I am a flight attendant. My job, whether flying four legs a day or working on special projects for the airline, keeps me away from home three nights a week. The recent "shelter in place" orders have thrown a huge wrench not only into my routine, but into my diabetes management as well.
During a typical week, I fly from Norfolk, VA to Dayton, OH on Monday morning. I work in an office for four-ish days and return home by early Thursday evening. Due to the spread of Covid-19, March 18th I was sent home early and assigned to work from home until further notice. Wow! Getting paid to enjoy the comforts of home. Working in your pajamas. No more powdered eggs from the hotel breakfast. Conference calls from the couch. Sounds great, right?
Wrong! Even on regular days that I am scheduled to "work from home", I am not actually working from home. I am at Starbucks, the library or Barnes & Noble. I am a creature of habit and I love my routines and being stuck in our tiny, one bedroom apartment is beyond difficult for me.
Now, let's add type 1 diabetes into the mix. My blood glucose levels are running consistently higher than normal. Can I pinpoint it to one reason? No. However, I can definitely think of a few. For starters, my routine is completely out of whack. I am eating, exercising and working at different times than I normally tend to do such things. My fiance is currently in clinical for PTA school. He is all over the general public. Will a patient infect him with Covid-19? Will he bring it home to me? Lastly, with the exception of this last week, it has been pretty grey and dreary. My mood is influenced heavily by the weather. I need sunshine! April showers bring me sad, unmotivated days until the May flowers bloom.
The change in routine, lack of motivation, and stress surrounding the current pandemic took a toll on my diabetes management. Fact: I'm a type A. Enneagram 1. Cut and dry, I am a perfectionist. And I own it! That being said, I had to get my management (and my mental health) back in check. What did I do?
1. Created a schedule. If you are a creature of habit, create a new one. Every day I adhere to a schedule that allows me time to work, clean, and move. It is important to break up the monotony of working in your living space.
2. Practice gratitude daily. I recently read Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. She introduced her habit of practicing gratitude in her Start Today Journal. I immediately loved the idea and put it into practice in my own life. So every morning, before I start any work, I write the top 5 things I am grateful for that day. Some mornings, I am grateful for Joe getting me a glass of juice in the middle of the night because I was too low to do it myself. Others, I am grateful for belly laughs while we attempt not-so-challenging yoga poses or for Excedrin when I am battling a head-splitting migraine. Focus on the little things and realize there are blessings all around you.
3. Get dressed and go to work. Throughout my education, I firmly believed "dress well, test well" and I have carried that mantra into my adult life. While I am all for a nice pajama set, I feel more successful when I am dressed the part. As comfy as sweats are, suit up in "real" clothes - pants, blouse, sweater, whatever the weather allows - to motivate you to start the tasks on your list.
Once I am dressed, I "go" to work. I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so there is no office space, unless you count the desk in our bedroom. Well, I am putting it to use now! I filed away the stack of medical receipts and tax papers and organized the space to be conducive to the work I have to get done. Try to designate a space in your home that is solely dedicated to work (aka not your bed or the couch where you are tempted to binge-watch Netflix), so you can be 100% focused on and dedicated to the tasks at hand.
4. Pre-bolus. On any other day, I pre-bolus. Religiously. My first week at home, I disregarded every effective practice I put into place when mealtime rolled around. I am naturally impatient and I proved that by ravenously tearing into meals as soon as I took insulin. Then two and three hours after mealtime, I was having to correct for terrible highs. (Why I ever believed a pre-bolus wouldn't apply when WFH is beyond me.) So I set an alarm when I deliver insulin and I don't dive into my food until my watch pings. Respect the necessary window of time you need to wait after bolusing before eating, despite being three steps from a stocked pantry. This will help keep your post-meal spikes from spiking so high and stop you from having to correct them later.
5. Move! I try to stick to three days of exercise (weight lifting, interval training and/or cardio) each week. When I find my blood sugar running high, my first thought is to down a large glass of water and get moving - walk, squat, stretch, dance! If my levels are still high post-activity, I will resort to insulin to help me out. Since being home, I have taken to yoga and meditation to mix up my daily activity and bring some more serenity into this stressful world. I created an account with Do You Yoga ages ago, but just recently started to use it more frequently. The site offers an array of free and for-payment sessions and challenges. And if you are like me, the easy to understand and follow instruction for beginners is an added bonus. Make time to complete an activity you enjoy, get outside, breathe in fresh air and clear your mind. Moving your body is going to release endorphins and lower your blood sugar. Sounds like a win-win to me.
I am a planner and this schedule offers me comfort and peace of mind. It gives me the organization I crave, the dedication to diabetes management I need and the time to relax we all deserve. I encourage you to find the routine that works for you and keep with it. The stay at home orders will not last forever, but while they are in place, we have to maintain our sanity and our health. What are you doing for yours?
The information contained in this blog is a compilation of thoughts, opinions and personal experience. Information is researched and gathered from reputable sources, but Ice Cream and Insulin is not responsible for errors or omissions in reporting or explanation. The discussions should not be considered advice, medical or otherwise. If you have concerns about your health, the information should not be used to self-diagnose or self-treat. Please consult a physician before making any changes to your medical plan.