Today I Bought a Scale

I recently bought a scale… to measure my weight… over time.

My former negative body image-self is terrified.

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But every time I come to grips with my single status again, I need something to focus on whether that be my writing, my work, or my fitness. Four months ago I started building muscle. I didn’t have much of a strategy. I just started lifting weights and varying my exercise routines.

And then I did gain muscle. I could feel definition in my biceps and abs. I could do things in yoga I’d never been able to do before, and I ran my fastest mile… ever. So I thought if I just put a little more thought and energy into it, I could actually be fit. Okay fitter.

But in order to do that I would need to start watching what I ate. I would need to start monitoring my fat and protein intake. I would need to start counting calories and checking my weight. I struggle with counting calories. I already have to watch my carb and sugar intake for my diabetes. I monitor my blood sugar constantly. Did I really want to add more to my daily math excursions?

Five Weeks

So I’m giving myself 5 weeks (only because after 5 weeks I’m taking my first week-long vacation in five years). See what I can accomplish with a strict regimen. I am a perfectionist after all. But that’s the catch. I have body image issues. I used to struggle with different types of eating disorders. I haven’t had a scale in my home in more than 10 years. The counting, the weighing – it encourages my obsession with an unrealistic body image.

Or at least it did. But it’s been 11 years since I’ve been that close to a scale. And I’m not doing this to lose weight. I’m doing this for my diabetes. I’m doing this for my physical being. I’m doing this for my health. I’m doing this for my mental and emotional well-being. I’m doing this for me not because I think I have to but because I want to. Continue reading

Making Up for the Break-Up: 10 Hard-And-Fast Rules

Break-ups are hard. I don’t know what it is about them that makes one question everything. Like why am I in DC? Why did I go to grad school? Why do I have so much student loan debt? Why am I still single? Why did I give up everything for a job I only semi-love?

I just went through my second hardest break-up in two years. Didn’t really know it was going to be hard until two weeks later when I spent eight hours of the day crying. Seriously, isn’t there a limit to how many waterworks one can produce?

But I guess it’s hard when you come to depend on someone for certain needs – a certain happiness so-to-speak – and then that happiness is taken out from under you and you’re left with a stark image of yourself in the mirror. Seriously how was I ever not single?

Anyway one thing I have learned from break-ups is as much as your friends and family may be tired of hearing about your failed single life, they kind of get it, and they’re totally there for you. And since I may be single for a long time now (okay just my pessimistic self speaking here), I might as well come up with some fun rules to get me back on the road to recovery and feeling excited about being free again.

So the next time I decide to end things for my own benefit (I’m being optimistic here) I’ll try to keep the following in mind: Continue reading

I’m Not Back… But My Pancreas Is (Sorta)

I’ve decided to take a break from my other writing projects to write this blog post. Because even though I may take a break from my blog, my diabetes does not take a break from my life. And upon learning some unexpected news recently, it seemed appropriate to mention it here.

So I’m not back to regular blogging but I may pop in every now and then.

Another Year in Cookietown

I’ve spent the past week and a half in Cookietown (aka my parents’ house during the holidays). And my blood sugar levels have never been so amazing. I even reached a no-hitter a couple of times (keeping my blood sugar levels within the lines for an entire day). That means no extreme highs (above 200) and no extreme lows (below 70).

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So how did I manage this? Well I’d like to think it’s because I’ve gotten better at managing this disease in the six and half years since I was diagnosed. But the real truth is completely based on biology.

Apparently my pancreas is still making insulin. Continue reading

A Not So ‘Silent Spring’

Rachel Carson Silent SpringIt should be amazing to me that in the six years since I’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and the four years I’ve been involved in the sustainability movement, I have yet to read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a classic for environmental health advocacy. This is the book that catapulted events leading to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the ban on the production of DDT (the effects of this chemical are sadly still with us today).

And yet it was published in 1962 by a woman. That was more than 50 years ago, and I admit Carson might appreciate that we have taken her words to heart, but she would probably be disappointed with the amount of toxic chemicals that still plague our homes and health statuses.

