Just Another Wednesday: Purposely Practice Gratitude in the Quiet Hum of Life

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My last blog post talked about unleashing your super power, but what about days like today that just don’t seem all that super and you don’t feel particularly powerful? What do you do with the days that just feel kind of…eh?

I woke up this morning still feeling like I could use another hour of sleep and got dressed knowing the gym would have to wait until after I helped at the kids’ school.

Checked my blood sugar, 150, not bad given the goofy antibiotic I am still on for one more day. Took a correction dose and a bit extra in an attempt to get ahead of the infamous “dawn phenomenon” which causes your blood sugars to naturally rise like a rooster on a sunny day. It happens to everyone but you don’t notice it if you are a member of the hard working pancreas club. I got kicked out of that club 12 years ago. I’ve filed my complaint and I still think it was all a big misunderstanding.

We made breakfast, packed lunches, did hair, practiced piano and for the most part made it out the door without anyone accusing their sister of stepping on them, singing too loudly, or sitting in their spot. In fact the girls got ready with enough time to run outside for a few minutes to check their “bridge” held together with “mud glue” and practice a few olympic moves involving the rings on their swing set and a small table. (I learned to stop watching these stunts long ago in order to maintain good heart health).

So we are all in the car, so far so good. High blood sugar pump alarm. As usual my pump alarm waits until I have my coat zipped and my seat belt securely fastened, both of which are on top of my pump. It is not until we are out of the driveway and accelerating that it decides to beep. Seriously, it is like it waits for the precise moment that it would be the most inconvenient and dangerous to go off. “Sorry little buddy, you can beep all you want under there but I can’t do anything until we are in the parking lot.” Perhaps insulin pumps would be a good training device for expectant mothers learning about driving with a hungry infant in the back seat or a potty training toddler.

We made it to school on time without me putting on my drill sergeant hat, and dishing out the order to “Get unbuckled. Open the doors. We have to move people, move, move, move!” Nope, today we rolled into an excellent parking spot and calmly continued our conversation as we leisurely strolled through the parking lot.

Helping at my kids school is really a highlight of my week for so many reasons.

  1. I sit in complete awe and admiration of their teacher. She runs her class like a well oiled machine but does so with such a level of care that the kids are anxious to do their best and try their hardest.
  2. I get to watch my kids interact with their friends and it puts me back in their shoes. Do you remember being so ridiculously comfortable with the kids in your class that you looked at them as an extension of your family? We transferred our kids into this school two weeks before Christmas so they are the new kids on the block with this group of kids. To see the bond they have developed with their buddies and the level of comfort and security they have grown to find in their classroom makes my heart happy.
  3. When I help out on Wednesdays I get to help kiddos with spelling and writing. I get to see all the different writing and thinking styles in the class and see kids who all of a sudden get super fired up about a new idea for a story and guide the ones who are stuck in the mud of writers block. I will be honest I actually find myself applying many of the first grade writing lessons to writing this blog.

Finished up at school , headed over to the YMCA for my Wednesday swim workout. Tested my blood sugar, 362. Well that’s just fantastic. I packed a Larabar in case I needed to raise my sugars before I swam. I guess that can stay in my bag for now. My glucose sensor expired during my classroom time and this, combined with the nasty antibiotic and sitting still for over an hour causes my sugars to rise.

Perhaps not the highlight of my day.

Correction dose taken, water guzzled in a feeble attempt to flush out the high sugar, swimsuit on, time to jump in.

Here is where I must say that most medical professionals would say don’t workout when your sugars are this high. I am not saying they are wrong and that you should follow my lead. I know my body and was fairly certain (maybe like a 7 out of 10 on a certainty scale) that I would be fine.

I got the last available lane and began my swim. I was still tired and raging high sugars were not helping. As usual the stream of conscience began its soundtrack.

“I think I’ll make loaded sweet potatoes for dinner.”

“My swim cap is crushing my ear.”

