Posts

Diabetes Expert

Diabetes Expert – that’s a bold statement!

Being an expert, you have to be perfect, don’t you?

You need to be able to juggle anything that is thrown at you, know every single little detail about your topic and preferably have 67 Masters, PhD’s and other qualifications to be one.

Right?!

I used to think so. I really did. “Experts” in my life used to be my doctor and endocrinologist, for example. And these people know a lot, they definitely do. But they usually have zero training in nutrition, for example.

And they may not know or understand everything about YOU and YOUR individual case. You’re always going to be your own best doctor, because you know YOUR body, your situation and your case the best.

So, who am I to call myself a Diabetes Expert? 

It’s true, I don’t know everything about you, your life and your case. Yet. But I am willing to listen, learn and help you on your road to become a healthier you.

It’s really my passion in life, to get to help you through what I’ve already been though. To share all the tools, tricks and food that I’ve found has helped me and many others.

But what happened to GrainBrain? I’m sure you’re curious!

GrainBrain has been a fantastic stepping stone on my journey of becoming healthier, happier and more experienced. And it has served me very well when I was only about eating healthier (i.e. grain free).

Now that I’m fully focusing on helping people with diabetes to become healthier, lower their A1c’s and feel more confident, I feel that the name GrainBrain has run it’s course in my business.

I don’t want to hide behind a brand anymore, I want to show even more of myself, my journey and how I can help you on yours. Become even more authentic, if you want.

Which is why I’ve decided to change the name of my business, refurbish the website and get a fresh breeze in here! So please help me welcome Hanna Diabetes Expert!

In light of this, I looked up how a few people define what an expert is. And their answers made me smile.

Warning – there’s some self-assessment coming up! 🙂

“What qualifies anyone to be an expert? I view an expert as someone who has considerable intellectual knowledge and real world experience in a particular field, area of study, process, or activity. They possess knowledge and experience in greater measure than a majority of others in their field. And they can express their expertise in order to help others understand and implement any appropriate ideas and actions based on that information. (…) Today, I would venture to say experience builds expertise faster and stronger than education. For education not applied is merely knowledge locked in the brain and not tested in the real world.”

Well, if 30 years of trials, errors, successes and blood, sweat and tears aren’t experience enough, I’m not sure what is?

I thought this was a really interesting point of view. Another article I found, listed 5 quite similar characteristics of being an expert as states above:

“Knowledge: Clearly being an expert requires an immense working knowledge of your subject. Part of this is memorized information, and part of it is knowing where to find information you haven’t memorized.

This is one of my favorite parts of doing what I do – I learn new things every day. Whether it’s about myself, a client, or diabetes in general, I make sure there’s an ongoing addition to my knowledge.

“Experience: In addition to knowledge, an expert needs to have significant experience working with that knowledge. S/he needs to be able to apply it in creative ways, to be able to solve problems that have no pre-existing solutions they can look up — and to identify problems that nobody else has noticed yet.”

Having a coaching background that has taught me a trick or two throughout the years is certainly beneficial. Experience and knowledge go hand in hand. And, the whole reason you work with someone, be it a coach, mentor or expert of some sort, is to get another perspective on your situation. It’s so easy to get stuck in your own bubble and lose view of the Big Picture. Working with someone on the “outside” of that bubble can really help you regain your aerial view.

“Communication Ability: Expertise without the ability to communicate it is practically pointless. Being the only person in the world who can solve a problem, time after time after time, doesn’t make you an expert, it makes you a slave to the problem. It might make you a living, but it’s not going to give you much time to develop your expertise — meaning sooner or later, someone with knowledge and communication ability is going to figure out your secret (or worse, a better approach), teach it to the world, and leave you to the dustbin of history (with all the UNIX greybeards who are the only ones who can maintain the giant mainframes that nobody uses anymore).”

Yes, communication is definitely key. In any relationship. But there’s also a huge difference between talking to someone and talking at someone. The latter is usually a waste of everyone’s time. And you can only communicate your solution to someone who is ready to hear it.

“Connectedness: Expertise is, ultimately, social; experts are embedded in a web of other experts who exchange new ideas and approaches to problems, and they are embedded in a wider social web that connects them to people who need their expertise.“

I aim to help as many people with diabetes as possible. To get new input and not get stuck in old ways, I make sure to stay connected to different other experts within fields of interest to my clients.

“Curiosity: Experts are curious about their fields and recognize the limitations of their own understanding of it. They are constantly seeking new answers, new approaches, and new ways of extending their field.”

