Saturday, April 30, 2011

Donut Holes

The final blogging prompt from the WEGO Health Blog's Health Activist Writer's Monthly Challenge is "Gobbledygook Day" and the challenge is to create a made-up word.

I was just listening to one of my favorite radio programs on my local NPR affiliate yesterday - A Way with Words - and they were discussing this very concept. Martha and Grant kept talking about "holes" in the English language just waiting for words to fill them.

They talked about the awkward sidewalk dance two people do when trying to decide how to maneuver around one another (a slidle?) and the sideways shuffle you do in the movie theater trying not stick your butt in someone's face or hit their knees as you "sluffle" out of the aisle to use the john.

The diabetic online community (DOC) has many 'gobbledygook' words or phrases currently in rotation:

  • ragebolus (when you take more insulin than you need just to bring down a stubborn high)
  • diabeversary (the day you were diagnosed)
  • bolus worthy (a meal/food/goodie so yummy it's worth the massive insulin dosage required to cover it
  • diabetes police (people in your life who nitpick your food choices)
  • type 3 (loved ones/spouse/caretaker/parent of a PWD)
  • sweatabetes (working out)
  • diabeatles (okay, so that one doesn't actually get thrown around, but I coined it and I'm proud!)

Communities of people are going to have their inside jokes, their shop talk, their lexicon. I don't know that I can throw a word out there and have it gain any momentum.

I am not an A-lister among D-bloggers. I'm not well known. I'm not in their happy family meetup pictures. I'm not at the summits and blogger conventions. I don't know quite how I fit in yet, but that's okay. I don't know who I want to be as a health blogger. I didn't really think I could consider myself a health activist writer until I started this challenge thirty days ago.

Speaking of which, I missed only two days of the challenge - one was the day we flew roundtrip in a matter of 12 hours to pick up our little houseguest. One was the day I was battling a house full of stomach flu. So I'd say I gave it my all.

Anyway, I have been thinking very hard for the last few weeks about who I am. What I've wanted for myself and family. What lies ahead. How my health condition will play into that. (Dia-cisions?)

I've been battling grief, exhaustion, stress, high blood sugars, forgotten boluses, low binges, cranky toddlers.

My emotional state and my certainty about any given topic have mirrored the peaks and valleys of my blood sugar line on my continuous glucose monitor - which I lost for three days. Lost, I say. And by lost, I mean that it sat IN PLAIN SIGHT on my nightstand for three days while I pulled my hair out and worried about where it ran off to.

So that should tell you something about my own challenges this month. BG Range: 40-370. Standard deviation: 50s. CGM line: rocky mountains.

In this emotional state, in my obscurity as a johnny-come-lately d-blogger, on the last day of this health activist writer's monthly challenge, I wonder what hole in my sugar-free vocabulary needs a little cream filling.

I think I will leave you hanging and just say that I'm glad the blogging challenge is finally complete. I won't feel bad now if I rest a while between posts.

No blobligation looming over my head before I nod off each night. :)

(See what I did there? Tee hee hee.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Avoid Clichés Like the Plague

Prompt: What health cliché do you tire of hearing? Can you turn it around and make it something you don't mind hearing?

I didn't have to think twice about this one.

I tell someone I have Type 1 diabetes. The next comments I hear are "Oh, my ___ had that" (when they probably mean Type 2), then "do you have to take shots?" (that's like asking an amputee if they had to lose a limb), followed concernedly with:

"Are you in good control?"

I frequently hear that last one and never know quite how I want to answer.

I want to launch into my diatribe about how normal glycemic control is nearly impossible for a type 1. I want to explain that from meal to meal, from day to day, the volatility of the condition is such that the asker can't begin to understand what they are asking. I've blogged about this before here.

It's one of those things people ask and don't even know why they are supposed to ask it.

Do they want to know if I'm like one of those people in a movie whose legs or feet are rotting off from gangrene?

Or maybe they just want to know how one controls Type 1 diabetes - what's involved and such.

Maybe they just mean Are you healthy? Do you feel well?

Maybe it's just curiosity. Maybe they want to hear something dramatic or something inspiring.

But let me just ask you, dear reader...are you in good control?

Your life? Your career? Your work day? This morning? In traffic?

When your kids are yelling at one another? When your mother calls? When you balance your checkbook? When you choose to eat that donut?

Your spring cleaning? Your to-do list? Your long term goals?

Are you in good control?

[pause]

To turn this one around and make it something I can appreciate being asked, I have to think about the genuine meaning of control and answer thusly:
Yes, thank you. I am in control, especially since I have to be my own pancreas. I choose what to eat, how much, and when. I choose which doctors I see, how often I report back to them, how often I test my blood sugar. I educate myself on the latest technologies available for managing my condition. I do everything in my power to live an empowered, healthy life...and no, my blood sugars are not in the desired, optimum range much of the time. What else would you like to know?
Maybe that will satisfy their curiosity.

That and a peek at my gangrenous appendages.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Not Anymore

I used to be uneducated about the causes of diabetes, but I'm not anymore.

I used to be self-righteous about being a type 1 because I was as misinformed about type 2 as the rest of the general public, but I'm not anymore.

I used to be indulgent in treating my lows, feeling I was entitled to the treats everyone else got the rest of the time, but I'm not anymore.

I used to be blasé in how often I checked my blood sugar or how I managed my insulin, but I'm not anymore.

I used to be dismissive about how hard living with this condition is, but I'm not anymore.

I used to be quiet about living with a chronic illness because I didn't want to be perceived as weak or whiny, but I'm not anymore.

I used to be convinced that my life would be cut short by this condition, but I'm not anymore.

I used to be alone in a world where I knew no one else who knew this life...but I'm not anymore.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Day

Find a quote that inspires you either positively or negatively and write about it.

