Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays from Dorkabetic!

Well, gang, I'm sure there will be an obligatory year-end post to come, but meanwhile, I just wanted to tell you all to make the most of this holiday season, enjoy the company of your loved ones, and look forward to the year to come.

For my fellow geeks/dorks/nerds out there, the world didn't end.
For the rest of you, hey, we made it!  And you should watch more Doctor Who.

I am not sure that I'm done shopping.  I don't have a single thing wrapped.  Work is over early today so we can all attend the office holiday party.  My boss got me a gift--fancypants sugar-free chocolates.  They look amazing.  I've eaten two.  That'll probably be it for a while.  That's the thing about sugar-free chocolates.  They satisfy that craving for sweetness, but it only takes one time to learn your lesson to not eat too many at once.  (For those not in the know, eating too much sugar-free candy often leads to unpleasant gastrointestinal stuff.  Don't overdo it, kids!)  But oh, aren't they nice looking?

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, readers!  Remember to bolus for whatever sweet treats Santa brings you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Equal Rainbow

While I'm of course a huge fan of equality, that's not the rainbow I'm here to talk about today.  Out at a cafe last night, I noticed something strange about the packets of pink sweetener. 

They are usually "off brand" or Sweet-n-Low, but this pink packet?  It was Equal.

At first I wondered how tired I was.  Was my mind really playing tricks on me?  Nope, it was there all right.  An entire caddy of saccharin sweeteners, dressed in pink, wearing the same name of a sweetener I'd come to associate with aspartame and blue.

Being the naturally curious/journalistically educated person that I am, I took to the internet to see what the heck was going on.  It appears that Equal and PureVia are part of the same company.  Equal now makes Equal Blue, Pink, and Yellow.  That's aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose.  PureVia comes in green packets.

So what does that give us?  A rainbow of artificial sweetener options!  And you know who loves rainbows?  Unicorns.  Also, Nyan Cat

Thanks, Equal.  Now I have yet another way to confuse my friends when asking them to pass me a fake sugar at a restaurant.  Blue ones were previously always "Equal" to me.  Now I need to go with the color codes. 


Monday, December 10, 2012

Just a short announcement.

I've been at this blogging thing for quite some time.  One of my longest-time followers and someone I consider a good friend, even though we've never met in real life, is George Simmons.

If you have not read his blog Ninjabetic, go check it out.  I like to think that I had a hand in helping him rename it from just 'The B.A.D. Blog' years ago, but I'm sure that's probably up to him to acknowledge.

George is a fun-loving, optimistic, musical dude.  I am hoping that maybe I can make it to FFL in 2013 and meet him (and a lot of other Diabetes Online Community friends) in person.

Why am I blogging about my favorite D-Ninja?  He's having some tough times lately.  I think he's a solid dude, and he will make it through.  But seriously--he's had to have emergency heart surgery, his sister has just undergone a double mastectomy, and his stepmother has passed away.  This has all been in less than the last two weeks or so. 

What does it say about this world, this universe, this life, that things can be going bad for one person at one time while another person seems to be celebrating nothing but victories?

If you know George, even if you don't know George, check out his blog and Twitter.  We all want the best for our friends and loved ones, and one of our own needs our support right now.  Sending tons of hugs and good vibes to California, my Ninja pal.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

[Almost] Wordless Wednesday: The Big Yellow Test

Now, for only $1 plus sales tax, where applicable, a urine glucose test! Kind of nice, but who picked yellow for the box color? Is that so people know you have to pee on it?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh, You Know, Just Being Awesome.

I've talked about writing poetry.  I've talked about performing poetry.  If you've been waiting to see me actually do a poem, here it is!  Thanks to all my Philadelphia poetry family. 

And thanks to Warren, who is a great friend and a fantastic poet.  His editorial suggestions for poems are usually quite good, and his compliments are among some of the most sincere and well thought-out I've received regarding my writing in the past year. 

And now, on with the show!  Diabetes Online Community friends, welcome to hearing the sound of my voice!  (At least my poetry performance voice.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Pump Consideration Post 2012

My Cozmo is finally out of warranty.  If you've never realized how long my blog has been around, I definitely blogged about getting it four years ago.  Honestly, it's been four-and-a-half.  My little Cozmo has been well-loved, but it's time to move on to the next pump. 

This is where I am having a little bit of trouble.  I want a Tandem T-Slim.  I think it looks great, and I love that they still have potential to integrate with Dexcom in the future.  (Dexcom G4 = drool.  Not yet for me, but maybe early 2013?)  A lot of things I read about it and the handful of things I actually know about it just make sense to me.  Is it going to be as fabulously intuitive as an iPhone or a good Android phone?  I'm not sure, but hey, I've been dealing with regular clunky insulin pumps for so long, I just think you can't really get any worse, right?

On the other hand, a Medtronic would also be a practical option for me.  I've had a Medtronic in the past.  Two of them, in fact--my first and second insulin pumps were from Medtronic.  I know they are durable, but I also know they can be sensitive to static shocks.  I know I would have to use proprietary supplies.  I know I would be wasting their technology by using my Dexcom instead of their CGM system.  Yet, I can't shake the fact that I should be considering Medtronic.  They've been in the business a long time.

For practicality's sake, I am limited to a larger-sized reservoir, 300 mL plus, otherwise I'd be refilling my pump every day or every other day.  This makes my options very limited.  I can have a Tandem, a Minimed or an Accu-Chek combo.  I have not had my hands on a Accu-Chek.  I am not sure how I feel about the pump itself.  I personally think it still looks a bit clunky, although I do like the Bluetooth meter-remote concept and the 315 mL reservoir capacity.

Why am I saying all this?  Well, since it's National Diabetes Awareness Month, it seemed like a good time to talk about this and get your feedback.

Do you love your T-Slim, Medtronic or Accu-Chek?  Have you blogged about it somewhere?  I'd love to see some DOC feedback on these pumps so I can work toward a more educated choice for myself.  Post away in the comments, friends!  I want to know what you love and what you don't.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And so November begins...

It's Movember!  It's NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo!

It's National Epilepsy Awareness Month!

