Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Darker Days of Fall

Autumn is usually my favorite season. It's the time of year when the chill that I so love comes back into the air, when everything feels crisp, and rich colors dress the trees. I am one of those people who's into pumpkin spice lattes and chai, fresh seasonal apples and of course, cider. Halloween is usually a treat for me because I adore dressing up in costumes. 

But you may notice I've been absent from blogging about how it's okay to eat candy at Halloween with diabetes. You haven't yet seen any silly posts wherein I dress up my insulin vials. Actually, you haven't seen any posts from me at all since mid-September.

I'm still in the midst of a job search, applying, hoping, going through the motions. I try to be excited while attempting to not get hopes up too high at the same time. It's a competitive market out there, especially in the city. I've seen so many of you getting new job and career opportunities, and I'm so happy for all of you, but trying to manage a twinge of jealousy at the same time. I've looked at my Facebook feed and more than once whined at the laptop screen, "When's it going to be my turn?"

I shouldn't whine. I know better than that.

I think it's easier to whine when things have just been difficult all year. A grandparent-in-law's passing, a broken humerus, surgery, losing my job. What's really been keeping me away from blogging are two things I haven't had the words to talk about.

That better A1C I bragged about a little while back? It may have temporarily been a fluke, either of office equipment or my body itself. At my most recent endo visit, it was right back up again. That sucks, but it's not the part that's been weighing on me. I saw a retina specialist because it was discovered that I have DME in the right eye. The left eye isn't perfect either, but it doesn't have the severity of problems that my right eye does. I've had an Avastin injection, and my first follow-up visit after that is this coming Monday. I want to write about my eye in more detail, but I figured I should come out about it first.

The next thing that is difficult for me actually just hit yesterday. A good friend of mine from the Philadelphia poetry community passed away yesterday morning. He helped us run the slam I work with--he was like family to all of us. He was one of the hardest-working people I knew, pursuing his artistic dreams on the page and on the stage. He did spoken word and theater. He acted, directed, wrote, and was a hip-hop artist. Earlier this year, he turned 30. He was diagnosed with cancer right about the same time. At the slam, we opted to not send a team to the National Poetry Slam this year so we could donate a portion of the proceeds of our shows directly to him. Even through his illness, he looked forward to getting back to coaching youth poetry teams and making next year's NPS squad. I am going to miss MJ in numerous ways, some I'm sure I haven't even realized yet. I do hope that soon, in the coming days, we can give this NOLA son and renaissance man the jazz funeral he deserves.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On the Market

I had a job interview this afternoon. I think it went well, but it's always difficult to tell with such things.

I once had a job interview which ended in me being asked when I could start, and they said they'd contact me about when I could come in to fill out my hire paperwork. They never called me. Not even an email.

One time, I submitted a resume to a company and was called back that same afternoon for an interview the following day. Then I had a second interview a couple of days later. Needless to say, I nailed it.

So this time? I don't know. Everyone was very pleasant, and as I said, I think it went smoothly. Fingers crossed.

As a sidenote, because diabetes touches everything in my life in small ways, charging my insulin pump (yes, I am rocking a t:slim if you'd forgotten) was as important as brushing my teeth and styling my hair while I was getting ready for the interview today. I mumbled at my pump while I reattached my tubing, "Don't you start beeping on me in the middle of a meeting, please."

It was a beep-free meeting indeed. Not even a buzz.

Being unemployed is...odd. On one hand, I am glad to be away from the stresses of my last job. I'd had that feeling that it was time to move on anyway. On the other hand, it's a somewhat stressful time of wondering what my next move is going to be. I feel like I can count on uncertainty, but luckily I feel like I can count on everyone I know for support. Thanks, friends.

Let's hope my next adventure starts soon.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Best in a Year

So last week, I learned I had the best A1C I've had in over a year. Certainly, your first thought is this:

And while my first thought about it probably should have been something like this:

I think I looked more like this:

Wait, wut?

With everything I've had going on, recovering from my broken arm & surgery, going through the stress of returning to work, going to physical therapy and everything else, I'm actually doing better? How did this happen? I didn't feel like I did a whole lot that was terribly different or special.

So yes, I am celebrating this small victory over here, but I know there is still much to improve and a lot to think about. With some good efforts, my numbers can hopefully be a lot better, and not just one marked improvement, but a lengthy period of improvement!

