Monday, December 27, 2010

Following the Holiday Whirl, Our Author Checks in with The Readers.

Blogadelphia,

I definitely burned out on blogging after blogging every single day in November.  Then December just started getting out of hand.  There was Christmas shopping and work obligations and a profound sense of not knowing what to do with my life.

Surely, if I had it all figured out by now, I would let you know.

I had a great Christmas.  Everyone seemed to be in excellent spirits despite any circumstances.  For example, my mother's kitchen faucet broke and she couldn't wash dishes for two days except for in the bathroom sink.  On the upside, the plumbing isn't too bad of a repair, I didn't think, plus she got a nice windfall this year so her gift to herself is going to be a dishwasher for the house.  Good things, all.

As for me, I got a new backpack, a really big crock pot (nom nom homemade soup will be made), Plants vs. Zombies for the 360, Just Kids by Patti Smith (can't wait to read it), kitchen odds and ends, and a ton of other fun stuff, including a shiny new pair of snow boots, which I needed upon my return to suburban Philadelphia.  At least we didn't get as much snow out here in Chester/Montgomery County as they did in Center City Philly or New Jersey.

Now I need to get through this 3-day work week and prepare for 2011.  This may include preparing to start a graduate level class on January 4th.  At least I hope it does...but more on that later.  I had a long, fun weekend, but with so much running around it wasn't exactly relaxing.  Time to kick back.  It's WAY too early to go to bed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Aww, You Guys...

So I'm a bit late to the party to mention this, but guess what?  I was nominated for a Diabetes OC 2010 Blog Award!

I am completely flattered to even be nominated.  My category?  "Most Likely To Put You In A Good Mood".  Just a hint--if you ever call my office and I'm the first person to answer the phone, you will know that this is entirely true.  Whether I'm trying or not, I always feel like I have an eye on the positive.

Now get out and vote for all of your faves from all over the great country of Diabetes Bloglandia.  I know I will!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No Holiday Vacation Here

As I woke up this morning, my eyes were bleary.  My voice was hoarse.  My stomach was empty.  I have been fighting off some sort of virus all week, and I have been tired and lazy.

It's hard enough taking care of myself when I'm not sick with an infection or a virus.  Sometimes, when I'm not feeling so well, when I should be checking my blood glucose the most, I slack off.  I'd rather sleep or pop a bunch of decongestants or suck down a bag of sugar free Halls. 

I took a bit of a diabetes vacation for Thanksgiving, and I still haven't come back.  I know I need to leave.  My passport to Diabetes Aruba has expired, and somebody needs to kick me out of this country.  While there are palm trees and blue skies, there are sluggish limbs and dry mouth. 

"My diabetes vacation ends today," I said aloud to the empty bedroom as I pricked my finger.  247 mg/dl. 

I need to do better.  I need to get back to a d-routine and get back in to see Sarah.  I need to call up that new endo.  Maybe this is the Christmas gift I should be giving myself.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last Day, Two Ways

Today is the last day of November, which wraps up two important events this month.  One is NaBloPoMo, in which many of us worked hard to post something on our blogs every single day.  The other is of course, National Diabetes Awareness Month, which was on everyone's minds here in the Diabetes OC.

We helped other people learn about diabetes by talking about it on D-Blog Day.

We educated the world and brought lifesaving insulin to children by banding together in time for World Diabetes Day

We counted our diabetes blessings.  We even took a few moments to acknowledge our siblings!  (Well, those of us who aren't only children like me.)

Thank you out there to my readers, to the Diabetes OC who made it possible for me to get this blog going back in 2006, and to the good folks who put NaBloPoMo together!

I did it again.  30 posts, 30 days, a lot of days about diabetes, but every single day about my life.  December brings the holidays and more fun.  I'm proud of myself for sticking with it.  Let's make a date and maybe do this again next year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cranky Post.

Great weekend full of food and friends and family.

Now, the hubs is sick, and I think I'm catching something too.  I'm just tired and cranky.

Almost there, NaBloPoMo.  Almost there.  Hopefully I won't be hacking up a lung or losing my lunch tomorrow for my last post of the month. 

And have my blood sugars given me any clues?  It's Thanksgiving weekend.  Nothing gave me any clues.  Especially not the pumpkin pie.

Ugh.  I think it's time for bed...early.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Food Recovery Sunday

We are home from Thanksgiving vacation.  Only two out of three gigantic meals were spent consuming mass amounts of turkey.  Not bad.

Did I count carbs obsessively this weekend? 

Nope.  Did I care that much?  Nope. 

Sometimes you just have to live your life.  Without a ton of turkey.  And a slice of pecan pie.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Self-Portrait Saturday # 2

Oh man, can you believe the hipsters they are letting into the shows these days?
Self-portrait with husband, hipster edition.  Nada Surf show just before Easter 2010 at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia, PA.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Two Bodies; One Brain.

Tonight, I will be attending my 10-year High School Reunion.  Honestly, I'm not good friends with a lot of people from high school anymore.  I don't have a high-fallutin' job I want to go brag about.  I'm not even sure if it's going to be a lot of fun.  I am going because of this woman:

Me on the left, Cari on the right.
Ladies and gentleman, this is Ms. Cari J.  We have been friends since we were, what, eleven?  Twelve?  We bonded while singing showtunes at our weekly Odyssey of the Mind team meetings, and shortly after, she moved into my neighborhood.  If you look out from the back of the house where I spent most of my formative years, you can see her house.  We used to talk about how we should've just bought walkie-talkies and saved on phone bills.

Cari called me up a couple months back and asked me the question I was about to ask her: "Are you going to the reunion?"  We could've cared less about the event itself.  Let's face it, at least some part of going to your high school reunion is about entitlement.  We grew up as Honors students in a pretty small town.  Many people we know either stayed in Williamsport and started raising families, or they got as far from town as they could, though they are maybe wrapped up in med school or a burgeoning law career.  I guess we fancy ourselves to be almost-hip, urban suburbanites who have the pleasure of being mostly free in our late 20's.

We'll eat some mediocre, overpriced food and reminisce about the good old days.  Then we'll just talk about life.  Cari still sends me awesome birthday presents.  She's funny, smart, and has recently joined an ice hockey league.  Look out world; she's got pink hockey gloves.

But she did start her career as a Type 3 with a little diabetes law enforcement.  She used to keep me from sniffing candy wrappers during the course of our friendship.  I forgive her for that.  Especially because this year for Halloween, she dressed up as the world's favorite new celebrity diabetes spokesperson!
Just like every pump has its dawn phenomenon...
So here's to friendships that last beyond high school.  To those people you can live hundreds of miles away from, yet the instant you meet up again you're still finishing each other's sentences.

Man, I hope this reunion thing doesn't suck.  Oh well, if it does, I'll be in good company.  Then we'll take our boys and go drink somewhere that we can have a REALLY good time.

Oh, and if you want to know more about what Cari is like, I suggest you go read her blog, The Caustic Critic, in which she discusses movie guilty pleasures, TV obsessions, Sookie Stackhouse novels, and does Cannonball Reads of books.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone out there is having an enjoyable holiday.  Just remember--today's excess carbs can be burned off by charging through the malls tomorrow on your excess shopping sprees. ;)

My weekend feasting is shaping up this way:

Today--Huge lunch, small dinner.
Tomorrow--Pie for breakfast, medium-sized lunch, probably large dinner at Ten Year High School Reunion (more on that later)
Saturday--I have no clue whatsoever, but a deep-fried turkey will be involved
Sunday--Leftovers?  Convenience store food?  What time are we getting home again?

I am thankful for my insulin pump so I can just keep bolusing away on crazy weekends like this one.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to get a bit peckish.  It may very well be time for a sandwich; however, I am leaning toward bologna at this point, or peanut butter.  Goodness knows there is more bird to come.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Type 2s Pumping It Up?

My co-worker called me this morning not long after I came upstairs after working the reception desk.  "Can I see you in my office for a minute?  About something personal?"

"Sure thing."  It's nothing new for the two of us to sit around and talk.  We have a pretty friendly office.  I plopped down in one of the chairs in front of his desk.  "So in three minutes or less, tell me everything you can about your insulin pump."

My co-worker and I have talked diabetes before, but now his doctor is insisting that he get an insulin pump for tighter control.  I believe there is also some suspicion that he does not actually have Type 2, but may be more of a Type 1.5 or a case of LADA.  Either way, he is trying to prepare himself mentally for the task of possible pumping.  I gave him a short overview of what I like about it; I tried to address some of the usual questions quickly, like "Do you take it off to sleep?  What about when you shower?"

