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Diabetically Speaking

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September 2011

Unconscionable Numeracy

Last week at the 6th Annual Education Forum on Diabetes Prevention & Management conference, I witnessed clinical healthcare professionals learning and sharing about the impact of diabetes, issues from the patient perspective, issues from the healthcare professional perspective, and enough data and PowerPoint slides to make Bill Gates proud.

Two presentations really stood out to me. As a person with type 1 diabetes, or a type 1 diabetic if you prefer (you say “noo-tella,” I say “nuh-tella”), I gravitated toward those portions of the conference that I could identify with the most. I like hearing various perspectives of my particular flavor of diabetes, especially from the side of people who work with and deal with diabetes without having the disease themselves.

First, there was a presentation about numeracy.

Numeracy: adjective; able to use or understand numerical techniques of mathematics.

In other words, numeracy is the ability to understand and use numbers in our day-to-day lives. Those of us with diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes, do it all the time, seemingly without thinking because we’ve done it for so long that it has become almost habit. We can do carb and blood sugar math like it’s nobody’s business! For example, I know that my insulin to carb ratio is 1:8. That means if I have a meal or a snack with 20 grams of carbs, I’m going to have to take 2.5 units of insulin to cover it so that my blood sugar doesn’t spike and make my head explode. (Not really, but my blood sugar will go high, and I hate, hate, HATE being high.)

I loved this presentation because the presenter really linked it to the patient perspective of living with diabetes. She highlighted the fear of all the numbers that sometimes paralyze us to take action. That applies no matter what type of diabetes you have. She said, “Something that healthcare providers have to realize is that if we make a mistake in math in our checkbook, it’s really no big deal, but if a type 1 makes a diabetes math mistake, they can die.” There is not a lot of room for mathematical forgiveness with type 1 diabetes.

Numeracy

The next presentation I went to was awesome because the presenter was my endo. I love my endo, so pardon me a minute while I gush. I really appreciate him because, even though he doesn’t have diabetes himself, he gets what it is like to live with diabetes as well as anyone I have ever met. He was sharing with the room some of his experiences with helping children and parents adjust and learn to live life with type 1 diabetes. Having grown up with diabetes myself, since age 2, I could appreciate a lot of the stories he had to share; many of them could have been about me.

He opened his presentation by telling every single diabetes and healthcare professional in the room that “it is absolutely unconscionable what we ask people with type 1 diabetes to do to stay alive.”

Unconsionable: adjective; not in accordance with what is just or reasonable.

Yes, yes, and more YES! I’m paraphrasing here, but he explained that sustaining the constant counting and checking and pricking and poking and dosing and everything else it takes to live with diabetes is really not reasonable or realistic. He said, “Albert Einstein said that doing the same thing twice and expecting different results is the definition of insanity,” then added, “…except with diabetes.” A person with diabetes can do the same exact thing and eat the same exact foods for two days in a row and get totally different results. The best that can be hoped is that people with diabetes will do as much as they can.

Something that I’ve always appreciated about him, and the reason he is still my endo even though I am 32 years old (still a kid at heart people, don’t get it twisted!), is because of the perspective he shared at the end of his presentation. He said that in his practice, he refuses to tell a person with diabetes to “test” a blood sugar. A test you can pass or fail. A blood sugar check is just a check, returning a number that is neither good or bad, just possibly something that needs to be addressed. All these numbers that come with diabetes are just data. Just. Data.

What we have to do to live with diabetes may sometimes be unconscionable, but the numbers that we see staring back at us should never be that. We have to learn to use all of these numbers in our diabetes world to make decisions, and react to the best of our abilities.

That has to be enough.

Resolved

Last Friday I had the privilege of attending the 6th Annual Education Forum on Diabetes Prevention & Management in Tallahassee, Florida. Throughout the day there was talk about all of the various types of diabetes and their differences, along with the growing number of diabetes diagnoses, the obesity epidemic, the lack of education about the beneficial impact of fitness on the human body, and other topics.

One discussion panel consisted of diabetes educators from rural areas, mostly working with their local health departments rather than a diabetes center of some sort. Each of the professionals shared what their communities were doing to educate people who are at risk for Type 2 diabetes, to help those with any type of diabetes to get the resources that they so desperately need, and to help them navigate the often confusing world of healthcare.

