Friday, February 11, 2011

Hard Work Leads to Success...Sometimes

This morning I received the email edition of my "Page-A-Day" Calendar (Keep Calm and Carry On: 365 Quotes, Slogans, and Mottos for 2011).  The quote for today was
“The only place where success comes before work is a dictionary.”   —VIDAL SASSOON
Everyone knows this theoretically, but it's so hard to put into everyday practice.  Through college, I always worked hard to get the grades I wanted, and ended up graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA.  It took a lot of hard work, studying, and late-night paper writing to get there, and it definitely wasn't easy.  At the end of the day, hard work equalled success.

Similarly, I was very overweight as a preteen.  I did Weight Watchers in 7th grade and lost around 40 pounds, taking me from a size 16 to a 10-12.  Again, it was certainly not easy to lose the weight, especially at an age where most kids eat whatever they want, whenever they want without a care in the world.  Despite the challenges I faced, I succeeded because I worked hard.

Applying this principle to diabetes management is a very different animal, however.  Sometimes no matter how hard you try or how much effort you put into it, you still may not see the results you want.  Anyone who has had this disease for any period of time will tell you that you can eat/do virtually the exact same thing at the same time of day two days in a row and you'll undoubtedly end up with a different result.  Diabetes is complicated and unpredictable.

This realization leads some PWD to not try as hard, give up, or even to have a bout of complete D-burnout.  After all, why even bother when you can't control the results anyway?  What some people fail to realize, though, is that this way of thinking, albeit very natural, is skewed.  You see, even though you may not be seeing the numbers you expect or hope for, you're still monitoring your disease in the process.  As any good endocrinologist or CDE will tell you, your BGs are simply information; there are no "good" or "bad" numbers, and they are a way to gauge how effective your treatment is.  In addition, everyone will have the occasional high or low numbers; it's part of the disease.  Obviously if you're having consistently high or low numbers, your doctor may want to review and possibly change your treatment, but the general consensus is to not sweat the spikes that are bound to happen every now and then.

Now it's time to tell you that it's very hard for me to practice what I preach.  Whenever I see an out-of-range number on my meter, I have one of those "dang it" moments...especially when I've done everything I can to make sure I hit my targets.  Believe me, I know that nothing is more frustrating than to think you've eaten fairly well, only to hit 340 two hours after your meal.  I know because I've been there.  It's super hard for me to not see the numbers as grades, because I'm very much a Type A perfectionist...Good when you're trying to get a 4.0 GPA, but not so great when it comes to a balanced diabetes self-care plan.

I struggle a lot with balancing my diabetes care and my emotional well-being.  More specifically, I have a very hard time not letting the attention I give to my disease take over my entire life.  Part of it is that I want to take care of myself and be as healthy as possible.  As many of you know, my number one motivation for controlling my diabetes is that I want to have a healthy pregnancy and baby in the near future.  I know I have to get my A1C under 6.0% before we decide to conceive, so I've been working hard to keep my BGs within that range.  My next A1C test is in May, so I still have a few months to get the hang of the pump and keep the tight control needed to reach my goal. 

The problem therein is that keeping tight control requires an immense amount of energy and attention on my part, often to the point that it feels like a second job.  My husband is constantly reminding me that I probably don't have to give my disease quite so much attention, but keeping that balance is very hard for me.  Being the perfectionist that I am, it's often either all or nothing in my way of thinking.  If I'm not 100% on top of it, I feel like I might as well not care at all.  I know logically that this way of thinking is harmful, but I'm only being honest...this is the way I feel and think about my disease, no matter how flawed it is. 

I've done better since talking with my CDE and realizing that my numbers weren't as out of wack as I thought they were.  I emailed her Sunday evening, completely frustrated with my high numbers.  When she called me back Monday, she told me that although she understood my frustration, my numbers were actually not that bad.  In fact, she said she was surprised at how well I was doing.  Her perspective helped me immensely in realizing that my efforts are paying off, and that I shouldn't sweat those out-of-range numbers so bad.  I suppose it's another case of being harder on myself than the professionals are on me

My CDE has been a great resource through all of this.  I email her my BG numbers pretty frequently to get her feedback, and I talked to her once a day while we were trying to get my basal rates on the pump regulated in the beginning.  She is honest and straightforward with me, but encouraging and supportive as well.  When I think about all she's helped me with, she's really my best D-friend.  Since she has two sons with diabetes, she knows what the reality of this disease looks like...And what a monster it can be to live with.  As a woman, she understands my motivation for keeping my diabetes well-controlled, and she has the knowledge to help me get there.

All in all, when I'm being introspective, I can see that despite my frustrations, despite the higher-than-I'd-like numbers and perfectionist-related frustrations, my hard work is paying off.  The hard work is definitely worth it, even if it doesn't always lead to success by my stringent definition.  My overall average in the past 16 days that I've been on the pump is 119--well within my target range.  I'm still always trying to hit lower numbers, but if I can at least keep this up, I'll definitely hit my target A1C in May.  I know it's not going to be easy, but I also know deep down that I have the motivation and drive to get me there.  Because more than anything, success for me means having a healthy baby in the future, and what better motivation can you get than that?


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