From what he's described to me, I think a pump is going to work wonders for him as long as there's not a steep learning curve in terms of programming. 

Are there any Type 2's with insulin pumps out there?  Are there any sites or resources I can share with my co-worker?  Let me know!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Diabetes Blessings Week

(Thanks to Mike over at My Diabetic Heart for coming up with this one...I feel like I am running out of steam here at the end of NaBloPoMo!  Topics are incredibly helpful.)

Yesterday, I had to rant and rave about things which I'm NOT thankful for, but today, I have decided to pitch in my two cents for Diabetes Blessings Week.  I know, it's probably a foreign concept to most people to come up with ways something debilitating can bless your life.  It takes a little soul-searching to say, "You know, Diabetes, I don't always think you're an a-hole."

But here are some ways diabetes has been a blessing-in-disguise for me:

1.) I visit a doctor multiple times a year.  Whether it's an endocrinologist, an opthamologist, an OB-GYN, or just my family doctor's office, I have always been encouraged to stay up on my health.  I've always tried to speak up when something is not right with my body.  Do I slack off sometimes?  Yes.  But I always know where to turn, and whenever I move, I end up searching out a whole new team to work with me.

2.) I eat healthier than I might have otherwise.  Lately I've really been fixated on getting enough fiber in my diet and drinking more water.

3.) I try not to take things or people for granted.  You never know who you may need to lean on in a tumultuous time of your life.  You could be perfectly fine one day and horrible the next.  I am often ready to embrace change!

4.) It's made me smarter in odd ways.  I am terrible at algebra, but pretty good at working on my correction formulas.  I can tell you what's a sugar in the ingredient list of a packaged food, and I can probably tell you what artificial sweetener they've used as well.  I've rigged up MacGuyver cooling packs for outdoor days in the summer.  I can talk at length about the Glycemic Index, and I've never been to nutritional school.  That time we did a blood-typing lab in my college biology class, I was the most popular girl in the room because I could prick my own finger and bleed without fear.

5.) It makes me think.  What time are we eating?  What kind of bolus should I take?  What kind of correction do I want?  How much alcohol do I plan to drink at this party?  Who are the empowered patients?  What can I do to make my blog look better?  How many grams of carbs in this salad?  What will I write about tonight?  Do I call the endo or the CDE?  Pizza or subs?  When will I be ready to do this damned basal test?  Do you think I should get a Dexcom?  Diabetes questions run through my head ad nauseum. 

6.) I understood the importance of decent health insurance from a very early age.  I also learned how to navigate health insurance earlier than a lot of my friends.

7.) On a similar note, it's helped me figure out how to get through to a real person on most automated phone lines! 

8.) It's made me even more self-aware.  I need to question if I'm being cranky because I'm low, or perhaps high, or perhaps I'm just genuinely cranky and need some sleep or a cup of coffee.  Like now.  Now is a good time for me to go to bed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things To Be Unthankful For

It's Thanksgiving week, it's true.  It's a time I like to think about all the good things in my life.  All the people, opportunities and things which I'm thankful for.  But you know what?  I feel like this year, in order to be truly thankful, I need to get those things off my chest for which I am not at all thankful.  So let's call this a Thanksgiving Week Thanks-But-No-Thanks list.


1.) Depression.  I have been taking Wellbutrin for over a month now, and while I feel like it's really helping me to feel less hopeless and apathetic, there are still so many things needing my attention.  I'm not really giving it my all yet.  I might be getting closer, but then some days I just break down crying over something stupid.  Spilled milk.  A sideways glance.  The fact that my pants don't fit.

2.)  Swollen Ankles.  The cause of them?  I still don't know.  My really cool GP is actually concerned about them, compared to the rest of the world who seems to just shrug it off.  She wants me to go have a stress test because of the swelling and the tachycardia I get sometimes.  I just get annoyed because it's difficult to buy shoes.  It's tough to have lower self-confidence when it comes to my legs.  For years, I've always thought them to be one of my better physical features.

3.) Bad Infusion Sites.  Blockage detected.  Beep beep beep.  This set is brand new, so what the hell?  Put in a new set in a different spot, and it's almost guaranteed to be one of the most painful sites you've chosen in weeks, just to continue spiting you for pulling a bad set.

4.) Diabetes and Illness in General.  I hate the fact that sometimes blogging feels like I am taking too much time to catalog my maladies.  I worry that you, my readers, aren't getting to know the real me, but the sick me.  The one who is trying to fight diabetes but struggling so much at times.  Honestly, folks, don't look to me as a role model on how to care for yourself.  I want to be here for you.  I want to present my life with as much truth as I can muster. 

5.) Work Stress.  The busier things get, the less time I have to focus on my writing, which is always important to me.  I get home exhausted, and much like tonight, I will veg in front of the TV for four hours instead of maybe trying to write or blog during at least half of that time.

Those are the biggies plaguing my mind this week.  I feel better already for airing my grievances.  But wait, I thought Festivus was a December celebration!  Hmm.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

OMG ZOMBIES!!1!

Are you watching The Walking Dead on AMC? 

Because I am. 

You may be saying, "But I don't like zombies.  Or gore.  Or horror.  Eek!"

However, The Walking Dead is not just a show about zombies and grossness.  At the risk of sounding cheesy, it's about human drama in the worst of times.  Seeing the best and worst in people. 

I'm sure there are comic book purists out there who don't like the characters they've added in and the changes that were made, but whatever.  Nobody is ever satisfied with interpretations of books that are made into TV shows and movies. 

What I'm saying is that this is what I'm really into these days, it beats any reality crap that you can watch, and shows emotions more genuinely than anything out there where characters tell you about their true feelings in a confessional. 

It helps me having reliable escapism these days, even when that escape isn't always a sunny, happy-go-lucky kind of place.  I can go somewhere where I can immerse myself in something completely different from myself.  And even worse. 

I guess watching zombies stagger about and people occasionally getting eaten makes me feel better about having stomach issues, depression, diabetes, job-related stress.  And it could probably help you too.

Friday, November 19, 2010

More Pokes, Less Ouches: The Multiclix

I purchased an Accu-Check Multiclix lancing device, and while I don't have a huge write-up about it prepared yet, I would definitely like to say that I'm really enjoying it.  It makes the lancer that comes with the One-Touch Mini seem like a guillotine. 

Thanks to the d-blogosphere, I have finally upgraded to a lancing device that doesn't suck.  I know tons of blog friends consider them a cult favorite among lancing devices.  It seems strange saying that something pointy that makes your fingers bleed could be a "favorite" at all.  For the record, yes, it still hurts sometimes, but it doesn't thud into your finger like some lancing devices do.  Perhaps I'll check back in about it after using it for a week or so.

In the meantime, glucose-check time just because a little less ouchy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Epic Win [Butler]

I love music.  Always have.  Always will.  I know I am extraordinarily late to the party, but I am currently obsessed with Arcade Fire. Recently, I saw from various random internet sources that Kings of Leon called them a bunch of douchebags or pretentious assholes or pussies or something. Look here, Kings of Leon. Your songs don't make me cry.

So if that makes me some kind of pretentious, Canadian-loving douche, so be it. You try playing a song in an elevator using a magazine for a percussion instrument.



And hey, KOL, you guys are okay. But do you have a song that is more of an anthem to me? Something that makes me want to raise my arms and weep like some people do in church? I don't think so. I can't see this video enough without thinking about how epic this song is to me. And if that doesn't make me one of the macho masses, then screw you. I never was.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Game is Afoot!

Today, I am just here to say that the hunt is on.  I think it is high time to find a new endocrinologist.  Now, don't get me wrong, my current endo, Dr. B, is actually a really nice lady.  She's really helpful when I go in for checkups.  Yet thanks to the practice she is a part of, I have issues.

First of all, they never make reminder calls.  Ever.  I've even checked to make sure they have my phone number on file, and they have it.  It's correct.  Perhaps I should just keep better track of my own appointments by logging them on Google Calendar or putting appointment cards somewhere where they're easy to find, but all of my other doctors (GP, psychiatrist, gynocologist) have made reminder calls.  Why not the doctor who should be most important to me?  Also, since they charge a $25 missed appointment fee, I'd REALLY like to know when I'm supposed to be there.

Second, I usually arrive to my appointments right on time.  Then I end up waiting a minimum of 20 minutes for the nurse to even call me back for the weigh/measure/blood pressure rigamarole.  That's a minimum.  Often, I am trying to get back to work after an appointment.  People tend to talk if you have been gone for two hours in the middle of the day for a doctor's appointment that is only a few miles away.  Also, the current endo's office is somewhat closer to where I work, while all my other doctors and my dentist are very close to my home.  It's inconvenient for me to make morning appointments at my current endo's office because it's a distance to travel without traffic, and the morning rush in that area can be harrowing.

