Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Horn Tooting

Today’s Prompt: Play that horn. Want to hear a secret? You’re awesome. (It’s actually not even really a secret.) This is going to be hard for you, O Modest One, but you gotta give yourself props today. Write three things you love about yourself – things you’re great at – or just want to share. Don’t you dare signpost or undercut those self-compliments!

Actually, between November's prompts and last April's prompts, I'm growing weary of describing my awesomeness. I have a healthy enough self-esteem without all of this back-patting and high-fiving. But since I'm also committed to completing this challenge...

1. I can communicate.

I'm articulate, expressive, and a tad verbose. Tome is a word used more than once to describe my emails to colleagues. I prefer thorough.

I'm awkwardly capable of understanding/speaking/reading in multiple languages without really being able to say I'm fluent in any of them but English. It makes for cute and clumsy dialogue between me and the international party. Like the poor employee in the produce section to whom it was imperative on Sunday that I explain that the parsley had been marked as cilantro. (I learned I don't know the word for parsley in any other language and that I couldn't remember the word for 'to taste' in Spanish - which totally ruined the flow of the story I was trying to tell him about tasting what I thought was cilantro and discovering it was parsley before not deciding not to add it to my soup.)

2. I am funny.

See above story about making small talk with the produce employee.
Or yesterday's blog post.
Also, meet my daughter. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
3. I am compassionate.

I often think of myself as possibly too selfish. I worry, after a conversation - did I refer to myself or my own experience too much? Did I make the other person feel heard? Valued?

But the fact that I worry so much, I think, indicates that I really care about that person. As a teenager, I hated when adults would make me feel like they thought my problems were petty or mundane. I hated feeling dismissed. As a high school music teacher for the last decade, I've tried to offer kids both the perspective I feel those adults meant to give me AND the feeling like their experience or their perspective is valid. Yes, it's true that, ten years from now, they probably won't remember the spat they had with their substitute teacher or the thing that guy said in the hallway that made them cry...but what matters is that it weighs heavily on their minds today. They need someone to listen, evaluate, offer advice, make them laugh about it. And the advice should never be that none of it matters.

With my health community - online and off - I want people to know that I am involved because I care. I want to see that guy less stressed. I want that girl to have a healthy pregnancy. I want that mom to find a solution for her son. I want everyone to sleep more peacefully, get along with their health care practitioners better, and feel more empowered about their own health.

And that's a large part of why this monthly challenge brought me back to the keyboard day after day, night after night. I feel for you. I know what it feels like to deal with the kinds of issues you deal with. And I want to share my thoughts with you. Maybe none of it matters once you've finally started that insulin pump or birthed that baby or gotten that clean bill of health about your vision...but you'll remember that I talked to you, that I made you laugh, that I cared enough to offer my experience and perspective.

And if that made something weigh less heavily on your mind today, then I know I did my job.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: 
http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sorry about your crappy doctor visit...

Today’s Prompt: Greeting card post! The greeting card industry is all about writing generally universal feelings in a presentable way that you can use to express yourself when you just can’t think of the words to say. Write a greeting card for someone in your community to help them express themselves about a new diagnosis, treatment, or experience.


You just found out your A1c.
It's higher than you'd thought.
You cried alone where no one could see.
Your self-esteem is shot.

You felt like you'd been doing better.
It isn't fucking fair.
Compliant to the letter...
Now too ashamed to share.

But get your attitude adjusted
and ease up just a touch.
Your pancreas is busted
and you can only do so much.

If that number's all you consider
to measure your success,
you'll soon grow tired and bitter
of the anger, pain, and stress.

It's a measure, and it's minor.
It's not your overall control.
It's just some data to help refine your
many health-related goals.

You're here to fight another day,
each meal, each test - a chance
to see things in a brighter way
and dance this awkward dance

of matching carbs to every dose
and checking before and after.
Each test a chance to make the most
of happy ever after.

Dust yourself off and admit it sucks.
You went, you checked, you know.
And reach your hand out to those poor schmucks
who were too afraid to go.


This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Insulin. Get Over It.

Today’s Prompt: Say WHAT?! What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard about health or your condition. Was there any context? What did you think at the time you heard it – and what do you think of it now?

De-mythologizing is a big part of being a health activist.

I can't pinpoint the craziest thing I've heard people say about diabetes. Probably because I hear something new every week.

Like others have said today, cure talk pisses me off - whether it's people telling you about a diet, a lifestyle, or a book, there is no cure. There is no REVERSAL.

Halle Berry, Drew Carey, and your stepson's grandma were not type 1s who transitioned to type 2s when they "weaned" themselves off of insulin. They are two separate diseases. It's not like becoming a blonde because you found the right stylist. It'd be like saying you weaned yourself off of oxygen. If you're a type 1, you have to take insulin because your body doesn't produce it. And it blows. There's no regeneration of your islet cells. That's bullshit.

But I want to give the ridiculous award to just about every journalist or media personality who has covered diabetes.

I was listening to NPR yesterday and heard a human interest story about a man who fights type 2 diabetes by going back to his ethnic dietary roots. It was an interesting piece and I enjoyed hearing about the impromptu cooking demos/shows the guy apparently gives on street corners...until they mentioned the diabetes bit. His father, the reporter told us, "refused" insulin and managed his condition with diet alone.

Refused.

Yeah, like I said, go back and change the word "insulin" to "oxygen." WTF?

People just don't understand the hormone and what it does. You - yes, you reading this right now - YOU are benefitting from insulin right this very second. It's keeping your last meal in check, keeping your blood sugar stable, keeping you from the corrosive effects of high blood sugar on your blood vessels and nerve endings. It's keeping you ALIVE. And without it, you would DIE. If your body doesn't produce the amount you need, you become very ill. And if your body stops producing it, your blood would become highly acidic and boil your organs as you slipped into a coma and DIED. Your body makes the precise amount you need every moment and delivers it like a perfectly oiled machine. (Yes, I'm jealous.)

Many Type 2 diabetics "fight" to stay off of it. As though it were a choice like the way you'd push through pain in order to resist narcotics. It's a progressive condition and many, dare I say most, people with Type 2 will eventually need at least a basal, if not also a mealtime, insulin regimen. And ALL people with Type 1 will need both. ALL.

And yet it's treated by those who don't understand it as though it's somewhere on the spectrum of "drug for the lazy fat guy who wouldn't stick to his diet" and "cure for the little girl on the poster."

