Friday, January 11, 2013

Happy New Year! (2012 Summary; The APP & SDP)

It's a new year again, and what a big year 2012 was for us! I could go into more detail, but I think it can all be summed up in one simple sentence: We became parents! Everyone talks about how parenthood changes your life, but you truly don't understand it completely until you're a parent yourself...even when you're pregnant you can't fully comprehend what it's like to go night after night (after night, after night) without good (or even decent) sleep, or on the flip side, the amazing, indescribable joy that comes from the simplest things, like when your baby smiles or laughs.

It was also a year filled with new challenges in regards to my diabetes management routine. In the two and a half years since I was diagnosed, I don't think I've ever had such a hard time controlling my blood sugars-- aside from the first couple of weeks that I was pregnant. The biggest change for me has been a new-found fear of lows...even when I was pregnant, lows weren't really that big of a deal. If I were given the choice, I'd have picked a low over a high any day. Now that there's a little person whose safety is very literally completely dependent on my being able to take care of her, though, I have a very different view of things. I was extremely cautious about lows shortly after our baby was born, but it wasn't until my first experience with glucagon and what turned out to be a Chiari-related scare in Target that I became terrified of them.

My biggest fear is that I'll be giving my baby girl a bath or driving down the road with her and have a debilitating low. Either of those cases would be horrible, and they're not something I like to think about...but I have to. I have to because I have to think about them in order to prevent them. I don't get my sweet baby ready for her bath until I check my blood sugar, and I'm very careful while driving too. For the most part, I haven't had very many bad lows because I've been intentionally running slightly higher than I'm used to to avoid them.

As a result of that, though, I've had way more highs than I'm used to, and I hate it. I hate it because I'm a perfectionist to the core and want my numbers to be normal(ish). I told my husband we'd wait until our little one was at least a year old before thinking about another baby, but at this point I'm not comfortable enough with my ability to control my blood sugars like I did during my first pregnancy to take that step yet. I want to give our next baby the same chance at a good, healthy life as I did with our first, end of story. I don't know when I'll be ready, but I do know that it won't be until I get a better handle on things d-wise.

I've made a lot of changes to my insulin routine over the past few months in an effort to gain better control, but it's been hit or miss. What works one week (or day) may not the next, and any change in my routine causes a major overhaul to my insulin needs as well. I started exercising consistently a couple of months ago, but the week before Christmas our baby girl had an ear infection and I couldn't work out. Then there were the Christmas holidays, and since my husband was home (he's been working a few states away), I wanted to spend as much time possible as a family. Since then, I just haven't taken the time to exercise. I need to get started again because I KNOW I feel better when I'm consistently working out, but it's so hard to get back into the habit! I can also tell a big difference in my blood sugars then, although it makes preventing lows a little more complicated =)

Last year there were a lot of successes in the diabetes technology world too. The Artificial Pancreas Project is making good progress, and looks like a very promising treatment method for T1D. I know it's still going to be a while before it's available to the general public, but it's hard not to get excited about it! Here's what I posted on my Facebook page about the APP:
It's not a cure, but it will make our lives better and easier...a little more normal. Normalcy is something you take for granted until it's gone.
THIS is what we're all working for. As Jeffrey Brewer (JDRF President and CEO) says, "Less until none." Less needles, less complications, less highs and lows. Those are the things that T1D steals from us. You often hear about the time diabetes takes from your life, but most of the time it's discussed in terms of the years lost at the end. The reality of living with this disease means that you lose seconds, minutes, and hours; everyday moments (like sleep, when you're waiting for your blood sugar to stabilize before bed) and priceless ones that you can't get back. I don't even want to think about all the precious time I've missed with my daughter, being forced to tell her to "wait just a little bit" while I check my blood sugar, fix my basal rate, or change my pump site. It's so, so hard to put the needs of my diabetes before hers, but in the end I know it's what I have to do...the whole "put your oxygen mask on before assisting others" thing. Not doing it isn't an option, because I refuse to let diabetes steal anything else from my life or hers.

I think a lot about what my life would be like without T1D. Of course I know what it was like before (I was only diagnosed a little over two years ago), but I'm talking about now. Now that I have a daughter who needs me, and whom I love more than anything else in the world. It would be so awesome to not have to calculate carbs, or think about how everything else (sleep--or lack thereof, exercise, illness) will affect my blood sugar. It's a constant balancing act, and it always seems to tip to one side or the other. I would love to be able to have normal blood sugars again without thinking about it all. It's the "what if" that a lot of people with T1D don't like to fantasize about, because they don't want to get their hopes up that a cure will be found in their lifetime. I, however, have faith that even if a true cure is a long way off, new research developments will at least make our lives better. And as Chuck Eichten says in his book "The Book of Better: Life With Diabetes Can't Be Perfect. Make It Better", any amount of better is better. Perfection isn't attainable (although that's something I've yet to take to heart!), but better is. The Artificial Panreas Project isn't a cure, but it will mean a better life for those of us with T1D.

On a similar note, Congress recently renewed the SDP (Special Diabetes Project), which means that millions in essential funding will be available for diabetes research. According to the JDRF, "The SDP provides nearly 35 percent of the publicly-funded T1D research at the National Institute of Health (NIH)." This is HUGE. The JDRF works incredibly hard to obtain private funding, but private donors alone can't fund all the research that needs to be done, and the SDP covers some of that gap. Why is that so important? Because a cure could be waiting to be found in that gap. If the funding isn't there, the research doesn't get done. If the research isn't done, no progress can be made. If research progress is at a stand still, we don't get any closer to finding a cure. THAT is why it's so important.

Hopefully 2013 will bring some amazing new developments in diabetes treatment and technology, and better lives for all of us living with this disease!


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