Last but not least, all of these annoyance factors combine to keep me from going to the endo's office at all.  I have not been to see her in over six months because I just get frustrated at the practice itself.  Dr. B hasn't done anything wrong.  I really wish that I could just transplant her to my neighborhood in an office where she's the lone endo.  She was even recommended to me this way: "Dr. B is great!  But don't bother seeing anyone else in her practice."  I think she just needs to get out and find a practice of her own, but until that day comes, I think I'm endocrinologist shopping.

Have you ever had to "break up" with an endocrinologist you've otherwise liked?  [I'm thinking for a reason other than moving.  I switched endos' offices when I moved from Delaware to Pennsylvania, obviously.  That was a natural transition.]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Unexpected Workday Low

An hour and a half before lunch, I realized I had forgotten to bolus for the two clementines I ate for breakfast.  I checked my blood and it was a whopping 369 mg/dl. 

"Those damned carby little fruits," I muttered to myself as I programmed my pump to give me a correction bolus.  I went back to doing my work.

My co-worker returned from picking up our lunch at around 1:00pm.  I checked my blood: 102 mg/dl.  I cheered my pump.  "Good work, insulin correction factor!"  I bolused for my six-inch tuna sub and bag of baked Lay's chips.  It was tasty, and I enjoyed my lunch break.

Around 1:45pm, some colleagues from another office dropped in needing work space.  The plan was we were to all meet together to go over some process stuff.  Not a big deal, but a lot to go over on very short notice.  I showed them to the conference room, then as I walked the 15 feet back to my cubicle, I began to feel...off.

A wave of slight nausea and lightheadedness passed over me where I stood.  I felt shaky on my feet.  My heart started beating faster, and I suddenly felt voraciously hungry.  "Oh shit," I thought, "I'm low, and I have to go into a meeting in like 20 minutes.  Wait, am I low?  Because I did everything I was supposed to."  And then, after checking my glucose and finding it at 68 mg/dl only about 30 minutes after my lunch bolus, it dawned on me.  I had overcorrected.  I had corrected myself for being 396 mg/dl, and not the actual number of 369 mg/dl.  I was sinking like a stone, and people needed me to be available soon.

I quickly chomped down five glucose tabs instead of the usual four, and also found two fun-sized Nestle Crunch bars to take the edge off my hunger pangs.  I am NOT saying this is what you should do in this situation, but my time was limited and so was the time of the visiting colleagues.  I can function with a high blood glucose, but NOT a low one.  I ended up so busy for the rest of the afternoon that I did not have a moment to myself to sit down and do a retest.

I did what I had to do, and in the end, I think the meeting with my colleagues was really productive!  My blood sugars for the rest of the day, however, may be another story.

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Defense of Creativity

Well pointed ranting, for the world, from Hannah.

There is always more on my mind than just diabetes.  A huge part of my brain is dedicated to creative pursuits.  I am always thinking of some off-the-wall thing to say.  I doodle in the margins of my meeting notes.  I make up songs while driving in the car.  My internal monologue is pretty loud, and it often sounds like descriptive passages in a novel.  (For the record, it's sometimes in first person, sometimes in third person.)  Coming up with new ideas, looking at things from new angles, and putting words to paper/computer screen is my livelihood. 

I am considering a slight revamping of the blog, and my mind starts whirring every time I think about how I want to arrange things.  Thoughts of new color schemes bring a smile to my face, and don't even get me started on how cool it will be if I can get a 3-column format with tabbed pages across the top.  Any time I actually have time to finish a poem these days, I feel like I could throw a party.  In this party, we will most likely have costumes and themed beverages.  I am creative, through and through.

Well, I am tired as hell of feeling like that's just a secondary thing in life.  I don't think those of us who have creative minds get taken seriously, and it's a tough hurdle for many of us to get over.  In jobs I've had, I sometimes find the belief that creativity and the arts are still mere leisure pursuits.  I believe that the successful people in creative professions are some of the most passionate people about their work.  Honestly, passion makes a real difference for anyone in any line of work!  I have a friend who gets very excited when he talks about accounting, statistics, and retirement funds.  I know he will make an excellent CPA.

It seems to me that creativity is often discounted by the business world.  I feel that some people shame the creatives for not doing any "real work".  The events planner gets to "put little parties together" (yes, in passing, I once heard this phrase being used) and the graphic designer gets to doodle all afternoon.  The writer [of this blog post] sits with her laptop in a coffee shop until an idea strikes her.  When an artistic person gets excited about expense reports, selling things to people, operating machines, pouring your coffee, whatever, suddenly you are on your way to being this well-groomed corporate grown-up that people expect you to become if you want to get anywhere in the working world.

I smile a lot.  I laugh a lot.  I have the perkiest receptionist voice in the greater Philadelphia area.  (Seriously, if they had a contest for that, I'd totally win.)  I catch on to all sorts of computer programs, processes and filing systems very quickly.  I am slow to anger, quick to answer questions with accuracy.  Yet, on some intellectual level, or perhaps from a career standpoint, I don't always feel at home, and ultimately, I think that's where I truly see myself in five years.  I want a home away from home that I'm happy to go to on the weekdays, a place where creative people are celebrated.  Sure, some may say that's a pipe dream, or I sound like a hippie, but there are creative, interesting places to work wherever you go.  I hope one day, I can get into that sort of a place.

I'm a creative.  In school, I was a daydreamer.  A procrastinator.  I had A's in English, C's in Math.  I've never been good at fitting into molds.  Just last week I told my mother I don't think I'll ever truly do anything the traditional way.  One of these years, maybe I will get to write for a living.  Maybe I need to go back to school.  Maybe I need to look into freelancing.

I just wish more people understood that being creative doesn't have to be something you reserve for a hobby in your after-work hours.  Artists and creative people are not slackers.  Our passions drive us to succeed, just the way yours do.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy World Diabetes Day!

So the day is almost over, but I hope everyone out there has taken this opportunity to help someone else learn about diabetes, to educate your families and friends, and also to just take a few moments to be grateful for all that you have. 

I know it's not Thanksgiving yet, but I have to say that I am so thankful for insulin.  Even though I felt kind of blah today and missed the Big Blue Test, I hope that it was a smashing success.  Am I a Big Blue Fail?  Hell no.  I'm still here; I'm still living the best life I can.

And that's what World Diabetes Day is about for me.  The fact that I'm still here to share it with others. 

<3

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sick Saturday

Good Idea: Getting a flu shot so you don't get sick with a nasty flu over the next few months.  Hooray!

Bad Idea: Getting a flu shot just before the weekend so you feel like crap half the night Friday and most of the day Saturday. 

Every other time I get a flu shot (because I know it's not every single year), I feel ill for the next day or two.  I'm actually now quite glad I had other plans for tonight and had to miss the big diabetes meetup in NYC today.  I don't think I could have handled the entire afternoon on my feet, wandering the exhibit.  In fact, here's where I was mere moments ago:

Urrrgh, I feel like...urrrgh.  Naptime again.
I had a mind to accomplish things today, but I woke up with a low blood sugar, and when Matt and I got back from brunch and some errands, I spent the next hour and a half in bed.  Today feels more like an energized sick day than a fun Saturday.  Now if you don't mind me, I should go rest up for seeing friends tonight and going to a show. 

Don't forget, tomorrow is World Diabetes Day!  Go watch the Big Blue Test video and join the Diabetes Online Community for the Big Blue Test tomorrow!  I hope I am feeling well enough for 14 minutes of physical activity in a row.  Blah.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Freakin' Friday!

Rushing all over the place, I had a loooong day with good things and bad things, but now I must prepare for a big ol' poetry slam!  EEEEK!

Monologing will be left for tomorrow.  Tonight, I perform on stage!  Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

i, fanblades

My fabulous husband is in a band--i, fanblades.  They have been playing a lot lately, and it's always fun.  These are not the best pictures in the world because I think I took them with my cell phone, but here, you can see the rockstar awesomeness.  That's my hubs, Matt, on the right, and that's Nigel, our former roommate, on the left.  Yes, Nigel has a mohawk, and yes, it is awesome thank you very much.

I don't have a lot of time to wax poetic today, but I thought you might enjoy a glimpse at something I see often on the weekends.
Not Pictured: Chris, on drums, and JW, on percussion. Why? I don't have photos of them on my cell phone!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Twitchy twitch.