It's neither.

It's $100 a bottle (I use 2 bottles a month), they don't sell a generic (yeah, seriously), it's imprecise and unpredictable as hell, and there are 2 different ways to take it (shots or pumps - no, the inhaled stuff you heard about got taken off the market and was never very effective and wasn't for people with type 1 anyway).

What is it? Why do I need it? What does it do?
6 molecules of Insulin arranged in a hexamer. Thank you, Wikipedia.
Your pancreas makes it in these tiny little cell clumps called the Islets of Langerhans. You have about a million of these little islets. The beta cells in these clusters are what produce insulin.

The best analogy for how insulin works in the body is to think of insulin like a key. Your cells, which need glucose for energy, have a locked door and hungry kids inside. When you eat, food converts to glucose and hangs around outside these cells like a lost pizza delivery guy. You really need that key. Otherwise, glucose builds up in your blood stream and causes that whole nasty coma business.

In a person with Type 1 Diabetes, the immune system targets beta cells and destroys them. You could transplant new ones in, but your immune system would eventually go after them again and you'd need immunosuppression to the nth degree. Yeah, I know, it blows. In an autoimmune disease, your immune system is the schoolyard bully and whatever poor bastard of an organ or system it has targeted is the wheezy kid with spectacles. Type 1 can strike at any age - and 85% of those living with it today are adults. There is no cure, we all take insulin, and we eat sugar. As a matter of fact, when our blood sugar drops too low, we have to eat sugar or we could die.

In a person with Type 2 Diabetes, the body begins to have problems using insulin effectively. The beta cells kick into overdrive and often overproduce insulin until the cells can no longer function. That's when you have to begin taking insulin exogenously. Lifestyle factors, genetic predisposition, other medical conditions...many of these may affect the progression of the disease or delay or speed up its onset. Obesity may be an early symptom of type 2, and not necessarily the cause. There are thin, athletic people with Type 2, just as there are people with poor diet or too much weight.

There are other forms of diabetes. Monogenic, gestational, etc. These have their own idiosyncrasies.

What they all have in common is the tricky balance between insulin production/performance and blood sugar management.

What they all have in common is the concern about developing complications from not being able to balance what the body ought to have been able to do on its own.

What WE all have in common is insulin. Stop demonizing it!


This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Of Bards and Sages

Today’s Prompt: Quote Unquote. Grab a favorite quote and use it to set you writing.

Strangely enough, I'd like to quote one of my favorite great writers and thinkers on the topic of...quoting.

"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote." - Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a genius of the 19th Century. Every time I stumble upon something remarkably witty or deeply insightful, said in a way that makes me swoon, I'm never surprised to find him as its originator. (Well, him or Groucho Marx, but that's a very different sort of genius.)

"Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it."

I'm hardly Emerson's first quoter, but when I read something from him, I'm often struck by its simplicity. Its truth.

Why do we quote others? What makes these phrases stand out? How do they make our writing more effective?
"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty."
We quote because of this recognition. We quote because what someone else said validates what we believe about the world around us. And when we hear it called out beautifully, we stop and consider it again. We become less fearful to claim those rejected thoughts.

"Some men's words I remember so well that I must often use them to express my thought. Yes, because I perceive that we have heard the same truth, but they have heard it better."

And yes, we quote because someone, somewhere, far from the space and time we inhabit, said it better.

Before I first read these phrases I've shared here, I don't believe I'd ever thought about the fact that, when we quote, we are admitting to sharing in the thought process of the quote's originator. I think that, before that, I had thought of quotes as some sort of original thesis that my words might try to validate. Or vice versa. Maybe I'm trying to make a point and the quote serves as some kind of ancient authority.

We aren't as bold as Emerson maybe. We don't often say, "I have great thoughts. I deserve to be heard."

But the truth is that we all have great thoughts. And the moment when you discover the intersection between what you believe and a way to say it more beautifully, you're united with every writer and thinker in human history.

So read, and quote, and write, my friends. Find yourself somewhere on the page where someone else was brave enough to tell your story. Find your rejected thoughts peering back at you in the middle of someone else's sentence. Nestle your soul between those curly quotation marks and make a bed in someone else's metaphor.

Don't let it stop you that someone may have said it better. Some of us want to hear what it sounds like when you say it.

Source: http://mrhopkinswikipage.wikispaces.com/file/view/M49~Laugh-Ralph-Waldo-Emerson-Posters.jpg/40794537/M49~Laugh-Ralph-Waldo-Emerson-Posters.jpg
This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Diagnosis

Today’s Prompt: I still remember... Free write a post that starts with the line “I still remember...”

I still remember everything about the week of my diagnosis.

I was ten years old. It was the summer of 1990 and it was crazy hot. We'd been doing day camps in the heat and I'd fill a gallon water jug up several times throughout the day. I had been lethargic. I'd been wetting the bed.

Around the last day of June, I got sick with some kind of flu or something, we thought. I remember that the only thing that sounded good to eat was sliced turkey lunchmeat, so I'd eat it by the package as I lay in my parents' bed where they were keeping an eye on me. On July 2nd, my mother decided I needed to eat something with sugar in it and she made me eat a McDonald's ice cream cone.

I woke up the morning of the 3rd with one thing on my mind. WATER. My brother was asleep in his room with the door shut, my dad was on duty (paramedic/firefighter), and my mom had driven our international houseguests (some teenage Boy Scouts from England) to their meetup point for a day at Six Flags. The house was pretty much empty.

I rolled myself out of bed and crawled to the kitchen. They found me laying in front of the refrigerator where I'd been whispering my brother's name for him to come help me get some water. Mom: "Melissa, get up or I'm going to take you to the hospital." Me: "Okay." Mom knew right then that this was real.

The whole way to the hospital in our minivan, my brother kept shaking me, trying to keep me awake. I was incredibly annoyed. I just wanted to sleep.

I was so thirsty. All the local ER would give me was ice chips. I kept pulling the oxygen out of my nose. It was cold and wet and annoying the hell out of me. Why wouldn't they let me sleep?

Hours and hours passed that I don't remember. In and out of a coma. Blood sugar over 1000. I remember seeing my grandfather's silhouette. I remember a paramedic crying as he kept redoing the IV, trying to find a vein in my miserably dehydrated little arm. I remember telling my mother that it was okay - that I was glad it was me and not some other kid because I could handle it. Then passing out again. I remember the blinding brightness of the daylight as the ambulance doors flew open when we arrived at Children's Medical Center of Dallas.

