This blog post is a very special one. Lindsay and I met at Flywheel Sports over 3 years ago and I’ve seen her evolution. When she told me about her Type 1 Diabetes story and what she did to not only overcome it, but also make the most of it, I knew she had to tell her #mindflip story (click for the background on #mindflips). I know so many people can benefit from this story, so please pass along to those in need!
Like many of you, I am a Type A predictable planner. I am most comfortable when things are structured – overall, my life is pretty safe and routine. In April 2017, I faced my biggest life change: being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is my [blank] but I encourage you to think about yours while reading.
I was agitated, tired, hungry and thirsty, and had lost of lot of weight – all of which I had attributed to stress. It was just two months before I got married, after all! After blood tests, my doctor called and said that I needed to go to the hospital. He was concerned I could go into diabetic ketoacidosis. I drove myself to the hospital and told my now-husband I was sure it was a fluke. I now know that if your fasting blood sugar is 365, it’s not a fluke!
About Type 1 Diabetes
I’ll give you the best definition of Type 1 diabetes from JDRF: “Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune
disease that occurs when a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that controls blood-sugar levels. T1D develops when the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system. The cause of this attack is still being researched, however scientists believe the cause may have genetic and environmental components. There is nothing anyone can do to prevent T1D. Presently, there is no known cure.”
T1D requires constant management. I check blood sugar levels through finger pricks and test strips or continuous glucose monitors, deliver insulin via a pump or multiple daily injections, count carbs in every single food or drink, and investigate things that affect my blood sugar levels like exercise, heat, stress, alcohol, and so on (the joke is that it could be pretty much anything).
Tips to Manage Your [Blank]
T1D is unpredictable, isolating, and frustrating. One thing I was told early on was to manage my diabetes and not let it manage me. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar – whether it was medical, personal, or professional – where you felt overwhelmed by a change you had no control over. Here are the tips I try to live by that I think are translatable no matter what your [blank] is:
- Identify what you can control.Whether you write it down or just talk through it in your head, clearly defining the list of what is out of your hands helps you to better manage what IS in your hands. There’s something very freeing about making the distinction!
- Get moving. Don’t get me wrong – a Bravo marathon on the couch is another form of therapy for me. But it’s amazing how much better I feel if I go to a Flywheel class or a walk with the dog. I think one thing that’s important is that movement doesn’t have to necessarily mean that you’re clearing your mind or looking for a deeper meaning out of it. Even if you aren’t able to fully disconnect, you will PHYSICALLY feel better. Your mental health will improve whether or not it was intentional or obvious.
- Let yourself have bad days. T1D is unpredictable – I could do everything “right” and still have high or low blood sugar for an unknown reason. Sometimes it’s okay to say “today is not a good day” – don’t put pressure on every day to be perfect!
- Educate yourself and others. Is T1D something I ever wanted to learn about? Certainly not. But it’s important to absorb all the information you can to manage what you’re dealing with. It’s also an opportunity to share with others. I get asked almost weekly what my Omnipod (insulin pump) is. When I explain that it’s not a nicotine patch or a beeper, sometimes the next question is whether I ate too much sugar as a kid (answer: no). Rather than getting offended, I try to remind myself that’s an opportunity to educate and de-stigmatize T1D. It’s usually met with an “I didn’t know that.”
- Say something nice. When I’m feeling moody, I try to do a “compliment sandwich” and challenge myself to say something positive. When one of my CGM sensors rips off and I get angry about how much it will cost to replace, I try to remind myself how lucky I am to even have access to those things.
- Above all, my greatest advice is to be your own best advocate. I was never comfortable with that – but I learned quickly that no one else can do that for you. We so often apologize for simply saying what we want or need, or assume that people just KNOW. The reality is you don’t know the answer to something until you ask!
Thanks Lindsay for sharing your story! I’m so grateful to know you. Please follow her on Instagram @lindshhill to connect! You can also check out JDFR for more information on Type 1 Diabetes and research.
I write about #mindflip stories because way too often we only see the good stuff on social media. Social media isn’t real life. Sadly, it can lead to unhealthy comparison and diminishing self-worth. If you want to read more of these stories, make sure you’re subscribed to receive my newsletter, Resilience on Draft.
With good intentions,