Dblog Week

You Are A Winner (Photo by Elisfanclub, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Because of Diabetes, I Win

Not too long ago the DOC was tasked with writing about the most awesome thing we’ve done in spite of diabetes. There were so many great posts, and today’s Diabetes Blog Week topic takes that same notion of awesomeness, and gives it a twist. Rather than the awesomeness that we’ve achieved DESPITE diabetes, today’s topic is to write about the awesomeness achieved BECAUSE of diabetes.

I am who I am because of diabetes. Diabetes isn’t all that I am, but there is no way that I can say that it isn’t responsible for helping to shape who I have become.

I’ve written before about how I don’t have the perspective of life without diabetes. I was diagnosed at age two, so it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. To some that may sound tragic, but I rather like who I am. I don’t have any guarantees that I would like the person I might have been without diabetes being such a big part of my life.

Since struggling with yesterday’s Diabetes Blog Week post, I’ve realized as I’ve continued to reflect that maybe I’ve accepted the fact that I have diabetes, instead of hoping and pretending like it isn’t there and might magically go away. Accepting diabetes is a hard pill to swallow, and shouldn’t be confused with being happy about it or giving up hope. You have to sometimes embrace the monkey on your back to keep him from choking you to death.

The Diabetes Online Community (DOC) has been a huge part of my life in since I discovered that there are other people who go through the same trials with diabetes as me. How I live with my diabetes has changed a lot since I began sharing and being a contributing member of the DOC. I’ve pulled back the curtains on what it is like to live with diabetes, not only for everyone that reads my blog and follows me on Twitter, but also for myself. I still fall into the habit of hiding it sometimes when I shouldn’t, but I am getting better about putting diabetes out in plain sight.

As I write about diabetes more, talk about it more, and teach others about it more, I know that I will continue to get more comfortable with sharing the spotlight with diabetes. Because of diabetes, I have found a community of people who I can lean on when I stumble, and who can rely on me when they struggle. Diabetes is a condition best treated in a community. Because of diabetes I can focus my energies strengthening that community, increasing awareness, and improving the lives of all people with diabetes. Because of diabetes, I have a lifetime of knowledge and experience with this disease to share.

Because of diabetes, I win.

You Are A Winner (Photo by Elisfanclub, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo by Elisfanclub, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Chain Gang (Photo by Patrick Denker, Flickr, CC 2.0)

Walking Contradiction

The Diabetes Blog Week challenge for today was to write ten things that I hate about diabetes.

I have struggled with this post all day long. It’s not that there aren’t things that I hate about diabetes. I’ve read so many other posts from my friends in the DOC, and I agree with every single one of them. Like…

…Jacquie’s list where she mentions the heartbreaking blue diabetes candle.

…Kelly’s list where she highlights critical insurance issues relating to diabetes.

…Jess’s list highlights the guilt and fear that often accompany diabetes.

…Mike’s list that captures the anger and helplessness that comes with diabetes.

…Scott’s list and all the logistics of diabetes.

I sat down tonight and had a talkie talk with A-Flizzle about why I’m having such a hard time with this post. Her response was, “Martin, you can find the positive side to being in a chain gang. The reason you can’t find ten things to hate about diabetes is because that isn’t how you view your life with diabetes.”

Chain Gang (Photo by Patrick Denker, Flickr, CC 2.0)

Photo by Patrick Denker, Flickr, CC 2.0

She’s right. I don’t typically think of diabetes in terms of hate. Sure, there are things I don’t like about diabetes. I’ve certainly had my days where I’ve looked up with tears in my eyes and said to someone, no one, anyone that I’m tired of diabetes. It’s not always easy. Still, I try my best not to give all the aggravations of diabetes so much power that they become all I can focus on.

I try to find the positive side of things and not dwell on the things that aren’t perfect in this world; especially not the things that I can’t do anything about.

I have diabetes. Diabetes does not have me.

Without the dark of night, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty of a sunrise or a sunset. Life can sometimes be a little sweeter with diabetes. I spent 28 years of my life with diabetes not knowing anyone else with this disease, and living every single day with it more alone than I ever realized. Today I know more people with diabetes than I can count, and I meet new friends every single day who overcome it just like I do.

I hate that, but at the same time, I love it. I’m a diabetic walking contradiction.

NYC D-Meetup

30 Years With Diabetes

Today’s Diabetes Blog Week topic is diabetes bloopers. You know, those things that make you go, “D’Oh!” and facepalm yourself. I’ve had my fair share of diabetes bloopers: Dropping & shattering glass vials of insulin, running off on trips without all of my diabetes supplies, forgetting to dose for a meal, forgetting that I already dosed for a meal, finding the cat playing with rogue pump tubing, catching the dog gnawing on a perfectly good tube of glucose tabs…the list goes on and on.

