3/27/2006

I've Got My Life to Live

Still thinking about the first person I ever knew who died from diabetes; from ‘my’ disease. She finally passed away Friday night. I feel so awful thinking about her family at her side, just waiting for the inevitable. My husband was waiting at home with dinner on the stove, a bottle of wine in the fridge and arms open wide to fold me in.

Damn, I was na├»ve. I never actually thought about people with diabetes dying. It’s a bit of a shock when reality rears its ugly head. Logically I knew it could happen, I’ve seen the stories of ‘other people’ but not someone I actually knew who lived with the disease. They were supposed to have a cure by now! They (top diabetes researchers from around the world) told me when I was 16 that there would be a cure within 10 years. Well, times up, what happened to the cure? This is a disease we manage, hate, rebel against, and live with not one we die from! That’s a cruel twist you don’t actually die from the disease Diabetes Mellitus. No, only from other horrible things like heart disease, heart attacks, kidney failure, etc. caused by the disease. But, surely there will be a cure before any of that can happen to me or to anyone I personally know, right? Right? When you told me, in your effort to scare some sense into me in my teens, about the horrible complications that could happen to me I thought you only meant to old people who didn’t manage their disease. This disease CANNOT cut my life short. I’ve got things to do! I want to be a mom and a grandma and finish school and go to Ireland and grow old and senile with my husband! I’ve got a niece on the way who I need to watch grow up! I’ve got to…..I’ve got my life to live!

3/24/2006

Fight of My Life....

This morning as I was getting ready for my day I was jamming to O.A.R.’s “Heard the World….”. I especially like the line; “How you're caught up in the fight of your life.” Earlier today, singing that line in the shower it made me feel powerful and think that, yeah I do feel like I am caught up in the fight of my life with diabetes, but that’s okay, because I am strong. I was in such a good mood: it’s Friday & the weekend is just about here, I have some fun plans & I woke up happy.

Now I am fighting back tears, trying to keep my composure at work. Every cell in my body is aching to scream its hatred of diabetes. A friend from church who is only in her mid-fifties, and has had diabetes most of her life, is being taken off life support today at 10:00 a.m. Her family, close friends and the ministers will be by her side. That provides some comfort.

Since I work in a church, I get calls more often than most people about someone dying, but typically it is one of the older members whom I only recognize by name. This one hits close to home. I knew this woman. She had “my” disease. We compared pumps and other diabetes info. Last fall, at the annual hayride I talked to her & her husband about how the daily struggles of diabetes were for me and she really listened and best of all she knew where I was coming from. She gave me all sorts of information, one of which was telling me about Dlife, which led me to this world of diabetes blogs. She left information for me about support groups and articles she thought I might find useful. She always had a smile for you.

It’s now 10:10 a.m. I wonder if its over. God, why her? Why diabetes? Why?

“She didn’t die from diabetes, it was her heart,” a helpful co-worker explained. I replied that people don’t actually die of diabetes but rather from the complications caused by or worsened by diabetes. Don’t try to tell me this disease had nothing to do with it. She had diabetes for 50 years; before there was blood glucose testing at home, before the DCCT Trials, before insulin pumps and I find it hard to imagine that disease didn’t take a toll on her body. The same helpful co-worker offered that she didn’t take good care of herself citing that she would eat all sorts of pastries etc. at Coffee Hour on Sunday mornings. Some people just really don’t understand. I would be willing to bet that her HbA1c was much better than my own.

I can’t push the thoughts away; the thoughts that this is what the end of my own life will look like. That the same comments will be exchanged by those who knew me. These lyrics will not stop running through my head;

“How you're caught up in the fight of your life.
Nothing's gonna save me.
I'm hanging from the nearest tree.
Nothing's gonna save me.”

They have taken on a different meaning than this morning. I have never personally known a person who had diabetes and then died. This is a disturbing and depressing first. Don’t worry, dear reader, I am not on the brink. This is just one of those times when life’s cruel, hard truths are thrown right in your face and it makes you think about the fragility of life and, in this case, makes me hate the disease that taints our lives.


I am, we all are, survivors and will endure. When you come across this please say a little prayer (or whatever it is you do) for my friend who managed to survive for more than 50 years with diabetes and then smile at how far we’ve come because I think she would like that.

