32 Things

Today is an important day in Martin World. A day that I look back and reflect on some of my accomplishments.

1. I passed Chemistry in high school. It was the hardest class for me. Tutoring helped. The tutor had a cute daughter. Those last two statements are mostly unrelated.

2. I graduated. Four times. Because once just wasn’t enough. (HS, AA, BS, MS…in case you were wondering.)

3. I was a DJ. On a Christian music radio station. Yeah, I don’t believe that either. But it’s true.

4. I found love. And lost it. And found it. And lost it. And found it again. I’m like a country song.

5. I’ve changed the world. Sort of. I stepped on an ant hill. “World” is relative.

6. I’ve been a President. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

7. I rode my bicycle over 100 miles in one day. Most people have enough sense not to do that.

8. I had dinner with Olivia Wilde. Kind of. She was two tables away from me. I’m still counting it. Can we be friends?

9. I was fired once. They called it a “lay off” because of the recession. Lipstick on a pig.

10. I’ve worked in two libraries so far in my career. I’ve been the token male in both. I’m like a trophy librarian.

11. I’ve been an Apple, an Android, and a PC. I prefer being an Apple.

12. I was voted Most Intelligent in middle school. It was nerdy at the time. Now it’s dead sexy.

13. I grew up on a farm. I delivered a calf. I about had a cow.

14. I had a dog named BJ when I was a kid. I lived on Fifth Street. I’m usually on top of that “What would be your name?” game.

15. I write with Sharpies. People with dry erase boards hate me when I get excited about flowcharts and to-do lists.

16. I worked in a 1-hour photo lab. I got paid to stick my nose in everybody else’s business.

17. I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. According to the first rule, I can’t talk about this. I do love the movie though.

18. I wear a Mickey Mouse watch. It reminds me that great things start with small ideas.

19. I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

20. I have a tattoo. I’d like to get another one. I just don’t know what yet.

21. I love video games. They are a way that I escape and decompress. I also want my own personal Navi, like in Zelda.


22. I always have more to do than I have time for. In related news, sleep is a nuisance.

23. I like to explore a new city on foot or bike. You see things that you didn’t realize were there. Like celebrities.

24. I love New York, DC, and Seattle.

25. I’ve tried escargot (snails). It’s not my thing.

26. I speak a little bit of Russian. I would like to learn how to speak Spanish. English would also be helpful, some days.

27. I can’t speak in coherent sentences before coffee in the morning.

28. I’ve read every book by Terry Goodkind, Barbara Kingsolver, Tobias Buckell, and John Steinbeck.

29. I have pets that are some of my favorite people. Two dogs and a cat. All spoiled rotten.

30. I have moved nine times in my life so far. Books are very heavy. Save your back, buy an e-reader. And get a library card for Pete’s sake.

31. I gravitate toward leadership roles. Which probably explains why my to-do list is so long.

32. Today is my 32nd diaversary. 32 years with Type 1 Diabetes. Making it this long is nothing short of a big deal. But, as you can see, there is a lot more to me than just diabetes.

Low Interrupted

At first, I was thinking that I would toss out this post, or save it for later, in order to respond to the news from the Diabetes Research Institute. I know that a post like this, full of words on a screen, risks getting lost in the mix. But maybe it won’t.

If you read my last post, you know that A-Flizzle surprised me with a birthday trip to Jacksonville to tour the Budweiser brewery, hang out with Jacquie and the gang, get a massage, and go to one of my favorite restaurants in the whole wide world called 13 Gypsies. And my blood sugar spiked sky high. So now you’re caught up. As Paul Harvey would say, this is “the rest of the story.”

I’ve been sitting on this post for a few weeks now. It’s been a really hard thing for me to share. It’s the post I’ve been waiting to write for, like, 23 days.

