Don’t let chronic illness clutter your heart: organization!

What overwhelmed me on my diagnosis day wasn’t the diabetes. I have a family filled with diabetes so I was ready for it. Instead, it was the stuff. So much stuff! I felt like I was leaving a convention with swag-bags galore! I came home and put the stuff on a table and it was everywhere. Falling out of bags, no rhyme or reason, no organization, and only barely understanding what all the stuff did. It was the perfect picture for how I really felt — out of control.

Seeing all that stuff everywhere broke me.

I still can’t explain why having all those medical supplies strewn out all crazy upset me so much. Let’s be real here — I am not the tidiest person! But to this day, you can get a pretty good idea on how I feel about my diabetes based on how my diabetes supplies are organized.

The things being everywhere weighed me down. It weighed on my heart. I couldn’t keep the supplies where they belonged, let alone keep my blood sugar where it belonged!

Recently, I got my diabetes supplies back in check. I wanted to share some of the ways that keep this overwhelming “stuff” in the house from becoming overwhelming “stuff” in my heart and mind.

I got this under the bed drawer back when I was about to move out of my parents house for the first time. There were actually two but one went missing in a move. In looking at “under the bed organization” lately, the products that are out there are woefully inadequate. Most of the storage, I think, is meant for more long term storage because you’re required to pull the while drawer out just to open it up. It doesn’t matter if what you need is right at the front, you have to pull the whole thing out.

Under the bed medicine organization
Under the bed medicine organization

What I like about this is that it’s a literal drawer that I can pull in and out as needed. I keep the things I want at my fingertips in the front, and the things that aren’t so important in the back. I also like that it’s stackable. Our bed could have two layers, though I know some people’s beds can’t.

But it’s not quite as simple as “get a drawer.” If you were to just throw all your stuff inside the drawer, things would go crazy very quickly. From here, I just used the boxes that my supplies came in (supplemented with Amazon Prime boxes cause we’re straight-up-Amazon-addicts), cut them so that they are shallow enough for the drawer, and used that to separate the supplies from each other.

By doing this, all my supplies are under my control. They sit where I want them to sit. They become my tools, instead of my overloads.

Why it is good to do something frivolous — the lie of productive

It’s easy to take a look around Pinterest or Facebook and see “side hustle” and “how to make money.” These posts are right beside other posts talking about not having enough time to spend with your own children. Let’s be honest — society wants us doing things, productive things, and doesn’t want us to sit idle.

Watercolor work in progress

And there’s some, small, truth to that. There’s a small truth to every good lie. Just sitting around idle constantly is laziness and isn’t a virtue by any means. But in Psalm 46:10, we are asked to “be still” so let’s take a closer look at what’s going on here.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Certainly, we’re not being asked to be lazy (the Bible has a lot to say about being lazy, especially in Proverbs), but we’re also clearly being asked to pause for a moment.

What are we doing when we are trying to accomplish this “side hustle” or drive the kids around to 8 different activities a week? Under the guise of “productivity” we are actually trying to take control of the situation.

Watercolors

It’s easy to notice this when times are stressful and it’s obvious we’re not in control. But more dangerous are when times are good and easy. The self says, “Look, I can put together a side-business on Etsy and make this money all on my own.” You see, by staying busy it’s easy to think that things are happening just because of the business. “If I work harder and harder things will get better.”

But, instead, God asks us to stop being busy (“Be still”) and acknowledge him as supreme (“and know that I am God” and “I will be exalted”).

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23

Is starting that side hustle for the glory of God, or for your own glory (“Look what I can do!”). Especially when, at the same time, it’s proving difficult to find time for the things God has already asked to be done.

But this pull to “do things” doesn’t come from nowhere. We are meant to be productive. But society tries to turn our being into a commodity. It wants our work not to be for the glory of God, but to be for the glory of the business or to create a more voracious consumer.

Even now, as I type this, there’s a little section below where I type in WordPress telling me how “SEO-friendly” (search engine optimization) this post is. As this post is just being drafted, it’s being graded on how well it will be able to pull people into the blog — how useful it will be to the blog. We’re treated no differently. We’re constantly being graded on how useful we are and how much we do.

Staying so busy keeps us from enjoying God’s creation. The weird little hobbies and activities that do not produce income or
are unlikely to produce income. Essentially, what society says “don’t quit your day job.”

Watercolor art of a hand

It shouldn’t all be about our income though. There is a time to work, but we are also asked to pause and enjoy the beauty and greatness of God and his creation. “Silly” little hobbies like painting or hiking. Things that “make no money.” Things just for enjoyment.

I ask that you do not feel guilty for enjoying enjoyable activities. Art was not created for you to feel guilty about enjoying it. Nature was not created for you to feel guilty for appreciating it. Take a moment to be still and widen your life beyond “productivity.”

Emergency Room bag — Preparing to make bad times less bad

No one likes having to go to the emergency room. Most of the time you’re sitting there waiting and waiting and waiting — and that’s if you’re lucky and they aren’t having to do more invasive things. But there are ways to make a trip to the ER more bearable by making sure you have the things you need or want to have. By packing a bag with these things and having it ready to go at a moment’s notice, you can take a load of stress of of your shoulders. This way, you can focus on the actual crisis knowing other things have already been taken care of.

