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Diabetically Speaking

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August 2011

A Little Extra

I was having a discussion with a friend recently, and we were toying with the idea of what we would do if we won the lottery. What would we do if all of a sudden we went from our typical paycheck-to-paycheck lives to having more money than we could spend in a single day?

It’s always a fun question to imagine the answer to. Maybe we would be generous, and donate a huge chunk of it to charity. Maybe we would make someone’s dreams come true, and give them what they might not have ever had an opportunity to have without our help. Maybe we would take care of ourselves, our families, our friends, and take a good long vacation somewhere exotic.

Most people I’ve had this conversation with want to believe that winning the lottery wouldn’t change them. I don’t buy it (no pun intended). I think it would absolutely change a person. I know that it would certainly change me.

An old Zen proverb says, “Change is neither good nor bad; it simply is.”

I believe it is our reaction to change that determines if the change is for the better or for the worse. Too often we are so close to our own circumstances that we lack the ability to step back and realize that perhaps the adversity and change that we are doing a faceplant into is exactly what we need to move forward toward a brighter, more positive and productive future.

I hope that my reaction to a change like winning the lottery would be positive. In my imagination, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t be positive. It would certainly make it easier to not worry about how I was going to get the money for my next order of pump supplies, or if this vial of insulin will last me until I get my next paycheck when I can afford to order more, or having to choose to skip meals so that the rest of my family can eat. These are the kinds of unfair choices that many people have to make.

Something I admire about this amazing diabetes community, both online and in real life, is that we make efforts to take care of each other. The singular need of one becomes the focus of a community of many, until the need is met with a solution.

I guess after seeing people lose their homes and belongings recently to Hurricane Irene, and having grown up in Florida where hurricanes ravage this state on a near constant basis, and having A-Flizzle who survived the devastation in Louisiana from Hurricane Katrina a few years ago, I feel compelled to encourage you to help out that person next to you, if you can.

Maybe you have a surplus vial of insulin that is going to go out of date before you will be able to use it. Maybe you have extra test strips that you can spare. Maybe you have a few CGM sensors that could help someone troubleshoot their BG’s and get them back on track and in a bit better control. Maybe you have a few minutes to call a friend who you know is overwhelmed and say, “You know what friend, I was just thinking about you. How are you today?”

Find that outlet, and do a little extra. Need help? Contact your local JDRF or ADA chapter, and simply ask.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” You can never predict how big of a difference a simple act of kindness can make.

Insulin Vial

Dear X

Dear X
Dear X,

You’ve been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It seems as if we’ve always been together. Even when you weren’t physically present, or I wasn’t paying attention, you were never far away.

There was a time when I was afraid of you. Your temper and recklessness frightened me, and how it seemed like you could dictate how I should act at any given moment. Your lows, your highs, I was there for them all. I never left your side, just like you never gave me the choice of you leaving mine.

The thing is, times have changed. I’m older now, wiser now, more experienced now, and I realize that it is my choice how much you are present in my life. Whether you are physically here or not, you will always be a part of my world, because you always have been. In many ways, I am grateful for that. You have taught me things that I couldn’t possibly have learned on my own. You have taught me patience, the value of hard work, that I will have hard times, and also that I will overcome those hard times.

But you don’t own me.

I am me. I cannot do anything about the past, but I have full control of my present, and my future. Blaming me for whatever happens to you is as futile as me blaming you for what happens to me. The blame serves no purpose, and doesn’t change anything. I choose to include you in my life as I see fit. Maybe I choose to have you attached to me, or just around to make a point when I need your input, or maybe there are times that I celebrate you and the community that you’ve inspired. But I refuse to carry on as if you are more important than I am.

I MUST come first. You don’t own me.

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t really mind sharing my world with you. Through you, I have met so many wonderful people who mean the absolute world to me. I wouldn’t have met them without you. Just like you, they inspire me to do better. They inspire me to rise up from all the things that hold me back. They inspire me to accept the things I cannot change, they give me the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I’m learning the pattern of things as time goes by, and how to anticipate what is going to happen next. Still, I stumble. As much knowledge and foresight as I have, things that are completely outside of my control happen, and often I am asked to take on the responsibility of those consequences, as if they were somehow my fault. I feel like you put that burden on me more often than not.

Still, you don’t own me.

I can carry the burden. I’ve got an army of people behind me that will not let me fall down. I know who I am, and I know who I am not.

