Saturday, June 27, 2015

My spiritual connection to diabetes

I may or may not have mentioned on here before that I was diagnosed in a hospital a few states away from home while on a road trip with the BF. That's a story for another time. This story, at this time, is about my long and illustrious history with diabetes, and the sweet (pun intended) irony of my diagnosis.

From the very second the diagnosis "diabetes" was thrown at me, I felt relieved. Like, 100% so incredibly relieved. Something was wrong with me!! Something that could be fixed! I felt little shock, no anger, certainly no depression. Part of this, of course, I'm sure had to do with my sugar-laden blood and general foggy headedness. Part of it, though, had to do with, for lack of a better term, my spiritual connection to diabetes.

The story starts back in my youth. Like many young scrappy 80s and 90s kids, I was big fan of Kristy, Mary-Ann, Claudia, Stacey, and the gang aka the ever-popular kid's book series The Babysitter's Club. And as all good fans know, in book #3, The Truth About Stacey*, we find out that the truth about her is that she, you know, has diabetes. She starts guzzling water, sleeping all the time, sneaking candy bars, losing weight, classic. She denies it, her mom drags her to the doctor, mystery solved. And for the rest of the books, Stacey has diabetes. Well I was always more of a Mary-Ann girl myself (I know, I know, lame choice), but I never forgot the many lessons I learned from BSC and diabetes awareness was one of them.

Fast forward to college...the internet is popular, WebMD is rampant, and I'm going through a small period of (what I feel) is extreme thirst. I'm waking up to pee every night and I've lost weight. Am I exercising and hydrating more to compensate? My mind flashed back to Ann M. Martin's vivid descriptions of Stacey's symptoms...Or do I have diabetes? We all know which one WebMD told me...and what I made the mistake of mentioning to a few roommates/friends/family members in an offhand way. We all laughed it off, and I definitely didn't have diabetes. Then a few months later...I happened to make the same internet-based mistake and diagnosed myself with the potential symptoms of being on the autism spectrum....and the makings of a permanent inside joke were created.

I even (and this is the one everyone's really kicking themselves over) brought it up semi-casually last spring when I was feeling so sick. Aware of my reputation and previous diagnosis failures, yet unable to deny what the almighty Google had said when I had searched my symptoms, I attempted to discuss things with the BF and one of my closest friends. To be honest, I don't really remember this, but they do...and they assured me that when I tried to suggest diabetes, they laughed. In my face. And then I laughed too and said yeah it was probably ovarian cysts like usual. Because everyone knows that internet diagnoses are crazy!!

Until. Until one fateful day last summer when I called my dad (way less likely to freak out than mom) and told him, haltingly, that I was in the hospital, had been there for a few hours, and I had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He laughed. I laughed. It was awkward, because then he was like what??? and naturally very concerned. But eventually the message was communicated.

And with that, my spiritual link came to fruition, and while I in no way actually believe that I brought this on myself, it still felt weirdly right in a way. Like, yes....this belongs to me. And so when I said earlier that I felt 100% relieved, that's not completely true. I think I felt more like 98% relieved. And 2% proud that I had been right all along. Safe in the knowledge that all future WebMD diagnoses made by me will be given the respect they deserve.

*I want the world to know that I did not need to google the number/title of the book, I knew it by heart. Go me!!
**I also want the world to know that I do not think diabetes is awesome. And while I think it's funny that I felt a "connection" to it from a young age, actually getting diagnosed with it at a young age is of course no laughing matter.
***Also if you are ever curious, there is a comedian called Mike Birbiglia (spelling?) who had his WebMD diagnosis come true too!! So it really does happen, people...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Me too!

"Ms. Gerber?"

"Hmmmm? Yes?"

"Ms. Gerber, I don't know if you saw me before, but when you were talking, I was giving you the me too sign. You know, when you were talking about how sometimes you get embarrassed doing diabetes stuff in front of new people. Or even in front of us! And you wish people weren't watching you, and you didn't have to be different. I was giving you the sign because, you know, when I fell down the steps last week and now I have these [editor's note: she is gesturing to several bloody scrapes and scabs] on my face. And sometimes I feel like people are looking at that and not even my eyes when I'm talking to them! So that's why I gave you the me too sign."

"Oh wow. I'm sorry to hear that you've been feeling that way! It's already bad enough you had to fall down the stairs, huh?"

"Yeah. I don't like it. But I thought about what you said. And it seems like it is making me a little braver. I mean, I'm not staying at home, like you said! And now if I ever have a friend who has scrapes, or even diabetes, or even something else, I'll know how she feels. And I'll always have candy for her just in case and I won't say 'ohhhh man you're so lucky!!'"

"Hmmmm, that sounds like a good plan. And I'm glad to hear you're prepared just in case."

Of course the conversation digressed from there....but man....aren't first graders magical?!? 

P.S. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm pretty proud of how I handled that teachable moment, too! Woot!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stacks on deck, Patron on ice

So for the past few (9!!!) months I've been on antibiotics that have been absolutely hammering my liver. How do I feel now that I'm free to beverages again?

Weeeelll let's just say that this song has never been more relevant.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Clash of the Titans


You're sitting in class (not the class you teach, but the one you take at night afterwards) reviewing for the credentialing exam you're scheduled to take in a week and a half. You and your classmates are in the middle of discussing an in-depth case study of a student, going over key terms, analyzing needs. Your professor is warning you to look out for case studies that involve IEPs or 504s. She reiterates what a 504 plan is--legally mandated testing accommodations for students with a physical disability. Accommodations can be anything from special chairs for sitting, large-print testing materials, to access to medical devices in the room.

And as you sit there idly, listening, trying to take notes, daydreaming, wandering....all of that...screeches to a halt. You realize...hey. She's talking about me. I need that. Because of course you need access to your CGM and at the very least your pump. At the very very least some sort of glucometer. Because you can't take a 4 hour test flying high at 250 or wondering every 10 minutes if you're crashing down to 25. Because you have a disability and you need accommodations and when you took one of these tests last year, and the zillions you took before that, for all of your educational history and entire lifetime, you didn't need this. So you didn't think about it. But now you do, it's all you can think about and you sit there alone in class with the realization that you might not be able to take this test after all. And just like that.

CRASH. Two of the biggest stressors in your life (your career aka your real life and your diabetes aka your actual, literal meaning of the word, life) smash into each other at an astonishing velocity. And what can you do? When you forget about the D in PWD?

And you know in the long run (even in the short run) it's not a big deal, you can reschedule, it's not what you want to do but you can do it. But why? It certainly doesn't feel like you that's being accommodated. You made the plans months ago. You've been studying for a while now. You are ready for the test. But apparently, all the shit you drag around with you on the daily is not. That is what needs to be accommodated.

And you need to get on the phone fast and beg and cry and finagle and hope and pray to get your accommodations approved in approximately 1/3 the time it promises you on the website. And you do, and it's fine.

But that's tomorrow.

That evening? There's just a crash, and a smash, and some numbers thrown in your face and the ticking of your pump that you can't just leave outside the door.