Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter Whoas! (And woes.)

Every forecast was calling for 5 to 8 inches of snow here in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, at least they were when I set out for work yesterday morning.  Matt had taken off about fifteen or twenty minutes before me, and I had asked him to sweep the snow off my car while I was still getting ready for work.  I had parked the Mazda in the lot down the street, and when I finished my minute-and-a-half long walk, there was almost another inch of accumulation on the roof and windows.  I turned the car on and began cleaning off the roof and windows. 

I was a snow-covered mess when I finally was able to plop down on the drivers' seat.  It was snowing like crazy outside.  The forecast had said we were going to get maybe 5 to 8 inches throughout the entire day.  At that moment, it should have been raining, and it wasn't.  It was that foggy sort of snow that makes it very difficult to see where you're going. 

I made my way carefully onto my usual route to work.  I figured schools would be closed so traffic might not be so bad.  I was, of course, completely mistaken.  Not only was the road poorly plowed, but as I approached Second Avenue, I noticed the line of brake lights leading up to Route 23.  My usual route is to make a left onto Route 23 and take that most of the way to work.  I waited in the traffic line, and we sloooowly inched along.  Squinting down to Route 23, I could see a tractor trailer just sitting at the intersection, blocking most of the lanes.  I watched the light change in the distance to a hazy green about three times with no one moving forward at all.  Two other cars ahead of me did their best 3-point turns in the snow and headed the other direction.  I waited until I could make a left and turn around at First Avenue, and I did the same.

Okay, I thought to myself, I'll go down through town to Route 422.  Route 422 is always busy, regardless of the weather.  Surely the roads leading up to it were clear.  I called my office to see if anyone had made it in.  Maybe I had missed the announcement that the school was closing for the day?  I got a text from my husband.  "So I've been in the car for 45 minutes and I'm just now at 422."  Oh shit.  Route 422 is a two-to-five minute drive on any other day of the week.  Traffic must be bad everywhere.

I turned left onto Bridge Street, and again, the traffic was just crawling if it was moving at all.  This pace did not bode well, as about a mile up the road are some pretty steep hills.  It was 8:30am.  I should've been at the office by now.  I called the office again, but no one answered.  Matt called me to say he is running out of gas and nowhere near close enough to the next station.  He's reaching the 422 overpass off of Egypt Road, which is where I was attempting to go myself. 

I had to keep stopping heading uphill toward Egypt Road.  There was no place to turn around, not for another quarter mile or so.  If I could just stick it out, I could turn at the deli and go back home.  I had left the house 45 minutes ago, never getting more than a mile and a half in any direction.  I have never seen so many cars in a line of traffic do a bunch of three-point turns and go the opposite way.  Matt called again.  He had managed to get onto Route 422 going the opposite direction of traffic.  He told me he would get off at the next exit and get gas there, then decide whether to continue on to work.

Another ten minutes or so went by, and I was finally able to turn around on the street next to the mom-and-pop deli.  I could see Egypt Road up the hill, about 500 feet away.  There was a firetruck and a police car blocking a full lane of Route 29, which ran up the hill.  Most cars were turning right onto Egypt Road instead of going straight.  I had to wait for traffic to inch forward enough that a kind commuter might let me pass to turn around.  I called my office again, and there was no answer.  I called my co-worker, and he was already on the road.  He lives near the turnpike--his roads were not so bad.

I finally started to make my way back home.  Up the road from me, a Cadillac had just started to block traffic again, as he attempted to three-point-turn his way out like many people, he got stuck.  The Mazda fishtailed a few times on my mile-long drive back home.  My small suburban town was like a giant parking lot of commuters.  I managed to snag a parking space in front of the house.  I got inside and called my boss to inform her there was no possible way that I could make it.

Our office ended up closing at noon.  We were closed again today.  Driving in hazardous weather can be such a fiasco. 