I don't like using the blog to catalog every malady that comes my way, but dammit, I need to talk about these things somewhere.

I've scored a doctor's appointment for this Friday for the weird minty-fresh feeling in my chest, and while I'm there, I think I'm going to have to ask her to take a look at my right hand/wrist.  I keep having wrist pain, and my right ring finger keeps twitching, especially during the day when I am typing or using the mouse at work.  I am beginning to suspect that I am suffering sympathy tendinitis for Kerri

Ouchies.  Does this ever happen to you?  Do you ever feel like multiple parts of your body are rebelling at once for no apparent reason?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

D-Blog Day 2010: 6 Things You Should Know About Diabetes

For the full list of D-Blog Day Blog Posts, please visit the link at the end of this post!

1.) Diabetes is not easy.
I talk a big game.  I make it seem like diabetes isn’t a big deal.  I’m kind of a low-key, relatively laid back person when it comes to talking about diabetes. It’s there, something you just put up with, like waiting on a bad haircut to grow out.  One more fact of life, because sometimes, that’s all it is.  You are just focusing on living your life.  You test, you bolus, you eat.  Life goes on, ob la di ob la da.  Yet there will always be late nights with bad blood sugars.   There will be a day when your blood glucose drops a second time even though you chomped down seven glucose tabs.  You might be judged by a doctor as soon as you walk in a room and say, “I’ve been diabetic for ___ years now, and no, my A1C is not perfect.”  Sometimes, diabetes feels like something I can put in my pocket or hide in my purse.  I’ll take it out and show it off if necessary.  But I’m just going to come right out and say it here, maybe even wave it around in your face a bit:  DIABETES IS HARD.

2.) Diabetes drains your energy…and your patience.
I was 9 or 10, and it seemed like the most simple thing in the world.  Mom told me to take my offending soda to the counter and request that they replace it with diet, as that’s what I ordered.  I marched up to the counter with my Happy Meal-sized cup and got the attention of the nearest employee.  “Excuse me,” I said, “but I ordered a diet Coke, and this is definitely not diet.” 

The woman behind the counter was confused and bewildered.  Was a 9-year-old actually requesting a diet soda?  How precocious!  “Ummm…” the lady started, and I cringed.  I quickly responded to her lack of concern with “I need diet soda because I have diabetes, could you please get me a new drink?”  Suddenly she looked sympathetic and switched my soda immediately.  It feels the same way today sometimes.

Whether someone is asking if I can eat that or trying to tell me that some new health issue of mine is OBVIOUSLY because I have diabetes, people make judgments and generalizations, and despite my best efforts to educate and end stereotypes, generalizations and misinformation are always going to be a part of life.  Guess what?  I’m not necessarily grumpy because I have diabetes—I’m grumpy because I’m tired of having to explain to you what that means all the time!

3.) It’s not something that can be outgrown…or cured…at least not yet. 
You have diabetes.  You will always have diabetes until someone cures it.  It doesn’t matter what type you have, what age you are, or how much weight you lose.  You will always have diabetes.  Oh sure, you might be able to lose weight if you’re a Type 2 and have it sort of slip into a remission of sorts, but it’s not really gone.  This is why we need to own our conditions rather than be ashamed of them.  They’re not going anywhere.

4.) It can make you strong.
If you don’t have diabetes, or even if you do, you may want to vomit when considering poking yourself with a needle.  Every day, I may cringe slightly, but I make myself bleed.  Or I’m jabbing myself in the abdomen with an infusion set or a syringe.  Sometimes multiple times a day, and I barely even bat an eye.  It has given me the guts to speak up for myself at the doctor’s office.  It has given me the gall to start this blog.  Honestly, before I started blogging, I barely talked about diabetes or what it meant to me.  I am with Amy, who says we may not want to be recognized for our bravery, but I think as diabetics, we want to be recognized for our strength in dealing with this every single day of our lives.

5.) It will break your heart.
I’m not saying it’s going to cause a lover to leave you, necessarily, but it can sink in and rip you apart.  When it’s quiet, and you’re by yourself, you’ll think of diabetes, and how there is no end in sight.  You’ll wonder about your random aches and pains.  You’ll pray that you are healthy enough that you will live a long, complication-free life.  You will break down at the dinner table in frustration.  You will wonder why we are always supposed to just suck it up and live with it.  Some people might think that diabetes is your fault.  Some people will set you up to expect your body to just one day fail, despite your best efforts.  Some of us may accept that awful fate until it becomes truth.  Some of us will leave this earth far too young, before we even reach adulthood.  It can chip at your sanity, your self-esteem, your happiness.  It will scare you, yet I think the biggest heartbreak of living with diabetes is wondering, “What if I had been normal and healthy?  Would it still be like this?”

6.) It DOESN’T stop me, and it shouldn’t stop anyone else.
Things I have done with diabetes: Learned to drive, went to 4 proms, graduated high school, went to college away from home, joined an improv comedy troupe, served as news director of my college radio station for two years, made a ton of friends, got engaged, appeared in two performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, graduated college, represented Delaware on two National Poetry Slam teams, edited (and still edit) a literary magazine, got married, worked multiple jobs, rented multiple apartments/houses, got drunk now and then, partied like a (indie) rock star, sang karaoke, kissed in the rain, fell for all kinds of men (even when they didn’t know), made a ton more friends.  Most importantly, I have loved fearlessly and lived a life that truly makes me happy.  You should too.

More D-Blog Day Goodies Here!  Thanks, Gina, for organizing!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Things That Shouldn't Be Minty Fresh

I had some great ideas for today's post initially, but guess what?  They have been pre-empted. 

Attention all interweb hypochondriacs, amateur doctors and real doctors alike: I have a symptom and it's weirding me the hell out.  Over the past couple of days, I've had this passing cold, tingly sensation that occurs between my throat and the upper part of my chest.  It came and went, I assumed it was just a side effect of the colder weather here in Pennsylvania now that it's November.  But today it is here with a vengeance.

What is this sensation exactly?  It's the sensation you get when you bite into a York Peppermint Pattie.  It feels like I've swallowed some severe toothpaste, or I've been sucking down menthol Halls all day long.  It is making me nervous.

So of course, I turn to the internet's finest health professionals (yeah right), the dwellers of internet message boards, because a Google search yielded no reasonable results from less dubious sources like the Mayo Clinic or the CDC.  They seem to be telling me 3 things:

1.) It's acid reflux/GERD/something else I forget that's related to your stomach.

2.) It's my heart (which scares the ever-lovin' SHIT out of me)
3.) Nobody knows. Nobody's going to tell you what it is.  It'll come and go in a couple months, tops.

Not helpful at all, unless you count helping in making me feel a bit panicked.  Yes, I know the end result should be calling a doctor, but I just want something now.  Do I go buy some antacids and see if they provide relief?  Do I stop at the urgent care clinic on the way home, or do I just wait it out until morning to call my doc? 

If I do go to the doc, I don't want to see Dr. P, the lady doctor who mentioned Diabetic Gastroparesis back in August.  I got so angry with her, and yet here's a symptom that could potentially be tied in.  The last thing I want that smug woman doing is giving me that I-told-you-so look.  Or telling me outright she doesn't understand my problem and I should just get my diabetes under control.  It's hard to get your diabetes under control when you're anxious about what's happening to your body!

Here's the deal.  It's not pain...it doesn't hurt.  It isn't a burning sensation, but I think maybe that's changing a bit?  Either that or I'm paranoid that it's happening.  It's cold, it's minty-fresh, and it doesn't belong there. Now what?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Friends and Family Day

One of the prompts from the ADA 30 Blogs in 30 Days challenge asks you to consider and write about the friends and family who contribute to your well-being.  How do they help you?  What is it that they do for you?

I like to think I don’t heavily lean on family and friends when it comes to taking care of myself.  I consider myself an independent person who is strong, smart and capable of doing what’s necessary.  However:

1.) If I have a low in the middle of night, or if I am somewhat far away from the fridge, I always feel comforted if Matt can bring me a glass of juice or something to eat.  If I’m high and a bit groggy/cranky, I take a correction bolus and request a glass of water.  We read carb counts on food wrappers together.  We are trying to eat more veggies together.  I may be the primary person responsible for The Big D, but no doubt about it, we are a team.

2.) I am grateful for the care I received from my mom and dad when I was young.  I probably don’t say that enough.  They both worked really hard to make sure I got to be a normal kid who just happened to also have diabetes.  My mom gave me my morning injections.  My dad gave me my injections before dinner.  I learned how to give myself injections when I was in fourth or fifth grade--I was diagnosed during the summer before I started third grade.  I was always happy that my parents were supportive and helpful when it came to diabetes, even when they were annoying the hell out of me in my teen years.  (But whose parents don’t during that time of life?)

