32. Body Image and Wedding Dress Shopping

So let’s talk about the dress in more detail shall we? Whoa, not that much detail, I still want to surprise Matt when I walk down the aisle. No, I want to talk about all of those body niggles and worries that every bride to be experiences. You know, the ones that lead to the majority of brides feeling like they have to go on a diet or extreme workout plan ahead of their wedding? I get it, it’s the day when you’re photographed the most in your entire life and you want to look back and see the image you have in your head in your photos, but what happens when you feel you have barriers to doing that?

 

My own personal relationship with my body image is chequered at the best of times and in the run up to wedding dress shopping it took a real nosedive, the reason behind this was definitely related to T1D. 

 

How would I wear my pump on the day? How would I access my insulin pump? How would I manage my diabetes? Could I manage to lose weight before the final dress fitting? Could I get back into being more active ahead of the wedding?

 

The last 2 were big ones for me, and probably the real reason why my body image nosedived. I realised I was chasing an ideal of other peoples perception of perfection and that was so unhealthy. After all, Matt proposed to me as I am so who would I really be losing weight for? Did I honestly want to look at wedding pictures and see someone I wasn’t familiar with? I spent more time than I should of thinking about this and made some decisions that helped me get to the wedding dress shop to find my dress.

 

1. I stopped looking at pictures of dresses in magazines
2. I stopped watching Say Yes to The Dress
3. I decided to choose my dress without allowing my pump to be a barrier
4. I spoke to my diabetes team about using a different insulin pump for my wedding
5. I wouldn’t choose a dress with the mind set “It’ll look better when I’ve lost some weight”

 

So, I fell in love with a dress and I brought it almost a year ahead of my wedding date. I then needed to find a solution for my diabetes management on the wedding day and I was fortunate enough that Kaleido became a very real possibility for me. That first day, and pretty much every day since has seen me more invested in being more active, because I have so little baggage and don’t have to worry about what to wear to accommodate my pump. The temporary basal function is so easy to find and use that I’ve rarely forgotten to use it ahead of a walk or a swim. It’s all been so natural, I guess that’s what happens when you get to cut the literal ties that were binding you.

 

My first dress fitting came around a week after starting with Kaleido and I didn’t even think about having tech attached to me, a very different experience to buying my dress., where I needed to detach my pump. I also realised that I hadn’t spent a year worrying about my weight or starting an extreme workout plan that would take time away from my daughter and fiancé. Instead I’ve spent that year planning a wedding, making sure my diabetes management is catered for in a way that will enable me to just enjoy our wedding day and most importantly, I’ve learned to feel more at peace with the body I’m in. It’s mine, it’s not perfect, it may not be the prettiest, but it houses a person who loves and is very loved. What could matter more?

DISCLAIMER:
THIS IS A SERIES OF BLOGS I WILL BE WRITING ABOUT KALEIDO. IN THE INTEREST OF BEING OPEN AND TRANSPARENT I WANTED TO SHARE WITH YOU ALL THAT I’M EXCITED TO HAVE BECOME A KALEIDOER. THIS MEANS I AM FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO GET TO TRIAL THE KALEIDO INSULIN PUMP. WHEN THEY ANNOUNCED THEIR UK RELEASE WAS IMMINENT, KALEIDO ASKED FOR KALEIDOERS AND HAVING BEEN KEEPING A CLOSE (AND VERY INTERESTED) EYE ON THEM FOR SOME TIME, I GOT IN TOUCH. I FEEL REALLY LUCKY THAT THEY’RE ALSO LETTING ME USE THEIR PLATFORM TO SHARE MY EXPERIENCES OF LIVING WITH T1D WHILST PREPARING FOR MY WEDDING DAY. THESE BLOGS WILL BE SHARED ON MY OWN SITE ALSO.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO DM ME.

All images copyright Author and Kaleido

31. And so it begins…

Leading up to Friday 6th September 2019, I felt such excitement and a smidgen of apprehension all at the same time. I’d developed such high expectations of what the Kaleido could do for me. Aside from the ability to control the pump remotely (a big win on the wedding dress front), I hoped this teeny tiny piece of colourful technology would help me overcome many of the body image obstacles I experienced every day. Of course the biggest expectation was always that it would be the most effective management tool in my Diabetes Kit.  

Since returning to MDI in March, I’ve found that my weight increased and I found I needed more glucose to treat a hypo, I also shied away from a lot of exercise for fear of hypos. I knew that Insulin Pump Therapy would make a difference, having experienced it before; I was looking forward to experiencing the difference Kaleido could make to all of that.

