By: Riva Greenberg
Five weeks ago I hurt my ankle. Really hurt it. I either tore a tendon or a ligament or had a severe stress fracture or something. Although I’ve been to my podiatrist twice now, the diagnosis is still unclear. The X-ray showed no break, and while the doc didn’t feel I needed an MRI, I figured that if my insurance paid for it, I did. I want to know we’re doing everything possible to get this fixed as quickly as possible (which already seems impossible after five weeks), because not walking is having several unpleasant effects on me:
The first affect is that if I ever needed confirmation that I’m more insulin-sensitive when I exercise, I now have it. I’ve had to up my Lantus from 12.5 units daily to 14, and add an extra unit or two to most of my boluses. Granted, I use little insulin compared to many, but for me this change is no less significant or upsetting. My blood sugar’s been far less well-controlled and predictable. The first week figuring out the new numbers was an exercise in frustration, irritation and downright pissed-offedness.
I saw, plain and clear, that my usual one-hour walk around the park had been performing blood-sugar control magic for me. Part of that magic was my numbers were better the whole day, and relatively similar day to day, so fairly easy to predict. There’s the second unpleasant effect – losing that predictability. Once you get your routine down, you know that having it wrecked feels like starting all over again from the day you were diagnosed. Yet I didn’t know just how unprepared I was for retooling again or how much it would bother me.
By week two, maybe three, I had made the adjustments, but frankly still resented that I’d had to. Ah, that pothole again I spoke of on my blog many, many posts ago. You’re zipping along and then, wham, something unexpected causes you to go on tilt again.
My Weight Checks In
Unpleasant effect number three: While I don’t think my one-hour walk causes any weight loss, it does keep my weight in check. Now, in contrast, I feel the fat deposits around my stomach and thighs swelling. My resentment of my body’s failure is now on two fronts; foot and fat. Of course that’s on top of the underlying resentment – that I work hard at having good control and being immobile has made my diabetes uglier to manage. My resentment obviously peaked two nights ago when I ate everything sweet in my house: gingerbread, chocolate, halvah, and washed them down with too much wine. That was me hitting the brick wall. Thank God that’s over, now I can move on. Of course after I tell you the last unpleasant effect – my mood shift.
The fourth effect: I’ve basically been a very unpleasant person around my husband; whiny and petulant. Good soul that he is, he hasn’t filed any papers. Instead he just left for Holland. Of course, he works there so I don’t think the two are related. But being housebound and not being able to scoot from here to there; having lost an enormous sense of freedom and spontaneity; not being able to clear my head outside my immediate environs, and see endless sky and be a part of life all around me, has deadened something in my spirit. We are social animals, after all, and my social life is largely apartment-bound.
So, what’s the message? I don’t really know. Am I just verbally vomiting? Maybe. Interesting though that I picked the day I’m actually feeling better to write this. Maybe this little patch of light creeping into my head today is offering such relief and hope that I dare to look at how poorly I’ve been feeling, and get back on track.
Putting My Sermons Into Practice
You should know, while I preach looking for the good in things, which I absolutely believe is the way to go, I am like you a student and a work in progress. So, putting my own “look for the good” advice into practice, I could say from this little experience: I have more compassion for people who are struggling with their weight or are incapacitated in some way. I really, really do.
I am also reminded (which seems to be one of my life lessons) that I don’t have to overachieve to feel I’ve achieved something. My ankle debacle came from taking my daily walk too aggressively – not missing a day, walking faster than usual, walking another hour most days as well – and then this overloaded ankle twisted in a pothole on a city street. All that effort I put into my walking to more aggressively keep my weight in check, all that speeding up had brought me to a standstill. That concern with weight comes from having been a heavy teen. My, my, such old programming still exists! That concern with overachieving is just more of the same entrenched, old programming. Seems my head needs to be re-booted. Well isn’t my current condition delivering the perfect symbolic message?
The “Small-Step Approach”
Then too, maybe I caused this because in the world of Louise Hay, spiritual teacher, my world is shifting rapidly and I am a little frightened of all the new things I’m taking on and all the new places I’m going. Did I slow myself down so that I could control it all, because I am an uber-controller? Not of others, just myself. “What I know for sure,” as Oprah would say, is when I’m faced with big, new things that feel overwhelming, my first impulse is to freeze and fear. But then what gets me through is to chunk it down into small steps. To take one small step at a time and create a small success. One step, one success builds me a road to the next step and the next success. Just writing that is soothing. So I could say, tallying my accumulated goods, that the last one is I have been reminded that this small-step approach is what I need to do with all that’s in front of me.
After all, the only race I’m in is the one I’ve created in my head. I guess my deeper wisdom knew that I needed to remember that. And like the tortoise and the hare, sure and steady wins the race. I just wish all this knowing had come to me in a dream, while slumbering peacefully in my space-age Tempur-Pedic bed, not in a pothole on 81st Street. Then again, I could choose to see this whole affair as a symbolic, celebratory “kick-off” to all the many good things yet to come this year.
March 7, 2008
Riva Greenberg writes the “My Side of the Meter” column for Diabetes Health magazine. To learn more about her work, visit her website at www.diabetesstories.com. You can purchase her book, “The ABCs of Loving Yourself With Diabetes,” at Amazon.com