Monday, July 13, 2015

For Kycie, David, and all the other kids who didn't make it.

I could have been them. Taken from this earth far too young, before I'd even hit double-digits in age.

I can only remember bits and pieces of the day I was diagnosed. I'm not even sure what the exact day was, but it was in July of 1990. I couldn't breathe. My mom and dad rushed me to my pediatrician right away, where I started throwing up bile. I remember being hurried from the pediatrician's office to the hospital, right across the street. I can recall being a little scared, and a lot uncomfortable.

I was eight years old. All I knew was that I wanted someone to fix me, and the whole thing felt very surreal. I learned I was in something called diabetic ketoacidosis. (Maybe it was all the Sesame Street I watched when I was even smaller, but I first thought they were saying something that sounded like Spanish: quequitoacidosis. Pretty sure that is not a thing.)

Yet, it's what I found out later in life that rings true to this day, and brings pain to the hearts and minds of parents, caregivers and healthcare workers alike. Diabetes wasn't anyone's first thought when I first got sick. 

My pediatrician was deeply bothered by the fact that he missed it--my mom had talked to him a couple of weeks before about how I seemed to have the flu in the summertime. Some nasty virus was spreading around kids that summer, so nobody really thought anything of it. It was unusually warm, and I spent a lot of time outside at Girl Scout day camp, so no wonder I was drinking all the time, right?

So there I was, in the hospital, sicker than I'd ever been. Knock on wood, I will never end up that sick again.

Twenty-five years ago, I was one of the lucky kids. Even today, with all the technology we didn't yet have when I was growing up, not all kids are so lucky. What a bittersweet way to realize it's my diaversary.

Don't ever hesitate to ask for a glucose test for your kids. 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Take This Diabetes and Shove It

An Ad, to Be Placed on Freecycle or the Giveaway Section of Craigslist

Free to a Good [or Bad] Home - Type 1 Diabetes (Philadelphia or Anywhere)

The beta cells in my pancreas quit working after 8 short years. My immune system attacked them, and instead of going back to doing their f**king job, they decided to just sit and panhandle around the Islets of Langerhans, like that's some kind of vacation for them. I've tried to give diabetes a chance for 25 years, but you know what? I'm done.

Surely there is some soul out there who would like to adopt my diabetes and give it a good home. Or maybe you know an unsuspecting Men's Rights Activist right-wing homophobic politician asshat that you want to teach a lesson. Either way, please come to this address [Hannah's House or Place of Employment] and help yourself.

Type 1 Diabetes has been a challenge to love. Most recently, an insulin pump site of mine got pulled off in the middle of the night, so I woke up around 6:30am with a raging "HI" staring deep into my soul from my glucose meter. Through gritted teeth I said, "Hello yourself" to the screen and injected a buttload of Novolog as I replaced my infusion set, drank two giant cups of water and went back to sleep, nauseous. A few hours later, at work, that buttload of Novolog kicked in all at once, so while my blood glucose clocked in at 200, my body was trying to tell me I was a solid 65 with shakiness and a case of the woozies.

Diabetes is sometimes a gentle nuisance, and other times it makes me want to cry, scream, and throw things across the room. That's not a terribly healthy behavior, so obvious my Diabetes would do much better if it were rehomed.

Please stop by this weekend. Type 1 Diabetes can be yours for the exclusive price of FREE-NINETY-NINE! I will even throw in all the fancy gadgets and tropical fruit punch glucose tabs!

I can also just leave it on the curb. Come grab it, as I only have this one case of Type 1 Diabetes to give away. If you're also interested, I will set out some plantar fasciitis, macular edema (right eye only), and arthritis of the lower back, also free.

It's a whole new kind of summer fun!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Darker Days of Fall

Autumn is usually my favorite season. It's the time of year when the chill that I so love comes back into the air, when everything feels crisp, and rich colors dress the trees. I am one of those people who's into pumpkin spice lattes and chai, fresh seasonal apples and of course, cider. Halloween is usually a treat for me because I adore dressing up in costumes. 

But you may notice I've been absent from blogging about how it's okay to eat candy at Halloween with diabetes. You haven't yet seen any silly posts wherein I dress up my insulin vials. Actually, you haven't seen any posts from me at all since mid-September.

I'm still in the midst of a job search, applying, hoping, going through the motions. I try to be excited while attempting to not get hopes up too high at the same time. It's a competitive market out there, especially in the city. I've seen so many of you getting new job and career opportunities, and I'm so happy for all of you, but trying to manage a twinge of jealousy at the same time. I've looked at my Facebook feed and more than once whined at the laptop screen, "When's it going to be my turn?"

I shouldn't whine. I know better than that.

I think it's easier to whine when things have just been difficult all year. A grandparent-in-law's passing, a broken humerus, surgery, losing my job. What's really been keeping me away from blogging are two things I haven't had the words to talk about.

That better A1C I bragged about a little while back? It may have temporarily been a fluke, either of office equipment or my body itself. At my most recent endo visit, it was right back up again. That sucks, but it's not the part that's been weighing on me. I saw a retina specialist because it was discovered that I have DME in the right eye. The left eye isn't perfect either, but it doesn't have the severity of problems that my right eye does. I've had an Avastin injection, and my first follow-up visit after that is this coming Monday. I want to write about my eye in more detail, but I figured I should come out about it first.