 

When Jayne from Kaleido arrived, it literally felt like she came bearing gifts. From the bags the pumps were in, to the boxes; opening it all up was such a lovely, non-clinical experience, which is such a rarity when Type 1 Diabetes lives with you. Our every day is lead by clinical decisions; we spend a large proportion of our lives with medical professionals in clinical environments and so this really was a breath of fresh air. It made me feel like I was at the centre of this process rather than my Diabetes.

 

We spent time going through the kit and various functions, using the guidebook; which is colour coded to match the handset screen options (so helpful when you need info quickly) and having a few dummy runs at filling the cartridge before we did it for real. Filling the cartridge, fitting it in the pump, inserting the cannula and then attaching the pump was all new but it went smoothly and this time, when the handset confirmed “orange pump connected” I didn’t cry as I had at previous pumpstart, instead I felt empowered and raring to go.

 

In fact I was so raring to go that that evening, we went for a family dog walk. I was running after my 16-month-old daughter and laughing at her holding the lead; I chased my dog through the long grass and I held my fiancé’s hand as we watched our 2 girls exploring the nature reserve near us. The temp basal worked a treat and so did the extended bolus when we had pasta for dinner. We spent lots of time walking together over that weekend, my family, my Kaleido and I. Immediately I felt a sense of freedom I didn’t expect, a weightlessness; emotionally and physically. No longer did managing my diabetes feel like a chore, but more of a choice* and I cannot wait to try my wedding dress on at my first fitting.

 

 

*This is the best metaphor I can find for how I’m feeling and in no way am I suggesting that Diabetes, or it’s management is a choice.

DISCLAIMER:
THIS IS A SERIES OF BLOGS I WILL BE WRITING ABOUT KALEIDO. IN THE INTEREST OF BEING OPEN AND TRANSPARENT I WANTED TO SHARE WITH YOU ALL THAT I’M EXCITED TO HAVE BECOME A KALEIDOER. THIS MEANS I AM FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO GET TO TRIAL THE KALEIDO INSULIN PUMP. WHEN THEY ANNOUNCED THEIR UK RELEASE WAS IMMINENT, KALEIDO ASKED FOR KALEIDOERS AND HAVING BEEN KEEPING A CLOSE (AND VERY INTERESTED) EYE ON THEM FOR SOME TIME, I GOT IN TOUCH. I FEEL REALLY LUCKY THAT THEY’RE ALSO LETTING ME USE THEIR PLATFORM TO SHARE MY EXPERIENCES OF LIVING WITH T1D WHILST PREPARING FOR MY WEDDING DAY. THESE BLOGS WILL BE SHARED ON MY OWN SITE ALSO.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO DM ME.

All images copyright Author and Kaleido

22. A dream is a Wish your Heart Makes

 

It’s no secret that I’ve always wanted to be a Mumma, Matt sharing that dream is just one of an infinite number of reasons why I fell in love with him. We’d talked about becoming parents at length and decided that we wanted to start trying at the beginning of 2018. I spoke to my Diabetes consultant because my HbA1c certainly wasn’t at the desired preconception level, but it wasn’t dangerously high (or even high to be honest, just not “ideal”) either, and I was pleasantly surprised when he told me that given the way I manage my Type 1 Diabetes day-to-day, he wouldn’t be worried about the safety of me or my unborn child at all if I was to fall pregnant with that number, but if I could bring it down some more then that would make life easier and safer for us. The plan got discussed with my Diabetes Specialist Nurse, and once the excited talk about whether we’d prefer a boy or a girl was over, she explained the way the preconception courses work and said she’d send off a referral, but to expect a little wait before hearing anything. Knowing that in an ideal world I should be taking a higher dose of folic acid for around 3-6 months prior to trying to conceive, I spoke to my GP at my old surgery before I moved and they very happily added this to my repeat prescription knowing they were seeing the beginning of a long-held dream come true. So there they are, the first tentative steps towards making sure I could have as healthy a pregnancy as possible taken, I was excited and petrified all at the same time but what an incredible bundle of feelings to have.

 

I hadn’t read much about T1D and pregnancy before having those conversations, I’d picked up some bits of information from skimming various sites, including Diabetes UK, hearing common misconceptions (“Diabetics have 12lb babies so have to have a c-section” was the funniest one I heard from someone who didn’t know anything about any of the types of Diabetes), and reading the experiences of others within the Diabetes Online Community and the blogs of Mums and Mums to Be that Diabetes UK have collated. I have to say the latter combined with just talking to my healthcare professionals were the best things I could have done, I have seen a few others hoping to become parents seem frightened off by some of the information available to read. I am certain that’s not the intention of the information, after all, we all know that in some circumstances knowledge can be power; but if you’re just taking those tentative first steps toward parenthood as a Person with Diabetes, talk to those of us who’ve done it, Dream Buildersare doing it and who are also taking those first steps, it’s the best way of balancing all the information out there. It goes without saying that Your Diabetes May Vary and not everyone will have the same experience, which is where your Diabetes Team come into play and support you more specifically. So cultivate good relationships with them and if you’re ever unsure or unhappy; speak up. You will see each other at least every few weeks throughout your pregnancy, they will be there for some of the biggest moments of your life, so it’s vital that you work together.

