diabetes awareness month – week 1: privacy invasion

pump it up, ride the highs, the secret life of, Uncategorized, well rounded wellness

sugarsSo for this post, I attempted to take some selfies of what my back looks like at the moment. But my selfie game is abysmal, so…maybe later…after I drink up some liquid courage at happy hour.

Anyway, this post is going to be dark and interactive because misery loves company. Buckle up, my friends, because we’re taking the express train down to Wompwomptown. Throw on the new Banks single, an Adele song, or something equally bummerific, and pretend that every man they’re singing about is actually the surface area of your body that you’re tearily waving goodbye to.

Okay, JK. That’s way too intense. I’m not trying to make anyone feel sad, or a deep longing for anyone or anything they can’t have anymore. But dramatics aside, that’s genuinely how it feels sometimes.

Being a diabetic can is a lot like being a pin cushion. Or a voodoo doll. Whichever you’re more in to. On the day I was diagnosed, a doctor looked me straight in the face and said, “you’re going to have to prick your finger with this lancet now, and when you’re done, stick this needle in your thigh. Oh, and also…you’re going to have to do this many times a day, every day, for the rest of your life.”

I distinctly remember sitting there on the hospital bed staring at her like she just told me the the earth was actually a cube shaped planet and that all dogs are secretly Russian spies.

What the actual fuck was I going to do? At the time, I had no idea. And to be honest, I’m still not sure I do. But as the surprisingly obedient 17-year-old girl who was missing her boyfriend’s playoff lacrosse game, I was in no position to talk back, walk out, or rebel against these instructions. The faster I completed their dubious requests, the faster I could GTFO of the hospital where people were actually very, very sick and needed far more help than I did.  I even remember rationalizing with myself that maybe I’d get extra attention at school or something because people would feel bad for me…classic Libby move.

Now here I am 10 years later with an insulin pump clipped to my bra that hardly anyone knows I have, and a CGM digging into the back of my desk chair that definitely no one knows I have. Welp, surprise! Here I am! A bionic woman, reporting for duty.

On that fateful day that feels like so long ago, I essentially forfeited my body and my body’s privacy to the sticky infusion sets, needles, tubing, and lancets that would dictate my schedule (and hefty medical bills) for the unforeseeable future.

I would be lying if I said I have a great attitude about it now that I’m all grown up as the exquisitely responsible adult that I am today, but that would be the biggest lie anyone (even Donald Trump) has ever told you.

Actually, just this Tuesday I rolled into work a little late with red, post-cry eyes because the morning after I replaced my first CGM I found myself in a very dark place. I think I even went so far as to moan I was playing God with all of these things stuck on me. Which, first of all…God? Since when did I talk about him? And second of all, the only person allowed to have meltdowns of that capacity while still being “cute” is Britney Spears.

My meltdown was textbook. I was upset because I let it get to me that I’m kept alive by technology and medicine. By these little foreign objects that buzz and click and pinch and prick and give me numbers that, frankly, I don’t even know what they mean. I just know which ones are good, and which ones mean I need to go eat some sour patch kids. I can’t just BE without the help of something synthetic. The stubborn, control-freak in me was exhausted by the thought of just one more day of keeping up with the routine diabetes has forced me to have. I want to be free. I want to wear a god damned bikini. I want to go pee in the middle of the night without almost dropping a $4,000 device in the toilet because I forgot it was clipped to my PJs. I don’t want little kids to only know their bodies covered with infusion sites. I want them to know how amazing it feels to climb a tree without the fear that their tubing will snag a branch. Or the joy of being spontaneously pushed into a pool without the threat of destroying thousands of dollars worth of technology.

