I only realized I had stress-induced glucose spikes in 2016, after I got a continuous glucose meter (Dexcom). At Christmas of that year, I visited a family friend and she mentioned that one of my siblings had recently dropped by for a visit. Within minutes (the CGM takes measurements every 5 minutes) the alarm on my phone went off because of a rapid rise — I had not eaten anything at that point. I was confused — what was going on in my body?
In the following year, I attended a writing workshop. I submitted to the group a story of how my mother always encouraged me to write. I was told by the collective I should write a memoir. During a session of how to structure memoirs, my CGM again sounded with a rapid rise. Again, no food was involved.
The next notable incident was my 2021 birthday in the wilderness where thoughts of how my mother raised her three children ultimately led to us all living separate lives. And this thought again prompted the alarm. The next year, on my birthday, I returned to the a remote site where I spent my time reading books about remarkable women who achieved dreams despite serious health issues. One woman’s words resonated. She said to not worry about doctors’ prognoses. They don’t know what’s going to happen to you. Live your life. Don’t be consumed by feelings of impending doom. I was floating on a tube on a lake thinking about this when my phone alarm rang again. It was the idea of releasing these feelings of guilt about my poor glucose numbers that set off the alarm. The idea of releasing myself from guilt about my health is powerful. I was raised to assume that everything that goes wrong in my life is somehow my fault. Maybe my diabetes is not my fault. Why should I own it at all? It’s not “mine.” It’s a stress reaction to things in my past.
I also paid more attention this year to how my erratic glucose numbers fall into a pattern. It’s always been frustrating that there are times when I cannot seem to inject enough insulin to bring my levels to a reasonable level. No matter what I do, the glucose in my body remains high, until it finally falls back to normal.
A huge insight came this year when I realized I get three days of glucose chaos following specific events — visits with health-care professionals. I try to tell them my story but am clearly not believed. How can diabetes develop from a stress reaction? That’s ridiculous. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices.
Not being believed has always been a trigger. I remember as a child telling an adult the truth and being so angry that I was not believed. This adult was accusing me of something I did not do. I suppose it links with not being heard, which is equally infuriating.
So I paid attention to my glucose numbers following recent appointments with an endocrinologist, a diabetes educator and a naturopath. Sure enough, three days of elevated glucose ensued each meeting.
This is a huge insight. Knowledge, I believe, is power.
I’m aware that I go through life disconnected from my (bad) feelings of sorrow, grief and anger. The last one is a bit easier to release because I can scream while driving the car and feel a release, and nobody around me hears it or is alarmed.
Yesterday I showed a friend the interview I had with Irene Lyon, who teaches an online course Smart Body, Smart Mind. This was only the second time I’d brought myself to watch the 30-minute interview, and it was clear to my friend that I was having an emotional reaction. I kept wiping “water” from the corner of my right eye. I was unaware this is as far as I can get to crying. As the interview ended, my friend sat in stunned silence. Then she said “Wow! That was powerful.”
I kind of shrugged, as I do in these circumstances. She hugged me, and was clearly more in touch with her feelings that I was with mine.
My goal is to close the gap between my body’s reactions to feelings and my inside “felt” feelings. It’s all going to be OK.
Here’s the link to the interview: