What am I doing with my life? Oh right, I’m human

I’m staring at a wrist band on my bed — a red band I received last year for running a 5K for a colleague’s son, who has already spent too many hours of his life in the hospital.

And I wonder, am I making the most of my life? Did I follow the right path? Does my time seem to have value?

I remove the ice pack from my left arm — the latest in a line of bodily conundrums. Last week at this time, I was in immense pain. My arm felt like it was on fire, and no matter what I did, I could not sleep through the pain. It turns out I have distal bicep tendinitis (more on that in another post), and I am now taking anti-inflammatory medication and hoping my stomach doesn’t turn itself inside out.

Do I regret overworking that muscle and tendon? I regret experiencing the pain, but that pain has also forced me to take a step back from certain activities in my life and relax. When I try to relax, I usually overthink. And right now, I am overthinking. Continue reading

Advertisements

Throwback to Day One

Nine years ago, this month, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. What exactly was going through my head that fateful day? I didn’t write much in those first few months getting to know my incurable chronic condition, but I did take the time to document my experience in the hospital post-diagnosis. The following excerpt would eventually inspire my book, Sugarcoated. I’ve trimmed some of the content for this blog.

Me writing in Paris a year before I found out I had Type 1 diabetes

I hear the drum of the metal cart on the tile floor, its rusted wheel curved backwards towards the slanted door. Its heavy frame makes a swishing sound when the nurse appears, and I cuddle beneath the thin scraps of my blanket. She checks my IV with a smile, and I no longer try to conceal my runaway tears. She says if I need anything to call, and she will be back in an hour to administer my long-lasting insulin injection. I hardly know what she’s saying, let alone believe that I need insulin to live. The door’s shadow disappears behind her, and once again, I’m left alone to the static television and a view of the parking lot.

I see the lights from a golf course in the distance and think of my boyfriend’s family on Easter, enamored with the flat screen television and shouting with each successful hole. I think of my boyfriend now sitting around the campfire at his aunt and uncle’s house with a good meal in his body – a meal I will potentially never feel again. He boasted about his aunt’s cooking all week, and I looked forward to a weekend with the family and then an afternoon at the Great American Ball Park with my co-worker and her boyfriend. They offered free tickets, four rows up from the dugout, and I even bought an outfit for the event (seeing as I never wore red). I packed my clothes on the way to the hospital in the hopes the doctor would discharge me by early morning.

I look at my flip phone with scratches on the screen, and I wish to see a blinking light, a sign of life, but the battery died from excessive texting. My roommate left me before I realized I had forgotten my charger. The University health center doctor set me up near his practice in Northern Kentucky so he could oversee things, but I feel so disconnected from everyone in Cincinnati. Even my boyfriend’s car could not make the drive across the river, and when my roommate left around dinnertime, I wished for morning. Continue reading

The Research That Saved My Life

April 24, 2009… diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes

October 21, 2011… first seizure as a result of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

January 26, 2012… second seizure as a result of hypoglycemia

March 31, 2018… Many of you have heard this story a million times. I have Type 1 diabetes (T1D). It’s an autoimmune disorder where I must inject myself with insulin on a daily basis to live. I’m lucky to be alive. I’m lucky this is something I can manage.

And yet part of the story you probably haven’t heard is how research and technology saved my life. In the span of four months back in 2011 and 2012, I experienced two seizures – one at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport and another at the Orlando International Airport (at least I’m consistent). I’m not only thankful for the TSA officials, EMTs and strangers who looked out for me on days when my troubles could have easily been dismissed, but I am thankful I had these experiences.

Because they led me to Gizmo. Continue reading

A Year of Forgiving Myself

On a hike along Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, my best friend and I reminisced over past relationships and our current single states. We evinced pride for putting ourselves first and focusing on our health and well-being. But then my friend mentioned something about forgiving herself – that even as we heal, we sometimes forget the blame we put on ourselves, even when we’re not to blame.

A month ago, I took a leap of professional development faith and attended a Bossed Up Bootcamp in DC. I had heard about the organization and its founder from a friend of mine, and I came to respect the organization and its mission even more when I listened to Emilie Aries on the podcast, Stuff Mom Never Told You. I didn’t really know what I wanted out of my career anymore, but as a woman, I wanted to feel empowered. I wanted to find the strength and stamina to continue to fight for the issues I believed in.