3.) My closest friends throughout middle school and beyond and their families affected me, most of the time for the better.  I think some friends’ mothers were so excited that I was around.  Finally, they could serve their family a balanced meal with lots of veggies and everything!  I must admit I often worried I was a bother.  I always felt, deep down, that I was disturbing other people’s family routines, maybe I was a bit of a burden.  Cari’s mom felt obligated to buy sugar-free ice cream if I was coming over, no matter how many times I mentioned that I could still eat the real stuff.  She and Melissa’s mom both started purchasing diet sodas.  Melissa’s mom had a whole shelf in her pantry where she kept the “Hannah Food”.  My dear friends, if my requiring “healthy foods” ever caused your moms (and you *know* how they are) to make you feel bad about yourselves, I’m sorry.  I hope they never said anything bad about me in return, but you never know.

Anyone who has ever touched my life has, whether directly or indirectly, touched my life with diabetes.  So thank you, all my beloveds, for buying Diet Coke for your parties, for not minding my poking myself at your dinner table, for putting up with the super-scheduled meals of years gone by, for cracking jokes about my insulin pump.  I will even thank everyone for their occasional nagging.  I know it’s not always well-received, but your intentions are good.  And yes, Mom, I still don’t regularly log my sugars like I should.  But I love all of you.  Thanks for all you do for me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Two Things Tonight

These are both important, so pay attention.

1.)  Set your clocks back an hour before you go to sleep.

2.) Change your lancet already, would ya?

I surely will.  NaBloPoMo marches on!  See you tomorrow.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Freaky Friday: Weird BGs and More

1.  Lately, I've been going to bed with high numbers, correcting, and thankfully waking up with normal numbers.  The only problem is I keep waking up thirsty!  I often wake up panicked that I've pulled out my infusion set during the night.  Sometimes I suspect that my correction bolus didn't work at all!  I went to bed at 300 mg/dl, so where the hell am I at now?  The same?  HIGHER?  Every time I test, it's like...163.  Or 132.  Slightly elevated, but so much better than what I went to sleep with.  Oh well, at least the corrections are working.

2.  Maybe some of the corrections are working a little too well.  I found myself at 253 mg/dl as I arrived at work this morning.  I blame last night's Chinese food.  Anyway.  I correct and go about my morning at work, which is relatively inactive.  The biggest workout I had this morning was flexing my right arm and bending my wrist to get the jammed paper out of the copier.  Around 1:00pm, I start to feel it.  The shaking, coupled with the hunger that says "Feed me, Seymour!  Feed me now!"  Test my blood.  72.  Low for me, and this is even after I had dove into the leftover Halloween candy dish without bolusing for that fun size Butterfinger.  Luckily, there were two mini boxes of Milk Duds with four Milk Duds each.  They hit the spot and brought me up relatively quickly.  Back to work I went.

3.  I kinda poured my heart out last night in my post.  I hope you had a chance to read it.  It's not often these days that I get to spill my guts and have it not be slightly diabetes-related.  Unadulterated joy and emotion can so easily make us forget our troubles and forgive our faults.  There are a number of fairly devout bloggers out there, but these days, it seems that music is my church.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How To Stay Sane, Part 1.

I have work in the morning at 8am.  I will probably be up until 1am, maybe even 2am.  When I go to concerts, I feel alive.  Sometimes I just close my eyes, absorb the music, and know that there are better things out there for me.  When I hear the music, I can hear the possibilities in my mind.  I start composing poetry that I don't write down.

Now that I'm 28 and my friends are closer to their thirties as well, I sometimes hear that they are getting too old for this stuff.  Usually, they just mention these things jokingly between head-bangingly loud sets.  These days, we wear earplugs more often.  We scoff at what "the kids" are wearing this year.  I don't want us to actually get to the point where we are too old for this.  This elation should never get old.

When I feel the kickdrum in my chest, I can't help but be happy.  There is always catharsis, and the best shows lead to optimism.

In these moments, I don't worry about work.  I don't worry about sadness or drama.  I don't think about having diabetes.  I don't worry about the future.  I stomp my feet.  I swivel my hips.  I sing louder than I can even sing in the car or the shower.   Maybe I think of a past love or an old friend or someone who should be there with me to share the experience.  Music is so important to my life, so transformative at times.

Wolf Parade, Trocadero, Philadelphia PA.  11-4-10.

A thousand little gloves
What makes you know you’re alive
This heart’s on fire
This heart’s on fire


--Wolf Parade, "This Heart's on Fire"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Depressed and Diabetic: The Winning Combination!

Remember back when I was talking about diapression?  I still think the word is utterly ludicrous; however, I never did doubt that it was a real thing.

A few weeks ago, I went to a psychiatrist for the first time in my life.  I was nervous.  I had thoughts in my head of men with cigars who pay you no mind as you talk about your dreams.  I pictured Betty Draper, from Mad Men, lying on that black leather couch in season 1, talking to a man who never seems to really be listening.

When I got to the psychiatrist's office, I found it rather...doctor-ish.  The ceiling of the waiting room was your standard white-panel ceiling with florescent lighting.  There was a lamp, for ambiance, I suppose.  Next to me was a small end table with one of those table-top fountains on it, the tiniest trickle of water running through it...for ambience, I suppose.  There was a coffee table with various magazines on it, and a magazine rack on the wall with your typical trashy doctor's office fare.  I wondered if it was healthy to be looking at doctored-up photos in Glamour magazine when you're supposed to be receiving mental health care.  Don't women with serious body issues come into this office?

I filled out some paperwork and took some deep breaths.  Eventually I was called back to see the doctor.  He had a relatively nice office despite the conventional doctor's office location.  I sat in a moderately comfortable chair by his desk.  We talked a bit.  I was a wee bit surprised that he was not trying to plumb my subconscious for information.  He wasn't asking me a lot of questions, and if he was, it felt more like a conversation than an interrogation on my mental state.  He diagnosed me as depressed and put me on Wellbutrin, which was kind of what I requested, as I've been on it before and it didn't cause me any irritating side effects.

So here I am once again, "blessed" with these two D's in my life...diabetes and depression.  I go in for my first follow-up visit tomorrow.  I guess I've noticed some small changes in these three weeks, but I don't know yet.  I do feel a little less hopeless.  I'm definitely crying less, trying to talk through things more.

Just don't make me call it diapression.  If I do have to call it diapression*, please make sure I do this while sporting some jeggings* and talking to an audience of tweens*.


*Now you know 3 of my least favorite words.  My number one least favorite word?  Eyesore. Ick, I don't even like looking at it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Big Blue Test Video Fundraiser

It's worth repeating, even if I mentioned it yesterday.  Go to YouTube and watch the Diabetes Hands Foundation's Big Blue Test video!  All you have to do is click that there link, watch the video, and insulin will be donated to children in need around the world.  It's less than two minutes, people.  What the heck are you waiting for?

Maybe you were expecting Wilford Brimley's Diabeetus Dance Mix?  Or the Diabetes Rap?  ("I'm a type 1, son!")

Oh, you were expecting a lengthy, introspective blog post?  Well so was I until Firefox ATE IT.  So...videos!  Watch them!  Happy NaBloPoMo/NaDiAwMo!

Monday, November 1, 2010

What would you SAE?

When I say SAE, I am not referring to the Society for Automotive Engineers.  SAE stands for what should be the three tenets of  National Diabetes Awareness Month here in the US: Support, Advocate, Educate.  Today is SAE It Loud Day in the Diabetes OC, the brainchild of the fabulous and talented Sarah of Sugabetic.com.

Support
Now that it's National Diabetes Awareness Month (declared by President Obama) and/or American Diabetes Month (declared by the American Diabetes Association), there are going to be a lot more people out there raising awareness about diabetes.  There are going to be a lot of new people who may be turning to the Diabetes OC for support, help, information, answers.  I am going to make an effort this month to comment on other people's blogs instead of just reading and darting off to the next one.  I am going to support myself by checking my blood glucose more often, keeping up appointments and communication with my kickass CDE Sarah K, and calling my endo's office to make an appointment--finally.  I've been putting it off since I cancelled the last one.  Not good, I know.

Advocate
Did you know that just by watching a short YouTube video, you can help a child in need receive a week's worth of insulin?  Also, you'll be able to learn about the Big Blue Test, a great way for everyone to advocate for diabetes, on November 14, World Diabetes Day 2010!  In case you didn't click the link the first time around, you want to GO HERE for the video.  Bonus: the video stars real people with diabetes, including George and Manny!

