Embracing Type 1 Diabetes

I am happy to announce a new chapter in managing my Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). I feel enthusiastically positive and strong!

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It): This year has been the roughest medical year of my life. In January, I took my first ambulance ride to an Emergency Room, where I was misdiagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I felt guilty and depressed. In an attempt to reverse Type 2 Diabetes, I lost over 40 pounds. However, I ended up back in the hospital with DKA, adding to a total of 3 trips to the Emergency Room in the first half of the year.

I received my correct Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) diagnosis in June, which completely tuned my world upside down again. Over the summer, I suffered from an infection and a vitamin deficiency on top of my blood sugar levels being all over the place (my “honeymoon” phase was over), so physically I felt awful all day, every day. I worried about my blood sugar levels constantly. I also had a life-long fear of needles, and my new diagnosis required me to inject myself with syringes several times a day.  My fears, poor health, and a plethora of emotions kept me depressed in bed for 10 weeks.

I consider this period of feeling so poorly as Chapter 1 of my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. It was dark and emotional, and now it’s over. Based on Elizabeth Kübler-Ross‘s 5 stages of Grief, I have fully reached the Acceptance stage.  I know I will likely continue to experience “bad” days now and then, but I feel like I can handle them significantly better now.

Following are the top 3 things that helped me accept, even embrace, my disease.

1. Connecting with Others

I joined T1D communities, both online and physically. I made connections and I learned from others having conversations about similar things I am going through. There are several great Facebook groups where I give and receive support daily, and I’ve even made a few friends through those groups.  I enjoy sharing links and thoughts in the Beyond Type 1 Community, who recently featured me on Instagram:

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Last month at camp I met a wonderful new friend named Gayle. I love this picture she took of me  in a kayak at camp (it’s the picture above, and repeated later). She later invited me to her T1D group (Diabetes Sisters) holiday party, where I instantly felt welcome and surrounded by caring people.  It turns out that simply having T1D (and everything that goes along with it) is a great ice breaker!

After years of traveling around, I must admit I have been quite lonely. It feels wonderful to be social again.

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2. Learning as Much as Possible 

A few weeks ago, I had an amazing time at an adult Type 1 diabetes camp, where I learned a lot about Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) through educational sessions and by connecting with over 60 others living with T1D. The camp inspired me tremendously and helped me get on the road to lots more learning. Connected in Motion even re-published my blog post about the camp:

Libby Rome Diabetes Camp

I also recently attended a Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) conference in San Diego, California. Even better, my super smart husband joined me so he can learn more too. I even saw a few of my new buddies from the Slipstream camp weekend. I learned new things and connected with others again.

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I just finished reading Think Like a Pancreas, the book most often recommended by my T1D-knowledgeable friends… for good reason! I am literally laughing out loud at the author’s humor, while greatly appreciating his well-written explanations of T1D and insulin. I have read Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution and am re-reading Bright Spots and Landmines to remind myself of good tips and tricks for managing T1D and eating low-carb.

For example, I recently began eating Adam Brown’s chia breakfast. It’s low carb, super healthy, and delicious. It also gives me energy, keeps me satisfied, and keeps me glucose stable (along with a small insulin dose).

3. Having a Positive Attitude

Libby with Dexcom I saved this one for last because I couldn’t have a new, positive attitude without the support, inspiration, and education from the items above. However, it’s the key that unlocks a new world for me. A positive attitude enables me to be objective about my T1D management, instead of applying judgement and getting emotional. It’s going to allow me to improve myself both physically and emotionally.

My new mindset has already allowed me to accept my disease and actually be excited about managing it every day. It’s a challenge I can handle. It’s a game that could even be fun now and then!  I’ve embraced becoming a Cyborg to help me manage my T1D. Most importantly, I am waking up happy and grateful every day.   Hooray!

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