Wednesday, August 28, 2013

People Are Strange, When You're a Stranger

Blanche DuBois, from A Streetcar Named Desire, said, "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

I believe this to ring true for all of us at some point in our lives, but even more so for me tonight.

I decided to go to a movie by myself. My friends all already had plans, were working or had a soccer game. It was a last minute decision and there are a few movies I have been wanting to see, so why not? It's something I do on occasion. It's nice to just pick a movie and go; not worrying about what any one else wants to see or what time to go, it's a pretty great getaway when you just need some time to do something by yourself.

Long story short, I got pretty sick last weekend. I was put on a liquid diet for one week. I'm on day two and it hasn't been fun. So far, I have been tempted by pizza, french fries, chocolate cake and movie theater popcorn. But, for the sake of my health and feeling better, I have been sticking with it thus far.

You can imagine what this has done for my blood sugars. Mostly, they have been within perfect range. Today, I ran from 80-123 every time I checked. 80 is a little low for me, but not enough to do anything. Well, since I had a meeting right after work and then went to a movie, I didn't eat. Usually, this would be an okay decision for me. I could normally make it through a couple hours and not feel anything. Unfortunately, between the liquid diet and it being four hours since I had last ate something, I started feeling really week half way through the movie.

I noticed it when I realized I was sweating. Suddenly, my face felt numb, my arms felt like jello and my legs and hands were trembling. I didn't know what to do. I reached into my bag for my meter and glucose tabs. Meter reading: 38. Glucose tablet case: empty. Shit.

I started to get up thinking I could go run to the snack bar and get some Sprite or juice. But fell right back down. Panic set in-yet I was too confused to realize what I should do.

I looked to my right and a gentleman in his early seventies or so was getting up. He moved to the seat next to me. "Are you alright?" He looked worried. I had definitely frightened him. I explained to him I was a diabetic and experiencing a low blood sugar. Without hesitation, he stood right up and said, "I'll be right back."

In minutes, the gentleman was back. In his hands, he had a small drink and some gummy bears. He had already put the straw in the drink and handed it to me. Then, he sat right down next to me and started opening the candy. I told him, "I'm on a liquid diet. I can't eat those. Thank you so much, though."

He started laughing. "These are for me. You're greedy." I laughed too.

Shortly after I drank half of the Sprite, he nudged me. "Check again before you finish that." I was astonished. I checked. 115. Perfect.

"If it's alright with you, I'm just going to sit here next to you. Movie is almost over any way." He smiled at me.  "It's nice to sit next to a pretty young lady." I felt better, both physically and emotionally.

The movie ended. The lights went up. "By the way. My name is Roy. My late wife was diabetic. A type 1. And I have a granddaughter who is a type 1. Sorry if I made you worry."

"Roy, I'm Charli. You didn't make me worry. You're my hero!"

"Well, I don't know about that. We're strangers. But I'm glad I could help.Take care of yourself"

We went our separate ways. We didn't exchange information.We just said goodbye. And I can't thank him enough.

I pride myself on my independence. I think it's cool that I can go shopping, go out to eat, go to the park, and go to movies by myself. I love that I have the confidence that some people don't to do these things. But, I am also so thankful for the people around me. I can't deny that I need help some times. And I definitely can't thank some of these people enough.But I can try.

To Roy: Thank You.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

That's What I'm Rollin' With

I was asked the other day, "If you were better, would your diabetes not be so bad?"

It's hard to answer this question. Mostly because "better" can mean anything in this. I know what she meant by this question was, "I see your pump and you using it. Maybe you wouldn't have to if you did better."

I explained to her (very calmly I might add) that it's not about something I did to myself. I heard those words coming out of my mouth and realize how far I've come in the past three years. It's amazing to me, really, that I had the same notions of what diabetes was. I thought it was all one big disease, separated only by Type 1 and Type 2-and the only distinction being is when you were diagnosed and if you took insulin. I had prejudices against people who had diabetes-even though I knew both Type 1's and Type 2's in my family. I never took the time to learn because I wasn't forced to.

But, still, her question got me thinking.

I recalled a conversation I had my first night at diabetic camp. Someone called me a "good diabetic." My response? There's no such thing as good and bad in this case. We just have to be as good as we can that moment. And, just like everything else in life, there are weak moments with how you react to things and how you take care of yourself. I have both-in diabetes and other times in my life.