In the days leading up to this prompt, I had several quotes on my "might use" list, but I'm shelving all of them.

Today was horrible. I had a complete emotional breakdown around 2 o'clock and sat down and cried for nearly an hour. I cried on the phone to my friend across the country (thanks, amigo). I cried as I texted my husband. I cried as the babies kept bringing me toys. It was just a hard day with two little ones who refused to give me an inch.

And at some point in the middle of the day, while I was diapering one of the two little heathens terrorizing my house and my sanity, a forgotten quote smacked me in the face.

"Nothing is worth more than this day." ---Goethe

I don't know why. I don't know where my brain found it as its little fuzzy feelers crawled around inside itself digging for quote dust bunnies.

I just know that it hit me out of nowhere.

Nothing is worth more than this day.

THIS day.

This day when Little Sweetie has her first puffy shiner on her left eye from a fall on the steps yesterday. This day when I'm recovering from an awful stomach bug.

This day when our little houseguest decided to run from me in the supermarket, in the parking lot, in the driveway, and any time I tried to put pants on him. This day when he learned to unfasten his diaper and spin in circles, one butt cheek to the wind.

This day when I spent more time with a toddler wailing in agony at me in the timeout corner than I spent breathing.

And it made me stop and realize that it was up to me to change the course of this day.

The under-2 set is not in control. I'm the adult. I'm the mommy. They need me. I will triumph.

I diapered them, got both of them down for a nap (not without plenty of screaming), and fell asleep on my bed with my daughter in my arms. Forty minutes later, I woke to see her snuggled and contented, and I slipped out from under her carefully.

I then spent nearly a WHOLE HOUR to myself.

I drank my cherished afternoon cup of coffee. I put away three loads of laundry. I stuffed my cloth diapers. I started another load of laundry. I cleaned the living room and bedroom. I prepped dinner. I even managed to scribble out a quick self-introduction to the Diabetes Advocates group (on which I accidentally hit send way before I had edited it).

I didn't do anything for me, per se, but I did the chores that were hanging over me making me feel like an out-of-control failure. And I did it in perfect silence - without a single toddler screaming in protest.

The babies both woke with a fuss, but ten minutes apart at least so that I could be there for each of them. I took all of us out to the backyard for some fresh air and I chatted on the phone with my friend and then another chat with my MIL while the tiny monsters scarfed down 2 containers of Gerber tomato cheese puffs.

Did the kids stop crying? No. Did I manage to teach any voice lessons? No. Did my husband come home early to rescue me? No.

But I rescued myself. I remembered that I matter. I remembered that the longest day I'll ever have is only 24 hours long. I remembered that every day that I love, teach, and cherish a child, I improve his life. And I remembered, most importantly, that it all starts with my perspective.

Nothing is worth more than that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Number 1 on the Threat Down

Today's HAWMC Prompt: Give you or your condition a spirit animal.

Every time I take one of those "What is your spirit animal?" quizzes, the answer often comes out the same.

Bear.

It makes sense. I'm grumbly in the morning, would love to sleep all winter, and enjoy a good back scratching now and then.

But all of this political mumbo jumbo recently about "mama bear" makes me stop and take this idea a bit more seriously.

I'm fiercely protective of those I love. I can be gentle and docile with my little one, but I'm a beast in a fight. I have a huge voice and I know how to wield it.

I can't move all that quickly or gracefully. And you would totally find me digging through someone's picnic basket.

If I were to give my diabetes a spirit animal, Bear seems appropriate there, too.

A bear is unpredictable, untamed, and can damage anything in its path. Sometimes it roars, sometimes it climbs, sometimes it rips a car in half.

Now if only my diabetes would hibernate once in a while!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week in Review

Today's prompt for the Health Activist's Writers Challenge is to relive the best moment from the last week.

It was a challenging week. Our little 18-month-old cousin has been visiting us for the last 8 days and we are all spent. I've been chasing two energetic toddlers up and down my staircase, back and forth across my yard, and around and around my kitchen island.

I've never seen Sweetie look more exhausted. She swats, fusses, and can't settle for naps or nighttime. She's feeling the same strain I think most people feel when their relatives visit.

For Hubster and me, it has been a week of feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders.

To find the best moment of the week, I have to look past the filthy house, the fussing babies, the stressed out husband, the stomach bug that hit Hubster and Sweetie and has Hubs completely out of commission today. I have to look past the spat between my mom and the Hubs, the out-of-whack blood sugars, the many canceled playdates due to either foul weather or foul stomachs.

You (the prompt) are asking me to find a nugget of wonderful in a week of crap.

And then I think I have it.

Today, just before noon on Easter, after her morning nap, our daughter was wandering through the kitchen munching on her first hollow chocolate bunny - or rather the tiny part of the chocolate bunny butt we let her wander off with after Daddy ate the ears and Mommy finished off most of the head.


I was getting ready to start making grilled cheese sandwiches so that lunch would be ready when the little man woke up from his nap. Pulling the new loaf of bread out of our breadbox, I discovered the top of the loaf was hardened and dried out, and that there must have been a tear in the bag.

"Crap."

"What?" inquired Hubster.

"Crap," answered Sweetie from beneath the kitchen table. Another word to add to her blossoming word bank.

It was golden.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oh, the Places You're Low

HAWMC 23: Write a poem a la Dr. Seuss...

"Let's eat," said he.
"Let's eat this treat."
"So sweet," said me.
"So sweet this treat.
I'll take a shot
And then it's not
So sweet that I can't eat this treat."

"I'll test (it's best).
Yes, It's best I test.
And give some thought
To dose my shot.
I want this treat,
This sweet, sweet eat,
But if the test
Is high, it's best
I take a shot
And wait till it's not."