And most importantly, for most readers of this blog (as well as the author), it's National Diabetes Month.

JDRF declares the first day of November to be T1D - Type 1 Day.  Wego Health has also declared this month to be National Health Blog Post Month.  Whew!  That's a lot of stuff.  It's in the spirit of Wego Health's post suggestions that I start this month.  I am going to aim to follow them for all 30 days, but we'll see what happens, eh?

Wego says one of the Day 1 topics is "why I write about my health", and what better day to say something than Type 1 Day?

I write about my health because it helps me immensely to be a part of a community that really "gets it".  Having diabetes isn't easy.  Keeping it in control isn't easy.  If you are the type of person who doesn't need to talk about what's going on in their life in order to feel happy, you probably would never feel the need to blog about anything.  I am a writer.  I am compelled to write about everything--what I ate for breakfast, who I have a crush on, what my blood glucose is right now.  Many people do not understand that latter fact.

The people who understand the most about having Type 1 Diabetes also have it themselves, and while some of these people live near me, many of them don't.  Many of us took to the internet in the hopes of finding community, insight, and the occasional bit of advice.

I write about my health because sharing my story with diabetes is cathartic for me.  I love storytelling, both real and fictional.  There are days I feel my life revolves around telling stories, and if I can't involve diabetes in these stories I am, in essence, denying a part of myself.

I actually wrote about this a bit here as well.

If you are reading Dorkabetic for the first time, welcome.  These are my stories.  They are sometimes better when accompanied by a beverage of your choice or a bowl of ice cream.  Stick around for more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Whys and Hows of Dorkabetic

On a while back, I discovered an infographic that piqued my attention.  It is a reference for job-seekers on whether they should or should not share something via social media.  If you want to see it, it's pretty neat.

I had to pause for a moment, though.  One of the chart questions is "Does it contain details of relationship woes, a doctor's visit or bathroom troubles?"  When you answer yes, it leads you to the opinion of sparing other people these details.  I don't want to tell everybody about whether I have a problem which may require consuming a lot of Jamie Lee Curtis yogurt to reach a solution, but doctor's visits?  I blog about diabetes.  I blog about my depression struggles.  I blog about my doctors, my endocrinologists, CDEs, medical supply companies, health insurance, issues with needles that poke into my skin, stories about blood--my own blood!--gushing from some part of my body after removing one of many aforementioned needles.

So am I chasing away potential employers reading this blog?  I certainly hope not.

In my everyday life, I am the master of saying "I'm fine."  I'm perky; I'm happy.  I try not to show people who are not my closest acquaintances that I am struggling, because I feel like other people shouldn't be worrying about me.  This blog has given me an opportunity to be honest, to share my struggles with the world, and to feel like my writing actually means something to those of you reading out there.

I sometimes post one-word Tweets or cryptic quotations/song lyrics in my Facebook status.  Does all of this make me any less employable?  I enjoy saying all the fucking curse words sometimes.  Does that make me unprofessional?

My personal Facebook page is not public.  I make it a point to not friend my co-workers.  My Dorkabetic Facebook page is all about my blog and diabetes.  My Twitter account is public but I try not to be nasty or overly controversial.

I guess what I'm getting at is this--at the same time, I am my blogger persona, and I am not. 

Am I enthusiastic about healthcare communications?  Do I love helping others with diabetes?  Absolutely!

Am I defined exclusively by being a diabetes blogger?  I hope not.

Does my diabetes make me any less employable?  It shouldn't. 

I don't think one blog, or one Twitter account, or one Facebook page can or should account for the very three-dimensional aspects of someone as a person. 

Sometimes I am afraid that using my blog in my resume or as part of my writing portfolio is a bad idea.  I have wrestled with the fact that I use my real name.  I worry that I could be pigeonholed as a diabetes writer.  

But why do I stick with Dorkabetic?  Why do I love writing here?  Why did I make up all those business cards to hopefully bring people to my site?  It helps me stay sane.  It helps other people by sharing experiences.  It allows me to stretch my writing skills beyond the daily drudgery of emails and memos. 

I love being a diabetes blogger.  Even though I may not update as regularly as some folks, I am always here.  This is my voice in this community.   My continued hope is that by always using my voice and my honesty, my next great opportunity will be something really special.

Monday, October 1, 2012

No D-Day 2012: About the Author

What better way to NOT talk about diabetes than to tell you a bunch of random facts you may or may not know about me, Hannah, the person!  Twenty things about me.  Enjoy.

Click where it says 'Ninjabetic' to make it go to the whole page. Trying to figure out HTML is silly sometimes.  If you know a good book about it, let me know, eh?
Thank you to my favorite Ninjabetic, George, for creating this event. Click through for more posts from diabetes bloggers that have absolutely  nothing to do with diabetes, because we are all so much more than chronic illness!

1.)  Yesterday (September 30) was my wedding anniversary.  Happy 6 years, Matt!

2.)  When I was a baby, lullabies made me cry.  My mom would have to sing "Buffalo Gals" or "Camptown Races" instead.

3.)  I met Matthew Caws from the band Nada Surf when I was wearing one of their t-shirts.  I was in Newark, Delaware at the time, and he crossed the street to say hello to me.  It was really nice, though at first I was not sure who I was talking to...though I did think he was pretty cute.

4.)  I am very much into anything with owls.  This guy hangs out on my bed.  His name is Sherman. He is comfortable enough in his owl-pillow masculinity to be pink.

5.)  If you think adding an apostrophe-S to a word makes it plural, I am totally judging you.  Two owl's sat on a tree branch.  Red car's are sporty.  NO NO NO.  Owls.  Cars.  Nothing here is belonging to an owl or a car!

6.)  I think lima beans are gross.  I am also not a fan of peas, but they are tolerable, especially if an ingredient in another dish.

7.)  I'm a natural blonde.  Although I've been a redhead for a decent amount of time in the past year.

8.)  I have a separate personal Twitter account. 

9.)  When I am feeling particularly blue, pictures of baby animals make me feel better. 

10.)  I'm still not entirely sure if I want kids

11.)  I write poetry, and I love competing in poetry slams

12.)  I wish I could wear high heels without my feet killing me.

