low

A-Flizzle and Martin - Osborne Family Lights 2011

Holiday Traditions

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 25: Never Have I Ever. You stick to your guns – now tell us about what. What is something you’ve never done but want to? What’s something you’ve never done and won’t budge on?NHBPM_2011_Day25

Growing up, Thanksgiving for me was staked in tradition. All of my family would get together at my grandma’s house for the full Thanksgiving spread: Turkey, ham, stuffing, peas, cornbread, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, pies and cakes galore, and more.

Over the years though, tradition has been replaced with change. People’s lives take a turn, some for the better, others for the different. Family members that I grew up with all have families of their own now, and we have moved into our own lives, where many of us have formed our own traditions.

Last year for Thanksgiving, A-Flizzle and I were in the Caribbean. We were in Key West petting six-toed cats at Ernest Hemingway’s house.

Hemingway House 2010

We were having a great time at the Hog’s Breath Saloon.

Fun at Hogs Breath Saloon 2010

We were sitting in the Bahamas having guacamole that was made fresh right in front of our very eyes.

Holy Guacamole

We were on an island, enjoying the sun. We were snorkeling above underwater plane wreckage and shipwrecks. We were drinking copious amounts of Diet Coke that we had to climb several flights of stairs on a cruise ship to get refills for (totally worth it, by the way!).

With that same spirit in mind, but not having quite the same amount of time to get away this year, we decided to go to Disney World for Thanksgiving. We had some time left on our tickets that we had purchased during Friends For Life last summer, and we needed to use them before the end of the year, so we figured…why not?

We spent the day yesterday at Animal Kingdom ogling the wildlife and having wild adventures.

Animal Kingdom Elephant 2011

At Epcot, we got educated Disney-style and traveled back to the 80’s with a little Captain EO. At Hollywood Studios, we proceeded to get into the Christmas spirit with The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

The Osborne Family Spectacle Of Dancing Lights 2011

Aside from losing my cell phone and a low BG of 35 that sneaked up on me at Epcot, which was fortunately caught and corrected without incident, it was a pretty awesome Thanksgiving.

There was a time when I would have said that I wouldn’t miss the time with my family on Thanksgiving. I feel like I haven’t budged on that ideal. I’ve just twisted the rules a little bit.

Have family, will adventure. Even on holidays.

A-Flizzle and Martin - Osborne Family Lights 2011

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

CGMs FFL 2011

To Be Thankful

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 23: Health Activist Choice. Write about whatever you want!NHBPM_2011_Day23

It’s Thanksgiving week, and Mike over at My Diabetic Heart has brought back Diabetes Blessings Week for the second year in a row. I was missing in action over the week of Thanksgiving last year, so I am excited to participate this year. It’s immensely important for people with diabetes to know that there are a ton of things that come along with diabetes that are totally worth being thankful for.

First there are low blood sugars to be thankful for. Now, I’m not talking about the severe lows where you get all shaky and sweaty and confused. I’m talking about the lows where you are just low enough to merit a snack that you wouldn’t normally eat any other time of the day. Maybe you get to treat a low with some juice, or a box of Nerds, or maybe even a little “Heck yeah, I’m having dessert with lunch today baby!” At least with diabetes, you can tell your friend who is sitting across the table from you watching you plow through your second bowl of homemade banana pudding, “Hey, don’t stare at me. It’s for my diabetes!”

Second, us people with diabetes tend to be more in tune with your body than most people without diabetes are. I think that is really cool. Because of our obsessive compulsive disord…um, attention to detail, we can live just as long as people without diabetes, and often without complications because we are able to catch many problems before they are a big deal. So congratulations to the newly diagnosed, you’re going to live forever! Or at least as long as the national average, which isn’t too bad at all these days.

Speaking of people with diabetes, those folks are worth being thankful for as well. Sure, diabetes is a lifetime commitment, but you get to join the finger pricker armed forces of the world in a battle to save mankind…who happens to have diabetes.

The folks that I’ve met in my world that embrace and encourage me AND my diabetes are those that I cherish the most. I remember days when “normal” was me hiding my diabetes as soon as I left the house. I would so adamantly do whatever I wanted in order to try and be like everybody else, and not let diabetes steal my spotlight. I’m not talking about wild behavior, but just simple things like driving a car, going to work, walking across a busy six-lane street (while low!) to get a snack. I mean, really? What was wrong with me?

I’ll tell you. I was so focused on everybody else in my world that I didn’t take the time to focus on me. I finally had to have a talk with myself. I said, “Self, that’s enough of living alone with diabetes. There are people out there that need you, and good grief, you need them too. If you’re low, say you’re low. If you’re high, say you’re high. And do something about them both. And stop pretending like you can outsmart diabetes when your blood sugar is below 50!”

I’m thankful for so many things in my world, but what I’m thankful for the most is the fact that I’m still here and able to be thankful.