"Oh no," I go,
"My test is low!
I NEED to eat
This sweet, sweet treat!"
I start to chew,
But groan when you
Then tell me how I can't eat sweets.

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Unorthodox Script

What do you wish were a treatment for your condition? What do you wish your doc would prescribe?

I'll never forget the day that Dr. M looked at me and said, "Melissa, you work longer hours and eat more chocolate than I do. I'm the doctor, you're the diabetic. What's wrong with this picture?"

It was a turning point for me. Well, that and falling asleep at the wheel and driving my car off the service road.

I quit my evening job downtown as an assistant retail manager closing the store every night. I quit one of the two schools I was teaching at. I moved to the suburbs.

And I promised to stop buying bags of hershey bars just because I get pissed that the line at the pharmacy is long and get tempted by the display while I am standing in line for insulin. Doesn't quite make sense, I know.

Anyway, it would certainly be nice if the things you wanted to do or were already doing were the prescribed treatment for your health. Even better would be an Rx for a vacation, a maid, and lately, a nanny.

Mine would read: drink lots of coffee, stay indoors in the A/C (and try not to exert yourself), take a spa day, complain about the dogs, chase toddlers, eat Reese's. Or Nutella. Either one really. Generic not acceptable as a substitution.

I'll keep dreaming. I know Dr. M way too well to think I'm ever going to get to fill that script.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earned Admiration

Free write on someone you admire. How have they inspired you and your activism?

This was a no-brainer for me. My dear friend and source of support (blogging at Learned Happiness) deserves this dedication today.

I have always admired Susan. When we first met in the 4th grade, I admired her for her charming personality and her pretty smile. In 8th grade US History, I learned to admire her for her sense of humor and infectious laughter as we would giggle about the absurdity that was our instructor. That shared sense of humor grew in our G/T humanities class throughout our four years of high school, but there was always a measured distance - as though flute player and choir girl should not be seen together in public.

It wasn't until we went our separate ways and reconnected via email in college that I learned to admire her for the strength of her character, the depth of her compassion, and the thoughtful way she approaches everything.

I always wished I were more like her. I admired her for how mature and collected she always seemed. Little did I know then that she suffered silently from anxiety. She gave such an air of easy, charming grace.

A few years ago, Susan was a pregnant friend who said exactly what I needed to hear when I wasn't allowed to get pregnant because my diabetes wasn't controlled enough and I was resentful. She called from a thousand miles away just to leave a message that her phone line was open and that it was perfectly fine if I needed to ignore her while she was pregnant. She got it. And I ignored her for a little while. But I did it knowing that she understood. She was letting me be selfish and withdrawn. And I was able to breathe a little more easily - knowing she was someone who wouldn't call to go on and on about how we were all getting older, and was I pregnant yet, etc.

But after her daughter was born, her life fell apart suddenly and without her permission. She battled postpartum depression in silence, sought help in desperation, and now - with that grace and charm I envy - she writes candidly about her hell. Her anxiety. Her highs and lows.

I could go on and on about what all I admire in my friend. The immaculate cleanliness of her home. The way she can juggle multiple household tasks while discussing the finer points of puzzles, monkeys, and funny hats with her toddler. How she designed an instructional activity for her elementary school classes based on our high school G/T curriculum. She can do all her grocery shopping for $75 a week, bake delicious muffins, and, if you asked her, she could MacGyveneer a better-than-the-original copy of any piece of artwork/decor/craft item you had your eye on with little more than a piece of ribbon and a hot glue gun.

But how she has inspired my health activism is in her candor and her humor. Like the best storytellers, she has this way of bringing a conversation (or a blog post) full circle. You feel instantly warmer in conversation with her and reading her posts. She draws you in to how her anxiety colors the world around her and, rather than pity her or dismiss her, you laugh and cry with her (and then you scramble to post your own shopping list, reduce your grocery bill, try her apple muffins, and borrow her household organization charts).

In our weekly phone calls, Susan's perspective allows me to focus my own. I stop fooling myself and say the selfish, scary things I don't say to anyone else. And then I get inspired and blog about those feelings to the entire internet (you know, because everyone is reading Sweetly Voiced). She makes me say what I really feel...and fear...out loud. And then I know I can write it down and put it out there.

Love you, dear.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Room of One's Own

Describe your writing room. What is in the room where you write your posts?

I have two spaces for writing my posts, but both of them are...cushiony.

The first is my living room sofa with its olive green microfiber plushness. I'm usually flanked by our two dogs and within arm's reach of a husband. Full glass of iced tea on the end table. Toddler toys all over the floor that I haven't stooped to scoop yet.

Tivo is either quietly recording something we'll never get around to watching or in playback mode for some Food Network show we're only half-paying attention to.

Hubster is usually clicking away on his larger-than-mine Macbook Pro, solving the world's Websphere problems or snickering at LOLcats. He's three times the typist I am, but I can compose an email three hundred times faster. He will never be a blogger.

We're usually fighting over how much or how little overhead light we'd like. And all of us, dogs included, jump at the smallest sounds from the baby monitor.

My second writing space is my rocking glider in our bedroom. It was a gift from Hubster's team at work when Little Sweetie was born and where she and I spent our first night home.

This is my preferred space if Hubster isn't home or there is still daylight. Sweetie might be napping in our bed or watching Mickey Mouse or terrorizing a cat. All of her board books line one corner of the room and she flips through them thoughtfully between tail pullings and shower door slammings.

I love the huge window that takes up one whole wall and the way the full, green, leafy branches of the Bartlett Pear in the backyard move and rustle in the wind. I love how much light fills the room.

One space embodies for me the peace and quiet of the end of a successful day; if I'm lucky enough to sit and relax with Hubster on the couch and actually write, then it has been a good day.