I remember the way the endocrinologist and all of his staff kept testing my neurological functioning by asking weird trick questions. "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" Yes, a brother. "How old is your sister?" I don't have a sister. "Who's Roger Staubach?" Umm... I have no idea. My elderly Jewish doctor panicked. My mother laughed nervously. "We don't do sports. Ask her about Madonna." "Who's Madonna?" She's a singer. I had no idea that they were afraid the first ER staff had caused brain damage by trying to push my blood sugar higher to make it drop suddenly.

I still remember my Nana's presence in the dark hospital room the first night (because she made my mother go home and rest) and how upset everybody got when I didn't eat breakfast the next morning. (Nobody told me I had to eat because I'd had some kind of shot. I don't like oatmeal.)

I remember the names of most of my doctors and nurses that week. I remember Mark, the man who made me count backwards from 100 by 7s (at age 10), a feat that required mathematic skills at 2am that I still haven't mastered. I remember the nurse who hadn't had a bathroom break in nearly 24 hours. I remember how pretty I thought the dietitian was - Jancy - and that she reminded me of Lt. Yar from Star Trek.

I remember my food pickiness being the bane of everyone's existence. They brought me every variety of crunchy vegetable with ranch dressing before they found out it was the ranch dressing that grossed me out. There was a vending machine cheeseburger that was reheated about 17 times before I finally won the battle of wills.

I still remember watching my dad and brother give themselves (saline?) injections as if it were nothing, and the way my mom sat, terrified, unable to poke the needle into her skin. It was at that moment that I knew no one but me would ever give me an injection.

I remember, on day 7 or 8, being allowed out for an outing to the mall with my family and buying a cool gel ball painted to look like the earth at some toy store. I remember the board games and starlit ceiling of the teen game room and learning to play pool. I remember learning a list of over 10 names for sugar to watch for in food ingredients. I remember my Hello Kitty autograph book (I think options were limited in the hospital gift shop) where all the doctors and nurses wished me luck.

I remember being sad to leave. To leave the attention. To leave the education. To leave the nice nurses and doctors.

Strangely, what I don't really remember is how life changed once we came home.


This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: 
http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kicking the Bucket List

Today’s Prompt: Never Have I Ever. You stick to your guns – now tell us about what. What is something you’ve never done but want to. What’s something you’ve never done and won’t budge on?

I don't keep a bucket list. The truth is that I don't stress about what I haven't yet accomplished. If it's important to me, I will make time for it.

I've had itches - I've often thought that I would enjoy publishing a book. I started a novel in 2005 and decided it wasn't really for me. I managed 17,000 words before the story fell flat and I put it away. And I used to dream about a book of poetry, but I probably carve out 1-2 pieces a year I'm proud of. Not exactly prolific.

I'm pleased enough to have two pieces in the book No Sugar Added Poetry and to have had a hand in selecting the other touching works included in it.

So, travel maybe? Hubster and I love to travel and we've got quite a few places still on our to-do list. We'd love to see Italy, Greece - really anything Mediterranean. And England. We've still yet to explore the US Pacific Northwest. But we feel we have plenty of time to visit these places - and look forward to taking our children when they are old enough to appreciate it.

Not that Sweetie didn't enjoy digging in the sand in the Bahamas or exploring the Mayan ruins (in my Moby wrap) or going swimming in a lagoon in the Cayman Islands...but she also enjoys splashing in the dog water bowl, so, well, you know...

Overall, I'd say I've done a lot of things many people haven't. I've been on television a couple times, I've sung on an opera stage, I've met some celebrities, I've been kissed under the Eiffel Tower... I even photo-bombed the King and Queen of Spain.
I recognize and treasure the opportunities available to me as an adult that weren't there in my more modest childhood. Limited income was a far greater obstacle than diabetes management ever was, and it was an obstacle to that as well!

As to the things I haven't done that I would never do...it's hard to come up with one. I suppose there are plenty of activities I've no interest in or taste for. I've never done drugs or smoked cigarettes and am sure I will never. I've never been drunk (or even had a beer) and it's not really my style. I've never watched a football game (and I'm proud of that, though you probably think that's crazy), but if one of my kids joins the marching band or makes the team, you can bet I'll be there. (Otherwise, it'll take some serious bribery.)

I genuinely prefer not worrying with a long term to-do list before I shuffle off this mortal coil. I'm impulsive in the sense that, if I think something needs to happen in my life, I've already begun making plans to take care of it. Except maybe for getting to play Eponine before I die. I've accepted that that one isn't on my roadmap. :)
Image courtesy of http://ihasabucket.com/ and wherever lolruses and buckets are memed...
This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

Today’s (Alternate) Prompt: What are you thankful for?

I'm thankful to my husband for the love, support, patience, and quiet strength he shows me.

I'm thankful to Sweetie (who is currently climbing me talking about Mama, Mama, Mama) for being such a joy in my life.

I'm thankful to Banting and Best for discovering insulin, which has kept me alive for 21 extra years so far.

I'm thankful to my parents for the sacrifices and choices they made to raise me to be who I am today.

I'm thankful to my mommy friends for their humor and fellowship.

I'm thankful to the DOC for accepting each new member as though they're instant family.

I'm thankful to the company that employees my husband and to the students and organizations that hire me for my services.

I'm thankful to the competent doctors and nurses who work hard to understand my concerns and keep my family and me healthy.

I'm thankful to all of those invisible people whose efforts grew, harvested, packaged, stocked, and sold the food I'm able to buy and prepare for my family...and to those regulators who made sure the foods were safe.

I'm thankful to soldiers for fighting for our country, to liberals for fighting for our personal liberties and safety, to firefighters and other emergency service people for fighting to save our lives.

I'm thankful to the many blue collar workers whom we forget so often - the mail carriers, the fast food workers, the lawn maintenance workers, the daycare employees, the teachers, the retail employees...who make our day easier and provide us with services we take for granted.

I'm also thankful to you for stopping by. Here's Sweetie's first piece of artwork - a fingerprint turkey which now hangs in the soon-to-be art gallery known as Hubster's cubicle. :) Happy Thanksgiving.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Omni-Party

Today’s Prompt: Health Activist's Choice. Write about whatever you want!

The Dallas diabetes community has been a letdown for me for a long time. The JDRF events are attended by the same few parents of type 1s with whom I have no spark, they're always held far from my home, and the adult events often include a happy hour (I don't drink, I'm sporting a toddler, and I'm pregnant, so that's never been a big draw).

