Friday, January 31, 2014

I quit! I quit! I qui --

I quit. 

I quit you diabetes. I quit, I quit, I quite ... I. QUIT! 

Oh if only that was possible. Unfortunately, I can't quit. If I did I'd basically be quitting life and well, let's be honest, I don't feel like doing that, especially considering all the hard work I put into earning my APR. (I can't apologize for mentioning that again, it will be a long time before the excitement wears off.) 

In the very back of my head, I always wish I didn't have diabetes but most days I just accept the fact I have it and plow through the day without much thought. It is what it is. This week though? It has been beyond crummy. I've cried and screamed and have rocked a pretty sour mood. 

Rarely are Mondays are a great day in general. This past Monday took it to an entirely new level. And overstayed its welcome ... for several days. By Wednesday I wanted to see if I could take out a restraining order against Monday. 

Yes, you are thinking I'm being dramatic but let me rehash the week for you. 

  • The CGM sensor I changed on Sunday failed while I was at work around lunch time;
  • Spent over an hour on hold trying to get through to get a replacement sensor;
  • Went to the dentist for a cavity (It is pure torment having things being stuck in my mouth);
  • Attempted to change the sensor after dinner and drew massive amounts of blood (blood was gushing from my stomach when I removed the sensor, not exaggerating);
  • I'm now rocking an awesome bruise from where I tried to insert the sensor;
  • Spent another hour on hold trying to get another replacement 
  • My CGM sensor and blood sugars were hanging out in the 200s. I had changed my infusion when I changed my sensor on Monday night. Since I was in the low 200s I knew the site was working. If it wasn't, my blood sugars would have been sky high;
  • Ran a temp basal just to be sure and my sugars seemed fine the rest of the day. I really didn't want to have to call the help line yet again -- this time for a new infusion site;
  • Met with a nutritionist so I could finally have a better idea of how many grams of carbohydrates I should eat a day -- and this meeting lead me being dramatic and just a mess, I fully own this;
    • She insisted on weighing me. Bad move lady, bad move. I've gained 1.3 pounds and this sent me into a tailspin. I refuse to discuss actual numbers because this would lead me to feeling ashamed and hating myself with quite the fiery passion;
    • According to her, I should eat between 45-60 grams of carbs a meal and then 30 grams for a bedtime snack. Fantastic! Did you know a serving of 8 whole wheat crackers is 18 grams? A bowl of Special K is 23 grams? An oatmeal raisin cookie at Panera is 62 grams? A snack pack of carrots (just carrots) is 8 grams? So, basically, I will be a rabbit from now on and eat a bowl of Special K with skim milk and eat some sugar free Jell-O (carb free baby, carb free) for all of my meals. To ensure I lose weight I need to stay at 50 or below per meal;
    • Reflecting more on carb allotment, eating out just isn't going to happen. The delicious smashfries at Smashburger. A small serving -- 66 grams. A plain cheeseburger -- 44 grams. I suppose I can join my friends in eating out and consumer a Diet Coke. Yay! 
  • My CGM sensor continued on Wednesday saying I was higher than I was which lead to more frustration
  • I woke up in the morning and my CGM said my sugar was 298. What the heck? I had a light carb (a rice cake) as my snack and have never had issues with it rising my blood sugars. I scrolled through my overnight CGM readings (remember, it reads your sensor glucose approximately every 5 minutes) and there was one reading in the middle of the night at nearly 400!!  
  • That led to immediate panic, frustration, tears and stress -- none of which is good for the blood sugars;
  • After I finished getting ready for work, I tested my blood sugar to bolus for breakfast and my meter read 195. The CGM read 300. Um, say what?! Not cool. I'm hoping that means sugars did not actually reach nearly 400 during the night;
  • I saw my therapist that morning too. 8 a.m. appointment. Thanks to bad traffic he got stuck in, my appointment didn't start until 8:30 a.m. and had to be cut short to help him get back on track. 
So, yep, it's been a crummy week medically for me. I changed my infusion site this morning and am about to check my sugars to make sure it is working. Fingers crossed. The CGM was high this morning too and after my breakfast bolus went from the mid-200s to the 300s. It makes no sense. It is now reading the low-200s. Hoping the CGM is running higher than my blood sugars. I see my endro in a few weeks. I'm worried about this because of this week's CGM readings. I'm trying hard but these past few days just have not been on my side. 