I continued taking the folic acid each day and tried to put the excitement for 2018 to arrive to the back of my mind, whilst we settled into our new home and I got used to living in a place I didn’t know very well. We booked a long weekend away at our friends holiday home in West Sussex for the beginning of September and were so lucky with the weather. We had a day out exploring Arundel Castle and Littlehampton; where Matt had spent part of his summers as a child, we spent evenings walking along the beach with Ruby, watching the sunset or the moon reflect upon the water, IMG_9456then we’d relax in the hot tub looking up at the stars with Matt sharing his astrological knowledge. We talked about taking our own children one day, perhaps getting our respective families to join us, we talked about our anniversary trip to Malta in November and I decided I would work on losing some weight ahead of the holiday which would also help with some of my chronic pain issues, particularly ahead of a pregnancy. The entire weekend was heavenly, aside from the fact that tea (and those who know me will be aware that I drink a lot of tea), didn’t taste right. It made me feel sick almost, at one point I was convinced it was the milk, then it was the dishwasher and so every mug was washed by hand prior to making a brew; nothing worked. I managed a cup without feeling too sick whilst we were at Arundel but I suspect the slice of lemon cake helped with that. Add the somewhat more persistent hypos to my newfound ability to cry at most things and these moments of feeling unwell and like I have no control over my body were hellish! No amount of Haribo is a silver lining to that. The day before I found out I was pregnant, I had one of these persistent hypos and I just burst into tears. Matt; as ever was an absolute rockstar.


I took a photo of that moment (above) because I’m always curious about what my hypos look like to other people. Attractive isn’t it.

I’ll be honest, the thought of Moomin one day seeing me in this state terrifies me; but I hope that Matt and I will do a good enough job of explaining it all to remove any fear, I’ll also have the help of my exquisite niece to help her little cousin know what to do and to know that everything is and will always be ok. (You can read about Little P here).

Monday arrived and we were sad to leave Selsey, I was sad to have not enjoyed Tea or Matt’s delicious poached eggs (#notaeuphemism). My mind raced wondering what had made these things I loved so much make me feel nauseous but then I remembered the lovely red wine I’d enjoyed and thought it’d be ok when I got home and tea and poached eggs would again be my friends.  Looking through the photos when we got home a memory was triggered; as we admired the stunning Chagall stained glass window in Chichester Cathedral, I had felt compelled to go into the chapel next to it. I didn’t know why I felt so drawn to it, I was raised CofE and went to church and Sunday school, but my path has taken a more spiritual, all-inclusive direction and to feel so compelled to pray was something I couldn’t ignore. In that chapel I felt my thoughts being guided; amongst the many thoughts, I asked for a healthy pregnancy and child. It was a very emotional experience and through the tears I wiped away when I rejoined Matt in front of the window, I put the prayer for a healthy pregnancy and child down to a future wish. It was only when I remembered this that I felt another compulsion……

 

 

 

To be continued…….

 

 

Images are copyright of the Author and courtesy of Google Images.

19. On the 12th day of Christmas and the 4 months since….

I wish I could tell you that by day 12 all was wonderful and marvellous and I had my basal rates sorted, my ratios and correction doses accurate and on the money, but alas; on day 12 of this pump start journey I wanted to throw it out of the window.

I was told that this officially makes me a pumper!

4 months on and I’m still fine-tuning, but that’s OK; I’ve spent 15 years doing MY Diabetes one way, so it stands to reason that it would take me some time to adjust to doing MY Diabetes a completely different way, along with some other discoveries……..

I’ve accepted that the smooth lines of Libre’s and CGM on Social Media aren’t the daily reality for everyone and so I must stop judging my own reality by these, in doing that I was creating barriers to praising my own undulating (instead of spiky) lines when they happened, even if only for a couple of hours. 

I’ve learned that literally saying out loud to my boyfriend, “I’m happy with MY Diabetes over the last few hours” makes a mammoth difference to how I feel about MY Diabetes in that moment.

Working with some wonderful professionals, I’ve acknowledged how difficult MY Diabetes journey has been and how isolated I have felt during the last 15 years. By acknowledging all of that, I’ve also acknowledged and am learning to celebrate how well I have managed MY Diabetes pretty much alone in those 15 years, how strong I have been; how strong I AM.

I have a permanent mental post-it note in my head that reads: “When someone who doesn’t have Diabetes and knows nothing about an insulin pump, assumes it’s an artificial pancreas and the minute you connect your issues will be gone, don’t let that make you feel like a failure. Educate them about YOUR Diabetes instead”! (It’s one of those bigger post-it notes).