One of the panel members, like so many others that took to the microphone throughout the day, spoke about her personal connection to diabetes and how important it is to her. My ears always perk up when I hear someone sharing their diabetes story. We all have a unique diabetes story, and we find common ground in our shared experiences in living with diabetes on a daily basis.

I heard this panel member trying to share her connection with diabetes from her rural perspective, and her view of the importance of education and helping people to learn the skills they need to effectively live with diabetes. She said, “I understand, because I used to have diabetes, but mine has been resolved. My husband still has diabetes, so it is very important to me.”

I looked up from my iPad, where I was taking notes, and probably had a look of “Huh?” written all over my face. “Used to have diabetes?” I’ve always been taught that there is no cure for diabetes, regardless of what type you have. Sure, there are options if you have Type 2 diabetes, including lifestyle changes and medications, but you still have diabetes even if you are able to avoid medications. Diabetes is a progressive disease, and you have to stay on top of it in whatever way works best for your unique situation. They don’t say “your diabetes may vary” for nothing. For Type 1, there is far less gray area for lifestyle adjustments: Insulin or death, pick one.

At first it agitated me that this woman, a diabetes educator, a representative expert on diabetes in her rural community, was proceeding and educating others with the presumption that diabetes was something that could be “resolved.” To me, that implied that diabetes was somehow the fault of the patient, which is not always true, and certainly is not a fair assumption without looking at many other aspects of the individual’s health. Initially, it felt to me like she was blaming her patients for having Type 2 diabetes, which I do not agree with.

Blame does nothing but remind someone of the circumstances that they are in. Blame looks into the past, not the future, and keeps us focused on what we should have done, as opposed to what we can do now.

I said at first it agitated me, because the more I thought about her words and her perspective, the more I came to realize that maybe her choice of words is a direct reflection of the rural community she is trying to help. Rural communities are often lower income, lower educated, often economically challenged, and without extensive healthcare options within the community area. Given this, for the people with diabetes that she is trying to help, it may be easier and more effective in managing diabetes within the community if they proceed with the idea of:

Losing weight + eating healthy + exercise = diabetes resolved.

As opposed to:

Medications = I have diabetes.

I know this equation doesn’t work for everyone, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, because maybe it works for a majority of the patients in her care. Thinking about it from that perspective, it is certainly a lot easier to inspire people to take care of themselves when they can have a goal of “diabetes resolution.” For a rural community that simply does not have the resources to help every single person with Type 2 diabetes, and the community members themselves may not be able to afford medications, prevention and “resolution” may be the most effective options.

At first I wanted to jump up and say, “There is no cure for diabetes! You can’t give people that false hope! That isn’t fair!” Then I thought about it some more, and even if we find hope and can place our faith in things that under a microscope may not be completely accurate, if it gets us to a better place where less people are dying from diabetes, then I can certainly accept that bigger win in the long term.

Stop Diabetes

30 Things About My Chronic Illness

I hate calling diabetes an illness. It implies that I am sick. I feel like sick should be reserved for people that are in dire straights, in need of immediate medical attention. We’re all patients in some way, shape, or form, but not all the time, and certainly not every day. Still, there are chronic conditions that some of us have to operate with, and in honor of Invisible Illness Week (which was actually last week, but humor me anyway), here is a list of things about mine that maybe you didn’t know.


1. The illness I live with is: Type 1 diabetes. Simply put, my body does not produce insulin. Not even a little. Not even at all.

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: May 11, 1981

3. But I had symptoms since: I was two years old when I was diagnosed. You see, what had happened was I was minding my own business out in my yard, playing with my ball, just doing my thing. Then this girl comes along with her milkshake, and all these other boys showed up in the yard. Next thing I knew, I had diabetes. True story.

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: I make adjustments with diabetes every single day. It’s a disease that requires near constant adjusting. I have to make adjustments in the amount of insulin I take based on what I eat, how active I am, what kind of activity I am doing, if I am sick, and sometimes for no reason at all. Every single day is different with diabetes, and the biggest adjustment is accepting that life is not scripted.

