Taking a Break But Not Forever

Much has changed since I started this blog on September 11, 2013. My nonfiction grad school cohort can tell you how much I didn’t want to write about diabetes for my MFA thesis – the book that became the start to this blog. And in the six years since I’ve been diagnosed, I am still learning new things about myself with this disease.

I wanted to share those experiences with the world and contribute to a community of Type 1s. And maybe I wanted to prove to myself that I could manage life given this short end of the stick. What I didn’t expect when I started this blog back in 2013 was where it would take me and what kind of content my readers would inspire me to write.

I cannot tell you much I value your readership and support these past two years. You are the reason I keep this blog going. You are the reason I continue to write. And although this blog has kept me writing and contributing to this online community, I must now re-focus my priorities and take what little time I have to write to devote to other publishing opportunities. 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

Needles, Reservoirs, Cannulas, and More

The other day I was replacing my insulin pump reservoir. This requires a series of steps that I will reiterate for those who have never had to replace their insulin pump supply (as a side note, manufacturers, physicians, and researchers alike recommend switching this supply every three days although I sometimes stretch mine to four).

Replacing my Insulin Pump Reservoir

The first thing one needs is an alcohol swab, reservoir, infusion set, a blue cylinder-shaped device to inject the infusion set underneath the skin, and of course the insulin and pump. So after wiping the spot on my stomach with alcohol and then the top of the insulin vial, I use the reservoir to fill the plastic insulin container with insulin from the vial (it’s important to make sure you remove all air bubbles from the plastic container). And then of course my cat knocks the vial from my desk (it’s small enough this is harmless).

I then twist the reservoir into the end of the infusion set. I rewind the insulin pump so that it knows there is zero insulin inside and can essentially start to recount my usage (I tell it I use 100 units per new supply). I place the new reservoir into the insulin pump and then fill the 23-inch thin plastic tubing of the infusion set so that I know insulin will safely travel through the cannula from the pump to underneath my skin (this usually requires 6-9 units of insulin per fill). 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

Connecting This Way

I remember when social media became a thing, when Apple first introduced the iPhone, and how others worried about whether technology was killing our connectivity or not? Are we all the more connected yet narcissistic, so wrapped up in our everyday nuisances that we forget about the world and each other?

I can’t say I blamed them — the more Facebook posts I saw from the generation behind me, even my own generation, I wondered, too, if we were all becoming so self-absorbed and into ourselves that we ignored the benefits of having a collective. And maybe that’s why so many of us ranted on about being alone to a world of loners on the internet?

I feel like my generation is caught in the middle — some of us have completely embraced technology, and some of us still remember dragging the corded phone from the hallway into our bedrooms and the irksome sound of dial-up.

I Remember When…

I remember the excitement of getting my own phone with my own line (this was before caller ID and cordless phones). It’s not that I was much of a phone talker, but I liked the privacy. I remember when my best friend’s family in middle school got their first home computer. I remember thinking how much the black and white box reminded me of a cow. Continue reading

The Neverending Ride: Six Years With Type 1 Diabetes

I throw the covers off and stumble out of bed. I wipe the sleep from my eyes and look at my phone for the time. I check my CGM for my blood sugar level. I put on some pants and clip my insulin pump to the waist line.

You told me six years ago that we were going for a ride. I didn’t know then that the ride would never end. And for those six years, I’ve been searching for a way to get back home, but after all that I’ve experienced and all that I’ve seen, can I really go back?

Chocolate and White Cupcake

Today marks my six-year anniversary with Type 1 diabetes. Six years ago at this time I was waiting in the exam room of Xavier University’s health center for results on a severe skin rash. But the results of that skin rash, among other symptoms and an out-of-control blood sugar reading, pointed to Type 1 diabetes. I was admitted to the hospital a few hours later and so began my journey with this autoimmune disease.

My anniversary coincidentally follows #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes Day (April 22, 2015). I felt a sense of solidarity with the diabetes online community as I read through the various hashtag tweets. And I feel like my small contribution to the day evinces how I truly feel about the disease and others’ perception of it.

Continue reading

Peanut Butter May Still Be the Death of Me

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. shaking, while Cosmo, my continuous glucose monitor (CGM) vibrated and beeped at me from the nightstand to my right. I pushed its button, acknowledging the warnings, and saw the screen light up with the number 45.

