muddybrooks

My experiences post total pancreatectomy.

Emotional Values

on March 21, 2018

I’ve been reading a lot in many areas of my life these days about assigning emotional values to object, ideas…you name it, and the whys and what have yous of why we do this. I know I do it. For us married girls, many of us preserve our wedding gowns. Why?? We’re not going to wear it again and if the occasion to need another white gown arises, we are not going to want to wear it again for many reasons. We have assigned emotional value to the dress and all it represents and reminds us of, good or bad.

Now that our one and only child has left the nest, we’re trying to pair down, weed out and just generally cut down on clutter, but I can’t seem to bear the thought of getting rid of my wedding dress. It reminds me of a happy time. My Dad was alive and able to walk me down the aisle, a small number of close friends and family attended the wedding, stood by us as we exchanged vows & not the least of which, I married an incredible man who, today, drives me crazy because he can’t seem to find the hamper when he takes his socks off every night!! (But I digress.) I keep saying I’m going to fussy cut the dress and take the pretty parts and fashion a pillow for our bed and then throw away the rest. But I keep procrastinating because of the emotional value I have assigned to this dress.

Another area of my life fraught with assigning emotional value to things is in my life with surgical type 1 diabetes (T1D). [Just as an aside, I technically have type 3C diabetes which is diabetes caused by pancreatic disease but even that isn’t a true representation of my surgical diabetes. My endo and I have decided to call my type of diabetes as it was formally known, surgical T1D. No one knows what it is or has even heard of type 3C. Plus, I like to call those close to me and sharing in my life with D as Type 3’s, as it is more commonly know. Again, digressing]

Take for instance any number that evaluates my diabetes: blood glucose values (BG’s), glycosolated hemoglobin (A1C) , my triglycerides, My HDL & LDL (high & low density lipoproteins), etc. I think you get the jist. But these all help explain how my diabetes is being managed overall. (HA!!! Like you can manage this beast!!) Since I was diagnosed with D (diabetes), I have learned that the proper way to look and think about these numbers is as a scientist collecting data (Thank you, Ginger Veira). They’re not good or bad but instead just in range or out of range & give us information to make a decision for treatment. And as the great Stephen Ponder, MD (author of Sugar Surfing) likes to say, sometimes no action is a treatment decision.

OK, let’s think about this for a minute. I’m a former cardiac surgical ICU RN and every shift I took in data from a client and made treatment decision based on these numbers. But we spoke about these values as good or bad. Not that the client experiencing them was good or bad but these vital data points were good if they indicated things were progressing as desired. Or they were bad because the current treatment plan wasn’t working.  Again, not meaning the client was good or bad. (most of the time my clients were heavily sedated and intubated so how could (s)he be either.)

So, if in my career as an ICU nurse I could call something good/bad and not assign emotional value but when it comes to my own D care, I’m all about the blame and good/bad. In my head, the rational part, I know these BG numbers in particular are neither good or bad. So, why when I wake up in the morning do I smile when I check my BG and it’s in range or close to it. But, if I wake up out of range, it messes with my head and I’m grouchy and tough to deal with. (I actually can think of a better word to describe what my mood becomes when I’m out of range). I feel like I’ve let myself and others down when I’m high or low because that means whatever I’ve been doing to treat my diabetes in the previous hours was unsuccessful. This makes me sad because everything I’ve been doing the past couple of hours has been a result of me TRYING MY BEST!! And this early morning BG is out of range and my best wasn’t good enough to put it in range. It makes me think of myself as bad. So, who wouldn’t be bummed??

I know, I know!!! I shouldn’t think of this number as good or bad but I do!!!! It’s the only objective measure I have of how my efforts are effectively maintaining my blood sugar. As you know, I’ve been dancing with D for just over 5 years, so one would think I’d have a handle on this. Frequently though (if the recent past is any indicator) I SUCK at staying in range. And, some days it seems nothing I do will bring me back in range for any length of time.

Another reason my emotions are tied into these  numbers is I know that I’m going to be judged for these results by many different people. Those close to me know I try REALLY hard at maintaining good…ARGHHHH, I mean in range numbers.  But the general world will judge me by my out of range numbers, anyone from my medical team, “What have you been doing that your this high/low”, and by acquaintances, “Isn’t that really bad?!! with a hint of disgust in her/his tone. I’m sure everyone can tell a story of being judged by their BG reading, or God forbid, the ALMIGHTY A1C!!!!

Heck, I even judge myself and probably more harshly than anyone else could! “OMG!!! What did I eat that made me go so high? Damn, I Swagged (Scientific Wild Ass Guessed) my dinner & now I’m low!! Why did I do that?” “I can’t even got this right?” Then I make promises to myself that I’m going to start looking up carbohydrate values and going strictly by the book. (Which frequently doesn’t work any better than SWAGGING!!!)

Even though I am judging myself along with the world, I’m learning to distance myself a little (stressing the word little) from my BG’s & A1C’s. I’m trying really hard to see these values as just information on my Dexcom graph that help me in my decision making process. It’s rarer now to get as worked up about an out of range number as I used to. (Believe me though, there are days where the numbers hit me harder.) I’m trying not to let a high or low when I check with my meter or glance at my CGM dictate my mood for the day. I try to take it into consideration as just another data point to be analyzed and overall, I think I’m getting better!! I’m certainly not perfect but I’m being kinder to myself when I’m out of range. And who doesn’t need an extra bit of kindness?? Maybe I’m stressed, maybe I need to walk the dog and let the exercise shave off some numbers, maybe I’m not considering that the prednisone I’m taking for a different issues is screwing with my BG. Any number of things could be going on that are out of my control  (Like the wind blew different today than yesterday) and other than accept the number, make a treatment decision, act on it and, finally, move on, there’s nothing more I can do. I don’t know about you, but I certainly have better things to do in my life than beat myself up because I have a finicky disease that isn’t the same from individual to individual, meal to meal, nor day to day.

I’m known among friends and family for saying, “It’s the little things in life that excite me!” So, I’m trying to take every little in range (or close to it) BG and celebrate it as a little D victory. I feel it’s important to celebrate the victories no matter how small and to also learn from the not so victorious moments, so we can grow and learn.

Does anyone else struggle with this issue? Does it get any easier to not beat myself up as I live longer with this disease? I’d love you to share your thoughts!!

Thanks for taking precious time out out of your day to read my post. I really appreciate it!!

Remember, Check. Don’t Guess!!!

Sandy

 

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One response to “Emotional Values

  1. Rick Phillips says:

    This is an interesting post. I have often wondered how nurses and other health care providers view diabetes data. I guess you view your data like I view mine.

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