But. At the end of the day, as much as I sound like I despise my pump, and my test kit, and my CGM and all of the stress and responsibility that comes with managing diabetes, I am so incredibly grateful that this is what I have to deal with. It is doable. And as my mom frequently says, “It can always be worse”. And though what we all go through as type 1’s can be stupidly frustrating and tiring, it’s still not the worst. I am still able-bodied and able-minded. I still have an amazing job with people that make me smarter. I still have incredible friends and family that make me laugh everyday, I still have the world’s most patient boyfriend who motivates me to keep going, I still have my independence, and my ambition for a bangin’ future. It’s hard. But it’s not all bad. And even on the worst days, I need to remind myself that I am incredibly lucky.

plot twist

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5cd20ab85449a54636ac6ffbd3e76739Two things: It’s the bleak mid-winter, and our BFF (the biggest asshole in the world) Mercury, is in retrograde (again). New England has been buried with record levels of snow in the past few weeks, and the rest of the country seems to be blanketed in an “it’s February, f this.” state of mind. I call this part of winter, “The Dark Days” because there are no holidays, it’s colder than ever, and no matter what we do, we all feel like we’re living one long, wallowing Sam Smith song.

Winter is not so much a season, but a condition that manifests one giant mental guessing game after the next within its harsh temps and storms. Will my flight be delayed? Will my train be cancelled? Will my office even be open? Will I sleep through another alarm? Will my friends show up? Will the kids ever go back to school? Will my blood sugar be 350 after a day of no carbs at all?  Yes, probably, duh, obviously, more than likely, and absolutely.

Anything that can, and will go wrong, is going to. Not to mention it feels intensely more frustrating during the winter months since we’re all deficient as all hell in our friend, Vitamin D. After my first NYC winter, I can relate more than ever to a big ol’ dog cooped up in a crate all day. And though I’m not peeing on the floor (that I know of), the anxious pacing around the apartment isn’t always the easiest thing to bare. Every day feels long. There’s a negative undertone to almost every conversation. We’re impatient. Everyone is exhausted. And, more than anything, it feels like things are just perpetually tripping up, or falling through.

Being easily disappointed and angry instead of accepting a situation for what it is, is something I’ve struggled with virtually since the beginning of time (ask my mom). And, by slapping diabetes on top of that, my sensitivity to change has definitely heightened. Circumstance, agendas, and outcomes are going to change from the moment we wake up, until the second we go to sleep at night, no matter how much control we claim to have over our lives. No matter the severity of said “plot twist”, it’s often painful to see the truth to that in the moment. And we live in a world where moments are rarely accepted or recognized as they are. If we’re even paying attention to a moment – an act that is exceedingly rare, especially for phone-obsessed hooligans my age (guilty) – we agonize over moments. We scrutinize moments. We complain, panic, act out of fear and anger. Rarely do we step back and process something for long enough to even know what it is that we’re experiencing. All of that sounds deep and complicated, but it’s something I’ve thought a lot about this winter. I always think about  “if X hadn’t happened to me would Y be true now?” or, “Since Y hasn’t happened to me yet, will Z ever happen?” “What does it mean to feel like this for so many months out of the year? Am I wasting time with myself? Could I be doing something else?”

If the bad never happened, we would never feel the good the way it’s meant to be felt. Being grumpy for a few months because it’s cold is somewhat of a choice, but if things really are that bad or challenging, maybe on the other end of it all is a tremendously rewarding sense of growth or self-discovery. Maybe whatever it is that we’re going through right now truly is excruciating, or maybe it isn’t and we’re just simply scared by how bored we are. Nothing is ever permanent, the weight will shift eventually.

The days are getting longer, the sun will finally rise above the buildings again, and soon, things will feel like they have life in them again. The snow will melt, and the leaves will grow back. People will make plans with each other again. And, most importantly, we’ll soon be able to go outside and breathe fresh air. We’ll pull through. We always do.

//

the getaway gamble

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIn two days, I am going away for a long weekend to Las Vegas with my girlfriends. Truthfully, I have already been thinking: “Diabetes, you are not invited. If you show up as the sloppy, needy bitch you tend to be when I’m on vacation, I’m going to be so pissed.” But then I remember that I don’t have that luxury, and that whether I like it or not, the power trio of my infusion sets, reserviors, and test strips are comin’ along for the ride.

