Monday, June 30, 2008

In Memory.

This beautiful, vibrant young woman's name is Shannon Leigh. She was a fellow poet whom I've met only twice, and somewhat briefly. She is around 21 years old, and I am in awe of her talent. She was the only woman to make it to the last round of individual finals at the National Poetry Slam in 2007, and many people agreed that she deserved to win.

Perhaps that's why I'm so dumbstruck to find that she is dead.

On June 14th, she was in a diving accident. Cave diving was one of her passions. An amazing team of good Samaritans came to her aid, including a couple of doctors who just happened to be diving that day as well. She had no pulse when they pulled her from the water, but they brought her around.

She was in the hospital. She was in a decompression chamber. She was in a coma. We all knew she was a fighter, and I think we all expected the best to happen. Her mother was posting Livejournal updates about her, remarking at how Shannon would react to hearing recordings of her own poems or episodes of South Park, how she would try to open her eyes or shed a tear. When I saw Shannon last, at a poetry feature in Delaware, we talked about poetry and South Park. I made some kind of obscure silly side comment, and she wrote it down, because she told me it would make a great idea for a poem.

I don't know if she ever wrote that poem.

I didn't even know her that well, but I am just so angry and sad that she's gone. She seemed sweet and sassy, and I was often wondering what kind of conversations we might have at future poetry events.

I will be donating at least something to her family in these harsh times. Her health insurance supposedly was only covering 80% of the $10,000 a day cost of the ICU.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why Am I Not a Philebrity?

If you want to see a classic moment of me in action, this is the moment to look to:

Comic book t-shirt, uproarious cackling, and yes, you can see my molars. I've never had a cavity, thankyouverymuch. That belly dancer had it in for me, but I'm glad to see she was smiling for the picture as well. I may be laughing my ass off, but in the end, I wanted to take belly dance lessons.

The diabetes meet-up in Philly was a smashing success. Not only did I get to have lunch with some really great people, but I then got to spend the rest of my day with many of them. I was not planning on having such a long, amazing day, but it was honestly one of the best days I've had in a long time, not to mention the longest such day. I got up at 9am to take my car to the garage. I came back, had some breakfast and was ready to go out to lunch. At 12:30, we met up at the Applebees on City Line Ave in Philadelphia. We had me, Matt, Allison, Kelly, Kelly's friend Emily, Scott Strumello, Scott's partner Joe, Gary and Betty. They are not pictured in order, but here they all are:
How silly of a group was this in the end? Well, let's just say that we actually figured out a gang sign for Type 1...D-1, ya'll! Yeee-yuh! My personal note on this pic...tell us how you really feel, Scott. Haha. I am such the suburban gangsta. Check out my tough girl face. Diabetes don't raise no sissies. From left to right, that's Scott Strumello, Allison Blass, Kelly Kunik and yours truly, Hannah McD. I seem like I'm really short, but I just tend to lean a lot.

What a crazy day! Matt went home to prep for his studio time, so Allison was kind enough to give me a lift to Kelly's apartment in South Philly. We relaxed for a bit, strolled up to South Street, then joined Scott and Joe for Moroccan food at Marrakesh. Delicious food was had by all, and massive boluses were taken by all except Joe, but he knew what it was like. Also, I don't know how she did it, but Kelly succeeded at tipping the belly dancer.

After all of this, I enjoyed an eventful ride back to Ardmore thanks again to Allison and Kelly. I joined my boys i, fanblades at Range Recordings, where they were already about halfway through their all-night recording session. I managed to stay awake through the whole thing, and I am totally thrilled to say I will appear in background vocals on one of their tracks! I can actually sing, but in this one I'm just yelling/chanting along with the guys. It's still really cool to know that I got to record in an actual studio.

After the whirlwind of awesomeness, I finally collapsed into my bed at about 6am Sunday. I still haven't really caught up on sleep, hence the delay in this post. Hence the fact that I'm headed off to bed again.

