This post is in response to the following prompt provided by the WEGO Health National Health Blog Posting Month:
5 things that changed my life. For better? For worse? List 5 things that changed your life as a patient, caregiver, or Health Activist and how.
Eating Disorder & Depression: On the surface, I suppose this looks like one of the things that changed my life for the worse, and in many respects, I’d say that’s true. I didn’t do my health and my body any favors, and I destroyed, maimed, or temporarily soured more than a few relationships along the way because I couldn’t figure out how to manage my mental health. As far as the depression goes, I manage it as proactively as I can, and that seems to keep it from being a disruption to my life. As for the eating disorder, I overcame it, and I’m a better, stronger person for it. I have tremendous faith in my ability to overcome the seemingly impossible, and I have an appreciation for health, both physical and mental, that only those who’ve been down a dark road that has neither of those things, can know.
Insulin Pump: I was on injections for 26 years. I started with a single injection of NPH and Regular before eventually going to two injections a day, to three, to more, to Humulin N and R, to Lantus and R. Finally, in 2004, after having had the pump suggested to me by endocrinologists for several years, I decided to go for it because I thought it could help me better manage my diabetes. I admit the adjustment was a little difficult because pump or no pump, my management left a lot to be desired, but eventually I got to the point where the diabetes was coming together, and I loved my pump. Sometimes it’s a pain to be attached, and site changes are always a chore, but overall, my BG management is better than it’s ever been, and I love the flexibility it affords. I have never regretted the choice to pump insulin.
Carb Counting: When I was a kid, the exchange diet was standard diabetes management protocol, and I was comfortable with it. In my mid 20’s I was introduced at carb counting, but that was a disaster. It made me obsess over what I was eating and how many carbs were in everything, which during a few short months of being eating disorder-free, became my total undoing. Seven years later when I decided I was ready for an insulin pump because I wanted to get my diabetes on the right track, it was time for me to revisit carb counting. I struggled for some time with it, partly because I was still struggling with my eating issues, but eventually I conquered my self-destructive behavior, and found a way to make carb counting work for me. Today, I have a pretty healthy relationship with food considering diabetes makes that nearly impossible. I’ve learned to eat the things I like, both the healthy food and the food that has questionable nutritional value, because I believe in balance, moderation, and not depriving myself of the foods I enjoy. It’s important that I feel like nothing is off-limits, and carb counting offers that for me. It’s a delicate equilibrium, but I’ve achieved it, which has made a world of difference in my physical health and my mental health. Considering how diabetes makes food so complicated, I don’t think I could ask for much more than that.
The DOC: The DOC, before I knew that’s what it was even called, helped save me from myself. Once upon a time, before blogging, TuDiabetes, or Diabetes Daily, I experimented with diabetes groups and listservs, but never really got much from it. In 2004 when I was working with at-risk kids, I made a myspace account to snoop on the activity of the kids on my caseload. I started poking around for myself though, and discovered a discussion group for people with diabetes to connect. When I started using that group, I was still struggling with my eating disorder, but I found I wanted to help people with diabetes more than I wanted to be the person with diabetes who needed help. So I did what I needed to do to defeat my demons in order to be the person I wanted to be: blogger, health activist, and art therapist for people with diabetes. The DOC has been good to me, and I live to return the favor whenever I have the opportunity.
Jason: I wish I could say I got my shit together because I wanted to be healthy for me. I like to think I was at least headed in that direction, but whether or not that’s how things would have gone if I hadn’t met Jason is anyone’s guess. While we were dating, I started to get back on track, but it was a lot of two steps forward, one step back. Once we were married, it became clear that my long held expectations of dying young were not an inevitable fact as I’d always assumed, but a self-fulfilling prophecy that I was going to make happen if I didn’t pull my head out of my ass. Jason and I spent a lot of time talking about my health, my eating disorder, and our future, and he said a lot of things that made me reframe my perspective. I started to understand that by taking care of myself, I was taking care of both of us and nurturing our marriage. To this day, six years free and clear of an eating disorder, I still feel like my motives for getting on track with my diabetes weren’t as pure and noble as I wish they had been. However, I also see that what counts most is that I got on track, I’ve stayed on track, and most importantly, I plan to stick around as long as I can because I love Jason, I love being married to him, and I want to be there for him just like he’s been there for me, ’til death do us part, which is many years from now if I have any say in the matter.