Try.

Try.

Dictionary.com says

“to attempt to do or accomplish”

“to put to a severe test”

“subject to strain, as of endurance, patience, affliction”

“to attempt to open (a door, window, etc.) in order to find out whether it is locked: Try all the doors before leaving.”

Fear.

Dictionary.com says

“the feeling or condition of being afraid.”

I fear spiders.

I fear insulin- too much and too little and not finding that happy medium dose.

I fear carbohydrates- too many or too few.

My biggest fear, though, is misconception.

If something “bad” ever happens diabetes-wise, others might think that I didn’t try.

This is why,

despite the fears,

brush the spider off the car windshield.

Say a prayer and take the insulin.

Eat the carbohydrates.

Treat the lows and the highs.

Until there’s a cure, we must

“Try all the doors before leaving.”

Try. 

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Short and Sweet

If you have wanted to get more involved with the diabetic online community (#doc) but are not quite sure how to do so, today is a good day to dive right in.  We don’t bite!

Use the hash tag #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes (brought to us by Kelly @diabetesalish) to document what you want others to understand about diabetes.  Advocacy starts with the first tweet, Facebook post, blog writing session, and so forth.  And advocacy can happen anytime, not just today. We’d love to have you onboard!

Thumbs Up for the New Endo

Transitioning from one endocrinologist to another can be emotional and stressful.  We’ve been over this.

As many people expressed similar anxieties about perhaps having to switch doctors at some point in time when I first blogged about this topic, I wanted to provide a quick update on that front:

Today I met my new endocrinologist, as my former endo relocated far away.  New Endo was kind and understanding.  There were no lectures, which automatically earns her many (sugar-free) brownie points in my book.  We set realistic goals which will help improve quality of life a bit.  (Think along the lines of decreasing basal rates to avoid treating multiple lows in the early morning hours with old Christmas candy stash goodies.  And of course, I renewed my vows to put on my brave face and try to take more insulin each day.)

A lot of this stuff seems so obvious now that I’m writing it down.  But it helps to just speak it out loud to a knowledgeable endo’s ears and to have her input in making adjustments which can have big impacts on my health.

We’re going to get where we want to be in terms of my diabetes management eventually.  It has been a year of SO many big changes, but I am learning that change can be good, especially if you have the right people in your corner helping you to keep on, keepin’ on.

Insulin Angels in Hotel Mini Fridges

Please note: I was asked as a member of the diabetic online community to provide feedback on Insulin Angel and I am happy to do so.  I did not receive compensation in any form for writing this blog post.

Let’s be honest, no one designed hotel mini fridges with the intention of storing insulin at safe temperatures.  I was always under the impression that the original hotel mini fridge engineer wanted just enough tilt when opening the door to rustle a few alcoholic beverages and drive up your bill.

When most people open a hotel mini fridge, their objective is to quench their thirst.  My main concern, however, is just how cold the beverages in the fridge may be- because if the beverages are borderline frozen, well, so is my insulin.  You’ve all heard enough of my griping about ketones to last you a lifetime, so I’ll spare you the story this time around.

Bottom line: We all know that we need insulin to survive.  Insulin that is too hot or too cold compromises the efficacy of the medication, and, therefore, endangers our health.  Forgetting that insulin in the fridge when going out for the day is not highly recommended, either.

Mike Hoskins of Diabetes Mine provided a detailed take on Insulin Angel, a product which will alert users to unsafe insulin temperatures and inadvertent moments of forgetting to carry insulin by utilizing that handy dandy thing called modern day technology.

While I have not personally used the Insulin Angel product yet, I feel comfortable stating why I think this concept has potential:

1. Insulin Angel’s marketing strategy catches my attention because they are reaching out directly to those who their product will help: the diabetic community.  Through crowdfunding, diabetics will drive this idea.  Insulin Angel understands their consumers because they understand life with diabetes.

2. Have I mentioned how I just want a nice cold iced tea from the hotel mini fridge without thinking twice about insulin temperature yet?!

3. Fun activities like going to the beach in the summer should stay carefree.  Let Insulin Angel do the worrying about insulin temperatures for you; you can correct any potential insulin temperature problem early on, rather than suffer the consequences later.

4. This product offers possibilities in a world that is not always diabetes-friendly. 

As an example, diabetes is often considered a medically-disabling condition of military service.  Although we have heard of people with diabetes who are able to remain in service in some capacity, one big reason why the military and diabetes don’t jive well is because of the need for insulin refrigeration; this proves technically-burdensome on deployments.

While I in no way, shape, or form am implying that Insulin Angel’s product will be helpful to allow diabetics to join or stay in the military (nor do I want to start a debate here), the main takeaway in raising the example is this: Previous/current limits on diabetics- whether self-imposed or societally-imposed- may one day be lessened due to this product.

Insulin Angel has the potential to give us another useful tool in our diabetes toolkits.  It eliminates one of the many “I wonder if I’m high because of ______?” factors in that we can cross “unreasonable insulin storage temperatures/forgetting my insulin at home” off that list.

Think of it what you will.  In the meantime, I’m ordering my #SaveHotelMiniFridges bumper sticker.

That Time I Asked the Cancer Version of the “Dumb Diabetes Question”

We’ve all rolled our eyes and stomped our feet at the ignorant diabetes phrases thrown at us over the years.

