Rise again

My mind is going in so many different directions right now. I’m in the middle of some amazing projects, and we’re living life full time while the darkness that clouded my summer has lifted … I don’t know where to start.

Black and white

It’s so worth it to duck your head in the middle of the weakness and fight like hell. I wanted to give up on a number of things this summer, everything felt overwhelming. The looming indecision and all the unknowns, and on top of that, dealing with new health concerns and equipment. I’m not completely out of the woods yet, metaphorically, we have so much more work to do on my book and sifting through emotional baggage and literal baggage – but every day feels simpler than the last.

So much emotional clutter has been lifted.

This summer I started an insulin pump as part of my (type 1) diabetic care plan. This decision was mine, it’s something I researched last year and ultimately wasn’t able to move forward with. But for various reasons this summer I went ahead with it.

However, the day of my install appointment when I arrived at the Hospital, I started sobbing. I was late to my appointment even though I was early to arrive. I couldn’t get control of myself to walk in.

Good news is I made it through the appointment, and in the months that followed, although I couldn’t talk about it without crying, and very few people knew what I was going through, I did get better results with my blood sugar control. I gained confidence, support, and another stripe on my “Jodi can do this” list.

A few weeks ago I was still struggling with this change. There’s a medical device hooked up to me at all times. A part of the identity I was used to was replaced with a new one I haven’t known how to own yet. I branded myself as sick and broken and I tried to crawl my way out of that existence every day, unsuccessfully. Plenty of people with type 1 diabetes live healthy, vibrant lives. They’re athletes, mothers, fathers, and they live long enough to have grandchildren. This can be true for me, also.

A seismic change occurred for me when I opened up about how I was struggling in an online support group. Another member said “Some people don’t make enough serotonin, so they provide it. What if you could look at this through that lens? Your body doesn’t make enough insulin, so you’re providing it. That’s all! You are not broken.”

I am not broken.

I am not broken.

This might seem easy to you, from the outside I can even see how this perspective is attainable and something to grasp for.

The problem isn’t in the symptoms for me. It’s the fact that before I was even diagnosed with type 1 diabetes I felt broken in so many other ways. Why wouldn’t it manifest itself into something physical, chronic and potentially debilitating.

It just became the name for the rest of the pieces of me I couldn’t put back together. And hooking myself up to a pump with tubing that I have to constantly be aware of, sleep with, and an infusion site on my person at all times- was as if I was walking myself to my funeral without telling anyone I had picked the date to die.

I can’t type that without crying.

It was game over for me.

But you guys, I’m still here. I’m not broken. (!!!!!) I can’t tell you how long it’s taken me to believe but how instantaneous it sunk in and changed everything when I finally did.

Hiking in the Catskill Mts

I had a plan for my life, like most of us do, and not one thing has gone according to plan. It’s always changing. And when we finally let go of our plans, we might also finally grasp just how wide open this life can be.

Things feel light these days. Open, happy, simple. Not without overwhelm or struggle. Definitely not without reality. Just, free.

We can do hard things. We can climb the mountain of disappointment or dreams that have died – and when we reach the summit – may our breath be taken away by the view. Something so completely different than we could have ever imagined.

The place of next steps. One at a time.

We can keep going.

With a great cloud of witnesses

I ran a 5K Thanksgiving weekend. Mostly. I walked some, but I finished running.

A photo posted by schaapy (@schaapy) on

We’ve discussed this here before, but not for a while: I’m type 1 diabetic. This all happened 4ish years ago when the honeymoon stage was over and I no longer could keep what was inevitable at bay with diet. It was shocking and I mourned what “could have been” without a chronic illness for a long time.

I refused to go to my doctors, I made every excuse in the book as to why I didn’t need to go to my dietician. I wasn’t interested in what my diabetic educator had to say. And when I finally did go and I was the only Type 1 in the room and my story to my diagnosis is what everyone likes to call “rare” or “unusual” … I felt rabid injustice rise up and I finally understood why my mental health was so important to all these professionals.

I’ve pretty successfully gone through the last 4ish years pretending I’m not diabetic.

Only I am.

I’m a circus animal and my trick is making myself bleed.

BLERG

#Blerg.

I’m not sure if I’m on the other side, I would prefer we not refer to this as “Jodi’s accepted this” because I still 100% reject that I’m diabetic. I know, charades, but let me have this. Out of all of this: let me just have this one thing. Even if you have to let me have it behind your backs. I don’t care.

I’m aware that at the beginning of this it sounded like I was coming to terms with this, and I am. In a Willy Wonka twisty swirl of turns, magic tricks, and oompa loompa’s, kind of way.

