Martin Librarian

Briar Patch

I’m not perfect. There, I said it.

The past few days have been a rollercoaster of educational opportunities and lessons learned for me. It’s as if I’m stuck in the Robert Frost poem about two trails diverging in the woods, and I’m constantly finding myself on the one that is less traveled.

Of course, the road less traveled is the one that is supposed to make all the difference. That whole “thrive through adversity” thing, I guess. If I’m being honest though, it’s exhausting always traveling that path. Sometimes I’d like to just travel the well worn option, where I can proceed without so much resistance.

I remember my mom telling me when I was growing up that when you’re stressed out and upset, you have to find your stressors, and get rid of them. That sounds so easy, but in reality, there are a lot of stressors that we have no control over. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s never going to be perfect, right, or appropriate for everybody.

That is exactly where I’m at right now. From nasty emails that completely blow non-issues out of proportion, to trying to lead a group of people with shifting priorities in all directions, to dealing with supposed professionals behaving unprofessionally, I feel like I’m traveling down a path that more closely resembles a briar patch than it does a simple path less traveled.

It’s hard not to internalize times like these, especially when there are conflicting reports about whether or not you are doing a good job. It’s hard not to take it personal. Sometimes I just need someone to say, “Martin, I know this is hard, and I know you feel like the world is against you because of these few small things, but you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you.” Preferably in the Stuart Smalley voice. Short of that, I’d settle for someone that knows just telling me that I’m doing the right thing, because sometimes I’m just doing the best I can and hoping that is good enough.

I guess this is the part that I could link to diabetes. Fortunately, and thankfully, it’s not my diabetes that is giving me the hardest time right now. I’m waiting on new test strips to get approved by my insurance company and arrive, sure. I need to order pump supplies, of course. But really, those things are just another day with the “D.”

I did get to Skype with some amazing Students With Diabetes from Tampa last night, and that was awesome! I love hanging out with people with diabetes (PWDs), even if it is virtually. They certainly reminded me that not all is awful in the world, and even if we get the diabetes blues, PWDs are resilient and forever hopeful.

SWD_02_06_2013

That is what I have to remember right now. There is hope. Better days are just around the corner. You can’t please everybody, and sometimes it really doesn’t matter what you do, some people have made up their minds from the start that they are going to proceed with their panties in a wad or their boxers in a bunch. I just have to be consistent, and stay positive, briar patch or not.

The advice I gave to the Students With Diabetes last night about diabetes blues is that if you can find a way to laugh about it, you can overcome it.

That said, who wants to get me one of these Lionel Richie cheese plates for my birthday on Saturday? Or you could just donate to my Tour de Cure and help me kick diabetes in the teeth. Either way, you da best, and I thank you from the bottom of my busted pancreas.

HelloBrieOR

ADATdC2013

 

How About No Bear

Social Media and Medicine

Today, October 1, 2012 is “No D Day.” Today is the annual day to take a step away from diabetes, to do something different, to share something new, and to not mention the “D” word that so many of us live with every single minute of every single day. For me, it’s even more special, because this is the first time that I’ve visited my blog to share with the world in over two months.

You can find all of the “No D Day” posts on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #noDday, or you can visit Ninjabetic.com for a list with links. I hope you enjoy this and all of the “No D-Day” posts today. As always, we will continue to work, and share, and push for a future where every day is a…

No D Day 2012

I’m a joker. No, not like the Steve Miller Band song (although, that is a great song…”I’m a joker, I’m a smok…” Nevermind.). What I mean is, I love a good laugh. Lately, I feel like I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to laugh as much. I haven’t had time to stop and appreciate the humor in things. I haven’t had time to stop and sniff the chihuahua eating venus fly traps. (What? Those TOTALLY exist.)

Most of my time lately has been spent working and traveling for work. In the past three weeks I have been up and down the state of Florida three times teaching physicians and medical students all about how social media and medicine collide. Basically, this is what happens during the Social Media and Medicine workshop.