3/21/2006

This is the Way My Mind Works

I had a crazy morning. Got to sleep in a bit since I had an appointment with my therapist at 11:00 a.m. and would not be going into work until after that. Well, I slept in a little too much and in my rush to leave the house I forgot my blood sugar machine. This, I did not notice, until after the appointment when I got to work & was starving. I am going to meet a friend for coffee after work and was thinking I should have a game plan of what to get to drink, choose something not too awful and check the carbs before I get there. Before I could type in the web address I thought well, why bother with all that when I will have no idea what my blood sugar is anyway so why bother with all that. I’ll just guesstimate. This is the way my mind works.

There are days when my blood sugar has been all over the place and instead of playing it safe and eating something healthy, I instead look at it as an opportunity to splurge since my blood sugar is already not perfect. That’s my justification. I don’t know why I think this way. I was telling my therapist today that I seem to make bad decisions and she pointed out that they were choices. I agreed with her, but asked her “what do I do when I am in the moment, with a choice and I am leaning towards the bad choice?” She told me that at that point I should stop and figure out what emotions I am feeling before making that choice. Is that really possible? For these many (millions) of little diabetes decisions we have to make every day?

So I guess my best choice about the coffee and the carbs is to make a reasonable selection, know how many carbs that particular choice has and bolus for that amount then deal with the blood sugar testing when I get home. It is not the end of the world & I am not perfect.

3/20/2006

Blarney


I know that St. Paddy's Day is over but I've been busy.

I love the word blarney. It's one of those goofy words that are often difficult to fit into everyday conversation but I just like the way it sounds and the meaning, too.

"Blarney" has come to mean nonsense or smooth flattering talk in almost any language. (The Scots have a similar term in "blether".) Tradition says that if you pay a visit to Blarney Castle in Co. Cork and kiss the Blarney stone that you'll be receive the gift of eloquence and powers of persuasion, a true master of the "gift of gab." It's ironic that an English queen is credited with the origin of the word.

My husband wonders how I got the "gift of gab" as I have never been to kiss the Blarney
Stone.

3/16/2006

No New Job

Well, after a hellish week waiting…I found out I did not get the job. That news, coupled with my-not-always-remembering- to-take-my-Prozac, left me wallowing in the depths of my old friend Depression. I took the news really hard. This new job was perfect me. It would be just the change I needed. I had ‘wowed’ them at my interviews. Or so I thought.

This whole experience was good for me in the end. It has been a long time since I have put myself out there and I really have had almost no experience with a real interview process. It made me remember some of my old passion. Also brought into focus for me was the fact that this whole job thing is what I will be doing for like the next 30 plus years so I better find something I like to do. I am working towards figuring that out but I tend to lose sight of that in this business of living. I am going to school part-time to obtain my bachelor’s degree. The end seems so far away when you can only take 2 maybe 3 classes a semester, slowly, but surely I am getting there though.

3/03/2006

I Want a Job That I am Passionate About

I have a decent job which provides good health insurance and for the most part I work with kind, caring people, but I am burned out. I sort of fell into this job about 6 years ago and at the time it was just what I needed in many ways. I desperately need a job, I needed health insurance, I needed to learn how to use a computer and I needed some caring guidance, all of which I got. I work at a church. Something I never would have imagined myself doing what with my rebellious nature, lack of church attendance and 12 years of attending Catholic schools as a non-Catholic. Don’t me wrong, I got an excellent well rounded education, healthy respect for authority, and confidence that I wouldn’t trade for anything; it’s just that the whole Catholic school thing tends to leave one with a somewhat jaded view on organized religion.

I have been saying for quite some time that I need to look for something else; a job that t is more challenging for me and one that pays more. True to form, I have not done anything. There never seems to be the time and I’ll admit I’m scared of not getting the same level of health insurance I currently have. I am also leery of having to pussy-foot around the whole diabetes issue.

A few weeks ago I saw a posting for a job with a diabetes organization in my area that I am totally qualified for. Before I had time to overanalyze it I applied. This job interview process and my meeting of an un-educated person with diabetes awoke in me my passion for wanting to help people particularly those living with diabetes. When I was a kid the only thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was someone who ran a camp for kids with diabetes in the summer and then diabetes educator in the winter, “to you know help kids with diabetes,” was what I told anyone who asked. Through my own personal struggles with and denial of diabetes I had almost completely lost sight of that passion and those goals.

