To the Overweight Type 1 Diabetic Considering Weight Loss Surgery

Dear Type 1 with weight issues (like me),

I don’t know your history with diabetes or with your weight, but mine is something like this: I was always healthy and active as a kid, and even into my late teens and early 20s. I didn’t become diabetic until I was 21 years old and in college (after having been on Accutane for a year and also having my tonsils taken out. Did one of those things cause/trigger my diabetes?? The world may never know.) It was crazy and crappy. I initially lost, then gained, then lost weight right after diagnosis. But then I maintained a healthy weight for at least a decade. And then came my 30s. A sedentary job, years spent on birth control pills, and then getting married and having fertility issues (inject tons of stress, hormone shots, hormonal imbalances, you name it ) all led to a sharp incline in weight gain, and also a sharp incline in insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, I had to take more insulin. Taking more insulin, I gained more weight. Gaining more weight, I had to take more insulin. My endo basically told me I had become a Type 1 who also had Type 2 diabetes, and I was put on Metformin to help combat some of my insulin resistance. It helped, but didn’t fix the underlying issue. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t seem to break with any amount of dieting and exercising. I had all sorts of back pain, plantar fasciitis in my feet, and barely had enough energy to get through most days. I needed a dramatic change, and I needed it fast.  I was in my 40s, with a 3 year old child that could out-run me. How could I protect her if I couldn’t even protect myself anymore?

So, I did my research. Talked to other friends who had some type of bariatric surgery. Joined a couple of Facebook groups to talk about it. Searched and searched for other T1s who had the surgery, but came up short. I had decided against the more complex gastric bypass (where they reroute all sorts of things) and chose the sleeve (VSG) because it was easier to comprehend how my digestion would change post-surgery, the weight loss would be more gradual, and I felt I could manage my diabetes (and health) better in the long run with this surgery.

Now, I am almost 8 months out from surgery. I finally have energy and can eat (more or less) regular foods. I eat FAR less than ever, focus on eating my protein first, then keep to a minimum amount of carbs over the course of the day.  My goals each day are to eat at least 70g of lean protein, drink 64+ ounces of water, take all my various chewable vitamins and supplements (there are quite a few) and to keep sugar and fat intake around 5g at each meal/ eating time. In order to consume just what I need to consume, but not overfill my “sleeve” stomach, I have to eat several small meals – I am basically “snacking” all day long. I have lost 70 lbs total, and am currently in a “stall” so now I need to switch it up, exercise more, and really work to get the weight to come off. But get this: My insulin requirements went from over 100 units per day, down to about 50 units per day now (that’s meal boluses and basal rate combined.)  I no longer take Metformin. My A1c is sitting pretty & playing nice at 6.1. I’m down 2-3 sizes in most clothes. I can sit comfortably in those super-close stadium seats. I can chase after my daughter. I can play with her on the floor, and then stand up without groaning. My feet don’t hurt nearly as much any more. I’m ready to join the local swimming pool this summer and enjoy it with my family and friends. I *feel* better than I have in YEARS.

This has been a tough road, and it remains challenging. With diabetes, LIFE ITSELF is challenging – we know that. There are days when I have low blood sugars and shake my fist in the air that I am forced to go off my diet plan and eat when I don’t want to. There are days of unexplained highs that send me into a spiraling fatigue, just like before. Juggling exercise and blood sugars and my teeny stomach is even more challenging. Having a crashing low, cramming my face full of an apple and then having my stomach feel like it’s going to explode is NOT fun. But would I say this surgery was a success for me? Even though I still have at least 50-60 lbs left to lose? YES. Every time I will say YES.

But you – all the other overweight Type 1s out there with BMIs in the “morbidly obese” category like I was – you have to make the decision on your own. Every surgery comes with it’s risks and potential complications. For me, the results I’ve had so far, even though I’m not “at goal” have been SO worth it.

Happy to have my life back —

Before-AfterJan2015

And to All, a Good Night

I’ve been sick with the plague of a sinus infection and hacking cough for the past week, so suffice it to say, I’ve not had much time or energy to do, well, anything. After going to the doctor last Monday, only to have her say, “This is your body doing what it’s supposed to be doing, just treat/deal with the symptoms,” I returned back on Friday, having not slept for the past 4 nights due to the never-ending cough and head pressure and congestion. She finally gave me an Rx for an antibiotic then, and now after 3 days on it, I’m starting to feel human again. We’ll not even talk about the roller coaster blood sugar graphs my Dexcom has been showing me. I’m finally feeling better, but I’m beat. Exhausted. And now comes the whirlwind tour of visiting relatives and friends on Christmas Eve, then heading back home to get ready for Santa to come visit. What do I want Santa to bring to me? A good night’s sleep – really, that would be great.

True to nature, I plan to suck it up, get back up on the happy holidays horse, and ride the wave of fun about to come. It’s all I can do, and I refuse to let sickness make me miss one minute of the joy on my daughter’s face when she sees that Santa DID bring her a Wild Kratt’s Creature Power Suit shirt. I can’t wait to see which creature power she wants to pretend to have first.

For me personally, the New Year looks to bring about something dramatic. 2014, I dub thee “Year of Commitment to Change.” More on that topic after the holidays die down and I’ve recovered as much as possible from the cheerful chaos. For now, I’m signing off of blogging for a bit, and wishing you all a safe, happy, and joyous holiday season, in whatever way you choose to celebrate it (or not.) Click the picture below to see the larger version of our family card 🙂

She LOVES jumping. All the time, anywhere.

