Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Night Videos

I'd forgotten about this one, until my husband and I got into watching reruns. It was actually pretty good!

If you're a "Vegas" fan you might have seen a little reunion a couple months back--Thomas, Rick and T.C. were together again, but what a pity Higgins couldn't make it. Ah well...

Tom Selleck is still cool :) The "Jesse Stone" films are a great way to spend a winter night, too:
Not to mention this 80s classic...or the sequel...

Happy "leap" weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Schuyler's Monster

Today's score: Citizen Rob (and Schuyler) = 1, me = 0. Rats...

Good news for the Rob, whose book is already sold out at one of Chicago's bigger downtown bookstores. Bad news for me, but I'm pleased to report the store went through all its copies in two days. The staff have gotten "several requests" this week and already have another order in to their warehouse. Yay!!

So three cheers to Rob and Schuyler, and for the rest of us, there's always

(For those unfamiliar with this amazing journey, visit and be inspired. I know I was!)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tell Me, Why'd You Have to Go and Make Things So Complicated?

Every once in a while even a normally well-prepared PWD has an "oh ****" moment. Here's one of mine...

Nappanee, Ontario. Birthplace of Avril Lavigne, who at the time was still somewhat popular. I was driving with my dad and a friend from Montreal to Toronto, nearing the halfway point of the trip. It was around lunchtime and, since no one in the car had eaten breakfast, we decided to hop off Highway 401 in Avril's hometown for a quick meal at Tim Horton's. (Ahh, poutine... ) "I need to go do my shot. Be right back." I left Pop and my friend to collect our orders and headed to the bathroom. (Why I preferred to "shoot up" in the facilities I don't recall; nowadays I just poke away at the table.) I recoiled in horror at the conditions inside. Clearly Mr. Horton needed to review his cleaning staff's work. To avoid touching any surfaces, I balanced my diabetes kit carefully on my leg. The kit was new, as I recall, and I still hadn't figured out how to keep my insulin bottles from rolling around inside. Nobody thought to add extra loops or velcro straps back then, in the pre-Stick Me Designs era. I tested, did a Humalog shot for my lunch, then proceeded to juggle things a bit to get my daily Lantus shot ready.

Lantus bottles always strike me as delicate. I cradle them carefully, like rare and wonderful bugs, afraid to let them so much as touch a hard surface. Such thin glass surrounding such vital fluid. Really, how could the Germans be so careless? (;-) Especially when other vials like Humalog, by comparison, take such a licking and keep on ticking? I've all but driven over Lily's various vessels, and have yet to crack one. The mystery continues... But in the Tim Horton's bathroom in southern Ontario on a cold November afternoon, I was about to discover what happens when suddenly faced with the inevitable collision between the fragile and the unyielding.

"Oh, shit." The Lantus bottle rolled out of my case and, in slow motion, fell to the floor. I bent over and picked it up, and the smell hit me--freshly opened Band-Aids. Oh, no. "Dammit!" I shouted to no one in particular. Given the string of obscenities that followed, I'm glad the room was empty. Avril herself might have been proud. There it was--a crack the size of Gibraltar in the bottom of the bottle. Bits of glass were scattered on the floor, and hardly a drop was left. Worse, I realized, too late, I didn't have a spare. This vial was brand new, and I hadn't thought to pack for an emergency. I was only going to be gone for a few days and hey, didn't they invent insulin in Canada? It never occurred to me there might be a snafu. Or that my previously perfect trip would go astray. (Note to self and reader: The Boy Scouts know one thing...always be prepared!)

Crisis operations were now in order. I sat down calmly next to my party and began to eat. After a moment I stopped and made my announcement. Oh boy...."OK, so I don't want you guys to panic, but I have a little problem." (Another note: Never say this, especially to a parent. When you have type 1, there are no "little" problems. And even saying the word "panic" guarantees there will be some...) Dad, unfortunately, flipped out. You would think I was 12 years old again from his reaction, poor man, but this had never happened before. My friend really had no idea what was going on so she kept quiet, but I could tell she was upset too. It was going to be a long day. I laid out my plan. We would stop at the nearest pharmacy to get another bottle. I would call my doctor and find out how to manage in the interim--surely I wouldn't keel over in the 2 or 3 hours it might take to find long-acting insulin. The answering service took my message, and we set off asking strangers how to get drugs in this little town.

Nappanee may have its charms, but a pharmacy open on Sunday was not one of them. After an hour of fruitless searching we got back on the road and continued our drive. I called the places I could think of in Toronto, assuming someone would have Lantus. In the pre-PDA, ante-wireless era, the only database I had was in my own head. I burned through precious roaming minutes on my cell phone. Toronto General Hospital was finally the one to break the news to me: Lantus was not yet available in Canada. This was when I panicked.