Also, tomorrow is Election Day!  Go out and vote!  I know I will.

Educate
I am not a Certified Diabetes Educator.  I apparently need a degree in one of several AADE-approved fields plus I need to pass a licensing test.  I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, which means I'm pretty decent with my words.  (Also 100% not AADE-approved, unless you're trying for a job in their PR department or something...) So while I am not a health professional of any sort, I am still able to educate people about diabetes.  Writing is often my best avenue to achieve this, so this month, I have taken on the National Blog Posting Month challenge!  I will write a new post every day this month, weekends included.  I haven't undertaken this challenge since 2007, so let's see what happens, shall we?

Additionally, the American Diabetes Association, in conjunction with their new blog, Diabetes Stops Here, is hosting their own 30 posts/30 days challenge!  There's going to be a lot of talking here over the next month, so I hope you readers enjoy my posts.  So I will say this, and say it with confidence: talk to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Part of This Carb-y Breakfast!

It doesn't matter if you're a Type 1 or a Type 2, carb counting can be surprising.  In preparation for a ravenous run to the Panera Bread which shares a building with my office, I checked out their nutrition facts online this morning.

Did I want a whole grain bagel, or was I more in the mood for an egg soufflé?

The entire whole grain bagel clocked in at 70 grams of carbs, with a measly 6 grams of dietary fiber.  I'd be bolusing for about 64 grams of carbs!  Yet again proving that "whole grain" products are not necessarily "high fiber" or "low net carb" or "good for you".  I tend to eat carbs with reckless abandon some days.  I'm sure we've all done it at one point or another, but today I was feeling responsible.  How much worse could the egg soufflé be?

I was pleasantly surprised to find the egg soufflé (I was ordering the ham & swiss) had only 35 grams of carbs, with 2 grams of fiber, so it meant I'd be bolusing for only 33 grams!  Sure, half a bagel could have sufficed for the same amount of carbohydrate, but I was hungrier than that.  By ordering the soufflé, I also got a whopping 19 grams of protein; therefore, I was not starving two hours after like I would have been with a bagel!

I enjoy many breakfasts and lunches at Panera Bread.  They didn't ask me or pay me to write this.  Hell, they may not even know that I'm writing this.  If you enjoy eating there as I do, check out Panera Nutrition, their nutrition calculator website.  It's very helpful, and also a bit shocking!  Did I mention my egg soufflé had grams of fat in the double-digits?  Yeah, I guess what you sacrifice in bagel carbs you make up for in eggy, cheesy fats.  Oh, but they were tasty fats. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dead-in-Bed Tragedy

The diabetes community-at-large lost another young member last week to the Dead-in-Bed phenomenon.  It's yet another heartbreaking reminder that our time on this earth, no matter how hard we try, can be a very fickle thing.  There is not much in the way of commentary I can offer that hasn't already been said. 

Amy Tenderich hosted a great guest post today at DiabetesMine by Michelle Page Alswager, who also lost her own 13-year-old to Dead-in-Bed.

Allison of Lemonade Life suggests that "we must live in hope and action" in a blog post from last Thursday.

Kelly of Diabetesaliciousness fame was so moved that she opted to join in the local Philadelphia JDRF Walk this past Sunday at the last minute.  She ended up raising over $300!

So many words of encouragement out there on the diabetes community, the sharing of stories, grief, fears, hopes, dreams.

It's such a scary thing.  It's a concept I'd never even thought about until I started seeing it in the news around the Diabetes OC.  Overthinking it can be a reality check.  This past Saturday, sleeping at home in my own bed, I woke up with a start.  My heart was pounding, and I was sweating.  I tossed off my blankets.  My blood glucose was a bit high, but nothing outlandish.  My heart just kept on pounding.  Does a heart arrhythmia feel like anything?   I asked myself, paranoid.  What if one day I just didn't wake up? 

I don't know how to prepare a loved one for this kind of thought without them delving into a world of worry, pain and potential heartbreak.  I got up, had a glass of water, tried some deep breaths.  I felt better.  I was probably having a nightmare that caused my heart to race.  I got back in bed but continued to toss and turn for the next hour while the man I love snored softly next to me, entirely oblivious to my frustrated flopping.

I cannot imagine what it must be like for these families.  My heart goes out to you.  I'm not sure that there is much else I can do or say.  I hope for strength for you all in the days to come.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Greetings from Digital Pharma East 2010

I am a conference n00b.  Some members of the diabetes online community have given talks and served on panels at BlogWorld, BlogHer, ePatCon, CWD, and on Roche's diabetes advisory board.  This is the first conference at which I've had the pleasure of speaking, and I'd like to thank the hosts for having me.

Thus far, it's been a great experience for me.  Not every seminar or experience has directly related to me as a patient, but I definitely enjoy being able to give my perspective when it's needed...or even when it's not needed.  Pharma industry reps and marketers need to learn that patients would like to build a trusting relationship with the people who make and provide the medications, devices and medical products which they require to live.  

Why should people in pharma care about what the ePatients of the world say?  Because we talk to each other.  Because we want honest conversations.  Because we get your messages from traditional marketing, but in this digital age, just telling me to buy something through a TV ad or a doctor's office is not enough.  If I can go onto the web and compare reviews for nearly every book, movie, piece of clothing or pair of shoes that I might want to buy, I can also go out and look for information on pharmaceutical products.

Pharma seems so reluctant at times to dip their toes into the waters of social media, ePatients, digital marketing.  Maybe regulations are the one thing standing in their way.  I hope pharma is listening to what the patients want.  

We are your customers.  Please...listen.

I will be talking more specifics of my experiences at Digital Pharma East in the next couple of days.  Thanks again to the Exl team who put this conference together and put me on their panel!

(Coming soon...The Animas Presentation, my brief encounter with Dr. Anonymous, and fun with Allison and Lee Ann!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Let's Meet the Marketers!

In the interest of disclosure, tomorrow afternoon I will be making my debut conference appearance at Digital Pharma East in Philadelphia.  I'm excited, and of course a bit anxious.  I do hope that whatever I end up saying onstage has resonance with the conference attendees.  I hope to make some great networking connections as well. 

And I hope to have a fun time doing it.  I'm sure having Allison there with me is going to help a bunch, too.  She mentioned this same conference a few days ago.  Also, have you read her post from today in regards to the dumbing down of diabetes? It's totally worth checking out.  And heck, while we're on the subject of social networking and ePatient experiences, go read Kerri's post from today and ask yourself, "Are blogs going the way of the Dodo?"  Will they be overshadowed by Twitter and Facebook?  I, for one, don't believe that they are or that they will be.

How do I know?  I specifically sat down to create this blog post and voila!  Here you go, world. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Diapression: Stupid Made-Up Word, True Enough Statement

So a while ago, I wrote about having a lot of issues with attention in recent days.  I still do.  I find it hard to get through my work, or a book, or occasionally even a conversation without my mind wandering off to Timbuktu (or wherever it is daydreaming brains like to envision).  I am pretty sure that the dwarf hamster who runs the wheel in my mind has decided to hibernate.

I'm certain that many of us out there occasionally fall victim to an unfocused day, maybe even a foggy week.  For me, this whole issue has been going on longer than I would like.  It's affected my work.  It's affecting my writing.  Worst of all, it's affecting my diabetes management.  I know what I need to do.  I know every step I need to take, and I am willing to work on chasing my numbers, minding my carbs, trying to be a better diabetic.

I have entire days where I check my blood glucose once.  I eat carbs without bolusing.  I forget to check my blood before meals, even if my meter is sitting next to me.  I care about my health, my future, what's going to happen to me, and yet I can't seem to nail the most basic habits of a disease I've dealt with for over 20 years.  I need help.

Tomorrow, I am going to get help.  I'm going to see a psychiatrist for the very first time.  Nerve-wracking? You bet.  What will I learn?  Will there be a diagnosis?  Will there be pills, therapy or both?  Will they find anything wrong with me at all?  Will I discover that my dream about killing a horde of zombies with a spray bottle of Windex is my subconscious's way of telling me I'm a sub-par manager of my own health?

Last night at a visit with my fabulous (and extremely patient) CDE Sarah K., I told her about my plans.  She giggled and said, "Oh my God, you have...DIAPRESSION!" We laughed a bit over the silliness of the real website, as it notes that "diapression" is not a medical term at all.  Rather, it seems like one of those made-up words which is unpalatable to me, like "jeggings" or "tweens". 