13.)  I'm pretty sure there are some things about me which might shock or slightly offend my readership, therefore they are not for discussion here.

14.)  With that being said, if I'd ever get involved in a burlesque act (which I haven't), I have a couple of songs picked out.

15.)  I'd like to have a steampunk outfit. 

16.)  I love dance parties, but most especially if they are 80s themed.

17.)  In the past few years, I have fallen in love with Doctor Who. (At least reboot-onward Who.  I haven't watched any of the more classic episodes.  Also, Chris Eccleston doesn't get enough credit for being a decent Doctor, btw.) 

18.)  I am proud to have never seen an entire episode of Jersey Shore.  Clips airing on The Soup totally don't count.

19.)  I don't know who I will be for Halloween this year, though I do have a good party to attend on the 27th.

20.)  Fall is my favorite season, and I'm glad it's here.  My only complaint about it is that it's dark when I have to get up early.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Accu-Chek Nano Earworm

I went to dinner with my friend Mike recently.  I pulled out my meter to check my blood sugar at the restaurant table.

"Oh, I was meaning to ask you," he exclaimed, "if you've seen the ads for the Accu-Chek Nano!"  I had not.  I was puzzled.  I was also kind of amazed that I hadn't seen an ad for it.  Diabetes ads always catch my eye.  "I can't believe you haven't seen it!" he continued.  "There's a theme song and everything."

"A what now?  Seriously?"

And there, in the restaurant, over a massive basket of delicious fried onions, Mike very quietly broke into half-hearted song.  "It's like, uh...Accu-Chek Nano, the one that I choose...da da da da and easy to with 9% more accuracy."

I could not believe that my non-diabetic friend was singing a blood glucose meter theme song to me. 

After laughing a bunch at the absurdity of this situation, I made a skeptical face.  "9% more accuracy?  That's not really a lot.  Is that all they have to tout about it?  I mean, I know you're not exactly hip to what constitutes a good glucometer, but that doesn't seem too impressive."  I paused.  I cackled.  "I cannot believe I am going on about a blood glucose meter to you because you heard about it first.  Maybe I'm falling behind.  I should blog more!  Am I losing my touch?"

We laughed and went back to our regularly scheduled silly, geeky dinner conversation.  But then...

I went back to his house to hang out so he could show me the video.  I present to you the song which will stick in your head all afternoon:

First of all, I discovered the meter actually has 23% more accuracy, something like that.  WAY more impressive than 9.  Actually, the Nano website states that their strips have "advanced tested against a 23% tighter specification."  Whatever that means exactly, there is a footnote on their site which hopefully explains it better.  Consumers are most likely hearing IT'S 23% MORE ACCURATE THAN THOSE OTHER GUYS OMG WANT. 

Second of all, the damned song got stuck in my head.  Has anyone out there ever known a blood glucose meter ad to have a catchy jingle?  Ever?  (Does not count as an ad jingle: SugaSheen and The Diabetic Rap and the Diabeetus Remix.)

Thirdly, I felt like I had heard this ditty somewhere else.  It struck me that it's stylistically similar to the theme song to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Because yes, I am that kind of geek.  Get over it.  The parody lyrics pop into my head on occasion: My Little Nano...I used to wonder 'what was my BG?'  My Little Nano...with super-duper accuracy!

As many of you may already know, Accu-Chek products are made by Roche Diagnostics, who annually gets a ton of d-bloggers together for their Diabetes Social Media Summit.  For the sake of disclosure, I have never been invited to attend the Summit, and Roche has not contacted me to talk about the Accu-Chek Nano.  This all just kind of happened.  [author's note: Don't worry, Roche--I ain't mad at ya.  While I'd love to go to the Summit sometime, I feel the diabetes community is in good hands with the people who DO attend the Summit each year.]

So now I'm curious this meter.  They've got a catchy song highlighting its best features!  A song so catchy that people without diabetes think this meter is fantastic!  The marketing communications geek in me is freaking out about how effective this ad seems to be, even though I have no evidence that it's made an impression on anyone besides my friend Mike and me.

"I think you need one," he said.

"They do make it seem pretty fancy," I said.

If anybody out there in DOC-land is using one, I'd love to know your impressions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Pits

Feeling stuck, I think, is even crappier than feeling like you're just having a bad time. 

Maybe it's like the difference between a nasty flu that lasts for a week and having a chronic illness. 

There's a lot that feels like it hasn't gone right for me all year this year, and let's face it, there's not THAT much left of 2012.  My current focus is to just get somewhere.  My home is so close to being back to normal after the bedbugs and the continuing aftermath.  I'm still seeing my therapist, trying to read more books, trying to take time to be mindful of everything.  Despite my best efforts, there are still many times I feel like I'm standing on one leg and a kickstand. 

I finally saw The Dark Knight Rises over the weekend.  (I'll try not to spoil much here.)  In part of the story, Bruce Wayne is taken to a terrible prison at the bottom of a pit.  The prisoners have the option to climb out and escape their prison, but every time someone tries, they fall.  No one ever makes it--they live out their lives in toil and despair at the bottom of this pit.  Of course, Bruce Wayne is the goddamn Batman, and he's determined to escape so his beloved city does not collapse at the hands of evildoers.  He trains through the agony of a broken back and makes multiple attempts to leave the pit.  What drives him to succeed?  Being the goddamn Batman.  Being the hero.  Being the one who can stand up for Gotham City.

There are times when I feel like I'm stuck in some pit of despair.  I could try to climb out, but that seems just as exhausting as being stuck at the bottom.  I think it's just my time to go for it, without the stupid rope.  Commissioner Gordon isn't necessarily looking for me up there, because I'm not a vigilante hero. 

But I'm an awesome person.  I am creative, intelligent, friendly, loving, and totally capable of all kinds of greatness.  There is nothing worse than knowing you are a rockstar but not believing it anymore. 

Do you have any tips for banishing negativity from your mind?  How do you get yourself out of a funk?  Once you start working on improving something about yourself, what's the best way to keep it up?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Should've Cured Me at Least Twice Now

So here's what's been on my mind this week:  The Cure.  (Not this one, either.)