Holidays, Diabetes, and Nostalgia

While I remain very mindful about my diabetes management (HELLO, 24/7, that’s diabetes!), you may have noticed that THIS = such memories.blogging is taking a huge backseat to all the holiday craziness…decorating the house, visits to see Santa, holiday baking and making crafts with my daughter, wrapping & mailing presents, and fun social events with family & friends are taking up almost all of my free time, and I love it.

But to help you stay on top of things, Kerri wrote a great post about Organized Diabetes, now with more Tips! that has a lot of great info and even more links in it about managing diabetes over the holidays.

As for me, I’m relishing in some Christmas nostalgia….I have a set of catalogs from Montgomery Ward (showing my age here….how many people reading this still remember paper catalogs, from which you would order something and hopefully receive it in 6-8 WEEKS, if you were lucky?) and have been perusing the ones from 1983. Thirty years ago seems like a crazy long time ago, yet when I think about my hopes, dreams, and Christmas Wish List from back then, it seems like only yesterday.

For fun, I scanned in some pages from the 1983 Christmas Wishes catalog to share with you all. Enjoy!!

SMURFS!!

I wanted EVERYTHING on the cover when I was 10. (OK, maybe I still want them now, too?)

LOVE the Vader phone

I had a few friends who had these phones, and I was always so jealous.

Kids these days have probably never seen a rotary phone.

What cracked me up about this one was…this had to be the first “skin” you could put on your phone, of whatever type. Hilarious!

VHS won...but did it,really?

VHS versus Beta war!! Same price…wow, who would spend over $500 for a VCR now???

Goodbye, Site Change Trauma High Blood Sugars

It’s amazing how many years it took for me to make the connection between high blood sugars for no-good-reason and changing out my insulin pump infusion set site.

I guess coming off of multiple daily injections that just, you know, had the insulin working pretty much when I expected it to, I assumed the same would be true when I would unceremoniously jam a 9mm plastic cannula into my skin using a metal needle….my body shouldn’t put up a fuss about that, should it??

But somewhere along the way, I was reading a blog or swapping comments with another member of the DOC, and a light-bulb went off. Duh! After always wondering why I would give myself tons of insulin right after a site change and NOTHING seemed to budge my blood sugars, it all made sense. The skin/cells around that site were traumatized, and not absorbing insulin yet or doing what they should. Inevitably, a few hours later, I’d come to a crashing low-blood-sugar-screech because suddenly the site had calmed down, and the cells finally absorbed the copious amounts of insulin I’d been giving myself. Argh.

So I learned to try to do site changes at least a few hours before meals (if I could do it without wasting too much insulin), and to never ever do them before breakfast because I would be even more spikey after breakfast if I did. Our girl Katy made a comment/suggestion that I have FINALLY implemented, and it is working like a charm!

My belly isn't 2 shades of pasty, just a camera lighting issue.

New site on the left side, while I still have the old site on the right. I do cover the new site while I’m waiting for it to settle in.

It’s so simple: when I notice I’m within a few hours of needing an infusion set switch out, I insert a new set somewhere else, and just leave the port there ready for whenever I run out of insulin/am ready for the switchout. Sure, it means I have 2 sites on my belly or hips at the same time for a few hours, but so what? It saves me from at least 3-4 hours of wrecky-high blood sugars and feeling like poop. I’ll take that trade-off ANY day.

Now, as we all know, Your Diabetes May Vary. In talking with my d-girls the other night, who also have various brands of pumps and insulin delivery systems, some of them experience site change trauma, and some do not. So obviously, do what works for you!!

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving may be over, but there’s still so much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for so many things – but especially in diabetes-circles, I’m thankful for discovering the DOC, for meeting so many local women who have diabetes (both type 1 and type 2), and for being able to spend time with them and fellowship on a regular basis. They are such a vibrant and lovely group of women who share their experiences openly, and listen to the rantings of all of us who have had “good” days with diabetes, and “bad” days with diabetes. We all just *get it*, and I truly appreciate the time and effort they spend to come over and hang out. (They also bring amazing snacks and wine to share, which are always welcome in my house!)

Love them!! My d-girls

Last night, we also collected coats and winter wear to donate to our local Coats for the Children campaign. There’s a stack of over 20 adult and kid’s-sized coats, mittens, ear-muffs and gloves ready to be donated. It feels so good to give thanks, and also give back to the community to those less fortunate. My heart is so full of love and joy!! (And for the record, I am not going to the Mall or anywhere else with crazy crowds from now until after Christmas, because the fastest way to ruin my sense of holiday cheer is to have someone flip me off over a parking space. Not going to do it!!)

Diabetes Awareness Month Photo-a-Day 18 – Frustration

2013-11-18_DAMPAD18frustrationFrustration is filling up the landfills and medical waste bio-hazard receptacles with ridiculous amounts of waste from CGM sensor change-outs, pump infusion sets, syringes, used test strips, and all the diabetic what-not. It becomes a big pile of being pissed-off at your non-functioning pancreas sometimes.

And then, you receive a postcard for World Diabetes Day that lets you know: You’re not alone. And we all will be OK.

Thank you, Sharon!

Thank you, Sharon!

Diabetes Awareness Month Photo-a-Day 7 – Blue

“Blue” automatically makes me think of Blue Fridays, and how this past summer I realized, as good as blue looks on me, I didn’t have a whole lot of blue things to wear. So, I went out and bought some!

That's a lot of blue.

Anyone else notice there are 8 billion different shades of blue?

(Diabetes Month Photo-a-day prompts can be found at sixuntilme.com)