I just want to thank all my bloggin' friends out there for being so darn cool in person, at least the few of you I've met so far.

And for the record, there is nothing more hilarious than making a restaurant waitress nervous:

Applebee's Server: So do you guys want dessert?
Kelly: Really? You are offering dessert to an entire table full of diabetics? What are you thinking!?
Applebee's Server: Ummmm...I'm...
Kelly: We're kidding! Just kidding you! Who wants dessert?
Most of the Table: ME!!
Applebee's Server: (finally smiling) Oh, okay. You had me worried there.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Monday Should Bring Pictures

Not my gang sign. I'm not sure where I first saw the "blog" gang sign on the internet, but it stuck with me. If anybody can learn to do it, I'll give you a nickel.

My hands don't seem to want to make the shape. It probably has something to do with that incident where I broke my finger when I was 10 or 11.

Why are blog gang signs important today? Because this weekend, I am meeting up with other d-bloggers in Philly! Who, you might ask?

Well, looks like Allison, Scott S., Kelly and possibly even Seonaid. Other d-friends and various type 3's will be joining us, so it should be really fun to recap on Monday.

This weekend, I'll be taking all the pics I can snap. Tonight i, fanblades is playing yet another show at the awesomely divey MOJO 13 in Wilmington, Delaware. Tomorrow afternoon marks the bloggin' meetup, and then tomorrow night, I'll be spending even more quality time with the boys in the band as they head into the studio for the first time ever. A real recording studio! My boys are growing up! (Um, now when I say boys, remember the youngest of the four in the band is 20...)

It may be cause enough to resurrect my old Flickr account, which I probably haven't touched in like two years! Okay, I better go change my clothes. We need to head to Delaware as soon as Matt gets home from work, which should be super-soon.

Off to another flurry of weekend fun! I hope everyone else has an awesome weekend. I'll see a few of you tomorrow, and I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ladies to Lighten the Mood

Thanks everyone for your kind comments and love on my last post. It really means a lot to know I have so many friends out there in Blogsville--not just readers, but real friends.

Much like any week of my life, I can't dwell on the bad stuff forever, so I have the following music-related nonsense to bring to those of you who might be interested...

It's time for some fluff to lighten everyone's mood!

So apparently, this chica named Katy Perry has a song out called "I Kissed a Girl". It is not a cover of Jill Sobule's "I Kissed a Girl". While I think Katy's song has an almost addictive faux-electro sugar coating, I still think Jill Sobule wins for the better song. Let's compare:

Katy Perry:

I think Ms. Perry is capitalizing on something I'll call the "Girls Gone Wild-ization" of America. I'm not sure she's real sincere in her desire to kiss girls. Sure, she says she liked it, it's casual, she's just trying it out...but it sounds to me like she likes it because she likes attention.

Jill Sobule:

On the other hand, Jill's story relates a rather adorable incident of discovering more about one's own sexuality. Both girls in this story have beaus, and they just happen to find out they certainly have more than a friendship. I dunno, call me old-fashioned, but in terms of content, this one wins it for me.

And just for good measure, one of the best songs about boys kissing each other ever, "He's Kissing Christian" by that dog:

I love that song so much. That Dog is one of the most underappreciated bands of the 90's if you ask me. Of course, I didn't discover them until something like 2001 or 2002...because of a boy. But that's another story for another time, and it involves yet another band. Someday, blog friends. Someday.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dirty Words.

That's it.

I am convinced that the dirtiest word in the English language should be pancreas.


Because mine hasn't worked in nearly 20 years, yet suddenly that seems so minor for the moment.

Combine pancreas with that other word that some think should be equally taboo and dirty: cancer. Pancreatic cancer. I called my dad yesterday to wish him a happy Father's Day, and also to learn the results of some tests he had done. His health has been not great over the past several months. It's pancreatic cancer.