I want to announce these things I do well and the ones I do badly. I want other PWD (People With Diabetes) to know they aren't alone in their struggles and triumphs. I want to know that I'm not alone in these things. So, maybe with these proclamations, I can do better. I can see better. And I can relate better. Because isn't that we are trying to do any way?

The Good 

  • I check my blood sugar before every meal. And I bolus EVERY time. 
  • I try and exercise when I can and am up to it. Although it usually takes forms in Team Sports.
  • I pay attention to how I feel and don't discount it.
  • I stopped with the regular soda and I keep certain things that I know will mess with my blood sugars for special occasions. (Rice, Beer, Pizza, to list a few.)
  • I change my site every three days and I only put enough insulin in my pump for the allotted time.
  • I stay up-to-date on advances in technology so I know what's coming.
  • I am trying to be a test subject for a few diabetes related studies that will help advance us.
  • I do not get short or angry with people when they ask questions. In fact, I WELCOME THEM! I love educating on what I know. And I refer to my trusty DOC handbook (Twitter and FB mostly for lightening speed answers,) WebMd, MayoClinic, and/or my team of Medical Specialists when I do not have the answer.
  • I keep my pump on unless I am going in water or doing extreme activities-and then I take caution for how long I will have it off.
  • I wash my hands before I check my blood sugar so I can get the best reading.
  • I make better choices with food than I ever have before. (Not always the best, but definitely an improvement from five years ago.)
  • I check my feet daily to look for any signs of cuts, scrapes, or infections.
  • I don't drive when I'm having a low episodes.
  • I watch my weight and my a1c and keep them within normal ranges that my doctors have suggested.
The Bad
  • I rarely check my BG two hours after I eat when my pump tells me. Unless I'm going to eat again or I feel "funny"
  • I really like to treat with candy when I'm low. I'm sick of Glucose tabs-except grape and green apple-both which I can rarely find. I should try juice boxes. But I NEVER think to buy them.
  • I over treat some times. If I could explain to you how low blood sugar feels, and you could feel it with me, I don't think any one could blame for this. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, WHOA.
  • I never use alcohol pads to clean my skin before a site change. I have boxes upon boxes upon boxes of them. Just don't use them.
  • I can't tell you the last time I've changed my lancets-in any of my devices.
  • I don't always remember to cover my site with the little round disc thingy when I go swimming. I'm sure during the summer I get a healthy does of chlorine, lake and river water. (This is when I use the alcohol pads.)
  • I always forget to keep track of my three days when I'm supposed to change my site so OCCASIONALLY I don't remember to pack supplies or insulin to work. Luckily, I only live four minutes away,
  • I only upload my pump into my doctors system (so he can see the numbers) about twice a month. And it's very inconsistent.
  • I listen to the DOC often before I listen to anyone else. Maybe it's not all bad. they are the ones with the experiences and the knowledge!
  • I forget to schedule more time to blog because I get busy with other stuff and I don't always have access to a computer. 
  • I drink. And sometimes more than two when I do. 
  • I love French Fries and cupcakes and ice cream and anything with carbohydrates.
  • I wear flip flops. And heels. And I got barefoot. One of these every day.
  • I make excuses when I do bad stuff. ^ See all of the above.
  • I make jokes about how some day I'll have dementia. Or die from complications of diabetes. People don't take them well.
  • I've treated a low blood sugar with a beer. It was a test more than anything. But probably not my best decision I've ever made.
  • I don't wear my CGM. I hate it. It's scary and leaves scars that are far beyond the physical ones. I got a different company one from a friend who had a spare. I am going to try it out, but I have to get the supplies for it.And I have to wait until I have insurance for it. I haven't even taken it out of the box yet because of various reasons.
  • I have lost touch with a lot of the DOC. I forget about DSMA a lot. I am rarely on twitter. And I'm just not up-to-date like I used to be. Life threw me some curve balls and I've lost touch.
  • I haven't been to a convention or conference in over a year now. I hate it. Again, curve balls.
It's not all pink ponies and fields of daisies. But, it's not all chainsaws and tragedies either.I do what I can, when I can. And I try to forgive myself when I can't. I pray for people to be more understanding, and hopefully I can teach a little on the way. 

