30 Days With Diabetes: Fathers

It was hard to say goodbye to my dad today. He flew in from Kentucky on Friday to visit me for the weekend – his first solo visit. He hasn’t been to DC since his last visit in 2016. Our relationship has really changed over the years. We’ve become close, and one thing I do regret about moving away from Kentucky is being so far from family.

I wasn’t close to family when I was in Kentucky. It’s funny what distance does – what perspective it provides. I also didn’t have diabetes when I was in Kentucky. They knew a different Tracy, and on some level, are figuring out what Tracy with Type 1 means. Maybe I am too, for that matter?

Today at brunch, my dad asked me about what prompted them to admit me to the hospital when I was diagnosed. He asked about my blood sugar levels. It’s not that he doesn’t know. He’s just never had to deal with it on a daily basis. I only see my family once or twice a year (sometimes three, if I’m lucky). I once wrote about Christmas in Cookietown – how when I visit home, it can be fun to “play pretend,” forget that I have this disease that affects every fucking moment of every day.  Continue reading

30 Days With Diabetes: Know Your Worth

A lesson I was reminded of today: no matter how certain environments or relationships may make you feel, know your worth.

When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, it took me years to accept that I am worthy of this life – that even with a dysfunctional body, I have value. I felt like a burden to family, friends and society (important note: no one else saw me as a burden). For three years after I was diagnosed, I didn’t write about it.

I regret this. There is so much I now want to know about how I handled this new life, how I coped and how I ultimately felt about all of it. I have a few memories, but that is it. And I didn’t write about it because I didn’t want it to be worth it. What I failed to realize is that I was worth it. 

So no matter how someone makes you feel, know your worth and stick to it. You have value. Own it. Continue reading

I’m Finding My Creative Energy Again

Last month, I was fortunate to take 1.5 weeks of paid vacation. This is the first time in my career where I’ve been in a position to do so. Having just bought a car for the first time in eight years, I couldn’t justify the funds to make an epic journey across the globe.

Instead, I went to visit my family for the Kentucky Derby, taking one of my good friends with me. It was her first visit to Louisville, and one of the best times to be in the city. When we returned to Maryland, I took the rest of the week off to rest and recharge.

My first ever stay-cation.

What Would It Be Like to Write Full Time?

I decided I would take those five days and focus solely on my writing – whether that be content for this blog, my book or additions to my fictional “spy” story. And it was wonderful. I wrote about 3,000 words per day. I realized early on in the week that I can’t sit for very long. So, I took walks during the day. Sometimes, I had bourbon in the afternoon. Because I could. Continue reading

Contemplating My Own Mortality

I spent the majority of my 20’s contemplating my own mortality. This is no surprise. As a child, I often thought about dying (I was apparently a very self-aware child). Growing up Catholic, I imagined I would end up in the haunted realm of purgatory atoning for my sins. But when I reached adolescence, I grew attached to the idea of reincarnation. And then during a major depressive episode in college, I imagined ending up among the meadows of my happy place.

But as an adult diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I stopped imagining what it would be like to die. I suddenly had a very good reason to value life. In my early 20’s, I experienced two life-threatening seizures as a result of Type 1 diabetes, and while I have written about those experiences, both on this blog and in my book, I had never written about that moment when I realized I might die, and there was nothing I could do.

So, appropriately, a few months before I turned 30, I sat down and wrote about this experience. This takes place at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport in late 2011, two years after I was diagnosed with diabetes and during my second year of graduate school. I’ve never shared this publicly until now. Continue reading

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

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

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