One fatal mistake would be to get stuck in my thoughts, my ways and in what has worked for other clients. Every client is a new, exciting opportunity to help someone with a problem (or many).

I want you to know something though…

Being and calling myself a Diabetes Expert definitely doesn’t mean that I have perfect values all the time, endless amounts of energy, smooth cgm curves and my A1c keeps effortlessly where it should be. I have catastrophical days, too. Because there is no such thing as a perfect diabetic.

Diabetes is a lot of hard work. Sometimes grueling hard work. But it’s also about perspective and wanting to find a solution. Finding YOUR solution, how you can cope with it and how you can turn it into the very best you can.


What are you an expert in? How do you share this with the world?

HbA1c, just a number?

Do you ever find yourself paying a little too much attention to a specific number?

Your weight? Your distance covered? Milestones reached? Friends on Facebook?

Or, perhaps, your HbA1c, the “lighthouse” of how you’re doing as a diabetic?

It’s easy to put a lot of weight on a number (pun intended!), because it’s something measurable, something you can follow and have a direct understanding of whether it improves or gets worse.

What’s difficult to understand is that these numbers, none of the ones I mentioned above, matter much.

Your weight technically doesn’t matter much, as long as you feel fit and healthy with it. Neither does the amount of kilometers you ran last week, unless you were in a race… Counting milestones only creates an inner stress and pressure to reach your goals faster, harder, more productively. And, friends on Facebook – are they r e a l l y friends…?

I know. This is crazy cakes.

We’ve been told, time and time again, to set measurable goals, and it’s really hard to find ways to measure improvement without those numbers.

So also when it comes to diabetes care and the HbA1c value.

I’ve been conditioned for 30 years to regard my HbA1c as the shining light of how well I’m doing, so the habit isn’t easy to break. Even when I know I’ve done pretty darn well lately.

I had my a-few-times-a-year appointment with my endocrinologist earlier this week.

Driving there (only takes about 7 minutes, but still), I was super-nervous and kept sending little wishes out for a lower-than-last-time HbA1c reading (which was 6,4%).

I got there, peed in a cup, had some blood taken, weighed in and measured my blood pressure. For someone who has a severe case of “White Coat Syndrome”, which is when you get nervous just seeing, being near or even thinking of a doctors office, the last part always seems a little stupid. And it was this time too, because it was through the roof.

I got into my endo’s office and we chatted a bit about life in general, before we got into the whole diabetes thing.

Once again, I was complimented by her on how well I’m doing. This is still a weird feeling to me, after having basically been a disappointment and being scolded for the other 28 years I’ve met with endocrinologists.

She told me that there probably isn’t much more I can optimize about my care without having a lot more hypos. “Watch me” I thought to myself, as I still think I can, and I will keep trying to optimize and improve until the day I die.

Anyway, to the value that every diabetic has been conditioned to regard as a sign of life or death: my HbA1c was 6,2% this time, or 44 mmol/mol.

This is the lowest I can ever remember having during my 30-year career in and with diabetes. I asked my parents, too, and they can’t remember anything lower either.

The fact that I’ve put so much emphasis on it and then receiving exactly the result I was hoping for made me ecstatic. Happy, euphoric and close to tears of pride. In my opinion, with all right. (And I have yet to celebrate this properly!)

After we had discussed some other topics, and I had received all the supplies I needed from their office (making it feel like Christmas every time I go there!), I got into my car and drove off, full of joy!

I got home, told my husband about the result, he gave ma a huge congratulatory hug, and I was so darn pleased with myself. I posted a rarely-seen-selfie  and got on with my day.

Later in the evening it hit me though. I was sad. Despite my excellent HbA1c result. Despite the praise and the congratulations. I felt saddened.

It took me a good few minutes to figure it out, a little EFT tapping and some meditation came in very handy at that point.

I was sad, because that result didn’t mean anything, really.

Fine, it means that I’m reasonably well controlled in my diabetes. It means that I’ve come a long way from where I started a few years ago after a long diabetes burn out, giving me double figure HbA1c’s. And it gives me a little hope for the future.

But it also means that I’m not really awarded in anyway for it (unless I buy myself something pretty, or have a glass of champagne to celebrate). It doesn’t give me a break from diabetes, not even for a minute. It doesn’t stop the poking, prodding and always having to be on alert. It doesn’t mean I can live carefree and forget about everything.

It just means that I’m alright and that my doctor is proud of me. And that I’m technically “pre-diabetic” according to my HbA1c. 

Don’t get me wrong.

I love the fact hat I’ve found my own way and am finally in the position where I feel like I have even the faintest of clues about this whole diabetes thing.