So when my local Omnipod reps wanted to host an Omni-Party practically down the street from me to bring together a lot of pod users, other pumpers, and people with diabetes, I was SOLD.

It was WONDERFUL.

The highlight for most people - kids, parents, and adult PWDs - had to be Robyn Cox, dolphin trainer at Sea World San Antonio, who has had Type 1 since age 13. She talked about her training and how hard it was to get SCUBA certified and convince the staff doctor that she could dive safely. She even briefly mentioned starting the Omnipod in order to get pregnant and mentioned her three year old son.

I didn't get a chance to talk to her. I actually could have several times. But I knew I would want to talk to her for HOURS. So I stopped myself. I let the kids line up to get their Orca cards autographed.
Photo credit goes to UTA Arlington Magazine
I love that there are adults like Ms. Cox talking about living well with Type 1. That's what I have NEVER seen at a JDRF event in Dallas. I've seen lots of parents looking at me quizzically, wondering which complication I have or what I'm selling if I start to talk about the online community.

But times, they are a-changing.

Everyone I saw at this event - with no exception - is someone I know now in my metroplex BECAUSE of my online interactions. There were sweet Cindy and cool Carrie, both of whom found me on TuDiabetes and scheduled IRL meetups over brunch or coffee. There was delightful Cheri, one of my friends from Twitter and DSMA, whom I was stoked to finally meet in person. There were the D-parents who are heavy hitting D-mom bloggers - Joanne from Death of a Pancreas and my friend Laura from Houston...We Have a Problem. There were the parents I know from the DFWFOTOD (DFW Families of Type 1 Diabetics) yahoo group whose emails I respond to whenever I can provide input - Kerri, Shauna, etc.

I felt instantly at home. Every time I turned around, I bumped elbows with someone I knew or had been meaning to know.

I didn't have time to drool over the dolphin trainer.

There were vendors there - Dougherty's Pharmacy, Meals to Live, Dexcom, and Tyler Type One. I went home with some cool glucose pixie stix from Meals to Live, chatted up the Dex rep, and am excited that TTO might be able to help us grow the community here. They're an organization that shows up at the hospital for newly diagnosed T1s and provides a care basket with info and carbs for treating lows so that the families go home armed and supported.

For the first time since I was diagnosed 21 years ago, I found myself looking forward to counting myself among the diabetes community in Dallas. It's odd that it had to start globally for many of us before we realized we had it locally, too, but maybe, just maybe, we've got some fun times ahead.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: 
http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When You Can't Escape the Present

Today’s Prompt: Be present. Describe something peaceful with as much sensory imagery as you can. What are the sights, sounds, scents, and feelings?

There are moments you want to savor, when you tell yourself to remember it all because you'll never be here again. And some moments where being present is miserable. You want to crawl out of your skin and slink away.

I've been dealing with the latter most of the day. So this prompt has been looming over me all day. I've felt it mocking me around every corner: "Be present."

As I write this, I hear my precious angel howling for Mama in the bathtub, her daddy trying so hard to console her. She so rarely cries. But she's tired. We're all tired.

My intention was to take it easy today. (I hear her giggling now. Daddy succeeded.)

Anyway, we are all recovering from illness. And something is up with my blood sugars. I miscalculated my lunch dosage and suffered a low blood sugar - for the next 4 fucking hours.

For those of you without D, let me explain. (She's crying again.) A low blood sugar is a draining, life-threatening occurrence that generally takes you out of commission...for about 20-30 minutes. You eat a little glucose and you come back to normal and continue as you were. It's no big deal most of the time and we hate when people hound us the rest of the day as though we broke a limb. I have 2 or 3 lows everyday. It's life.

Not for four straight hours though. Not treating it again and again. I started modestly. 5 glucose tabs. I was full from lunch. Half an hour later, 4 more. Etc, etc. Then I started in with juice. Glass after glass. Feeling so bloated - between being huge with pregnancy, full with food and juice and glucose, queasy from a stomach virus, uncomfortable from the little person inside me doing fetal acrobatics.

More glucose tablets, glucose powder sticks, more juice. In hour four, a banana. At some point, I reduced my basal insulin by 50%. A phone call to my mother. "Call me every 20min." 20 minutes passed. Mom called. I had her drive over until my husband could get home. A fine dusting of glucose stick powder covers my bedroom and clothes.

Pictured here is my 11am-5pm. The lower dotted line indicates where 70 mg/dL is.
Lows usually feel awful - they're scary, you're disoriented, you're vulnerable. But the recovery is sometimes worse. Like a hangover. Your body rocked from suddenly skyrocketing out of the depths. You're wiped, like you've been hit by a bus. Your body is trying to find center again. Only you don't know where the rise will level out.

I feel awful tonight. Couldn't skip dinner even though the thought of food makes me want to vomit. If I don't eat, it's just going to hit again. So I choked down a peanut butter sandwich, v e r y  slowly.

Endo appointment tomorrow. I anticipate a lot of tweaking. Dr. M is going to be really concerned that I've had three persistent lows like this in the last three days. We will make some adjustments, but I won't know if they were successful until after the holiday feasting on Thursday, I'm sure.

My angel daughter doesn't understand why I just need to lay down without her climbing over my enormously distended belly right now. I hear her crying. I know she is safe and just wants to love on me. She's with daddy. She's okay. They're reading her favorite books. I managed her all day, even at my grossest. Made sure she was well-fed, changed, cuddled, entertained.

But I just need a few minutes. I can't be with her right this second. I can't be present. I just need to lay still until I feel level again. Trying to tell myself I'm owed a minute. That even Wonder Woman takes off the bangles to go to bed.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Portrait of the Artist as a Toddler

Today’s Prompt: Ekphrasis post. Ekphrasis (writing about another art form) – Find a Flickr Image in Creative Commons that inspires you in some way (positively or negatively) and free write about it. Give yourself exactly 15 minutes to write without stopping.

I'm going to go a slightly different direction today. Instead of commenting on a photo I found on the internet, I'm going to go with photos I've found on my phone. That I didn't take.

