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

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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

The Little Mermaid is My Favorite Disney Movie, and I Finally Figured Out Why

Ever since I saw The Little Mermaid as a young girl (it came out when I was two), I was immediately entranced. I dressed as a mermaid that Halloween and belted out “Part of Your World” on the daily.

But as I grew up and became more aware of feminism ideology, I started to feel shame for the love of a movie that seemed to completely go against that ideology. Here is a young princess with the underworld at her fin, and she decides to give up all of that, including her most prized possession—her voice—for a man she barely knows.

Yeah… it’s hard to reconcile that as an adult. But here’s the thing—that’s not what drew me to this film. I didn’t run around the house with an Eric doll pining for the day I could find my own Eric and be led into another world. No, I idealized Ariel for having the guts to leave everything behind to explore something new and find her sense of belonging.

Let me break it down. Here are the real reasons I love Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Continue reading

Saying Goodbye to Gizmo

As much as I love Gizmo, I’m kind of tired of my insulin pump. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain. Having a $6,000 piece of equipment attached to me 24/7 has been an immense help in the management of my disease over the past four years.

But I am starting to understand why fellow Type 1 diabetics take a break from the pump every now and then and sometimes forever. It’s not easy having something attached to you 24/7. Right now I carry three devices around with me to manage my disease: my insulin pump (aka Gizmo), my continuous glucose monitoring receiver (aka Cosmo), and my glucometer. That doesn’t count my phone.

Gizmo is about the size of a pager. I usually conceal it clipped to my bra strap or waistline of my skirt or pants. The clip is currently taped together with duct tape, and the Medtronic label is practically worn away. I’ve had Gizmo for four and a half years. I’ve only had to replace it once when the battery container froze shut. For the most part I have no complaints.

But lately I’ve been more annoyed with Gizmo than happy. Take for example: Continue reading

Evelyn Sophie: Independent Woman

I would feel better if you were a man and as independent as you are.

I stand in line at Reagan National, waiting to board my Southwest plane to Dallas. It was 40-degrees when I left my apartment this morning, but I dress plainly in jeans, my favorite color blotted flats, and a pink vintage t-shirt. In the fluorescent light, passersby can see my pale pink bra underneath. I fold my black jacket in my arms while my backpack pushes against the bar separating me from the boarding line to the gate attendant behind me.

A middle aged woman with blond waves next to me looks down at my right hand and smiles.

“Oh that’s interesting,” she says, pointing to my mood ring, now an Ohio River green. When I bought it in a thrift store in Louisville, I picked it out for its design (and I have always had a thing for mood rings – the bracelet on my left hand, which I stole from my mom, always emanates two mood stones with a pearl stone in the middle). I didn’t realize until later that the ring’s intricate silver design was in the shape of a dolphin. Who doesn’t love dolphins?

“It’s pretty,” she clarifies. I smile and say thanks. I acknowledge my normal reception to her intersection into my life. Usually I’m awkward, uttering a mild something or try to force a half-smile. But I’m finally leaving this DC life and heading towards the 80-degree, sunny weather of Dallas, where distant family also reside. I am happy even if tired from a 7 a.m. Saturday wake-up call. Continue reading

My Life With Diabetes: Am I in Control?

I walk down the cracked sidewalk along Wisconsin Avenue, past the Starbucks and Regal movie theater in Bethesda. My fingers start to tingle, and my heart rate increases. Suddenly I feel extremely weak. Each step is an effort, and I feel a steel box closing in around my heart. I am out of breath. My limbs start to shake, and my vision is less reliable. I can’t read the street sign in front of me. I stop at the next intersection and look for the glucose tablets in my purse.

I scramble to chew four of these tablets quickly, leaving a powdery residue on the tips of my fingers. I lean against the side of a brick building and call my supervisor. I’m supposed to be in a meeting in two minutes but until I get my blood sugar back up, there’s no way I’m making it back to the office without help. I’m only a five-minute walk away, but right now my vision is blurry and my hands are shaking.

My supervisor doesn’t answer his phone so I call my work colleague and let her know of the situation. I usually don’t tell people when I’m having a low blood sugar, but in this case, I realize it’s the safest thing I can do in case I do have a seizure in the middle of the street. My work colleague has severe allergies so we’ve both agreed to be each other’s medical back-up. I know where her EpiPen is, and she knows what to do if I pass out from low or high blood sugar. Continue reading

From Here to There Yet Nowhere

When I’m in Louisville, Kentucky, on the border of southern Indiana, I see large Maple trees and gravel pathways lined with yellow patches of grass and fallen crisp leaves. A Beagle-Greyhound mix runs in front of me, sniffing at the brown speckled frog camouflaged by rocks and pebbles along the path. A man of 20, just starting out in the world, lights a cigarette nearby. And another man of 26 attempts to restrain the dog and keep her out of the way of the oncoming cyclist.

When I’m in Bethesda, Maryland, on the border of Washington, DC, I hear ambulance sirens and beeping horns of SUVs and BMWs. I sidestep an upraised brick in the sidewalk and bypass an orange cone of a construction zone, the latest in a series of luxury condo high rises. I pass by commuters listening to headphones and carrying laptop bags with their eyes glued to smart phones. I also attempt to drown out the noise of the city with my mood’s latest trend – this time dubstep. And then I move out of the way of an oncoming cyclist.

Belonging

More than a year ago, I made the move from Baltimore to DC. And four years before that I made the move from Cincinnati to Baltimore. And five years prior to that, I left my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

So exactly 10 years ago, a few weeks from today, I ventured from my roots with no plans to return. Of my two brothers and various family members, I have so far been the only one to do so (not including those who left before me). But what I didn’t realize then was what I would be giving up and what I would never be able to have again: a home. Continue reading