I've had type 1 diabetes for just over 22 years now.  It seems that every person I know who has been touched by diabetes, patients and caregivers alike, heard one line as part of their diagnosis story.  That line is something like, "But it's possible there's a cure about ten years down the road."

Whether the person with diabetes is 16 or 65, it seems like we've all heard it so many times.  I'm here to make a confession today:  I'm cynical about it.

Today, I am 30-and-a-half, and in the past week, there was obviously a great press release from Dr. Denise Faustman's lab at Mass General, touting that the promise of Type 1 Reversal could lie within a generic vaccine for TB that has been around for years.  I saw the story run on multiple news outlets.  It gave me a glimmer of hope for a second, just like news of artificial pancreas research gives me momentary glimmers of hope.

Reuters News tried to take a balanced approach by stating that Dr. Faustman's research has at times been controversial, though this could be an important finding.  They quoted a doctor from Columbia University Medical Center who stated the findings may just be "a bit of magical thinking".  The story informs us that the generic TB vaccine only seemed to restore insulin production for a week in trial patients.

How am I supposed to believe there could be a cure in my lifetime if medical professionals don't see the validity in each others' research?

In fact, the Reuters story continues about Dr. Faustman and her project: "JDRF rejected her funding requests and circulated a 2003 letter from two of her colleagues at Harvard Medical School, casting doubt on her work and apologizing to diabetics for 'having their expectations cruelly raised' by stories about her research."

You know, haven't my expectations been "cruelly raised" for 22 years now?  Some people complain that we're living in the future and we still don't have flying cars, or we still haven't reduced our dependence on foreign oil, or President Obama hasn't magically waved his arms and created a job for every unemployed American.  I say, it's the future--and we still haven't cured type 1 diabetes!  (Or AIDS or HIV or cancer for that matter...)

What angers me about this news item about Dr. Faustman's lab and research is that this is a news story about science and research.  Aren't scientists supposed to keep testing their hypotheses?  If one scientist has some success in her hypothesis, shouldn't other scientists maybe try to refute or support one scientist's claims?  Just because Dr. Faustman didn't win the JDRF seal of approval is no reason for people to give up on research that has at least worked some of the time.

Even if the Faustman Lab research doesn't lead to a diabetes cure, what if it made something that made managing type 1 a lot easier?  I'm insulin resistant.  I've tried Symlin, and it's made me feel icky.  I tried Metformin with my insulin, it produced some rather unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects as well.  What if something from the TB vaccine could increase the effectiveness of my injected insulin?  There were no adverse side effects reported in the study, apparently.  I'd try that.

Even worse about the news from Dr. Faustman's lab is a view that made me relatively irate regarding the pharmaceutical industry.  Bloomberg reported that, "[Faustman] tried to interest every major drugmaker in developing the vaccine as a possible cure for diabetes. All told her there wasn’t enough money to be made in a cure that used an inexpensive, generically available vaccine".

If pharma wants to be as involved with the patient community as they would like to be, they need to keep the interests of actual patients in mind.   That sentence there basically tells the world that if there ain't money to be made by it, pharma doesn't want to cure you or even try to if they can't do it on their own ridiculously-priced dime.

What about the artificial pancreas projects and the closed loop systems?  Maybe it's better to be a med device manufacturer than a drugmaker in this case.

Either way, none of this news makes me feel better about ever getting a true cure.  Having a fancy cyborg system that checks my blood and acts like my pancreas with minimal supervision from me does sound pretty fantastic right about now, but is the day ever coming that we've all dreamed about when we were first diagnosed?

You know, the fateful day when we get cover-up tattoos for our "diabetic" medic alert tats, when we have a massive disposal party for all our diabetes supplies, when we can eat a cupcake and have our body provide a bolus instead of our fingers and some stuff from a vial.

Here's where I'm cynical.  Maybe this could be an unpopular opinion around the diabetes online community, but why bother to sugarcoat it?  (Ha ha, puns.)

How do we expect to ever be cured when medical professionals can merely argue over what is the best possible tract?  How do we expect research toward a cure to get done when pharmaceutical companies (who have all the major money out there) won't fund the trials that are necessary to prove efficacy?

How does pharma think they are going to earn the trust of empowered patients when news gets out that they won't help the very efforts many of us have been praying for since we were young?

Are we going to see a cure within the next ten years?  I'm not so sure about that, but I've been given a lot of reasons to feel disappointed.  Maybe if someone can prove otherwise, I'd feel a little more sunny on a diabetes-free outlook.

(Also, I'm curious, has anyone out there seen any research on how the Faustman lab is doing it wrong?  This is the internet, surely someone must have heard something...)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Post-Cedar Point Edition

The view from the bottom.

The view from the (almost) top.  That's Lake Erie.  Despite the heat, it was a gorgeous day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Doing What I Do

I know they are not often shared here with you good people, but I write a lot of poems.  People will sometimes ask me what kind of poems I write, and this is always a difficult question to answer.  I write funny poems, love poems, introspective personal poems, but that's not all.  I don't write a lot of poems about political issues.  Believe it or not, I don't [yet] write a lot of poems about diabetes.

As much as I love writing, I also love performing.  It feels like it's something that is wired into me.  Before I get onstage, I may be somewhat nervous, but once I'm out there, it's exhilarating. 

There aren't a lot of videos out there of me competing in poetry slams, and there are even fewer videos of any other public speaking or performance I've done. 

But here's a photo.

Thanks to the lovely Sara Eve who posted this on Facebook. :)

I competed in a poetry slam in Jersey City, NJ over the weekend.  At first, I was a bit hesitant to go.  That's one of the things I hate the most about depression.  Sometimes it whispers in your ear and tells you you're not so great at the things you love to do.  Maybe you should just stay home.

I'm glad I told that voice in my head to take a hike this weekend.  I had a great time at the slam, even if I did go over the alotted time.  I netted myself a penalty, but I put in a great performance.  Team Philly came in 3rd out of 4 competing teams, but it wasn't for lack of trying.  I blame the East German judge.