I don’t always know who you are. But no matter what form you take, everything you throw at me just makes me that much stronger, because I am in control.

You. Don’t. Own. Me.

 


This post was inspired by the song “Dear X (You Don’t Own Me)” by Disciple, off of their album Horseshoes & Handgrenades.

Get Well Soon

On Sunday I slept in a bit, made my way to the gym for spin class around mid-afternoon, then over to the coffee shop to spend the rest of the afternoon on the computer and getting caffeinated. It’s kind of my thing.

As the afternoon slipped by, I finally remembered that I needed to go get a “Get Well Soon” card. On a Sunday in the deep south, stores start closing at 5:30pm…6:00pm if you’re lucky. I dashed across the street to the drugstore to see if they had a card that would meet my needs. After browsing up and down the aisle, I finally found a small selection of “Get Well Soon” cards, most of which were either short novels or gave the impression that the person the card was for really wasn’t going to make it. How does a drugstore not have a surplus of cheerful “Get Well Soon” cards?

That just would not do. I was looking for a card for someone special. The card I wanted had a very particular purpose.

Ninjabetic - Aunt Addie Tweet

I decided, rather than play leapfrog from store to store looking for one that would work, I’d skip all the aggravation and head directly to the source of “Get Well Soon” card bliss: Hallmark.

I called the only Hallmark in town, and a gentleman named Trey answered. I was really just calling to find out what time they closed, since it was already 5:30pm and if they were closed I didn’t want to waste my time driving all the way across town. Fortune was on my side however, and I had just enough time to get there before the store closed in 30 minutes.

Then something happened that blew me away: Trey asked me what I was looking for. I told him that I was looking for a special “Get Well Soon” card, and the situation, and when I arrived at the Hallmark he had a selection of about eight cards that he had pulled that he thought would work best. Then we narrowed it down to three, and I bought them all.

It is a rare and delightful moment when someone goes so far above and beyond what they have to do for their job. All he really had to do was tell me they closed at six and point me toward the plethora of “Get Well Soon” cards that lined an entire wall of the store. Instead, he took the time and cared enough to not only help me find a “Get Well Soon” card, but to also help me find the RIGHT “Get Well Soon” card.

This post isn’t about diabetes really. It is about our diabetes online community though, supporting each other, and the pleasant surprises that happen along the way. Good things beget good things.

1st Blogiversary: How It All Started

I was trying to think how I wanted to celebrate my very first blogiversary here at Diabetically Speaking. At first I thought of highlighting a favorite post from the past year, like this one, or this one, or even this one. But then I decided I wouldn’t do that. That would just be shameless. Instead of sharing another one of my favorite posts, I decided to share the story of how Diabetically Speaking got started. That is much more important than a post that I think stands out.

In 2007, a best buddy and I were out on A1A in south Florida going for one of our ritual weekend road bike rides. At some point he and I got to chatting about how I deal with my diabetes while we’re doing our long bike rides. That is far from a short discussion, but as we talked, I realized that I had a lot of experience with this disease. I had been living with diabetes for over 25 years at the time. Then to hear someone who doesn’t even have diabetes be so interested in my story, it really got me to thinking. What if I had a place to share my life with diabetes, and to be a voice for those that don’t have one?

I really thought hard about it as we ticked off the miles, and I left the bike ride that day so excited about my revelation of how I needed to start a web site called Diabetically Speaking to get my story out there. The idea didn’t get much in the way of support though, and it almost immediately lost momentum.

A year passed before the idea came up again. I purchased the domain name and got started developing what would eventually turn into what you are reading now. Unfortunately, I was going through a really rough time in my life, both personally and professionally, and I got as far as typing the name Diabetically Speaking in the blog title area before the idea ran out of steam yet again.

Almost two years passed where the only attention that Diabetically Speaking got was my annual renewal of the domain name and the server space that it was sitting on.

In February of 2010 I met A-Flizzle, and I had decided shortly before we met that I was done with living my life with diabetes in the closet. There is so much more to me than just diabetes, but diabetes is a very big part of who I am. Just about every decision that I have ever made was done so with diabetes in mind. The first time we met, I told her that I had diabetes. I may have also told her that I was bionic since I had the insulin pump on me and all, but still, for one of the first times in my life I didn’t hide my diabetes and downplay it as if it was no big deal.

And for one of the first times in my life, the person whose support I needed most, even if I didn’t quite know it yet, didn’t downplay my diabetes either.