The second space reflects for me the quick, got-to-jot-this-down process that tries to capture creative, fleeting thoughts amidst the craziness of motherhood.

Funny, but it took until now for me to realize that I never write in my home office. Too lonely, too uncomfortable. Virginia Woolf would be scratching her head...but isn't the point that I have my own corner should I need it?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Perfection

Today's prompt from the WEGO Health Blog's Health Activist Writer's Monthly Challenge (#HAWMC) is to free write on a topic of your choice.

Some of us stress out a lot about our idea of perfection. I didn't think I've been one of those people, honestly, until maybe this week.

In various phases of my life with diabetes, I have given up on the idea of "perfect control" for one reason or another. As a kid, it was because I didn't know my control could be better. In college, I didn't believe my control could be better. In adulthood, I have learned the hard lesson that you can be doing almost everything right and be far off from any kind of "perfect control." And yet, I am one of the best "controlled" type 1 diabetics I know. I think that's why I write. I am doing great, and I'm still not perfect...so breathe.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

At this point in my life, I hadn't really stressed out about perfection. I don't think I knew I had it. I have a fairly comfortable life, a job that entertains me, a husband and partner who is everything I ever thought I deserved, and a daughter who delights me every minute of the day with her cute little personality.

Many of the major life events I've shared with my husband have been perfectly storybook - our honeymoon, finding our house, his job, my pregnancy, our first year with our kiddo. And we have felt a bit entitled to a little goodness. It wasn't bestowed on us by fate for surviving various crappy life experiences or anything - it was hard fought and hard won by us as individuals and as a couple through our attitude and the choices we have made.

This week has been far from perfect with our little houseguest. I've faced challenges to everything I had been taking for granted about our life. And yet, I'm intrigued to see what we can make of this. I've wept loud sobs every single day, but I've laughed harder than I've laughed in a long time, too.

When you don't believe in fate, when you can't know an alternate future, and when you try not to live with regret, you are free to use your own ingenuity to change your cards. No fate but what we make for ourselves (thanks, Terminator 2).

I wonder if I could redefine perfect once again in my life, family, and relationships in the way that I have for my health. I wonder if I could accept peaks and valleys the way I do in my blood sugar control. Yes, I stress about the up and down-ness of it all, but I manage. Could I redefine a life so exhausting, so hectic, so confusing?

If I were to take a microscope to my life as I have been cherishing it, I'm sure I would find I had already redefined it many times before.

It's all a matter of perception.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Day in the Life

Write a list of your daily routine from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. Be honest.

I can't think of anything less important to you, Dear Reader, than my daily schedule.
But here goes.

MORNING
6:30-8:00am
Wake up to Little Sweetie pulling on my lips and laughing, nurse Sweetie, test blood sugar, take insulin, drink coffee with Hubster, change a diaper, nurse Sweetie, let dogs out, eat breakfast (made by Hubster), take shower (with LS at my feet slamming shower door with glee), laugh as she does same thing to frustrated Hubster, brush teeth, diaper one of us, dress both of us, make Hubster's lunch, say goodbye to Hubster

MID-MORNING
8:00am-12:00pm
Turn on Mickey Mouse episode as I attempt to check email, start daily housework, start load of cloth diapers in laundry, attend playdates and/or play with toddler, several diapers, at least one more nursing

EARLY AFTERNOON
12-3pm
Blood sugar test and insulin, Lunch for LS and me, nap for LS, more housework, 2pm: test blood sugar, make coffee, feed dogs and cats, put diapers out on the clothesline, play outside with toddler, answer TuDiabetes admin issues as they arise, prepare music lessons, change several diapers, 1-2 more nursings

LATE AFTERNOON
3-6pm
I teach Music lessons while LS has a snack with babysitter and watches Bubble Guppies or Sesame Street, 4pm usually brings another blood sugar test and coveted extra cup of coffee

EARLY EVENING
6-8pm
Diaper, nursing, I start cooking at 6pm while LS runs in circles around my kitchen. Her dinner is on the highchair by 6:45, blood sugar test and insulin, Hubster comes in around 7 and we eat together. 7:15, LS gets a bath for about 20-25 minutes. Much splashing and singing of Bobby Darin songs. Accompanied by bubbles. Diaper, jammies, story time, lullabies, last nursing…usually wrapped up by 8:15.

LATE EVENING
8-11pm
Clean up kitchen, stuff diapers, do dishes and/or start dishwasher, sit down for an episode of something or other on tv, talk to Hubster until he nods off on the couch during said episode, check on TuDiabetes discussions I'm following, blog, post to Facebook, clean out my inbox, test blood sugar, take out contacts, crawl into bed, asleep before hitting the pillows

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sweet Meditations

Write something mindful. Live in the reality of the moment, without judgment.

Current BG: 150 mg/dL, post-low.

Me: sitting on back porch in "slightly too windy/cool to be out here in the shade" weather

People in the house: Husband sweeping living room. 18-month-old houseguest asleep in our bed. 14-month-old daughter sitting across from me in a lawn chair enjoying a cold breeze on her face and trying to figure out why lawn chair doesn't rock.

I just took a moment to attack her belly as she climbed up on me yelling Mama. Now she's gone to play under the tree, trying not to get knocked over by the wind.

Blogging in a mindful way is completely counter-intuitive to me. If I'm not supposed to make a point, if I'm not supposed to analyze, judge, relate, tie in...then why are you reading this?

I understand that meditation is supposed to be therapeutic. I know that people with diabetes have seen meditation have a positive impact on their blood sugars even. But I don't see it in my nature to blog about it. It should be something I do privately...and then maybe blog about the aftermath - what I learned from it, gained from it, how I felt after.

In the mindful moment, I think about the fact that I'm stressed out, that my stomach hurts, that I'm breathing heavily, that my neck hurts. I can't tell where my BG is at all, actually. Which usually means it's in the target range or just on the outskirts.

