Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Baby Dance

Warning: serious post ahead!

Being an anonymous blogger has its benefits. But I still struggle with revealing my thoughts on some topics, and this recent news is one of them. I've always had a very conflicted, highly personal opinion about having children; Nicole has broached this subject before, and some others have too. Here's my say.

I've never been told I couldn't have kids, but no one ever pretended it was an easy thing for a PWD to do. My family never really talked about it when I was first diagnosed; I think the then-imperfect tools for diabetes care posed enough of a daily struggle for them, and having 'the talk' with your teenager is tough without diabetes (!). In my 20s, I had the typical challenges of any young person nowadays trying to build a stable adult life for myself. Diabetes has always been happy to take advantage of any spare energy--or finances--I may have had along the way, but it didn't really stop me. Had I made it more of a priority to settle down back then, a baby or two (and a father!) might well have come along. I don't know if the ticking clock would have been louder had I not had diabetes; I just know that, for me, it wasn't in the cards at the time.

Since I've been married, people have asked me when I'm going to start a family. And this is when it gets difficult for me to write about the subject (even among you, my wonderful OC friends). I like to keep private things private, as they say, especially with such an intensely personal topic. But where diabetes is concerned, I'd have to say my outlook on having a baby is like my attitude toward a cure: a nice thought, and perhaps a possibility, but not something I actively seek out or wish for every day. God has already been kind to me, sparing my eyes and hands, my feet and life, especially after some rebellious younger years when I probably did fewer tests in a month than I do in a three-hour period nowadays.

I also don't know how fair it would be to a child to have me for a mother, someone who might become ill and be a burden to them, a weight on the whole family, or worse, leave them too young. And then there's the frenetic worrying, which occupies me too much of the time already. I would never forgive myself if a child of mine had to deal with diabetes too. All of the nightmarish possibilities down that path quickly drain my enthusiasm whenever I hold my little niece's hand, or smell her baby-soft hair. In my heart I think: I just can't. Every extra sip of water, every moment of fatigue, every ounce of lost weight would send me into a tailspin. I don't know how some mothers do it--in my own family, some have gone through pregnancies with gestational diabetes without so much as a follow-up for mom or baby, or a worry about a future monster lurking for both of them.

But I haven't closed the door, so to speak. I seek out God when this subject comes up, in public or private, and I pray for guidance. Sometimes even a control freak PWD like me realizes every decision may not be mine alone. I also don't want to cast a downer on the parents of kids with type 1 out there, especially those of little girls. Things have changed so quickly in the world of D care, it's no surprise children nowadays can achieve the kinds of A1Cs some grown-ups would love to have {:-) Everyone's journey is unique. And the same goes for my fellow OC'ers, who may have different views. Your diabetes may vary, of course. I just wish sometimes that I were braver about making decisions with mine, especially the big L-I-F-E ones. I wish I had the imagination to see a world with children as a real possibility instead of an abstract thought.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Mind Reader

I'm not liking my numbers these days. It's nothing dramatic, but I'm spiking in the 200s after meals more often than I would like. Of course, all this started happening just after I caught myself thinking, "Wow, my averages look really good, I've really got my blood sugars under control."

It could be stress, or hormones, or the particular version of ick going around in my neck of the woods. But why is it that I suspect diabetes is able to read my thoughts and know when to throw me for a loop? How does it know when to pull a fast one on me? What is it about this disease that makes it such a head game?

Ugh...oh well, it's Monday. Here's to better days--and numbers.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Night Videos

It seems the OC is in need of a little Zen this weekend, so I'm posting one of my absolute favorite songs from the 1980s--"Nightshift" by the Commodores. Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Rolling Your Own

Did your parents do it?

When was the first time you did it?

OK, class, minds out of the gutter (!) Insulin injections are a tricky topic for me. I didn't start off doing my own shots. Like everyone else I learned how to do them in the hospital--several unsuspecting oranges later, I successfully injected myself with saline a few times. I was nervous when the first "real" needle plunged into my body, perhaps more than anyone realized. But I played the role of compliant patient perfectly. At twelve, my doctor considered me mature enough to handle my diabetes on my own.

When I finally went home, though, all that changed. I didn't protest when my mom took over the first few days--"just to make sure you're all right", she said. She had worked in a hospital for nine years and was comfortable with needles. Those days stretched into weeks, then months. We silently fell into an arrangement: Mom would draw up my dose, carefully rolling the Lente bottle, mixing it and the Regular into a cloudy column inside the syringe. I would "try" to do the shot myself, and when I finally gave up after two or three half-hearted pricks, Mom would take over. We then dutifully marked off the site on my rotation sheet and forgot about the charade until the time for my next injection came around. This continued for about three years.