After several months of encouragement and development, I finally launched Diabetically Speaking to the world on August 20th of last year. I’ll admit, my first few blog posts were a bit rough around the edges. It takes some time to find your voice, even on a blog. Now, of course, every post I write is completely perfect. (See also: sarcasm.)

On This Day in 2010

Without support, there is very little in our lives that we can have success with. This blog hasn’t always been a success, and I don’t expect it always will be. We don’t grow by always succeeding; we grow by failing and learning how to do things better next time. I just hope that both me and this blog are here for a long time to connect, share, and be the voice for all of those with diabetes who are still searching for a voice of their own.

Thank you all for supporting Diabetically Speaking for the past year. Maybe next year we will all be cured and I can rename this blog to Diabetically Spoke.

Update

Celebrating my 1-year blogiversary with a big ol’ M&M cookie (and 2 dogs who would be more than happy to celebrate with me!)

1st Blogiversary

Double Vision

So last night after work was fun. I left the office on time and made a beeline to the grocery store. That means I went directly to the store, without passing Go, and without collecting $200, for those of you that aren’t familiar with insect street slang. I wandered around the store looking for Italian bread crumbs, tomato sauce, and rat poison. Yes, I have strange grocery lists. You should see what happens when I go shopping for birthday gifts.

After the grocery store, I stopped by my house to let the dog out and change out of my work clothes, then went over to A-Flizzle’s house so we could make dinner. We were trying an eggplant parmesan recipe that she found. Don’t worry, I couldn’t find rat poison at the store, so there was no foul play involved. Or fowl play, for that matter. Vegetarian, for the win!

When I got there, A-Flizzle had all of the ingredients and baking dishes and bowls and forks and spoons and knives (oh my!) out and ready to start putting the meal together. One problem: I couldn’t read the recipe. As I tried to study the paper, all I could make out were fuzzy words like “mix” and “lightly” and “weight watchers.” Wait a minute…Weight Watchers? Are you trying to tell me I’m…oh, nevermind. It’s just a recipe.

I stopped trying to read and went to my Adidas backpack (aka, man bag) that I carry everywhere with me and fished out my BG meter. Sure enough, 47. Well that explains why I couldn’t read anything. I found my glucose tab keychain and ate glucose tabs, and then went back to the kitchen and struggled through the recipe. The more I tried, however, the more my vision blurred, and eventually I was seeing complete double. I already have glasses! Cut me some slack here diabetes!

30 minutes later and an eggplant parmesan in the oven, I tested again, and BG was 74. Still, I had complete double vision. Defeated, I went and stretched out on the couch and just closed my eyes, determined to give my body a few minutes to catch up and get right.

Pump Double Vision

Just Sunday, A-Flizzle and I were out and about and I had a BG of 37 with absolutely no symptoms at all. She said to me tonight, “How is it that you can have a BG of 37 with no symptoms whatsoever and I’m the one freaking out, but then your blood sugar is 74 and you can’t even see clearly?”

Wait for it…

“Oh, I know why. It’s because you have diabetes.”

She’ll be here all week folks. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

Wrestling with The Giant

It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve put together a solid blog post. I’ve been busy. I’ve been traveling. I’ve been exhausted. I’ve been preoccupied. But mostly, I’ve just been out of whack.

Normally, my blood sugars are prone to running low. I can be eating and run low. It’s just the flavor of diabetes that I’ve been blessed with, despite the basal testing and best precautions. The past couple weeks though, I’ve found myself in the 200’s on more than one occasion. At work sometime around mid-morning, 229. Before spin class, 250. A few hours after dinner, 240. Granted, I still have an occasional low, like yesterday’s lovely panic-laced BG of 37, but still. I hate running high.

Since I am accustomed to running numbers in the double digits rather than triple figures, I can feel every single mg/dl of a 200+ blood sugar. It makes me tired, it makes me irritable, it makes me unable to focus, and it makes me wonder what in the Sam Hill is going on?!

To try and figure out where this out of whackedness is coming from, I figure it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. I can’t keep proceeding like this, so I have to find out where my stresses are, and remove them.