“Why don’t I feel like writing today and why have I started so many posts but have not been fired up to finish them?”

“I Wonder if my sugars are dropping.”

“What was the name of that one nice lady I used to work with?”

“I’m still tired.”

“I need to return those library books before our trip.”

“I started swimming at 10:34. 34 to 44 is 10, 34 to 54 is 20, 54 to 11:04 is 30, so 11:19 would be 45 minutes and I can stop.” Math whiz I am most certainly not.

“I bet my sugars are dropping, but I still feel ok. But if something did happen, which lifeguard here today would I want to come save me?” “That’s horrible! Knock it off with that kind of talk!”

“Ann. That was her name. Victory!”

This banter continues until finally, I see that I have two minutes left and then all the voices in my head join together and insist that I push hard and finish strong, and I do and it feels fantastic because I finished another pool workout and the lifeguards didn’t have to scoop me off the bottom of the pool.

If you think that any of the above dialog is exaggerated you need to talk with my husband who will attest to this being a mild version of the chattering in my noggin.

Checked my sugars after my swim, 107. Bit of a fast drop and I still have insulin on board so I know enough to eat something. Larabar, you’re up! It’s my first time trying the Carrot Cake flavor and I am pretty sure this flavor has found its place in the winner’s circle. So delicious, but I need to restrain myself from eating the whole thing for fear my blood sugars will spike before eating lunch.

Next up allergy shot. Not thrilling but I am thankful that after two weeks of my arm swelling, turning a radiant shade of red and serving as a mobile heat source, we have resolved the problem and this past week I had no reaction.

Now comes one of my favorite times of the day…Lunch! I walk into my peaceful house to be greeted by my sweet pup who looks adorable with her new haircut and make myslelf a huge salad. Blood sugar, 132 before lunch.

It’s also time for a sensor change, so I recharge the transmitter while I eat and when its charged I put it on. Needle goes in, and…no pain! Wait a few seconds and…no bleeding!! This is a success for me because if there is blood around the sensor filament it will eventually heal and scab which can interfere with your sensor and its readings. The sensor is giving off its signal and my pump is responding. A non-eventful sensor change.

At long last it is time for me to sit down and write. I start working on an idea I started yesterday. I reread it and I am still feeling pretty good about it until I realize that I started writing about one thing, then took a huge detour, and started talking about something totally different. I attempt to bring the two parts together but it all ends up just sounding forced and mechanical. I wander around the internet knowing that I am wasting time and really should be writing.

Finally I give up, put on my coat, hat and mittens (because apparently spring snow storms are allowed in this state), get Fiona on her leash and we head out into the snow/sleet/rain. As usual, I talk to my mom about everything and nothing while walking (this is another favorite part of my day). Blood sugar after my walk, 130 with insulin still on board. Time to eat the rest of my Larabar!

Time to get the girls from school so I get in the car and drive in what has now become a full blown snowstorm. As I walk to the building I hear other moms literally yelling at the sky as snow falls down the back of our necks, our shoes get soaked and our cars become covered in just a few moments. This is lovely. This is Wisconsin.

If you listen closely you can hear these sweet little flowers crying.

Off to the YMCA to work on homework before Maisy’s baton class. Thankfully, soccer practice has been cancelled for the night. Blood sugar at 107.

At long last we reenter our warm, happy little house and it is time for dinner. We are starving and my pump appears to be starving for attention. It starts alarming to let me know I am heading for a low blood sugar. I drink some juice and get back to work on dinner (remember the loaded sweet potatoes?). My pump decides the juice is not cutting it, and alarms again. Drink more juice, go back to cooking. Few minutes later my pump is convinced that I am at a blood sugar of 48 and will not rest until I do something about it.

While I am thankful that I have these alarms, sensor change day is always a bit of a mess. As the new sensor gets rolling it tends to take almost half the day to really get a handle on my blood sugar readings. I test my blood sugar and I am at 81. Not bad, and dinner is almost ready so we are good to go.

