Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Night Shift

After everyone else goes home, I am still on call. I pull out

The tape
The bandages
The scissors
The new pod
The device
The insulin
The needle

And I prepare myself for duty. I answer the beeps that have been ringing all night. I snip and tap and measure and squeeze and pinch and prick and keep going for just a little while longer

than everyone else. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A helpful cheer!

As a teacher of the primary grades, rhyming is second nature to me. Chants and cheers are great attention-getters, and my natural tendency to pun plays into this nicely.

The other night, as I was treating yet another 4 am low (hello, basal rate adjustment my old friend), I realized that I've been having a certain....melody is the wrong word but I'll go with it...playing in the back of my mind the past few days. Then I realized that it had words.

And that it goes like this.

And that I'm sort of proud of it. 

Glucose Tab cheer:

I almost never need any more

The perfect amount for IOB

This plus temp basal will usually do

Never enough, never done

PS Disclaimer of course, I am neither a medical professional nor a professional cheerleader so this might not work for you during your middle of the night lows. But it made me chuckle, so why not pass it on?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Give Me a Break

There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I'm willing to bet we've all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don't care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let's explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.

I have been freakishly lucky when it comes to responses about my diabetes. It's true that I don't appreciate the sugar jokes and that I've occasionally had to stand up for Type 2 diabetes (Uhhhhh...that's actually the one that does have a genetic's not a "lifestyle choice"). But there's only one thing that really gets my goat when it comes to language around diabetes and that's three small words:

"I could never."

I know that it's often meant to be a compliment, in a weird way. It's intended as a sign of respect for me and my diabetes and what this person assumes is my daily battle. But to me it implies such impunity. Or maybe it simply reminds me of me 2 years ago when I was busy pretending nothing was wrong as I hobbled around with perma-heartburn and an even more perma-sweet tooth. Maybe I feel jealous of people who really think that things like this can't happen to them. 

Because guess what kiddo? You could never (ever?). You could and you would and you know what else? You'll be damn happy to do it because it beats the alternative. There really is no other alternative, to be honest. I know that I'm a brave person. I have traveled and lived on multiple continents and I have climbed mountains and faced emotions and read scary books and stood in front of classrooms full of foreign children. Maybe you "could never" do that and that's cool and I don't mind hearing about that. 

But don't act like me pricking my finger (without even looking) in front of you is something you respect. It's something you're scared of. When you say "I could never," what I hear is "I hope I never," and that's unfair and upsetting because I wish I had the luxury of hoping this never happened to me. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I just can't get you out of my mind

We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk? 

How does diabetes affect me mentally and emotionally? Well, let's just say that those are two different things for me. Mentally, meaning logically, meaning when it's just me, myself & I and my Dexcom and my Omnipod PDM and my glucose tabs and my glucagon kit and my Humalog and my Afrezza then I feel mostly pretty fine about things. Tough days are just that, tough days. Good days are simply days that are easier. It helps to keep my yoga practice in mind. In yoga, you are always reminded that you are a different person each time you come to the mat. What you could do yesterday might not work for you today. Yet it is all still there, still related, still part of your practice. To me, diabetes is simply another practice. I'm thankful to have been diagnosed in a time of such advancements in diabetes technology that it can be that for me. That I can largely avoid the inconveniences and the fears of things like testing my urine for my BG or not being able to control my basal insulin. So I can be easier on myself and think of my diabetes as a tool for living a generally healthier life. And as for a mantra, well....I don't quite have one of those but I do like to think about the fact that I'm beating the hell out of science.

Emotionally? That's another story. Diabetes is not something that I like to share. I do share, here on this blog, obviously. I like that my family reads this (s/o to them!) But that's after I've processed things and it's sharing from a safe distance. It's not really that vulnerable. I don't know yet what vulnerability around my diabetes really looks like. I've struggled with it before and I struggle with it constantly with my students, with my friends, with strangers. Every time I think I've come somewhat to terms with it, I hide another low blood sugar, I don't take a break when I need to, I remember that I still don't own a medic alert ID bracelet. 

But, I have made progress. I am practicing. I'm not perfect. Each day is just that, a day. I'm going to have this disease for a long time probably, so I have time to get better at it. I think the biggest tip I have for when I get upset or frustrated or want to murder my insurance company is to remember that I can do as much as I can, and no more. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Diabetes Blog Week

Well, it's kind of funny to say this in this post, but when I made my blog I never really imagined participating in something like Diabetes Blog Week. I'm not sure why I started it, but making it public and/or participating in the DOC was not really part of it, intentionally at least.