My blood sugar was sky high, but I couldn’t very well call in diabetic and cancel a quality birthday celebration. Nor did I want to. I bolused for the high, but having been unplugged from my pump for as long as I was, there was really no telling how much insulin it would take to turn things around and get my BG’s back to normal. I knew I would need to feather the insulin over time in small doses so that I didn’t get a big ball of insulin hitting me all at once. It sounded like a good idea, at least. Until it just wasn’t working. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.

So, I did what any abnormal person with a nonfunctioning pancreas would do in the situation: I rage bolused the $h!t out of that high to show it who was boss. And I did too.

Later that night, after we had gone out to a rooftop bar and then to one of our favorite hangouts in 5 Points, Birdie’s, A-Flizzle and I trekked back to our hotel to call it a night. We settled in, I stretched out on the bed, propped my head up on a stack of pillows, and started watching one of the greatest movies of all time that just happened to be on TV that night: Con Air. What? You know you love it!

A-Flizzle was sound asleep, and I was laying there in bed messing around with my iPad and watching Cyrus the Virus battle The Man of Nomadic Eyebrows from the Land of Forgotten Forehead (aka, Nicholas Cage) for a shot at freedom via a crash landing on the Las Vegas strip (don’t blame me, I didn’t write it) when it hit me. Hard. And I remember every single part of it.

In an instant, I had absolutely no clue where I was. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing, even though I was doing nothing. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t help overanalyzing every next thought that was popping into my head, and I had no control of what was popping into my head next.

I sat up and threw my legs over the side of the bed. My bare feet hit the cold wooden floor. I sat there, in a complete panic, trying to figure out what was going on. I knew what was going on. I just couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. But everything was so serious. I couldn’t figure out what was happening, what was next, what I should do.

I stood up. I walked over to my BG kit, and sat it on the table. I walked off. I started pacing around the room, stomping hard, trying to figure out what in the world was going on. I could see A-Flizzle in the middle of the king size bed, sound asleep. I tried to yell for her, but I couldn’t. No sound would come out. I started hitting my diabetes tattoo, indicating, trying to make noise and get her attention. Anybody’s attention. But it wasn’t loud enough.

And that’s when it hit me: I was low. Really, really low. And I was standing in the room with the one person that I trust more than anyone, and I could not for the life of me (literally) figure out how to get her attention. What would be so simple any other time, to simply yell or reach out and shake her awake, I could not figure out how to tell my body to do. I just knew that this was really, really serious, and I had to figure out something through my garbled thoughts.

I paced around the king sized bed like a tiger walking a perimeter, establishing his territory. Back and forth, from one side to the other, for I don’t even know how long. All the while I’m trying to figure out how to wake her up. I was fading. The panic was wearing me out. I was starting to think about what A-Flizzle would do without me, and how much it would crush her to lose me when she was right there, so close. What would happen to my Hopper (dog), Squirt (cat), and Bindi (A-Flizzle’s dog) back home without me. How their little hearts would break when I didn’t come home from a weekend away. How my Hopper would continue to look for me at the door long after Amanda got home, just waiting on me to get there to give him a doggie hug.

All I could think was, “This might be the one. That one low blood sugar that I don’t survive. The big one.” I was also thinking, “Dammit, I don’t want to go to the hospital on my friggin’ birthday!” I started punching the corner of the bed because I was so frustrated that I couldn’t get my body and brain to communicate and work properly. Then I thought of big ones, like the big earthquake in California that everybody always talks of but hasn’t happened yet. The hurricane that will come and sink Florida. The importance of having an emergency plan, a parachute. A parachute? A PARACHUTE! For when I fall!

No Brain

I managed to figure out that if I passed out from the low, it was my pump that would continue to give me insulin and keep me low. I snatched it from my PJ pants pocket, and unhooked it, not bothering to suspend it, and threw it on the bed. I went over to my bag, and found the glowing bright red rectangle that contained glucagon, and held it tight in my left hand. I knew that if I passed out, A-Flizzle would likely hear me hit the floor, and hopefully see the glucagon in my hand and know what to do. If she didn’t, at least my pump was off, so hopefully I would survive long enough for my blood sugar to come back up naturally before…well, before I died.

