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

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If the World Ended

If the world ended, and I somehow managed to be one of the few survivors in the new post-apocalyptic world, this is all I would need to manage my diabetes.

When I was diagnosed with T1D I depended on these bad boys to survive.

The world hasn’t ended. And yet this past month, I learned firsthand what life would be like without all of the technology that helps me manage this disease.

Back to Finger Pricks

First, my prescription for the wireless transmitter component of my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) expired. My health insurance company requires a letter of medical necessity, certified from my endocrinologist, every year (you know, because I may be miraculously cured in that time span). For some reason, medical supply companies and doctor offices still communicate by fax (archaic!). Fast forward three weeks from when I put in the order for a new transmitter (I documented the whole saga on social media, by the way), and my transmitter dies. 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

The Research That Saved My Life

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

Never Apologize For…

How you feel

Who you love

Who you are

Words of wisdom from a good friend of mine.

This past month, I have been struggling to keep the depression and anxiety at bay, but there is a sadness quietly overtaking me. I can’t pinpoint any one direct cause, but certain circumstances have destroyed my spirit time and time again. Just when I think I have built up enough resilience to conquer another day, another stumbling block takes me down.

I feel way too much. When I see others hurting, it hurts me, too. And I am seeing so many hurting right now (myself included). I try to focus on the small successes. Just last month, I visited my endocrinologist and learned I had decreased my A1C (average blood sugar levels over the past three months) by phenomenal measures. It’s crazy to think that when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I had an A1C of 16.0 (that’s not functional, by the way), and now I have an A1C of 5.8. 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

Today is World Diabetes Day

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).

Continue reading