Right now, I don't want to dwell on it. I know it's serious. I know treatments like chemo will help, but I also know the truth of the matter is nothing but grim. I'm not sure what to do or say.

I know I'm going to be okay for now. I didn't want to hold this back. I needed you all to know. Thanks for listening.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Count Your Lucky Stars.

It must be nice to be a "real" Type 1. This is the thought that crosses through my head when, on day 2 of my newest infusion set/reservoir change, I need to refill my reservoir. It's what I think about when I hear people raving about their Omnipods, or I read that an insulin pump company is coming up with more ways to dose even more precise amounts so they can make pumps with smaller reservoirs.

"Well, I guess my decision is an easy one," I said to Gary a few months back when we compared the two insulin pumps that would best suit my needs. "If I can have a pump that lets me take more than 25 units at a time, that's absolutely the solution." My new Cozmo is still treating me well.

At Gary's insulin pump support group meeting last week, there was a really neat guest speaker. He was a practicing endo who also does a lot of research at UPenn. His topic of discussion was complementary therapies for type 1 diabetes, and it was very interesting. I found out that Byetta can be an effective, helpful treatment in type 1, but since it was primarily studied for people who have type 2 diabetes, it wasn't approved for people with type 1. Then, I found out a trick to not feeling like crap when you take Symlin.

The room at Gary's was packed, and everyone was very interested in Symlin and Byetta, of course, because who doesn't want to lose weight and not be hungry all the time? Then the guest brought up type 1's with insulin resistance. I was fascinated to learn that there may be a predisposition to becoming insulin resistant as a type 1 if there are a lot of Type 2's in your family history. So let's see...both of my great-grandmothers had it. My late aunt had it. My dad now has it. It felt like something of an A-Ha moment for me. (No, not THAT A-Ha...)

Cue the moment that nearly ruins the "support" part of the support group for me. Some pumpers at the meeting did not even realize there were insulin resistant type 1's. This isn't all that surprising--I don't think it's terribly common. But when our guest speaker said that there are definitely insulin resistant type 1's, and many of them have a total daily dose of 75 units a day at the very least, some people sitting near me were absolutely shocked. I guess I expected them to be surprised, but I was not prepared to hear someone say, "Oh my God" in pretty much the same tone of voice I use when I hear tragic news about someone or something.

I knew it wasn't any kind of derogatory remark directed at me, but it still stung. It hurts to know that you're just never going to be completely understood, whether it's by people who are your peers or sometimes even your doctor. It's a little disappointing to feel like a freak among people who are supposed to understand you, but I guess I shouldn't expect most type 1's to know what it's like having a 120-unit total daily dose on a good day.

If you're reading this, and somehow you're from a pharma company, please know this...not all type 1 diabetics need only a few drops of insulin to get through the day. Not everyone can buy two or three vials of insulin to get through a month. (Try 5 or 6 here.)

I plan to go back to Symlin. I was feeling pretty good when I took it before. Maybe I'll try metformin again, but I feel like there's some kind of invisible stigma in taking too many kinds of medicine. Then again, maybe too many of my friends are weird hippies who won't even take Tylenol for a headache, and I'm just feeling the silly influence.

My kudos go out to my Philly d-partner-in-crime, Kelly. We were sitting together, and when the guest speaker mentioned the insulin-resistant type 1 and how much insulin that person could take, I leaned in and whispered, "He's talking about me! That's totally me!" She looked a bit surprised, but more in a "Wow, I don't know how you do it, girl!" kind of way. Then she offered me a copy of the notes she was taking. That's a good kind of surprise.

So, type 1's out there, the next time you find yourself taking that "huge" 10-unit bolus for a high carb meal (or whatever you take, I don't want to pretend like I know since I'm no authority), count your lucky stars. Think about how you could be taking 35 units, or even more. If you lived in my body, that's the normal you'd come to accept.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dorky Reader Mail!