In the mean time, I can be at peace with my successes and my flaws. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dream a Little Dream

As long as I can remember, I have had the most vivid dreams. It started very little as nightmares or dreams of being a princess where my night in shining armor would come rescue me. Then, I moved on to other ideas of how life should be. At the age of eight, I read that Steven King (who I actually was reading at the time) wrote his terrifying thrillers and horrors from dreams he has had and taken notes on. I have a kept a journal bedside since I was eleven to record some of the chilling ones that would keep me awake if I didn’t get them out of my head. I have written short stories on the really horrifying ones, and the people who have read them always had goose bumps before they put them down. Talking on the phone to my Grandma a little over a year ago, she asked, “Are you still having those horrible night mares? It was impossible to keep you in bed as a child, let alone get you down!”

I have always been able to do things in dreams that people claim to be impossible. I can see my hands. I can change between first person and third person. I can remember them. I have died tragically in dreams. I have watched above at my own funeral. I have talked to loved ones who have passed away and felt comfort from them wiping my tears. I have slept walk and found myself in some peculiar places: on top of the kitchen table, with food all around me and the table set has been one of my favorites. I have jumped on clouds and spoken to angels. I have flown. I have saved the world and destroyed it. I have been chased, and chased back. And I have been in war jumping in an out of trenches.

About seven months ago, the night mares stopped! It has been wonderful. I have the strangest dreams, but they aren’t scary nor do they leave me with horrible anxiety. They make me wonder if I took drugs the night before without knowing it.

Last night was a first. I’ve only been diagnosed with diabetes for almost three years. As type two originally, then LADA. I’ve been a pump user for one year, six months and some odd days. And diabetes has yet to enter my dream world, until last night.

I was just walking through a park, with my meter case in hand, when my pump started going off. “Dangerously Low Reservoir” it said. (It never truly displays that.) Within a minute later, “Warning! Low Blood BG.” I stop to check and my meter says 41. I look for glucose tabs in my meter case, but of course they aren’t there. My pump starts vibrating again. “You’re High! You’re High!”

“What is going on with my pump!” I think. It never talks like this!

“Just kidding.” It reads.

I laugh out loud. Then, one more display.

“You’re going to be okay.”

I woke up and was a little anxious. I was high most of the day. But my pump wasn’t yelling at me. I did have to change my site today, but not because my pump told me, “Dangerously Low Reservoir.”

My pump is of course a part of my every day life. But it never has appeared in my dreams. And I’ve never had a conversation with it before. This was a first.

I’m intrigued to find out when it’s going to make it’s next appearance in my dream world. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Sun is the Same in a Relative Way

On July 23, 2011, I received I startling phone call from my new endocrinologist. It was eight thirty on a Saturday morning, so I was even more shocked. He said, "you need to go the ER immediately. There's no more waiting."

I had been diagnosed as a type two diabetic just eleven months earlier. I was put on Metformin and Victoza to control my blood sugars, but nothing was working. I was losing an incredible amount of weight (90+ pounds,) I was always tired, I couldn't eat or drink enough, I was weak, sweating a lot, and I had sensations of parts of my body feeling "asleep" that I never knew possible.

I was scared after we hung up the phone. I was crying and called my mom to let her know that I was headed into the ER under doctors orders. At 2100 miles away, she sounded calm, but, admittedly now, she was scared and just as panicked as I was.

I remember walking into the ER of the hospital and seeing my doctor waiting for me. He was in casual clothes, which I had never seen him in before and his face was somber. He was concerned and stayed with me for the next five hours to observe me and my reactions to an IV of fluids and the start of insulin. He reassured me that I hadn't failed (which I thought I did,) but it was my body failing me. He was like a knowledgeable friend that I needed. I was petrified of needles,  but he and the nurses showed me how to use them. They had patience with me and calmed me down when I was hysterical. I can never thank them enough for how amazing they were in that ER.

I remember thinking, if I would have done this better I could have avoided this. I shouldn't have eaten so much fast food. I should have exercised more. I should have paid attention to my body. I shouldn't have drank so much in college. I obviously did something horrible to deserve this and karma was now kicking me for all the people I had let down. Diabetes was pointing in my face and laughing for all the judgements I had passed on other people. I could no longer do what I wanted to do. Kids would never be an option for me- although I had never wanted them previously, it felt like Diabetes was now making my decision for me.