I didn’t need to check my blood sugar level with my glucometer. My heart was pounding, and the room was blurry. I thought of the orange juice in the fridge but decided to go for the Reese’s egg in the freezer. I knew from recent calculations that this chocolate-covered, peanut-butter filled egg contained 25 grams of carbohydrates (mostly sugar).

That should do it, I thought. Norm, my two-year-old tabby walked into my bedroom and sat on the floor in front of my bed with a quizzical look. The egg didn’t feel like enough even though I knew it was. I checked my insulin pump, which confirmed there was no active insulin in my system. My basal rate was set to decrease from .600 units to .400 at 3 a.m. to account for those middle-of-the-night lows.

I knew I would be okay, but I was still shaking, and my heart was pounding. My body felt weak and depleted, and I craved sugar – the sustenance necessary for instant energy. Earlier that day I had made the mistake of buying a few bags of Reese’s pieces eggs, now 50 percent off in the post-Easter haze. Continue reading

Spanish Moss

I struggle to pull the hood of my raincoat over my head while trying to sidestep patches of black ice on my walk home from work. I have returned to the wintry mix of Maryland in March from the warmth of 80-degree sun in Tampa, Florida. I am not comforted by the fact that the gray chunk of ice blocking the sidewalk near my apartment’s back entrance is now two inches taller than when I left it last week.

And now the meteorologists are calling for three to five inches of snow tomorrow. I snuggle up to Norm and my electric blanket and hope the office will close before I attempt to make the trek into work. Just a few days ago, I was sitting on my friend’s porch in a t-shirt and shorts with my computer in my lap and a Russian blue kitty meowing at me from atop the closed Jacuzzi.

It was my first true vacation (family visits don’t count) in four years. And since my birthday falls in the worst month of winter and I happen to have a good friend who moved and bought a house in southern Florida, it seemed like the perfect getaway. Mother Nature still has a way of messing with me, though. For most of my visit, the sky was overcast and the temperatures were in the low to mid-60s, but it wasn’t snowing so my friend and I made the most of it.

Florida Oasis

I used to have another kind of Florida oasis. I was in a long-distance relationship for almost two years. While I was finishing graduate school in Baltimore, he was attempting to get a job in the field of digital animation and visual effects in Orlando. I graduated, but he never got the job so he moved back to Baltimore, and we moved in together. Continue reading

An Online Realm of Little Freaks

“Hey u little freak.”

[Insert phone number here]

Everyone online boasts about traveling the world so it seems only appropriate I should post a picture in Frederick, MD.

Everyone online boasts about traveling the world so it seems only appropriate I should post a picture from Frederick, MD.

I have entered the world of online dating. Up until last night, I hadn’t (figuratively) met too many weirdos or creepers as so many warned me about, although within the first 24 hours of my profile going live, I received multiple “Hey beautiful” messages. Come on guys, let’s be creative. And girls, don’t ever respond to objective one-liners like that.

It’s a lot more work than I anticipated and a bit overwhelming. Sometimes after skimming profile after profile, it’s hard not to be superficial. I’ve decided I have certain criteria, too. After two failed long-term relationships back-to-back, I’m not willing to put myself in certain situations again. I no longer believe that they will change. Continue reading

National Diabetes Month: Wearing Blue Proudly

Carb-worthy ecardNovember marks National Diabetes Month. It includes World Diabetes Day, which happens to fall on the anniversary of insulin discoverer Frederick Banting’s birth on November 14. Yesterday was T1Day, a day for the Type 1 diabetes community to come together and not only raise awareness for our disease, but to provide support.

Yesterday was also my first inauguration into the world of Type 1 diabetes. I have been a Type 1 diabetic for the past five years, diagnosed late at 22, and in that time, I’ve only met a few other diabetics like myself. But yesterday, I volunteered at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s annual Hope Gala in DC.

From the start, one of the fellow volunteers asked me if I had diabetes. I noticed the pump attached to her waistband, and for the first time in my life, I truly felt a part of a community. I explained that I had no family history and that I was diagnosed as an adult, as opposed to most Type 1’s who are diagnosed in childhood. But even so, we talked about insulin pumps, about exercising, about being diagnosed, and the everyday balance. Continue reading