First, my colleague and I get a bunch of physicians and lock them in a classroom. Then we start to mention social media, Facebook, Twitter, and the fact that people are sharing information online, and they go all…

How About No Bear

Then they spend two hours being exposed to all the various social media vehicles, why social media is important, how patients and physicians are actually using social media for good, and they start to get all…

Finally, by the end of the workshop, we reach the point of…

Dammit Jim LOLcat

That’s when we know that our work is done, and we move on to the next workshop in another city. Nothing makes me happier than a health professional embracing LOLcats. Okay, LOLcats and social media. I love being a medical librarian! And soon, I hope to slow down enough to share more of my world with everyone again.

(Also, this was my very first blog post using a MacBook Air that a friend let me test drive for a week. TOTALLY different than the PC that I’m most familiar with and accustomed to, but I have to say…I kind of love it. Dear Santa Claus, I’ve been really good (mostly) this year…)

SWD - Sara & Martin - May 2012

Bullets: Rat-a-tat Tat

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. And working. And traveling some more. If my counting is correct, this past weekend was my 8th trip somewhere out of town in the last two months, after weeks of prepping for said travel, and I still have one more trip to go.

8 Fingers

I’ve forgotten what weekends at home are, but if those mythical creatures still exist, I’m certainly looking forward to one someday soon. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and so much that I want to share with all of you that still read my blog and haven’t given up on me while I’ve been M.I.A. the past few months.

Overall, the past several months have been a success, made up of both work and diabetes, and including a lot of reading, thinking, meetings, planning, traveling, juggling, tightrope walking, backward and forward somersaults, and as much fun as there has been time for in the three ring circus that is my life these days. Here are just a few highlights:

  • I took a trip to Seattle, Washington for the Medical Library Association conference. I had never been that far west or north before, and it was a mind-boggling and delightful experience. Jet lag sucks though.
  • I attended the inaugural Students With Diabetes National Conference in May, and it was one of the most incredible three days with diabetes that I’ve had in my entire life. Ever. I’m still processing my thoughts on it, but what is being done with Students With Diabetes and Bringing Science Home is nothing less than life altering.
  • After working every day (and night) since the end of February to plan a statewide meeting of medical librarians, I was elected President of the Florida Health Sciences Library Association. I’m extremely proud of and excited to lead this group to some grand things for medical libraries in Florida over the next year.
  • I’ve finally decided that I’m all in for D-Ink. I just have to find someone who has the skill to draw what I want. Will share my thoughts on that process, which may appeal to some of you who are also considering D-Ink.
  • New diabetes technology is out and about, and I’m drooling over it. However, with every new invention to improve the lives of people with diabetes, there comes a list of challenges.
  • Traveling and eating out so much has left me still struggling with my weight…again. It’s a recurring theme, really. I wanted to be lean by Friends For Life this year, but alas, that’s next week, and I don’t see myself losing the equivalent of a toddler between now and then. I’m exploring some options of what to do about it, and trying to figure out how I can get into a routine that isn’t so detrimental to my bottom line, so to speak.
  • Through everything, I’m still working to stay on top of my world with diabetes. 60% of the time it works every time. Wearing my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) on a constant basis is still probably my biggest diabetes challenge, for a host of different reasons.
  • Also, I’ve spent some time recently shepherding someone near and dear to me who is newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It has left me with a lot of thoughts about how we, both as patients and parents of children with diabetes, react to change and the news that our transmission has decided that it wants to be a “stick shift” rather than an “automatic.”

More to come on all of this, but I’m just excited to get back to writing and sharing and communicating with everyone again.

Here’s a picture of me and Sara at the Students With Diabetes National Conference. See also: Poster children for Type 1 diabetes. (You read it here first.)

SWD - Sara & Martin - May 2012

I Break For Coffee

Hangry

It’s hard to describe, and even differentiate sometimes, the difference between having a low blood sugar and just running on pure empty from not eating all day.

All week, since Daylight Savings Time kicked in, I have been trying to outrun the clock and get to work on time. I love DST, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really hard to get up in the morning when it’s still dark outside.

Okay, who am I kidding? It’s hard for me to get up in the morning whether it’s dark outside or not.

Yesterday morning was no different. Running late, I brushed my teeth, grabbed my work gear, made certain that I wasn’t walking out of the house with flip flops and pajama pants on, and hit the road.