What would I do? Dad wanted to head to the airport and sit at the Air Canada counter until we could return home. My friend noted that we had already made plans to visit another friend the next day, trying to hide the disappointment in her voice. I weighed the thought of having my brother FedEx a bottle to me, but the cost of such an adventure quickly outranked its viability. I pondered as the endless ribbon of featureless grey pavement stretched out before us. Finally the doctor's office called. The on-call physician didn't know me and sounded annoyed at first. He didn't have my insulin management schedule, he said, and could offer little beyond what I already guessed (frequent testing and dosing of Humalog every few hours). Then he casually mentioned, "Do you still have any old Lente insulin with you? You could use that temporarily."
The lightbulb went off in my head. Lente! Yes! My old friend, responsible for more rollercoaster highs and lows than I cared to remember. Lantus was new to me then, and luckily I still had my old Lente numbers written down somewhere. Then I ran up against another roadblock. Not only did I not have any with me, I wasn't sure I could get it in Canada. Did I need a prescription? Toronto General Hospital wasn't sure, but I wasn't out of ideas yet. Thanking the doctor I pursued my last idea: Wal-Mart. Yes, they may be evil, but they have a pharmacy. And diabetes supplies. Crossing my fingers I picked up the phone and tried my luck.
"Hello, how may I help you?"

In the next few moments I learned a few wonderful things: 1) Some Wal-Mart employees are actually helpful; 2) Insulin is available without a prescripton in Canada; 3) A bottle of Lente costs only $18.00 in Ontario. No tax. And, 4) Wal-Mart is pretty much the only place open on Sundays in Ontario. Hallelujah! One hitch: the pharmacy would be closed by the time we got there. "But it's no problem," said the helpful voice. "I'll just put it in an insulated bag and leave it at the manager's desk. We'll make sure you get your medicine."

Suddenly the sense of impending doom lifted. Dad breathed a sigh of relief, no doubt at the fine prospect of salvation. (I figured he was probably happy to avoid some hefty airline ticket change fees as well.) My friend relaxed a little, still unaware of the true depth of my drama. Me, I kicked myself hard and well mentally until the bottle of Lente, its milky white liquid cold in my hands, was safely in my possession. I learned a valuable lesson about being prepared, but more importantly, I was able to get through the rest of my trip without incident. Sure, I had a couple of highs and lows, but when I stepped off the plane back home I knew I'd been lucky. And I also knew that never again would I ever want to see, hear or recall anything to do with Nappanee, Ontario. So sorry, Avril, but for me you'll always suck. Wal-Mart, not so much.
Next time on "Oh **** Moments", find out what happens when you run out of test strips far from home--Ireland (:-O

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Night Videos

Ah, music videos. What would the '80s have been without them?! The weekly video montage was capped by the one and only, for which this blog segment is named. I loved this show (as well as "Night Tracks" on TBS). "Solid Gold" was good, too, but those freaky dancers kinda turned me off.

Then there was "MV3", a little show out of L.A. with cool VJs (like Richard Blade) and great live music and videos, like Oingo Boingo, Berlin, Depeche Mode, English Beat, Bow Wow Wow and the Go-Gos. Oh, how I miss the "Me" era...

Happy weekend and stay warm, everybody!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Not What You Think

Note to self: Cold fingers give wrong readings...

After the heat in my car cranked up, and my digits were pink again, my blood sugar was 120. Weird.

Hurry, Spring!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Head on over... Diabetes Daily, if you haven't already. Just want to give a friendly shout-out and thanks to DD for adding me to the DOC!

Oh human, why do you disturb me?

Monday, February 18, 2008

25 Years Ago...Part 4: Conclusion

The hospital staff were kind as they escorted my mom and me up to the 9th floor. We walked into a room already occupied by a sleeping girl about my age; my bed would be next to the window, facing out onto a busy street. I sat down and the nurses pulled the curtain around me. Suddenly I was alarmed. I thought this was only going to take a minute, and now these people were asking me to undress and get under the if I were going to be there a while.

I obediently held out my arms for what seemed like endless blood draws. One came from an artery in my wrist, and to this day it's still the single most painful needle I've ever had to deal with. A nurse complimented me on my beaded barrettes, while another inserted an IV needle into my left hand. The cool saline fluid entering my body made me feel better immediately, as did the first few doses of insulin I was given. I don't remember being scared of all the needles, but having to sleep and shower in a strange place was hard. Later I learned that my blood sugar level upon admission was 490, and I had probably been in DKA for at least a week.