Monday, July 9, 2012

This Blog Post Brought to You By CARBS!

Nom nom nom. Your SWAG bolus suggestions, anyone? Let's eat! (And thanks to the lovely H.G. for making dessert.)

The finest cheap food pr0n in the DOC today. ;)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bedbug-a-geddon: Obligatory Post-Extermination Post

view of the upstairs landing, from the bathroom door.
Am I moving?  Is this an episode of Hoarders?  What the hell is going on here?  Remember when I talked about having bedbugs (and almost burning down a laundromat)?   Well, all of my laundry was finally cleaned properly over the course of a couple of weeks, but those little biting bastards hadn't exactly left my house yet.  Last Monday, the exterminator came in and sprayed, but all the time leading up to that had been nothing but stress, anxiety, and the occasional shouting argument with my husband.  

In case you don't know from personal experience, having bedbugs is hell.  You don't necessarily know where they are hiding.  You may not have a bunch obviously living on/around your mattress.  You may see only one or two.  You don't know if you have spread their eggs from one part of your house to another.  It may feel like you are totally losing your mind while you are doing it, but you end up having to treat most of your stuff as though they COULD be spreading anywhere in your house.  

Living room, from the kitchen doorway
I am not so great at that last part.  Matt and I have had more arguments in the past two months over bedbugs.  It's stressful.  It's difficult.  If you get bedbugs, you may find yourself standing in the middle of your living room and crying because you can't find any clothes for work.  

You may find yourself praying for Xanax--even if you've never taken it before--because you've been advised to take a plastic bag of laundry out to the porch to open, where you have a trash-bag encased dirty clothes hamper, and you spray the inside and the outside of it with isopropyl alcohol (because it kills bedbug eggs), you drop the clothes carefully into it, you dispose of the trashbag which was previously filled with laundry in the outside trashcan because you've been told to not bring it back into the house, you bring the hamper back into the laundry room, you carefully move the clothes into the washer, start the washer and then spray down the outside of the washer with alcohol.  Then you put stuff in the dryer on high heat.  Whew!

Then you wonder if you have gained weight and realize that some of your clothes have most likely shrunk from the high heat dryer all the time.  

All your clothes may be in a SpaceBag, which is nice because you can see them, or they may be in a white garbage bag, where you cannot see them nearly as well.

You check yourself each morning to see if there are new bites.   You may not see any.  You will feel an itch on the way to work and wonder.  You will question yourself, at least six times, if that ONE bite on your ankle is from a bedbug, or if it came from a mosquito while hanging out on your friend's patio the night before.  

Philly is the #1 city on the East Coast for bedbugs this year.  I was not at all surprised by this statistic, considering that we have them, and some friends of ours have dealt with them as well.  New York had a major crackdown on landlords a year or two ago, so I think that helped alleviate the bedbug problem some up there.    

If you get bedbugs, stay strong.  And call an exterminator.  Buy a LOT of SpaceBags because they are much more sturdy than the giant Ziploc brand bags.  

Remember to go out and have fun once in a while, but try to make sure your clothes just came out of a hot dryer first.  Deep breaths.  Cry if you have to, because you didn't invite those bastards in.  Realize there may be days where you think you are just staring into the mouth of madness.

Be prepared to spend some money, because you're probably going to want mattress encasements, pillow covers, spray bottles/isopropyl alcohol, plastic bags, new pillows, stuff to put on your itchy bug bites, dry cleaning for your Ikea furniture covers. 

You may want some dryer sheets...for example, um, if you happened to use a dryer that caught fire and engulfed an entire laundromat in smoke, some of your stuff is going to smell bad through a couple of washings. 

On the plus side, you will probably get rid of a lot of clutter from your home.  Our basement has never looked more organized.  We have an entire corner dedicated to yard sale stuff now!  We found things in our closets we hadn't seen in like 2 years.  (Oh come on, don't we always have those one or two boxes of odds and ends that don't see the light of day after you move from one place to another?)  Another advantage is that your bedroom will look pristine...mostly because it's entirely empty.  And remember to wash those sheets every other day, or at least toss 'em in a hot dryer.
If you've been wondering why I haven't been blogging as much over the past couple of months, why I don't have that usual spring in my step, why I'm so exhausted?  Well, that's pretty much your answer.  Bedbug treatment #2 happens on June 30th.  I will be ecstatic to have my house back to normal.  It can't come soon enough. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happiness: deal with it, okay?

I realized that for being such a happy, optimistic, perky person, I am often my own worst critic.  I am a harsh judge of myself.  I am guilty of worrying about what others think of me, sometimes constantly.  Lately, it can be pretty easy to fall into a trap I've set for myself, ending up overly self-critical and generally down on myself.  I have a tendency to let comments and good things slip my mind if I'm having a bad week/month/year.
That is, um, if it's okay with you.
For example, I can't help but think that last year (2011) was a bunch of crap.  A lot of bad things happened.  There was a lot of stress.  Yet, through all that, I managed to have another awesome year of marriage.  I had a poetry feature in another state in which I also led workshops for school-age kids.  I had a poetry feature at my home venue in Philadelphia.  I did a lot of dancing.  I sang more karaoke than I have since my senior year of college.  I went to my first drag show.  I stepped in as secretary of the poetry slam.  I was published in two different literary magazines online.  I kept up this blog, despite feeling overwhelmed sometimes.  I stuck with my job, even through the frustrating days.  I bought a Dexcom.  I took a chance and dyed my hair red.  I went to a few really awesome events all by myself and had a great time.  I met some cool people and had some great experiences.

See?  I am a happy person from day to day, for the most part.  I sometimes feel like I don't show that to myself often enough, if that makes any sense.  I can say I'm fine, I will tell you everything is great, but on the inside it may be a different story sometimes.

It's so easy to get hung up on the negative, the disappointing, the discouraging, the bad news.  I am so guilty of it lately.  It's hard not to when bedbugs are causing stress at home, when my job is less-than-cool, or when diabetes is making me feel like garbage.  I have a friend who says when you are feeling down, you should write a list of 36 things you are grateful for, happy about, thankful for.  So here are some things that are happy in my life, just to remind me that in the grand scheme of things, I'm okay.

