I’ll be honest. I’ve never had a great body. Thank you Type 1 diabetes for giving me enough hope in my teenage years to believe that I was on the path to averaging a 4.0 GPA in health and then squash my dreams in my 20s. It’s all been downhill (or maybe uphill?) from there.
The diabetes diagnosis was enough. But then I had chronic bouts of interstitial cystitis, urinary tract infections, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), iliotibial band syndrome, distal bicep tendonitis, and a brief scare of Hashimoto’s disease (thank goodness for second expert opinions), all before I hit my peak at 30. Or maybe that was supposed to be where my life ended? Maybe my body thinks I’m living in the early Middle Ages, so my peak was really at 12?
What was I doing at 12? Oh right, attempting to beat my record of an 11-minute mile in physical education (PE) class, so I wouldn’t be laughed off the track. Middle school was fun. So yeah, not my peak.
I’m not a stress eater. In fact, when I’m stressed, I typically lose weight from “not eating.” Back in 2014, when I was commuting 5.5 hours per day to and from Baltimore and DC and nearing the end of a long-term relationship, I dropped down to 118 pounds (my lowest adult weight to date).
Fortunately now, the people closest to me know this about me and are great about checking me on this matter. So is diabetes. Before (and even after) I was diagnosed with Type 1, I struggled with a positive body image. I engaged in unhealthy behaviors, and although never diagnosed, I exhibited the signs of an eating disorder.
Even when diabetes came along, this was a hard habit to break. I ended up developing a binge eating disorder because I resented diabetes for not allowing me to indulge in certain foods anymore, and then I started omitting insulin so I wouldn’t gain weight from the binge eating. This is called “Diabulimia.” It’s something I’ve written about before on this blog. Continue reading
After posting about testing my blood sugar levels with test strips and a glucometer, someone reached out to me and asked if it was possible to measure ketones with the same meter and test strips.
With diabetes, it’s important to test ketones when you’re sick or have high blood sugar to ensure your body doesn’t go into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). When I was diagnosed, I was given urine strips to test for ketones and never thought to question that method. Until now. Continue reading
In the 9 years since I’ve had Type 1 diabetes (T1D), it’s been amazing to see what parents of children with T1D have done to improve management of blood sugar levels. Well, I learned today that parents are now hacking into diabetes management systems and creating their own form of the artificial pancreas (at a much cheaper cost than the official FDA-approved $7,000 device).
And all of this because of a security slip-up in 2011 – when many Medtronic insulin pumps were left open to hackers and apparently do-it-yourself (DIY) parents. Some companies have now hired or consulted with those DIYers to improve products and share ideas. It’s hard to believe that I could one day owe my life to someone who had the guts to hack into an automated system and tinker.
As one parent said of parents with T1D kids, “They know their kids the best, and sometimes technology or medicine is slower and doesn’t know what we need as much as we do.”
Patient advocacy at its best. Continue reading
The beach and its glorious sun had an effect on my insulin, after all. My blood sugar levels were running high Sunday and Monday until I changed out my pod and therefore the “less effective” insulin within it. But I learned something else today (thanks to JDRF’s Summer Guide to Type 1 Diabetes): Continue reading
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
Today is World Diabetes Day.
I get the World (some days).
I get the Day (sometimes).
But I don’t get Diabetes, not really, especially my type of diabetes. It’s called Type 1. I don’t know where it came from (spoiler alert: there’s no family history). The post-diagnosis tests revealed no evidence of an autoimmune disorder (that’s when the body attacks itself with no real motive).
Today is World Diabetes Day, and since many people I come across often confuse Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, I want to take this opportunity to address a few myths about Type 1 diabetes.
But before I do that, I want to reflect on the distress of this past week. I’m not much of a political activist, and I was never enthusiastic about any of the candidates this election cycle. But having come to terms with who our country just elected to represent them, I feel I need to be more vocal (at least about the issues that affect me on a personal level), and I need to be better about standing up for those whose rights are in jeopardy.
That is my personal commitment in light of these election results. I will not judge based on your vote, and I will not give into the hate that is now plaguing our country (although it was difficult not to hate the white heterosexual male this past Wednesday but that’s unfair because I know plenty of white heterosexual males who voted in my favor).
But there’s something you have to know going forward. I’ve written about it a few times on this blog but not in depth. Mostly because I don’t like to give energy to negative entities, and I don’t want to draw myself into contentious battles with fellow family members and friends. And even though I wasn’t surprised by the outcome of this election (you have to remember I grew up in a red, conservative state), I was disappointed. Continue reading
It 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
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