Some time later on that first day I remember my dad coming into the room, clearly upset. They talked to my doctor, an older man who turned out to be an expert on type 1 diabetes. Dr. Traisman was kind to me, although later I would learn the limits of his patience when dealing with teenagers (!). Mom and Dad spent the next week rotating their shifts at my bedside; Dad worked during the day and spent the evenings with me, while Mom took her vacation time off to stay with me during the day. (I found out later that my friends at school thought I was dying, because the principal announced my name over the PA and asked the school to pray for me. They were shocked when I came back, very much alive!) My homeroom teacher brought my school books, and my godfather, a policeman, told jokes and took me for walks around the hospital. I was lucky to have so much support around me. The sleeping girl who shared my room for a time had only one visitor, an elderly grandmother. Dad and I watched TV together, including the famous last episode of "M*A*S*H", and I spent the days making up the assignments I was missing at school. After a couple of days I was able to eat solid food--though waking up at 3 AM to be tested and fed became an unwelcome ritual.

Some things about being in the hospital were okay. The other kids on my floor taught me how to "ride" my IV pole down the hallway (much to the staff's chagrin!). I also remember a nice young nurse who told me about how she had lived with type 1 herself, and that I could still be healthy and have children someday. At 12 I didn't really want to hear about babies, but I know she meant well. Another volunteer, a Navy sailor, drew me a great Snoopy cartoon. After a while my IV came out and I could wear my own clothes again. I learned how to give myself shots with an orange, and figured out how to manage the chemistry set of urine testing. But I wanted to go home. I missed everything, especially Tiger, my cat.

On Sunday, March 6, 1983, I was finally discharged. It was a warm, blustery, sunny day. In the weeks that followed I experienced a minor, short-lived miracle--I could finally see the chalkboards at school, which were a blur for weeks beforehand. It turned out that my "honeymoon" from needing glasses lasted only a year, and probably had little to do with diabetes. Oh well (:-) Another miraculous occurrence had more staying power--my first AccuChek glucose meter, which was literally the size of a brick and took over two minutes to produce a reading. Without these tools and the support of my family, especially my mom, I would never have made it this long without complications. I am lucky, indeed.

Other things also remain after 25 years: the daily mental calculations of insulin dosages and food, the challenges of high and low blood sugars, RPS, and, as Kerri has written about recently, stress management. I've thought about a CGMS to solve my persistent pattern of nighttime crashing lows, but like others will need to see how the situation with health insurance coverage for these devices shakes out. But thanks to you out there in the Diabetes OC, I realize I'm walking among kindred spirits. I appreciate your time in reading this blog, and I look forward to sharing more with you in time to come.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Friday Night Videos

Another classic, this from my younger years. ("Bear left! Right, frog!")
Happy weekend, everybody!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The "C" Word

This weekend was the first time I heard him mention it. My husband never deliberately avoided the subject before, mind you. It's just that most of his conversations about diabetes are more focused on short-term issues ("Do we have enough juice? Your eyes look funny, maybe you should test your blood sugar"). For someone who's only ever seen diabetes in the most negative light, he's very good about asking questions and learning how this complicated monster works. But the "C" word--cure--never really came up before.

"They might not be able to cure it in your lifetime, you know," he said. Tentatively, as if it might make me burst into tears. He looked at me, and held my hand.

I smiled at him, feeling a little sad. "I know, honey. It's OK." He hugged me, and said nothing.

Though some really exciting, interesting research is now being done into the causes of type 1 diabetes, I've never really believed I would be "cured". I never thought about the future much as a teen (who does?!), and later on I just tried my hardest to maintain good health on the bumpy ride through life. Meeting my husband opened a window I'd never known was there; we talk about things I could never have imagined five years ago, and I'm impatient to run headlong down the path of our new life together, my heart full of joy. But a cure is a dream for someone else. It's a wonderful dream, don't get me wrong, and I raise funds and advocate in the hopes of making it come true. And sure, there are days when the whole routine gets old, and I wish it would just go away. But I'm happy with what I have in my small life. As long as I'm healthy and free of complications I can't ask for much more.

