2.27.16

Uncover A Balanced Life… Or Something Like It (Advice From An Acupuncturist with T1D)

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As an acupuncturist, I spend a lot of time thinking about balance. In Chinese medicine theory, we talk a lot about the balance of yin and yang. Yin is dark, cold, nutritive, whereas yang is bright, hot and energetic. We see these two forces in all aspects of life–from day to night, summer to winter, activity to rest. Good health is all about finding the yin and yang in our own bodies. When I meet an acupuncture patient for the first time, I focus on finding out what is off-balance that is causing their pain or illness, and coaxing their body to regain that balance and heal from the root level.

As a type 1 diabetic, balance is also very important. On the most basic level, it’s about balancing the carbohydrates I eat with the insulin that my body no longer knows how to produce. But it’s so much more than just that. It’s balancing living with a chronic disease that allows for no “days off” with the ability and desire to live a totally full life. It’s the balance of annoyance with my insulin pump and sensor and all the parts and pieces, and being so incredibly grateful that this tiny purple box (that looks annoyingly like a beeper from 1989) keeps me alive, allowing me to do what I love. It’s about focusing on healthy eating and being good to my body, most of the time, but still allowing occasional indulgences in the form of 1-too-many dirty martinis… or an occasional buttercream cupcake.

The biggest balancing act of my T1D life came in the form of my 2 beautiful daughters. The birthdays of my two little chickies- Sadie, 3 years ago, and Remy, 4 months ago, were the happiest and most accomplished days of my life. Pregnancy hormones and blood sugar control are not a match made in heaven, to say the least. For me, it was a constant struggle to keep my sugars in control. Knowing that my babies’ health depended on it made it a little easier, but 40 weeks (times two) of counting every single gram of carbohydrate I ate (or looked at!), daily basal and bolus adjustments, and weekly check-ins with my endo and high risk team were not easy. But I also knew that stress and anxiety about my blood sugar control wasn’t helpful either, and finding that balance was a challenge. I found myself needing that reminder frequently, and tried my best to find ways to manage that stress. And when it became too much of a burden, I was able to lean on (ok, cry on) the shoulders of my family and support team, for which I’m so grateful.

Gratitude has been a key to finding and maintaining balance for me. For every day that I want to give up and curse this disease (F YOU TYPE 1!), I also have days that I am so grateful for all I have learned about my body, the strength and resilience I might not otherwise have, the people I’ve met along the way and the technology that allows me to live a very close to normal life.

So, thank you diabetes. I wouldn’t wish you on my worst enemy, but I know you have made me who I’m and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Sarah Swanberg is a board certified acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist practicing in Stamford, CT. She was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in June 1989. Her love for Chinese medicine started when she realized the profound affect that acupuncture was having on her blood sugar control and general well-being. When not busy building her practice and educating people about the benefits of acupuncture, she loves to cook, hike, and hang out with her husband and two small daughters.

5 thoughts on “Uncover A Balanced Life… Or Something Like It (Advice From An Acupuncturist with T1D)

  1. Hi Sarah, I think my parents felt the same way. My mom was a t1 and very ill but i know she told me after I was dx’d that she hated diabetes but loved who i had become. It meant the world to me at the time.

    I want you to know i referred your blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of February 29, 2016. I hope this brings you some additional readership. best

  2. Pingback: Through Pregnancy And Back... Twice | Sarah Swanberg | Real Life Diabetes Podcast 40 - Diabetes Daily Grind | Real Life Diabetes PodcastDiabetes Daily Grind | Real Life Diabetes Podcast

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