Hello fellow d-bloggers and readers! It's not every day I get reader mail, and this particular reader has a question, so I thought I'd give everyone out there (myself included) a chance to support a fellow person with diabetes. I've edited it a tad for space, but here goes nothin':

"I am recently diagnosed Type 2-- I need some advice.

...I was doing great with dietary meds needed.

But then things changed... diabetes "nurse police" wanted me to participate in a study of compliant ones, people like me who were doing everything the way they wanted. They would call even on Saturdays. I think that is what started me on the defiant path-- them chasing after me to be a study participant...I think I am still a bit of a non-compliant teenager!

One of the nurses laughed when I told her I was in training for a 2-mile walk for a humane society. Imagine being laughed at.

That was it for me.

Am forcing myself to get a dr. appointment soon-- haven't checked my BG in a year, or been back to the clinic-- in a year! I know!

I ask you, someone half my age, about this because you have a sense of humor like I do. ***And I suspect you have good advice.***

Any ideas as to why I am not being compliant?

Any tips on how to deal with the doctor? Tell him I was abducted by aliens? Tell him that I like myself being so sweet and didn't want to become less sweet? LOL!"

The first thing that came to mind after reading this was, "What kind of medical professional actually laughs at you for wanting to exercise?" I mean, maybe this nurse is some kind of uber-jock who thinks it's hilarious that one would need to train for an itty bitty 2-mile jaunt. Still not everybody has great knees, lungs, or muscles. We're not all distance walkers/runners. Your medical professionals, in my opinion, should know this is nothing to laugh at.

Definitely get yourself to a doctor who you trust. You need a doctor who can really listen to what you have to say. I also think it's great to have a doctor who understands that you're not a perfect patient. Many of us have trouble trying to balance our normal lives with our diabetes lives. So maybe you didn't know the exact carb count of that donut you ate at the breakfast meeting...what do you think will cause more damage: the fact that a cruller might make your blood sugar high if you didn't cover it correctly, or the guilt you'll lay on yourself for the rest of the day about how you "never do what you're supposed to do"? Me? I can test later and correct for my mistakes with insulin. The guilt will carry over for probably every carb you ever look at ad nauseum.

As for what to tell your doc, I'm not sure. I'm an advocate for being as honest as possible. If the reasons you haven't been taking better care of yourself are completely unrelated to your diabetes, say so. Stressful events at home or work? Let them know about them. Don't use them as excuses, but do let your doctor know you'd LIKE to be treating yourself better, and that you'd love to have a great A1c, but you feel like something is holding you back.

And if necessary, go to someone who isn't your doctor for some diabetes management help. Maybe there is a diabetes management program near you where a CDE (certified diabetes educator) can help you out. This is why I talk about Gary all the time--the advice he gives me and the patience he has for me is immense and helps me tremendously.

I think a lot of us end up "noncompliant" by nature. The repetitive details of our daily diabetes routines wear us down. Sometimes, you just need to take a break before you lose it. Some people can go on a break for a few days, then get it back together. Some people take a break, and it will take quite some time to get into the swing of things. Honestly, that's where I am now.

College and the couple of years after were a big break for me, and I've fallen into some habits I'm not too proud of. I started this blog. I enlisted as much help as I could, and it's a slow re-learning process.

I think the key to becoming "diabetes compliant" or whatever you may want to call it is to simply take it one day at a time. Push yourself to form some new good habits; however, personally, if I try to do too much at once, I feel a bit overwhelmed, and then I get upset at myself for not being able to achieve what should be completely reasonable goals. Find out what goals are reasonable for you. Build up from there.

And most of all, find a great support system. The Diabetes OC and sites like dLife and TuDiabetes have become invaluable tools for me to vent, to make friends, and to find that I'm not as different or noncompliant as I think I am.

Fellow readers and folks with the Big D, now's your chance to sound off! Help a reader out!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Attention Fellow Dorks and Techies!