The blooper that is really on my mind today is the one that my pancreas made 30 years ago when it decided to quit working. Or maybe it was my immune system that decided to work too well. Or maybe it was because I had chicken pox. Or maybe it was because someone got me wet or fed me after midnight. Or maybe it was because a butterfly flapped its wings in China. 30 years after the fact there is so much more we know about diabetes, but what exactly causes it and how to cure it are still not on that list, despite what we were told about how close we were to a cure when we were diagnosed.

Today is a day of celebration, of blessings, thankfulness, and appreciation. I have learned more in my 30 years with diabetes than some people learn in a lifetime. Living with diabetes has taught me so much, and coupled with other life lessons, I would be remiss to not stop for just a moment and appreciate the gifts that I have been given…thanks to diabetes.

The 1st 10 Years

  • If you’re low, anytime is snacktime.
  • Bananas and peanut butter on vanilla wafers is the best snack in the world.
  • You can’t go play when you blood sugar is high. But if you can sneak away when your parents aren’t looking, it’s fair game. The back door doesn’t squeak and make noise like the other ones do.
  • Swimming always makes you go low.
  • Visiting the cute nurses on the Pediatric floor at the hospital when you’re there for lab work is always a treat. They know you by name.
  • When you hear the term “A1C” you think of steak sauce and hamburgers.
  • You don’t know anyone else with diabetes.

The Teenage Years

  • If you’re low, it’s a nuisance, and you have to stop what you’re doing and take a break to feed it. Not always ideal when you’re being paid hourly at a part-time job.
  • Whatever is fast and convenient is the best snack in the world.
  • You hardly notice when your blood sugar is high. Until it makes you feel awful. Then it is all you notice.
  • Swimming still makes you go low.
  • Visiting the cute nurses on the Pediatric floor at the hospital when you’re there for lab work is still a treat. Other floors are acceptable as well, as long as there are cute nurses. You know THEM by name.
  • When you hear the term “A1C,” you also hear words like “goal” and “lower.” Those cute nurses are a good distraction.
  • You’ve heard of other people with diabetes, but you still don’t know anyone that has it.

The Last Ten Years

  • If you’re low, your CGM alarms and you drop everything and treat it. Except when you have low-brain and can’t seem to focus. Then it becomes more of a struggle, and is sometimes followed by a hangLOWver.
  • Cheese, nuts, and other low carb foods are the best snacks in the world.
  • Because you are in better control of your diabetes, you can feel a high blood sugar in the upper 100’s now. 200+ makes you feel like dog’s ass.
  • Swimming still makes you go low, and now you have to replace a pump site when you get done because the sticky doesn’t stay stuck in the water. You are able to ride a bike for over 100 miles in one day. You’ve discovered OTHER activities that have the same effect as swimming on your BG’s, and are just as much fun.
  • Visiting the cute nurses, wherever you can find them, has become a rarity. Now you mostly settle for Helga, the former wrestler with the mustache and gallon sized syringe and harpoon needle to do your lab work. She knows you as a number.
  • When you hear the term “A1C,” you start thinking all about decimal pointed numbers like 5.6 and 6.5.
  • You meet an amazing community of people online and in real life who also have diabetes. You start a blog, and start sharing your life with diabetes. They inspire you.

The Next Ten Years

  • Your diabetes is tightly controlled, and you don’t have any of the complications that others who don’t take their diabetes seriously often suffer from.
  • You’re slim, fit, and eat right so that you’re able to do the things you love and experience the world. You look fantastic naked.
  • You accept that there will always be things that make you go low. You’re prepared for them, and never let diabetes keep you from being able to do anything that you set your mind to.
  • You have a family now, and your diabetes is not the center of the universe, but just a piece that helps explain your awesomeness during bedtime stories.
  • You vow to only have lab work done from cute nurses in the future. You have diabetes, so you deserve it.
  • Your doctor rarely mentions the term “A1C” anymore. He’s more interested in what awesome things you did in the last three months so that he has success stories to share with his other diabetes patients.
  • You continue to write about diabetes, speak about diabetes, advocate for diabetes research and better treatments, and share your world with diabetes. You challenge others to take control of their own diabetes, and cherish those stories of how you inspired someone else to save their own life.

Today, May 11, 2011 is my 30th Diaversary. Thank you all for being such an amazing part of it.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” — Mae West

 

NYC D-Meetup

Allison, Caroline, me, and Brenda at a May 2011 D-Meetup in New York City

Oh The Places You'll Go Low

Oh, The Places You’ll Go Low!