I was given needles and insulin pens and sent home to start my new life. I thought my life was over. I got nervous that I would lose my feet and my eye sight. I got online and everything scared me about diabetes. I read everything I could possibly read through tears.

In the next couple of months, I started talking about diabetes more. I talked about it with friends. I talked about it with family. I saw a nutritionist and a CDE and asked more questions than I can remember the answers to. I talked about it with strangers and co-workers. Then, I talked to my employer.

I worked as a nanny at the time and she said that one of her co-workers had a daughter with diabetes. I got her email and I nervously typed, thinking she would think I was such a freak for reaching out to a complete stranger. But she wrote back! We set up a meeting for dinner.

Jess greeted me with a warm smile and a hug. She told me about the Diabetes Online Community and that they were getting together in a few weeks because there were a few in Kansas City that always met up and took care of each other. I wasn't sure I should go. Meeting a room full of strangers that might judge me for not doing things the right way? No, thanks. But, I swallowed my pride and I went.

This was one of the best decisions I ever made. They were wonderful. Scott, Babs (and Type Awesome John,) Bob, and Jess all met me with welcoming smiles. They invited me to share my story and they shared theirs. I forgot a pen needle at home and Scott had an extra. I felt safe and comfortable.

They told me about the DOC more and conferences and meet-ups. They taught me that people all over the world were going through what I was going through and I would be fine.

All the initial fears started to melt away. I admit, losing my feet and eyesight still bothers me every day. But the rest of it? It's all gone now.

They took me to my first conference in January. I was about two weeks before starting insulin pump therapy and I saw all these brave little kids running around with this disease that was so much bigger than them. I talked to rep from a pump company and she gave me a hug. She told me she went through the same thing twelve years previous. Once she found out I was a nanny, she asked, "Ever thought about being a diabetes camp counselor? It will change your life."

Man, she was right. I decided to do it. So for a week last summer, I went to camp and had one of the best experiences of my life. It was amazing. And mind-blowing. And life-changing. These people were all so strong, and they said the same thing about me. They even made me believe in myself.

I learned about the You Can Do This Project and watched videos that will inspire me forever. (Admittedly, I have not made one yet. But it's on the bucket list.) I learned about Blue Fridays and the amazing woman behind it. I learned about DSMA and a forum that would change my bad days into the best days. I met some of my best friends on a Twitterverse that I never thought possible.

I became and Advocate for JDRF and The American Diabetes Association.

Someone once said to me, "[Diabetes] is a club you never wanted to be a part of." So true, but I have wonderful support.

Throughout these two years, I have learned more about myself than I ever could have imagined. I learned I could conquer a fear of needles-a fear of anything. I learned I could make friends no matter how scared I was. I have learned that people will always be in your corner when you let them. I learned that some doctors really, really care and will do everything to protect the Hippocratic Oath. I learned that some doctors are full of shit and really have no idea what diabetes means. I learned that I can find all of the information I need when I seek it out. I learned that I can take care of myself. I learned to roll with the punches and let go of some of the stuff I can't control-although, I admit this one is still in the works of the learning process. I learned that my best friends will offer me a kidney because we have the same blood type and there is a good chance I might need it. I learned that people can love you, diabetes and all, whole-hearted, and not look down on you because of box that is connected to you or scars that will forever be around from a harpoon of a CGM. I learned that people want to learn, despite the misconceptions they may have. I learned that your best friend will make up a ridiculous story about your "pager" just to keep you laughing when someone else is being an idiot.

I have been really lucky through my journey. Sure, I have had struggles and I will continue to have them and fears of all the things that could go wrong. But at least I'm not alone.

On my two year diaversary, I look back and I am thankful to have this disease in a day and age where everything is developing. I am thankful to have all the resources I have. I am so lucky that I have access to what I have access to and it's not a death sentence of something that will determine everything in my life. I am thankful for all I have learned and all I have proved to myself.

I am welcoming myself back to the blogging world with warmth in my heart, a smile on my face, and a cupcake in my hand.

Happy Diaversary to me!