When I travel, I either over compensate by a hilarious amount, or drastically under-prepare. Whether it’s a quick trip home to my parents’ house, or to another country for two weeks, there is just no way to be perfectly prepped and ready for what could happen when I’m traveling. Unless I hire my own personal psychic, the travel gamble is just another day in the life of a type 1 diabetic.

Tonight, as I was going through my pre-flight inventory check. I learned about the article in the New York Times that was published yesterday called “Midnight three & six.” This video/op-ed piece highlights 24 hours in the life of a 15-year-old diabetic, who is still largely cared for by her parents. In the video, her mom lays out on the counter what, to me, was a very familiar pile of boxes, syringes, alcohol swabs, needles, and drugs that smell like paint (I’m serious, have you ever smelled insulin?!). The mom diligently explains what the mountain of diabetes supplies is, and that all of it is what’s used to keep her teenage daughter alive. Grace, her daughter, leans against the kitchen counter passively, distant, exhausted, you know, being a normal 15-year-old. Her mom asks her what’s up. Grace looks at the heap of stuff and says, “Sorry, I’m trying to act interested.” She sarcastically points to the box of infusion sets next to her. “WOOOOO look at all of this!” And in that moment, my heart sank, and I thought: “Holy shit, girl, I feel you.”

I had just done this routine of dumping out hundreds, maybe even a thousand dollars worth of odds and ends on to my gross shag rug to do my “pre travel inventory check-in.” The method to my madness is simple. Check on my stash every now and then, and re-order when I start playing with fire as my quantities start to dwindle. I have, admittedly, no concrete system to ensure that I’m 100% armed and ready for natural disaster, traveling around the world, or even being locked out of my apartment. I wing it. I mean, I’m responsible about it, but I don’t keep inventory on lock down. I’d be a terrible retail professional.

But back to the NYT article for a sec. It’s not really about the heap of boxes and needles, is it? It’s about what all of that “stuff” symbolizes for us. Or, to take it one step further…what, over time, we allow this stuff to symbolize for us. For some, it is crippling. It makes us feel tethered and claustrophobic. Like we are chained to our pump and it is a torture device keeping us from our freedom. Others see it and think, “we are so fortunate to have the technology and development of care that allows us to live our lives just as we wish if we follow our care routine just so.” I find myself swinging back and forth across a spectrum. Some days I want to throw my pump across the room and run away as fast as I can. Others, I find myself worshiping its existence the same way I worship pineapple pizza, my faux fur blanket, or my New England Patriots pom pom hat.

Grace is a beautiful young girl is in her prime teenage years. She can’t feel lows, her opinion of her disease is ever changing, her body is developing and growing, and therefore her diabetes is very dangerous. She even has a dog named Jackie that tells her when she needs to test her blood sugar (um hello, I need one). Her mom and dad take turns waking up through the night to test her blood sugar at midnight, 3, and 6am. This is something I did when I was first diagnosed at age 17, for about 6….days. It was simply not something I could sustain. But then again, I could go more than 4 hours without something life threatening happening to me. For this, I am insanely grateful. I have been given a much more forgiving diagnosis. I can push it to the limits most of the time. But this one girl’s story was a sobering reminder of how unpredictable and serious this disease truly can be.

I’m not sure how I felt about the story of Grace and her parents. It left me feeling…scared. There was a very sad undertone.  And personally, I struggle with scare tactics since they’re typically unnecessary and the media’s fault. But this one was raw. This one was a mother sharing her honest fear of sleeping through one alarm and having it cost her her daughter’s life. That’s a big deal.

We so often portray our-diabetes selves participating in JDRF walks, or being “resilient” and conquering lows like a boss. But this unique depiction of the uncertainty and exhausting effort that goes in to each and every day was so honest. There are so many questions, so many what-ifs, so many, “how much longer can I put up with this?” And all of that…is…well…bleak.