I realized when I grabbed my messenger bag out of my car that it was lighter than usual. Turns out I had left my lunch (leftover white bean chicken chili from dinner the night before) at home. It happens, right?

This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but I have a habit (a good habit, if you’re viewing things from my employer’s perspective) of getting to work and throwing myself into things and not stopping. I’m notorious for working through lunch, skipping breaks, and looking at the clock to surprisingly discover that it’s mid-afternoon and I haven’t seen the outside of my office all day. The only thing that I will consistently break for is coffee.

I Break For Coffee

After my second cup of coffee…okay, third cup…maybe fourth cup…I realized that I was pretty much plowing through my day of meetings, emails, phone calls, and one-armed library dragon training. Once I was done, and those dragons were tamed well enough to stamp due dates in library books like they were born with that one lonely arm to do just that instead of burn villages and terrorize innocent monks (Trogdor!!!), I called it a day and headed home.

Now, I knew I had been moderately low all day. I’m back to wearing my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) again, after a slight hiatus from all the beeping and bonking and wee-ooo-wee-ooo-wee-ooo alarms waking me up in the middle of the night, and it had warned me off and on all day that I was hovering around 75 mg/dl. Still, I didn’t stop to treat it or deal with it. I just kept working.

When I got home, A-Flizzle and our pal EriCAH were there, so I started preparing dinner. Yay, food!

I kept noticing that I was agitated with everything, but I didn’t have the sense to question why. Cutting the chicken and vegetables, I was seething. Trying to figure out how to make the chicken stock thicker, I was fuming. When I realized that we only had a single serving of rice, I was mulling over what it would be like to throw the refrigerator off a cliff. It was so ridiculous that I was getting on my own nerves. I must have been driving A-Flizzle and EriCAH crazy.

That was when I realized I had reached my limit. I was low. I was hungry. I was angry. I was HANGRY! And I was making dinner and the food was too raw to eat immediately. Oh, the agony! The horribleness! The tragedy!

Eventually dinner finished, and we all got to experience my chicken thai curry science project of a meal, but it was a great example of how normal for some people isn’t normal for those of us with diabetes. There are times that we absolutely MUST stop and eat. Going all day long without eating is dangerous, and in hindsight, I’m probably lucky that I didn’t have a sneaky low that left me sitting in my office in a pile of sweaty, shaky, confused nonsense with a co-worker telling me, “Drink your juice Shelby!”

I’ll probably do it again though. Because I’m stubborn like that.

Twitter Fail Whale

Working Through It All

I’ve been busy lately. Extremely busy. Too busy. I’ve been doing all kinds of things, but without divulging my Dead Sea Scroll-length laundry list of things to do, suffice it to say that I’ve been working really hard at just trying to keep up.

From being so occupied lately, I’ve developed a bad habit of setting aside important things that make me feel better and happier, like writing on this blog and being an active member of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), exercising, reading for leisure, getting enough sleep at night to not feel like I’ve been hit by a truck the next morning, keeping in touch with friends I care about and miss (both online and offline), and in some ways even my diabetes. I feel so out of touch, missing invites to events that I would have loved to have been a part of, missing news, and even missing out on the jokes. And I LOVE a good joke. Speaking of which, has diabetes been cured since I’ve been M.I.A.?

In addition, I can’t seem to get anywhere with my New Year’s goal of losing some weight, which just adds to my frustration. Most days I find myself completely worn out by the end of my work day, and I come home and grab the carb-heavy easy foods and try to cool my jets instead of grabbing my gym pass, the iPod, and a water bottle. By the way, I need a new iPod Nano if anyone is feeling particularly generous. No, seriously. Anybody? Bueller…Bueller…

My bicycle is sitting in my laundry room collecting dust, the spokes wrangling wayward dryer lint, taunting me each time I do a load of laundry. I can hear it whisper, “Psst! Hey, fatso! Wanna go for a ride?” My swimsuits, from board shorts to triathlon training gear, sit in the bottom of a drawer just waiting for me to slim down enough so that I can fit into them and get back into the pool without it looking like the Twitter fail whale retired to the local YMCA. Thankfully, my swimsuits know better than to make any snide comments in my general direction. I’ve already threatened to give them to the dog to play with if I hear one snotty remark out of them.