Comfort

  • Socks
  • Comforting religious item (rosary, prayer card, etc.
  • Change of underwear
  • Pajama bottoms
  • Tank top
  • Comfortable wireless bra
  • Snacks and favorite condiments
  • Bottle of favorite drink
  • Normal daily medications and vitamins

Communication

  • List of phone numbers of friends and family
  • Current list of medications
  • List of current doctors
  • Instructions on how to call in sick for work
  • Information about bills (in case you’re unable to drop off that rent check due to the ER trip)
  • Spare phone charger (remember the part that plugs into the wall)
  • Power brick
  • Notebook and pen for writing down doctor’s instructions

Hygiene

Doctors and nurses in the ER generally don’t care about your usual hygiene — they’re just worried about keeping you up and running. But feeling dirty can make a stay feel more miserable than it has to. Doing a few little things to help yourself feel cleaner can help keep your mood optimistic during an unexpected stay. This also goes for your caretaker. Travel size bottles are perfect for your ER bag.

  • Mouth wash (when you can’t brush your teeth, this helps)
  • Dental floss
  • Dry shampoo
  • Hairspray
  • Wet wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer (easily accessable — MRSA is no joke)

Home

If your family is anything like mine, the first thing out of their mouths is an offer to help. But detailing out long plant watering instructions is the last thing you want to do when you’re in the ER. I, basically, have a little kit in our bag explaining what they can do to help us take care of the house while we’re in the ER.

  • Spare house keys
  • Write instructions on how to feed the pets, water the plants, etc.
  • School and babysitter info so they can help get any children where they need to be.

Entertainment

If you’re lucky, your ER trip is less drama and more boring. Waiting for tests, waiting to hear from the doctor, waiting for blood sugar to finally come down. Pack some things to help make it a little less boring.

  • Old Gameboy with batteries
  • Favorite book

Remember to pack things in the bag for the caregiver, too, not just what the sick person might want. They’re in the ER with you!

We keep our bag right by the front door, hidden behind a chair. A coat closet is perfect for this. If the weather in your area is mild, you could even keep this bag in your car.

As for bag choices, we had a spare backpack. No one cares about fashion in the ER, anyway. I think this bag was my middle school backpack! Having shoulder straps makes it easy to carry along with my shoulder purse, and it also keeps it gender neutral for either of us to be carrying around.

Pump preventative action — save your settings!

Glooko saved my insulin pump settings and saved me so much hassle too!
Glooko saved my insulin pump settings and saved me so much hassle too!

Save your pump settings! When my pump was declared dead by Insulet, the first thing I did was call my endocrinologist. He said he was sending me in a script for Lantus and to take the same amount of Lantus as my total daily basal rate was on my pump.

Well, how much was that?

I certainly wouldn’t have known save for the fact that just a few days earlier, I had gotten curious about glooko. Being stubbornly nosey about technology, I dug up my Omnipod cord that I hadn’t used in years, and got my data synced into Glooko. I don’t really like the Glooko interface (I prefer to use my xDrip+ setup), but it saved me immeasurable stress and drama when my pump died. I would have had to start completely over figuring out my basal and bolus rates. Years of work tweaking those down the drain!

It’s easy to forget that your insulin pump can break, too. Remember to save your settings to make it easier on you if something goes wrong!

I wont say it’s easy typing all these settings back into the omnipod now that the new one has arrived, but it’s a million times easier than starting from scratch.

Please save your settings! I know the CDE told me to do that right when I was diagnosed and I never did until that coincidental upload into glooko.

Death of an insulin pump — Omnipod failure!

She’s dead, Jim.

diabetes, pump, omnipod, insulin pump
The last known picture of my omnipod insulin pump

She’s served me faithfully since I was diagnosed over 3 years ago. I was put on the pump almost immediately. My family had taught me how to carb-count all through growing up, so I was an ideal candidate.

Yesterday, I had taken  off work due to some sort of stomach flu and I thought I would just sit on the couch with a bucket and comforting movie marathon. If only. I bolused and it screached and told me to call Insulet. It’s done this before (maybe that was signs of it dying), so I wasn’t worried. They were going to tell me some magic button combination to get it work again. But, no, the logo came up and down and up and down and never past the logo. It was dead.

They said the earliest they could have it to me is Friday, so two days away. For those two days… do what my Endo says. I had to call my endo on call (who was none too pleased). He was in disbelief at first — he always has contingency plans for his Medtronic users but never in his 20 years has he seen an Omnipod PDM break. I guess I’m just lucky that way.

Much running around to get Lantus as the stores are closing around me. Then trying to figure out how much Lantus I need. Then trying to figure out how to pay for it all. It was a 6 hour ordeal.

So far from that “rest” that was needed for my stomach flu.

I’m just thankful it was under warranty. I’m thankful I was able to get it all done. Being pumpless feels a bit… defenseless and scary but God is getting us through.

It’s not always about diabetes — just being sick

I woke up today and felt awful. Completely awful. I pulled the covers over my head, determined to have just “5 more minutes” without dealing with diabetes. 30 minutes later, I tested and… I was at 101!

It wasn’t diabetes making me feel sick. I was just… sick.

 

I don’t even know how to react. Tea? Soup? Rest? What are these things — I’m used to needles, water, and more needles.

It’s a nice reminder, though, that I am still a human and not solely a diabetic. Little colds are strange in that it’s as if God is telling you to slow down and focus on him. Well, with whatever focus your fuzzy-addled mind can muster.

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

Just staying cheery in the storm. And following sick care rules.