I imagine that this whole thing just serves to remind me that, in the end, ultimately, I HAVE THE POWER, not diabetes.
By the power of Greyskull! (I found this via an image search and I don't know who to attribute to...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Not Quite in Arm's Reach, or What Happened When I Broke My Humerus

I come from a long line of klutzes.  Sometimes I trip, lose my balance, or flounder around while walking because my ankle decides it doesn't want to stay upright.  I think it was one of the latter two reasons that caused me to fall from the top step of my front stoop onto the sidewalk on March 28th.  This resulted in my first-ever major broken bone, my first-ever ambulance ride, my first-ever arm sling, and my second-ever surgery.

There are many places in which your arm can be broken.  In my case, it was my humerus--and before you say anything, it wasn't funny at all.  For those not in the know, the humerus is your upper arm bone.  Think of it as the bone that connects your elbow and your shoulder.  Now, imagine the pain and annoyance that comes with not being able to use your dominant arm for anything without considerable pain.  They say bone pain is some of the worst pain imaginable, and they are right.  Healing from surgery was less painful than trying to walk up the steps in my home with a sling on my arm.

Many things became difficult to do with only my left hand, including brushing my teeth and texting.  Video games could not be played on the Xbox.  I couldn't open any bottled drink.  I had to have help washing my hair and half my body in the shower, and for a while I couldn't get my arm wet, so I'd have to don a trashbag raincoat for my right arm first.  Still, no task seemed more daunting in terms of asking for help than diabetes management.  Things you can't really do with just one hand include:

-Drawing up insulin into a syringe
-Unwrapping an Inset infusion set, as well as cocking the insertion device
-Checking blood sugar
-Changing out everything on my pump
-Pouring orange juice to treat a low

So that's...nearly everything diabetes related you could do within a day?  At least my pump was always within reach!  With the T-Clip, I had no problems hooking my t:slim onto the strap of my sling.

The last time I had anyone else use a needle on me for diabetes management was probably the first time I tried a Dexcom Seven in Gary Scheiner's office, when the tech was so new he inserted my sensor for me.

"Well boys," I announced to Matt (the hubs) and Harper (the housemate), "I'm going to need a lot of help from you guys, and this includes a crash course in setting up my insulin pump and jabbing me with infusion sets."  Let me just say that in the nearly 16 years that Matt and I have been together, he's never given me a single injection.  We've known Harper for over two years now, and he is the kind of guy who can pass out at the sight of his own blood, so naturally I was concerned about asking him for help with needle things.

But what happened?  Everything worked out just fine, and I think I was more nervous about someone else sticking me with a needle than the guys were about learning everything.  Great partners and trusted friends are true treasures to have in an emergency.

I just wanted to take some time today to send a huge thank you to my two biggest caregivers/house helpers in the month and a half I was out of commission.  Blood sugars were monitored, infusion sets were placed, laundry & dishes were done, and meals were cooked!

I am back at work, driving again, and starting physical therapy next week to return my arm to its strength and full mobility.  So while I am not cleared to lift anything that's over five pounds, it's good to be back.  If you really want to see it, I'll show you my badass surgery scar sometime.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Where's Hannah?

I broke my right humerus (upper arm) last Friday. I have surgery to fix it tomorrow. I sure do miss typing with two hands. See you soon, readers!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Teaching an Old Dork New Tricks

My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth again. It wasn't the same kind of stuck you get when you eat a peanut butter sandwich with no drink.  It was that dry-yet-syrupy cling that comes along with a high blood sugar.  My Dexcom sensor had failed in the morning (more on that later), so I pulled out my kit, tested, and clocked in at about 350 mg/dl.

I'd been crusing between 117 mg/dl and 160 mg/dl all morning, which were good-looking numbers for me compared to some I'd seen lately.  The culprit for the high, I believe, was putting sugar in my coffee and forgetting that fact.  (Cringe all you want, I freely admit I choose my vices and consume artificial sweeteners.)

I knew I needed to correct this bad boy before I felt any more gross, so I pulled out a syringe and drew up my correction by hand.  I was wearing a thick sweater and couldn't inject through my clothes.  I know my boss likes to watch the security camera from time to time, and I was not in the mood for her to be asking what I was doing with my shirt, and if I was feeling okay.  I was, however, wearing a thin skirt.

I looked down at my thigh.  Hmm.  How bad could it be?  My abdomen has always been, and genetically will forever be, plump and squishy to some degree.  It just makes me more fun to cuddle.  My thighs are mostly muscle.  Aren't you supposed to be able to pinch up an inch of fat where you inject?  Do I even have that much on my legs?  Maybe I'll just do this.  I mean, I've had diabetes for how long now? HALP OH GAWD I THINK I'M ACTUALLY GOING TO TRY THIS.

