Wednesday, January 13, 2016
It's been sneaking into my nights and early mornings lately. Too frequently for my liking.
You see, we all have our number. That moment it flashes on the glucometer screen, you reflexively think of some random word association. Mostly because your brain is hardly working at all, and it gives your wandering, foggy mind something to fix on. A homing beacon. For Kerri, it's Larry Bird, jersey number 33. For me it's legendary Chicago Bear Walter Payton, number 34. And 'Sweetness' was Payton's nickname - how ironic.
As a child raised in Chicago, to me and many others Payton was a magical figure. When the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1986, I was 14 and still new to the world of type 1 diabetes - diagnosed just three years earlier. Not many 34s crossed my brick of a blood glucose meter back then; orange was the new blue (never black) for me most of the time, my early self-care years hampered by primitive instruments and poor habits I denied to everyone, including myself.
Since then newer insulins and better tools mean I see Sweetness occasionally. Lately he's shown up three times in the last week, always unannounced at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. I'm not sure if it's good or bad that I've never not woken up when that happens - what's unsettling is how often I have no symptoms besides that uneasy feeling of something being very wrong.
I loved Walter Payton. It broke the city's heart when he died. But I don't want to keep seeing him in the wee small hours of the morning, sneaking past me and flashing that '34' like his famous smile when I'm half awake.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Monday, March 4, 2013
"My reign is not yet over" (these words were legible in one of these inscriptions); "you live, and my power is complete...Come on, my enemy; we have yet to wrestle for our lives; but many hard and miserable hours must you endure until that period shall arrive."
-Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
30 years. For 30 years I have been both the pursuer and the pursued. Chasing highs, chasing lows. Wrestling for my life with the inhumane beast that is type 1 diabetes. I have spent three decades pinning it down by the neck, grabbing its slippery tail as it tries to release itself from my grasp. I have spent nights terrified of its tapping, tapping at my parlor door - the low blood sugar alarm of a meter, the sweaty, half-blind stumblings (or crawlings) to the kitchen for juice. All for a pancreas blasted of life and stitched back together with crude Victorian instruments - the vial and syringe - wrapped in scar tissue and seeming hatred for its host.
And yet. I am still here. Still sighted. Still free of that which stalks from the shadows. For now. For who knows when the ghastly creature, the Monster, shall emerge from the mist to have his final revenge?
"But it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept, and grasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other living thing. I have devoted my creator, the select specimen of all that is worthy of love and admiration among men, to misery; I have pursued him even to that irremediable ruin."
30 years. Would that some modern Prometheus soon steals the fire of a cure and carry it to us, the children with diabetes now grown. So that another 30 years do not pass lashed to the rock, the eagle of fear daily gnawing at my insides.
|Prometheus depicted in a sculpture by Nicolas-Sébastien Adam, 1762 (Louvre)|
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Monday, April 9, 2012
Marc Chagall, America Windows (1977), Art Institute of Chicago. Photos taken by author.
I used to play a little game with myself in the early years of having diabetes. When I brushed my hair or took a shower, I used to close my eyes and try to do everything without peeking. I told myself that if I went blind, at least I could dress and bathe myself so I wouldn't be embarrassed by needing help. Of course it was easy to open my eyes a few minutes later and puzzle at the mismatched earrings or crooked lipstick. It seemed like a distant fate that would happen to someone else.
In my 29th year of diabetes I sweat the annual retina exam like the rest of my DOC brethren. Will I have problems? Is this how it starts? I kicked myself good and hard this year because my A1C is up a full percentage point from last spring (7.4%). In Florida the strong sunlight - as well as the unforgiving glare of the fluorescent lights in my office - have my eyes in a tizzy some days. The floaters I've had for years seem darker and stick out like exclamation points. On the train to my doctor's office, I held my breath and hoped, just like I do every year.
How would I remember brown? I thought, sitting in the exam chair. Would I think of the touch of my niece's kitten-soft hair? When I feel the sun on my skin, will yellow or orange come to mind? What about red? I laughed to myself because the first thing that came to mind was the Diet Coke logo. Green would be a visual memory of my husband's eyes, and kelly green the color of my mom's. I could smell steel grey and black on the train, the ozone odor in the subway immediately recalling miles of smooth metal. For blue, there were too many shades. I thought of the lake in winter and the ocean at all times, the constant wash of wave and wind sliding up and down a scale from navy to cerulean to indigo. I thought of the flat slate stillness of the lake in winter, and the implacable blue-black ocean depths, or the neon aqua in the shallows. I always tell myself that I could live without my eyesight, really, as long as I could hear. Music has always been my friend and would be my great solace in this solicitude. I could even walk with my great friends, my books, again in the dark thanks to audio versions. It wouldn't be the end of the world. The drops took effect, and soon I went in. Moments passed.
"No evidence of diabetes," he said, putting the Star Trek headgear aside. I let out a sigh. He looked at me and nodded. He knows, I've been seeing him for over 15 years. "You're good."
After the exam I took a walk to the Art Institute of Chicago, since it's only a few blocks from his office. The bright blue sky and benevolent spring sunshine warmed my soul. Once again I came out of the darkness into the light. I vowed to get my A1C back down, to exercise and eat better. To be grateful for my relatively good health. And I went inside to see an old friend - a stained glass work by Marc Chagall that hadn't been on display in years. Kids like me grew up in Chicago going to the AI on school trips, standing in the glow of America Windows not knowing but somehow understanding that we were surrounded by such great beauty. I stood in the hallway squinting, my dilated retinas taking in every shape and shade of their glorious, happy light. I reflected on the gift of sight at noon on Good Friday, and said a silent prayer.
And this is what I want burned into my retina, sighted or blind, when I think of the color blue.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
My other journey comes to a milestone year - it has been a solid decade since I last spoke to my mom. Did she ever exist? I catch myself thinking sometimes. The current of life swept me from her shore and caught me up in its turbulence. Some happy and some sad. But I always look for that coastline no matter how far at sea I believe myself to be. I think of the future she never saw and the lives she hasn't been here to share. And yet I know she is at peace.
29. 10. So long, yet so far to go...
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Because I am having a hard time with my D management. I struggle with unexplained highs. I sit for 10-11 hours straight, and I worry what it's doing to my circulation. I slack off on wearing Dex, I am too exhausted to even exercise. The only bright spot is having access to healthy food every day at the cafeteria. I have an appointment with a brand new endo in a month, someone I've never met, because my old doctor is in Chicago. And I'm already nervous. I feel like my teenage self, scared of my mean old pediatric endo who used to yell at me for anything over 250 mg/dL.
Because there are so many other new and old DOC bloggers who speak far more eloquently than I do.
Because, admittedly, I just don't want to rehash my life these days. I'm in a rut.
Because there are times I still feel alone, no matter how many DOC connections I see. I still live my day-to-day life without ever seeing another t1PWD.
As my husband says, "Excuses are the currency of failure." So I guess I will come back when I'm done with excuses.