CGMs FFL 2011

Jacquie, Jess, & me at Friends For Life 2011

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

This is also my post for Diabetes Blessings Week 2011: http://www.mydiabeticheart.com/diabetes-blessings-week/

Diabetes Blessings Week 2011

Oh The Places You'll Go Low

Best Of: Oh, The Places You’ll Go Low!

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 19: “Best of” post. Grab a post from your archives and repost it! Add a few sentences at the beginning to frame it. Why you chose it. Why you liked it. And why it should be shared again.NHBPM_2011_Day19

In May of this year, during Dblog Week, participants were encouraged to write a letter to someone about their diabetes. I chose to address my concerns from myself as an adult to myself as a child with diabetes. I was diagnosed at age two, so I’ve never really known a life without diabetes. I don’t have a before and after perspective, or memories of my diagnosis, or stories of transition. Based on my memories alone, I have always been a person with diabetes.

Still, diabetes has a lot of unknowns. In all of my years with diabetes, I have learned so much that was never shared by a doctor or a nurse, because so much of what we know about diabetes comes from living with it day in and day out. I wanted to share a story that I could understand, as a child, and appreciate throughout my life and years as an adult with diabetes. So I picked one of my favorites, and gave it a twist…

Oh The Places You'll Go Low(Click to read…)

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Martin and Mom - 2006

Bummin’ Around

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 18: A comment as a blog post. Pick someone else’s post (from the past or from today) and write a comment to them. Write that comment as your blog post for today. Link back to them to let them know you were inspired.NHBPM_2011_Day18

Yesterday, I was reading through the “Let It Be” themed blog posts, and one really stuck out to me. Jen, over at Blood, Sweat & Carbs, wrote about the fear that so many parents have when raising a child with Type 1 diabetes. Jen’s words are real, and vivid, and I know something that every single parent of a child with diabetes thinks about, but never wants to admit. For some reason, Jen’s fear reminded me of a story that I haven’t thought about in awhile.

One morning in my early 20’s, I woke up all alone, in a strange bed, cold, in a room well lit with fluorescent lights, covered with nothing but a thin sheet, wearing only a pair of shorts, and staring at the clock on the wall above the door, trying my best to figure out when and where in the world I was. Turned out I was in the emergency room, having had a severe low blood sugar and seizure early that morning.

My dad would always call me in the mornings when he was working off the coast of Louisiana on oil rigs, and he later said that I had answered the call, but then he heard a crack and the phone went dead. The crack was my head hitting the kitchen floor. My girlfriend at the time heard the commotion, found me in the floor, and called 911.

After the ambulance ride and whatever the doctors did in the ER to get me back to good, my girlfriend and my college roommate finally invaded my room in the ER after having been told to wait in the lobby for a time. It wasn’t long before my mom and grandma, who lived an hour and a half away, also showed up. I remember being happy to tears that they were all there, and that I wasn’t alone anymore. Hospitals are scary when you’re that low. Heck, the entire world is scary when you’re that low.

It was still relatively early morning when I was discharged from the ER. I was starving, so we all went to McDonald’s to get breakfast. And who doesn’t love McDonald’s breakfast? No one. It’s awesome. Anyway…

While we were in line, a homeless man asked my mom if she could spare a few dollars so that he could get some breakfast. Thankful that I was okay, and in the spirit of blessings, my mom didn’t hesitate to give the man a bit of the cash for him to get himself some food with. The disheveled man promptly took the money and headed for the door, where his friend was waiting, so that they could most likely go buy themselves some booze instead.

Seeing this, my mom marched after him and grabbed him by the collar before he could get out the door and told him, “Now, I gave you money because you were hungry and wanted breakfast, and I just picked up my son from the hospital and we are thankful to be alive this morning. I didn’t give you money to go blow it on booze and cigarettes.” She then proceeded to walk the man to the counter at McDonald’s, as if he was a six year old boy, and made him order breakfast for him and his friend. Then she took her change back and sent them on their way with a paper bag full of hot McDonald’s goodness.

Back where me, my girlfriend, and my grandma were sitting, we couldn’t stop laughing at the spectacle of my mom making this bum unexpectedly order him and his friend breakfast. To this day, that story that started out so frightening still brings a smile to my face.

I don’t know why Jen’s post made me think of it. Maybe just to illustrate that diabetes is what it is, and it is going to throw a curveball in the direction of all of us at some point. The key is to be ready, and to be thankful for all the times that diabetes doesn’t win, which hopefully far outnumber the more fearful moments. Remember that, as a parent, it is your reaction to diabetes that your child will remember and learn to mimic, and will carry with them through life.

And also, never give a bum money at McDonald’s. Walk him to the counter and make him order breakfast instead. (Thanks Mom!)