5. Most people assume: That if I’m having a low blood sugar, I need insulin. That is exactly what I do NOT need when I’m low! Insulin is a hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar, not raising it. Do not touch my insulin pump…EVER. If I am low and need your assistance, I need you to help me get something in me that is easy to chew and swallow that has glucose or sugar in it to get my blood sugar up fast, such as glucose tabs, juice, or even a regular Coke (not Diet!). If I am unresponsive, or you cannot get me to cooperate, please don’t hesitate to call 911 and ask for help. I’ll thank you later.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: Everything. I hate mornings. Especially before I’ve had my coffee. Sometimes the grumpiness is exaggerated by an early morning low or high blood sugar, making me even more…um, difficult. See #5 above for what you should do if I’m low.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: House. But that is primarily because of Olivia Wilde. (What? There’s more to life than just diabetes!)

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My blood glucose meter. I could live without my pump (if I absolutely had to), as long as I have some way to inject insulin. And I could live without my CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) if I had to. All of these pieces add up to optimal diabetes management (for me, YDMV), and I hope I never have to live without any of them. But without my meter, I would have no idea what my blood sugar is, and I would have no way of knowing what action I need to take to manage my diabetes effectively. In essence, without my meter, I would be blind. (Diabetes pun not intended.)

Diabetes Hardware and Supplies

9. The hardest part about nights are: Sleeping. Not only do I feel like sleep is the single most biggest waste of time ever, it is also dangerous for a person with Type 1 diabetes because it is when we are most vulnerable. Sleep is the time when our blood sugar can drop or rise without our being aware, and without the ability to correct it. Too many people, adults and children alike, have been lost to Dead in Bed Syndrome. This is reason enough for why we need a cure…NOW.

10. Each day I take no pills & vitamins. (Just insulin. And awesomesauce.)

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: The treatment for Type 1 diabetes is insulin and monitoring your blood sugar closely, period. The alternatives are health complications and death. I have full faith that science will one day deliver a cure for diabetes. Until then, no amount of exotic fruit or juice from a berry whose name I can’t pronounce is going to get us there. We absolutely must take insulin to keep us alive and well. Still, insulin is not a cure. Neither is cinnamon.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Definitely invisible. I appreciate the choice of how visible or invisible I want my diabetes to be. Though I normally don’t, if I choose to hide my diabetes, I can.

13. Regarding working and career: I’m a medical librarian, a diabetes blogger and advocate, I teach, I speak, I travel, and I do anything that anyone else can…and I do it with Type 1 diabetes. I would love to someday have a job working closer with diabetes, on a diabetes hub, maybe with a company that focuses on diabetes, or that will work with me to work with others with diabetes. I absolutely love meeting other people with diabetes, sharing with them, helping them, and seeing that look when a parent realizes that their child with diabetes is going to grow up and be okay, or when that adult with diabetes finally finds someone else to share with who simply gets it.

14. People would be surprised to know: That even after more than 30 years with diabetes, there is still much of it that I can’t explain. For example, how can my CGM tell me that I have a “Low Predicted” and then an hour later I’m high with a BG of 170 mg/dl? Diabetes is pure nonsense sometimes.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: It’s not new, but I still can’t accept that there is anything that I can’t do because I have diabetes. Yes, this gets me in trouble sometimes. No, it doesn’t stop me.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: I’ve never believed there was anything I couldn’t do with diabetes. Still, I like to push the envelope. Skydiving is fun.

17. The commercials about my illness: When I see a commercial about diabetes, I feel like it is targeting the vast majority of people who have Type 2 diabetes, and usually an older audience. I like Wilford Brimley and all, but that isn’t my generation, so I really wish someone would do something that appeals to those of us with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who are under the age of retirement.

Wilford Brimley

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Life with diabetes is all I’ve ever known, but I miss what I imagine it is like not having to carry so much diabetes stuff around with me. Sometimes I feel like the trash lady from Labyrinth, especially when I travel and end up carrying enough diabetes supplies to last me for two months, even though I’m only going to be gone for two days.

