Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mad Scientist

Who am I as a diabetic? is something I am struggling to figure out. Not as in, who am I now that I totes around several thousand dollars worth of medical devices strapped to my skin? But more as in, what type of diabetic am I? What approach am I taking, do I want to take, do I think I will take, towards this new...characteristic...of mine?

The answer, at least so far, is a bit bizarre...a bit uncharacteristic, to be honest. When I was a kid, I was NEVER the type to go nuts for the science toys. Kids experiment kits? Mehhhhh. Make your own goo? I'd do it once or twice, but then lost interest. I wasn't deconstructing and reconstructing radios and computers. The power button was good enough for long as it worked, I didn't really care how it worked. I had interests, of course, but I was not a process-based child.

Now that my body is my own experiment though? I. Am. Fascinated. I CANNOT get enough. I loooove reading through diaTribe, tudiabetes, #diyps and other blogs and how-to guides. Tips, tricks, suggestions, new technology and breakthroughs, I can't get enough. I got my first smartphone in 2014, and even that was begrudging. I was the 2nd person at my endocrinologist's office to get a prescription for Affreza. My iPad can often have up to 40 apps begging for my attention before I finally get around to tapping "Update All," and even then I have no clue what's happening nor do I really care. Yet I regularly update my DiaSend account every week, and spend at least an hour poring over the data and evaluating trends. When I went to my primary care provider, I had no idea when I last had immunization shots. Yet every time I go to the endo or educator, I go over my time limit yapping about my trends, analysis, and jerry-rigged fixes.

This window into my body's magical proceedings is just that interesting to me, and I have no clue why!!

Last night we listened to this podcast about a 19th century mad scientist and his obsessive experiments on a man with a fistulated stomach, and I couldn't help but feel an awkward tinge of recognition. This scientist, with his rare & unique opportunity to look directly into a human stomach, spent hours and hours, introducing basically every variety of food in the American diet at that time into the stomach and recording what happened to it in incredibly tiny time increments. I look at my 5-minute incremental measurements of my blood sugar and my eating logs and insulin pump data obsessively. And we are both so fascinated and obsessed! Which is why I guess, if this were a BuzzFeed quiz, I would have to say that my diabetes personality type is definitely "Mad Scientist." Granted, he was at the forefront of human biology discoveries and was literally looking at something that no one understood, whereas I'm simply re-treading ground that endocrinologists and other PWD understand all too well. But still. Can I help it that I'm fascinated with myself?

Come to think of it, after reading that last sentence...maybe my personality is more "Narcissist" than anything else...whoops!

P.S. What I'm reading now.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

That unexpected sense of camraderie

I've mentioned on here that I am kind of a diabetes "lone wolf." If I haven't mentioned it, well, the very fact that I'm blogging to an audience of zero should probably speak for itself. I have gone to exactly one diabetes meetup, and while it was perfectly nice, and probably something I'll do again, that makes exactly 4 other T1D people I know in real life, and exactly 0 that I've met more than once. Add that to the 0 friends I've made online (touche, okay, I know that I haven't exactly been trying too hard...) and I don't get a lot of socializing with other non-pancreatically-inclined folks.

Which is why the little things make me smile. Like when you go to add a hypo treatment on MyFitness Pal and see that Glucolift tabs, Cherry flavor, have already been added to the database.

Just a fun little shiver of recognition, that can certainly help when you're feeling the hypoglycemic blues.  

Friday, April 10, 2015


It started around this time last year.

I think the first thing I noticed was at my friend's bridal shower, the dress I'd bought just a few weeks earlier was already a bit looser on me. I'd been snacking more lately, too, finishing kid's lunches at work and clearing out the cabinet of our emergency snacks.

I went through phases like this, I assured myself. It was probably PMS. At least you're losing weight I thought smugly, when I bothered to think about it at all.

As I applied for new jobs, of course my mouth was dry. I was nervous, after all.

I'd always been a thirsty person. I often had to pee during the night. No big deal that now it was every night, sometimes twice a night.

There was more to come, of course. Now, it's become a fond joke in our household--the rattling of antacids in my purse that signaled my approach; my absolute trudging and utter exhaustion on simple 5 mile-hikes; the times I fell so deeply asleep on the train that I missed my stop; my secret fro-yo and Slurpee runs; the abandoned workout routine; the perpetually sunburned face; the days I spent in bed, binge-watching TV and playing Bejeweled.

I remember all these things clearly, of course, and more. I was slipping into diabetes for four long months, but I don't need to provide a WebMD litany of symptoms here.

What I remember most, though, was feeling completely and utterly empty. Resigned. Too exhausted to care about anything I'd ever cared about before. Everything was a burden and, what's worse, is that I assumed that it would just be that way forever. I guess this is what getting old is like. I guess I just don't like anything anymore. 

I read a kook doctor's book about diabetes, and he said that it's called diabetes mellitus because, while untreated, your body is literally melting into sugar. I'm not sure what I was melting into but it mostly looked like a desiccated, bony mess, curled up on the bed, sleeping 15 hours a day.

I don't have a pithy ending for this post...I feel a million ways at once when I think about how far I've come in the past 12 months. Grateful to be alive again, to be totally wrong about everything, relieved that aside from my pancreas, I am still me. Tired, when I think about all the time and stress and brain fog and body pricking I have endured and will endure. Sad, when I think about my students' last months with me and how lackluster I was. Ashamed, because there is no truly blase way to check your blood sugar in public. And of course, the ever-lingering sense of what-the-f*ckness...the utter confusion of going from completely, 100%, top-of-my-game healthy to someone who is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act? There's definitely a lot to think about these days.