In the mindful moment, I can see that my daughter is perfectly lovely, soft, good-natured, funny.

The shady patio is cold, so I go inside and try to write on the couch. My husband and daughter are now snacking on goldfish crackers and watching Mickey Mouse. My houseguest is still napping. One dog is just aching for a fallen goldfish. The other is sleeping at my feet.

I know that time to myself is a precious commodity. This is about as mindful as it gets lately. Maybe that's my problem.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Two Sentence Story

Tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end in only two sentences.

There's a big difference between the child hooked to a saline drip - not yet diagnosed, comatose, not understanding the full weight of the chronic condition about to be explained to her - and the woman over 20 years later who checks her blood sugar and ketone levels and makes a judgment call about going to the ER to get hooked to a saline drip.

The difference is about 15,000 injections, 1,500 pump changes, 50,000 finger pricks…11 million minutes with Type 1 Diabetes…and an understanding that you have to take care of yourself because it isn't ever going to cut you a break.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just Stop Talking

Prompt: Write a poem (5‐10) lines where every line is a lie or misconception about your health condition.

You don't look like a diabetic.

Did you eat too much sugar?
Will your kids get it, too?
My aunt lost her feet from that.
Have your numbers finally stabilized?

I thought you couldn't eat cookies.
You shouldn't get pregnant.
You shouldn't wear high heels.
You could get yourself off of insulin if you tried.

My dad changed his diet and got rid of it, you know.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As you know from experience, diabetes can affect your thoughts and decisions about how many children to have or adopt.

Today's prompt is to open a book to any page, take the first line you see, and make that the title of your blog post. Then riff on it in a post for 20 minutes.

I know why I reached for When You're a Parent with Diabetes on the shelf - a book I bought while pregnant and probably opened once to read a brief page or two on pregnancy and pre-existing D…but I'm shocked at the page I opened it to and the first line I saw. It was under the heading "Considering Another Child."

That's so exactly - down to the minute - where we have been this week.

Hubster and I were about to embark on trying to conceive again when adoption unexpectedly entered into the discussion.

We have talked many times about whether we would want a second and third child to our little nuclear family. My first pregnancy with diabetes was such a walk in the park that I am confident that I could ace my way through another one. I've been wanting to rush it though so that I would still be under 35 and healthy should we want to attempt a third. (Little Sweetie was born when I was 30.) I know women with Type 1 Diabetes who have had successful pregnancies in their late 30s and early 40s, but I am not sure I want to add the increased risk factors, so I have been thinking that Bun #2 probably better get in the oven some time this year.

But adoption was a byway I hadn't even considered. Another pregnancy could then come on more relaxed terms, later, when we're ready, when the kids are a little older. When I'm not trying to balance my blood sugars along critically tight pre-pregnancy targets while trying to chase a naked toddler headed for an electrical socket with a fork. (Okay, so that hasn't happened yet, but isn't it only a matter of time?)

Both of our families have adoption at the heart of them. My grandfather and his half-brother were adopted by their stepfather (named Baland) in the early 1930s and I've always marveled that the name I knew as my last name all my life came from the goodwill of a man who wanted his sons to be legally his.

My husband's mom and her twin sister were adopted by a family friend as infants when their mother couldn't care for five children with no family there to support her.

The funny thing is that the only reason I might not have considered adoption before is actually because of diabetes. I didn't want people to believe in the ridiculous notions about diabetes and pregnancy fueled by misconceptions, misinformation, and Miss Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. I wanted to prove that my nagging little health condition was not in my way. The way I've always wanted to prove that it's not in my way.

My pregnancy with Little Sweetie proved that for me. My writing about my health proves it - my resolve to live a beautiful life in spite of odds and obstacles.

So maybe now we might open our hearts and home to someone who needs to be here. It's still only a distant possibility. But if it comes to be, I will work even harder to be a healthy, strong parent to two as I have to one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Strawberries

The HAWMC prompt today is Ekphrasis. Find a photo (somewhere like Flickr Creative Commons) that inspires you and write on the topic for 15 minutes. I did a search for Diabetes and found this photo on the Diabetes 365 Project:


I've had strawberries on the brain a lot lately.

For one, it's Little Sweetie's favorite food. She can do the sign for it and her face breaks into an eager grin at the mere mention of them. I'm buying at least a pound a week so that we can share them over lunch. They go bad so quickly though; I hate that I can't make fresh fruit last until the end of the week.

I love how any one strawberry can be either incredibly sweet or unexpectedly tart and you never know which you're getting until you sink your teeth into it. I watch LS munch on them wondering if she's discovered those differences in taste yet.

I had an appointment with my diabetes educator this morning. I love how Kate will pull out a drawer of rubber food for LS to play with. As soon as Sweetie spotted the fairly-realistic-looking rubber strawberries, one went straight in the mouth. I think she might have nibbled a bit off. Without much reaction, it went back into the box and she decided to taste all of the rubber foods, one by one.

We hoped they were non-toxic.

So I made sure that when we got home, she got the real deal with her chicken nuggets at lunch. They were appreciated - down to the last bite. I put two on my own plate, feeling a little guilty for eating up the last of her coveted favorite food. Not knowing how to count the carbs in 1 large and 1 medium strawberry...and not caring.

In the midst of the faux food and nutritional visual aids, I have no idea what all we changed and why at my appointment, but I'm satisfied that she changed most of my dosages. Even if we get them all wrong, at least it felt proactive. I was too enamored of my own daughter drooling over the rubber rice and broccoli.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wikid Cool

Today's HAWMC prompt is to revise your condition's Wikipedia entry.

After reading the whole darn thing, I have to admit - I personally can't think of anything it lacks.

