Preparation, practicality and cautious expectation

Yesterday was the start of my holiday. Piercing blue sky, slight breeze, the swell of the ocean and a day planned walking through the forest to a remote and pristine river. I was excited and frickin scared. I packed my backpack to overflowing with glucose tabs, insulin, lunch, phone fully charged, an extra and accurate blood testing meter and rescue remedy. My husband would have to carry my bathing suit, sarong and water bottle.

I love walking and I do it every day. 20 minutes hits the spot and lowers my levels just enough so that I cruise into dinner steady and in range. If I go beyond my 20 minute cruise I often end up high. Seems like the liver kicks in and releases more glycogen aka sugar into the blood stream.

Honestly, I am not a fan of long hikes. The last time I did one was before I started short acting insulin in 2018. That’s why I was scared. How would it work to walk for more than 3 hours, on a sunny hot day? Would my insulin stay cool? How would I dose for lunch when I knew I’d have to hike up a hill after our planned picnic at the river mouth. So many questions, so many unknowns. While my friends and husband were excited to walk I felt like I was jumping off a cliff.

As much as I use yoga to keep me balanced, it’s these normal everyday things that get me. I can’t take a vacation from diabetes. EVER!

In spite of my trepidation we went. The first hour was awesome. The forest was alive with wild flowers, trees dripping in moss, singing birds and dappled sunlight. I felt connected and alive. Our forest is 50 million years old.

IMG_0491By the end of the 2nd hour we had reached the lookout. My blood sugar was a steady 6.0 mmol. I started the walk with a 1/4 of an apple and didn’t take any insulin to cover.  Things were going well. We had to cross the river to get to our picnic spot. On went the bathing suit. With my backpack and shoes held above my waist we waded across. The water was brrr cold. Here in Africa the water is clean and crisp, full of prana, amazing!

As everyone else munched on snacks I pulled out my prepared lunch, enjoying every bite, it was crunch time. Would my usual two units be best considering that in an hour I’d  be climbing a steep hill followed by an even steeper descent? I opted for just under 2 units and an extra 1/4 of an apple. Then threw myself in the river, cold refreshing water. So good!

I started the next part of the walk around 5.7 mmol. It took 30 minutes to hit the dreaded low. 3.9 mmol with a downward pointing arrow. I took two and half glucose tabs, while gazing at the most beautiful view in the world. We waited for 15 long drawn out minutes.  My friends asked me what would happen if it didn’t come up. I’d take more tabs and wait some more. Waiting is the worst. On the plus side I was so tired from the walk I couldn’t feel the low or my fear. I was peaceful, relaxed and grateful. Grateful for my husbands arm around me, the patience of my friends, and the beauty of our surroundings. My levels returned to normal and we completed the walk. Topping it off with a dip in the wild ocean. It couldn’t have been a better day.

IMG_0505Back at home my husband reminded me, holidays are all about dropping the every day stresses. Time to take a break from normality, hang out with friends, talk about whatever, spend time in nature. I get it, I used to have that freedom, even took it for granted. Since diagnosis I’m a work in progress. I take each day as it comes. I work with what I have without expectation. Rather than define my ‘vacation’ by what everyone else does. I do relaxing my way.

Preparation, practicality and cautious expectation.

Have a wonderful holiday season

with great respect…

rachel

 

 

The fear is real

My whole life I’ve been dealing with fear. When I got into yoga and especially Ayurveda I found out that fear is a constitutional characteristic of vata dosha, the combination of the air and space elements. Having vata in my constitution has inspired my creative pursuits and enabled me to be adaptable and free spirited. It’s also been one of my biggest challenges. With the tendency to get carried away with thoughts and anxieties I’ve found it hard to land and ground. Little things can trigger the deep seated traumas.

Like anyone caught in a shocking situation, one does the best to cope. My coping mechanism for past traumas was to numb out, quash the grief and keep going. Keeping on keeping on has served me well for the most part. It has driven me to teach, share and now write. But just because I look like I’m happy and settled doesn’t mean I have been able to go beyond my fear.  Like I said, when I least expect it it creeps up on me.

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Last night and most nights when the lights go out and I’m nearly asleep I have this terrifying moment. I think I’ve forgotten my evening shot. Before I can catch myself and calmly go through my evening routine, my heart is leaping out of my chest. In that moment the fear is real. A few moments later I realise I’m being irrational and I start to relax. This kind of automatic response bugs me. I should have it all together.

But that’s crazy. They say that someone living with diabetes makes about 182 decisions per day. What to eat, how much to eat, how much insulin to take, how much insulin to correct, how many carbs to treat when low, how much and how long to exercise. What to carry just in case. OMG and that’s just a small glimpse. I think fear is natural amidst a pile of unpredictable factors. Besides my diabetes decisions, I have to keep my life going like everyone else. Bills to pay, work to do. You get the gist.

What I have learnt about fear is that it’s one of the supportive mechanisms of the nervous system. Fear gives us the capacity to move away from danger. It’s protective. I know a lot of people have used this anachronism of F.E.A.R, false-evidence- appearing- real.

Can we stop right there.  Yes we can overreact to our thoughts and yes we can project onto a situation, and yes it’s good to overcome our fears.

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HOWEVER…

As someone living with diabetes my fears are not a false projection. My life is in danger if I don’t get my medication dosage right. I can suffer from a host of complications, without the appropriate technology  to measure my levels I could go into a coma and if I don’t have access to medication, I die. These are real and tangible things that would make anyone afraid. Terrified actually.

So whats the solution? Quash the fear? Push onward and upward?

The simple answer is acknowledgement. When I acknowledge the reality that diabetes sucks and its not easy to manage. I feel more capable. When that bolt hits me at bedtime and I’m in its grip I remind myself, I am here and alive.

“Sometimes the best coaching advice you can get is simple acknowledgement that there’s nothing else you could have done.” Hannah Kearney- American Athlete

See you tomorrow #NDAM #DiabetesAwarenessMonth

with great respect….

rachel