Monday, 25 January 2016

Advocacy Guilt.

It was brought to my attention yesterday that January is Thyroid Awareness Month. (Well, in the US it is, anyway, but it doesn't change this post, nonetheless).
.

I had no idea.

Self care for my diabetes is so involved: I check my blood sugar, I wear an insulin pump, I count my carbs and dose insulin accordingly, I adjust my medication for exercise, stress and other emotions. I meticulously count the gulps of juice when I'm low to avoid over treating, and I do everything in my power not to rage bolus when my blood sugar is high and my insulin doesn't seem to be touching it (but I know it eventually will).

My family, friends and colleagues know I have type one diabetes. And to those that don't, I wear a medic alert bracelet, alerting them to the fact I have a health condition of some kind.

Self care for my underactive thyroid involves taking a tablet at 8.30am everyday.

That's it. My family, my closest friends and my boss know that I have an underactive thyroid. My family and closest friends, because I spoke to them about where I was at before I started thyroid medication. My boss, because I was at work when I got the diagnosis, and I had a little pity party.

I don't think about my thyroid and what it doesn't do in the same way I do my pancreas, and what it doesn't do (but I so badly want it to do). My lack of thyroid action doesn't impact my life in the same way my lack of pancreas action does. For the most part, diabetes peppers the background of my day, and my underactive thyroid I don't even consider an issue, as I just take my medication as prescribed, and that's it.

I wonder how different it would I only have an underactive thyroid, and no diabetes. Would I still consider it a "nothing issue" or do I just think of it like that because I'm comparing it to something that, in my opinion, is much more involved?

Would I be writing about my underactive thyroid in the same way I do my diabetes?

Who knows. I'll never know.

The point is, I feel somewhat guilty, as if I should be as eager to advocate about my "other health condition"' just like I am when it comes to my diabetes. But I'm just not into it. Maybe because I don't know enough about it? Or maybe, like I've said, compared to my diabetes, I don't even consider it an "issue"?

I don't know. But because it is Thyroid Awareness Month (and I still have a few days until February), I am going to research some blogs, and learn from those that are sharing their stories online like I am. (I'll also see if there's UK based awareness campaign for thyroid-related problems, and probably watch from the sidelines. I feel participating may be somewhat out of my comfort-zone, unlike talking diabetes online, which is my norm. We'll see!)

Because, whatever chronic condition(s) we live with, although we are not defined by it (them), it (they) does (do) help explain us (last line credit to SUM's tag line).


Sunday, 24 January 2016

2016.

Oh, hey there! It's been a while, hasn't it?! I mean, we've not spoken since, what, last year?! Crazy, right? How have you been? I hope life's been treating you well.

Me?!

I'm doing really well thanks. Been off my advocacy/blogging game for a little bit, with other things taking priority, but I actually welcomed the break from the online stuff. I feel like I've been truly present in my "actual life" and that feels pretty darn good. As incredibly grateful I am for this little corner of the interweb, and the "me too" comfort I sought for a long time, sometimes a step back is what I need. Not because I no longer seek that comfort, but because I've found it's very easy to get so involved here, that I then start to neglect other priorities.


2016.

How did that happen?! Seriously?! (Happy New Year, by the way! I've just scrolled back up and checked - I've not said that yet. Very rude of me.)

My plans for this year?

They're pretty non-existent, I'm not going to lie. This year, I've chosen to not set resolutions. What's with the January pressure to do that anyway?! That, and 12 months is a really long time. There's a very good chance that what I "resolve to do in January" will be null and void before the end of the month! Things change, and I'm okay with that.

Instead, along with still pursuing balance, my plan is to...well...just go with it. Because, no matter how hard I try, navigating my way through my twenties isn't something I can plan to the letter. Plans change, life happens, and I just need to roll with the punches. It doesn't mean I'm failing, it means I'm adapting, and open to change.

I have no idea what the next 341 days have in store for me, but I'm excited to see where 2016 takes me.

Game on, life, game on.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Heavy Heart (World Diabetes Day 2015).

Today, November 14th, marks Frederick Banting's birthday, which in turn marks World Diabetes Day.

