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.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Free Verse Friday #1 - The Dynamic Duo

As many of you know, I write a lot.  I also LOVE poetry slams, and I've been a member of two National Poetry Slam teams.  In fact, NPS 2010 is happening this week in St. Paul, MN.  If it hasn't sold out already, go check out the finals on Saturday night!  Semi-Finals are tonight, and rumor has it Garrison Keilor is making an appearance before tonight's Group Piece final competition.  Man, I wish I were in Minnesota right now with my poet pals!

But it occurs to me that many of you out there have never been to a poetry slam, or you have no idea what spoken word poetry is about, and so, in the spirit of showing you yet another side of me, I bring you Free Verse Fridays!  Here are two amazing poet pals of mine, Ken Arkind and Panama Soweto performing one of my favorite pieces of theirs.  I've had the privilege of playing Sega Genesis and eating string cheese with these guys in my Delaware apartment.  A poetry night in my living room--one of my favorite memories in Delaware.  :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Bicycle, Part 2: The Simile/Metaphor

So the other day, I told you all about my bike riding lesson.  I was scared to get on, but I stuck with it, even through the tears and fears.  (But not Tears for Fears. I was not listening to 80's music at the time.)
Caution: Watch for diabicycles!

Yet all of this has got me thinking.  I've spent 20 years with diabetes, and trying to manage it is a lot like learning to ride a bike.  It's scary.  It's something you most likely really want to do, and other people make it look so easy.  Then you find out it's not easy, and takes a lot of practice, then no matter how much you practice, you still take a tumble now and then.  Sometimes your tumble scrapes you up a little.  Sometimes it's more serious than that. 

Unlike a bicycle, I can't say diabetes is something anybody ever wants, and you certainly can't put a shiny new bell or a cute, squeaky horn on your diabetes.  Diabetes would definitely be more festive with some streamers on the handlebars or a few baseball cards tucked into its spokes. 

Often, you don't get training wheels for diabetes.  You're typically pushed down the steepest hill and told to hold on.  Whatever you do, don't stop balancing.  Don't know what that means, exactly?  Too bad.  You'll have to learn.  Pedal, pedal, pedal.  Oh sure, you can stop, put your feet on the ground, extend the kickstand; however, this isn't learning how to ride. 

Must the same as riding a bike, diabetes isn't something I've ever totally mastered.  I've had better A1c's than bike-riding skills, but the A1c's have never been flawless either.  Probably only close to great a few times in my life.  Luckily, I have excellent CDEs whom I can call on to give me some diabicycle lessons.  I just have to get over the fear that I haven't been so great at riding the d-bike lately.  It'll only take a phone call and my courage, not to mention practice and persistence. 

So, what does your diabicycle look like?  I think mine is a vintage Stingray painted candy apple red, maybe with some custom decals that say "Apply Sample".  It might also have some streamers, but it definitely has a goofy horn.