How were the loaded sweet potatoes you ask? According to my kids, who have requested them for dinner tomorrow, we have a new favorite recipe to add to the list. It’s so basic it’s laughable and I will share it later this week.

The night ended with us watching a few episodes of the cake battle of Buddy vs Duff on the Food Network, showers, teeth brushing and two little sweeties tucked under their covers.

Now you know what my Wednesday looked like. Thrilling post right? All that time spent thinking of what to write and this is what I finally landed on?

Making an Effort to be Grateful:

I spelled out the monotony of my day to show that somedays it is not about being able to cross giant tasks off your list, having a life changing conversation with someone, or achieving the unachievable. Some days, in fact, most days, are beautifully unremarkable.

As I write down all the things I did today and the blood sugar trail that followed me I realize that while there was not anything that made me spill over with excitement I also realized that today should certainly not be considered nothing.

Everyday we conquer things, and some days they are big things and some days that are little things that we have conquered everyday for many years. We need to give credit to these little conquerings because long ago these were the big things.

Think about the day you brought your baby or babies home from the hospital. After you made it through that first night you likely felt a bit like a superhero. Slowly those nights became a little thing and potty training became your new superpower. I remember the first day my husband went back to work after my mom had left and I sent him a picture of the kids in their bouncy seats with bottles to show him that I found a way to feed them at the same time. It was a huge deal at the time. Now my kids make their own food.

When I think back to the early days of my diagnosis I remember literally covering the kitchen table in supplies every time I took an injection and tested my blood sugar. The first time I had to refill my first pump I was a wreck and Tim was out off town. I remember calling him triumphant that I managed to put all the pieces back in the right spot.

Life has its huge moments, but if you take a closer look these huge moments are really an accumulation of a whole pile of little moments. I couldn’t imagine trying to explain my current insulin pump and sensor to my newly diagnosed self. There is no possible way I would have been able to comprehend the terminology that I have learned over the years, let alone the technology I now have at my fingertips. We accomplish the big things in life only after we have stacked up enough of the little things.

Today was nothing special, in fact I was kind of bummed that I didn’t get that rush I feel when I get lost in writing and the words seem to fall out of my fingers and onto the keys. The weather was certainly in the horrible category and it just seemed like any old day. Days like this likely won’t be remembered when I am talking to my grandkids someday but these are the days I need to practice gratefulness.

I recently read a book that talks about the importance of taking time to look back at the end of the day and think of at least five things to be grateful for. I have not religiously adopted this practice as I am usually exhausted by the end of the day and fall asleep too quickly. Still, this thought process has raised my awareness to the little and big things each day that I am grateful for.

Days like today are a perfect example.

  1. Other than one really crazy high blood sugar, my blood sugars were pretty level.
  2. I got my workout in and finished the full 45 minutes.
  3. I made a dinner that my kids loved.
  4. Regardless of the weather my pup and I got out on our walk.
  5. I have the best kids for so many reasons but today I am grateful for their help getting ready, unloading the dishwasher, and for no bickering all day.

Now that I have started this list I find it hard to stop at five. As I write this post I see that it would take all night to list the things I am grateful for today. My day was not perfect or overly exciting, and it had its fair share of bumps, but in the end it is so important to allow ourselves to celebrate and find joy in our tiny successes. These tiny successes can be used as fuel to reach our next big success. If you are living with a chronic condition or walking through a long journey of any kind, celebrate the boring, the routine, the uneventful. These boring routines were once your unclimbable mountains. We need to be grateful for life’s little lessons and not always blindly seeking our next great superhero moment. Be grateful for today, and mindful of your success.

11:30pm: Blood sugar 152, doggie sleeping next to me on the couch and I finally realized what I needed to write about. Today was a good day.

Diabetic Mama of Twins fueled by my family, working out, eating, dog walking, getting lost in the woods and insulin. Writing to share the journey this Type 1 diagnosis has taken me on since 2007.

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