Usually, for me, November 14th marks a day of celebration and thankfulness that Banting, along with Charles Best, discovered insulin, the very thing I need to live.

This year, however, World Diabetes Day feels very different, following what happened in Paris yesterday evening. This year, my heart is heavy, mourning a city, a country, that was my home, albeit for a short period of time.

Then I saw the below posted on Twitter, reminding me that's okay to acknowledge the two side by side. Hence me writing at 11pm.
Source.

On social media outlets last night, I saw how the world came together: #prayforfrance #porteouverte and the lighting up monuments in the colours of the French flag.

I see how the diabetes community comes together regularly.

It supports, it advises (non-medically speaking), it listens. 

It campaigns, it encourages, it cares.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, the DOC is there.

People, on the whole, are good. And people, on the whole, care. I see that on a daily basis, with my family, friends, colleagues, and those I interact with online.

And I've seen it over the last 24 hours following the attacks in Paris last night.

Let's keep on coming together for good.


Monday, 2 November 2015

November.

Here we go again, November. 

Diabetes Awareness Month. 

A whirlwind of campaigns and blogs all aiming to raise awareness of diabetes, whatever the type, with World Diabetes Day falling in the middle of it all (November 14th). 

This year, it seems to be kicking off with the JDRF campaign T1D Looks Like Me


Whilst my aim this November is to shine a bit of a spotlight on diabetes and raise awareness, I'm also hoping to pay some attention to some other advocacy efforts that are taking place. 

November doesn't just mark Diabetes Awareness Month. It is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, Mouth Cancer Awareness Month, Movember...I could go on!

By writing blogs and campaigning like we do through November, we hope to reach a community wider than our own DOC bubble. I'm sure those adovcating for other health conditions throughout November hope to do the same.

So whilst advocating for myself, I'm also going to listen to others outside of my bubble.

November, let's go!




Monday, 19 October 2015

Insulin For All.

Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day are fast approaching, and I'd like to make you aware of a returning campaign in the run up to November 14th.

Last year, Liz from T1 International and Lucy from The Pendsey Trust got together and created a campaign with the resounding message being "Put the world back into World Diabetes Day" and it was a huge success.

This year, the message is going to be slightly different - "We are the world in World Diabetes Day" - but the aim is the same - insulin for all.

I've written a lot about this (see here and here) and, out of fear of repeating myself, I'm not going to go on in this post. But I will say this (and repeat myself anyway): insulin is not a luxury, it is necessary to live. Every single person in this world diagnosed with diabetes deserves a chance at living with it, no matter their age, background, country. The fact that type one diabetes is still a death sentence in some countries is shocking, especially in the year 2015.

So, how can you get involved?

It's pretty simple. Like last year, the main premise is to take a picture of yourself holding a sign that says "We are the world in World Diabetes Day" and share on social media with the hashtag #insulinforall

And if posting a selfie isn't enough for you, feel free to check this list out. 

I have no doubt there'll be more to come in the lead up to WDD :)

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Pause.

This is nice: it's a Saturday afternoon, and I'm doing absolutely nothing. I went for a run this morning, which was my first run in a while, and it felt good. I had a quick coffee with E.Hales before getting my flu jab, and now I have no plans.

My life seems to have two paces at the moment: a whirlwind of everything happening all at once and nothing. Today, everything has stopped, and I'm very grateful for that. I've needed things to slow down for a while, but my trip to California and then various work commitments upon my return has meant that that hasn't happened until now. Hence the lack of blog action here.

So, why has life had me so busy? Well, like I said, I went to California for a week to see my old housemate, Lopez. All of my diabetes-related appointments happened the week after I got back, and the end of summer leave at work has meant that it was a case of hit-the-ground-running as soon as I returned. I'm also still trying to figure out what comes next, career-wise, which is draining in itself, but I think I may actually be getting somewhere with those decisions. Health-wise, I'm slowly beginning to use more test strips during the course of my day, and, as a result, my numbers are slowly coming in at levels I want them to. I know it's a simple concept: check blood sugar, use that data to make diabetes-decisions. But living at 100mph has meant that something has had to give, and unfortunately it was diabetes that took the hit. Another reason for the lack of posts here - how can I sit here and write when I'm not walking my talk?! 