I have some truly incredible relationships in my life.  I have an amazing, supportive husband.  I have a supportive, loving family.  I have friends who treat me like I'm family.  Despite almost 22 years with diabetes, I have yet to experience anything more than the most minor of complications.   I can afford to work, eat and play.  I've held the same job for over four years now.  I am a blogger with over 60K page views and over 1000 followers on Twitter.  I know how to take a decent picture.  I have a pretty good eye for design.  I've got great love in my life.  I can make people laugh.  I was the only woman to compete in semi-finals this year for the Philly National Poetry Slam team. Even at 30, I have a pretty ridiculous imagination.  I've got great support out in the DOC.  I have people who believe in me and what I'm capable of.

So I just have to deal with it.  I've got plenty to be happy about, even when that little self-doubting voice in my head is trying to tell me otherwise.  Happiness is here, I just have to remember to look for it first, before I see the negative.  Just deal with it, Hannah.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Few Parting Words about MHAW

It’s the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month, and some of you may wonder how I’m doing with my therapist.  Without revealing too much, I will say that we are getting along great.  He also does some art therapy so we may explore that area a little more.  He seems to understand (and works to continue to understand) some of the more unconventional aspects of my life.  He treats me with respect.  Like the best healthcare providers, mental or physical, I always feel like he is on my side.  He challenges me to think about things in my life I hadn’t really contemplated before.  I find that I am more thoughtful during the week because of it. 

Also?  He’s a fellow dork.  We’ve had a couple of conversations about RuPaul’s Drag Race and comic books.

There’s been a lot of candid talk about depression around the DOC this month, and I want to thank all my fellow PWDs for sharing their stories.  We are truly not alone.  

Whether you're happy, unhappy, confused, anxious, coping, not coping, manic, depressed, whatever you are, just remember that mental health is a healthcare concern too.  There is no shame in getting help.  It's only going to make your life better.  Just be patient--it takes time.  Just look at me.  I'm still learning.  But I think I am on the road to feeling like myself again.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Diabetes Blog Week, Day 5: What They [You] Should Know

I am not a role model in the sense that I have a great A1C, or that I always know what to do about diabetes.  I don't have all the answers.  I just have 21+ years of experience.

I don't always know exactly what I'm doing, but I am trying my best to keep up.  I read a lot of blogs.  I may fire off a lot of terminology that you don't necessarily understand.  If you want to understand, please stop and ask me.  I'd be happy to try and help explain.

I don't need your policing, but sometimes I may want your help.  Let's work together to learn the difference. 

I appreciate it when you have diet soda or unsweetened iced tea at parties.

Sometimes I don't mind if you're looking at the numbers on any of my screens.  Sometimes I do.  It can be a touchy thing.  It makes me feel fickle.  I'm sorry if you want to look, then I snap at you a bit.  It's not you.  It's me being embarrassed by the results I don't like.

If you think you don't need health insurance, I will try to convince you otherwise.  If you think national healthcare is a shitty idea, I will try to convince you otherwise, angrily.  Furiously, if you try to tell me that changes to my lifestyle could have prevented me from getting diabetes.  I was eight years old.  It was autoimmune.  If you don't understand that my family didn't choose this for me by their actions, then you may get your toes stomped on with some combat boots.

Sometimes I lick my fingers after I check my blood.  It's my blood.  It's less gross (to me) than keeping one of those blood-spotted tissues in your testing kit.  I'm not a vampire.  Deal with it.

When I'm cranky, it might be my blood sugar.  It might not be.  It's hard for me to tell the difference, too, so don't get too discouraged.

You know those 21+ years I mentioned earlier?  I've had type 1 this long, and I'm still learning every day.  I'm still trying to figure out how and when to do things, what to eat, what not to eat.  I'm always trying to have a better attitude, and sometimes I completely fail.  Diabetes management is about trying, and accepting that failures may not necessarily be my own fault.

There is uncertainty built into every single day.

I worry about you worrying about me too much.

I worry about me not worrying about myself enough.

I worry about every ache, pain and discomfort in my body, but I try not to let it get to me.

Every person with diabetes is affected differently.  We all need different amounts of insulin, medications, etc.  We all have our own management styles.  You say your Aunt Matilda was "cured" by a lot of exercise and a raw foods diet?  Goody on for her.  That doesn't mean the same will work for me, you, or your other family members.

DIABETES FUCKING SUCKS.  There.  I said it.  I love bringing you guys the lighter, goofier side of things.  That's just my personality.  But at the end of the day?  I have a chronic illness.  It's not fun.  There are times I am actually working really hard to feel like a normal person.

And you?  Well, your love makes me feel like a regular, healthy woman.  Love me, through the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows, the middle-of-the-night juice run to the fridge, the disgruntled clack of an old infusion set against the wall because I just can't deal with one more failed site change.  Love me.  Everybody with diabetes needs love, kindness and respect. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

D-Blog Week, Day 4: Fantasy Diabetes Device!

I would like to thank my favorite ninja, George, for making me laugh this morning with his fantasy device.  Little did we know, maybe our pals at Skynet Google are creating the glasses of the future which we are seeking!

I can think of all kinds of "fantasy" devices, like a tubeless pump that holds 300 units, a device that checks your blood sugar without any kind of poking, something that will enable me to wear my pump without bulk or strapping it under my boobs.  These are the kinds of things we all wish for every day.  A working pancreas.  A closed loop system.  A cure.  A CGM sensor that doesn't cost a zillion dollars.

But I am thinking fantasy here, people.  Seeing as this is DORKabetic, let's get overly geeky for a second.

Introducing...Diabetes Navi
If you've played Legend of Zelda, you probably know Navi as that annoying little sprite who follows you everywhere.  "Hey!  Hey!  Listen!" she says.  "Look!" 

Diabetes Navi would follow you around, keeping you out of danger, alerting you to the Dexcom alarm you've been ignoring for 20 minutes, nudging you to bolus for your carbs.  She may get irritating after a while, but she might also save you a lot of hassle.  She'd intuitively know when that barista put sugar in your latte instead of Splenda, when those test strips have expired, when your insulin has baked in the hot sun.  "Look!"  Suddenly, you realize your vial is cloudy.  She'd be really helpful when the d-moms and dads can't always be around, or if you're really stubborn like me about checking alarms. 