Martin and Mom - 2006

Me and Mom (2006)

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Monster Video Screenshot

Monster

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 15: This one’s for you, baby. Dedicate a song to your condition. Why did you pick that song? Find a YouTube or link to a version to embed in your post.NHBPM_2011_Day15

I’ve been thinking about this blog post, and letting it marinate in my imagination for the past day or two. I’ve written and related music to my place in the world in the past, including here, here, and here.

Lately I’ve been in this spot where I haven’t been wearing my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) consistently (again). Recently my sensors expired, and after trying to get the remainder to work to no avail, I don’t even have the option to wear my CGM now until I order pump supplies again.

It has been about a month since I have worn my CGM. As a result, my blood sugars have been all over the place. This morning I woke up at 292. Then tonight, I bottomed out at 35.

Diabetes is like that. Sometimes it feels like there is this beast inside that is chewing through wires and smashing buttons and causing all havoc in my body’s proverbial blood sugar control room. That was when I thought of the perfect song to dedicate to my diabetes…“Monster” by Skillet.

Listen to the lyrics. The song is all about a monster that cannot be controlled. We try with diabetes, but so often it feels like we are the lion tamer in a cage with three lions who at any minute could decide that they’ve had enough of behaving.

A lot of the time I hide the diabetes monster, and bed it down so that it doesn’t make noise or cause a commotion. Another line in the song, “My secret side I keep, hid under lock and key, I keep it caged but I can’t control it.” Keeping all of our diabetes fueled emotions bottled up inside is sometimes the only way that we have the strength to deal with diabetes, as if ignoring it will make it go away.

Throughout the song there is a line that says, “I must confess that I feel like a monster.” That is how I feel when my blood sugar is low or high and I’m struggling with diabetes. I need to let it out and say, “No, this is not okay!” Maybe I need help, or maybe I just need someone to appreciate the gravity of what I’m feeling inside.

This battle wages inside all of us with diabetes, regardless of type, and eventually we manage to become the monster ourselves and fight back.

In a few weeks I will have new CGM sensors, and will know exactly what my blood sugars are doing between finger pricks. Well, at least within 20%. It doesn’t sound that dramatically radical, ordering pump supplies and getting new CGM sensors, but that is exactly what it is. It is action taken to gain control and tame the beast.

I say to you, diabetes…who’s the monster now? RAWWWRR!

 

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

Emmy_by_Alan_Light

Truths & Lies

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 8: 3 truths and 1 lie. Tell us 3 things that are true about you, your condition, your Health Activism, or your life. Now tell us 1 lie. Do you think we will be able to tell the difference?NHBPM_2011_Day08

My life with diabetes is a mixture of truths and lies. Since discovering and becoming part of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), I have learned how to be more truthful about my diabetes, but that wasn’t always the case.

You see, I’m what they call stubborn when it comes to my diabetes. I will listen only when I want to, and I will divulge only what I want to, sometimes even to my own detriment.

It’s only been in the past couple of years that I will admit to how awful I actually feel when I’m running a high blood sugar. I’ve told A-Flizzle on more than one occasion that my crabbiness was because I was 200+ and just wanted to be left alone. I hate being high, and I don’t care who knows it. If I say I’m high, the best bet is to give me a wide berth.

I’m more likely to admit to being high, mainly because I don’t like it. Complaining helps. So does insulin.

What I’m not so good at is sharing when I’m low. Most of the time when I’m low, my natural tendency is to hide it. I will lie to you. I will tell you that I’m fine, and give the appearance that everything is totally okay. Meanwhile, inside, just below the surface where you can’t see, I’m kicking and flailing and fighting that low blood sugar like it’s nobody’s business. In my head, I deserve an Emmy for those performances. For lead actor in a diabetes-related hypoglycemic episode, the Emmy goes to…ME!

Emmy_by_Alan_Light

Photo by Alan Light (CC license - on Flickr at alan-light)

I notice it. I’ve even inadvertently embarrassed myself because of it. Sometimes when I’m low, I start to ramble and not make sense, but don’t possess the ability to shut up (kind of like this blog post). It’s especially inconvenient when I’m low and in meetings and trying to make a point that I can’t quite get out. And the whole stinking time I know I’m low, I’m just on low-brained auto pilot and gravitate toward my tendency to hide it instead of toward the need to say, “Hey gang, I’m low, I have to take care of this now and then we can continue.” Is anybody really going to begrudge me a break in a meeting? Probably not. And if they do, who cares?

It takes a trained eye to spot my low blood sugar tells. Sometimes I get twitchy, over analytical like I’m trying to figure out the secrets of the universe via the container that my glucose tabs are in, nonsensical motor mouth, shaky and clumsy, confused, maybe closing or covering one eye to ward off the double vision, suddenly sweating for no reason, or just sort of wandering around aimlessly and getting really irritated over nothing. Literally, nothing.