I love the feeling of not being scolded by my dream health care team. And I love that I can say that I’ve reached a new record in my life.

But I don’t think it’s the best idea to put as much of a value as I do on this one value. Especially as there are so many other factors that determine how well I’m doing and/or how healthy I am.

 

What about you – do you also put too much emphasis on one single number? Perhaps it’s your weight? How far you’ve run this week? Or maybe you’re like me and put (too) much focus on your HbA1c?

Doctor’s Praise

Have you ever had a doctor’s appointment during which you get praise from said doctor?

This was a completely foreign concept for me until recently, despite having lived with Type 1 Diabetes for 29 years.

But as I’ve managed to gain better insight into the illness that co-habits my body, and therefore slightly better control, there have been more and more positive encouragement coming form my health team.

Just a couple of years ago, I would always be scared of going to the doctors, any doctor I have (and I have a few).

Scared of the results, scared of what they might find this time.

Scared of being told off, scared of being disappointed in myself.

Scared of being hurt and a failure. Scared of the amount of work that lay ahead of me.

Because that’s what it had been like all my life.

Every doctors appointment until recently, had been one of disappointment, hurt, even tears, and after, not-being-bothered – because why bother if I always get the same sh*t shoved at me by the doctors?

Let’s not turn this into too much of a sobby victim story though.

About a year ago, when I had finished the education for my pump with my lovely diabetes educator, she told me I was one of her best patients.

After having grown up with the notion that doctors (and nurses) are equal to the evil spawn of something ugly, I was stunned for a second.

And then filled with love. Love, gratitude, and appreciation.

Not necessarily for diabetes, but rather for the advancements I had made by that point.

It was probably my first (and to this day, only) time I’ve performed a little one-man boogie in a doctor’s office.

It’s incredibly what a little doctor’s praise can do!

It spurs you on, keeps you going and at least it helps me when the going gets extra tough (which it inevitably does, considering it’s diabetes we’re talking about.)

And then today (aka the-second-time-my-jaw-dropped-through-the floor-at-my-doctor’s-office), at my check up, my doctor goes to me: “you’re one of my best patients. You seem much more relaxed about diabetes now than when I first met you.”

Wait? Did I hear that correctly?

My immediate reaction was to ask if she could put it in writing. She answered that she would if I really wanted her to.

To the point: yes. That might very well be true that I am, as I don’t know a single of her other patients. And I’m super grateful that I’ve managed to get to where I am today.

But I don’t think she has any idea of just how much work I’ve put into gaining this clarity I now have of diabetes. Which doesn’t, by any means, I’m anywhere near full understanding of it. It just means that I’ve made some progress in the recent years.

A few examples:

I’ve had to say no to things I really wanted to do because my blood sugar wasn’t cooperating.

There have been some late nights…

,,,,and early mornings…

…including wake ups in the middle of the night.

A copious and endless amount of (painful) finger pricks, injections, pump site insertions and CGM sensor insertions.

Carrying medical equipment around, big handbags have been of benefit. My shoulders and neck muscles do not agree.

Snacks, snacks and more snacks.

A huge part has been the mental work I’ve done. Truly coming to terms with diabetes is not an easy task, and is usually completely overlooked by the medical community. I’ve meditated for hours, and now I notice a difference in my blood sugars when I don’t do it! Stress is closely linked to blood sugars, so it’s really important to find ways to release stress. A newer tool I’ve been using is EFT tapping to try to get past the bigger concerns regarding diabetes.

Eating well and according to diabetes, which, for me, means very low carb.

Having to play my own pancreas. On the outside. With zero communication from the other organs that play a part, like the liver, for example.

Drinking lots of water. I’d be so rich if I had a penny for every liter of water I’ve drank!

Exercising and trying to figure out how it works. Sometimes exercise makes my blood sugar high, sometimes low, sometimes the same and sometimes the effect doesn’t come until 12 hours later (depending on how strenuous the exercise was). What on earth do I do with my basal settings?!

Speaking of which, figuring out everyday things like flights, how to eat on the road, restaurants, walking too much (and at irregular times!), drinking alcohol, combining an outfit to fit medical devices as well as how to solve the caffeine question, have all been part of the journey so far.

And that’s just to say what it has taken so far. It definitely doesn’t mean that it will always stay the same. Diabetes is a very dynamic and constantly ever-changing partner to have by your side.

But, this is where it really pays off to have a carefully selected and well-researched health team.

Because even if they don’t know exactly what you’re going through, they’re willing to understand and make arrangements for you.

 

Oh, yeah, my A1C? 6.4% today.