Even though my chronic disease is “autoimmune,” my body showed no evidence of this fact. And even though my doctors tell me it’s probably genetic, I have no family history. The media and scare over the diabetes epidemic would have you believe it’s my fault, but I’ve always taken good care of myself and have always been in good health until six years ago. Continue reading

All The Pretty Girls

It’s hard to feel pretty when I feel like my mouth is the size of a cantaloupe, and I can only chew my dinner on the left side of my jaw. Today I had three cavities filled. I’ve never had a cavity in my life (damn those childhood sealants, which apparently become traps for bacteria as an adult).

I should really stop going to the doctor. This year is the year of medical expenses. Every time I go, even for what I think is going to be a yearly check-up, they find something wrong with me. A part of me wonders if this is some kind of conspiracy, but when my dentist showed me the actual images of my cavity-filled teeth, I knew he wasn’t lying.

The procedure wasn’t as bad as I thought. The numbing shots didn’t hurt, and there weren’t any bad smells, but when I left the office, I was oddly self-conscious of my numb face, and the fact that if the side of my face started to droop, I probably wouldn’t notice. So I spent the 20-minute walk home trying to keep my lips shut and avoid any kind of conversation with passersby.

But how is this different from any other day? I have a 10-minute commute to and from work every day. I’m lucky in that DC sense. And every time I make that trek, I am oddly self-conscious. Are my headphones too loud? Can anyone see my underwear line? Can anyone see my lacy bra peeking out beneath my sleeveless top? Is that bulge beneath my pencil skirt obvious? Are there sweat stains beneath my bra line?

Yet even amongst all these questions, I’m oddly confident. I make that walk like I own the sidewalk, and I never look back. I’m aware of my figure, and how good I look in my pencil skirt. But do I ever notice anyone checking me out? No. Do I ever see people look at me? Yep. And I automatically think there must be something wrong with my wardrobe or my headphones aren’t plugged into my phone and everyone can hear my music. Continue reading

Mind Your Bees

The honeybee lands on the upper part of my leg, and I let it sit there for a while. Its body is not as luminous as the bumble bee, but its faded brown and black stripes serve for better camouflage amidst the Kentucky foliage. I watch the middle school softball game unfold before me while I happily occupy the bench. I know I will strike out as soon as my name is called to the plate.

For now, I listen to the chatter of prepubescent girls nearby and wonder if I’m somehow different for not caring about the latest JTT fad or what flavor of Lip Smacker chapstick is popular this week. And then there are the girls that scream and jump up and down, swatting at the wasps and bees that occupy this space between the fence and the bleachers.

The teammate to my right, who is already tan for the summer and recently cut her mousy brown hair to her chin, looks down at the bee on my leg. It tickles as it moves around, and I hope it doesn’t attempt to burrow into my exposed skin. Continue reading

Why Life Isn’t A Failure (Even Though My Mood May Tell You Otherwise)

When my colleague knocked on my office door earlier this week, I could barely keep it together. As soon as she saw the tears and trembling lips, she opened her arms, and then asked what was wrong.

“I don’t know, I’ve been crying all morning, and I don’t even know why. It’s not like I’m hormonal right now.” I threw up my arms and started venting or whining as I often like to berate myself.

There were many reasons to cry, I had deduced, but they all pointed to one thing: I felt like an absolute failure – that I had failed my life, and there was no way to remedy it.

Here are the reasons why I thought my life was a complete failure: Continue reading

Peanut Butter May Still Be the Death of Me

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. shaking, while Cosmo, my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) vibrated and beeped at me from the nightstand to my right. I pushed its button, acknowledging the warnings, and saw the screen light up with the number 45.

I didn’t need to check my blood sugar level with my glucometer. My heart was pounding, and the room was blurry. I thought of the orange juice in the fridge but decided to go for the Reese’s egg in the freezer. I knew from recent calculations that this chocolate-covered, peanut-butter filled egg contained 25 grams of carbohydrates (mostly sugar).

