Living With a Type 1 Diabetic and Other Musings

It’s been 2 years since I last updated this blog. So much has transpired over that time that it’s hard to know where to begin. Over the next few months, I intend to let my story unfold for you. I feel in my heart that I have something worth sharing with you. That my journey is your journey. Whether or not you resonate with my process, I know that I cannot keep it to myself. I must write about it, share it–for whatever purpose it fulfills.

To that end, I begin my story at the urging of my partner to write about what’s it is like to live with a Type 1 Diabetic (T1D). I met Todd last year and when we began dating, he informed me that he was a diabetic.  At the time,  I had no idea how involved I would become in his life and nor how his diabetes would affect me. Todd is writing a book on T1D–and asked me to contribute a chapter on what it is like to live with a T1D.. I share part of that story with you now.


It’s 3:45 AM, I reach across the bed to place my arm over Todd. My arm falls on a mound of wet sweaty sheets. As I begin to awaken, I hear a spoon clanging against a bowl from the kitchen.  The hall light is softly illuminating the bedroom. I roll out of bed and make my way down the hall to the kitchen. Todd is leaning over the kitchen bar shoveling spoonfuls of cereal and almond milk into mouth. He’s not speaking, he barely notices me.

“What was your blood sugar?” I ask.

“48 “, he responds.

I know better than to ask: “how do you feel.?” I know how he feels –he feels terrible. He can’t think clearly, he is sweating profusely, his balance is unsteady. He’s scared, he has to get sugar into his body, fast. I wait for him to finish his food. Soon he begins to come around and we check his blood glucose again.


That’s better. I think we can go back to bed now.

All during the previous day, Todd was checking his blood sugar at frequently regular intervals trying to get an idea of when his blood glucose spikes after eating and how long he can go between meals before it starts to fall drastically. He’s trying to figure out how to set his insulin pump so his blood sugar levels resemble more of rolling hills rather than peaks and valleys.Until I met Todd, I had very little contact with anyone with T1D.

I am a nurse practitioner and often see patients with Type 2 Diabetes–a whole different disease. I coach Type 2 Diabetics on proper nutrition, exercise and supplements and how to best manage their disease. It’s possible to reverse Type 2 diabetes; it’s preventable. It comes about because of one’s lifestyle choices. Type 1 is completely different and more rare.

Type 1 diabetes usually manifests during childhood or young adulthood.   It is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the beta cells located within a cluster of cells in the pancreas known as the islet of Langerhans.  The beta cells are responsible for producing insulin.  They sense sugar in the blood and then release the necessary amount of insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. It is not yet completely understood why some people’s immune system, which is supposed to protect you, mistakenly attacks and destroys these beta cells. Trauma is thought to be one of the causes triggering the body to attack its beta cells.

Todd’s condition was diagnosed when he was 14, during a very traumatic period of time in his life.Insulin is crucial to life.  Without it, glucose cannot move from one’s bloodstream into the cells of the body to provide them with energy to function.  When the pancreas fails to produce insulin, blood glucose levels rise preventing the body from functioning properly.  Overtime, high glucose levels damage nerves, blood vessels, organs and eventually cause death.

Living with a T1D has been an eye-opening experience. There is constant pricking of your finger and checking your blood sugar–first thing in the morning, after breakfast, mid morning, before lunch, mid afternoon, before dinner, after dinner, before bed…sometimes in the middle of the night. It means adjusting the insulin pump to raise or lower the blood sugar, it means eating at regular intervals and carefully planning what you eat. If you don’t, you may end of eating anything within reach just to get the blood sugar to functional levels. It means being diligent whether you want to or not. It means that before you do anything in morning, you must attend to your blood sugar/insulin relationship. You have no choice. If you don’t, you will die.

When we were first dating, I thought it was a novelty when we would stop and check his blood sugar levels. I often joined in. We compared numbers–and planned our next meal or snack around his blood sugar levels. He would adjust his pump if too high or too low. I didn’t have to do anything. My pancreas would figure that out for me and administer the correct dose of insulin at precisely the right time and the right intervals. But Todd has to figure that out for himself and program his pump to do what my body does without me thinking about it–as long as I take care of myself, my pancreas will take care of me.

I am learning to be more appreciative of my body, to feed it regular meals and never to take it for granted. I am learning how fortunate I am that my body works really well. I have very few health issues and mostly what I do have–achy joints and the tightness in my neck or shoulders– is manageable with stretching, yoga, massage, rest, etc.

Todd needs to plan his day with great attention to detail. He didn’t always do so and he is paying for it now with damaged vision and peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in his legs and feet). There are other side effects too, and we don’t even know some of the long-term damage that may occur from the drastic blood sugar swings that have ravaged his body for so many years.