When it’s a bad low (not that the aforementioned symptoms are good, by far) and the act is over is when I go mute, and my eyes sort of glaze over, and I may even start staring at you awkwardly as if trying to tell you something of grave importance with my Jedi mind tricks. And I am too. I’m trying to tell you that I’m starting to shut down, and I need your help, and I can no longer tell you what I need with my words. I need you to know to get the glucose out of my desk, or the glucose tabs from off of my keychain, or the glucose gel out of my bag. I might even need you to help me get it in my stubborn mouth. It’s happened before. It will happen again. It is because I have diabetes.

So rather than write some post where I lie to you, I’m telling you, I will lie to you. But I may also need you. And I need you to know how to spot the truth behind my lies.

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month

5 Things

5 Things

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 5: 5 things that changed my life. For better? For worse? List 5 things that changed your life as a patient, caregiver, or Health Activist and how.NHBPM_2011_Day05

Having had diabetes for over 30 years now, I’ve seen a lot of change happen. Some of the changes with diabetes have been subtle, like acquiring a Delica finger pricker to replace the spring-powered nail gun of a finger pricker that I was using before. Other changes have had a huge impact on my life with diabetes.

5 Things

#1: BG meter
When I was diagnosed in 1981, most people determined what their blood sugar was by peeing on a stick. Actually, it was a strip. But still, it was a stick. That you peed on! The problem with peeing on a stick (beyond accidentally spraying the bathroom with wee) is that it only tells what the range of the blood sugar is, and it’s often hours behind reality. Blood, on the other hand, is much more accurate, telling you what your blood sugar is right now, rather than what it was three or four hours ago.

After the peeing on a stick days, there were these strips that you would put a drop of blood on, wait a few minutes, then wipe off and see what range your blood sugar was based on the color of the strip. If you wiped the blood off too hard, sometimes the color of the strip would come off with it. It took some practice. I also learned that I could cheat and wipe it with an alcohol swab and the color would be lighter, indicating a lower BG than I actually was. I mean…wait…I never did that…honest. To save on costs, my mom would cut the strips into halves or thirds so that they would last longer. You have to be frugal with diabetes sometimes. We may or may not have also eaten cereal with a fork so that we could pass the milk on to somebody else.

I really don’t know when I got my first BG meter. It was sometime when I was in elementary school. I remember it was huge, and it took several minutes and a huge blood drop (or two, or three) to discover what my blood sugar actually was. Today, our meters are pocket-sized, only taking 5 seconds or so to analyze a very small sample and report the results. It’s a beautiful thing! (Except when the numbers on the screen are less than desirable, but that’s a different blog post.)

#2: Insulin pump
My insulin pump has granted me more freedom with my diabetes than any other single advancement. It allows me to be able to do what I want and eat what I want on my schedule (or lack thereof, if I so choose). I love it, and I don’t ever want to be without it (YDMV).

#3: CGM
I’ve had my continuous glucose monitor for a little over a year now. I’m still not the greatest at wearing it regularly, but I absolutely love it when I do. I love that it helps me to keep my BG’s closer to normal, helps warn me when I’m going low or high, and often prevents disaster. My CGM is integrated with my pump, and I love having these two devices working simultaneously to give me data that I can use to improve my diabetes control. Would you look at that…I think I just motivated myself to go put in a new CGM sensor. Go me!

#4: Connecting to the DOC & PWD’s
There is something very special about the Diabetes Online Community, and that is all the people with (and without) diabetes in it. I have met some amazing people in this community, and I have learned so much from them about sharing my life with diabetes. I have also learned all kinds of tips and tricks, such as what tape sticks best to someone made of awesomesauce. Between my laptop, iPad, and phone, I manage to pretty much stay in contact with the DOC 24/7. Beyond the folks the make up the DOC, my favorite thing about it is that no matter what time it is, where I’m at, or what I’m doing, I can always reach out (typically via Twitter) and get a response. It’s awesome!

#5: Friends For Life
Heed these words: If you have never been to a Friends For Life event, then you need to find some way to make that happen. I went for the first time last July (2011), and it was life changing. I got back home and immediately put my time off on the calendar to go again next year. Friends For Life is one of the only places where you can walk around with an insulin pump hanging on your pants pocket, or check your blood sugar in a crowded room, or ask, “How many carbs are in that?” and not get even so much as a sideways glance. It’s a rare opportunity to be in the majority of people with diabetes, where people without diabetes are the minority. Plus it’s an amazing opportunity to meet friends from the DOC, and bond in real life over giant M&M cookies and a shared affinity for plaid.

Disclaimer: The kind folks at OneTouch did not pay me or solicit me to write about or mention their Delica device. That said, if they want to send me some fresh lancets, that would be awesome.

This post was written as part of National Health Blog Post Month (NHBPM) – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J

National Health Blog Post Month