But running: at the bottom of all of this is the fact that I’m running. I’m a runner, as an announcement. I have a running buddy and I signed up for another 5K (Dec 21st!) and I have a goal of running the 5/3rd River Bank 10K this year and no, not a marathon. Maybe ever.

And when I tell people that I’m running they’re either all “Sweet! Don’t you love it?” or “WHY?!?!!!!” And I’m all “I’m learning to not suck air and I can finish a race so yea, learning to love it!” along with “Because running feels natural, in all of this poking and prodding and tracking and watching and learning and feeling like I’m dying – running feels like life. It feels free. And like nothing else matters.”

Everything you read about running is kinda true. The part about it being a head game? The struggle is real, you guys. Most days I wake up and the gremlins are winning a nobel prize for their tactics in my head. You tried but you’ll quit, so why keep trying!? You proved to yourself that you could, so now you can quit. You’re not a runner – look at you – you’re slower than a speed walker and can’t do long distances yet. Real runners don’t have to stop and walk in the middle of their run.

Them bitches don’t quit.

But, turns out, neither will I.

Let go, Let's go.                                                 #handlettering #brushlettering #sumiink #watercolorlettering

It’s less than a week away and I’m trying to be proactive about my gremlin issue so if you have nothing to do on Sunday and want to cheer me on, I’m running (with a little walking) the Whoville 5K in Grand Rapids with my mom’s husband, Roger. I think we could both use a high-five.

These boots

Right? Because it’s not how fast we go, or even how far. It’s that we started … and at some point we’ll see the finish line.

Collection of random thoughts

Today there was carpet installed in our upstairs … well, ON the stairs and in the hallway on the kids’ floor. These were the stairs when we bought the house Spring of 2012:

this is my house

progress shots of house May 2012

We tore that shit up and painted the walls. Then I did a fun little DIY on an accent wall:

Progress!

Upstairs pattern wall: Triangles

Today the carpet was installed. And no, no photos yet! Look at me, being photographically lazy. Bloggerwha?!??!??!

Elsewhere in the house – we’ve been busy. Our adorable little kitchen when we bought the house Spring 2012:

progress shots of house May 2012

Notice all that brown? The shingles on the INSIDE of the home? The wood shutters at the window? The scallop-y type trim above the window? The color brown? All the trim on the cabinets? So about that …

So I have a crowbar ... you understand.

He paints, I demo the ugly off the cabinets. Win/Win!

Little by little.

Hahahahaha hahahahaha!!!!!! #dishwasher (new to us) ((yay!!))

We do this now. #homeimporvement #Diy #renovations #kitchen

Again, no more photos. We decided to paint the bottom cabinets a grey/navy. The upper cabinets are stark white for now (it’s what we painted the walls after removing the wall paper) and at this point, we’re just going with the blank canvas until we can decide on a color. It might be bright white forever. I’m ok with that. Currently we’re working on new hinges, the last coat of paint on the upper cabinets, and nailing down our choice for new counter tops (har har) … the Ikea butcher block is winning.

I have all kinds of ideas for closing up the wall in the kitchen to the basement/side door and reopening it from the dining room. (We’ll discuss layout of this house in another post, soon.)

I possibly just had the best idea ever re: kitchen reno and basement access. Possibly.

(Left side is looking at the potential wall to bust open FROM the kitchen: Right side is looking at the potential wall to bust open FROM the dining room)

Turns out there’s hardwood floors underneath the gross laminate floors in the kitchen. You are correct: I am dying to let them breathe.

After countertops we’ll do backsplash. In 4 months. Maybe next year entirely. I maybe, probably, totally can’t stand the disheveled kitchen. Cleaning up plaster dust to make dinner is all kinds of getting old.

As for the basement:

Basement bathroom

The bathroom is done! We have electrical (new fan and refurbished lights) and water. However, done is a relative term. We still need to paint (and patch/sand the walls first). I’ve held off on this entirely because A) I don’t love to paint as much as you might think I do. Evidence would show that I LOVE to paint with how much we do it over here. That is wrong. B) I’m stuck on color C) Paint the ceiling a “color” or go white? That is the question and D) We finally have a shower we can turn around in, the water runs, we get clean … I’d call that a bathroom.

We went crazy and changed around the furniture, got rid of a bunch of clunky-doesn’t-fit-here stuff and now we understand what we need/where we need it. So now we plan, wait, save and take the plunge when we find the diamonds in the rough. A hitch on the van is in our future. Maybe a table saw, too.