Labyrinth Trash Lady

19. It was really hard to have to give up: Although I don’t think my personality is that of someone who would thrive in the military, it does sometimes aggravate me that diabetes took away the option for me to join a branch of the armed forces. Still, I appreciate that I am able to be here, alive and well, so that I can appreciate all of those who have.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Blogging and engaging with the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life with diabetes so far.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: I don’t feel abnormal, except when my blood sugar is too low or high. I wouldn’t be opposed to a day without having to monitor my blood sugar and every single thing that I do and eat. If I could have that, I’d probably just spend all day pigging out in the candy shop at Walt Disney World.

22. My illness has taught me: Patience, and the fact that I don’t have enough of it.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing that people say that gets under my skin is: “How sick are you?” I want to really make them feel awkward and answer that question with something akin to, “Well, at night I dream of riding horses naked in the rain, while hunting dinosaurs with rocket launchers, and then after a good hunt sitting down to a feast of buffalo pterodactyl wings and celery sticks. With ranch dressing.” I’m weird.

24. But I love it when people: Take the time to ask me questions, and clarify what they know or thought they knew about diabetes.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “You can turn painful situations around with laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.” — Bill Cosby

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: You can do this. And you will do this. And you will be better because of it. Because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: That most of the time I don’t feel ill from it. Awesomesauce!

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: When you have a low blood sugar with diabetes, it tends to wreck all plans of whatever was happening prior to that moment. I am always and eternally grateful for the folks that put me first when I have a low blood sugar and need a little help. Here is one such story.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: If just one person reads this and learns something new about diabetes, then that is one person who is more empowered than they were three days ago when they started reading this list. (It’s a long meme!)

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Grateful. Whether you have diabetes yourself, or someone you care about has it, I hope you were able to take away something worthwhile.

I think it will be interesting to look back on these answers and see how and if they change with time. Are you curious? Do it!

Back On Track

188. That is the number that greeted me Saturday when I stepped on the scale to see just how bad things were. After making significant progress in losing some of my heft, making as much progress as getting down into the mid-170’s by June of this year, at the beginning of July I had a bad diabetes moment, and despite my intentions to throw myself back into exercise and eating low carb, I’ve really lost focus.

My clothes fit a little more tight than they used to, and certainly more tight than I want them to. I look at myself in the mirror and I’m not happy with what I see. I want to look and feel sexy, and make the mistake of asking my reflection for my phone number when I walk by. I need to get new clothes too, as most of my clothes are well worn, some even with holes in them. But I refuse to go buy them when I’m at a weight and size that I’m not happy with. I don’t want to buy the size clothes that I am. I want to buy the size clothes that I want to be.

I’m also tired all the time. I don’t really sleep that much, and when I do it is restless and dream filled. Part of that is because I’m stressed all the time. I feel like I have for more to do than I have time to do it, all the time. It’s not just work, or life at home, or people I need to see, or things I need to do. It’s just the culmination of everything. It’s as if I can never get enough accomplished, and despite my generally optimistic view of the world, lately I feel frustrated because I end every day with a list of things I didn’t get done.

My eating habits are just plain gross since July. When I had my seizure, I really chewed up my tongue and mouth. For two weeks I could only eat soft foods like macaroni and cheese, applesauce, soft cookies, breads, and sometimes soup if it wasn’t too hot. Because I could barely chew or move food around in my mouth with my tongue, it completely broke down my low carb routine that I had been sticking with and was doing so good at keeping up. Now, because my routine changed, I’ve gotten accustomed to foods that I can eat fast, because I don’t have a lot of time to stop and put together a meal that is healthy and good for me. Rather than a breakfast made of something in the 20 grams of carbs or less family, I end up grabbing the blueberry or banana nut muffin that is 58 grams of carbs, just because it is fast, easy, and available. Rather than opt for a healthy salad or protein heavy lunch and taking time to pause and use both hands to enjoy it, I end up with the carb loaded option that I can eat with one hand so I can continue working with the other.

Emotionally, because I feel so far off track, I’m not happy. Sure, I still have a good time with friends, when I can find the time to get to hang out with them at least. A-Flizzle and I still enjoy doing things together. It’s not a social unhappiness, but rather a disappointment in myself for putting back on nearly all of the weight that I was so proud of myself for losing in the first half of this year. I don’t like the way I look, and I don’t like the way I feel.

