Kicking and Screaming: The DC Beltway

Stop and go. Stop and go.

One lane moves. The other three don’t. Change lanes. Now the other lanes move, and mine doesn’t.

This describes the epic battle on the DC beltway during rush hour. Yes, I’ve somehow convinced myself this new job is worth the 3 hour commute from Baltimore to Bethesda and back again.

I’ve tried 29. I’ve tried local traffic. Nothing changes. No time is saved. So far, my best bet has been to travel among the lost and forsaken on 495.

I’m in the process of looking for a carpool. I feel bad being a sole traveler in one vehicle, but when I look around, I am not alone. Not to mention the added gas expense, wear and tear on my car, and the increased carbon emissions.

And then there’s the train. I’m also trying this option out, but this requires waking up at 5:30 a.m. to catch a bus to the train station, which takes me to Union Station in DC, and then the metro to Bethesda. It’s a roundabout way to commute, but it would save me $50 per month and the hassle of driving in rush hour traffic.

The catch? I have to get up an hour earlier only to get home an hour later. But you can be so productive on the train, they tell me. Except with such long days, all I want to do is zone out or sleep, but I’m too paranoid to sleep in public.

So for the time being, I drive. Maybe I will move closer? But I don’t feel like breaking my lease just yet. And in the end, I do come home happy and satisifed for the work I’m doing.

What’s the problem? Besides the annoying traffic and long days, I’ve never had such a long commute and been diabetic. And lately, my blood sugar keeps dropping. Maybe it’s the added anxiousness and nervousness, which contributes to less eating and less opportunities to keep my blood sugar up?

But it’s highly dangerous, in my opinion, to operate a vehicle and then experience a hypoglycemic reaction. So far, I’ve been good about catching it, and automatically pop the glucose tablets into my mouth. I also make it a habit to test my blood sugar before I leave work. But sometimes in a rush, I forget and think this would be a good time to have a continuous glucose monitoring system – another Gizmo to warn me when it’s going to drop.

Not to mention that sometimes it takes longer than usual to get home just because I keep getting lost in Bethesda, turned around to the point that I don’t know if I’m going in the direction of the highway or not.

Make a u-turn, my GPS says. Clearly, I should have been listening to you all along rather than my instincts. That’s scary, too. I’ve always been good with direction, usually finding short cuts by accident, but the DC region has me lost.

Just like my blood sugar, I feel out of control, like I can no longer trust my gut. I must listen to a machine to find my way home. My worst fear is losing vision (sometimes an effect of hypoglycemia) while driving. What would I do then? Attempt to navigate across lanes of stop-and-go traffic to pull into the emergency lane and wait for my blood sugar to rise.

Luckily, that’s only happened to me once a few years ago, and I survived. That’s why I take preventative measures. But in the end, the kicking and screaming of the DC beltway rises my blood pressure and heart rate, which sometimes in turn, keeps my blood sugar stable.

It’s a weird anomaly, for sure, but rush hour traffic might just save my life. Okay, that’s a stretch, but I’d like to think there’s some silver lining to this commute.


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