Sweetie likes the camera on my new iPhone 4S. She unlocks the phone, opens the app, and starts clicking the shutter. So I end up with these photo shoots by my 21 month old daughter.
I can't delete them. I just can't bring myself to do it. In a sense, I feel that it's art. It's self-portraiture. It's a sign of her budding sense of exploration. It's peering into her world when I wasn't in the room. Or sometimes even when I was:
She was seated right behind me on the couch. I didn't even know she had my phone until a few minutes later. And then I found a series of three or four photos of an adorable chunky thigh.

I open my photo reel to find these little gems I didn't know were there. And I always wonder what she was thinking. Was it the sound it makes? The thrill of watching the screen flash?

She recognizes herself (and Mama and Dada) in photos, says "cheee" when you hold up a camera, pretends to take pictures with anything small and rectangular...so does she know she's taking pictures when she's using my phone? Is she going to be some kind of avant garde photographer?

Or was she just looking for the Elmo's Monster Maker app?

I don't know. It just strikes me every time I recognize just how much she's her own person. At less than 2 years old, she has goals, interests, a sense of humor. Belly buttons are deserving of riotous laughter. She has a favorite t-shirt. She doesn't just say the word "pear" - she starts it out softly and then screams the last half of it. I never stopped to think that you could draw the word "pear" out that long.

As I watched her at breakfast this morning, I marveled to my husband about what an incredibly happy child she is.

But, seriously, y'all. I'm running out of space in my photo reel.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

No

Today’s Prompt: LOL post. Write a post about a moment that made you laugh. Or a video, picture, blog post, or something else that made you.

I haven't felt like laughing much this week or weekend.

Mama drama had my social life in upheaval for a couple of days, which kept me from participating in DSMA (my weekly online tweet-together for people with diabetes).

I posted a response to a closed thread as lead admin on TuDiabetes that pissed a member off and resulted in a (so far) 7 page bash-the-admin-team thread regarding our community's perceived agenda and my abuse of authority. *eye roll* The tone of the thread has already resulted in a member suspension, several private messages to members, and another member leaving. And I have gone in and diplomatically tried to apologize for any misunderstandings at least three times.

My daughter and husband both got sick with different illnesses on Saturday - a tummy bug and some type of flu, respectively. And it hit me Sunday morning. My blood sugars had been riding in the 50s and 60s for nearly 6 hours, I couldn't eat another freaking glucose tablet, and I finally started vomiting around 4am.

When you vomit as a diabetic, you have several immediate emergency issues to face - 1) you can start to spill ketones into your urine which can put you in the hospital and even kill you, 2) you have no idea how much of the food you had already taken insulin for had actually converted to glucose and/or how much food you just lost, 3) you probably can't put any more food or liquid in to account for what you lost because you might not keep it down, and 4) who the hell cares what your blood sugar is when you're hugging a toilet?

Many people with diabetes keep a lifesaving emergency syringe on hand full of a substance called glucagon for moments like these. You inject the glucagon into your system, your liver dumps a bunch of sugar into your bloodstream, and you don't have to worry about orally taking in glucose. Me? I have never used it, don't have an Rx for it, and I don't keep it on hand. So my options were limited. I decided on a 2-part approach - attempt to sip 4oz of juice and suspend my insulin pump for 40 minutes.

2 hours later, I woke up feeling sick again - but it was the sick you feel when your blood sugar is high. F*ck. Seriously? 40 minutes without my basal insulin and I spike high 2 hours later? Any time a nurse or CDE suggests to me that I suspend my pump during a low, I always look at them like they're bonkers. YDMV, but my diabetes doesn't work that way. I need basal insulin to do its job - background insulin for metabolic functioning. A change to your basal insulin rate generally affects you an hour or two later. A low affects you now. I choose sugar now.

So needless to say, I haven't felt like laughing a lot this week.

But I did on Thursday evening. My husband was coming home late and Sweetie and I sat down to some of her favorite foods for dinner - broccoli, sweet potatoes (with a little butter and cinnamon sugar), and pork chops. She was tearing through it, smiling, and I asked her if she liked it.

"No." Did you like your pork chop? "No." Did you like your sweet potatoes? "No." Did you like your broccoli? "No." As she reached for another forkful, grinning.

I have been loving her adorable "no." So many parents are frustrated by this toddler vocab favorite - and it's usually because they mean it. They are asserting their independence.

Not Sweetie.

She just knows (probably thanks to cartoons like Mickey and Dora and Bubble Guppies where they always ask "does this look right to you?" followed by "no" several times before the answer is finally provided) that it's an appropriate answer choice when asked a question. (We're working on "Jes!" by the way, which is equally adorable, but apparently we just can't figure out when we're supposed to use it. It includes a very cute head waggle, too.)

Anyway, the first time we heard "no" was relatively late in her word timeline - closer to the 50th word than the 1st. (For the record, "no" was my second word, according to my baby book - after "light" and before "shut up." Tells you something, doesn't it?) But when Sweeties says it, it's the cutest sound ever. Shakes her head and says it as though she's absolutely sure. "No." Sure, sometimes she means it. (It's still cute then.) Sometimes it's just an answer because you asked a question.

Do you want this cookie? "No." Grinning and accepting the cookie.

"No" has crept into one of her other activities, too. She'll build a block tower (she's such a little engineer - give her a doll and she throws it down, but give her something to stack and she's mesmerized). She'll knock it down. "Nah noooo!" (Oh no!) Lather, rinse, and repeat.

The higher you can stack them before you knock them over, the more dramatic and higher-pitched the Nah before the Noo sweeps back down the octave. I love it. I'll knock the tower over just to hear it and giggle.

I've put my foot down a lot this week - in my moms' group, in my marriage, in my diabetes community. I've found myself saying "No, I'm not putting up with this."

I need to just throw my hands in the air, grin, shout "Nah nooo!," and stack my blocks back up again.

Because it makes me smile. Every. Single. Time.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: 
http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Revisiting the Edge of Paradise

Today’s Prompt: “Best of” post. Grab a post from your archives and repost it! Add a few sentences at the beginning to frame it. Why you chose it. Why you liked it. And why it should be shared again.


With the holidays approaching, I want to repost this blog entry that I wrote last January. It was a life-changing encounter that still gives me chills. And it's, to date, my most frequented post. Be generous out there, folks. Be generous.

****originally published January 26, 2011****

Another Day in Paradise

Two days before Christmas, my family and I had a little diabetes-related encounter.

We were at my in-laws', which is always slightly awkward for me. They eat at odd times (or not at all) and managing my blood sugars had been a challenge all day. No meals all day had left me wondering how or if to dial back my basal rate. And my husband had left hours ago with the car keys on an errand with his dad, so I was a little stuck.