So, all that said, the first step is looking at the situation objectively and admitting that there is a problem. Now what?

I looked over my 2011 goals, and I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m not severely off track. I got my A1C down, I joined a gym and started taking spin classes to have a group of people to regularly pedal with, I paid off my insulin pump, I’ve gotten to have adventures in Washington D.C., New York, New Orleans, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and I celebrated 30 years with diabetes and jumped out of an airplane.

I still struggle with wearing my CGM every single day, I haven’t ran a 5K, I haven’t made it to the dentist yet this year, and obviously (given the topic of this blog post) I haven’t made it to my goal weight yet.

I’m making an effort to be transparent. I want others to know that diabetes isn’t easy, but there are other things in life with and without diabetes that are also challenging. I’m going to get back on track. Maybe it’s shallow, but I want to look in the mirror and like what I see, so much that I throw dollar bills at my reflection.

Starting yesterday, I’m back in the gym. My BG’s are better when I’m active and working out, my disposition is more positive, and in time it will all translate to a lower number on the scale and a higher number on the miles I can go on my bike and the things I can accomplish with my body. I have to make time to do this, for me, and I have to stick with it, stay motivated and encouraged, and share my progress. That means my friends on Twitter and Facebook get to endure my constant status updates about my gym adventures, how I’m in spin class, working on my core, flexing in front of the mirrors, and looking like a complete amateur with my weak self trying to bench press and look all hard in front of all the juice heads.

I may not accomplish every one of the goals I’ve set for 2011, but I’m okay with that. If you achieve every single goal you set, you’re not setting them high enough.

I will feel better about myself and my body. I will get back to liking what I see in the mirror, enough so that I sneak my reflection a high five or a wink when nobody else is looking.

Right now I’m telling myself, “Self! You can do this.” And I will too.

The New World Of Martin

Never Trust A Sweet Potato

Wednesday was one of the hardest days with diabetes I’ve had in awhile. Well, at least since this day, which actually wasn’t that long ago. But anywho…

This episode began on Tuesday night, when I noticed that my blood sugar was stubbornly high after having dosed enough insulin to take down a small rhino. I thought I had dosed correctly for the sweet potato that I had for dinner, but apparently sweet potatoes put on a good show, with their sweet and seductive scent, but they are actually full of lies and half-truths when it comes to their nutritional info.

Lying Sweet Potatoes
This is a Public Service Announcement: Sweet potatoes are not to be trusted!

I woke up with a BG of 235 mg/dl on Wednesday morning, which I attributed to the fact that I probably didn’t dose enough before bed. Not a huge deal, go-go-gadget correction bolus, and it was off to work I went.

The correction bolus should have done the trick. Instead, my BG wavered a little, but mostly it just hovered in the mid 200’s all morning. For some, that isn’t that high and they can go all day long in that range and not be out of sorts. For me, it made me want to dig a hole and throw myself into it. I’m accustomed to numbers closer to the 90-100 range. I had a headache, I was nauseous, I felt like someone had replaced my blood with syrup, my insides ached, I had no energy, I wanted to go lay down, and all I could focus on was how awful I physically felt.

After giving the insulin plenty of time to work, and still being high, I corrected again. I wondered if maybe the morning BG spike had also included the dawn phenomenon, along with the errant sweet potato bolus, so maybe that was why my BG was being stubborn and not dropping down to normal.

I tried to get into working and distract myself from the awfulness I was feeling, and give the whole situation a little time to work itself out. Apparently it worked too well, because by lunch I had dropped down to 45, after ignoring my CGM alarm and then getting busy and forgetting about it. For future reference to you CGM-ers out there, don’t do that.

Lately I’ve been working through lunch, only to look up at the clock and realize it is mid-afternoon and I haven’t stopped to eat yet. Since I was at 45 and low brain had kicked in with full force, I quickly grabbed some chicken nachos for lunch. I figured there would be enough carbs in that to cover the 45, but not so many that I couldn’t easily manage a proper insulin dose for it.

