I have been MIA the last few weeks because I was getting married and honeymooning in Belize. My husband and I had an amazing experience and I'm happy to say that thanks to my yoga therapy practice diabetes did not get in the way from the fun and adventure.
In preparation for the wedding this last March, I decided to take an extended pump break, the longest I have ever taken! Originally my intention was to prepare for the trip but soon realized that I needed a break from my routine. I needed a legitimate detox from being constantly plugged into diabetes and challenge myself to understand a new way of diabetes management for personal growth and development.
We are taught early on that diabetes is about consistency. We should have routine, plan for all unexpected circumstances and rely on the memory of what worked in the past. Just like all of life, however, nothing is constant. The moment we get stuck in a routine, we stop growing, fear, and anxiety of the unknown set into the mind. This can also happen with diabetes management.
Yoga is a process of personal growth and development. Through the practices of yoga, the individual can begin to awaken and shift their concept of reality. They harbor less anxiety and fear, become less stagnant and habituated in their patterns and beliefs. I genuinely believe that all of the challenges that we face with diabetes are mirrors onto the challenges of the human experience. Through diabetes, we have the opportunity to master life’s challenges and accelerate our growth, happiness, and wellbeing.
Changing up your diabetes routine can be a yoga practice onto itself. It requires you to look at your fears, habits and comforts. Before you begin, ask yourself "what is my intention?" Why do you want to make a change? What is not working? It can be as simple as mine: To take a break from perfect numbers, try something new, and have a digital detox.
This experience over the last two months taught me a lot about myself, diabetes, and the process of letting go.
Changing your routine is a process of adjustment and letting go. The first few weeks on break I was not jiving with the long-acting insulin. I listened to my intuition and changed to a different, more familiar brand and immediately my blood glucose improved. Although my cumulative numbers were not as stable as when I was on an insulin pump, the break allowed me to be less worried about perfect numbers. I was less stressed out by highs and experienced very few lows.
Every time I noticed that I was frustrated with shots and wanted to go back on my pump, I reminded myself of my intention. It is not about perfect numbers right now; it is about taking a break.
Being on shots has its own set of positive and negative qualities.
Here are my top + and - from MY personal experience. You might agree or disagree.
1. Freedom – I feel less of a billboard for diabetes when I do not wear an insulin pump
2. Comfortability – getting dressed is a much more enjoyable experience
3. Exercise—I did not need to eat as many carbs before and during exercise
4. Relaxed –without having a smart pump (and just Dexcom), I was able to sleep better and be less involved with ups and downs.
1. Flexibility – It was harder to mitigate high blood glucose readings, make impromptu decisions. More planning for exercise and food.
2. Shots –frankly, my skin was bruised and keeping on top of site rotation was challenging
3. Quality of insulin –despite using a Frio bag, and Myabetic thermometer, traveling with my insulin pens in varying temperatures caused me anxiety. I noticed that after a week or so, the insulin was less potent. I found myself taking way too much short-acting insulin and had to increase my long-acting insulin daily.
4. HbA1c – My average blood glucose numbers went from being about 90% in range to 70% in range on shots.
You might be on a pump and have no interest in changing. I get it. You might be on shots and absolutely love it. There were times over the last two months when I considered making the long term switch to shots. Everyone has got to find their way of living with diabetes that is not only authentic to your lifestyle but also in alignment with your insurance and pocketbook. If you do have the ability to experiment, I highly encourage it!
Here are some ways that you can try a new way of diabetes management:
1. Contact your doctor or diabetes educator, let them know that you want to take a pump break to see if they have insulin pen samples, and have them recommend something for you.
2. If you are on shots and want to try a pump, you can also contact your diabetes educator. Sometimes they have demos on hand. A few years ago, I wanted to try the Omnipod and purchased a used one and two boxes of pods on a diabetes community Facebook page for only $200.
3. Give yourself a specific timeframe. I gave myself two months. I do not think that anything less than a month is adequate.
Fast forward to today. I am now back in the States and on my pump. It took a second to get used to the tubes and size but I am happy to be back. It is what works best for me. Yet, I am not attached to it. I am sure that I will take another pump break because it always good to change up the routine.
If you want to learn more about how the practices of yoga therapy can help you awaken and shift your relationship to diabetes check out my RISE ABOVE T1D PROGRAM launching again soon! Just sign up for the waitlist and you will be the first to be notified when the program opens for registration.
Next week, I will share with you a special practice for overcoming the anxiety of change and uncertainty. Stay tuned!
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Evan Rachel Soroka