It’s easier for me, personally, to joke about things. Because of my 20-something ways, that’s where my mind lives, a humorous place. Maybe because I’m unwilling or unable to accept the potential permanence or misery of this situation. Also, I am lucky to know my body very, very well. I can feel lows like, 3 days before they hit me.

Like I said at first, I’ll be some pissed if bad lows, and crap infusion sites follow me to Vegas where I just want to be left alone to play with my friends. There’s absolutely nothing in the rule book that says I can’t do that, or at least try to do that, but I suppose the moral of the story is just to be prepared. There’s simply no harm in having those 9 extra infusion sets, and 3 extra tubes of test strips. It’s almost as if over-compensating for an emergency will make the diabetes more invisible once I am there. Better safe than sorry is no joke in the diabetes world.

At the end of the day, the 5% of us diabetics living with type 1 have been handed a seriously unique hand of cards. Every single one of us has a different experience. Some of us are very independent, some of us are on crazy diets, some of us are in shape, and many of us are afraid to even leave the house in the morning. Regardless, listening to and showing compassion towards the other diabetics we meet or hear stories about as we go about our merry ways, is one of the best ways to keep an honest perspective when doing something as simple as “taking inventory” on our tiny, bedroom floors.

winter warmers

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UntitledSo, I cried last night. For about 900 reasons most likely, but I am hypothesizing that about 890 of them were predominately due to the significant lack of Vitamin D in my life as I know it. Winter is the absolute worst, if we just want to cut to the chase. As one of my gal pals put it today, “The only joy I feel is when I am asleep.” Which, is obviously pretty bleak. There are days where I feel like I’m going through a painful breakup. Then I remind myself that I am….with the sun. And yes, we will get back together eventually. But for now, I’m just letting it hurt, okay?

It’s funny to joke about this (to a point – cuz, ya know, Seasonal Affective Disorder, merp… ) because we all experience it. These feelings can be exacerbated dramatically or stifled entirely, depending on what phase of our extended quarter life crises we are in. So, good luck predicting that one. I’ve tried many a remedy to attempt and soothe the teenage-like angst that brews in my restless mind from November to March, but sometimes the only thing I can do is give in to the urge to wallow. But, when we’re done with the wallowing…then what?

Here are some ideas…

Get physical. 
Moving your bod will get your blood pumpin’, and will help produce endorphins which are like all- natural little happy drugs. Endorphins relieve stress, anxiety, pain, and can even produce a bit of a high. So, step 1. Get the hell out of bed. Step 2. Go for a walk around your neighborhood (put pants on, first though, k?), grab a coffee, snack, go shopping, clean your apartment, or go to the gym. Sitting around and being a wompasaurus just adds to the feeling of lethargy, loneliness, and restlessness. Oh, and the more you veg on the couch, the more you’ll snack. We all know how that story ends… #summerbodiesaremadeinthewinter (so I’m told, anyway).

Drink Heavily.
As hard as it is to not drown our icy sorrows in a bottle of wine every night, at least try to balance it out with many bottles of water. Our skin, hair, and nails take an aggressive, and rather unpleasant beating in the winter. They get dry, gross, and I know I look approximately 10 years older when I don’t have my summer glow going. As diabetics, we need to be especially careful, as we are prone to drier skin (and if you’re like me, eczema! #Sexy). The age-old myth is to shoot for about 8 cups per day, or 1.9L, but I try to go for like…12. Cranking the H2O will not only give you more energy to get through the dark days, but your skin will thank you, too. Try this nifty calculator to see how much you should be drinking if you’re working out. Pro tip: Keep water bottles with you at all times: one on your desk, in your car, on your bedside table, in your gym bag, etc.

Get some D. 
Vitamin D, get inside me. I’m lost without you. The sun is my everything, so when it barely even gets up above the Empire State Building for more than 10 minutes a day, I feel myself dragging some serious ass. Why do we need Vitamin D so badly? This lovely little guy is one of our body’s favorite sources of energy, can lower the risk for cancer, bone disease, diabetes (Type 2), anxiety, and depression just to name a few. We typically get Vitamin D from sources like the sun, fish, egg yolks, and mushrooms (wuuut?), so obviously in the winter when we hunker down indoors and our diets take a hit, we struggle to get enough D. So what can we do about this? Supplements are a great option, but if you’re anti-that, try to up the fatty fish in your diet, even canned tuna counts! What should you not do? Go tanning. STAY AWAY FROM THE TANNING BOOTH, SNOOKS. This was something I used to do mid-winter when I couldn’t take it anymore, and let me tell you, my skin has suffered the consequences big time! This leads me to my next point…

Lube Up.
Back to that whole hydration thing, and your skin getting totally f’ed over from the cold and wind… invest in some hard core moisturizer that makes your epidermis jump for joy. This list is super helpful to kickstart your research, since everyone’s skin is a lil’ differente. I am partial to Kiehl’s, as bougie as that sounds. And since, obviously, vanity is an important thing year round, try a tinted moisturizer (Laura Mercier & Dior make gooooood shit), or Jergens self-tanner (Hi, Maddy) to make yourself feel a little bit more… well…alive.

Get Shit Done.
Last winter, I decided to spend my January jail time (that’s how it felt) getting this blog up and running, and kicking off a long awaited job search. If you’ve been putting something off, winter is absolutely a great time to get a jumpstart on it. What the heck else are you doing with your time anyway? Hm? Netflix? Thought so. Not only does having a project give us a creative, or intellectual outlet, it gives us something to look forward to when we come home from work when it’s already been dark for 5 hours.

Shack up with someone.
Not just anyone, but, you know, a significant someone. Even though you might not feel your sexiest when you’re wearing 14 layers and you’re the same color as the marshmallows in your hot chocolate, getting jiggy with it with your man snack or lady friend can seriously boost your mood. There are only about 950 bazillion articles out there confirming this, I don’t need to direct you to them, plus, that could be NSFW. But, touching and being touched also creates endorphines, just like exercise, sooooo looks to me like sex might just be the perfect cure to the winter woes. Play it safe out there, though, k?

Hit the road.
Having something to look forward to is a GREAT way to fry some time. For example, my girlfriends and I decided to up and take off to Vegas for a long weekend at the end of January. Why? Because #yolo. Financial stress can be crippling for us twenty somethings, and tends to compound in the winter when we’re hyperfocused on our misery, but if we’re smart about planning,  a responsible getaway somewhere groovy can be finagled in no time.

Use your pipes.
Living in NYC, I don’t exactly have ample time alone in the car, or by myself, ever, for that matter. But, one thing I know for sure is that singing at the top of my lungs ALWAYS makes me feel better. Not only because I get to pretend I’m Ellie Goulding in the shower, but because SCIENCE. Singing increases oxygenation to the blood stream which has all kinds of epic health benefits. So, if you get 10 minutes to yourself, jam on a quick tune, and I almost guarantee it’ll cheer you up.

Don’t be a booze bag.
This is a challenge in the winter because red wine is my BFFFL. But, with an already lacking resource for uppers in our environment when it’s only light out for 34 minutes a day, alcohol is not on our side. Alcohol is a depressant. So, if we’re boozing heavily, or bingeing on big nights out, it’s only going to bring us down MORE. Which like, eew, please God no. Also, beetus people, alcohol royally f’s with our blood sugars. I get really aggressive hangover lows if I’m not careful. Hangovers + lows = crazy unhealthy choices, which really doesn’t help my cause at all.

Me time.
I’m not one to enjoy being by myself all that often. I’m very particular about the fine line between being “lonely” and “alone”. BUT, one thing that I am working on in 2015 is mediation! I have a crazy mind that is very….well, let’s just say I go rogue often. Yoga, acupuncture, and other holistic forms of stress and anxiety management can be mucho dolares. BUT, mediation is free. And, all it requires is a few minutes a day of…sitting. Sitting and doing nothing. Sounds pretty SWEET to me.

That’s my list and I’m stickin’ to it. It’s definitely not easy getting through these long, cold, months, but just know that we’re all in it together. Before we know it, we’ll be complaining about re-installing our AC units…

auld lang syne

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHave you guys noticed that there’s literally no lettuce left at Trader Joe’s? Or how about the wait for the treadmill at the gym? Suddenly, Chipotle has the most open, unoccupied space in Manhattan. For a second I thought I missed the memo on a protest against shredded cheese and ethical lettuce rinsing. Everyone at work is eating salads, and hobbling around like little zombies because they’ve worked out for the first time in months and it allllll smells like a buncha New Years resolutions to me!

The mentality and the intention behind New Year’s resolutions is great. I love that we all give ourselves second chances to stop treating our bodies like an asshole. It’s as if over the holidays, we suddenly discovered ground breaking research noting that copious amounts of alcohol, sleep deprivation, and doughnuts can be the leading cause of adult-onset misery (aka being fat and poor). What a revelation! Sadly, the way we notoriously behave for no more than 4 weeks after New Year’s, is how we technically should be thinking, feeling, and “dieting” all the time. The reason why we make it such a big deal at first, is likely to ease the guilt we have towards ourselves knowing that at the end of 2014, we all fell off the wagon. To hide the pain of admitting we ate nachos for breakfast more than zero times last year, and we just can’t stomach the thought of stooping that low again.

So, this year, instead of making really drastic, unsustainable changes in my diet and exercise routine, I’m going to work towards a different set of wellness goals. This year, I want to make my number 1 priority “not burning out” aka “not giving up on myself”. Since in November and December that seems to be the trend for every human in America, I’m determined to proactively combat the very natural fade of commitment.

Now that I’m the wise old age of 26, I’ve come to realize two things about myself: I am not invincible, and I am probably going have diabetes for forever. I found this out from some very basic symptoms such as getting tired at night, being sensitive to environmental changes, getting a wrinkle on my forehead, finding my first grey hairs, oh, and that I have diabetes still. STILL! It’s shocking, I know.

Having diabetes is hard. My attitude can be bad sometimes. My numbers can totally suck for no reason. Some days I feel like shit and I simply refuse to admit that diabetes truly is the reason why. But I also don’t make things any easier for myself. I put myself into high-stress situations, I drink alcohol, I don’t always eat the healthiest food, I stay up late sometimes, and so on and so forth until none of you feel sorry for me anymore.

So, that said…my goal for 2015, is to make having diabetes easier for myself.

Seems lofty, but here are my official, 2015 New Year’s Resolutions to try and accomplish that goal in no particular order.

1. I resolve to stop stabbing myself with unsharpened pencils
There is nothing more alarmingly painful for no reason, than pricking my finger to test with a 3-month-old lancet. Not to mention, it does a number on my paws. Time to stop being lazy, and take the .000008 seconds to swap my lancets out once a month to preserve my poor fingers from ultimate death and destruction.

2. I resolve to explore my fingers
I donno if y’all know this, but we have 10 of these weird, boney lil’ grippy things! Not just one! I habitually test on my right ring finger, all day every day. Time to give that guy a little breakaroo and spread the love to my other phalanges.

3. I resolve to DTR with my doctor
It’s time for me to define the relationship with my Endo. For years I’ve survived on the principal of thought that, “only the people in bad control need to be close to their doctor.” This is all well and good, until I’m the person who is in desperate need of consultation in a ketone-ridden situation on New Years Eve in Maine, where the only medical personnel available for miles are Ski Patrol. Having a relationship with my Endocrinologist, and the DOC (cuz you guys are the bomb.com) will enable me. Knowledge is power, kids. I read that in a book once.