One summer day, I decided I'd do it on my own. For good. Mom didn't say anything, but she seemed relieved. Most of the time she still did the rolling and the mixing, but from that day on she never had to "help" me with the actual injections. I look back now and think of the pain she must have endured, sticking needles into her little girl. I never cried or complained, but it must have bothered her. I never meant to cause my mom any heartache. It was something unspoken, unintended. I thought she preferred it that way, and I liked having her take care of me. She used the backs of my arms a lot, or a leg in the warm months. For me, it was far easier to do abdomen sites, which I use 95% of the time to this day.

So, when did you take charge of your own care, fellow OC'ers? Did your parents "help" like mine?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Night Videos

Ever notice how dramatic the lighting, scenery and costumes were in movies back in the 80s? "Streets of Fire" came out in 1984 and, though it looked a lot like a Duran Duran video, was pretty entertaining:

I liked "Eddie and the Cruisers" too:

Unbelievably, the star of both movies (Michael Paré) will be 50 this year. Ouch, I'm getting old...! :-) Happy weekend to everyone in the OC!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Your Comments...

...on my last post were wonderful. They made me feel like this:

As Beth said, I love the OC!

Monday, April 14, 2008

We Still Matter.

Hello. Remember us?

We are the children with diabetes.

For some of us, this was known as "juvenile diabetes". Others remember "sugar diabetes" or "brittle diabetes" as the words that left their doctors' lips.

Now we're all people with "type 1 diabetes". But no matter the name, our disease hasn't changed.

See us?

We're all grown up now. And no, we didn't outgrow our diabetes. It's still here, with us, every day, every hour, every minute.

Some of us take shots, some use pen needles, some use pumps. All of us use insulin. Insulin is life. Without it, we'd die. We would go back to the awful days when all we knew was thirst, endless, insatiable thirst. Hunger. Fatigue. Weight loss. Sleepiness, tempting us like a siren. Oh, no. Not that, ever again.

We're still here. We climb the same mountain every day, just to be "normal". We all hold hands and hang on when someone slips and falls. We all know the frightened look, the feeling of ground slipping out beneath our feet, when blood sugar dips too low. The intense overwhelming tiredness when levels soar high, higher than we admit. We know.

We are stronger than we ever imagined we could be. We survive. We are smart, tough, organized. Multi-taskers by nature. Honest. Courageous. Talented. Funny. Even a little OCD. Each of us is an inspiration, a hero. Some of us do amazing things. All of us are amazing beings.

Don't forget about us. We're still here, you see. Waiting patiently for a cure. For something to stop the daily assault. The bloodletting doesn't really bother us, and most of the time, neither do the insulin shots or site changes. No, it's not the pain. It's the lack of it. The not-knowing. The wondering. The panic rat, gnawing at our minds. Blindness. Numbness. Death. Or a life worse than death. No one knows how, or when, it will start. Or if.

But we are healthy, living, alive. We try, every day, to be just like everyone else.

We are the children with diabetes. We're still here. We matter.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Night Videos

Besides "The Terminator", I was a big fan of the "Alien" series in the '80s. Ripley is one of my favorite fiction heroines. And let's face it...she still kicks a**! );-)

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

LIttle Rituals

  • After reading some blogs, I think I might be the only diabetes OC'er who doesn't keep my meter next to my bed. Why? Because when I'm low late at night, I need to exert myself. I must force my body upright and awake. Goad my shaky legs into moving. Propel myself into the room where both meter and juice await. I must do this, every time. It makes me think about my actions. It compels me to be conscious, alert, aware of what's happening to me. I am so afraid of the alternative: falling back to sleep, testing but forgetting to treat the low, or forgetting that I forgot. It's happened to me before. (But before you wonder...yes, I do keep the emergency stash of flavored sidewalk chalk--er, glucose tabs--at bedside. I'd rather treat and not test if it's a bad one.)

  • I also never throw empty insulin bottles away anywhere but home. I've kept empties in my bag for weeks when traveling, just to avoid dumping them in foreign trash bins. Why? Don't know...I think it's my history of working in places where I've been a 'closeted' PWD. I'm pretty anal about hiding my test strip tracks, too. More than one horrified co-worker has seen dead strips and complained that "someone was leaving medical waste" in the office. (Sad, but true.)