But now, 1.5 years and 3 (3!!) diabetes meetups later, here we are.

My first post of my first internet group activity, ever. There are 61 other posts on this topic. 61!! That's a heck of a lot of diabetics. More than I've ever seen in one place, for sure. So here goes lucky number 62...

And the prompt is....Lets kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog?

So, to come full circle. Why am I here? Why do I write a diabetes blog? To be honest, I don't know. I'm not sure what my intentions were when I started this and I'm not sure what they are now. I think this blog is mostly a processing tool for me. I think it's educational for my family (my only known readers). I think that I enjoy getting to share my funny stories and vent my frustrations and archive my feelings in one place. I think that it's probably going to be required reading for people who want a serious place in my life in the future. I think. All I know is that a lot of time my emotions come pouring out of my fingers and they wind up here.

What is the most important diabetes message to me right now? Simply the message that....I'm here. This is me. It's a little like the WOW signal.

There are more things I'd like to say, and more messages I'd like to pass on, and more fights I'd like to fight, but for right now I'm just a blip on the radar. I'm out here, and I'm listening. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016


I am going to be traveling this summer. A big trip. I've taken a few before, and while I always like to travel light, this is the first time I'm not going to be packing a functioning pancreas, if you catch my drift.

And man. Man oh man oh man oh man. And woman, oh woman, oh woman. Because I have both male and female doctors. And doctors are who I need to see, doctors up to my eyeballs. Endocrinologist, CDE, GP, travel nurse, and oh by the way I coincidentally happen to be due for the gynecologist, dentist, and a spirometry exam for my Afrezza prescription.

I've been bouncing around the city for weeks now, stopping every so often for a massive pickup at my trusty Walgreens, and I'm not done yet. I'm giving my FSA and my bus pass quite the workout.

It's funny because I'm going somewhere where the visa process is generally considered to be quite annoying and demanding. I even had to get my passport renewed, too. Yet somehow I accomplished that in about 10 minutes plus one trip to the post office. Maybe I'm being hyperbolic (who moi??). Maybe in the olden days it would have seemed like quite an arduous process.

Perspective: the gift of old age and also shitty pancreases.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

What's in a Name?

I work in a pretty progressive school. While we have an eye out for learning differences, and we certainly have students tested often and frequently, we tend to not officially "label" children in first grade. But sometimes we do, and recently we worked with some parents around their daughter's classroom abilities. We founds some stuff, to say the least. Stuff that was getting in the way of her learning, stuff that was frustrating her, leaving her feeling overwhelmed and doubting herself. Stuff that leaves her needing (at least for the foreseeable future) devices to help her focus and work in a typical classroom. Her parents are, understandably, nervous, and worried about giving her a name, a disease even, and making her self-conscious. They don't want her to notice anything different.

But here's the thing, at least as I see it. She already notices. She already knows. A name is so powerful. A name gives you an entity separate from yourself to grapple with, to blame, to accommodate. A name is a powerful tool when you are coming to terms with your own abilities.

When the nurse said to me, diabetes, I laughed for several reasons, but mainly relief. A name! A problem! Synthetic insulin--a possible relief! It's so much more than that, of course, but for months my narrative running through my head was "I'm sad. I'm tired. I don't like my life. I'm lazy. I don't want to do anything. I'll never feel good again. I'm trapped. I'm not trying hard enough." I'm, I'm, I'm. Me, me, me. I'm the problem.

But guess what? It's not me. Try as hard as I might, I'll never, never, never be good enough to function without a working pancreas. There's me, and there's diabetes, and they are two things. I'm in charge of both, but they are two things. Sometimes I want a break. Sometimes my diabetes demands one. I have to honor both but I can't blame myself for diabetes' neediness.

Having a name, something to describe, something to know is there along with you, along with your own natural abilities and challenges. That made a world of difference. Sure a label can be challenging. It can shine a spotlight. It can invite comment or misconceptions. It can be a lightning rod. It can be a source of community. It can be an I.D. badge. It can cost a crap ton of money. It can be combative.

But it's not really the name's fault. Whatever was there, needing that name, has always been there. There's always been a there there. What the name does is it takes something that was festering inside of you and it lets you take it out of your heart and sure, maybe you put it into a backpack and carry it as a weight forever and it's heavy but at least it can't hurt you in the same way anymore.