Thanks to a little help from Dr. Seuss, this is a story to me and so many others as a kiddo with diabetes.

Oh The Places You'll Go Low

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
But you’re awake, and afraid!

You have low brains in your head.
You have sticky feet in your shoes.
You can’t seem to steer yourself any direction you choose.
You feel all alone. And you know what you know. And YOU need SOMEONE to know that you’re LOW!

You lay there in wet sheets. Thinking over with care. About next time you say, “I’ll remember to have glucose right there.” With your head full of low brains and your shoes full of sticky feet, you’re too clumsy to make it to the kitchen to eat.

And you may not find any snacks sitting around. In that case, of course, you’ll cry out and growl. It’s easier when stuff is right there.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people just as low-brainy and sticky-footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. And drink you some juice.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go Low!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be doing alright!
You’ll do a quick blood test and everything will be fine.

You won’t be all shaky, because you’ll have what you need. You’ll keep up with the world and you’ll soon take the lead. Whatever you eat, you’ll dose it the best. Wherever you go, will be with less stress.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that birthday parties and pizza can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a high blood sugar perch. Pause, and you’ll realize, you feel like you could lurch.

You’ll come down from the perch with an unpleasant tumble. And the chances are, then, that you’ll overdose and stumble.

And when you’re on the glucoaster, you’re not in for much fun. Un-stumbling yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the guilt is so harsh. Diabetes is like that. It can get very dark. A place you could stay in and feel like you can’t win! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a low-brained mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a chance to go or a thought to come, or a sound to make or the cry to come, or the door to open or the phone to ring, or the light to come on or waiting around for a Mom or Dad or waiting for the world to slow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the apple to eat or waiting for juice to kick in or waiting around for the night when waiting will end, when low-brain will subside, and sanity will return, or you can stop focusing on things you must learn, or another chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the strength to rise up and stop praying. For one brief moment, you are strong! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re not ready to die!

Oh, the places you’ll go low! There is fun to be done! There are carbs to be scored. There are alarms to be silenced. And the magical things you can do with the DOC will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win an awesome A1C.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All alone!
Whether you like it or not, alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though diabetes may prowl. On you will go though the CGM howls. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your pump sites may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that life’s a Great Blood Sugar Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right sites with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(You’ve got an army of people with diabetes who agree!)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Martin or Jacquie or Kerri or Scott…you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
No lows, no waiting.
So…get on your way!

Hopper the Dog

Admiring Our Heroes

2nd Annual Diabetes Blog Week

I recently watched a movie called “Love and Other Drugs” where Anne Hathaway plays Maggie Murdock, a character who has early-onset Parkinson’s disease. I think the movie was actually a romantic comedy of sorts, with people running around naked, and enough drugs to fill a doctor’s office. The lead character, Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), was a pharmaceutical rep…where is your mind at?

The “I notice you have an invisible illness, I have an invisible illness too” side of me could identify with a lot of the trials that Maggie was going through, even though they were sometimes probably downplayed for the sake of the film having popular appeal. One particular bit of dialog in the movie really stood out for me, because it resonates so loud in our world with diabetes, an incurable disease like Parkinson’s.

Maggie Murdock: I’m gonna need you more than you need me.
Jamie Randall: That’s okay.
Maggie Murdock: [crying] No it’s not! It isn’t *fair*! I have places to go!
Jamie Randall: You’ll go there. I just may have to carry you.
Maggie Murdock: …I can’t ask you to do that.
Jamie Randall: You didn’t.

Well break my heart. If that doesn’t connect with you, you’re cold-hearted and you need to go find a puppy or a kitten to hug on (stat!) before you freeze to death.

Hopper the Dog

Think about your world with diabetes for a minute. Think about the times that you’ve needed someone, and they’ve been there, without you ever having to ask them to be. Think about the reality of knowing that there may come a time, at some point, where you will have to rely on someone else far more than you will be able to rely on yourself. Think about how guilty and vulnerable that makes you feel. It’s scary, and a really hard thing to admit to ourselves and accept. Although we strive so hard each and every day to manage our diabetes in such a way that maintains our independence and well-being, sometimes the unpredictability of it wins, and we need a little help.

Take a deep breath, because it’s okay.

Think about how lucky we are to have someone…a partner, a parent, a sibling, a friend, a coworker, a roommate, a neighbor, and sometimes even a trained dog…who is there for us, even when we can’t ask them to be.

Want to know who I admire? It’s those heroes.

Take a moment and read this post from one of my favorite bloggers, Saucy…well, her significant other, actually: FF’s Take On Diabetes