The overall concept of the Diapression is a decent one, though.  The website's mission appears to be seeking mainstream acceptance for those piggybackers of chronic illnesses: depression, anxiety, and stress.  This happens to so many of us dealing with diabetes or any other chronic illness.  I took antidepressants from 2004 until probably 2006.  Sarah pointed out to me that she takes an antidepressant, another CDE at the practice takes an antidepressant, and loads of diabetics out there struggle with mental health.  Let's face it--there's no break from diabetes, and that lack of a break takes its toll.

Hopefully I like this psychiatrist, and we can work out some treatments to coax the hamster out with some bits of apple and get him back on his wheel.

In the meantime, I think I may make up more words that combine diabetes and other things, such as, "This diabetes is a diapain in the diass!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

No D-Day: Baby Talk


I hope that bird's bringing a fancy new job or a book manuscript.
 What I want to do or have not yet done with my body is my business, but as small talk, as a happily married woman, so many people always bring up the subject of babies with me.

"So when are you starting a family?"

"So when are you due?  Oh how far along are you?  Squee!"  I'm not.  I'm just kind of chubby in the middle.  Haven't you ever seen an empire waist top on someone who's NOT pregnant before?  Like that skinny hipster girl at the coffee counter with us waiting on a latte?  Why is it usually total strangers who are asking me if I'm pregnant? 


"Do you have any kids?  Why not?  You should start now while you're still young!"  

And most recently, "I'm not rushing you, Hannie Ellen, but whenever you're ready, I'm ready to be a grandmother."  Thanks, Mom.  I know it's only because you love me.

I'm here to set the record straight today.  I like kids.  They're adorable, and I really do think I want one, but no more than two of my own someday.  Someday being the operative word here.  The time, for Matt and I, is not now.  I have a house that I am terrible at keeping clean, and I don't own it.  I have a job that I'm not always pleased with and a wandering eye for a career opportunity that I am passionate about.  I have a husband who needs to complete his Masters' thesis.  I am enjoying being in my late 20's, having fun, making new friends, going on adventures.

I am just at the age where a number of my friends are starting to have children.  I even have a few friends now who already have toddlers.  I am growing accustomed to being around the wee ones, trying to take on a fun, sassy, goofy aunt role to the kids who are coming into my life.  I'm good at reading stories out loud, playing with Play-Doh, dancing and watching Batman.  (See also: video games, comic books, drawing stick people, knowing songs from Sesame Street and Yo Gabba Gabba.)  I'm nervous about disciplining other people's kids.  I don't like having to yell at anyone, let alone a little one who may not listen to me, and I don't want my friends to take issue with the way I've treated their children.  It hasn't been a problem, but it always makes me nervous!

And that thing I have that is not to be named today?  You know, that health condition I talked about in yesterday's post?  We all know that doesn't make things easy either in terms of future pregnancy.  I have a lot of work to do on that front.  But it can be done.  And done well!  But this thing that must not be named today?  Totally not the reason for this post.

I think kids are all right.  Just not for me right now.  I've got time to figure it out. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Unintentional Healthy Habits

So in 2007, I ranted and raved about diabetes, a vegan diet, and the Skinny Bitch series of books.

In 2008, I talked about how the things that are delicious are not always the pillars of healthy eating.

And now, in 2010, I am here to say that in some small way, I have incorporated more healthy eating, a sprinkling of exercise, and even a few vegan dishes into my diet, and I suppose I'm all the better for it.  REMEMBER:  I am not a CDE, a doctor, or a registered dietitian.  I'm just telling you my experience here.  YMMV.  Or, possibly, YDMV.

While admittedly, I have not seen the endo enough times over the past few years--used to go every 3-4 months, current track record is more like every 6, gotta work on that one--at my last visit, I had lost about 12 pounds since the last time I had been in, and my cholesterol had been significantly lower.  Over the past year or two, I've been avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup-laced products when I can, and I'm trying to buy more natural/organic/sustainable foods when I'm out at the store.  I've tried establishing a Wii Fit routine, tried taking walks now and then for fun.

However, I've been unintentionally making healthier choices all year round.  First of all, I live on a one-way street, so in these past two years, I typically have to park halfway down the block from my front door.  This instantly incorporates a small bit of walking into my day.  Now add in the fact that restaurants, a movie theater, and the library are also within walking distance of my house.  That means more walking, as Matt and I typically dine out about once a week at our favorite microbrew pub, and I am a library junkie.

My number two healthy change fell into my lap in the form of a new gang of vegan friends.  These friends also have a penchant for throwing fabulous potluck dinner parties, so Matt and I have been striving to concoct actual vegan dishes even though we are omnivores.  (We think lazier omnis may show up with a bag of veggie chips and hummus and call that good enough.  Hey, it's delicious, but not exactly on-theme for a vegan tea party or a vegan burrito bash.)  I am not going to speak for or against a vegan lifestyle/diet here, but I will say that I respect the choices of my friends, and for the most part, I try to honor those choices when I'm around them.

A vegan diet won't cure diabetes, because as we all know, there is no cure for diabetes.  However, I'm sure any diet that gives you more proteins from chickpeas, black beans and tofu brings some kind of positive change for your body.  I know with my vegan friends, I am always eating more veggies, fruits and whole grains.  Carbs are still carbs, and fats are still fats, regardless of their exclusion of animal products.  And believe you me, I have had some of the most delicious vegan cakes over the past year and a half, including my own birthday cake.  (If you see this, thanks, Michelle G.!)

If you want to go vegan, or start an exercise program, or both, please do your research first and check with your trusted health professionals.  Just remember, I'm not a health professionalAt all.  However, the above-mentioned unintentional measures I took for better health have seemed to help me in some small way.

So here are my 3 completely unprofessional top tips for an unintentionally healthier lifestyle:

1.) Move to a neighborhood that forces you to park on a one-way street.  If you're bad at parallel parking (like yours truly), you'll park further away from your house and walk more.

2.) Move to a town where things you like to do are at least 2 to 2.5 blocks away.  Walk there a lot.  Even in winter.  I suggest investing in snow boots.

3.) Befriend nice, hospitable vegan folks who are good cooks, and expect homemade hummus alongside delicious vegan cupcakes.  Don't forget to bolus.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Number Four

Matt is my partner, my best friend, my love.  He was there for me when I got my first insulin pump 10 years ago.  He'll get up in the middle of the night to get me glasses of juice when I'm low, water when I'm high.  He doesn't have diabetes, but he's worthy of praise on this here diabetes blog.  We have great adventures together.  Maybe one day we'll have some kids--but that's another post for another time.

In 2006, I decided to start this blog about two months before my wedding.  Many of you have been reading since I was first married.  Today is the four-year mark.  The traditional fourth anniversary gift is apparently Fruit and/or Flowers, according to one list I read online.  The "modern" gift is appliances.  I've decided there are two gifts for Matt that fit under these desciptions:  A Roncomatic Food Dehydrator and a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer.  Which anniversary is the "As Seen on TV" gift anniversary? 

Honestly, have you ever looked at this list of traditional and modern anniversary gifts?  Who comes up with this stuff?  And does anybody really care?  I certainly don't.

Happy anniversary, Matt!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Free Verse Friday: The Mentor

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz has been a friend of mine since I was 17. At the time, I was one of only 10 teenage fiction writers selected from all of Pennsylvania to attend the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts. Sure, this in itself was a huge deal, but little did I know that when I spent most of my summer focusing on crafting short stories, I would also fall in love with what seemed to be the mysterious world of slam poetry.

Ever since then, Cristin has been this kickass, super-cool older sister but WAY better than that figure in my life. And her writing still makes me think, and of course, makes me laugh. I'm not talking giggles here. I am talking make-your-face-hurt laughter. I only laugh equally hard when I'm watching the Muppets. And yes, that is true too.

Cristin has had the fortune this year to get a fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, so now instead of living up in New York, she's practically around the corner in downtown Philadelphia. I will be having dinner with her and various other poet friends of mine tonight before the slam! I am so, so excited.

So this is almost 7 minutes long. But hey, she's an amazing performer, and she's one of my influences. With that, I give you a YouTube clip:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Diabetes Meme (Thanks, Kerri!)

Having a lazy day and still thinking big starry-eyed thoughts of a new job, it seems like a lovely day for a meme instead of a full-on blog post.  Thankfully, Kerri came to the rescue this morning with her diabetes meme, so here are my answers:  

What type of diabetes do you have:  Type 1 

When were you diagnosed:  Sometime after July 4, 1990.  Talking to my mother recently, we realized neither of us remembers the exact date.  We both remember that my grandparents had gone on their usual summer fishing trip to Canada, and that they came back when they got the news, so it means it was sometime after the 4th of July. 

