Traveling Alone

August was a difficult month, for many reasons. I told one of my best friends recently: I feel like I’ve lost myself. I’ve been pushing myself for so hard for so long I’ve forgotten what makes me happy.

Last week, I learned about the annual Library of Congress National Book Festival, which took place Saturday. A friend and I (both avid readers) decided to check it out. It was madness. I couldn’t believe the crowds and felt proud to be among such a city of nerds.

And I remembered how much I love to learn, whether that’s about the sting acceleration of a jellyfish (up to 5 million g) or the divided friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. I may feel a little astray right now, but when it comes to learning and exploring something new, I am never lost.  Continue reading

30 Days With Diabetes: Almost

I was about to go to bed when I realized I haven’t posted today. I’m on Day 27 – it would be almost comical to miss a day now.

But the truth is I’m tired of talking about my diabetes. Yes, I have a book and a blog devoted to it. And yes, I live it every day, but if this series has taught me anything, it’s that I am more than my diabetes.

For years after I was diagnosed, I was terrified to try new things. Just this past year, I went whitewater rafting for the first time. And I recently got my passport renewed because I’m considering traveling abroad again. Continue reading

30 Days With Diabetes: Ketone Test Strips

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

30 Days With Diabetes: Tourists

It’s draining enough for me to be around people all day, especially crowds of tourists. In addition to energy depleting, it’s also a strain on my blood sugar.

The stress and anxiety of the crowds can contribute to an increased blood sugar (above 120). The constant walking and limited food/water supply can lead to lower blood sugar levels (below 90).

It’s very tricky to navigate this “abnormal” routine. Considering the amount of walking and energy depletion, I usually play to the “high” side and adjust my insulin settings so I’m not getting as much insulin during this time frame to ensure my blood sugar doesn’t drop. I also don’t take as much insulin for food.

So, when my dad asks if I need to eat while touring the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian, I say yes, not because my blood sugar is dropping (it’s actually been stable at 170 thanks to my proactive management style), but because I legitimately need the energy.

It’s nice to feel normal every once in awhile.

This post is part of my 30 Days With Diabetes series

30 Days With Diabetes: The Beach

The sun is my best friend in the midst of this new monsoon season in DC. But it’s more like a distant acquaintance with my insulin.

Heat aka long hours exposed to the sun can reduce the effectiveness of my insulin therefore impacting my blood sugar levels therefore impacting my overall quality of life.

Unfortunately, the pod that carries my insulin is usually exposed in a bathing suit. Today, it was under my left arm. Tomorrow, it could be on my stomach. Continue reading

30 Days With Diabetes: Basal Rate

Managing Type 1 diabetes involves more than just giving myself an insulin injection before I eat. It’s a basal-bolus routine.

basal-bolus routine involves taking a longer acting form of insulin to keep blood glucose levels stable through periods of fasting and separate injections of shorter acting insulin to prevent rises in blood glucose levels resulting from meals.

It gets more complicated. My basal rate – the amount of insulin I take in between meals – changes from week to week, day to day and hour to hour. This can depend on my schedule (weekend vs. weekday vs. traveling), hormones, exercise and even stress.

Here’s a breakdown of the basal rates I have preset within my personal diabetes manager (what I use to administer insulin via the pod attached to my skin). 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

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