Now after interview number two, I want this job more than I have wanted anything in a long time. I just know that I would be really great in this position and have a lot to offer and addition to just really having a good feeling about it. Sometimes you can’t necessarily reason something, you just simply have this feeling that a situation or opportunity is the path your life is meant to take and that it is time for a change.

I’ve done all I can and it’s down to me and 2 other candidates so let’s hope this feeling I have is right and that I have shown them what I’m made of. As added security please keep you fingers crossed for me until early next week when I should hear the verdict – Thanks!

3/02/2006

Rant


On our second date my husband took me with him to help out at a program he volunteers for. Due to confidentiality I can’t get into specifics, but the program helps homeless families by housing them with the help of various churches. When out church’s turn comes up, and our schedules permit, we still volunteer there and last week was our turn. I met a man who had some very bad luck but was not bitter. Dinner was pizza followed by ice-cream sundaes. I excused myself and took extra insulin. As the sundaes were being made I heard the man ask if there was sugar-free ice cream so of course that caught my attention. I asked him a few questions and found out that he has Type 2 and we got to talking. I was horrified at how little he seemed to know about his disease. Now I will admit, I don’t know much about what medical advice he ahs gotten or even what the standard is for a person with Type 2 but it angered me that eating not sugar had been drilled into him so much that even when he wakes up, dizzy, clammy and weak he only has one piece of candy! He takes Lantus so I would have thought that he might have some education on how to treat a low. He was also under the impression that he could eat as much as he wanted as long as it wasn’t sugar. He knew nothing about reading labels or portions only that he should drink water or diet pop and not things like juice that have high sugar content.

I suggested that if he was feeling dizzy, clammy & weak when he woke that he should probably have more than one piece of candy & that he should tell his doctor this. I also encouraged him to ask doctor about seeing a dietician and in the meantime I gave him some suggestions for portion control (such as using you fist as a guide for a serving), to watch the fat content in foods he is eating and the basics of how to read a label. He wanted to know how long I had had diabetes and was impressed by how much I knew. I was thinking, it only seems like a lot compared to how little you know. I showed him my pump and explained how it worked. He was fascinated. I wanted to run home & gather up some of the oodles of information I have on diabetes and give it to him. I wish I could follow-up with him but the program is run in such a way that it isn’t really possible to do so.

It made me realize how lucky I am to have good health insurance and access to all the information I could possibly want on diabetes. This man was so eager learn anything he could from me about his diabetes. I was reluctant to offer too much information because I am not CDE, RN or DR, but IO was dumfounded that someone who appeared to me to be starving for information. Why did he not get this information from a healthcare provider and instead a chance encounter? Is it because he has poor insurance coverage? An under-educated physician, perhaps? Or simply our screwed up health care system in this country at work again? In my mind and from my very limited point of view it is inexcusable no matter the reason when nearly 16 million Americans have diabetes and most of those are Type 2.

It is hard enough to deal with this disease when you are armed with information and resources let alone when you have little information and few resources and it is so not fair. I only hope I helped him enough to get him pointed in the right direction.

3/01/2006

Just One Day

Beep, beep, beep! Hit snooze, pry eyes open, and glance at the alarm clock. It’s only 6:00 a.m. so I pull the kitty close for a snuggle; I’ve got time. By 6:30 a.m. I am actually out of bed, as in two feet on the floor, eyes fully open, and on my way to test my blood sugar. Now, if you know about me and mornings you know that this no small feat. I usually hit the snooze button for more than an hour and wait until the last possible second to drag myself out of bed. It is just so comfy and cozy before the day has really begun and if I don’t get out of bed, then I don’t have to go to work, right?

Well today, not only did I get up on time I also exercised before coming to work. Yes! I did it! It was just one day of getting up in enough time to exercise but for me it was an accomplishment. Seriously, I have been trying for weeks to exercise in the morning. My latest ‘excuse’ was that my blood sugar was too high the times I did actually wake up on time but my CDE suggested giving a unit or 2 and exercising anyway so there goes that reason.

On the way to work I felt so good, so energized with all those endorphins in my bloodstream. My blood sugars have also been creeping lower which helps, I’m sure. Days like this I feel like nothing can stop me. I just feel so good, so happy, so strong. I wonder how long it will last and cross my fingers that it is more than just one day.