Thankfully, today is Friday. And I'm anxious to go home after work and curl up with my dog and a good book for a relaxing night.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Please Mr. Postman...

Is there a letter in your bag for me? 

These days our mailboxes get filled with bills and junk mail. Less and less bills thanks to eBills, but they are still in the mailbox. Rarely do we receive letters or cards outside of specific occasions (birthdays, holidays, etc). 

Cleaning up my dining table, I stumbled upon this: 

Dad sent that the day before I took my APR exam when I had reached unimaginable levels of anxiety and stress. I received it the Monday after, but it still warmed my heart. It was perfect timing to find it again on Monday because of how spectacularly awful my Monday had been for a Monday. It put traditional Mondays to shame. 

Reading that note he mailed me warmed my heart and, this will sound cheesy, put me at peace for a moment. It is now held up on my fridge with a magnet. 

Sometimes we need words of encouragement. Receiving it via a text, email, tweet or Facebook post works but it is hard to stumble upon those like a handwritten note. Truly, how many of us go back and scan through old emails or text messages unless we're looking for something specific? 

Finding this again sent my mind down memory lane. How growing up I went to diabetic summer camp (greatest place ever). And waiting for me on the first day was always a letter for me from my Grandpa. He lived in my hometown so I probably saw him the day he wrote and mailed the letter but it always made me feel a little extra loved. He'd send a letter each day I was at camp. I never had to worry about not receiving a letter from home. 

Camp was before email and cell phones. My fellow campers and I were spread out across the state. We shared such a bond and dreaded the day our parents came to take us back home. To stay in contact, we wrote letters. Basically, we were pen-pals. It is a shame kids these days are growing up without traditional pen-pals. I was always excited when Dad came home from work with the day's mail. Before he had a chance to say  hello, I was pestering  him for the mail to see if I received a letter. Each time there was a letter, it felt like striking gold. 

When I went away to college, Grandpa continued to write letters. Sometimes he'd include a couple dollars so I could get a "hush." I remember he sent a letter to my sisters, my cousin and I. The same letter to each of us, which really, didn't matter, it was still a letter. And he photocopied a dollar bill at the bottom of the page. His reasoning? Grandma wouldn't give him his allowance so he could spoil us. I'm still giggling thinking about it. 

It wasn't just about receiving them. I always enjoyed writing and sending them too. When I moved out-of-state, I would send postcards to my Grandma. I made sure to send postcards connected to what I was doing so she could also see what I was talking about instead of just reading. I miss sending those to her. 

The trip down memory lane was exactly what I needed after a crummy day. And it reminded me how such simple things can give us joy. More importantly, it reminded me that I am blessed to have received and continue receiving handwritten notes. The most important thing though it reminded me is I need to send a note to my Wisconsin pen-pal.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The results are in...

I took my APR exam Saturday afternoon. It was a slightly terrifying experience. I was hopeful the first question I would know, without a doubt, the answer to. It wasn't until about question 16 I felt confident about an answer. The rest of the exam I had a horrible thought in the back of my mind that I wouldn't pass the exam, so I partially gave up while completing the exam. Not good. Anxiety kicked in halfway through because I knew I was taking too long with the questions. I was running out of time. I finished answering all 190 questions with about 40 minutes left. After I reviewed all the questions I marked to review, I had about 25 minutes left. There wasn't enough time to go through all 190 questions again, so I hit the "End" button. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

I had my head in my hands and glimpsed at the computer screen between my fingers waiting for words to appear on the completely white screen. I chanted to myself in my head that it was okay that I wasn't going to pass. I could come back in 30 days and retake the exam.

