you can do this. trust me.

Last night, I joined in on the weekly #DSMA (diabetes social media advocacy) chat on Twitter. If you haven’t participated, I highly encourage you to try it out. If you have type 1 or are a parent of a child with type 1 or just want to get a glimpse into life with type 1, I promise that you will grab a few nuggets and have a great laugh [or two or three] during those amazing 60 minutes on Wednesday nights.

This time I joined using my @gregdooley Twitter handle rather than the @inspiredbyisa account that my wife, Kristina, and I co-manage to share our family’s journey with type 1. I did this for no particular reason…but it was very fitting. You see, last night was all about the advice we would give to ourselves. Discussion topics included (thanks to @DiabetesSocMed):

  • What would you say to yourself at the time of diagnosis or your child’s diagnosis regarding diabetes and mental health?
  • What would you say to your future self regarding diabetes and mental health?
  • If your future self came back in time to present day to tell you something what might it be?

Here’s the advice I gave to my past, present and Daddy painting nailsfuture self, as tweeted by yours truly last night…

“you can do this. trust me. but, it won’t be easy. you need to remember to take care of yourself.”

“you are not alone. seek out support now.”

“aren’t you glad you listened to me that time I told you to remember to take care of yourself?”

I was reminded of my advice to myself this morning as I sat in silence in my kitchen, fighting back what are most likely diabetes-burnout and stress-induced tears. Last night was another rough one, which is often the rule rather than the exception for parents of children with type 1 (and for those living with type 1 for that matter).

At around 1:00am we were dealing with an insulin pump system error followed by our second and third pod failure of the day. [Special thanks to the Insulet/OmniPod support team for helping to solve my problems…and for overnighting us a new PDM and replacement pods!] By that point, Isabella’s blood sugar had risen to 325 (more than 3x the normal level)…and it stayed above 200 all night. It was a long night of Dexcom alarms and insulin dosing without success.

I finally managed to roll out of bed at around 7:15am this morning; Kristina and the kids were already dressed and almost ready to leave for school. Kristina and I had planned to go to the gym together this morning but I told her I was too exhausted to even think about going to the gym….my “go to” excuse these days.

As Kristina finished getting ready, I helped put the finishing touches on the kids. Isabella’s hair looked much like a rat’s nest and had to be brushed, a task that always causes me anxiety. Isabella, who will turn 5 in just a few days, has her finger pricked more than 10 times every day and gets poked with other needles every few days without flinching — but, she screams bloody murder when you brush through the knots in her hair. As she began crying and screaming at me to stop, I could feel my blood pressure rising. While I tried to control myself, my emotions took over and I began yelling back at my 5-going-on-16-year-old little girl.

Kristina came back downstairs and took over while I pulled out Isabella’s meter to check her blood sugar and pre-bolus for breakfast. With my lack of sleep, rising stress level and Isabella’s screams echoing behind me, I said to myself (although loud enough for Kristina and Isabella to hear), “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.”

View More: http://cbk.pass.us/dooley-familyI felt as if the weight of the world was on my shoulders at that very moment. Exhaustion, stress from work and life, including being the father of 5-year-old triplets — one of which has a chronic and life threatening autoimmune disease — was all taking its toll on me and was clearly impacting both my physical and mental health. My wife was now telling me to calm down and reminded me rather bluntly that my reaction doesn’t help these situations.

As I waited for the meter to register, I looked down at Isabella and she was now completely sobbing, with tears streaming down her face. While she generally sleeps through nighttime checks, corrections, and even juice boxes and pod changes….her sleep is also interrupted most nights, especially last night with two pod changes which did wake her up at one point. She was clearly exhausted, too. And I felt terrible.

Isabella’s outburst this morning, while not uncommon for a 5 year old (which in our house is multiplied by three 5 year olds!), was likely the result of her own exhaustion….plus a high blood sugar, which her meter confirmed was around 250.

I certainly did not like my reaction this morning and wished at that very moment that I could have taken it back. Kristina and the kids left for school and I sat there in silence at our kitchen table with many thoughts going through my head about my failures as a father and as a husband.

Then I remembered my advice to myself from the #DSMA chat last night…

“you can do this. trust me. but, it won’t be easy. you need to remember to take care of yourself.”

“you are not alone. seek out support now.”

“aren’t you glad you listened to me that time I told you to remember to take care of yourself?”

I’m absolutely right: I CAN do this. And I WILL take care of myself and find ways to better manage my stress so that I can be the best husband, father and caretaker that I can be. This morning was an important reminder that if I don’t make it a priority to take care of myself, I will not be physically and mentally healthy enough to take care of anyone else, especially those that I love.

you can do this, too. trust me. but, remember to take care of yourself.

-Greg

 

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