I thought I dosed properly for it. I even looked up the nutritional info online. Still, I was back up to 245 by the end of the workday, and also back to feeling like someone had replaced my insides and physical well-being with frustration flavored Jell-O.

I remained sky high for the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening. By 8 o’clock that evening, I was physically ill. I thought I was dropping at one point, and that it was safe to eat and dose for dinner, so I had one serving of eggplant parmesan so I didn’t skip a meal and end up low again. Unfortunately, the eggplant parmesan had much more of an effect on my blood sugar than the insulin I had dosed to cover it.

I can’t say for sure, but I really think I spent all night and day dealing with insulin that had lost its mojo, its libido, its life force, its essence, its right stuff. What the French call a certain… I don’t know what.

Once I got home, I cracked open a cold one (a new vial of insulin, that is), refilled my pump, and my BG’s since then have been rock solid and right where they are supposed to be.

Moral of the story: Beware of skunky insulin. And never trust a sweet potato.

Playing Jax

Last weekend A-Flizzle and I hit the road to go see a Typical Type 1 and a bevy of Bob’s. Along the way we were fed by 13 Gypsies, a Bob and I went for a solid 24 mile bike ride, we all witnessed a catastrophic Contagion, had some times that were a little low and a little high (BG-wise), and we even managed to snap a few pictures along the way.

Hydrate Yo Self
It's extremely important to stay hydrated at all times.
Martin Coffee Company
There is always my personal favorite way to stay hydrated. What? It had my name all over it.
Gourds Gone Wild
If you have too much though, things might get out of hand.
A-Flizzle and the Unicorn
Breakfast with two fairytale creatures: A unicorn and an A-Flizzle. What more could a PWD ask for?

The Day After

I’ve been perusing news articles, blog posts, tweets, Facebook, TV and radio observing the reflections of a day ten years ago when terror struck on September 11, 2001. The impact of four commercial planes full of innocent people, heroic people, and the worst kind of people who eventually saw all four of the planes through to a tragic end has left an indelible mark on me, on a city, on a nation, and on the world.

Ten years is a long time, yet, it isn’t very long at all. It seems so fresh, so yesterday, so real still. I still expect to turn on the TV and see smoldering rubble in the business district of Manhattan, a burned and gaping hole in the side of the Pentagon, and a big, dirty, smoking trench in a field in Pennsylvania. Yet, those aren’t my tragedies.

One of the tragedies of 9/11, for me, is the change in perspective. What once would have been a coincidence, a natural phenomena, or a just a freak accident is now questioned: Are we being attacked once again?

Recently there was a relatively minor earthquake that shook our nation’s capital in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas. The first thought for many people in D.C. was that there had been another attack, that something had exploded nearby, that the worst had struck again.

Before 9/11, we would have all thought that it was an earthquake…first.

Parents of children with diabetes also have this perspective shift. Before diabetes, a child acting the fool, goofing off, and just being the beautiful weird that a child can be would have been attributed to just having fun and being a kid. After diabetes, the same acts are questioned: Is his blood sugar low? Does he need a snack? Is there a reason for this odd behavior? Is this my fault?

Diabetes is its own sort of terrorist, hijacking our immune system, demanding that we be forever vigilant of how we feel, what we eat, and what we do and how much we do it from that point forward. It requires us to closely scrutinize things that we would have previously overlooked, such as being thirsty or having a headache, and question their intent and what they stand for.

Both the evil of 9/11 and diabetes have claimed and continue to claim the lives of friends, families, loved ones, innocent people, heroes, and even those that we don’t admire so much. There is no discrimination, aside from sweeping political and religious idealism that has been portrayed by the media over the years since 9/11.

The day after 9/11, we questioned everything. The day after diabetes, we questioned everything. Still, we have the day after, and that is one more day to live with all of this, and one more day to overcome it.

“Nothing we do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.” — Ashleigh Brilliant

NYC World Trade Center Rebuild - May 2011
Rebuilding the World Trade Center - May 2011

4th and 38

Saturday started a new season of magical awesomeness that is college football. Specifically, Florida State University football!

My buddy J called me up on Friday and said, “Dude!”
I replied, “Dude!”
He said, “I have two tickets to Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe! You want to go?”
I said, “Dude! Sweet!”
He said, “Sweet!”