  • I also prefer to be in a calm, quiet moment when taking my daily Lantus dose. Because I sometimes have trouble with leakage, I like to relax and take my time injecting. I find myself looking forward to my noon shot each day, just for this little bit of stillness.

  • In the olden days, I had to have juice to treat a low. I once refused a freshly peeled orange, because it was in the "incorrect format". Occasionally I still find myself ravenous at a vending machine, disregarding other fast-acting carbohydrates (like the sodas/juices RIGHT NEXT TO me), in search of my preferred Skittles.

  • Lists, lists, lists. Lists for everything. For medications, for prescriptions. For my cat. For my family. For my itineraries when traveling, with expected times of arrival, departure, and contact information for every stop in between. Appointment lists. Things-to-buy lists. Lists of things toask my doctor about. Color-coded lists when my now-husband came on board. When I got my first PDA a couple of years ago, I nearly cried. (Speaking of lists, back when I kept manual logs of my blood sugars, I used different colors of ink for morning, daytime and evening tests. When did I have that much time...?!)

  • And, finally, I must always wear my MedicAlert tag the same way: tucked just under my watchband, facing up and out, the symbol immediately recognizable to whomever may need to see it. I hope this is never necessary.

Oh, the OCD world of PWDs (:-) What are some of your rituals?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Where Will You Be in 2033?

Maybe it was the movie we rented. "I Am Legend" was good, but unsettling. It got me to thinking about this, our current age of nihilism. Why are we so bent on destroying humanity (in film, if not in real life) these days? Between "I Am Legend" and other dark visions I've seen in recent years (like "Children of Men" and "28 Days Later"), it's hard to feel cheerful about the future direction of our kind. I was a huge fan of the "The Terminator" back in the '80s, yet somehow it had a different attitude. There was still some hope left in the face of dread--the future was "not set", and the main characters fought like hell to carve out a more peaceful alternative.

Then I logged in to Diabetes Daily and saw this thread. Reading the article it cited, this statement caught my eye: "The Joslin Diabetes Center has undertaken a study of patients who have survived with type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years. There are likely to be only 500 to 600 individuals in the United States who have been so fortunate." Being a type 1 for 25 years, I initially read this thinking I was lucky, since I'm halfway there. But the movie set off my imagination and, in the middle of the night, my mind started turning over the alternate endings. I have no far. My numbers and my A1Cs have been far. I seem far. I have yet to experience any "real" pain from this disease. But the suspense is killing me. When will the plot thicken? When will the true attack begin?
But there is hope, I realized. There are plenty of others out there to refute the statistics. People like the OC's very own Richard, who posted his inspiring story about living with type 1 for 60+ years. People like Bernard and Donna, and Scott and Kerri, and all of the other veterans who may not blog but continue to live well as PWDs. We live in an age of amazing medical advances, with powerful tools to help us fight the shadowy monsters of death and disability. As long as we have the will to keep trying, we can beat the odds. The future is indeed not set just by having diabetes.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Night Videos

In honor of Dr. King, this week's Friday Night Videos is the 1984 classic "Pride (In the Name of Love)" by the world's greatest band...U2. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Oh, great...just what we need...

...a headline with the words "diabetes" and "terror" in the same sentence. Ugh.

Whatever happened to this poor guy, the news media will only inflame the situation by scaring the crap out of the misinformed masses. What next, revoking all type 1 driver's licenses?! What about his poor girlfriend and family?

In a similar vein, Bernard's talking about diabetes prejudice today. Head over to his blog and see what you think.

Today's a frustrating day to be a PWD.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's 3AM. Do you know where your blood sugar is?

I'm sitting at the computer, typing. I've just consumed five or six Fudge Stripe cookies, a handful of chips and half a glass of orange juice. I went to bed on the high side (210 mg/dl), confident this wouldn't happen. And yet here I sit with a glass in hand, having come to after an episode of nighttime eating. My shirt is damp with sweat and my pulse is down from a gallop to a trot. Who am I? How did I get here? I'm in a daze as I survey the damage.

One of the hardest things for me to deal with over the years has been the urge to eat everything in the kitchen when I bottom out. I practice Kerri's sip-counting method, I really do, but when the wolverine takes over I'm powerless. I'm always so scared the low won't come up.

Oh, how I wish I could sleep through the night without wondering where my blood sugar will be when I awaken...