Twitter Fail Whale

I know that I’ve been missing online. I know that I’ve missed being online. I also know that sometimes there is just no extra time for much beyond the things that absolutely must be done.

So what the heck does this have to do with diabetes? Last weekend, Jacquie, her husband Bob, and Sara spent the weekend visiting with A-Flizzle and I, and it really helped me to remember what I love about our community of people. It ended up raining the entire weekend, but I still loved that we all got to hang out and spend time together. When you can hang out with people and do nothing and still have fun doing it, you know it’s a good thing.

We are so much more than just people with diabetes. We are friends, even family. I get a text from Jess late at night for no reason but to ask how I’m doing, and I smile. Sara walks in the door with a hug and says, “We’ve missed you!” and I swallow that little lump in my throat and change the subject really quick. Bob (not to be confused with Jacquie’s Bob) sends me a Twitter mention from somewhere in the middle part of the country and it reminds me that I’m missed, and I’m not alone, even when I feel like I kind of am.

I’m working through a lot of things right now. I’m processing a lot of change lately. Don’t take that negatively, a lot of the change I’m dealing with is amazingly good change, but it’s still change, and by nature we human beans are change resistant.

I know I’m dealing with a bit of depression too, but I’m not willing to truly admit it to myself. I tell myself I’m too busy to deal with that right now. I’ve got a lot going on internally about external influences, trying to process my own feelings about some things that I’ve been dealing with for awhile now, while trying to manage my anger and hurt levels on an almost daily basis.

I really have a lot on my plate with work and trying to get my career as a director of all things awesome to the next level. I also long to be a bigger voice and presence in the diabetes community. Something that I use this blog for regularly, and something that I’ve somehow veered away from, is making people laugh. I love to make people laugh, and I want to be able to laugh too. Laughter is a ginormous part of who I am, and I need it.

I’m overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things that I feel like I have to do, that I want to do, and that I need to do. Regardless, I am trying my best to work my way through it all, or at least get things to a manageable level of stress and outstanding items so as not to be so neurotic. If you don’t hear from me, or reach out and get only silence in return, don’t fret. I got the message loud and clear, and I appreciate it more than words, and I’m working my way through everything in an effort to find my way back to you all.

Martin_DC_Feb2011

Brand, Me

National Health Blog Post Month, Day 9: My personal brand. As a Health Activist, you are a front-facing leader. What do you imagine you look like to your readers? What qualities do you possess? It’s ok to toot your own horn today – you have full permission to indulge. And don’t hold back.NHBPM_2011_Day09

As a diabetes advocate, a person with diabetes, and a purveyor of all things awesome, I insist that what I write about be honest. I want people who stumble across my bloggity blog to appreciate that what I’m sharing is me, my life with diabetes, and that it is genuine, and based on a real human bean’s perspective.

I don’t want anyone to look to me for clinical advice, because I’m not a clinician. I don’t work for Clinique either, which is what I think of when I hear words like “clinical” and “clinician.” You know the people at Clinique walk around the office going, “I’m a Clinique clinician going to the clinic to get all clinical on some classy cloud computing clowns.”

Clearly, I have an extremely vivid imagination. I like to think of myself as a cartoon character, with a busted pancreas and a slight problem with blood sugars that fall faster than ACME anvils in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Some of my posts (I hope) are imaginative, and entertaining. I admire the creativity and ingenuity of people like Walt Disney, so maybe that is where my cartoon imagination comes from.

As serious as life with diabetes is, it is also entertaining, and I try to share that. I’m a storyteller. Not to be confused with a liar. I like to read stories where there is a beginning and an end, and somewhere in the middle is adventure, good versus evil, and a bit of anticipation for what is going to happen next. There also has to be a point. Without a point…well, what’s the point?

I’m also an educator. A librarian, actually. I like to provide people with information that they can use, and learn from, and appreciate. Nothing makes me happier than reading a comment or receiving an email from someone about a post I’ve written that echoes what they feel, what they deal with, or puts into words what they are going through. I’m a people person, and that connection reinforces the importance of sharing things about my so-called diabetes life.