For many years I struggled to be in my body.  I frequently ignored its signals of hunger, fatigue, pain.  I pushed myself to keep going when I should have stopped to rest.  I exercised rigorously to stay in shape, lose weight or keep those dreaded extra pounds at bay.  Often I skipped meals either because I was too busy to stop and eat or because I thought starving myself would help me attain that perfect body.  Then there were those times when I would polish off a carton of coconut ice cream or a bag of chips–my body craving immediate gratification.  As I grew to love myself and listen to my body’s messages,  I began to find refuge being in my body.  It’s still something I am getting used to.

More recently I was experiencing some old thoughts and patterns reminiscent of my early days with my disordered eating and body dysmorphism.  Frustrating because I thought I had laid this behind me.  Then in walks Todd into my life, and I get to look at this head on.  I am a firm believer that there are no accidents.  I know without a shred of doubt that Todd and I were brought together for some very important reasons.  I know if he had not met me and my access to cutting edge health care, he would be on a rapid train ride to some serious and likely irreversible medical problems.  I have a strong intuition that he and I have something very important to share with the others regarding his healing journey to health.

But I wasn’t aware of how impactful his journey would have on me.  I had no idea that I would get to face my unfinished business regarding my relationship with my body.

Living with a T1D requires patience, compassion, understanding, commitment.  I am as committed to his health as he is and fortunately he is fiercely committed to his health.   Just like an infant who cries incessantly until he is fed,  Todd’s body requires the same attendance.  You can’t reason with a baby and let him know that gee, this isn’t a good time to stop and eat.  We’re too busy, too tired, too cranky to attend to your needs. Todd’s body won’t listen to any “reasoning”.    When his blood sugar gets low, he HAS to eat.  When it gets too high, he HAS to adjust his insulin pump.

I call him at work sometimes and ask him if he has eaten.  When we prepare dinner, we cook for 4 so we have dinner for two and lunch the next day for the both of us.  Being prepared is key to living healthily as a diabetic.  It’s important for all of us–diabetic or not.  It used to never bother me if I ran out of food in the house.  I could always grab a protein bar for breakfast and run to Whole Foods or other healthy deli for lunch.  Now when I see food getting low  in our refrigerator, I panic.  We need to replenish–now.

We never leave the house for a hike, a drive or a bike ride without food.  We never go anywhere without his glucose monitor, we always make sure there is extra insulin on hand.  Meals are planned out, carbs are counted, most food is prepared at home.  Gone are the days for him of pizza, sandwiches, fast foods, convenience foods, sugary foods.

I cannot and will not ever ignore that Todd has T1D.  Yes some days it is a huge inconvenience.  Some days it would be so nice to just to lay in bed and get up for a late leisurely breakfast.  Some days it would be nice not to have to sleep with an insulin pump next to me.  His disease is part of our relationship, it doesn’t define who he is or who we are.  But it is something that we both attend to every day.  I am seeing how much it requires of him to manage his blood sugar:insulin:food ratio.  I want to help him.  To take some of the stress and responsibility from him.  He managed it by himself for over 40 years.   He doesn’t have to do that anymore.  It is not a burden and it never occurred to me to not be with him because he has T1D.  But I can truthfully say that I had no idea how involved it is to live with this disease.

For those of you interested in reading more about Todd’s personal journey on becoming a Type 1 Diabetic and what he is now doing to heal this condition, you can access his Kindle version here.

The Possibilities of a Broken Heart

Most of us have experienced some kind of heart breaking experience in our life, probably more than once or twice.  And you know how painful it can be to suffer a broken heart. Whether it is the loss of a loved one or an ending of a relationship or the loss of your job, your home or possibly your health, a broken heart can cause such an intense sorrow that the things that used to bring you joy and peace now offer little comfort.  Many even experience physical pain with a broken heart, such as a tight chest, nervous stomach and nausea and/or terrible insomnia.

When we are in such pain and grief the tendency is to shut down, to push our grief and sorrow into the depths of our being and do our best to move on. Unfortunately these strategies will only come back to haunt us, as suppressed emotions are one of the main causes of depression and anxiety, and also some acute or chronic physical illnesses such GI disturbances, chronic fatigue even autoimmune conditions.

Having your heart broken open can feel like your life has shattered into a thousand pieces. In that state, it is hard to imagine how you will ever be whole again or that the pain could possibly loosen its grip on you. And you wonder how you will get up and move on when you barely can take a breath.

It turns out there is something very profound to be reaped in that pile of brokenness. A heart shattered in a 1,000 pieces is wide open and all the pain and sorrow that was buried in there from years of loss and disappointments are exposed and raw. No longer hidden beneath a wall of protection that may have resulted in addictive behaviors such as overeating, alcohol or drug misuse, or physical illness such as heart disease or chronic pain, we are now asked to be with the sorrow and grief, and to love it, and ourselves.  Now more than ever what your heart and soul needs is love and compassion and tenderness and time.