And that is how we arranged to go to the game. We’re men of a very extensive vocabulary, clearly. We also hold multiple undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral level degrees between the two of us, so don’t get it twisted that we can’t be verbose when we feel like it.

I spent all night Friday night and Saturday trying to keep my blood sugar from bottoming out. I didn’t get up and go to the gym or spin class on Saturday morning, or go for a bike ride, or anything like that. I was just low, and dipping lower for no apparent reason. You’d think I had diabetes or something…I mean, wait…

It was the first game of the season, and everyone had apparently arrived ahead of me for the game, so I ended up having to park a mile or two away and walk to get there. After hiking through the snow, uphill, and against the wind (or really just through the Florida summer heat), I met J outside of the stadium, and before we went through the entrance gate and the fun that security show and tell can be when you have diabetes supplies that go everywhere with you, I stopped to do a quick blood sugar check. I was feeling a little weird after the walk, but no symptoms that were extraordinarily odd.

3…
2…
1…

38. (See also: Holy f@#ing $h!t!)

I noticed my hands where shaking when I was trying to put my diabetes trash (alcohol swab and strip) in its special place inside of my BG kit. I noticed how hard it was to zip my kit back closed so the contents didn’t go falling all over the sidewalk. I wasn’t confused, or unable to function, or emotional, or not able to communicate. I was just clumsy…er, clumsier than usual.

As we headed toward security and the entrance to the stadium, I reached in my pocket and fished out my emergency glucose tab keychain with the four glucose tabs that live within. I started popping them in my mouth as we were getting in line, and I deliberately chose the line closest to the FSU police officer just in case I didn’t catch that 38 in time and all of a sudden needed help as I was hand modeling my diabetes junk with the security personnel.

I never told J that I was as low as I was. I haven’t necessarily hidden my diabetes from him the few times we’ve hung out, but I also haven’t taken the time to explain or throw up a sign with neon lights about it either. With this 38, at a time when I was so excited to have a good time, I needed my diabetes to take a back seat and behave and leave me alone.

Fortunately, I caught the low in time. Once we were through the gate, after I had already eaten my four glucose tabs, I headed to the concession stand and bought me a big fat pretzel and a cold drink. I didn’t have any other problems for the rest of the game, and I had an awesome time. It didn’t hurt that FSU clobbered Louisiana-Monroe 34-0.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened had I not stopped and tested, had I not choked down the nastiness that is glucose tabs, and had I been walking up the stadium steps toward our seats when that 38 became one of those ugly lows that puts me on the ground.

Moral of the story: Always, ALWAYS having something with you to treat a low. And GO NOLES!

FSU vs ULM - 09-03-2011

The Big & Small of Diabetes

Diabetes is sometimes larger than life.

Big Prescriptions
There are all these really BIG prescriptions, written with really BIG pens.
Big Fingersticks
Then you've got all these BIG tests you have to take.
Big Pizza
Sometimes you get to eat really BIG food.
Big Shots
But then you have to take really BIG shots.
Big Success
And if you do it right, you end up a BIG success.

All the BIG things that go along with diabetes are important, but it helps to remember the small stuff too.

As A-Flizzle reports…

I think most people would consider me creative, but not artistic. I love crafts, but I also like detailed instructions on how to get it “just like the picture.” What can I say? I have OCD and am a type A personality to a tee. Nevertheless, I was very excited when Martin asked me to participate in Diabetes Art Day and make something that expressed how I feel about being a Type Awesome. I feel like the whole undertaking of the craft project brought us closer together and, of course, was so much fun!

Diabetes Art Day 2011 - Family
This is what I consider my “family” (featuring Martin’s dog, Hopper, but absent my dog, Bindi and Martin’s cat, Squirt) and how sometimes I feel like Martin is in a bubble with his diabetes, where he takes on too much all on his own and no matter how supportive I am (as evidenced by my “Good Job” ribbons) there will be some things I just can’t and don’t “get.” This is perfectly okay, but a hard pill for me to swallow, as I am a fixer and like to take care of people. In the end, I think we are both continuously working to pop the bubble and find a greater understanding that while it’s his disease, we are in this together.

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