It's so clearly written - so devoid of glaring factual errors - that it makes me wonder who out there is actually reading it. The people out there telling you to eat moss and who cock an eyebrow when you have dessert certainly haven't read it.

Maybe it should include the sentence:
"Contrary to misconceptions, they can eat cookies."

The entry talks about the risks of both high and low blood sugar and the differences between the forms of diabetes (though, I'm sure that's where many in my community will find fault with it - it gives more attention to MODY than LADA and doesn't label LADA by name clearly). It mentions promising research, but declares that it's all inconclusive at this time. It talks about the condition being "burdensome," but declares us "otherwise healthy."

Thanks, Wiki. I think your contributing wiki-authors nailed it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Post Secret

Sunday's prompt from the WEGO Health Blog is to write down a secret that really isn't a secret, a la Post Secret.

I'm not going to re-do what was already done so poignantly here on Kerri's blog.

The outpouring of honesty in the anonymous comments to her post kept me coming back to see what the next revelation would be. I didn't post anything myself. I don't know what my secret about diabetes would be, honestly. Maybe I haven't thought about it enough? Maybe I am already too open with people about my condition.

I think it's no secret that I hate and resent diabetes, but that I deal with it and don't let it win. I don't let it affect my relationships, my success, my career…most of the time. I like the phrase coined by one of my online DOC friends: "I'm fine, except when I'm not."

It's no secret that I don't believe in a cure. It's hard to tell the newly diagnosed that I'm in that camp, but I am careful with how I say it and I like to think it's my right to be skeptical...in more than just that respect.

And I've been honest with my community when I've had misconceptions about Type 2 diabetes - and I've apologized for them (and you probably should, too).

Maybe my post secret would be that I'm complacent. I should have complications by now, but I don't, so I take for granted that my body must be resilient.

I think my body has to be exhausted…but who has the time to stop and pamper it? There are students to teach, gigs to sing, a house to clean, children to care for, blogs to write.

My blood sugar is 335 tonight as I post this. It was 168 and stable five hours ago when I laid down with my kiddo for a minute. I know why it's high though - I ate BBQ at 6:30 and the fat content caught up with me. Had I not fallen asleep at 8:30, I'd have caught it at 9 when it started to skyrocket. Instead, my poor little cells have been swimming in glucose for the last few hours. My little cgm beeping its heart out while I slept through it.

335 makes you feel sick to your stomach, thirsty but you can't drink enough to put a dent in your thirst, angry - chemically so - at nothing because your stress hormones are peaking, sleepy.

335 feels like a piece of cotton in your mouth. Edgy like a junkyard dog at the end of a chain. In a thunderstorm. Heavy with sleep.

Post Secret #2: I don't know how I spent most of my teen and young adult years with 335s everyday. I don't know how I performed in shows, aced exams, loved and lost….with 335s everyday.

And I have to wonder what I would have achieved if I had known then what I know now.

So that 335s are an anomaly rather than an inevitability.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sweet Monotony

Today's challenge prompt from WEGOHealth is to free write on any topic.

I've been so preoccupied this week with family issues, life upheaval, etc, that I think this will suit me perfectly. I've been thinking of one word all weekend:

Routine.

...the importance of routine to good health
...the way toddlers (and my pets) thrive on it
...the monotony of routine
...going through the motions in the midst of crisis or grief

I chose a career path where every day has been slightly different. I might have scheduled music lessons from 3-5 one day, the next day teach a children's choir, the next day work in a retail shop, the next day teach from 9-5, the next day sing for church services, etc.

Thus was my existence for most of my early adulthood. It made me feel flexible and in demand, but it severely impeded my ability to control my diabetes. When no two days are the same, how do you adjust your insulin dosages - those unforgivingly temperamental basal rates - to reflect your actual needs?

My routine now is fairly straightforward...and I have to credit being at home with my toddler.

Toddlers THRIVE on routine for their mental health. They find security in understanding the expectations - such as Daddy leaving for work after breakfast or that you take a bath before night-night, which is always 8pm. They will bring you a book and ask for the same story to be read aloud again and again. They throw their sippy cup to the floor from the highchair to see if it will fall every time. And to see if you'll pick it up.

In creating a predictable set of expectations for my 14 month old daughter, I find that my mealtimes and blood sugar testing times happen along a predictable routine now, which helps my blood sugar management. When my 2pm alarm goes off, the whole house rushes with anticipation. It's the alarm that says (a) pets get fed, (b) coffee gets brewed, and (c) Mommy tests her post-lunch blood sugar. At 4pm, another alarm sounds; students come and go, Sweetie gets a snack, and Mommy tests her blood sugar. Mommy and Daddy eat dinner at 7, so that bath time can happen by 7:15 and bedtime is a pretty firm 8:00.

These additional afternoon testing times help me with a huge chunk of my daily diabetes care because I spent many years going from lunch to dinner with no blood sugar feedback. That's potentially a third of my day with no data to show for it, no corrections for highs, no heads-up for lows. Combine that with the third of my day I spent sleeping and it's no wonder my A1c was unnaturally high. And even in more recent years, dinner was never consistently at the same time. Now, because I have a hungry child by 6:45, the routine is in place to dictate my own meal time.

The downside of routine is certainly that feeling of sameness though. That dry, monotonous laundry list of tasks that you check your way through each day. I'm always experimenting with ways to keep it fresh while still keeping it ordered. I don't know why I fight the sameness. What am I afraid of?

When life is out of whack for whatever reason, I have to admit that I simultaneously find comfort and emptiness in the routine.

Comfort in the familiarity, security, clarity. I may be sick with a sinus infection and my husband may be out of town all week and we have nowhere to be, but we're still up at 7am, bustling about the house as though we're shuffling him out the door to work. My daughter doesn't have the concept of Saturday. She just knows we get up with the sun and start doing the tasks that make up our morning.

