Martin Librarian

Ask a Diabetic Librarian

In a few weeks I am slated to speak to a group of middle school students about diabetes. I’m not entirely sure what to expect when I stand up in front of this group. I know I probably should avoid talking about diabetes in my typical colorful adult way, so I’ve been trying to think about where my head was when I was in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Go ahead, try to think about that. It’s a brain full.

HAWMC Blog Challenge - Day 3

Today’s #HAWMC blog post challenge asks health activists to “Write your own health Q&A. Your question can be a real, genuine one about your condition or you can make it a strange, humorous, or satirical health question. Once you’ve asked the question – answer it however you want to.”

Given the challenge, I am going to try and imagine what kinds of questions I might get from 150 middle school students so I can try and craft a response that is middle school age appropriate. I don’t expect that every question is going to have an easy answer, so I don’t want to end up saying something like, “Hell if I know. Diabetes sucks. Next question!”

Ask a Diabetic Librarian

Martin Librarian

Martin Librarian

Question: How did you get diabetes?

Answer: My pancreas stopped producing insulin when I was a baby, which is necessary to convert the food I eat into energy so that I can do fun things like play sports, ride my bike, and lead a healthy and active life. Since my pancreas does not produce insulin, I have to take injections of insulin with a shot or my insulin pump.

Question: Do you use drugs?

Answer: In short answer, yes, but not the bad kinds of drugs. Not all drugs are bad, and some are necessary to keep people like me alive. The drug I use to help me live with my diabetes is a hormone called insulin. Without insulin, I would not be here today.

Question: Can you eat sweets?

Answer: Absolutely! However, like anyone, we should only eat sweet foods like candy and cake in small amounts. Nobody needs that stuff, but it is a delicious treat every once in awhile. With diabetes, I simply have to know how many carbohydrates are in the food that I eat. That way, I know how much insulin I need to take to convert that food to energy that I can use.

Question: What happens if you don’t take insulin?

Answer: Have you ever had your finger pricked at the doctor? I know it can be scary, but that finger prick and that tiny blood drop tells us what our blood sugar level is. That is very important for people with diabetes. We use that number, along with what we eat, to determine how much insulin we need. Insulin is responsible for lowering blood sugar levels. Without insulin, our blood sugar would rise to dangerous levels, and eventually cause serious health problems.

Question: Can you die from diabetes?

Answer: Yes, you certainly can. You can also die if someone drops a piano on your head, or if you lose a wrestling match with an angry bear. Having diabetes, by itself, does not mean you are going to die. In fact, people lead amazing lives with diabetes every single day. People with diabetes can be musicians, actors and actresses, pro athletes, or anything else they want to be. As long as you take care of your diabetes, you can live a long and healthy life, and do just about anything you can imagine.

Beach Day

The Gravitas of Being Low

Today’s challenge in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC) is to “Go to Dictionary.com and write a blog post inspired by the Word of the Day.” The idea is to get those of us participating in this challenge to expand our vocabulary to a word that we wouldn’t necessarily use in everyday conversation. I feel like I have a relatively broad vocabulary already (and sometimes even quite colorful), but I have to admit that today’s word isn’t one that I routinely blurt out.

HAWMC Blog Challenge - Day 2

When I first read this blog prompt, I expected that all of us participating in HAWMC would be writing about the same Word of the Day. I was surprised when I saw that it could be any Word of the Day, and more than one if desired. However, I had made up my mind to really focus in on whatever today’s word was going to be, and figure out how to apply it to my diabetes world.

In anticipation of today’s post, I woke up this morning to a beautiful Spring day and checked for the Word of the Day.

Gravitas GRAV-uh-tahs noun;
High seriousness (as in a person’s bearing or in the treatment of a subject).

Apparently Dictionary.com isn’t one to be on time on a Saturday, which is something I can appreciate because me and being on time don’t always get along well either; “Gravitas” was actually the Word of the Day for yesterday. Nevertheless, I went with it, and I committed that to memory and got ready to spend the day at the beach with A-Flizzle and a couple of good friends. As we drove the nearly two hours to the coast, had lunch, spent the day with our toes in the sand, and then stopped on the way back for dinner, I kept thinking about “gravitas” and trying to connect it to my diabetes world.

Beach Day

A blog post inspiring day at the beach.


Then, while passing beach houses along the coast, it hit me. Oh yeah, I can definitely link this to my world.

Last week I had a low BG of 38 mg/dL…at work. I caught it while a coworker and I were talking, once I realized I was making zero sense carrying my side of the conversation. Plus, I was dancing on the edge of low-induced motormouth. As soon as my colleague left my office I was into my glucose tabs immediately, but I was really feeling all the awful effects of the low blood sugar…confusion, motormouth, nonsense, clothes-soaking sweats, shaking, and every little thought was immensely complicated.

While I was waiting for the glucose tabs to kick in and get my BG back to normal, the gravitas of the situation occurred to me. When we’re low, and fighting through the symptoms of a severe low blood sugar, nothing else really matters. It doesn’t matter that deadlines are being missed, that the phone is ringing off the hook, or that people are waiting to meet with us if only we could get our wits together. All that matters are those few moments, and fighting and clawing our way back to the surface where we can think clearly again. All that matters is survival.

As I sat there at my desk, with my head in my hands, trying my best to not appear to be a crazed lunatic that this low BG was making me feel like, I couldn’t get past the seriousness of the situation, and how not being low was the only thing I could focus on. It was all that was important, in that moment. The low didn’t last long, and thankfully I was better (albeit, a bit hungLOWver) after a few minutes, but then came the guilt and insecurity.

Did my coworker notice that I wasn’t making sense? Why couldn’t I just shut up and complete a coherent sentence? Why can’t I ever stop myself when I realize I’m having a low and simply say, “I’m feeling low and need to take care of this.” When will I ever be able to put my diabetes first, ahead of work and all the other things that will be there later?

That last question carries the most gravitas of any, and one that I can’t answer yet. But I’ll keep trying.

Diabetes Acrostic

Diabetes Acrostic

The folks over at WEGO Health are hosting a Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC), prompting health activists and advocates to write prompted blog posts every day for the entire month of April. Typical me, I took a big ol’ bite, so here goes…

HAWMC Blog Challenge - Day 1

Today’s challenge is to “Write a health acrostic using your condition’s name.” So here is mine. Lee Ann Thill over at The Butter Compartment would be proud.

Diabetes Acrostic