The baby was napping in my arms, my blood sugar had plummeted, and I was in an environment where I feel neither comfortable nor welcome, to be honest. It was almost 4:00. I was low and growing angrier with my absent husband by the second.

When he came back (with a candy bar for me), I was ready to give him a piece of my mind. But he had a sense of urgency about him.

He'd seen a man on the corner at a nearby intersection with a cardboard sign that said that he was a Type 1 Diabetic and needed money for insulin.

"I had less than a dollar in my pocket," he said, frustrated.

I grabbed my bag and pulled out my spare bottle of insulin and a few syringes and we left the house. We cased the area, but we couldn't find him. The corner was empty. The sign was gone. So we returned to the house and finished our visit, feeling disappointed and a little lost.

Hours later, as we were setting off for home, I was fussing at my husband once again because he had to drive out of our way to search for the lowest gas price in the neighborhood.

And there he was. The man with the sign. We flagged him down and met him in a nearby parking lot.

23 years, he'd had Type 1. Just 3 years longer than me. He'd had a heart attack, needed to begin dialysis, he said. His teeth were crooked and his hands were rough. He couldn't have been that much older than us.

Before I sent him off alone with a fancy, expensive, fast-acting insulin, I quizzed him about what he currently took, how soon before meals he injected, etc. He was used to Reli-on Regular from Wal-Mart, but he had some experience with Humalog, so I felt like it was safe to offer the Apidra. I explained the short tail and quick peak and was confident in his understanding of what I said.

He told us about how a woman had recently driven him to Wal-Mart and gone in to buy him a bottle. I can't imagine managing this disease relying on the kindness of strangers.

As we drove away, warm in our nice coats, in our nice car, I felt a sense of injustice that I was so comfortable. Type 1 Diabetes has no prejudice. It strikes indiscriminately - the poor and afflicted, the happy and comfortable. But my experience with it was not his. My gaggle of medical professionals on speed dial in my phone, my reasonable pharmacy co-pay that keeps my refrigerator stocked with three months of insulin, my husband's job...

It could have been any of us on that corner.

Whatever the circumstances that lead someone to that level of desperation, ours is the only country where that man would be begging for insulin first, instead of for food or drugs or alcohol or money for his children. We just don't take care of our own.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: 
http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mommy Friends


Today’s Prompt: A comment as a blog post. Pick someone else’s post (from the past or from today) and write a comment to them. Write that comment as your blog post for today. Link back to them to let them know you were inspired.

I'm going to draw from three different items I've stumbled upon online in the last day that inspired me to write this post.

First, I saw this tip from a relationship expert in regard to making new mom friends: "Your time is more precious than ever. You don't have time to be around people you don't enjoy."

Since Sweetie was born and I chose to stay home with her, I've made it a mission to find other moms and kids in similar stages of life. I want people around me who know the latest version of me - the parent - or Adult 2.0 as my friend S calls it. And, unfortunately, so many of my beloved friends from my pre-parenting days are working parents with whom I rarely get a chance to catch up.

In the last 21 months though, I've joined at least 12 mommy groups. Maybe more than that. I have started to lose track. I've quit most of them. Or watched them dissolve. I've been appalled at the immature leadership or the way people treat their children. Or just felt the ages or activities weren't right for where we were.

I'm down to 2 groups as of this week. And I feel great about these 2. I can honestly say that every mom in them is someone I can trust, someone with a sense of priority about their children.

These two separate groups of women have become my daily social cornerstones. And I feel lucky to have all of them. These are IRL friendships I'm committed to fostering. Women I can call when I need someone on short notice to watch my precious daughter for a couple of hours when the babysitter cancels. Women who know that I like coffee and have it brewed, who make an effort to read my blog and understand diabetes better, who accept me when I'm awkward or wordy or cynical or clumsy (again, Am, sorry about the lamp) or when my daughter is howling like a fire engine from the kitchen because she can't reach the baby carrots (which was hilarious - each time it was repeated).

I am so excited to have these women by my side through this phase of my life. I've never felt like I related that well to women my age. I know that it's often said that you can count yourself rich to have a few really great friends. Between my friends from pre-parenting days, my DOC friends, and my mommy group friends, I know I should feel like a billionaire right now. On the tough days when I feel exceptionally lonely, I need to remember that I have these treasures in my life.

Just a special shout-out to the remarkable women in my life:
-to each of the "f-ing happy, good-looking" Fun Mamas
-to the truly kindred spirits that are my Brights BFFs
-to the extraordinary women of the DOC
-to my childhood girlfriends who have remained in my life (specifically learndhappiness, kanyiri, and tastyeats)
-to my mom
-and to my bestie for 10 years running - whom I call Ho-Bag

As my friend Scott says, living successfully with diabetes has a lot more to do with living than it does diabetes. These ladies help me do the living part with humor, support, and exceptional style.



This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: 
http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Whisper Words of Wisdom

Today’s Prompt: Let It Be. What’s something that bothers you or weighs on you? Let it go. Talk out the letting go process and how you’re going to be better to yourself for it.

I'm going to use today's prompt to give you some words of wisdom about marriage.

Everyone will give you advice about how to make your marriage strong, communicative, fulfilling...and some of it is bunk.

The piece that is bunk for us is the "Never go to bed angry" mentality.

Hubster and I rarely have real discord, but when we do, as with many couples, it can get ugly. And the truth of our ugliness is that neither of us wants to let it go. And the later it gets and the more tired we are, the worse the yelling. The worse the tension. The worse the holding on. We can't just let it be.

But we learned years ago that if we would just GO TO BED ANGRY, we would wake up refreshed and in love. I don't know why it works for us, but it does. The sun is shining, we're apologizing over a cup of hot coffee, and we're hugging extra long at the door before one of us leaves for the day.

That was us a few days ago. Both of us were overtired and overworked. Both of us were angry that the other couldn't accommodate what we felt we needed to relax and unwind, so instead of winding down, we got wound up. We spent a good two hours trying to work it out, but in the end, rest was the answer.

Sometimes the best advice people have to give you won't work for you. You have to learn to let go of expectations and live in your reality. My reality is that we are unreasonable grumps when we're tired. And that our love for one another is secure enough that we know the other will be there in the morning, ready to face another day as a couple.

When the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me.
Shine on until tomorrow. Let it be.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crazy Train

Today’s Prompt: Little Engine Post. Write a list post with 10-15 lines that start each with “I think I can...” Write 5 lines at the end that start with “I know I can.”