I hope that when my readers look at me and my blog, that they smile. Maybe occasionally they get a little watery eyed. Hopefully they laugh out loud, often. I hope that they are touched, even if it’s slightly inappropriate touching, and that they find a connection, hope, motivation, and support in that they are not alone with diabetes. No one should ever feel alone with diabetes.

Martin_DC_Feb2011

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

Mirror Mantra - 10-17-2011

Don’t Be Evil

Sometimes life has a way of showing you that there are things that you need to work on. I’ve got plenty of examples lately that have left me running a gamut of emotions. (See also: Blog post theme for the week.)

One such example that spurs a looming sense of overwhelm is my work email Inbox. At the end of the day on Friday I had 496 unread emails. 496! How am I supposed to do my job effectively when I have more emails coming in than I can read and take care of and respond to? Plus, I just assumed an additional ton of responsibility, a new project, and another staff member to supervise. How in the world am I ever going to keep up with it all? My answer: Post-Its.

I love Post-It notes. All shapes, all colors, lines, no lines, doesn’t matter to me. I color my world with them. Well, that and glucose tabs. My favorites are the original square Post-Its. Like Chuck Taylor All Star’s and golf carts with the word “Prius” spray painted across the front, nothing beats the original.

I’ve set a new rule to write down everything that I want to get done for the week on a single Post-It. Mostly work-related stuff, with the occasional “order insulin” or “pay Medtronic again” thrown in for good measure. Once that note is full, I’m not going to fret over anything else getting done until I’ve crossed off everything on that list. If I can get everything on that one Post-It done, then my hope is that it will help me to stay focused and make progress, while also helping me to reduce the other “ess”…stress.

Inspired by Mike (What Some Would Call Lies) and Karen (Bitter~Sweet), there is also something else involving Post-Its that I want to start doing: Monday Mantras. I’ve started looking forward to seeing what Mike and Karen are going to post each week, and I think it really sets the tone for the week. Which is to say if you see me post a Monday Mantra that says, “Don’t strangle anyone,” it would probably be a good idea to tell me how fantastic my hair looks that day, or some other pointless nicety. You know, just in case.

So without further ado…

Mirror Mantra - 10-17-2011

Martin - Class Prep

What Diabetes?

Last week I took my medical librarian know-how to the classroom to teach a group of doctors how to find and use medical images for their research and teaching methods. As I was leaning over helping one of them learn how to successfully manipulate an image, I overheard a couple of doctors behind me chatting about me, or more precisely, “that thing on his side.”

I wasn’t mic’d for sound (this time), as the room was plenty small enough and I was able to project my voice plenty loud enough to not need to be wired into the room’s audio. When I overheard them, I didn’t jump right around and whip out my broken pancreas club membership card and secret handshake. Instead, I chose to let them go for a bit. After all, they are doctors and far smarter than I am. Surely they can figure out what that contraption is on my side, right?

They spent only a few moments debating about whether or not it was a wireless microphone, and moved on to the temporary conclusion that it must be the clicker for my PowerPoint presentation. Granted, I was using a PowerPoint clicker, but that was in my hand. I like to imagine I’m a weatherman when I get to use the PowerPoint clicker. Nevertheless, moving on…

Maybe the light hit me just right, or maybe I turned at just the right angle, but finally I heard one of them say, “Oh, that’s an insulin pump. He must have diabetes.” Followed by a pause for consideration. Then one of them said, “That’s impressive.”

Pride. That’s what I felt. Not for me so much, but for those of us who quietly live everyday with diabetes and don’t let it stop us from making a difference in the lives of others. We don’t let it stop us from helping others. We don’t let diabetes stop us from doing anything.

I never had a chance to acknowledge their overheard conversation, but I like to imagine that they went back to their hospital or their practice the next day and told their colleagues about how good of a class they took, and how this charming and incredibly attractive guy kept them engaged, learning, and laughing for a solid two hours. I hope that they got a glimpse of someone with diabetes who was thriving, living, and making a difference in the lives and abilities of others. At that point, I wasn’t a patient, or someone that needed their medical advice, or their prescriptions, or their years of medical education and experience.

I hope that they appreciated that diabetes was there in the room with us, but that it wasn’t in the spotlight. Because I certainly did.

Martin - Class Prep

In the office, getting ready for class.

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.