Saturday, January 31, 2009

Redefining Wellness

I'm probably not the right person to be writing this, it should be coming from some brainiac phd researcher who's done extensive studies on the role of a positive attitude in chronic disease. And I know I'm not that, half the time...

Regardless, here are my thoughts on the matter. I was reading an article in Time magazine where the author put forth the idea that perhaps its not the absence of disease that makes us healthy, its having the stamina/will to overcome the stuff our body throws at us. Very intriguing idea..and the author should know.(if anyone does) Recipient of a horrid disease at 15, a liver transplant at 22, a colon transplant at 25, and another liver transplant at 29, she hasn't been told she epitomizes the picture of health in quite a long time. But what is healthy? she runs several times a week, has a job, and doesn't let it get in the way of what she wants to do.(she merrily works in the other stuff). One tough cookie.
By that definition, maybe I've got it in me to live had a bizzaringly cheering-up effect upon me. The human body can withstand a great deal of wear,tear, and abuse before it finally flops out. You've got things you can control, and things you can't, and wellness isn't just about being blessed with perfect health-much of wellness is in the individual's hands. I went to the gym today..first time in a LONG time. Started out at 175. Ended at 138.(because I am sensitive, I usually remove my pump for exercise) As I went through the effects of exercise upon a very out-of-shape body, I was glad for one thing...that at least I knew what it was doing to my blood sugar, my heart rate, everything else. Versus the spandex-clad ultra athletes running next to me who probably don't even know where the energy "crash" comes from. I guess diabetes is good for something. Keeping the body in homeostasis is not an easy job, but its definatly worth it. As Johann Goethe said,"From disease I have learned much, that life could not have taught me any other way," and I would conclude that from disease, I've learned to cherish what wellness truly is.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Eye of the Storm

Snow is coming down. Real white stuff, flying thick and furious. Of course it came at the absolute best time...yesterday I drove down to my eye exam, not thinking that it would do anything today. (it NEVER does)

Like most eye exams,I was in there over three hours(par for the course), they refuse to put my married name on there(I've also been trying to fix that for 1+ years). I think I'll just give up at some point. Visual fields, resident with his medical student in tow. Nice enough, and had a last name that could actually be pronounced/remembered. Dilation. Comment about my lack of perfect control,which I tuned out. Back out to waiting room. Back in again. Bright lights, more drops.

"Hmmmmm-ummmm-hmmmmm-lookright-look left--look up===look down---hmmmm"

"They don't look too bad."

"WHAT?WHAT does that mean? No proliferative or nonproliferative damage????"

"No diabetes changes."

Sigh of relief. Another test, the Hess test. That measures the amount of double vision, and that has changed slightly since the last visit. Recheck in 6 months.

Came home slushy junk/traffic jams(4 hours drive) and had to go straight to microbio lab(1 pm, was late to boot) because they DIDN'T CANCEL school. Stupid.(the entire world is shutting down and they don't). First major snow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Four Freedoms: Freedom From Fear

"We have nothing to fear, but fear itself..." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fear is a very powerful emotion-it certainly helps to have tools to be able to keep the biggie fear(hypoglycemia) at bay. As well as all the other fears diabetes conjures up. We are fortunate to have an emergency medical system in this country, as much as it is a paralyzing, numbing experience it has saved the lives of countless PWD's and is really better then the alternative.
(having said that, Roosevelt obviously didn't have diabetes although polio must suck pretty bad too)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


When they called the first time, it was beyond belief, drop-you-dead in your tracks unbelievable. And I didn't believe it, I used the word "impossible" twice in the resulting dialogue.

And then they called the second time, and the emotions of time #1 rose and plummeted to the deepest depths. I didn't say "that's impossible." I didn't say much of anything, because the rollarcoaster ride was just too much.

I am angry. Angry at diabetes. Angry that I can't just have a normal life and have kids, have a career, have a life.

