We've all been there: You go to bed with a meticulous agenda set for the next day, everything planned from the earrings that will match your outfit to the very minute you will eat your mid afternoon snack. And then... something comes up. That something is: your blood sugar. Perhaps you have a faulty set and wake up sky high or maybe for whatever reason you're just trending upward and can't seem to bring it down. While we can do our best to plan ahead for many of the critical factors of managing Type 1 diabetes, there are still so many unpredictable highs and lows. So today, I want to talk about how I have learned to adjust my expectations on the fly.
It has taken me a long time to foster this understanding within myself. For most of my life, I believed that the only way to prove that diabetes was not a weakness was by never allowing it to drive my decisions. I was high but it was my friend's birthday? Bolus up and eat cake. I was low at the end of practice, but we were conditioning? Keep running. I'd had a rough night's sleep because my site ripped out? Don't press snooze. Not even once.
When I chose to treat my diabetes like that- with neglect and a turned cheek- it was harder on me. I always operated on the mantra, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" and don't get me wrong, I'm still a tough cookie and I'll face all of life's curve balls with my best foot forward, but to actually create more difficulty for myself? I'm not really into that anymore. I realized I was both pushing my own head under water and trying to keep it above, being both the runner and the blustering wind, filling my gas tank while also creating a leak. I was embodying friction, conflict, and strain.
Something has shifted over the last few months. It's not that I've become lazy or unmotivated or decided that I am a victim of diabetes after all. No, it's something else. I am not ignoring my diabetes anymore, and instead, choosing to let it in with open arms. In future posts, I'll be writing more about this change and how it's come about. But for today, I want to focus on what I am doing differently on the days when diabetes has plans that conflict with mine.
1/ I adjust my day when necessary. This looks different depending on what I have going on, but essentially, I lower my expectations of myself to reflect what I am physically feeling capable of. Maybe that means extra sleep instead of an early morning workout. Maybe that means a midday walk instead of pushing through another hour of work.
2/ I remember that what comes up must come down; AKA- blood sugars fluctuate, but it's all temporary! I can afford to put my health first for a few hours while I wait for insulin to do it's thing.
3/ I am gentle with myself. I don't beat myself up for having a high blood sugar or repeatedly ask myself WHY HOW WHY HOW WHY HOW WHY WHY WHY HOW HOW did this happen?!?!! I've become a lot better at not have an emotional reaction to the number on the meter. This allows me to move forward with more grace instead of staying mentally stuck as well as feeling physically ill.
I think overall, I am learning to let go of the desire to be 100% in control all the time. I am remembering more often that I don't have to have a perfect today to have a wonderful tomorrow. I think this mentality is serving me a whole lot better. I feel more like I am flowing through life (even with the ups and downs) instead of forcing my way through in pursuit of that (impossible) straight line.
How do you adjust your expectations when diabetes surprises you? What do you think you can do to start moving through T1D with a little more self love?