I'm a positive, empowered person. There are few things in my life I've ever thought I couldn't do - and I have never felt like diabetes was any more than an annoying obstacle to any goal. Because if I have really wanted to do it, I've found a way.

  • I've traveled abroad (which includes when I thought I was going to die and bravely called to say goodbye to my parents from a pay phone before seeking out insulin on the black market in Prague).
  • I've lived alone (which can be scary with diabetes).
  • I brought my A1c down to 6% after 10 years between 10 and 16%, 7 years between 8 and 10%, and I've kept it there.
  • I've sung in front of thousands of people, including Hilary Clinton.
  • I've built a teaching career I can be proud of.
  • I've had a baby (and expect to have a repeat performance in less than 90 days).
  • I've performed CPR on my daughter when she stopped breathing during a seizure.

I am a BEAST.

Still, I have curiosities about the future. I have hopes. I have fears. But...

I think I can...learn to exercise without fear of lows - or at least in spite of that fear.
I think I can...keep a cleaner house (really want to work on this).
I think I can...learn to fold a fitted sheet (I try all the tricks - always looks like jumbled crap).
I think I can...continue a healthy, happy marriage.
I think I can...raise two kids to be amazing people.
I think I can...live a long life.
I think I can...stave off complications from diabetes.
I think I can...deal with the reality if it turns out that I can't.
I think I can...make sure people know how much they mean to me.
I think I can...stop breaking meat thermometers (I have a problem).

I know I can...support and empower the people around me.
I know I can...teach, educate, inspire.
I know I can...advocate for what I need to stay healthy and happy.
I know I can...love my family.
I know I can...love myself.

Beast, I tell you.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: 
http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Imperfection

Today's Prompt: This one’s for you, baby. Dedicate a song to your condition. Why did you pick that song? Find a youtube or link to a version to embed in your post.

I've always had songs that reminded me in some way of diabetes. The one that used to make me laugh as a teen was Sheryl Crow's 1996 hit Everyday is a Winding Road because of the line "Everybody gets high, everybody gets low. These are the days when anything goes." And now that I have a continuous glucose monitor, it's obvious that "winding road" is a particularly apt description of my blood glucose trends.

I started a thread on TuDiabetes a couple of years ago that was a lot of fun - Dia-Beatles. We took Beatles lyrics and changed them up to fit diabetes themes.

It's no secret that I relate to music. So many of us find real catharsis in music. That's why there is a field of rehabilitative therapy based on music and our responses to it! Sometimes my Twitter feed is full of angst-ridden song lyrics from people in the diabetes community because it just describes where we are that day, that minute.

The day after we got home from our trip to Kansas City for Simonpalooza - a gathering of more than 20 people from all over the world who knew one another mostly only from online interactions - I heard this song on the radio and it brought me to tears.

That's a rarity. I'm not a soft touch.

But it made me think of the people in my community and their individual and collective struggles. It made me think of the friends who shared their weekend with me: Simon, C, Scott, Bob, Jess, Sara, Victoria, Sarah Jane, Cherise, ScottyJ, Allison, Barbara, Kelly, Jeff, Kim, Mike, Amanda, and Heather & Becca.

I'm dedicating this song to them today.

Here it is, Pink's F*ckin' Perfect (the clean version):



This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: 
http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Postcards in an Elevator

Today’s Prompt: Elevator blog. If you were in an elevator with someone and they asked about your blog, your Health Activism, your community, or your condition, what would you tell them? Make a version for a 30 second elevator ride, a version for a 1 minute elevator ride, and a version for a 2 minute elevator ride.

If we were on an elevator together today, you'd see me in my Big Blue Test t-shirt (for the last time, since it's now embarrassingly tight on me). You'd probably ask me what it was about (or ask about my enormous belly poking out underneath it).

The 30-second version would follow:

I have Type 1 Diabetes and today is November 14th - World Diabetes Day, an internationally recognized day where we try to spread awareness about diabetes - its signs, symptoms, concerns, complications. The Big Blue Test is an awareness initiative that many of us take part in by testing our blood sugars and getting active.

The 1-minute version would include this next bit:

November 14th was Frederick Banting's birthday - he was one of the men who discovered insulin, you know. Anyway, there are millions of people with diabetes in the US, but there are hundreds of millions all over the world. Many of them don't have access to that life-saving insulin, to test strips, to good medical care. If we can get enough people to do the Big Blue Test, there's a company called Roche that will donate $75K to charities to help those people.

The 2-minute version would have me digging into my diaper bag to show you this:


See this postcard? It's from someone I've never met named Jacque. She lives in Washington State. She has had diabetes almost as long as I have; we were both diagnosed in the early 1990s. And we were paired up by my friend Lee Ann Thill who organized this crazy cool artistic initiative called the World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange where we would create postcards for World Diabetes Day and send them to people all over the world. Then we'd post them to a Facebook page.

I have a photo of the one I sent Jacque, too:


The cards have the blue circle logo that is synonymous with World Diabetes Day and the International Diabetes Federation....Oh, I'm sorry, am I blocking the doors? You probably need to get off here. Well, it was nice chatting with you!

Doors shut, end scene. Someone else gets on.

Hi. Oh, the shirt? Well, I have Type 1 Diabetes...

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: 
http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In the Thick of It

Today’s Prompt: Open a book. Point to a page. Free write for 10-15 minutes on that word or passage. Post without editing if you can!

We must have fifty toddler board books scattered on our living room and bedroom floor. I try to keep them all on the bookshelf, but it's just so hard to find the one you're looking for when you're 21 months old and your very nature abhors tidiness.

Our most recent favorite is a book called Turn & Learn Colors. It must be savored at least twice a day - particularly the page with the green items, which are listed in this order: "brochkkk-brochkkk" (broccoli), "pah-pah" (caterpillar), "tah-tor" (dinosaur), and pay-pay (parrot).

We're in that phase where there must be 3-5 new words a day added and I've given up with keeping up.

Needless to say, with her growing love of books, I'd love for her to see me reading more.

The problem with that idea right now is that leaving books out for Daddy and me puts them at risk for major destruction, so if we want to read, we're relegated to our cell phones, our tablets, or our laptops. Which is probably going to make her think that staring at small rectangular objects is THE ultimate entertainment. (She already thinks that, actually; there are more apps on my phone for her than for me!)