I am in the market for an inexpensive laptop of reasonable quality. Now that I have a job, I think I'll be able to afford my own computer so I don't have to compete with Matt when I want to be online or writing or whatever. Also, it'd be cool to pop into someplace with WiFi at lunchtime so I can blog and eat a sandwich at the same time without having to worry about whether it's against company policy.

I do have an old iBook, but the thing is slow to surf and quick to overheat. Also, wireless internet isn't an option here. We've had a good run, but I need something new. Not even brand new--I know there are great refurbished deals out there.

I am looking to you, oh world of internet friends, for suggestions and advice. Also, directions to any Consumer Reports-esque websites comparing PC laptops would be appreciated. My dream laptop is a MacBook Pro, but honestly, I just can't afford it right now, and what I need the most is a computer I can write on, do internet stuff on, and of course, upload all kinds of diabetes data on.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions, and stay tuned to Dorkabetic for a better blog update. I've actually got some good posts in mind for the week, including a reader question! The job is going great! I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Breaking Out the Big D at Work

I don't want to make it a habit to blog while I'm working, at least not until I know it's cool, but I need your help today.

What have you guys done in your places of work to tell people about your diabetes? Do you send people a note? I work in a small office, and I'd like the co-workers I see on a regular basis to know about it. Our schedules kind of rotate, so many evenings I will only be in the office with one other person, and that person could change from day-to-day, so it seems important to give a subtle broadcast of info. I know some of you keep it to yourselves, and I know others tell everybody.

So what might I want to say? What's the best way to deliver the message? Help!

*frantic arm-waving*

*meatier blog post to follow later today, or maybe tomorrow...not to worry, it's fun!*

Monday, June 2, 2008

My One-Man Support System

It seems to be the time of year, or maybe just the time of life, when a lot of people I know are getting married. For some, like in the case of both of my in-laws, it's a re-start. For others, mostly my friends, it's something they've been dreaming about for a while, or at least hoping for. I sincerely hope, for everyone I know, that it's the best decision they'll ever make.

For a time, I think I was in denial. I met Matt when I was 16 at a friend's Halloween party, where I pretty promptly lured him into the blacklight room for some smoochin'. That's right, I've always been ballsy. Then it was just conversation after conversation on the phone where I felt, for the first time in my life, that someone actually GOT me. He was really interested in all the weird things I said, all the time. But I was in denial--how could it be possible to find a soulmate when you're still in high school?

I guess stranger things have happened in this world. Matt and I will have our two-year wedding anniversary on September 30, and we'll have been together for 10 years on October 30. I still couldn't be happier. He puts up with my mood swings, my high-blood-sugar induced crankiness, my demands to look at the kittens when we go by the pet shop, even my general laziness when it comes to housework. I can take him with me to doctor's appointments. I take him to Gary's office, and he asks even dorkier questions than I do. He certainly knows his way around a set of data.

But when times get tough, or when I feel like I'm at my lowest, that's one time when having a great partner matters the most. When I start crying because I feel like my blood sugars will never be normal, my A1c will never come down, my self-care will never be good enough, I hate my body with its cankles and dysfunction and lazy attitude...he just hugs me as tight as he can and tells me it'll be okay. He tells me he believes in me, I'll be able to do better if I just stay strong and positive. Hell, he says I'm so sexy, he never even notices my swollen ankles.

I hope everyone out there who's getting/gotten married recently has a partner who is perfect for them. I hope we all can find our special someone who always knows the right things to say, and more importantly, always means them.

Oh, and one more thing about my husband? His wallet is more disorganized than my purse, and I scold him for not keeping his money in numerical order; yet, in that bi-fold leather mess is a ratty old Post-It note folded in half. On it is my name and my phone number, hand-written by me, circa 1998, October 30 to be exact. Maybe this year, on our anniversary, I should get it laminated so it'll at least last another 10 years.