Taking Care of Me

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We’re too busy. We’re too busy from a very young age. A couple of weeks ago, I had to arrange for six children, aged 6–11, to be at the same place at the same time. The lady we (the children, some parents, and another person) were supposed to meet with had told me she could be available at any time, so I took her at her word and just worked with the children’s parents.

Once I got the children together, I called back.

“I’ve spent the better part of this week working around swim team, dance lessons, horseback riding lessons, chess club, arranging for carpooling for one mom who has to work, and who knows what else, and if you tell me 2 o’clock Friday isn’t good for you, I’m going to cry,” I spit out in one breath.

Luckily, her word was good: She was available then. But she was laughing very loudly and heartily.

I don’t know what my friend with celiac disease does. “I eat out of boxes,” she says. “I have three children with activities; I don’t have time to cook.” My feeling is that the children’s activities need to be cut back so she can take care of herself, but it’s not my call.

My grandson and I had a delightful evening out one day last week. We had dinner out and did some shopping. On the drive home, as part of a larger conversation on how you get freelance work, he asked why I don’t have a “real” job.

The short answer, I told him, is that I just couldn’t take the stress any more. I was a reporter for a daily newspaper and I burned out to the point that I was nonfunctional. I couldn’t even follow the plot of a Reader’s Digest article. Today, by making my own schedule and by picking and choosing how busy I want to be, I’m usually fairly laid back — and back to reading three or four books at a time.

It was a long road to get to this point, however; one that included taking a year off from working. (Might as well. I was, as I said, nonfunctional.) I baked a lot of bread, even though I couldn’t eat a lot of it. There’s something soothing about working the dough with your hands that eases the stress. I cooked. I rode my bike a lot. I played with my then-preschool-aged grandchildren. And, most importantly, I learned to take care of me.

Taking care of diabetes seems to be a lot easier if you don’t have a lot of “life” getting in the way. I had near-perfect blood glucose levels darn near all the time! Well, those are long-gone: “Life” has a tendency to get in the way again at some point. This time, however, it isn’t work. That I can handle. It’s all of those other things that crop up unexpectedly along the way: The children who miss the school bus, trying to get a dozen people in the same place at the same time, an abscessed tooth…

I use music to relax, and meditation. I still bake bread. And, once in a while, I have a visit and a laugh with a longtime friend, which is what I’m doing right now.

The stressful (holiday) season is about to begin, so get ready. Find your own de-stressors and just…take it easy. Having diabetes is stressful enough. We all need to do what we can to keep the rest of our lives as calm as possible.

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