But I have managed to have one book out for me lately, exposing it to the elements of toddler sippy cups and frequent "where is it now - oh the laundry basket, oh under the bed, oh in the bathtub." Cheryl Alkon's fabulous book Balancing Pregnancy and Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby was released a few months after Sweetie's birth. Though I benefitted greatly from Cheryl's experiences through following her blog, Managing the Sweetness Within, I've yet to sit down and read the published book from cover to cover.

Regardless of the fact that portions of it remain untouched, I recommend this book to every woman with diabetes with whom I come into contact. It's a treasure trove of anecdotal evidence about managing fertility concerns, pregnancy, childbirth, and newborns while dealing with your pre-existing diabetes. Not to mention that there are at least two quotes in it from yours truly. :)

Sweetie in Chicago at 20weeks old with Kristin's copy of the book
For this blog challenge, I flipped it open and it fell to the chapter titled "In the Thick of It." Before I read one more word, I thought, "Yes, that's perfect. That's exactly where I am."

I'm in the thick of it, smack-dab (as my mother would say) in the middle of this journey again.

The reason that I didn't get this blog posted until Sunday was almost over is because of that thick.

Because I kept reading, immersing myself in the stories of women managing their insulin resistance in the late second and third trimesters. I read for twenty minutes - in between rocking Sweetie to sleep for a nap and bounding up (after glancing at the clock) to make myself look halfway presentable so that I could teach a voice lesson, attend another student's senior recital (low blood sugar coincided beautifully with reception goodies), stop by the grocery store for our week's shopping, visit a friend just home with her newborn (where I also asked her paramedic hubby to do a quick blood pressure check on me), and come home to prepare dinner, bathe the pizza-sauce covered toddler, coax her to bed, and then be poked repeatedly by my husband to wake up and go post my blog. (Thanks, Hubster.)

It's so thick sometimes that I have trouble enjoying any given moment or pausing to think about how my insulin needs may have changed since yesterday. But those few minutes of reading made me stop to think about my health needs in a different way today. And I put an extra unit on board after Sweetie's bath. I took that moment out to think about what I'd learned.

I hope Sweetie knows how much Mama and Dada learn from books, too.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ever the Teacher

Today's Prompt: Teach a class. What’s something that you’re uniquely great at and could teach a class on? Write the tutorial in a blog post. Bonus points for images, links to resources, and video.

There are a few things in which I'd consider myself qualified enough to teach a class, but I'm going to choose four.

Topic 1. I'm a bit of a grammar freak. I don't think it comes from being an English major; rather, I think it's the kind of quirk that may have driven me to it. It drives me crazy when people misspell. The root word of "definitely" is "finite" and has no "a" in it! (See this hilarious take on misspelling from theOatmeal.com. I have to chuckle at "If you put an A in "definitely," then you're definitely an A-hole.")

I will admit that I cringe when people use words incorrectly, and I try to catch the fabulous weekly radio show A Way With Words as often as possible in the hopes that I'll both ease up and learn something new to be more rigid about.

I hate when people mix words up like yea vs yeah vs yay. When I text someone that I got a promotion, "Yay. Good luck with that." is a lovely sentiment. "Yeah. Good luck with that." is sarcastic and dickish. It took me multiple instances of seeing this mix-up before I realized two people I know were celebrating whatever I'd messaged them and not just shrugging me off! LOL

I'm a stickler about the Oxford or serial comma (and most comma usage rules).


And I hate when people mispronounce words (it's especially, not expecially, familiar not furmiliar, February not Feb-u-ary).

I'm also one of the only people besides my favorite college English professor who prefers that "only" immediately precedes the noun, condition, or prepositional phrase it limits. I hate when I see it precede a verb. ("I only eat at that restaurant" indicates that you don't drink or talk there, while "I eat only at that restaurant" indicates that that's the only place where you eat.) I've been trying to ease up on this one.

That being said, there are rules that I flagrantly violate in blog writing for specific effect. I use incomplete sentences because they accommodate my flow. I play fast and loose with dashes and ellipses. I start sentences with And, But, and So when I like the way it sounds. I'm guilty of ___ and ___ constructions (see the sentence 2 sentences ago regarding dashes and ellipses!) as well as ____, ____, and _____ constructions.

So I think my grammar Nazi status is up for debate.

(See? That's an incomplete sentence AND it starts with So.)

Moving on... (incomplete sentence...with multiple ellipses....)

Topic 2. As a private voice lessons teacher by trade, there is much I could explain to you about how our vocal folds produce sound, how we employ breath, how our posture affects airflow, how projection works, how to improve your tone production...but it can't be taught in a blog post. There are people who claim to be able to train you vocally via expensive DVDs, CDs, and books, but to solve your vocal issues, you need a trained instructor listening to you and watching you sing. You need it tailored to you.

There's no one size fits all approach, which is partly why I love what I do for a living. I'm able to glean what afflicts them, diagnose and correct, and ultimately figure out how to make a concept click for someone on a case-by-case basis. Each student teaches me something new about teaching and singing and improves the quality of both in my life.

Topic 3. I could teach you about the attachment parenting and green parenting choices I've made: co-sleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, homemade baby food. But there are sites and spokespeople that are better resources for these strategies than I will ever be (and I've linked to those for you!).

I am hoping to blog about these choices more honestly with the birth of our next child. AP is not very supported where Hubster and I live. You're seen as a hippie freak for choosing any number of the options I mention, so you tend to stay a bit closeted. Even some friends who trust our judgment will tease me occasionally or tell us that our daughter shouldn't share our bed. Formula feeding is the norm here, the bare breast nurturing a child is an obscenity, wearing your child is seen as coddling, and babies are believed to sleep better in solitude. In leaving my blog open to discussing parenting though, I'm hoping I open myself to discussing what we have found works for our family, regardless of its popularity.

Topic 4. So I suppose that's why I've mainly tried to teach you about my life with diabetes. (Not to mention that I know a good portion of my audience is comprised of other diabetes bloggers and I'm inspired to continue in that vein.)

Because it's about me and what weighs on my mind. Sweetly Voiced is my story - a story of personal revelation, the surprises of motherhood, the reflections of a private teacher and public performer. Highs and lows - literally and figuratively.

In everything I do, the teacher or the nurturer in me comes out - in the way I listen to you, engage with you, commiserate with you, comfort you, and share with you...

...and perhaps also in my use of the Oxford comma.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J.