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.
When I stood in line for my booster, I was reminded of the hope I had the last time I walked the halls of this community center – the elation I felt at the prospect of seeing and spending time with loved ones again without fear of death.
After my brother’s short-term visit last November, I didn’t see another friendly face for three months. I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s alone. And while I created coping mechanisms and relied on a community of support virtually, that isolation had serious ramifications for my mental health – some of which I am probably still processing.
One of those community members who helped me through it was my 89-year-old Papaw, who’d recently discovered the wonders of gifs, emojis, and text (and who surprisingly shared a similar love of ABBA). He lost his life to COVID in September. So, as I approach this holiday season, it is hard to reconcile another winter without him.
Last week, I was summoned for jury duty in a state I haven’t lived in for 10 years. I learned that Norm might have cancer (fortunately, it was only hypercalcemia, although that’s another long-term adventure in and of itself).
These are strange times indeed.
October is usually my favorite time of year, but for the last month, I have been drowning in low energy and apathy. The momentum is gone. And I’d like to say I’ve spent this time in isolation developing my next novel or setting up a new side hustle. But no, I can only say I’ve spent these last seven months watching a lot of tv, completing a few puzzles, and discovering some new hacks for DIY nail art.
When my mental health reached its lowest, I gravitated towards my support network and discovered they, too, were at their lowest. Nobody was going to come out of this pandemic unscathed. I felt hopeless then. But then my behavioral health training kicked in. While I could not control my external environment, I could control my internal one.
Today is my 11-year anniversary with Type 1 diabetes. This week has been a rollercoaster (though I am amazed at how much I can accomplish on so little sleep). Apparently, I’ve been holding in a lot of stress. Shocking. But bodies are perceptive that way (blood sugar levels included).
I haven’t seen a familiar face in four weeks (excluding video chats). The time has surprisingly gone by fast. But even if I am enjoying my newfound freedom and the productive self-isolation sessions, there is something missing beneath the surface. And that subtle ache pulls at me – materializing in my nightly, often anxiety-ridden dreams and blinking at me through the sun slants of the window pane.
I am not quite whole. I have felt broken before. And at times like these when I need to be reminded of my own resilience and feel empowered among circumstances outside of my control, I consult my favorite cinematic moments – scenes that are not necessarily award-winning but still inspire me and encourage me to find the strength to carry on.
Many of these movies (spoilers ahead) focus on a leader or woman (or sometimes that inner voice) overcoming adversity (often through innovative approaches) and subsequently inspiring others through their courage to stay true to who they are, follow their dreams and stand up for what they deserve. Continue reading
Yesterday, I left my apartment for the first time in eight days.
It was sunny and 68 degrees outside. I went for a run, passing the US Marine Corps War Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon – fenced off and under construction – and Arlington National Cemetery – the first time I’ve seen it closed to daytime public. I then found myself along the heart of the Mount Vernon trail, surrounded by bikers, runners, walkers and strollers taking in the calm quietude of the Potomac River and a view of the Washington Monument. You wouldn’t know there was a pandemic going on, except for patrols closing off the paths to DC and the cherry blossoms.
Eight days seems like a long time to be shut in a 700 square-foot apartment with a cat whose expression mirrors, “why are you still here?” But this past winter, I spent a considerable amount of time alone – re-conditioning myself to enjoy “me” time again, so that I could recharge and improve my overall well-being. Unbeknownst to me, that time alone conditioned me for such a strange time as this. In fact, I kind of wish I had more time alone. With all the virtual meetings, chats, and happy hours, I’ve rarely had time to myself.
But I wouldn’t change the wonderful network I’ve spent the last 33 years cultivating. So many of you reached out when all of this started, knowing I was high risk and making sure I was okay. I heart you for that. All of the diabetes blogs, commentaries, and posts I’ve read tell me not to panic. But that’s easier said than done. I am grateful I have a pet like Norm. When the anxiety starts to escalate, I stop what I’m doing and throw hair ties his way. His enjoyment of the simple pleasures in life eases my heart rate. Continue reading
A month ago, I was planning a trip to the Caribbean.
And when that fell through, I was planning a trip to see my brother in San Francisco.
And when that was put on hold, I started planning a trip to visit my cousin in Dallas to celebrate the Kentucky Derby together.
And then the next day coronavirus (COVID-19) arrived in DC.
Today, there are 114 cases in Virginia (20 hospitalized and 2 deaths). That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s more than double than what we had five days ago (and this is just based on who’s been tested).
There are Two Types of Diabetes
I have Type 1 diabetes (T1D) – an autoimmune disorder in which the body no longer produces insulin, a hormone needed to digest food into energy for survival. There is no cure, and this type of diabetes cannot be changed with diet and exercise. Since I was diagnosed at 22, I’ve known that I will be stuck with diabetes for life.
This makes living a little bit different. Every day is a risk. I’m not sure people besides those with Type 1 realize that. But one wrong move, one variable unaccounted for, and my life could be in danger. It could happen that fast. It almost has. But I try not to think about that. With access to insulin and the advancement in technology and medical supplies, and a little bit of faith, I have a found a way to manage.
Diabetes and Coronavirus
Having Type 1 diabetes doesn’t necessarily make me more susceptible to catching COVID-19, but the repercussions if I do contract it are severe. Continue reading
I didn’t think it was possible to burn out when happy. Sixty days ago, I learned otherwise.
I had gone three months without a free Saturday night, and while not a bad way to live life, for me, it was … odd. But this was not the only symptom. I could never seem to focus, constantly multi-tasking or procrastinating on my phone.
I bought this phone for its enhanced picture-taking capabilities (or if you’re like me, a chance to improve my sleuthing videography skills) and its bigger screen, so I could be more efficient when, let’s say, I needed to pay bills on-the-go (or more likely spend endless hours swiping left on my dating apps).
But while there is nothing wrong with the phone (minus the fact I dropped it in the toilet six months ago, and its audio is still a little “off”), there was definitely something wrong in my life. The difference is I didn’t think everything was wrong with my life. I knew I was happy, but I was also exhausted and never feeling like I could fully “show up.”
So, two months ago, I decided to break up with my phone. And while I didn’t publish this then, I’ve decided to post it now as a testament to its grandiosity but also – it worked. Continue reading
When I first experienced bullying in middle school, I sought my dad for advice. He told me to focus on my studies, ignore them, laugh in the face of criticism (that will throw them for a loop, he said, and it did) and above all, never doubt myself and keep on going.
A few months ago, my life took a sour turn. Every week I learned of news that would inevitably upend my personal and professional paths. How much worse could it get? And then, it got worse, so much so I felt I had become an expert at grieving.
Each week, I processed a new set of emotions – some for the loss of things and some for the emptiness that loss left behind. I was tired of being sad. So, one day, I came home from work, made myself a martini and started dancing and laughing in the kitchen. Take that life bully. If I had seemingly lost everything, then it meant I had nothing to lose and therefore could do whatever I wanted. My foundation was crumbling but that just meant I could build something new. Continue reading
I’ve never been a big fan of “a year in review,” even in blog post form. But seeing as how I never send holiday cards, I thought it would be fun to attempt such a narcissistic task in the most light-hearted way I know how, as dictated by my six-year-old black and brown tabby, who is currently rolling around on the floor high on catnip.
Here is Norm’s 2018 Year in Review:
A few years ago, Norm (my six-year-old brown and black tabby) developed severe allergies that resulted in excessive biting and licking of his skin. We put him on a series of steroid treatments to relieve the itch and help the wounds heal until his allergy shots have a chance to kick in (which could take 12-18 months).
The only downside to so much steroid exposure? It increases his risk of developing diabetes. When I learned this vital information, I looked down at Norm and said, “Sorry, bud. We can only have one diabetic in this family.”
Fortunately, Norm has not developed diabetes. But that doesn’t mean the rest of my family has been so lucky. In the nine years I’ve had Type 1, I’ve watched friends and family endure the trials that come with gestational diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
For a quick refresher: Continue reading