“You’re on the thin side.  How on earth do you have diabetes?”  Probably because my islet cells could care less about the size of my jeans.  Those aren’t the kind of “jeans” we need to focus on here.

These moments frustrate the heck out of me, but once I sarcastically detail the encounter on Twitter, I start to delve a bit deeper.  The people posing the questions do not live with diabetes each day.  Their fingers are not freckled from thousands of finger sticks.  The term “ketones” just sounds like a raspberry smoothie that Dr. Oz would recommend to get in shape.  “Scar Tissue” is nothing more than a Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

They’ve lived unscathed by diabetes, for the most part.  I can’t fault them for that.  Although I love all of you in the #doc and cherish the positive mark you’ve left on my life, at the same time, I wish that no one had diabetes.  I hope that those who do not have it gain a bit of perspective and inspiration by watching us carry the cross.  Sometimes that process takes time, though.

There is also a psychological element to the “dumb” questions.  They may not be so dumb, per se.  They are, rather, a defense mechanism.  Damn!  My friend suffers sometimes!  I want to control it and ease her pain.  She looks flustered.  I can’t just snap my fingers and make it better!  All of those thoughts roll through their minds while they watch me inject insulin or drop everything when the doctor calls.  Human beings, for the most part, want to help; diabetes is confusing when it comes to figuring out how. Fair enough.  I’m still learning, and heck, I’m the one experienced at living it.

The tables were turned on me recently.  I was in their shoes for a moment, and I asked the same silly questions because I didn’t know what else to do.

Providence is a small city.  As much as I poke fun of it, that’s part of the reason why I love it so much.  We have a mini community downtown.  If I need a break from work gossip, I stroll over to the local coffee shop, where I quickly observe that every office has its own dramatic story.

I walk by the Italian badass barber each morning- tough on the outside but soft on the inside.  His Chihuahua’s unbridled love for him confirms this.  When badass barber nods at me, I feel cool in the “I’m a high school freshman but the senior soccer captain just waved to me” sort of way.

I consider the disabled and the homeless my friends. They have taught me more about human resilience through our interactions than any school book will ever do.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those discussed here.

There is John- always smiling, always happy.  He lifts weights at the Y each morning.  The would-be-understandable-excuse of being in a wheelchair is the farthest thought from his mind.  His humble example inspires all of us who know him.

There is another John who is down on his luck but sharp as a tack intellectually.  The brain beneath the scraggly mop of hair is a curious, gifted one.

Agnes doesn’t yet know this, but she kept me in grad school when it was getting hard to stay afloat. She reminded me that education is a gift, no matter what the circumstances may be.

“I want you to know that I’m going to move eventually.  I won’t be sitting on this stoop much longer.  I hope you don’t think that I’m taking advantage when I ask you to buy my lunch.  I’m just… SO hungry.  But I’m going to get my GED.  And an apartment.  My health will improve and I can get a job. I take my lunch to the library and I study there every week.”

Finally, there is Deana. But that’s Sister Deana to you and I. She preaches the Gospel on the street corner, talks to the birds as they eat the crust from her sandwich, and blesses the passersby of Providence. Sister Deana hasn’t looked well recently. The cancer has spread, and I am more emotional about it than I like to show on the outside.

For years, Sister Deana has lifted my mood during my afternoon walks. She is blunt yet kind all in one, a humorous combination. “Got any blessings for me?” is translated to “Where’s my money?” Yet if I’m short on cash, she still has a few prayers to send my way.

She sleeps in the street after her chemo rounds while the young professionals are careful not to trip over her tired body.

“Is there some sort of help that the hospital can provide for you? It’s not good to be out here exposed to the cold and the germs right after chemo,” I explain, citing WebMD wannabe medical knowledge.

“I don’t want help. I want my independence,” she replies.

Me too, I acknowledge in my head, reflecting on all of the times that I have pushed helping hands away during my own health struggles.

Desperately hoping that she will somehow be okay, clinging to any sense of security that may still linger, I ask the dumb question:

“Well, the chemo must be making you feel better, right?”

Someone please slap me. Chemo and feeling good aren’t normally associated in the same sentence. I know this. But I am trying to control the situation, to convert my naïve wishes that my friend’s pain will somehow be eased into her reality. I don’t know the right thing to say, so I say the first thing that comes to mind. It is not the right thing, but it is something. And for a brief moment, I feel fabricated relief that perhaps my words were comforting.

How many times have my friends seen this scenario play out in front of them? They have watched me projectile vomit my lunch, the ketones too thick in my blood. They have witnessed the wrath in my verbal outbursts as I see spots from high blood sugars. They have felt helpless and useless as a vindictive disease beats its prey bloody. That prey is their friend. They want to make it better, but don’t know how.

Sometimes just being there is all we need to do.   

“Better?! Honey, I scream through the chemo!” she laughs.

But she doesn’t bite my head off, either. She doesn’t angrily snap at me about how I should have known better. She doesn’t roll her eyes or tell me how ignorant I am. Instead, she calmly explains how the chemo wipes out her energy, how she would rather be on the street where she is comfortable than alone in a scary hospital room. I nod my head as a wave of understanding consumes me.

She really doesn’t feel well because she doesn’t want a Snickers bar this time- just her signature can of Coke. I place it into her outstretched hands and leave her resting her head against the brick wall of the vacant building. The birds finish off the bread crumbs and fly away.

 

 

Please keep Sister Deana in your prayers.