Later on, I realized how lucky I was to have a satisfactory blood glucose level during all of that.  I was basically trapped in my car for almost two hours!  Can you imagine if you were having a low during that time?  Or if your insulin pump stopped working?  What if you would have been trapped in the car longer than that?  Situations like these are the reason why I try to always have emergency supplies with me nowadays.  I am never far from a travel pack of glucose tabs or a syringe and some Novolog.  Winter weather is in full swing.  I hope everyone is prepared!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Departure

My grandfather passed away in his sleep very early on Sunday morning.  He was recovering from surgery at a nice hospital right down the road from my hometown.  I last spoke with him on the phone Thursday night, and he seemed to be happy and in good spirits. 

He was 88 years old, and I'm sure he was feisty all the way to the very end.  No word yet from my mother on when we will hold his memorial service. 

He instilled in me a love of coffee, good-natured teasing, Italian home cooking and [most recently] gin & tonics.  He is loved, and he is already greatly missed.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What's My Age Again?

I believe in dressing in an age-appropriate fashion when it's appropriate.  I take my legwarmers off when I get to work on cold mornings.  I don't always like wearing tights, but I need to not freeze in the car.  Maybe on the weekends, I don't take them off.  So what?

So I still own a number of fun t-shirts, including the one to the left?  So what?  I know not to wear them to work.  I know not to wear sweats to a formal dinner.  I know not to flash too much cleavage when meeting a company bigwig or somebody's family.  I know the appropriate times to wear glitter eyeliner and pin-up girl red lipstick.  I'm a bonafide grownup with a quirky sense of style, but I'm not stupid.  I'm also not What Not to Wear material.

Look, I'm almost 29.  There's less than a month to go.  I am not really excited about all the remarks I will hear for the next year about being "almost 30".  It's really odd to me, because I don't feel like I'm almost 30.  Some of my friends are settling down and having kids/adopting dogs.  That's fine, but that's just not me right now.  My friend Alana and I were talking the other week about one of her best pals from college.  He doesn't return her calls and never wants to get together now that he has a kid. 

He says things are so different now, he just doesn't know.  Alana has been with the same guy for a couple of years, and they have a house and a cat.  She's the successful assistant manager of a Hot Topic store, and she's very active in her local roller derby.  At the very core, these are all stable, adult things to do--falling in love, buildng a family, working a fulfilling job, belonging to a club you feel passionate about.  She said she'd love to meet her friend's little munchkin, but he seems to be afraid of someone who isn't a "real" grown-up yet.  I dunno.  She sounds pretty real to me.

The more I think about it, the more the timeline of aging seems arbitrary.  Sure, I'm not going to dress the same at 40 as I did at 21.  I might not even dress the same way I do now.  Yet, I don't see that I'm ever going to stop feeling energized by a really good concert.  I don't picture myself ever getting really into smooth jazz or adult contemporary soft pop.  I don't think I'm ever going to say, "I'm too old to read comic books."  I don't see these choices as an inevitability, the way some people seem to expect us all to.  Just because I still want to get a tattoo, because I go to basement shows, because I still like purchasing clothing in bright colors--none of that makes me an irresponsible, immature adult!

I don't see why I have to stop doing the things I like just because someone thinks I'm "too old".  In fact, here's a list of things that I really like that some folks would say I'm nearly past my prime for:
  • Going to rock concerts
  • Watching cartoons
  • Wearing the occasional novelty t-shirt
  • Striped knee-high socks 
  • Leggings (I do not wear them with Uggs--they are inappropriate at every age.  Why do people wear them out of their houses?!  So schlumpy!)
  • Daydreaming
  • Having a strong imagination
Sometimes I find it very hard to accept that I don't feel like a normal grown-up.

Well guess what, haters?  I feel pretty damn good about myself.  I know how to conduct myself in most situations.  This may make me a bit of a social chameleon, but what's wrong with that?

If someone ever says to me, "You don't seem like you're almost 30!" in a negative way, I may do something very immature: roll my eyes.  Because really, what difference does it make right now?  I am who I am, and I'm mostly happy with who that person is, so I'm not going to apologize for not acting however you believe a 29-year-old should act.

I'm good, thanks.  Even fun-loving.  I'm Hannah.  I'm here, and I'm ready for whatever comes next.

And it just so happens that the next "next" is going to be a poetry slam tomorrow night, followed by Two Door Cinema Club and Tokyo Police Club at the Trocadero in Philadelphia on Saturday.  Drinks, earplugs and ironic t-shirt are all set to go.