Finally, after what seemed like years, writing appeared on the white screen.

And then I was too terrified to look.  

 Eventually I gathered my courage and peaked through my fingers. And I saw this...


And really, that is all that matters in this moment of time. I can now be considered an expert in my professional field of public relations. It took a lot of time and hard work. Ultimately, it was worth it. The amount of pride I have in this accomplishment is somewhat ridiculous. I've randomly contacted various family members to remind them yet again I earned my APR. No longer is my name "Kristin last name." It is now "Kristin last name, APR." It is a wonderful feeling to see those three letters behind my name. And now I just need to figure out what to do with all my spare time because I no longer have to study.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Resolutions? No thank you.

It is now the middle of January. Everyone should be in full swing on their resolutions. Some may have already been broken. Right now, technically speaking, I'm perfect on my resolutions. 

Because I didn't make any. I refuse!

If you haven't noticed, I'm slightly a type-A, OCD, perfectionist. Eh, who am I kidding. I am the definition of a type-A, perfectionist. The thought of making resolutions at the start of the year is terrifying. So much pressure. Most people break their resolutions. We get busy with things, we go back to our habits of comfort, etc. The thought of not being successful, of breaking a resolution. I'm having anxiety just contemplating that.

So, in the sense of new year's resolutions, I'm perfect at keeping them because I refused to make any. 

As I thought about writing a post on resolutions though (because you know, all the cool kids are writing about it), I realized I kind of did create some resolutions. Just on my own timeline. 

With my birthday this past October, I decided to make some big changes. Changes ultimately for me. I switched to an insulin pump. As I reflect on the past two months with it, I realize that change in a way was a resolution, to improve me. To improve my health. And so far, I'm being successful at it. Even my doctors are proud. That one decision is having a domino effect on me though. 

I made the goal (or I suppose resolution) to improve my diabetic health. I'm seeing success and keeping it up. 

That has lead me to wanting to go back to consistently working out. I have partial success with that -- I bought a treadmill. This will ultimately help me lose the weight I'd like to lose.

All of that combined has prompted me to make an appointment to see a nutritionist. Am I eating the correct amount of carbohydrate grams? How can I make my family recipes healthier? I'm such a picky eater -- if I like these foods, what other foods might I like? So many questions for them but it will be good to discuss these things with an expert. (That reminds me, I'm going through two of my diabetic-themed cookbooks to try some recipes. I'll let you know how it turns out in a future post).

I've had the goal of earning my APR, and again, partial success. I'm in the process of it. Studying like a mad women 24/7. I take the final exam on Saturday, Jan. 18, so we'll see if I am successful with this goal on the first try. 

Because the APR will improve my life professional it has led me to wanting to get professional head-shots for my LinkedIn profile and anything else I might need them for. Success! I'm hiring a sorority sister who owns a photography studio. 

This has led me to wanting to be more involved professionally. I'm already a member of Public Relations Society of America and at our recent meeting talked with someone about being involved on a committee. I also recently joining Association for Women in Communications. So, success!!

Without realizing it, I created an overall resolution of improving my quality of life in various aspects. The best part is, I'm being successful. What can I say? I like being successful. I think one key has been not making them when everyone else does at the beginning of a new year. Perhaps we can start a new trend -- making resolutions around your birthday. Why not have the next year of your life better than your previous one? 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Visions of Louboutins dance in my head

If you didn't know, I work in the public relations industry. Both my bachelor and master degrees are in advertising and public relations so I'm pretty happy to work in the industry that I went to school for. It doesn't always happen that way. 

In the public relations industry, there is an accreditation I think all professionals should strive for -- the APR (Accreditation in Public Relations). Just as it is a big deal when an accountant earns their CPA, it is a big deal with a public relations professional earns their APR.