So that's when I did my first-ever thigh injection.

Note--I am not complaining about my body or trying to body-shame anybody else here.  It's merely fact: I come from a line of women with fat stored around the midsection.  I have slender arms, and legs, and I'm busty, which gives me more opportunities to hide my insulin pump.  I see this as a win.  I've never used my arms either, and for the record, my mom is too weirded out to do insulin shots on arms or legs too, so I know for a fact I'm not alone.  What a digression....).

It stung like hell for a few seconds, and then it was over.  I don't think it worked any better or faster than my usual injection/infusion sites, but it did work.  I'm not sure it's something I'd want to repeat terribly often, but after 23 and a half years with Type 1, I guess it shows you can learn and try new things all the time.  People talk about using their thighs, their arms, their bellies, their "side-butt" for sites.  It's purely a personal choice thing, with the exception of problems with absorption or other issues.

Where do you like to inject?  Where do you put your infusion sets and glucose sensors?  Do you think I should keep trying new things, or just stick with what's working?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mind Your Manners, Miss[es & Misters]

Gentle Advice Columnist:

"Proper" etiquette may sometimes be in the eye of the beholder.  Not all people lift their pinkies when drinking tea.  Some people double-dip their buffalo wings in the shared dish of bleu cheese dressing without a single afterthought.  Some men will hold a door open for a woman and allow her to pass by, while others will hold it open about halfway until the woman takes over. (And until recently, Ms. Hannah did not realize it was potentially recognized as rude to wipe one's nose on a cloth restaurant napkin. Ms. Hannah was clearly born in a barn.)

It seems, Gentle Advice Columnist, that in your opinion, it is rude and unsightly for a diabetic to do their blood tests and "medical procedures", as you called them, in public. You suggested that people should test in the bathroom or another private room. Some of Ms. Hannah's colleagues and peers have taken to the internet to badmouth and rail against such advice. What this blogger sees is an Advice Columnist who may not have any experience with diabetes.

You say you "draw the line at drawing blood", and it's true the sight of blood makes many people uncomfortable; however, for people with diabetes, a little blood is a fact of life multiple times a day. The diabetics of this world are not drawing out syringes full of blood from their own arms.  A blood glucose meter reading takes approximately 5 seconds, and plenty of people with diabetes never have a second thought about plopping that meter on the table in front of everyone, conducting their diabetes business. (It is not even a blip on the etiquette radar, much like Ms. Hannah hastily wiping her nose on a cloth restaurant napkin.) It's often just a tiny drop of blood, or a quick poke with an insulin pen.

The good people of the Diabetes Online Community typically call things as they see them, and in your column, they saw ignorance, intolerance and perhaps even ableism. These days, it is unavoidable that people share details about their personal lives online. Some people, including this blogger, discuss things that some people find unacceptable to share with unauthorized individuals or strangers. Everyone in this country is entitled to health information privacy, but a number of folks choose to disclose their visible and invisible illnesses and disabilities in a very public way.

Gentle Advice Columnist, Ms. Hannah is certain that what has angered those in the DOC the most is your seemingly rigid and outmoded stance about what is proper for diabetes management in public, as it seems you have no experience living with diabetes yourself.  Additionally, Ms. Hannah would like to note that answering questions in the third person may make you seem haughty, holier-than-thou, and inaccessible to younger readers who prefer their advice more off-the-cuff. (She would also like to note that writing in third person while trying to relay a personal opinion is pretty effing difficult, so kudos to you for doing it for so many years. Clearly, you have a good editor.)

Ms. Hannah's initial reaction was anger as well. "Where does this woman get off, telling me I need to run to the loo for a five-second blood test? Perhaps she will perish in a fire," she said to herself. Soon, this blogger realized that was an overblown reaction, having never taken kindly to some strict viewpoints about politeness. Another thing she realized is that every person is different. People with diabetes have just as much a right to disagree with you as they might to agree with you.  In fact, allow this blogger to lay out a shocking fact for you:

Ms. Hannah has tested, changed insulin pump infusion sets, injected and applied continuous glucose monitor sensors in public restrooms. She has also tested her blood and injected insulin in front of party guests, out at dinner, and even while working the door at a poetry slam. Is she wrong for doing it in one place and not the other?

