I’ve been back at work for a week now after three weeks of blissful rest. It’s the beginning of a new year and with it comes best-laid plans to get all aspects of my life organised for the year ahead. And that means thinking about diabetes.
I’d love to say that I have the solution to getting back into work or school with a renewed sense of confidence and motivation. I don’t. But I do always like to think of the start of the year as a clean slate. I was experiencing some pretty nasty diabetes burnout at the end of last year – the result of a hectic couple of months work-wise and busy home and social things as well. It got to Christmas and I’d almost convinced myself that my pancreas had started working again and I didn’t have diabetes – just so there was one less thing I needed to think about.
Of course, all that did was add stress, guilt, anxiety and frustration to my already frantic pre-Christmas existence. Denial and diabetes just don’t go together (might get that on a t-shirt).
So – clean slate, New Year and some ideas for starting in a positive way.
- Get a new toy. No, I don’t mean a remote-controlled car (although, let me tell you how much fun I’ve been having playing with the little beauty Santa delivered for my eight-year-old!) But rather a new meter. I’ve enjoyed having some new diabetes gadgets to keep me enthused and excited about my diabetes care for the New Year. Shiny new toys are great for giving an injection (no pun intended) of novelty and excitement to the tediousness of diabetes, so having some new devices that do new things has provided me with a new found enthusiasm for ironing out some pesky early-morning highs and post-lunch lows.
Set some goals – but make them realistic. My A1c at the moment is what my healthcare team would term as ‘pretty damn awesome’ (this is because I have a brilliant team who believe in positive reinforcement). But I know even though the number that came back from the lab is lovely, it doesn’t really represent what’s going on, which is a daily roller-coaster ride of highs and lows that average out to something quite pretty. My goal is to try to iron out those extremes starting with the bottom end and then working on the top end. Goals need to be realistic, so aiming to drop an A1c by 10 percent in two months or lose 25 kilos in 5 weeks probably won’t end well.
- Spring clean in summer: I spent a couple of hours sorting through my diabetes supplies. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a veritable swag of things in my diabetes cupboard. My collection includes meters I haven’t used in years, test strips that are months (read: years) out of date, syringes with needles that scare me, pump supplies from pumps that are no longer made (etc, etc). I sorted through them and threw out anything out of date, donated current things to Insulin For Life and organised things into neat order. Now I keep opening up my cupboard and smiling at how organised it is. (Nerd.)
- Pick up the phone: And make some appointments. I have already seen my dentist and GP this year for check-ups and have an eye-check scheduled for the end of the month. I had a pap-smear (never, ever fun, but essential) and have a note to call my podiatrist when she returns from holiday. Feels great to know that the myriad check-ups are under control and don’t need to be thought about for the next year or so.
- Put diabetes in its place. Perhaps I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed (truer words were never spoken) but I’m always surprised at how I feel when I do all the things I’ve listed. Suddenly, diabetes seems to be just one part of my life. It’s organised and in its place – just like the supplies. I feel like I can access information easily and don’t feel that I’m becoming weighed down by the very thought of living with diabetes. And overall, I feel better about managing things. Actually, I just feel less overwhelmed.
I’m absolutely not naive enough to think that I have this all figured out and that 2013 will be a year of perfect diabetes-organisation. But at least for now – and hopefully the next few weeks – I’ll feel better about diabetes. I reckon that’s a pretty good way to start the year!
Renza Scibilia is the Manager of Type 1 Diabetes and Community Programs at DA–Vic. She has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1998. The opinions and thoughts expressed in her occasional blogs are her own.