Plus, wouldn't it just be cool to have a glowing orb with wings that follows you around, looking out for you wherever you go?

"Hey, look!"
"Whoa, a stray kitten needs my help!  Thanks, Diabetes Navi!"
"That drunk-looking dude behind me in line needs glucose tabs because he's actually having a hypo!"
"Look!  Look!"

Diabetes bonus: She's blue.

Geeky multiple-fandom bonus?  She can double as your golden snitch if you're into Quidditch.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

D-Blog Week, Day 3: One Thing to Improve

So far, it seems every diabetes blogger out there has said the same thing today.  "What do you mean ONE thing to improve?  The list is endless!"

At first I thought that my one thing to improve is EVERYTHING!

But that seems like the easy way out, writing-wise.  So I shall roll the 20-sided die that resides in my brain and pick one thing.

I think today's big thing is logging numbers.  I could always improve on logging numbers.  I frequently say to myself, "I have all this technology and all of these fancy electronic bits at my service, I should barely have to write anything down!  I could just connect my meter/Dexcom/pump/cell phone and print and be done!"

So do I take a few minutes every week to upload my shit on any of the computers in my house?

Nope.  Or only if it's CDE or endo-visit time.

I realize it's just like letting the facts of my diabetes pass me by.  It's a terrible habit to develop.  It's one I'm constantly trying to work on.

Okay, that may be stretching it.  It's a habit I'm always intending to turn into a good one, then I lose motivation or get stuck or [insert other excuse here].

It makes me consider an iBGstar.  Or a Glooko.  Or some kind of iPhone app that I can just plug numbers into.  Do you have any logging secrets?  I would like to become a blood glucose lumberjack!  (Get it?  Logging?  *dodges the hook and runs offstage*)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

D-Blog Week, Day 2: One Great Thing

Yesterday, I mentioned on Twitter that I've never heard anybody say that they love having diabetes.  I did have one excellent response to the comment.  Basically, the person responding said diabetes has forced them to "keep fit and make healthier choices".  I definitely agree that is an upside!  I am also sure that most of us, given the choice, would NOT choose to continue having diabetes if given the opportunity to ditch it on the side of the road somewhere.

So what's one great thing that diabetes has done for me?  Well, it pretty much forced me to become a blogger.

In 2006, the word "blog" was pretty new, and the word itself made me gag a little.  I just didn't like the sound of it, much like I hate the words "eyesore" and "moist" and "sportswear".  Having a Livejournal account for years, I was much more accustomed to the phrase "online journal", wherein you could go and type whatever was on your mind.  Blogs were becoming a thing, and at the time, diabetes management was becoming a thing for me.

I wasn't long out of college, and I never had any friends with diabetes.  I was feeling frustrated and struggling with depression.  I turned to the internet to see what people were saying about diabetes and what kind of message boards were out there.  It wasn't long until I discovered the burgeoning Diabetes OC.  There weren't so many of us back then, and it took another couple of years for tweeting to really catch on.  Yet I found a little piece of something on the interwebs, people with smiling faces and joyful lives who also had to pause to check their blood glucose levels.  They were bloggers who struggled and laughed, who shared good times and bad with diabetes.

Finally, I found a place to share my own thoughts on living like this.  I do hope I've found a way to help some of my non-diabetic friends understand what it's like.  Without writing this blog, where would I talk about the guilt-ridden nuances that ride on top of a heavily frosted cupcake?  Where could I post pictures of my Dexcom read-outs and make jokes that involve the song "Love Rollercoaster"?  Blogging is a one-stop-shop for me to talk all things diabetes.

Being a "blogger" became less about using a stupid-sounding title, and more about regularly writing and speaking my mind.  

Blogging helps me connect to the various ins and outs of social media.  Knowing a lot about social media makes me feel like an expert, and using this expertise is something that I hope will land me a new job at some point in the future.

Not everyone I know can say they have their own dot-com web address.  Blogging makes me write and care about presentation.  Blogging makes me Tweet and start a Facebook fan page.  Blogging makes me curious about all the latest programs for managing all the social media in your life.

Blogging keeps me current.  Diabetes keeps me blogging.  It's not so bad for a word I never liked that much in the first place.  And sure, diabetes always keeps me on my toes, which is sometimes a good way to be, but I guess I am grateful that diabetes, burdensome as it can be, is one more thing that spurs on my passions.

I assure you this: if they cure diabetes in the next few years, well, I hope you like really personal blog updates, because what else am I going to talk about?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Diabetes Blog Week, Day 1: Find a Friend

Happy D-Blog Week to all of my friends in the Diabetes Online Community!  I am constantly astonished at how many names and faces have popped up since I started blogging back in 2006.  I certain have been at this for a long time.  It's such an honor to know that I am in great company, and that I can count some truly awesome bloggers among my personal friends!  Seriously, I have been chatting with George and Kerri and Scott J and Allison and Amy and Kelly and many others for years now, and while I do feel a twinge of jealousy when other people are getting invited to d-blogger summits or events, it just inspires me to work harder at blogging.  

It's funny, I often feel like I have a similar position in the poetry slam community.  I'm the poets' poet.  The bloggers' blogger.  I know lots of people whom I adore, and vice versa, and yet I still feel like this relative outsider at times.  I'm not complaining.  I just feel like I'm some best-kept secret that never makes it onto another list.  Can I nominate myself on Find a Friend Day?

I am realizing that sounds a smidge emo and self-indulgent.  I've been focusing on myself a lot lately.  Introspective.  Anyway.

One blogger you need to check out is Nicole Purcell.  She used to write at her own blog, now she blogs for D-Life's Blogabetes, and George already had some awesome things to say about her today.  She is at the top of my "I am totally going to meet this person one day" list.  She has tattoos and is into all kinds of badass music. 