And while this may come as a surprise to many who know me, I actually do well in strange social situations. There is something about no one knowing who I am and where I’m from that gives me the freedom to play different roles and practice different personas. I love being in a room full of strangers. But it does take a lot of energy out of me.

Except I didn’t feel so free and excited at this Bossed Up Bootcamp. I had trouble connecting with folks. I felt excluded even though no one was excluding me. I couldn’t find the energy to “play pretend.” I couldn’t even find the energy to be myself. So, I just let myself be. I did get to know some amazing women, and I connected on an individual level with a few members of my cohort.

When I left that weekend, I felt exhausted and depleted. Why had that been such a struggle? These women all seemed so sure of themselves, and so sure that they were going to make it in the world. There is nothing wrong with that, but for some reason, I couldn’t emulate their excitement. I could only envy them for their energy.

At the end of Bootcamp, we were introduced to the Life Tracker. We chose a vision for four areas of our professional and personal lives: Work, Love, Wellness and Other. Then, we created three action steps for each vision. We gave ourselves motivations for achieving those action steps. And then, most importantly, we chose one vision to prioritize for the month, above all else.

It didn’t mean we couldn’t continue to work on all visions, but that we acknowledged doing everything at once is not always achievable (hear, hear, Type A persona). So, as much as I wanted to focus on my writing and my work for the month of February, I acknowledged that what I really needed was love. And my vision for love was “feeling supported.” Continue reading

Never Apologize For…

How you feel

Who you love

Who you are

Words of wisdom from a good friend of mine.

This past month, I have been struggling to keep the depression and anxiety at bay, but there is a sadness quietly overtaking me. I can’t pinpoint any one direct cause, but certain circumstances have destroyed my spirit time and time again. Just when I think I have built up enough resilience to conquer another day, another stumbling block takes me down.

I feel way too much. When I see others hurting, it hurts me, too. And I am seeing so many hurting right now (myself included). I try to focus on the small successes. Just last month, I visited my endocrinologist and learned I had decreased my A1C (average blood sugar levels over the past three months) by phenomenal measures. It’s crazy to think that when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I had an A1C of 16.0 (that’s not functional, by the way), and now I have an A1C of 5.8. Continue reading

Being Adventurous with Diabetes: Whitewater Rafting

Note: this is a follow-up to an earlier post on Being Adventurous with Diabetes

In early November, I texted one of my best friends, asking her how she would like to celebrate her upcoming birthday.

Her response: whitewater rafting.

Her birthday was in three days. It’s something she’s always wanted to do. She had a different start to her adult life – had to grow up way too fast and missed out on what some of us call the “fun” from our early 20’s. So, now that she’s hit 30, she’s trying to make up for it. I don’t blame her, and after the year she’s had, I want to support her. Except…

I am terrified of whitewater rafting. Honestly, I’m terrified of any water that moves (yes, I acknowledge the oxymoron in that statement, but let’s just say kiddie pools don’t count). I experienced a few “almost” drowning incidences as a kid, and that ruined any dreams of being The Little Mermaid. But I wanted to support my friend, and ever since I ran that 5K in October, I’d made a commitment to myself to be a little more adventurous. Continue reading

Being Adventurous with Diabetes

The holidays are always a tough time for someone with Type 1 diabetes. I’m constantly surrounded by holiday treats and carb-heavy foods. Holiday parties tend to be the worst culprit.

This could be why I’ve been a bit anti-social lately. I don’t want to be tempted. This past year, managing my blood sugar levels became increasingly more difficult. Maybe it’s because I’m older and my body is less resilient? Maybe it’s because I “cheat” more than I used to? Maybe it’s because I’ve had this disease longer, and it’s starting to take its toll on my mental and physical health?

Maybe all of the above? I recently took out a life insurance policy. That felt weird. And although I do my best, I know there is no guarantee with this disease, and in case anything terrible should happen as a result, I want my loved ones to be taken care of. But in the meantime, I’m still rooting for me. Continue reading