There is no reason for either to be wrong, because it seems the sort of thing to be based on situations and personal preferences. Ms. Hannah does not do things involving needles and/or blood in the sightlines of friends who go pale and woozy at the mere sight of needles and/or blood. While she wants them to understand her Type 1 Diabetes, she does not want them passing out into their craft brews and plates of vegan brunch. That's bad news for everyone.

To make up for any accusations of potential flip-floppery in her opinions on etiquette, here are some rude things Ms. Hannah has done which may shock and appall you, Gentle Advice Columnist--perhaps much more than any quick injection in public:

--Licking a finger following a blood test
--Not disposing of sharps in a proper biohazard container
--Hitting "ignore" on a phone call from Ms. Hannah's mother
--Removing wedding rings to apply hand lotion
--Sitting on, not hovering above, the toilet seat in a dive bar bathroom
--"Breaking wind" at work when I am alone in the office
--Asking friends with bleeding paper cuts if they would like their blood glucose checked
--Hoping her blood glucose would drop low as an excuse to not bolus for a donut
--Wiping her nose on a cloth restaurant napkin

That being said, this blogger advocates individuals continuing to do what is best for them, and learning how to educate others along the way. People with diabetes and other medical conditions that require constant monitoring or potentially obvious medical interventions in public should not be obligated to choose "Team Tidybowl" over "Team Test Strip on a Lap, or Inside a Purse, at the Airline Gate". Ms. Hannah also feels that PWD should not be jerks who yell "DEAL WITH IT!" at people uncomfortable with diabetes-related bloodletting and poking. Perhaps the polite thing is for the PWD to explain what they are doing and advise the squeamish to look away until they're told it's over?

Gentle Advice Columnist, the DOC may have had choice words for you in the past couple of days, including telling you to eat a number of...unseemly things. Ms. Hannah advises you eat something, too--a cupcake, while sitting down to chat with someone with diabetes about the realities of what they see as proper in polite company. After that, you may truly be able to dispense applicable diabetes etiquette which is relevant to everyone's interests.

Best regards,
Ms. Hannah

PS: For the record, I agree with you sometimes. I think baby gender-reveal parties are unnecessary. And as a person who has drawn hearts, smiley faces, and written stuff like "Woo hoo we can't wait to see you!!" on wedding RSVP cards, I did rather enjoy the way you dissed them in the letter just above the diabetes letter that caused all this controversy.

Monday, January 27, 2014


That's right, January.  You are dead to me.  You have been nothing but trouble, trial, and tribulation.

How's that? you ask.

This is the third time my car has been in the shop this month, possibly for all of the same problems each time.  This has resulted in less of a surplus than was planned this month, so some payments I was really hoping to double up on are not really getting anywhere.

This is the month I've had to take a bus to the El train to another bus to get to/from work while my car is in the shop.  The total trip one way is about an hour and twenty minutes.

Work stress.

Frozen pipes in the kitchen.  One kitchen sink overflow as a result.

Painful muscle tension caused by work stress and the general crappiness of this month.

Matt's grandmother passed away.  She was a wonderful woman who will be dearly missed.

Definitely not getting out enough, due to aforementioned car issues.

There was, for certain, a lack of poetry.

Oh, and snow.  Lots of snow.  Snow that gets in the way of travel plans--this is how we were not able to attend Matt's grandma's funeral.  This is how I had a FIVE AND A HALF HOUR commute home last week during the storm.  This is how my snow shovel, which I'd only had for three weeks, was stolen from the front of my house and swapped with a small rake.  I can't make up stuff like this.  If they wanted to borrow a shovel, they just had to knock and ask me!  What am I going to do with this rake now?

And if you are only here to read about diabetes stuff, let's throw in a few sticky, gross, eye-blurring, tongue-drying high blood glucose readings that were tough to bring down, even with site changes and injections.  Oh, right, I attribute that to all the jerkiness of Jerkuary!

Jerkuary did spare me in a few ways.  There were some generous SEPTA employees who took pity on me for not having the proper fare or who rushed us all through the gate without having to pay for the already-late subway.  There was the incredible Balkan brass band show Matt and I attended.  There was the kindness and ingenuity of Matt's brother, who set up a Google+ Hangout session on a smartphone so we could virtually attend the funeral service that we couldn't travel to.  There were friends, hugs, Hello Kitty slippers that I got for $5, there were recipes tried and well-received.

But really, Jerkuary, I'm glad you're heading out of here.  Next month is my month:  February.  My birth month tends to hold lots of good things.  At this point, almost anything could be an improvement.