My husband worries about my long-term health more than any spouse should, and I know it isn't easy for him to understand all the ups and downs. So, if a cure does arise in my lifetime, he'll be the reason I get in line. Til then, I'll leave it for others to divine.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Friday Night Videos

I think I'll point you to some cool '80s links each Friday. To kick it off, here's the show that had me glued to NBC every Friday night at 8. Vice rules!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Lately some fellow bloggers (Kerri, Elizabeth, Nicole and Amylia) have been talking about their experiences with severe hypoglycemia, and how our bodies miraculously manage to function despite the crisis raging inside. This afternoon, in the middle of a two-hour meeting, I had my own similar bout with a crashing low.

I normally eat lunch at my desk, and today I was very careful (or so I thought) with my mealtime bolus shot in the hopes of avoiding a drop later on. After my presentation at the beginning of the meeting, our client asked several long, drawn-out questions about my work. I felt weird and knew I needed to go test, but couldn't. I should have eaten more for lunch, I thought. But with a fading case of RPS and an antibiotic floating around in my system, the low really could have come from nowhere. Finally my boss took over and moved the discussion to another agenda item.

Not wanting to be rude, I put off leaving the room as long as possible. A balled fist formed in the pit of my stomach and my fingers tingled with alarm. My pulse was galloping along, a colt intoxicated by the wind. Something very strange and skewed was happening to my eyesight. Finally I knew I couldn't stand it any longer. I picked up my silenced cell phone and pretended to receive a text message. (This dodge seems to go over well in my workplace--a good thing for a "closeted" PWD like me.) No one glanced up as I slipped away and stumbled to my desk. I felt eerily calm, even though the voice in my head screamed, 'Eat something!'

I grabbed a bag of dried tropical fruit and gobbled up what I could while fumbling for my meter. All the while I clocked my time away from the meeting, concerned my boss would notice if I took too long an absence. After a couple of minutes to catch my breath and get down the fruit and a granola bar, I felt steady enough to go back in the room. I picked up my pen and went back to my role of attentive assistant, as if the floor hadn't just fallen out from under me. I didn't even break a sweat. What's weirder, the 34 today felt less intense than a 60 I had a few weeks back. To think of all this happening in the dead of night (as it often does to many of us PWDs) scares me.

It's tough trying to be human. So often I feel more like a little machine, especially when my body's doing its damndest to keep running, even on empty. I just hope the signals keep working to let me know when the tank's almost dry.

Monday, February 4, 2008

RPS (Real People Sick)

Chasing lows today, after a wake-up number of 222. (Why do meters like uniform numbers? Does Adrian Monk work there?!) I suspect my real issue is a case of RPS, however. My 10-month-old niece coughed and sneezed on me a few times last night, and I'm taking an antibiotic for a minor skin problem. Plus, hubby was coughing all weekend. I took Tylenol and drank lots of water today, but despite holding nice and steady in the 90s since lunchtime, I'm wiped.

Why is it that RPS freaks me out more than diabetes sometimes? Maybe I'm under the delusion that the D can be explained and controlled. Jab myself a couple of times, do some math and apply the remedy in a neatly packaged device. RPS, on the other hand, sneaks in silently, steals my vitality and leaves no clues. And of course most non-D people are intolerant of any sort of illness. Ugh.

Time for a cat picture...can't wait to join him on the bed soon!

Friday, February 1, 2008

25 Years Ago...Part Three

Telling your diagnosis story seems to hold special sway in the diabetes OC. I was "lucky" in that I was old enough to realize what was happening to me, and that years later I can still recall everything. For others the memories are dimmer, less vivid, steeped in the language and fabric of childhood. For those who were diagnosed much later (as older teens or adults), I can imagine the mental anguish that might come with recounting every last detail. Is it good to remember so much, I wonder? Maybe the answer depends on your feelings about diabetes in general. For me it's cathartic to write about, because growing up, no one ever asked me about my diagnosis. My parents and other family members were too worried about taking care of me, and in doing their best to give me an otherwise normal life avoided dwelling on the subject. It caused them too much pain to relive it. My friends, while supportive in other ways, never asked about what was wrong with me or why I was in the hospital so long. I'm grateful if you've been reading along as I journey back to my own "d-day". Only among you do I feel like this has some importance, some recognition. Thank you.

In keeping with a thread on Diabetes Daily, I'm posting my "before" picture. This was taken at my 12th birthday party about three weeks before I was diagnosed. I went from 96 lbs. to 75 lbs. before diagnosis. I am struck now by how thin my arms were. (Even my fingers were skinny!) I was also very pale and my hair was limp and falling out. But at the party I remember having a great time, laughing and playing with my friends. My mom, as usual, made the day special even though it was in the dark of winter (my parties were always indoors, and boy was I jealous of kids born in the summertime!). I'll post an "after" picture sometime soon. Til then, here's one of my favorites from recent days: