All The Pretty Girls

It’s hard to feel pretty when I feel like my mouth is the size of a cantaloupe, and I can only chew my dinner on the left side of my jaw. Today I had three cavities filled. I’ve never had a cavity in my life (damn those childhood sealants, which apparently become traps for bacteria as an adult).

I should really stop going to the doctor. This year is the year of medical expenses. Every time I go, even for what I think is going to be a yearly check-up, they find something wrong with me. A part of me wonders if this is some kind of conspiracy, but when my dentist showed me the actual images of my cavity-filled teeth, I knew he wasn’t lying.

The procedure wasn’t as bad as I thought. The numbing shots didn’t hurt, and there weren’t any bad smells, but when I left the office, I was oddly self-conscious of my numb face, and the fact that if the side of my face started to droop, I probably wouldn’t notice. So I spent the 20-minute walk home trying to keep my lips shut and avoid any kind of conversation with passersby.

But how is this different from any other day? I have a 10-minute commute to and from work every day. I’m lucky in that DC sense. And every time I make that trek, I am oddly self-conscious. Are my headphones too loud? Can anyone see my underwear line? Can anyone see my lacy bra peeking out beneath my sleeveless top? Is that bulge beneath my pencil skirt obvious? Are there sweat stains beneath my bra line?

Yet even amongst all these questions, I’m oddly confident. I make that walk like I own the sidewalk, and I never look back. I’m aware of my figure, and how good I look in my pencil skirt. But do I ever notice anyone checking me out? No. Do I ever see people look at me? Yep. And I automatically think there must be something wrong with my wardrobe or my headphones aren’t plugged into my phone and everyone can hear my music. Continue reading

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Breaking Badly

Recently, in a lot of the shows I’ve been watching or books I’ve been reading, I come across men taking advantage of women, whether that be physically or emotionally, and even in supposed entertainment, it infuriates me. No matter how many times I see it and no matter how much we’ve “evolved,” I will never be de-sensitized to this treatment. It is not okay, and it will never be okay.

I admit in recent years I’ve focused more on my relationships with women. I attended a leadership conference almost 10 years ago (hard to believe), and the biggest threat to women in leadership positions then was other women. And instead of banding together, women competed against one another for that one spot.

I vowed to never do that, but yet here I am, involved in more than one organization with a white man at the top. And I am fighting women to climb higher. But my roommate recently told me of how one of her favorite stand-up comedians joked about how he didn’t understand why women kept dating when men were their number one threat. All men had to worry about was being rejected.

And I admit now that I’m back on the dating scene, I’m suspicious of even the more enthusiastic kind. Why are they so excited after a first date? What’s their real end game, I ask myself? This is silly, I know, but maybe smart? I am very overprotective of my single, independent state. I feel like I lost that in my last four-year relationship, and now I covet it more than money. Continue reading

My Body Is Okay

I was sweating my ass off on the way to my third doctor appointment this month. I decided to take the time from work and travel halfway downtown (plus another 15-minute walk from the metro) to see a specialist about my recent lab results – results my former endocrinologist said showed I had another autoimmune disorder.

I wasn’t so sure. For one, I didn’t have any symptoms. For two, only one result came back abnormal, and the level was barely below the normal range. And for three, I couldn’t handle the idea of having another autoimmune disorder, even if it only meant taking a pill every day for the rest of my life.

But in the past week since I learned of these results and made this follow-up visit, I started questioning myself. Had I gained weight in the past few months? Wasn’t I feeling more tired lately? Hadn’t I been more depressed than usual? Didn’t I feel thirsty all the time? Didn’t it feel like I had a sore throat even though I knew that was impossible? Continue reading

Autoimmunity

It’s hard to live when you don’t trust your body, and no matter what you do, it continues to disappoint you.

Today I found out I may have another autoimmune disease. I was notified by email of my recent lab results. And a short note from my doctor: you have ______. Here are my medication and dosage recommendations.

No call. No explanation. No consultation. All I had was one abnormal test result and potentially another incurable disease that meant I would have to take a pill every day for the rest of my life.

It’s not so bad. It’s manageable. They all said the same thing when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes six years ago. Is this how I’m rewarded? Continue reading

Diabetes Knows When I’m Stressed

This past week has been one of the most stressful weeks for my physical and mental health probably since I completed grad school a few years ago. It didn’t help that it was preceded by hormonal blues and a delayed website launch. Among other things, my work life overpowered the rest of my life, making my ability to sustain personal goals nearly impossible.

And maybe it’s my own fault for putting too much on my plate personally? But I did this so that I would have a life outside of work and so that I could be happy. But my inability to have that personal life because of work obligations made me extremely unhappy and not the most joyous person to be around.

What was worse is that when I left the office on Friday, that stress left with me. I couldn’t get it out of my head and my dreams, and my roommate could tell you that when I was hounding the vacuum cleaner on Saturday, cussing up a storm because I couldn’t unlock the filter mechanism, my irritability and frustration had reached a devastating point.

I ended up breaking part of the vacuum when I slammed it against the kitchen counter. This didn’t surprise me. This is why I had a stress ball that I used to throw against my dorm room in college when I felt particularly overwhelmed. But not since I had broken up with my ex more than six months ago did I feel this overwhelming feeling of frustration and anxiousness that no amount of cleaning or running could alleviate.  Continue reading

Basal and Bolus

Basal and Bolus are my lifeline, but they’ve recently hit puberty, and their hormones and emotions are all over the place. This does not make life easier for me, and no matter what I do, they don’t listen. I guess I should respect their independence, but sometimes I miss the obedient rates that never questioned me.

I try to be the healthiest person I can be, but there are days when the diabetes takes over. It’s not necessarily a result of anything wrong I’ve done in managing it, but whether it’s stress or hormones, sometimes my blood sugar levels have a mind of their own.

In a State of Flux

Blacktip Reef with wavy blue lineYesterday was one of those days. Since I went off birth control six months ago, I’ve struggled to balance my basal and bolus rates (basal is the long-lasting insulin I take continuously throughout the day; bolus is the fast-acting insulin I take before meals). My insulin sensitivity is constantly fluctuating. Continue reading

Weightless

Sometimes it can be one look in the mirror. Sometimes it can be the tightening feeling of a pencil skirt. Sometimes it can be that bloated feeling right before the monthly cycle. Sometimes it can be the fact that one hasn’t been on a date in six months. Sometimes it can be the wintry mix outside and the mood it brings.

But whatever it is, it’s not good. It leads to a feeling of failure, of powerlessness over the fate of one’s body. All of those negative, self-critical thoughts come flooding back, and no matter how bright the sun peaks through the blackout curtains, the darkness overwhelms the room.

People asked how it is I lost weight in the past year. My response was always “I don’t know.” A five-hour daily commute. A failed relationship. Depression. Disease. I tried to believe it’s because I finally had a good body image. I listened to my diabetes, and I stayed active (this mostly constituted walking a mile to and from the train every day). Continue reading

Diabulimia: A Personal Struggle With Body Image and Diabetes

Strawberry-Cream-PieAccording to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic women are nearly three times more likely to develop an eating disorder than non-diabetic women.

Diabulimia is one of the more prevalent eating disorders among Type 1 diabetic women, that is reducing the amount of insulin one takes to lose weight. Scary, right? It certainly is.

Because not only do eating disorders lead to their own series of problems (slow heart rate, low blood pressure, brittle bones, hair loss, severe dehydration, etc.), but when a Type 1 diabetic does not take the insulin he or she needs, this just adds to the complications which may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, stroke, and even death.

Unfortunately, I was one of those Type 1 women, and still am, to a certain extent because I believe one never completely finishes the battle with body image. But my story started before I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2009. It started at 13 when I noticed I no longer fit into my clothes and asked the one irrevocable question: Am I fat? Continue reading

‘The Fault In Our Stars’: Diabetes Edition

Diabetes is hard, but I won’t die from it. At least, not right away. I believe that I will eventually die of a heart attack. With the constant ups and downs of my blood sugar levels, I am sure even if I was given a decent heart, it would not be able to last years with this kind of stress. But at least it didn’t have to endure it for the first 22 years of my life.

It’s possible I may die from something else entirely, unrelated to my health, like a car accident, an injury sustained from rock climbing, food poisoning, etc. Okay, I’m being dramatic, but it doesn’t make sense to spend my days thinking about death, something I learned while reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I love the title, by the way, but when I saw previews for the movie, it looked kind of cheesy and unrealistic, one of those “feel-good cancer movies,” if there can even be such a thing.

Then I read a review of the book and thought I might like it. After all, even though I’ve only been to one funeral in my life, I think about death a lot. I used to worry about receiving a call in the middle of the day that one of my grandparents or siblings had passed. I used to worry my friends would be one of those statistics for teenagers killed by drunk driving. When I wrote stories, one of my characters always, inevitably died (many times the main character because I’m that author). Continue reading

Diabetes on Birth Control

One of the biggest fears of any single young woman is getting pregnant. I feel this is tenfold now that I have Type 1 diabetes. The stress of affording my own health care is enough – I don’t want the added physical and emotional burden of surviving pregnancy with diabetes much less affording my child’s coverage (given the possibility that the child will also have diabetes). No one can yet prove that my diagnosis was a result of genetics, but they cannot disprove it, either. I’d rather not take the chance.

In the past five years, I have attempted different types of birth control. The pill was always the easiest and most reliable option, but low and behold, no matter how many different types I tried, it always had a negative impact on my blood sugar readings and insulin resistance. What does this mean?

Well, while on the pill, my blood sugar skyrocketed, and I needed to take more insulin to keep it stable, but then, during the week of my period when I wasn’t on the pill, my blood sugar plummeted so that I would experience severe lows and have to readjust my insulin to carb ratio. You would think I could account for this every month, and believe me, I tried, but there was no telling when that initial plummet would happen. Sometimes, it was a few days before my period; sometimes, a few days after. The following week when I started taking the pill again, my blood sugar would rise so that I would constantly be adjusting my insulin to carbohydrate ratio until I got it right. It seemed to vary month to month.

Because I was tired of the constant ups and downs and the effect the pill had on my hormones and my emotional sanity, a few months ago, I stopped taking it. Cold turkey. I knew my body before I started the pill and relied on its natural cycle, but that was before I committed myself to long-term relationships. Now it was time to trust it again. It certainly improved my blood sugar readings. Continue reading