I had a miscarriage last week. Not that I was aware of it, by the time I knew I was
I'd been whammied by abdominal pains/period(check, for 2.5 weeks late) and a few days later, well, I wasn't.(plummeted hcg levels) Yes, I use birth control. (for years, people) That apparently, doesn't always work(why NOW?) and add diabetes and what chance did anything have of making it. I know my diabetes isn't in good enough control for a baby. So why do these things happen? Seems like a pwd can't do anything without risk. I've got so many mixed up emotions, I don't know how you're supposed to deal with something like this. I didn't want to be pregnant but when I learned I was I would have continued it. It's something that never occured to me..that you could get pregnant on bc. Maybe my control caused it, maybe it was something else. Really, I'm not sure I could survive a D pregnancy but I'd do my best.(I do want to be a parent someday but I always thought it'd be by adoption)

All I know is, I need to do better on my D-control. That, or get my tubes tied.
(apologies for the graphicness of the post)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Ten Things I didn't Learn in Class

Annual Physical- hahahahaha
No Simple Sugars- vital to the treatment of every low????
Max Heart Rate- the 3 AM hypo
Complex Carbohydrate- anything that requires a diabetes PHD to figure out the carb/bolus timing for
Muscular Endurance- carting 'round the diabetes suitcase all day
My Pyramid- chocolate, 10% of total caloric intake for the day
Stress Management- temper control with the diabetes police
Fiber- sugar free chocolate will do the same thing...
Blood Pressure- automatically elevated at endo's office(if you're going to have an MI it's a very good place to do it)
Reversibility- tendency of the less-then-hard-core-committed pwd's a1c to drift above 8. (or 9, 10, etc..)

Final Exam tonight!!!!!!!!!!(hurray!) For as informative as the class was, much of the information was decidedly not targeted to the PWD. Making me feel like I was just visiting from another planet, and do most Earthlings really just go to the doctor once a year(or whenever they're sick)? I was sufficiently brainwashed to want to step up the exercise stuff, although I think that if hardcore exercisers had to count carbs/track bgs/make basal adjustments/everything else they would cure them of their obsessement over calories, etc. Numbers drive me nuts.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Food Nazi Class

So I'm taking a 3 credit course, nicely jammed packed into 2 weeks. 2-3 quizzes, 2 tests, 1 paper, 5 homeworks, and 1-20 minute presentation is my lot-4 hours a night, five times a week. Insane.(but I digress)

The instructor(personal trainer) is a real food Nazi, if there ever were one.She let it be known(on the first night of class) that she so much as spotted a French Fry being consumed she'd tell us to dump the junk food in the trash can, it would not be permitted in her course. Five foot 5 inches of lean,mean muscle(not a scrap of fat on her body) and she wears really tight clothes so you can see all that muscle.

The cast of characters:

-muscle building guy(think Doug Burns, minus the hair)
-nose ring guy(in very back)
-half the class sits in the very back...
-political guy, who is extremely motivated and says he's running for President some day
-person in front of me-who is taking TWO two week classes, plus working(now I feel lazy)
-the rest of us, who just want to get on with our lives

It's a nutrition/fitness class, so I guess she kind of has a right to make the rules but if I'm ever low and drinking a juice/eating something and she berates me you can bet I will let her have it.

"Would you rather I passed out from low blood sugar? Excuse ME for having diabetes."

Something I would generally NEVER announce to the entire class,
but if she embarrassed me you can bet I'd embarrass her.
And there are no bathroom breaks/breaks during the whole class so you can bet the food choices will be viewed/analyzed by the entire class. It's rather annoying.

I've never given a 20 minute oral presentation on ANYTHING, and the last time I did give one was 7 years ago. That was around 5 minutes. And mine, is due next Tuesday.
Aughhhhhhhh.(and its not on diabetes...its on hemachromitosis. Diabetes is pretty boring, right now)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Back to the Past

Once upon a time, in the faraway country of Ignorance, there lived a mouse. A very cute mouse, who owned humongous ears and a cheesy little grin that would make even the biggest car lover grant a pardon to the little guy and find another meal for Fido.

But this isn't about a mouse.(although he will reappear)

No, this is about a teenage girl, a rich socialite snob who lived in a NYC penthouse with her workaholic CEO parents and a bratty little brother who most definatly should have been in a military boarding school somewhere. But I'm getting ahead of myself...this is her story, and she should be telling it.


I chug down yet another cherry pepsi, attempting to put stop breaks on my unquenchable thirst.

"Give it a rest, wontcha? " my 10-year-old-brat of a brother says, unceremoniously dumping his backpack on the living room carpet. "The toilets are going to go on strike."

"Haha, very funny.Where's my mouse?"

