Cathartic Letters

I’ve been dealing with (or really, not dealing with) my T1D since my diagnosis, for the past four years and ninety days. (If you do the math, that’s 1,550 days.) But with all the changes that I’ve experienced in that time, I really haven’t had a moment to cope with my diagnosis and process what it means for me to have diabetes in terms of adjusting my physical expectations of myself. :sweat:

For example, I love gardening. But it has become very difficult for me to work for more than a couple of hours without experiencing low blood sugar. This is extremely frustrating and disheartening, because I can’t do the things I used to be able to. I can’t keep up with my husband when he does yard work alongside me. I feel broken, like a shell of my former self. :wilted_flower:

Then I had a brilliant idea. “Write a letter,” my therapist always says, “and just don’t deliver it to the person. It will help you to express your feelings.” So why not write a letter to my T1D, as a form of catharsis? Better yet, why not mail it to my pancreas and have it come back, marked “Return to Sender” as unclaimed mail! :joy:

This is my new art project. I will type my letter and create my envelope, mimicking the yellow UNC postal label and all. That I will create this envelope is just as important as the letter— simply because it’s Return to Sender status is a symbol of the tireless and incessant management of the disease. :memo:

Maybe once I’m finished with this project I will frame it in a shadow box and hang it on my wall. This will give me some closure and peace of mind about at least accepting my situation. I encourage others to do the same; the highest form of flattery is imitation. :+1:t2:


I would not “accept” this situation. In the past, I have had periods where I just needed to take some time to work with diabetes and very little else. It doesn’t last forever. I’m sorry you are having such difficulty. Its harder for those of you diagnosed as adults.

To me it sounds like you are taking a bit too much insulin. I hope that you can get back your ability to garden to your heart’s content.

I have never been to a therapist. However, writing a letter expressing my feelings and then not mailing it has been a very effective methodology for me. Have done it for years. It clarifies thoughts and pushes them out into the world without causing any ultimate harm or disharmony.

That said, my suggestion to Ajohntry is to simply bring carbs along and treat the hypos as they occur. Don’t wait until they get extreme, but a few Skittles or an apple divided into quarters or whatever else will work for you will do the job. Just be sure and test frequently. And happy mucking in the dirt!

Love it! Sounds like a fine idea for getting a grip on the emotional side of this disease. Love the shadowbox concept, too. And it fits with the origins of TuD, which started out as having a strong component of using art as a way of responding to the the disease in a positive way.

I’m wondering if we could maybe be of more immediate practical help, though. Seems like exertion-induced lows are your particular bugaboo. Are you using a pump? Have you tried using a temporary basal for an hour ahead of when you know you’re going to be doing yard work? That should help minimize those lows.

@Willow4: Thank you! I admit that I don’t snack— at all. This is part of my problem. I appreciate your response :blush:

@Marilyn6, I probably am taking too much insulin. Bolusing too much for meals is a common mistake of mine. Thank you for the feedback!

@DrBB, I am on the wireless omnipod and also the 14-day Libre. I have found that exercise makes a big impact on bringing my glucose down. Lately I have just been suspending my insulin while I garden. Even if I’m high by the time I’m done, I’d rather be too high than too low. My endocrinologist surprisingly agrees. I guess he feels that being low is more dangerous and has more negative long-term effects on the body.

Thanks for your words of encouragement!

@AJohntry I do a temp basal decrease of 50-60% on my Omnipod when I snorkel. I snorkel for about 45-60 minutes. This has really worked well for me. That way I still have insulin for energy and I don’t shoot too high after. I always have ginger candy in a sealed compartment with me just in case. I had read a decrease worked better than suspending to not have highs. You just have to figure out how much of a decrease you need. I don’t need to decrease at all when I ride my exercise bike for a half hour, I haven’t figured out why on that yet!

No reason to skip out on a favorite past time! And I love your letter idea, I used that in the past when a dog had died and I couldn’t move past it easily. It’s a wonderful way to get out your complete feelings!

Thank you @Marie20! I will try a temp basal decrease next time I garden outside. I’ve never done this before but it makes perfect sense!