On the day I was diagnosed with T1D, I remember asking my doctor: “will I have this for always?”
“Yes,” he told me.
“But I think we’ll have a cure in the next 10 years.”
Maybe it’s a good thing that for at least the first few years, I imagined my stint with Diabetes was temporary.
But as life with T1D lengthened, I had to find other ways to compensate when I wished for just “one day off.” As anyone close to Type 1 Diabetes knows, there are no days off. But the good news is, years of experience can make the good days much more frequent than the bad days.
While nowadays most of my days are good days, here are the things I wish I could go back and tell my younger self.
1) You are not a number on a screen.
This is not the first time you’re going to have a 250+ high blood sugar reading. This is not the last. A “bad” number isn’t your grade for the day or week but it is a piece of information, an opportunity to learn, and a signal for how your body is responding to your environment. Learn from it, and move on quickly.
2) Talking to someone who really understands you will help.
Not the people who feel sorry for you or try to “make it better” (they can’t). But talking to the people who see you as the strong, resilient, capable person you are.
3) Meal Prep is worth the time.
Food is my most important tool for managing my day-to-day blood sugar. Skipping meals and then binging on “whatever is available” is a sure way to put myself in a high/low blood sugar cycle that will wreck my mood and energy.
Start a week out right with meal prep, or if time is an issue, go to the store and buy some healthy pre-made meals (roast veggies and salmon are my go-tos on the really crazy weeks).
4) Take a walk around the block.
Low intensity exercise is the easiest to do and also the most impactful in bringing down a persistent high blood sugar. Even when (especially when) the day feels overwhelming and there hasn’t been time for a gym run in a week, a 10 minute walk around the block will help clear my head and help insulin on board work a little harder.
5) You’re allowed to say “No.”
As a full-time overachiever, this one is especially hard for me. When a friend wants to go out, an exciting new project pops up at work, or an opportunity for a weekend trip comes along, there is a 100% guarantee that I want to say yes. While sometimes a full schedule and an extrovert’s social agenda can support my goals for a full life, other times I need to take a pause and say “no.” After all, sleep, meal prep, reflection, and movement take time and when I’m investing that time in myself, I have more to give in the other areas of my life.