As I was digging in my bag for that, I uncovered a Level gel. I ripped off the top with my teeth and managed to get most of the gel in my mouth through the lack of motor skills and shaking that I didn’t realize was happening. Once I got the Level gel in me, and gave it time to work, I was finally able to figure out how to reach over and wake A-Flizzle up to help me. By then I was back on the edge of the bed, drenched in sweat, shaking, still holding the glucagon case in my left hand, and completely physically and emotionally exhausted. Half asleep, her training that I taught her in case I ever go low kicked in, and she was able to retrieve two more Level gels and help me get them down before I had to lay down, else pass out from exhaustion. Still, I wasn’t up to a normal and safe BG level yet.

A-Flizzle set a timer on her phone to wake us up every 15 minutes for me to test my BG again. After an hour of that, I was still only at 70. Not too low, but certainly not high enough to go to sleep after such a bad low. I took one more Level gel, and then I was out for the rest of the night. I woke up the next morning at 96. Normal. And completely hungLOWver, worn out, physically and emotionally exhausted from the night before.

I’m thankful that I taught A-Flizzle what to do when I go low. I’m thankful that we have a plan and always know where things are to treat a low, even if half asleep. It’s so important to have something available to treat a low blood sugar, and know where it is even in your subconscious. That is what may save you in the event that you have to build your own parachute. I know it did me. It’s been extremely hard for me to admit to myself, but I know that I wouldn’t be here right now had I not had those gels, known where they were, and the fact that they were easy for me to get into when it was literally life or death for me.

Tomorrow, the DRI is set to share some big news about steps toward an eventual cure for diabetes. I really hope it is everything that we hope it will be. I’d be lying though if I didn’t admit I’m skeptical. Don’t confuse that with negativity. I’m positive that there will be a cure someday, and I’ll be the first one to celebrate tomorrow if there is something to celebrate. I’ve just heard that a cure was coming since my mother was told that there would be one when I was diagnosed at age two, 32 years ago. A cure for diabetes is exactly what every one of us with diabetes, and every parent of a child with diabetes, wants in this world. Nobody should have to see their life flash before their eyes on their birthday because of a low blood sugar like I had to. However, hoping and praying and wishing doesn’t get us closer to that day.

I’ve learned to keep myself grounded in reality. Maybe that’s a defense mechanism so that I’m not constantly let down, but experience says to be patient, diligent, and steadfast today so that we can make it to tomorrow. The absolute best thing we can do is take care of ourselves today, support each other in the diabetes community, both online and offline, and not let our fellow person with diabetes stumble. You can do this, and so can I. Then, when that cure does arrive, whether it’s tomorrow or twenty years from now, we’ll be ready.

Keep Calm And BG On

Skydiving at Jump

Jumping with Diabetes

I’m turning 30. Well, sort of. Again. On May 11, 2011 I will officially have had Type 1 diabetes and a busted pancreas for three decades. In all my years with this stupid disease, I’ve never celebrated my diabetes anniversary, so I’m making my inaugural celebration a hootenanny.

I could wait until May 11 to celebrate, maybe have a cupcake, create a piece of art, or eat an entire pizza by myself to give diabetes the proverbial pricked middle finger, but I’ve decided to start celebrating a little early. I’ve made it 30 years with diabetes, so I figure I might as well take a month to celebrate it. After all, 30 years of living with diabetes every single day is kind of a big deal. Even one year of living with diabetes every single day is a big deal.

On April 16, I kicked off the first event for my 30th Diaversary celebration by doing something that most people would never consider doing, but that I’ve dreamed of doing for years.

The day started like any other. That is to say, “It was a dark and stormy night…”

It was a dark and stormie nite...