Emptiness though in how hollow it can feel when you're just going through the motions and you can't pinpoint why you're doing it. Like when your head is pounding and your husband is out of town and you're stressed about something and lacing up your shoes when you know you're not leaving the house all day feels like the most inane waste of your limited energy.

A change in circumstances is potentially coming for our family, and routine is going to be my only ally. Routine is going to be the tool by which I comfort everyone I love. The familiarity, security, clarity. I'm banking on it. I'm putting my eggs in that Easter basket. I'm hoping that it's the magic ribbon that's going to keep us all tied together.

And my blood sugars will probably thank me for it, too.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sweetly Rhetorical

Today's prompt from the HAWMC is to write a 5-10 line poem consisting entirely of health-related questions.

How many grams of carbohydrate are in that sandwich?
Why doesn't last Friday's dosage work this Friday?
What does my pancreas actually do all day?
What if we could have seen this coming?
How would we have prepared for it?
Who would I have been without it?
What does my future hold?
Will it shorten my life?
How long do I have?
How do I spend it?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You Sent Me Straight to Voicemail?

Today's HAWMC prompt is to leave your condition a voicemail. Bonus points for audio.

Click on the tiny silver player to hear my mp3 version...


Ring...ring...ring...

Yeah, hi… It's Melissa, your host body. We really need to talk.

Your numbers yesterday, yeah the 200s and 300s all day? What was that about? I mean, really. I exercised for you, I ate right for you, I tested frequently, I took my insulin... Listen, I...I know you're not really getting along with this cold I'm fighting right now, but can you do me a favor and take the day off tomorrow? I'm stressed and I cannot deal with numbers like this all week, alright?

Oh, by the way, don't forget that one of us is gonna have to answer for that at our appointment next week with the diabetes educator.

*sigh* Geez, just lay off a little okay? Alright. Thanks. Talk to you later.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

That's the Power of Blog

Today's prompt from the HAWMC is to complete this sentence:

I write about my health because…

I write about my health because I didn't know that there were people out there like me. And because there is a freedom that comes with sharing what I've kept bottled up inside since childhood about living with this condition.

I spent the first EIGHTEEN YEARS that I was living with type 1 diabetes honestly believing that I was the ONLY ONE who must not have normal glucose control.

My endocrinologists and CDEs and dietitians had always made it sound so simple: Test now, eat this, treat with this, inject with this.

And they always seemed so sincerely surprised at my failed attempts: Why were you low? Why would you eat that? Where are your logs? Your A1c is 15%. We'd like to see that come down. (To what? How do I do that? What does that even mean?)

I thought that MY diabetes must not be controllable, so I half-heartedly continued the regimen, but completely gave up on achieving good numbers. I listened to their sermons and filed them away as useless. They labeled me non-compliant and I resented the hell out of them for it. Comply with what? Bad advice?

I focused instead on anything BUT the diabetes. I graduated at the top of my class...with an A1c over 10%. I sang my first opera...with my BGs in the 360s. I had never seen an A1c below 8% and I didn't even know that they could go that low. I didn't know or care that T1D was an autoimmune illness; I was told I probably got it from a fall that must have injured my pancreas.

I write - but oh, I want to scream.

I want to run back in time in the Diabetes Delorean and tell the 10-year-old me everything I've learned in the last 3 years that I've been connected.

Connected.

I want to tell her that she needs to go to camp and meet at least one other person with diabetes. That she shouldn't be afraid of the insulin pump when the time comes. That she should test her blood sugar more often, eat differently, dose differently.

But most importantly, I want to tell that independent, headstrong adolescent that she will need a support network beyond her loving parents. She will need to meet others who have actually lived the same story.

But I can't tell her that. I can only tell you.

And maybe you needed to hear it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

5-7-5 (Thankfully, not my blood sugar.)

Today's HAWMC prompt is to write a haiku about your condition.

I got into doing this in September of 2008, when Dino started the thread Haikubetes in my home community of TuDiabetes.org.

I posted several there (though the images are new):

We looked for support./TuDiabetes.org./Welcome home, Emma.


The one about support now appears on a TuDiabetes postcard. The one about the glucose tabs appears in the No-Sugar-Added Poetry book along with another poem I wrote called Song of My-[Diabetic]-Self (modeled after Whitman's Song of Myself).

But in the spirit of the challenge, I'm going to put keys to cursor again and drum out a few more.













Monday, April 4, 2011

Type 1 Cured?

Diabetic mice must sleep easy.

There is probably a news article twice a year shouting excitedly about mice being cured of type 1 diabetes. You'd think that diabetic mice would be scampering under laboratory doors to get in on that.

Today's challenge from the Health Activist Writer's Monthly Challenge is to google a ridiculous claim for a cure for your condition and write what you think about it.

Where diabetes and the media are concerned, I'm not even sure where to begin. With the poor little mice who have been chemically altered to have diabetes and then cured of it? The fad diets that promise a cure? The random connections discovered between other diseases & diabetes or other hormones & the pancreas?

Let's go back to the lab critters. I do understand why scientists use rodents in testing. Mice are genetically similar to us, not particularly beloved, and rather cheap (and therefore disposable). I shudder and try not to think of the cruelty that we inflict on animals in the name of research. I hope it's done...humanely.

Banting & Best with a lab dog
I cringe whenever I read how dogs (strays and domestics alike) were sacrificed in the name of insulin research from the 1880s to the 1920s. Somebody's pet went missing so that some researchers could tie off her pancreas and watch her die. That's. Hard. To. Swallow. And her suffering is in every bottle of the hormone that I can't last more than a few hours without taking.