And on Monday?  It's back to business casual and the perkiest receptionist voice you've ever heard. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Political Appeal

This is the post where I push my socialist, liberal agenda on everyone!

Okay, maybe not quite, but tomorrow, the House of Representatives is going to take action to attempt to repeal the Healthcare Reform bill.  Was the bill good or bad?  I honestly don't feel qualified to tell you.  I really wish I knew more about what was in the bill when it passed.  From what I've heard, most folks in the government didn't even know what was in the bill!

I am completely for healthcare reform. Making "pre-existing condition" a term that is entirely passé?  Yes please.  Establishing protocols that will keep people who are now uninsured healthy?  Definitely yes.

Some very good friends of mine whom I love dearly do not have health coverage.  One friend, D, is not offered insurance by his employer at all.  He lives alone, and I sometimes worry about what might happen if he finds himself in an emergency situation, such as when my appendix burst a couple of years ago.  My total hospital bill, without insurance, would have been over $40,000, and that's about as much as he makes in approximately two years.  M & B do not have health insurance for themselves because B's employer charges an arm and a leg for insurance, and they are a single income household with a preschooler.  Their daughter gets coverage through the excellent Pennsylvania CHIP program.

CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) has a cut-and-dry motto: CHIP covers all kids.  And they do, regardless of the income level of a family in PA.  Your child simply has to be uninsured and unable to qualify for medical assistance.  (Medicare or Medicaid, I assume.)

So why can't we come up with an agreeable health insurance policy for the whole country that covers all Americans?  I cannot imagine watching my friends go bankrupt in the event of a medical emergency, and yet it happens to honest, hardworking folks in the USA every single day.

"But Hannah, you don't want that socialized medicine like they have in Canada!  You have to wait!"

Guess what?  My husband had to wait six weeks to see a neurologist to diagnose a problem he was having, and he still hasn't received a diagnosis--they had to send him for even more testing..  I had to wait at least 4 hours in an ER once with pelvic pain.  And doesn't every medical resource out there tell you NEVER to ignore severe pelvic pain?

Please take a moment to let your representatives know that repealing the health care reform act is probably NOT the answer to all of our governmental woes.  It means your diabetes and other pre-existing medical conditions will go back to being four-letter-words, too taboo to insure.  Maybe the Healthcare Reform Act isn't perfect, but instead of scrapping the entire thing, how about our government leaders actually READ what they've written, then maybe consider the editing process?

Editing works well for writers and bloggers.  I think it can work for laws, too.  Just ask the Supreme Court.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New But Not Quite Yet Improved

Hello, blog overhaul!

Honestly, I'm not thrilled with this yet.  I think the new Dorkabetic layout is a work in progress.  I would like to have some fancy tabs going on so I can have a separate about me, blogroll, etc. 

I am not so handy yet with web coding, so I'm not sure what to do.

Tips?  Suggestions?  I shall be tweaking this for a few more days, I'm sure.

Until then, congratulations to my dear friend Shelaine who is a beauty school graduate as of today!  (Sorry, I can't sing "Beauty School Dropout" to her anymore.)  Matt and I will be going out to dinner with her tonight to celebrate, along with a bunch of other friends.  It should be interesting--I've never been to a fancy vegan restaurant before!

But seriously, bringing this back around, if anybody has some easy tips for how to add tabs to a Blogger layout, please do share!  Otherwise, maybe that move to WordPress is sounding more and more enticing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Purple Pump Pride!

Smiths Medical stopped making my pump, the Cozmo, almost two years ago now.  Scott J lost his job; I lost the manufacturer of my favorite pump by far.  In a year or two, I will most likely be getting rid of my dear, beloved Cozmo for something less satisfactory.  In the meantime, I'm still covered under warranty.

And may I just say that dear Lord, I have needed that warranty several times now!  No offense to you, Smiths Medical, but I think maybe your diabetes business could have fared better if you had chosen better manufacturers for your plastics.  I have suffered at least two, possibly three cracked cartridge caps during my pump's lifespan.  I have had to exchange my pump for a refurbished one at least one other time that I can remember.

