had wonderful family that helped me get the supplies that I needed. And I’m thankful that diabetes didn’t prevent me from living the life that I currently live.

Almost five years later, I can say that the deal that I made with diabetes still holds. I have not let diabetes hold me back from living my dreams.

But somehow my understanding of the deal had changed dramatically. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I perceived the situation as:

ME vs. DIABETES

and I didn’t  want diabetes to win. It didn’t, but my control wasn’t great either. So at some point, my perspectives changed. I realized that in order to fulfill many of my dreams, I first need to learn how to live WELL with diabetes. If I take care of myself, then that will give me much better chances at living the life I dream of…

Now how I see the situation as:

ME with DIABETES

and my control is a lot better when I allow diabetes to factor into my decisions. After all it is a part of me and we have a lifelong relationship. “We” might as well work together.