Makes me think of the HeLa cells that were taken from a poor, dying, African American woman without her consent or knowledge and have been duplicated for decades and used in thousands of research studies. How do you justify it? How do you thank her? How do they sleep at night?

I want to hug those dogs. I know what it felt like when my body was dying for insulin. Literally. I know how thirsty and sick they felt.

Anyway...

My point is that I take research very seriously. Animals and people die or are violated in the name of the research that helps us learn more about our conditions. That research helps determine the direction that condition management will go.

And that's why false claims about false cures piss me off. There is no cure for diabetes. If you are selling a book, a diet, a theory, or a blog promising a cure...then you are selling snake oil. You are selling hope to a community of people who need it so badly. Hoping for a cure is harmless. Believing it's just around the corner is, at its worst, only naive. Believing it's here already and that Big Pharma is sitting on it...insanity.

And the worst is the parents out there forcing some kind of crazy diet on their children or telling their kids they'll pray it away and believing their method will work. Putting their innocent kids at risk with their refusal to accept the diagnosis and recommended treatment. Thinking it's working at first because their child is in a honeymoon period for a year or so and didn't need insulin.

What do you say to the loonies out there who treat you as though if you just tried a little harder and cared a little more, that your condition will be cured, too? How do you tell someone to stop barking up a tree with no squirrels?

I think of those mice in those labs a lot. I take the headlines with a grain of salt. With each experiment, a scientist learned something new about a condition that we still don't fully understand. I hope that what we learn from the experimentees can justify what we do to them. For every hormone we learn about, some little mouse had his system jacked with.

My system has been jacked with for years. I thank each of those little mice, each of those innocent dogs, and anyone who participates in the later (safer) human trials. They may or may not bring us closer to a cure (the jury is still out on that one), but the information we glean from their sacrifices helps us understand this mess of a condition.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Yahoo! Let's ask some questions!

Today's prompt for Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge is to pretend you're asking a question about your health condition on Yahoo! Answers and then answer the question as an expert.

Open Question

What are the chances that my baby will get diabetes like me?

I have type 1 diabetes and I am wondering if I should expect my children to have it, too. It makes me scared to get pregnant, but I really want children. I don't want to feel guilty for giving them diabetes.

Answer

You'd be surprised how often this question comes up for women who have diabetes. There are those who ask with genuine curiosity, those who ask with genuine concern, and those who ask in a way that makes you feel as though you've knowingly put a human being's life at risk by bringing them into the world as your child.

The truth is that the risk of developing Type 1 Diabetes is pretty much the same for a child of a diabetic as that of a child of a non-diabetic. There appear to be increased risks if you are a male parent with Type 1, if you (as a parent) were diagnosed earlier in life, or if you (as a parent) conceive a child earlier in your adult years. (See this link from the ADA.)

The genetic component of Type 1 is yet to be fully understood. There are families (like mine) in which there is only one person with Type 1 as far back as can be traced. And there are families where parents and children share it, or cousins in the same generation, or three children in the same nuclear family.

As an expert on this topic - meaning that I am a parent and a T1D who gets asked this frequently as people stare at my innocent daughter and wonder aloud about her fate, I feel like it's a question to which no one has an answer. I usually respond with, "There's no reason to suspect she'll get it. After all, I'm the only one in my family..." and let the conversation trail off as though I've never given it a second thought.

I give it a second thought. And then I squelch it with something my husband said to me once.

"If she does get diabetes, who better to deal with it than us?"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Word.

Today's blog prompt from the WEGO Health Blog is to find the word of the day and relate it back to your health condition. I found a WOTD from Wiktionary for April 2. I's certainly a word I can riff on.

Antsy

An adjective meaning restless, apprehensive, fidgety.

Yeah, I can relate to that.

I so frequently declare diabetes as having no right to lay claim on who I am today. And yet, when I start thinking about the timing of things in my life, diabetes was there in the shadows, moving the hands of my clock at its own confusing pace.

Diabetes has affected my ability to get health insurance as an adult, which made me antsy about my career choices and my marital status throughout my 20s. It ultimately rushed my marriage to take place at a JOP five months before our wedding when I learned that I could not extend my COBRA coverage on my parents' plan until our actual wedding date. The day my husband and I were legally joined in matrimony, we stood beneath a framed photo of Ronald Reagan in a cowboy outfit. I can safely say that that wasn't in my original plans.

Diabetes affected when I could get pregnant, making me wait, resentful and fidgety, until my blood sugar control was in the optimum range. It made me antsy and impatient for a pregnancy, antsy and worried throughout those critical nine months, and now I find myself antsy again thinking about the next baby.

Next baby?  My little one just started walking. Is not weaned. Is not potty trained. Having my children so close together was not in my plans as a younger woman when I imagined I'd be married and having kids in my 20s.

But I'm antsy.

I want to do it now, while I'm under 35 and while I feel healthy and have energy. But I also want to wait so that my little Sweetie gets more time and attention with me before a sibling comes. And all of this worry and restlessness boils down to the compromises you make when you don't think you have the time to space your life events out along a more comfortable timeline.

I'm fidgety. Anxious. Ready to just do it already. And I'm antsy because I have to sit and wait again. Sit and wait for the goddamn diabetes to be doing what it's supposed to do. For me to do what I need to do.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sweet Acrostics, Batman!

No foolin', I've decided to take a whack at the challenge from the WEGO health blog and participate in the daily prompts for Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge, which means you will see posts everyday from me (really? *gulp*) for the month of April.

Looking over the prompts, I don't think they all apply to how I write or what I have to say, but I'm willing to try it!  (Mainly because the first challenge is a POEM!)

April 1: Write an acrostic for your condition.

Diabetes
Is
An endless string of
Blood sugar monitoring,
Eating with forethought,
Treating lows,
Evaluating dosage decisions, &
Surviving to repeat it tomorrow.