This week, I had to exchange my pump yet again for the same reason that I exchanged the previous pump.  The part of the plastic that is under the cartridge cap, basically the threading for the part that secures the insulin reservoir, was cracked.  Having an engineer for a husband, I recognized that this was stress cracking.  (Wikipedia offers a relatively scientific explanation of stress cracking here.)  Stress cracking, for lack of a better description, is basically any crack you see in plastic that isn't caused by a direct blow.  Ever see a crack in a clear-ish piece of plastic or glass that isn't caused by dropping it?  It's the kind of crack that looks like it started on the inside. 

Well, I will tell you, it certainly does not belong in my insulin pump, a life-saving medical device!  If this particular crack went any further, a part of my pump would certainly just fall off.

I called Smiths' customer service line yesterday and talked to a fellow who sounded like he was moments away from taking a nap.  Despite his lack of vocal variety, he was relatively helpful.  He made sure that I would get a replacement pump sent out to me overnight.  He also informed me they were out of blue pumps the same color as mine.  I could choose from "green, a different blue, black that looked like a pager and, uhhh....purple."

Tonight, I go home and program my new purple pancreas.  It doesn't do anything the old one doesn't; it is merely a crack-free version of my current pump.  I can't say I'm terribly excited, but hey, it's purple.

And it beats the pants off of having to switch to the competition's pumps.  I'm not ready for that yet.  I am not ready for the limited choices due to reservoir size and having to take multiple boluses at mealtimes because bolus maximums are too small.

Deltec Cozmo is dead; long live Deltec Cozmo.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year; New Ridiculous Diabetes Commercial

Matt and I were settled on the futon last night, watching an episode of Top Gear on demand. When the single-commercial breaks cut in, I knew immediately it was blogging go-time.

Impact font on a blue background..."ATTENTION! if you have Diabetes!" Cue the announcer, then actor Alan Thicke appears onscreen. You probably know Alan from his days on the 1980's sitcom Growing Pains. What you may not know is that Mr. Thicke is the parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes. In fact, he apparently has done some good work in the diabetes community. He's got a diabetes research center named after him in his home province of Ontario, Canada!


Oh, COME ON, Alan. Give me a break. I guess CCS Medical thinks you will touch the hearts, minds and wallets of the people who need diabetes supplies. But your credential here is "Famous Television Dad"? I just have to wonder what your kid thinks of this. Maybe he doesn't think anything at all, but please, I should think any self-respecting diabetic would find this commercial appalling on some level.

What can any person with diabetes expect from this company? This commercial not only uses my absolute least favorite tenet of diabetes-supply advertising--"GREAT NEWS! You don't have to prick your fingers anymore! Test on your arm; it's virtually pain-free!"-- which always enrages me because testing on your forearm is still less accurate than finger sticks, regardless of pain level. I'm sure throwing things like this into an ad convinces some people with diabetes that they don't have to poke themselves at all to check their blood sugars. So misleading.

Yet this ad sinks to what sounds to me like a new low. Make sure you watch the video from about the 28-second mark when you'll hear about how the test strips are (and I shit you not, dear readers) made with laser-etched gold, providing the best possible testing surface. I've used a NovaMax before, back when it was still a BD meter, and I don't think the gold in those strips was worth much. Do people pay extra because their test strips are made of gold? Everybody certainly gets charged as if they are. I just pulled apart a used One Touch strip, and there was no gold in it whatsoever. Does anyone actually know if test strips made from gold are better than those made without?

There is a [rather poorly written] article on which states that people might want to try sending their gold test strips to "cash-for-gold" type places. The author goes on to say that if that becomes popular, diabetics might want to watch out for people trying to steal their test strips for the gold.

Misleading, high-fallutin' diabetes advertising frustrates me more than any other kind of poor advertising. I think the other thing that makes me uncomfortable is that someone who clearly does not have diabetes himself is hawking products for people who HAVE diabetes. Were they trying to get his son to do the ad with him and his son backed out? I'd be more comfortable if it were some anonymous actor even pretending to have diabetes.

Is anyone else as bothered as I am when it comes to ads like this?