So my blood sugars are higher than normal. Why? The first guess is something to do with my diet. I will admit that I’ve had a few more carbs in my meals than I should have lately, but I’ve also started back at the gym for the past three weeks. I need those carbs for fuel. I’ve discovered spin class at the gym, and I can’t keep up the pace for 45 minutes that burns calories, gets my heart pumping, and leaves my entire body covered in sweat if I don’t have the proper fuel. My blood sugar can easily drop 100-200 mg/dl in one single spin class, so it requires a careful balancing act of fuel in and power out. Still, if I’m being honest with myself, I probably don’t need ice cream, pizza, or Chinese take-out to fuel my gym experience. I know I could do a bit better job. But is that it, just my diet that could use a little fine tuning?

Being tired is easy to understand. I don’t sleep enough. But why am I not sleeping? Probably because I have way too much on my mind lately. My mind is all work, responsibilities, money, worry, friends, family, never feeling like I am getting enough accomplished, needing outlets and not being able to find them, not being able to share and say what I really think about things, not getting the support that I need, keeping way too much bottled up inside…too much thinking!

Or maybe too much coffee. Naa…no such thing.

Ironically, I can’t focus because I have too much to focus on. To give one thing my undivided attention, I stress out over everything else that gets ignored and suffers. It’s this constant vicious cycle that keeps repeating over and over, and meanwhile I feel like I’m falling further and further behind.

As you can see, it isn’t just one thing that is the challenge that must be overcome. It is all of it added together that makes it a giant. I don’t know what the exact solution is, but I know I have to keep trying, and hope that I’ll find a way to bring this giant down to size before he looks at me and says, “Hmm…tastes like chicken?” and then eats me alive.

Giant Chicken

Today I’m going to put a new CGM sensor on my body, and I’m going to pull the rug out from under these high blood sugars at least. I hate them. They make me feel awful. So goodbye to them. I’m bad about taking breaks away from CGM, but I didn’t get it just to look at it. I got it to warn me of when there is a problem, diabetically speaking. Be it warning me that I’m high or low, the CGM has a purpose, and I’m not giving it a fair opportunity to help me when I’m not wearing it. And clearly, I need the help right now.

I’m also going to resign myself to focusing on just one project, at least temporarily. Not 30 projects and things that I need to get done. Just one. And I’m not going to stop until that one is done. Because then I will have 29, instead of 30. And that is progress, no matter what speed it travels at.

DTreat Utah – August 26-28, 2011

Over the past month I’ve shared some of my experiences with DTreat, a diabetes retreat for young adults who are transitioning into their independent lives with diabetes. Scott Johnson has also shared a post about DTreat.

DTreat LogoNow, you or a young adult in your life can be part of DTreat too! Over the weekend of August 26-28, 2011, join other young adults with diabetes (Type 1 or 2) at Camp Red Cliffe in Huntsville, Utah. Where is that you say? Have no fear, it’s here!

DTreat Utah - Camp Red Cliffe
DTreat Utah - Camp Red Cliffe, Huntsville, Utah

All of the information that you need to sign up is on the Diabetes Camps web site. The $50.00 registration includes meals, snacks, accommodations, the program itself, and entertainment. Beyond the registration fee, all you have to do is get there. Seriously, if you’re a young adult between the ages of 18-25 (or even a little older) with diabetes, you can’t afford to miss this event.

DTreat provides an opportunity for you to come together with other young adults for a 3-day program where you can talk through issues with peers and get real-life advice. DTreat provides support and the tools for healthy living that give participants positive well-being and connection to supportive social networks. At DTreat young adults will have the opportunity to partake in a series of discussion style groups, workshops, and sessions geared toward life-affecting topics such as:

  • Health insurance and finances
  • Diabetes “burn out”
  • Time management with diabetes in your life
  • Stress management
  • Partying
  • Sexuality

I wish so much that something like DTreat had existed when I was transitioning into adulthood. I could have learned a lot about how to manage diabetes in my own life, and I also feel like it would have helped me to open up about my diabetes with others.

I know that parents worry about their children moving into the independence of adulthood and dealing with all the responsibilities of diabetes, and not being able to be there to help them. As a young adult, I know that we want to experience the excitement of life, our first job, college, relationships, traveling and adventure, and not let diabetes hold us back. DTreat is something that can help both parents and young adults alike by teaching and demonstrating to young adults that the responsibilities of diabetes absolutely do not have to hold you back from a life full of amazing experiences.

I hope you will attend this event. I hope that if you know of someone that would benefit from this event, that you will send them a link to this blog post. I hope that you will help me spread the word about DTreat, and help make a statement about how important programs like this are to the future of people with diabetes.

Like these people with diabetes.

DTreat Tampa Attendees - July 2011
DTreat Tampa - July 2011

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