Acknowledging this made me re-focus my efforts and my priorities. My job is important to me, as is finding the time for my family and friends and godson. But by juggling this, I let my own wellbeing slip. I stopped going to the gym, because I was just too tired to go. My weekends were so packed with coffee dates and dinners and playing with my littlest friend that I ended up going back to work on the Monday as tired as I was when I left Friday evenings.

Re-focussing has left me feeling ultimately happier, with more energy, and just generally feeling good about myself and where my life is currently at.

Acknowledging when things aren't quite right is a good thing, because you can make changes. But it's also important to acknowledge when your efforts have paid off, as an act of kindness to yourself, which is what I'm doing now. And I'm not ashamed to say it.

Point Magu - California.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Better Than Yesterday.

It was about three months ago when I got a call from my DSN asking me what thyroid tablets I'm on.

"I'm not on any thyroid tablets," I replied.

"Really? Well your thyroid function test has come back abnormal. It's nothing to panic about, but because we don't have a baseline for you, I'd like you to get another blood test in six weeks."

"Okay," I responded, not really sure what to say. I hung up the phone, closed my office door and had a little cry. At 22 years old, another health condition wasn't what I was looking for. My manager walked in during my pity party. I have no doubt he regrets that - once I've cried on someone once, I have no fear about crying on them again. Not that I knew it then, but it would happen a lot more over the coming weeks.


*      *      *      *      *

The office door ended up closed a lot more. I always used to be an open-door-kind-of-girl, but for some reason I just didn't want to deal with people. Closing the door stopped the traffic of people I often encountered (and used to love), and I could focus on other jobs.


*      *      *      *      *


Loss of interest came next. I lost my patience with people quickly, continued to hide away, if not in my office, in my manager's office or at the cafe on camp. Comfort eating became a regular thing. 


*      *      *      *      *


Then came the official diagnosis. Underactive thyroid and to start on Thyroxine.

"Have you had any symptoms at all?" my DSN asked. "Tiredness, lethargic?"

"Not that I've noticed."

"Maybe we've caught it before it becomes symptomatic then. So get started on those meds asap!"


*      *      *      *      *


It was the week between diagnosis and starting medication that I crumbled. I felt broken, disconnected, disengaged and a whole load of other things. I phoned my DSN and asked if an underactive thyroid can mess with your head. Because although I had no physical symptoms, my head was all over the place, and as far as I was concerned it had come out of no where. I completely broke down.

"I know we spoke about the physical symptoms, but can a thyroid problem mess with your headspace? Because I don't feel like me. I feel broken. And I don't know what to do...You know what, I'd actually take my diabetes diagnosis all over again over this. At least then I still felt like me. Symptoms were physical and I could explain them. But this I can't. And it's shit."


*      *      *      *      *


My best friend is a smart one. She can read me through a text message. Sometimes, it's annoying, other times I'm thankful for it. This time, I was incredibly thankful for it. We went out shopping, had some dinner, I voiced what I could explain. She didn't pry further, just let me disclose what I wanted.


*      *      *      *      *

I started taking thyroxine tablets. One 100mcg tablet a day, at 8.30am, half an hour before breakfast. It sounds really stupid, but taking them gave me hope. Hope that this was the beginning of me being me again. I knew it wouldn't be immediate, but it was a starting point. Because feeling the way I did sucked big time.


"By my birthday,"

"What?" my manager asked.

"By my birthday is when I want to start feeling like me again. My DSN said the tablets will take a couple of weeks to kick in, my birthday is in three and a half. So that's what I'm shooting for."

He smiled and left the office.


*      *      *      *      *

"How are you doing today?"

"Better than yesterday. And that's all I can ask for," I said with a genuine smile.

"I knew you'd make it. Happy birthday, my dear."


*      *      *      *      *


Not feeling like myself meant I didn't want to write here. I took the break from this blog (and social media in general) so that I could figure things out. I wasn't ready to share, and I wasn't going to bullcrap on this blog and pretend that everything was a-okay.

Today, however, I feel better than yesterday, and better than the day before that. And that really is all I can ask for.