Have you visited Scott E of Rolling in the D?  Definitely my favorite blog name I've found this year, great content, and he was recognized in the Best of the 'Betes blogs in March.  I'm described on his blogroll as having writing which is "humorously quirky", and that also won him some points.  Also, raise your hand if you now have Adele singing in your head because of his blog title.  Thought so.

Jess became a blog pal of mine recently via Twitter.  I feel like we are kindred souls at times, struggling with the same things, trying to get over some emotional hurdles, some things that are challenging us mentally, plus diabetes, plus everyday regular life.  If you aren't reading Me and D, you should check it out!  (Hilariously, work internet has decided her site is NSFW today. Kind of like the day Texting My Pancreas got blocked but came back up the next day.  You guys are some naughty diabetics.)

There's some awesome online friends for you to make.  And if you haven't told someone about Dorkabetic yet, why not do it today? [end shameless self-promotion]  See you tomorrow for D-Blog Week, Day 2!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Self-Portrait Saturday: Coming at You in 3D!

Thank you, dollar store, for the ridiculousness.  My pal Harper is now wearing these as sunglasses because they make him think of David Tennant.  Some of you will even understand what that means! (Way to know your pop culture, fellow dorks.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Cute Overload!

This cute li'l' chinchilla was hoping to be taken home from the Petsmart nearest to my house. Fuzzy fuzzy cute cute.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: The Smell of Band-Aids

Ah, that frustrating moment when you realize something is wrong with your pump site. Who knows how much of that bolus actually hit your bloodstream? Sigh.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite, or How I Nearly Burned Down a Laundromat and Lost My Sanity

The late afternoon sun gleamed over the parking lot.  Matt sat next to me on the side of a planter, we sipped our sodas and chewed on some garlic knots from the pizza place next door.  We watched the first fire truck pull up, the first firefighters getting out and pulling on their gear.  Smoke was pouring out of the laundromat doors.  I had no idea what was actually happening inside.

"You know," I thought to myself, "if the whole place goes up, maybe that's not the end of the world.  Maybe it would just be easier to start all over again."

There was a perturbed woman in purple across the parking lot.  When it got quieter, you could hear her griping into her cell phone to whomever was on the other end.  "My baby granddaughter's clothes are in there!" she said with nearly the same emotional weight another person would use if their actual granddaughter was trapped in the building.  I rolled my eyes.  The entire launderable contents of her house weren't trapped in that building.  Her dryer wasn't the one that caught on fire, ours was. I had to wonder what articles of clothing or linens I was about to lose. 

Why all this mess, all these emergency vehicles?  Why was I doing so much laundry?

One bedbug.

We have only seen evidence of one bedbug in our house, but it was obviously biting our friend who was staying on our futon at the time.  The only evidence of said bedbug living in the bed was in one pillow.  We promptly threw all of our pillows away.  We've washed, we've sprayed.  Every day brings more washing, more vacuuming.  It's physically and mentally exhausting.  I am worrying if they will never be gone. 

We hauled every piece of launderable fabric in our house to the laundromat on Saturday, thinking we could get it all done in one sitting.  It would have been possible had one of our dryers not burst our laundry into flames.  I've never seen a group of people LESS panicked about a fire.  Matt was running around looking for water and fire extinguishers while the other people went about their business, mostly getting annoyed that their laundry wasn't getting done.

Seeing as how all of the dryers were gas dryers, we probably all should have been a little more concerned about the spinning inferno we had created on the back wall.  (Author's Note:  The Spinning Inferno is totally the name of my new band and/or horror movie script.)  I lost one of my favorite skirts, a couple of work tops that I liked, some socks, a pillow cover from Ikea, a sheet.  The laundromat owner took our phone numbers, just in case insurance needed to talk to us or something. 

I shake my fist at those little buggy bastards.  You know, I like cuddling in bed, but not with blood-sucking insects.  I can't think about them without itching.  I can't think about cleaning my house or spraying or anything without getting really tired.  Bedbugs suck so bad.  My stress level is high and so are my blood sugar levels.  I would never wish this on anyone.

And if you have had bedbugs at your place before, what did you do to get rid of them?  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"I am so high right now."

It's a difficult feeling to experience.  Between the crankiness and the extreme fatigue comes the guilt.

I should have paid better attention to my numbers today.

I should have tested more today.
I could have changed my infusion site earlier.  

I shouldn't have eaten [insert "forbidden" food here] at all, let alone that much of it.

I wonder if my insulin went bad, and I didn't even think to check.

I should be getting something productive accomplished but I feel like shit.

I could be sitting here and relaxing, but no, my vision is a bit blurry and so I'm getting a headache while trying to drink water, waiting for insulin to kick in and watching TV.  And now I worry about my eyes.  Great.

I catalog all the reasons I have disappointed myself, my family, my loved ones, anyone who shares my life and living space.  I stop and feel guilty about feeling guilty.  I'm 30 years old.  Shouldn't someone have cured this nonsense by now?  Shouldn't I know exactly how to handle everything?  Shouldn't I remember to test more often?

I am not Diabetes Wonder Woman.  I have not perfected the art of doing it all/having it all/maintaining a great A1C while doing so.  However, maybe I am a bit super.  Nearly infinite in patience with myself, always trying to look on the bright side, always hoping that things are moving in a positive direction.

But it's hard.  It's hard when the numbers seem to be telling me something that I already know.  Sometimes the numbers are threatening.  Sometimes the numbers are harmless.  There are days I'm pretty sure blood glucose meters exist primarily to make me feel bad about myself.   No matter how vigilant I am, it sometimes feels like when I attempt to live like a regular person, I am always on the wrong side of 100.  It's 160 and climbing, or it's 70 and dropping. 

It's difficult work.  It's exhausting. 

It's me wondering why I don't have a gallon jug of spring water at my beck and call for these sticky dry mouth occasions.  It's imagining my blood is slowly sludging through my veins, like dyed-red corn syrup.  That's what they use for blood in the movies. 

It's knowing tomorrow is another day, and now is another correction bolus.  It's the belief that on the other side of that correction bolus is a less-tired, happier version of myself.  You know, the one who was hanging around before my stupid infusion set sprung a leak.