Take the time to care for your precious heart in every way imaginable. Love yourself fiercely, allow yourself to be held by those who deeply care for you, rest, get healing work, massages or whatever it takes to mend.  And don’t be in a hurry because allowing your broken heart to stay open lets the light in and reflects back to the world and to you, the brilliance of your pure and authentic Self.

I close with a verse from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem”:

Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack in everything 
That’s how the light gets in. 

Fall in Love with Yourself: Embrace Gratitude and Appreciation

by Matsya Siosal, Contributing Writer

You know that giddy, spectacular high of falling in love? What about the excitement of meeting a new friend, a real kindred spirit? Or the incredibly deep, cellular-level sense of unconditional love felt for a baby we’ve just welcomed into the world?

Hold that feeling for a moment, then see how that compares to how you feel about your self.

We’re all familiar with the concept of “gratitude” as the quality or feeling of being thankful for something, someone, a particular circumstance, etc. The quality of “appreciation” takes the concept of thankfulness further and is broader yet also more specific. The word carries multiple connotations, from being a synonym for gratitude, to referring to a clear perception or recognition of the meaning and importance of something. Within this definition of appreciation are two essential concepts: clear perception, and meaning and importance.

Sometimes we don’t fully understand the meaning and importance of challenging situations, yet we can still appreciate that we are being given an opportunity to grow, that each situation opens new potentialities. As we more deeply appreciate our lives and all of the circumstances that conspire to make our world, we begin to find value in these challenges/opportunities more and more. We begin to feel a sense of unconditional love for ourselves and this precious life we’ve been given, no matter how difficult it may currently be.


Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, more satisfied with their lives and have a greater ability to cope when disaster strikes. In fact, grateful people may not jump to the conclusion of “disaster” but rather the gentler estimation of a challenge or bump in the road.

The Buddha said “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” This powerful insight into the nature of reality guides us toward working first with our perceptions of the situations that arise in our lives. If we tell ourselves things like “this is terrible; it’s the worst thing that could happen to me; my life is ruined etc.” we are establishing those feelings as our reality.

From there we can consciously cultivate a mindset of appreciation toward ourselves and the world as a whole. The internal dialogue might then sound something like “I accept the reality of my situation; I am very sad or afraid of what is happening but I trust that there is something I can learn here that will be of benefit to myself or others.”

When we live in a state of appreciation and love, our bodies naturally relax, stress dissipates and we can experience more energy, more vitality and greater health – especially in the midst of stressful or overwhelming situations.

It takes time to address our troubles holistically, and unlike symptom-masking and suppressing pharmaceuticals or other commonplace allopathic treatments that fall short of true healing, a holistic approach gets at the root causes of the issue. Whether you are suffering from low self-esteem, struggling with the transition into menopause, or treating a serious illness, wherever you can apply an attitude of appreciation, or even just allow yourself to know that opportunity exists, you are on the path to wholeness.

We must give ourselves permission to “start where we are” and use our healing as an opportunity to reawaken what has been lost, damaged or wounded, to (re)establish an unconditionally loving relationship with ourselves. Appreciation and self-acceptance are closely related and if we truly accept ourselves, our sense of suffering and struggle diminish considerably.


Just like with a new lover or any type of intimate relationship, we must come to know who and how we are, just as we are at this point, in order to move toward health, vitality, and happiness. First, give yourself both time and space (physically and/or mentally) to get to know yourself. This means making YOU and your relationship with yourself a priority. Some getting-to-know-me activities include:

  • Start journaling. Read through previous entries to get a sense of the ever-changing nature of who and how you are.
  • Find a favorite mind-body practice like yoga or qi gong. These practices are all about creating unity and balance within your being and with consistent practice you will see how incremental change adds up to monumental transformation.
  • Last month’s article, Treat Yourself with Loving Appreciation, provides several suggestions including a ritual bath and spending time in nature.

There are many wonderful teachings on appreciation, from the ancient yet timely wisdom of the Buddha to the insights and revelations of contemporary teacher Abraham-Hicks.

In Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living, Buddhist nun Pema Chodron writes:

“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. In the beginning it might feel like sadness or a shaky feeling, accompanied by a lot of fear, but your willingness to feel the fear, to make fear your companion, is growing. You’re willing to get to know yourself at this deep level. After awhile, this same feeling begins to turn into a longing to raze all the walls, a longing to be fully human and to live in your world without always having to shut down and close off when certain things come along.”

In this video Abraham-Hicks discusses the differences between gratitude and appreciation, and how love and appreciation are the same vibration. That living in a state of appreciation is being in alignment with who you really are; it is the absence of doubt, fear, resistance, and self-denial.

The takeaway from this teaching is to “Look for what is good, what makes you feel good. Look for things to love and appreciate and you will find alignment with who you truly are – who you have been from the moment you were born and who you will be the moment you die.”