I’m learning to unlearn, sounds daft I know, but just as you do with driving a car I developed certain “habits” around how I managed MY Diabetes on MDI. Now, as much as there are new “habits” to learn, the old habits need to be unlearned.

I accept and celebrate my bruises – they mean I’ve kept myself alive for another 3 days thanks to my battery operated pancreas and whilst they’re bigger, more regular and a little more sore than the occasional bruise I’d get on MDI – the volume of bruise causing activity associated with MY Diabetes is greatly reduced.

I’m more mindful now than ever about where seatbelts meet infusion sites, or how waistbands sit and move as I wear them. I’m getting used to considering and planning bath or shower timing and set changes, in addition to considering and planning activities and Temporary Basal Rate requirements so that I’m in charge of MY Diabetes at all times. 

I still struggle and have meltdowns over what to wear, but now I just blame MY Pump!

It’s not easy, you have to be organised and mindful and resilient, but we all do that on a daily basis anyway. I didn’t begin my journey to IPT because I thought it’d be anything less than hard work, I went this route because I wanted the best treatment for my Diabetes after 15 years of “winging it”. If I could achieve what I know I will achieve with an Insulin Pump on Multiple Daily Injections, I wouldn’t be attached to my peacock feather coated little box 24/7. MY Diabetes Consultant asked me last week if I was Happy with the decision to move to Insulin Pump Therapy, my answer was:

“Yes, because although there’s not much change right now, I am hopeful and certain that the change is on it’s way and it’ll be well earned!”

Nx

7. Once Upon a Dream……

To the greatest Love I will ever know,

I turned 35 last week. I thought I would’ve met you long before now and I’m so very sorry that our first hug is still a little way off, there is much to achieve before we can begin creating memories together. But, my Little Love Monkey, I promise you it will be worth the wait, just as I try to promise myself on a daily basis that you, will be worth the wait, despite how impatient I feel.

For me, becoming your Mumma was never going to be the easiest journey. There have been various, shall we call them; “Life” obstacles that needed to be overcome and then there are the medical ones to consider. I have always sworn that the day your travels to me begin, I will be the healthiest and happiest version of myself – so that I can give you the very best of me, to enable you to be everything and anything you dream of being. There is also another reason; I have something called Type 1 Diabetes. What this means for me each day is a lot of work, it means I have to take medicine every time I eat or drink if it has carbohydrates in it. There are even occasions where I need to take some insulin without anything passing my lips, I’m told it’s a little bit like having a child at times, except Diabetes doesn’t make you watch In the Night Garden on repeat…..what exactly is a Ninky Nonk? Perhaps you can hold my hand as we find out together, I’m a little scared…

From the moment you’re conceived, my T1D will be a part of your life and each day I will teach you something about it. I will also do my utmost to protect you from it. By that I don’t just mean from getting it too – the chances of me passing on my beta cell hating genes are slim, in fact less than 5% I believe, but I will always try to shield you from having to deal with the daily maintenance, the darker side of Type 1 and mostly from being afraid of it. I will do as I have with your cousin Little P, and embrace teaching you about my kit and my medicine; in fact I hope Little P will play a big role in your Diabetes Education – I must think of a more fun name for it before you’re here though, for my sake as much as yours.

One of the biggest ways I hope to make sure I’m able to do all of this, is by having the best blood glucose numbers I possibly can when, by whatever means, I buy your ticket for your travels home. The advice is always to plan, and sometimes life doesn’t happen that way, so instead my goal is to try to have those numbers everyday and to learn to appreciate that perfection – perhaps with very few exceptions – isn’t always achievable. One of the many lessons my life with T1D has given me, is that your best is ALWAYS good enough, regardless of whether that matches up to what others expect that to mean, because your best means that you’re engaged with the goals, and therefore you’re making an effort. This is something I will share and instil in you everyday. So at the moment, my best isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough for now; because I’m trying to better it.

When I think of you, there’s a song that comes into my head………..Dream BannerLyrics Once Upon..

The lyrics resonate with how I feel about you, of course I don’t know you yet, what I do know is how loved you are and that the growth potential for that love, is infinite and certain. I know that when we do meet, I won’t feel like I am meeting you for the first time, instead it will feel like a reunion. I will undoubtedly sing this song to you at many points throughout our life together, please focus on the intention rather than the delivery.

I’m sure I’ll write again Baba, until then I must go find your Daddy……
(Sound of canned laughter à la late 80’s TV sitcoms).

With every beat of my heart,
Love always,

Mumma xXx
(To Be…)

 

 

 

Images Courtesy of both Google Images & Copyright Discombobulated Diabetic.