I began the process to earn it this past summer. I signed up for my local Public Relations Society of America chapter's APR study course. I printed the study guide. I bought many of the recommended reading materials. Suddenly, it seemed like I was back in school and I got excited! Oh, how I loved college! I especially loved graduate school and the intense focus on one subject. 
The original pile of study materials. It has since grown.

Working through the course that met weekly, I started reading the recommended books. When I looked at the class schedule and saw we had the readiness review panel scheduled for the end of August, I stopped dead in my tracks. I wasn't prepared for that. I hadn't even started. Heck, I hadn't even applied to go through this process. Thankfully, in class one night, we pushed back the panel until late September. I immediately went home and began completing the application and faxed it in the next day. For about three weeks, I sat on pins and needles waiting to hear if I had been approved to attempt to conquer this process. Finally, I received word -- I could move forward and work towards earning my APR. 

It then sunk in I should complete my readiness review for the panel. I can't remember how many questions. I think approximately 18, divided into three sections. Section one was about my professional background. Section two was about the plan. The plan people. That sucker has blood, sweat and tears in it. Since we don't create plans where I work for what we do, I had to create one from scratch and hope they'd let me actually implement it. Section three was about why I wanted to earn my APR, what I was doing to prepare for the computer exam and my level of comfort on the different areas to be covered. In total, my completed readiness review document was 20 some pages. 

It was due 15 days before panel -- Sept. 16. After submitting it I had to create a portfolio to present the plan with examples of what had been implemented to that point. My plan wasn't being implemented until October so at that point, the portfolio was pretty weak. But then, panel kept getting pushed back and back. By the time I had my panel (Nov. 1), I had began to implement my plan and had examples to present. Phew.

The panel is comprised of three professionals who have already earned their APR. I've heard horror stories leading up to it and was truly a nervous wreck. Waiting outside the room for them to finish preparing, our APR chair informed me a panelist emailed him prior to panel about how excited they were about my plan. That calmed me immensely. 

Despite being absolutely terrifying, I survived panel. My panel was actually an enjoyable experience. A few laughs were shared and I never once felt as if they were preparing to devour me for dinner. I was told I'd hear within a week if I passed or not. Wait. What?! I was told I'd know that day. They have to make the decision that day. Why the wait?! I went home and just collapsed from exhaustion. The next day, a Saturday, I got an email informing me my panel passed me and I could move forward in the process. From the time I left my panel until I saw that email I was a wreck of nerves.

There were screams, a tear or two of joy and a little bit of dancing that I passed my panel. People! I PASSED!! 

The next step in this process is the four hour computer exam. I've been reading the study guide and recommend books in preparation. My colleague, who is also working towards her APR, and I meet each week to review different topics. I've taken the practice test and did acceptable. I've slacked at times and been focused at other times during this process. 

On Jan. 18, I take the computer exam. If I don't pass, I can retake it 30 days later. Not bad considering if you don't pass the panel you have to wait 90 days. You only have a year to complete the process, which gives me until September 2014. 

I want to pass this on the first try. I want to put those three letters behind my name. I want the professional confidence it will instill in me. But what I want even more, I want the pair of Christian Louboutins I've promised to buy myself as a reward for earning my APR. Let me tell you, those shoes are great motivation. I've always wanted a pair of incredible shoes. I prefer shoes to jewelry. The price of them is somewhat ridiculous but with everything I'm putting into earning my APR, I can justify it. Besides, my confidence will skyrocket to the moon from not only having APR behind my name but also having my feet in a pair of Louboutins. 

Earning your APR can be a terrorizing and stressful experience. Although I have not completed the process yet, I guarantee you it is worth it. Once this process is complete, I'm confident I'll write more posts about this journey. Perhaps my posts will help a future APR candidate. If nothing else, I'll have my memories from the experience filed away for safe keeping. And of course, I'll be wearing my Louboutins while I write my posts.