That should do it, I thought. Norm, my two-year-old tabby walked into my bedroom and sat on the floor in front of my bed with a quizzical look. The egg didn’t feel like enough even though I knew it was. I checked my insulin pump, which confirmed there was no active insulin in my system. My basal rate was set to decrease from .600 units to .400 at 3 a.m. to account for those middle-of-the-night lows.

I knew I would be okay, but I was still shaking, and my heart was pounding. My body felt weak and depleted, and I craved sugar – the sustenance necessary for instant energy. Earlier that day I had made the mistake of buying a few bags of Reese’s pieces eggs, now 50 percent off in the post-Easter haze. Continue reading

Christmas in Cookietown

Photo-Dec-30,-9-29-39-PMThere’s something to be said about being diagnosed with a chronic condition as a young professional. For one, you skip the growing pains and hormonal changes of adolescence. Two, your family never has to reconcile their lifestyle habits as a result of it so when you return home for the holidays, there is no reminder of your disease.

In fact, every sweet-toothed temptation surrounds you. It’s not inconsiderate. It’s nice, actually. Your family may have not changed their holiday menu line-up based on your diabetes, but that just means for once a year, you can splurge and forget you have this haunting disease.

That is until a few days later when the sight of another chocolate truffle makes your blood sugar soar. Your aunt offers you a piece of pumpkin pie, and when you check your continuous glucose monitor (CGM) receiver to see that your blood sugar has been a steady 250 for the past two hours, you politely decline. You fall asleep on the couch, overwhelmed with exhaustion, but really, your body is suffering the effects of long-term high blood sugar. You haven’t been running in a week, and the short walks with the dog in 20-degree temperatures are not enough to increase your energy levels.

You suddenly miss green vegetables and juice. Every time your blood sugar drops as a result of overestimating your insulin to carb ratio, you run for the kitchen because across the green marble countertop are rows of cookies, some homemade and some store-bought. You start with chocolate chip, then pecan sandies, and finally fudge. You feel nauseas, and even though your blood sugar is no longer low, it doesn’t take it long before it soars high. Continue reading

Blood Sugar Woes

“Is everything okay?” my former colleague and friend asked the young woman standing across from me, a rack of beach towels and bathing suits between us.

It was my first visit to Ocean City. My friend, who I hardly saw anymore since I left the restaurant business, had invited me along with her roommate on this girls’ weekend, fourth of July beach trip. We had just arrived when the roommate realized she didn’t bring a beach towel.

“Yeah, yeah,” she said. “I just need to eat; my blood sugar is low.” I looked up from the myriad of snow globes clustered on one shelf. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of Disney characters in bathing suits basking in the snow.

“I feel like I’m going to pass out,” she added and then discards the wave towel she was looking at.

“Really? Do you want some juice?” I asked. She shook her head.

“I have some glucose tablets, too. If you’re blood sugar is really low, you should get it up quickly.” My friend and I exchange mocking looks. The roommate declined again, and I sighed. I held my tongue because I knew in bringing up the glucose tablets, I had embarrassed her. After all, I knew the full repercussions of a low blood sugar as a Type 1 diabetic.

But I didn’t mention the two seizures or attempt to unmask the real reason behind her irritability. It’s very likely she did need to eat, but unlike my body, her body knew when enough insulin was enough. It may drop to a certain point (unless she was hypoglycemic), but as long as she ate, it would self-manage.

Mine wouldn’t. If my blood sugar was dropping, I had to take care of it right away, less I risk having another seizure or going into a coma because my body couldn’t stabilize itself without external help.

As we left the store, still beach towel-less (due to the prices), and stopped at the nearest food depot and I watched the roommate’s mood improve significantly with food, I realized I was once just like her. Even before I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I, too, became irritable and moody when I was hungry. Just like my mom, sometimes I would feel shaky if I hadn’t eaten in awhile.

Continue reading