Photos galore are on their way of the progress. Hoping the sun shines brighter, the tulips lick the spring air sooner and we all get stupid-happy underneath a blooming tree near the water …

PS: Today I also had a bit of a situation in my journey with diabetes: after a weekend of high blood sugar readings and a possible trip to the hospital for answers, I was able to get in to see my doctor this afternoon. A long, very tough road for me has been controlling my blood sugars as a type 1 without insulin dependence. I fought long and hard to remain independent. My body could no longer do it: today I started my journey with insulin dependence. I thought it would feel like giving up, after being so diligent for so long – and instead, it feels like victory. I lasted this long (almost exactly 5 years) without it. I’d call that one-hellova-win. Best part? It ain’t over.

The one about health

I’ve chronicled my health here for years and at the beginning of 2012 I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

It’s going ok. I know how to keep my blood sugars in check but the hard part is? It’s a daily choice. Every time I put something in my mouth I’m deciding what an hour from now will look like on a little monitor blinking with my blood.

Needless to say I spend an inordinate amount of time on food. Thinking about it, preparing it, planning for it, shopping for it, eating it and saying no to it.

The one about health

I’ve done plenty of self education in this area and I have a team of doctors ranging from Applied Kinesiologists to my Endocrinologist, Dermatologists, my OB and Family doctors. Vision specialist’s … the list goes on. Diabetes is a disease that can and will affect every area of my life.

It already has.

It’s getting easier to answer probing questions that most people just think are part of a conversation, I’m getting used to caring for my body in front of other people. I bring food with me where ever I go, I have to. I always have almonds or dates with me, pistachios are a current favorite – because while keeping my blood sugar LOW is the key – I struggle most with dips below 60 during the day. So, my battle is to keep it UP. To keep it steady. My goal with everything I put in my mouth is to flatline my graph, which will, coincidentally, NOT flatline my life.

The things I’ve learned about myself with this disease, let’s just say there’s more to it than the numbers and the blood draws.

Part of keeping myself healthy is keeping my weight below a certain number but losing weight while constantly monitoring food is kind of a sick joke. It can be done, but the main ingredient to weight loss is fat (also insulin) which I shoot up my bloodstream in a steady pattern of always. It’s not impossible, it’s just harder. I can’t listen to what everyone else believes about how to lose weight and I can understand how being diabetic automatically puts us on a closer watch for an eating disorder.

So, Balance.

I’m really new to this and still have so much to learn about treatments, my own bodies chemistry and how to ask the right questions.

But while I’m learning how to live my life, am I really living it?

The one about health, 2

This has been my challenge. The other-side of a diagnosis is to live your life the fullest you’re able. And I am very able. My vision hasn’t changed in 8 years, my feet heal from wounds, I am otherwise healthy, I have active kids, I like being active.

But.

I often find myself coming up with excuses to not engage in living fully. I’ve crippled myself into thinking I can’t.

How impossible it seems to get to the other-side when I’ve spent my entire life convincing myself that the other side is no different, it doesn’t exist or is worse than the plaintive existence of right now.

This is my obstacle and I’m leaning in to it. I have really bad days where being crippled is the easiest way to escape the work of changing and I have other days, where it seems the path ahead of me was always laid down and all I have to do is take a step …

forward.

Type 1

This morning I had another appointment with my specialist; more blood drawn and more treatments and words and definitions thrown at me. For the past 6 months I’ve been fighting really hard to keep diabetes at bay. Having already been through Gestational Diabetes 4 years ago with my last pregnancy – I was always aware that I could later develop Type 2. But was told that I shouldn’t worry about it, it’s rare.

I didn’t stop monitoring my blood sugar and things never went back to normal. I was able to control my blood glucose and my A1C’s for a very long time, I even went on a very drastic diet (with medical supervision) to lose weight, as that can lead to diabetes as well – AND IT WORKED.

You guys, I did it all. I got lazy some times because I needed a break, yes. But I’ve been fighting and denying and trying really fucking hard to keep myself healthy.

But, actually? I’m Type 1 and from what I heard today, will need insulin for the rest of my life. My body has completely rejected my pancreas. I fucking hate that organ.

This isn’t a death sentence, I know. Although?? It could be, if we don’t get things under control – and no matter how hard I try or how much medication they put me on … it has been out of control for months now. I’m exhausted.

I feel angry and defeated and completely lied to. Except I think I’m the one who’s been lying lately. Afraid, scared.

And all of these things? They could go away completely when I inject myself tonight for the first time with insulin. And it could all be better and I wouldn’t have to worry anymore.

So, I’m ok. For all intents and purposes. I will survive – I’ll even thrive doing it. But it’s raw and fresh and finally has a name and I’m pissed off and scared and hurt.