What's your current blood sugar:  My last test was 106 mg/dl, about two-and-a-half hours ago.  An hour and a half before that I was 78 mg/dl, and of course, I ended up feeling equally low for both, even though a 106 shouldn't phase me.  Ugh.

What kind of meter do you use:  One Touch Ultra Mini, although recently I got to play with a Bayer Contour USB.  More on that  hopefully sometime this week.

How many times a day do you test your blood sugar:  I strive for five, but four has been the daily goal lately.  Say what you will about that, but I am trying to rebuild good testing habits after a serious case of burnout.

What's a "high" number for you:  I tend to run high a lot, hence the re-evaluation of my current management, but I'd say anything over 250 mg/dl, I really feel the highs.

What's do you consider "low":  I usually correct for anything lower than 85 mg/dl, because that's when I start feeling bad.

What's your favorite low blood sugar reaction treater:  I'll usually drink whatever regular juice we have around the house, but on the run, I usually chomp some glucose tabs.  I prefer orange or grape, but I've been known to enjoy the fruit punch kind as well.  They are kind of like giant Smarties.  I've given some to non-diabetic friends to prove it.

Describe your dream endo:  Compassionate, attentive, non-judgmental, easy to reach by phone.  Preferably one whose office remembers to make reminder calls so you don't miss appointments.  (Glaring at my current endo's office staff here...)

What's your biggest diabetes achievement:  Becoming more involved in advocating for people with diabetes.  I was so proud of myself for conceiving and operating an information table at World Diabetes Day in Philadelphia last year, even if it ended up not being located in the most visible area. 

What's your biggest diabetes-related fear:  It's really the big 3 that are one big fear: blindness, kidney failure and the potential to die young.  I try to always keep it light, but let's face it, diabetes has the potential to be pretty damned scary.

Who's on your support team:  My husband, my family, an amazing couple of CDEs, and my wonderful beloved friends. 

Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime:  I don't know.  The old adage I've always heard is "but we'll be cured in 10 years."  I've been diabetic for 20, and there's still no cure.  They also promised us glucose tests that are non-invasive.  I'd love to see a CGMS that doesn't require such constant calibration and is highly accurate.  The best hopes I have right now are for some kind of closed loop system, something that makes regulating your own diabetes easier, with less math and guessing.

What is a "cure" to you:  A cure could be a fully functional pancreas, or something that works just as well as a fully functional pancreas.  I'm already relatively cybernetic as it is, so what's one more machine to fix me?

The most annoying thing people say to you about your diabetes is:  "Should you be eating that?" "You must have the really bad kind if you need a pump."  "So-and-so had a pump and she was a brittle diabetic, too." (I'm not.)  "Oh, you poor thing."  (Don't pity me.  I'm just trying to live my life!)

What is the most common misconception about diabetes:  That diabetics can't eat any sugar at all, ever, or we'll go into sugar shock and DIE.

If you could say one thing to your pancreas, what would it be:  "What kind of lazy ass retires after only 8 years of working?!"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Give a Hoot.

Random factoid: the post popular Google search that has gotten people to my blog in recent days?  "Lollipop Owl".

All because I made this silly post about the number of carbs in a Tootsie Pop.

How many clicks does it take to get to some randomly fun postings on Dorkabetic?  One, two-hoo, three.  *CRUNCH*

The world may never know.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Diabetes Art Day 2010

As many of you know, the fabulous Lee Ann Thill of The Butter Compartment has deemed today, September 1st, Diabetes Art Day!  Here is my contribution, which honestly, I did not create exclusively for Diabetes Art Day.  I made this on World Diabetes Day last year in the company of Miss Lee Ann herself at the WDD Philadelphia event held at Temple University's School of Podiatric Medicine.  However, I have not looked at it since then.  Looking at it now, with new eyes, I realize I have some decent drawing skills!  It's called "Sin City", and it's a portrait of delicious, "forbidden" carby snacks!



I am particularly proud of the cupcake specifically.  That cherry looks downright edible.  I am aware that the proportions of the whole drawing may not be proper, but that's not the point.



Here's another view of the art itself.  Materials used are white and blue construction paper (or perhaps it's white drawing paper?  It seemed to be nice stuff!) and Crayola markers.  Happy Diabetes Art Day, everyone!  I can't wait to see what you came up with!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Free Verse Friday, Back to School Edition!

Taylor Mali has been called many things by many people in the spoken word poetry scene, some not-so-flattering; however, he is a good performer. It's that time of the year when kids are headed back to school, and my friends who are teachers are going back to work. I've never been sure that I have the patience to teach, and I admire anyone who does.

This is one of Taylor Mali's signature pieces, and it's been around for quite some time. Sometimes this also causes some animosity in the spoken word community because he just won't retire the poem as a performance piece. I admire him for this, actually, and I admire that he has a piece he is still proud to call his own, years after he first performed it.

Without further ado, I present, from a video on YouTube, "What Teachers Make". Note to Taylor Mali--if you ever find and read this post, I assume you will be correcting my grammar.

<3 Hannah

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Nasty Gut Feeling

I had to blink and grip the edges of the exam table to keep from crying or being angrier. I was already a little peeved by her attitude regarding me being a diabetic. Then she had the gall to mention the big G-word that nobody likes. "You know Diabetic Gastroparesis could be a possibility. When you've been diabetic for so many years, it can affect the nerves, even the ones in your digestive tract."

"I am aware," I deadpanned back, willing the tears to stay in my eyes. Willing the bitter hatred to stay inside my chest. I read the symptoms of gastroparesis online at a reputable health encyclopedia website. I had what equated to half a gastroparesis symptom. I had the slightest bit of nausea, maybe a trace of bloat.  Nowhere in the laundry list of Diabetic Gastroparesis symptoms did I see dull, achy lower abdominal cramping for two days following the sudden onset and subsiding of a sharp lower abdominal pain while going to the bathroom.  "But I find it hard to believe that something like that would come on overnight. Also I am not overly nauseous, and I haven't vomited. At all."

Now I realize my doctor is not a mind reader and that I should answer honestly when she asks me how my blood sugar control is. "Not great," I responded sheepishly.

She blinks, her tiny, humorless face a mask betraying any emotions aside from a slight displeasure that I'm not touting a fabulous A1c. I'm sure she sees this all the time. People who say they're fine but they run sky-high every day, or they are constantly on the glu-coaster, up and down, ignoring the symptoms and/or the damages.  "Describe what that means," she tells me.  I tell her what my average BG is during a day, and yes, it's not great. 

My urine test came back negative for everything--ketones, infections, glucose, protein. My lower abdomen still feels crampy and uncomfortable. My stomach feels a bit upset. Maybe I have contracted some sort of virus that is just causing pain and annoyance rather than the usual gastrointestinal unpleasantries we all associate with a stomach bug.

Yet my brain keeps buzzing, "How DARE she?" How could this doctor have the audacity to suggest a diabetes complication for what could just be a bug? Or what could be...well, I don't know what it could be. The doctor offered me absolutely NO diagnosis whatsoever. She said if it is an ovarian cyst problem, I'm already on the treatments. I don't have an infection. I had zero issues that lead her to anything conclusive. Could my diabetes have caused some kind of mild nerve damage that causes colon spasms, to which she somewhat hesitantly tacked on, "despite your best efforts to control your sugars?". Perhaps.

She had no suggestions for any further steps unless I start getting worse. She had no suggestions for any over-the-counter remedies to treat my symptoms.  I understand doctors are not supermen.  They are only human, and do not have all the answers.  But when something is wrong with my body, I would like to be taken seriously.  When someone even suggests that my troubles are related to a diabetes complication, I would like to possibly be tested so I can know for sure.  Or maybe even offered some sort of treatment plan to rule out complications.

If I am still feeling cruddy in two days, I am calling the doctor's office again and seeing a doctor who I very much like and trust. I am only seeing this woman again when it's a dire emergency.

Over the course of the day, I've gotten more and more angry about this. I don't expect rainbows, bunnies and handholding from my doctors, but don't coldly stare me in the eyes, never smiling, never stopping to reassure that my concerns over my own well-being are valid and I'm not a fucking hypochondriac out-of-control diabetic, telling me bluntly there's nothing you can do for me. AT ALL.  Maybe I could take some Tylenol if I have pain.  Do you think it was fair of my doc to throw out Diabetic Gastroparesis as a suggestion for an occasionally recurring problem that no one else has bothered to look into or test for?

I feel like I spent $10 in co-pay on a glorified school nurse visit.  At least the nurse would have handed me the Tylenol before I left the office and offered to let me call my mother.