The next thing that is difficult for me actually just hit yesterday. A good friend of mine from the Philadelphia poetry community passed away yesterday morning. He helped us run the slam I work with--he was like family to all of us. He was one of the hardest-working people I knew, pursuing his artistic dreams on the page and on the stage. He did spoken word and theater. He acted, directed, wrote, and was a hip-hop artist. Earlier this year, he turned 30. He was diagnosed with cancer right about the same time. At the slam, we opted to not send a team to the National Poetry Slam this year so we could donate a portion of the proceeds of our shows directly to him. Even through his illness, he looked forward to getting back to coaching youth poetry teams and making next year's NPS squad. I am going to miss MJ in numerous ways, some I'm sure I haven't even realized yet. I do hope that soon, in the coming days, we can give this NOLA son and renaissance man the jazz funeral he deserves.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On the Market

I had a job interview this afternoon. I think it went well, but it's always difficult to tell with such things.

I once had a job interview which ended in me being asked when I could start, and they said they'd contact me about when I could come in to fill out my hire paperwork. They never called me. Not even an email.

One time, I submitted a resume to a company and was called back that same afternoon for an interview the following day. Then I had a second interview a couple of days later. Needless to say, I nailed it.

So this time? I don't know. Everyone was very pleasant, and as I said, I think it went smoothly. Fingers crossed.

As a sidenote, because diabetes touches everything in my life in small ways, charging my insulin pump (yes, I am rocking a t:slim if you'd forgotten) was as important as brushing my teeth and styling my hair while I was getting ready for the interview today. I mumbled at my pump while I reattached my tubing, "Don't you start beeping on me in the middle of a meeting, please."

It was a beep-free meeting indeed. Not even a buzz.

Being unemployed is...odd. On one hand, I am glad to be away from the stresses of my last job. I'd had that feeling that it was time to move on anyway. On the other hand, it's a somewhat stressful time of wondering what my next move is going to be. I feel like I can count on uncertainty, but luckily I feel like I can count on everyone I know for support. Thanks, friends.

Let's hope my next adventure starts soon.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Best in a Year

So last week, I learned I had the best A1C I've had in over a year. Certainly, your first thought is this:




And while my first thought about it probably should have been something like this:




I think I looked more like this:



Wait, wut?

With everything I've had going on, recovering from my broken arm & surgery, going through the stress of returning to work, going to physical therapy and everything else, I'm actually doing better? How did this happen? I didn't feel like I did a whole lot that was terribly different or special.

So yes, I am celebrating this small victory over here, but I know there is still much to improve and a lot to think about. With some good efforts, my numbers can hopefully be a lot better, and not just one marked improvement, but a lengthy period of improvement!

I imagine that this whole thing just serves to remind me that, in the end, ultimately, I HAVE THE POWER, not diabetes.
By the power of Greyskull! (I found this via an image search and I don't know who to attribute to...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Not Quite in Arm's Reach, or What Happened When I Broke My Humerus

I come from a long line of klutzes.  Sometimes I trip, lose my balance, or flounder around while walking because my ankle decides it doesn't want to stay upright.  I think it was one of the latter two reasons that caused me to fall from the top step of my front stoop onto the sidewalk on March 28th.  This resulted in my first-ever major broken bone, my first-ever ambulance ride, my first-ever arm sling, and my second-ever surgery.

There are many places in which your arm can be broken.  In my case, it was my humerus--and before you say anything, it wasn't funny at all.  For those not in the know, the humerus is your upper arm bone.  Think of it as the bone that connects your elbow and your shoulder.  Now, imagine the pain and annoyance that comes with not being able to use your dominant arm for anything without considerable pain.  They say bone pain is some of the worst pain imaginable, and they are right.  Healing from surgery was less painful than trying to walk up the steps in my home with a sling on my arm.

Many things became difficult to do with only my left hand, including brushing my teeth and texting.  Video games could not be played on the Xbox.  I couldn't open any bottled drink.  I had to have help washing my hair and half my body in the shower, and for a while I couldn't get my arm wet, so I'd have to don a trashbag raincoat for my right arm first.  Still, no task seemed more daunting in terms of asking for help than diabetes management.  Things you can't really do with just one hand include:

-Drawing up insulin into a syringe
-Unwrapping an Inset infusion set, as well as cocking the insertion device
-Checking blood sugar
-Changing out everything on my pump
-Pouring orange juice to treat a low

So that's...nearly everything diabetes related you could do within a day?  At least my pump was always within reach!  With the T-Clip, I had no problems hooking my t:slim onto the strap of my sling.

The last time I had anyone else use a needle on me for diabetes management was probably the first time I tried a Dexcom Seven in Gary Scheiner's office, when the tech was so new he inserted my sensor for me.

"Well boys," I announced to Matt (the hubs) and Harper (the housemate), "I'm going to need a lot of help from you guys, and this includes a crash course in setting up my insulin pump and jabbing me with infusion sets."  Let me just say that in the nearly 16 years that Matt and I have been together, he's never given me a single injection.  We've known Harper for over two years now, and he is the kind of guy who can pass out at the sight of his own blood, so naturally I was concerned about asking him for help with needle things.

But what happened?  Everything worked out just fine, and I think I was more nervous about someone else sticking me with a needle than the guys were about learning everything.  Great partners and trusted friends are true treasures to have in an emergency.

I just wanted to take some time today to send a huge thank you to my two biggest caregivers/house helpers in the month and a half I was out of commission.  Blood sugars were monitored, infusion sets were placed, laundry & dishes were done, and meals were cooked!

I am back at work, driving again, and starting physical therapy next week to return my arm to its strength and full mobility.  So while I am not cleared to lift anything that's over five pounds, it's good to be back.  If you really want to see it, I'll show you my badass surgery scar sometime.