I got up early due to thunderstorms in the area, plus I was too excited to sleep anyway. I took care of the dog and cat, went through our morning routines, then met up with A-Flizzle and a couple of friends for the half hour long drive to a semi-deserted air field in rural north Florida. We might have also stopped at Starbucks so that somebody wouldn’t be cranky because he hadn’t had his morning coffee. Coffee is up there with such necessities as insulin and glucose tabs in my world. We all have our vices.

Fortunately the weather cleared and we arrived at our destination, where the nervousness that I had before was replaced with the excitement of the adventure that I was about to go on.

Skydive Hangar

Skydive Parking

To kick off the celebration of my first ever and 30th Diaversary (and thanks to A-Flizzle for getting it for me for Christmas!), I was going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane at the School of Human Flight. (Feel free to draw your own parallels between skydiving and living with diabetes.)

First, my buddy and I had to watch a training video. The video, circa 1985, starred a short little attorney guy with a beard down to his belly who was an avid skydiver and needed about fifteen minutes to basically tell us that we were taking our lives into our own hands. I do that everyday with diabetes, so not a big deal to me. Skydiving Rumpelstiltskin at Law also shared that they wouldn’t be held liable if we plummeted to our deaths. Considering that I’d probably be more concerned about the ground than anyone’s liability if that were to happen, I took that for what it was worth and signed my life away so that I could get to the fun parts of my adventure.


Skydive Training Video

Watching Skydiving Rumpelstiltskin at Law video about how not to die while falling out of an airplane...but if you do, it's not their fault.

Me & A-Flizzle

Me & A-Flizzle

So next we got on-the-ground training from our skydiving instructor. He was a cool guy, with angel wings tattooed on his back, long blonde hair, and A-Flizzle said that he reminded her of Patrick Swayze in Point Break. All I could really think after that comment was, “You mean that dude from the pottery scene in Ghost is going to be strapped to the back of me while skydiving?!” Fortunately, instructor dude was way cool, and even though he had jumped out of an airplane so many times that he had lost count, he was just as excited about my first jump as I was.

Ground Instruction

"You want to make sure you're relaxed, because you're body is going to arch like a banana while we're in freefall. Also, this is going to make for a really awkward looking picture on your blog."

Then we came to the part where we had to put on the jump harness, also known as the apparatus that makes sure I stay securely attached to the instructor who has the parachute while gravity is pulling us toward the earth at 120 miles per hour.


Harness Dance

Of course, I had to dance while the instructor was getting my buddy's harness ready. It's kinda my thing.

Ready to Skydive

I'm ready!

All straps were securely fastened, and everything was tightened to the point of cutting off circulation. My chariot awaited…

The Jump-Mobile

The Jump-Mobile

Thumbs Up

Thumbs up, sky's the limit!

Now let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing that feels anything remotely close to natural about jumping out of an airplane when you can look out the window of it and see clouds. When the pilot opens the cockpit door, and the cold wind hits you in the face with a hurricane’s force, and the instructor who you hope is securely attached to your harness tells you to step out onto the 12 inch jump platform on the plane’s wheel well, it defies every single instinct you have not to hold on for dear life. You take a deep breath. You find this eerie sense of calm inside where there is no room for panic. You hear the instructor count down “Ready, set, …” And then you jump, and you see the plane fall away into the sky, and you fly.

Skydiving at Jump

Skydive Freefall

Skydive at Chute Open


Parachute Landing

That was awesome!


Two Thumbs Up

I give skydiving two thumbs up!

Skydiving is the single most exhilarating thing that I have ever done. I can’t wait to go again, and I’m now toying with the idea of getting certified so that I can eventually jump on my own, without an instructor. It takes 25 jumps to get there, so I have a long way to go. However, I’ve conquered three entire decades of diabetes, living a daily life of highs, lows, finger sticks and needle pricks. What’s 24 more jumps out of an airplane?

I’m living proof that if you work hard enough, are just stubborn enough, and absolutely refuse to never give up, there really isn’t anything that you can’t do in this world. Just remember to have fun while you’re doing it!