"Still at school-we're gonna dissect him and you'll never see him again. Say, isn't that number six?" he asks incredulously, as I chuck the can toward the recycling bin and head toward the fridge for another one. "Leave me one, can't you?"

Brothers-such a HUGE pain. I'd argue, but I'm so tired I'd much rather sleep. I slam my bedroom door, set my ipod to shuffle "A Little Bit Longer," ad nauesum and drift off to sleep, intent on catching a few ZZ's before starting my homework.

There's a siren in my dreams, piercing and loud but I can't seem to wake up. Soooo

"Wake up, Jenny, wake up," my mom is crying, and that's really not like her. So I oblige, to find tubes and wires crisscrossing my body like one of my brother's mutant science experiments.

"Oh hon- you have diabetes!"

"No, I do not," I croak from the depths of my drier-then-dirt voicebox. "What happened, why am I here?"

"You got diabetes, your blood sugar was 1400 and you've been in here for two days..."

To make a long story short, I'm kept in for another week and taught to be a good little diabetic. Except I'm not. The best pediatric endocrinology team in the country cannot make me that.

And a insulin pump? Well, of course I have one, my parents practically donated the medical center into existance and every administrator/doc in that place fell all over themselves to provide me with only the best. President-elect Obama doesn't get all the perks that we do.

But it doesn't change the fact that I dislike all the rules of diabetes, and no one at all understands what I have to do on a daily basis just to keep tickin'. Sometimes I get so tired of it, like the night I decided not to reconnect to my pump(post shower),I was still in honeymoon phase anyway so nothing would happen. Drift off to LaLa land again.

"Wake up, Jennifer."

Whaaa? Not again. I silently groan, and open my eyes, expecting my doctor will be there to harp at me about my recent lack-of-stellar-control.

Instead, there's a young, cheery-faced nurse who hands me a piece of brick like bread. Or rather, half a piece.

"What is this?"I sputter, shocked.

"Supper. You're spilling quite a bit of sugar in your urine and Dr. Allen is reducing your calorie intake."

"Dr. Who? He's not MY doctor. Where's my doctor?"

"Quiet, hon, you're not feeling well. This new diet will help your diabetes get under control." she moves off, to hand someone their hunk o' hardtack.

I look at the other kids in the ward, most living skeletons who barely move, let alone speak. Like a cancer ward at Halloween. Freeeeaky.

"You know John died last night," my nearest roommate pipes up, out of the blue.

"Died? Why?"

"Diabetes, of course. Like we all might only no one talks about it. It's fatal."

"It's not fatal, there's in...."

Suddenly, a tall man enters the room and all the kids flock around him like he'll be handing out candy, momentarily. (but of course, he won't)

"I think," he says very slowly,"that I may have something for you."

Something? I watch as he and the nurse administer whopping horse-sized doses of a murky brown liquid that I normally wouldn't water my lawn with, let alone have injected, into my body. But there is something else being injected.

Hope. Eyes brighten, cheeks glow, and flesh soon reappears on once skinny bones. And I, like many others, cherish those painful injections because they represent life.

"Wake up, Jennifer."

I sigh, turn over, and mumble "in my thigh" bracing myself against the expectant paralyzing jolt of the humongous syringe. But it doesn't come.

I open my eyes.

"Hey Jen-are you ok? You went into DKA again," my doctor asks, concerned.

"Yeah. It won't happen again, because I had a weird dream and I think I know what it means now."


Once upon a time, there lived a rich, not-so-snobbish teenage girl who discovered a richness not bestowed by her parent's millions. The richness of being alive.

And her mouse? Well,it survived her brother's classmates, and she named the mouse Banting, deciding that someday, she'd become a diabetes researcher and find a cure for both humans AND mice. Because they are both, really, really cute.
(go watch the Tale of Despereaux)

Friday, January 02, 2009


Tonight I changed my pump battery for the first time. After popping a fresh one in, it whirled back into action and showed 0U in the cartridge.

There are no words to describe the freaked-out feeling you get that 85 units of insulin are now coursing through your body so I won't. (death, very, very soon)Ripped out the cartridge immediately, and it was still full so no insulin OD but my pump trainer forgot to tell me about that little goodie. Called Animas, reprimed. Still checking just to make sure I didn't get any insulin.

Thanks, Animas. That took some 15 years off my life.