4. I resolve to stop lying
I think I might lie to myself a lot, which means I sometimes lie to other people. Not to be malicious or anything, but I do a lot of, “I’m fine!”-ing or “it’s not me, it’s you!” -ing. This is something that was brought to my attention on several occasions last year by various parties. I tend to air out all my dirty laundry and then act like absolutely nothing happened. Or, I like to point fingers and not actually talk about my own sticking points. Tough talks are, well…tough for me. I’m a Leo, what can I say? I’m ready to be real with myself. I’m ready to be real with you. And I’m ready to put my Leo light aside for a little while to make sure that whatever growth I’m experiencing is good growth. 

5. I resolve to treat myself 
Drink tea, read books, listen to Podcasts, sleep, go to the eye doctor, etc. When we’re young, we look at partying and eating junk as “treats.” Something my mom has always tried to convince me is that taking really, really, ridiculously good care of myself is actually the biggest treat I can have. Time to implement that.

6. I resolve to get around
I have the pump I have because I met with one rep one time and signed a dotted line. I did very little research and know very little about what the other options are that I have. Frankly, I love my pump. HE IS MY BEST FRIEND. But what about a Dexcom? Is it time for a CGM? I have a lot of questions and the only way to answer them is to ask them.

7. I resolve to get some bling
Yeah, it’s time to wear a medical ID bracelet. I’m playin’ with fire, here. 

8. I resolve to play nice with the DOC
I was chatting on Twitter the other day with the lovely Ally, from Very Light No Sugar about her recent transition to injections after spending 9 bazillion years on a pump. She wrote a kickass piece about her challenging experience thus far, and it was so cathartic for me to talk with her about it. The DOC has proven to be an incredibly powerful support network, and it would be quite foolish of me to continue hiding in the shadows because I’m too scared to buck up and go play on the playground with the other kids “just like me.”

9. I resolve to be a leader
My new favorite human ever is a 4-year-old warrior. She lives in Ohio, and her name is Isabella. I am sure that you all know her by now because she’s like, basically a DOC celeb. She and I bonded over the holidays, and it made me realize how influential one tiny little human had been for me and my perception of having diabetes.  Imagine if I could turn around and help other girls that are feeling that way I typically feel….

10. I resolve to breathe
This morning, at 5:15, I woke up to get a glass of water, and when I walked back in to my room, my pump tubing snagged on my door knob and ripped my infusion set riiiiiight out of my love handle. I immediately started sobbing, because what the fuck else are you supposed to do at that hour when something that dumb happens? I was furious. So, I belly flopped back into my bed, pumpless, and half asleep, while my hero of a boyfriend sleepily scolded my doorknob for existing, and for being such a bully before the sun even had a chance to rise. Moral of this story is, my reaction to this very insignificant setback, was to melt down instead of breathe. Shit happens. Mistakes happen. Panicking and crying about it does very little, regardless of how fed up I am. So, above all else on this list, for my overall sanity, health, and wellness I resolve to breathe in 2015.

For times long past, my dear. It’s time to move forward, onward, and upward. Wishing you a very happy, healthy, and exciting kickoff to 2015.

how sweet it is

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9cb5c7098e4645315d6e6db805f7c4abIt may be a bit cliché, but if there’s one thing the movie “The Holiday” has taught us about Christmas, it’s that everybody loves love this time of year. Love is warm, it’s fuzzy, it’s fun, it’s challenging, and it’s intrinsically special to all of us. Whether we are currently in love with a person, city, TSwiz’s 1989 album, Netflix, or our Sushi delivery guy…it’s very real all the same.

Whenever I think about relationships, I only view them through my own lens. But one thing I’ve never really thought about is what it’s like for someone to be with me. Or, to broaden the question even more, what is it like to be with someone who has diabetes? Obviously, we know first-hand how much of a challenge it can be to take care of ourselves, but what is it like for a significant other? There are a lot of ups and downs (quite literally), physical annoyances, and an added degree of worry and stress. But, as someone who has been in a few relationships since my diagnosis 10 years ago, I’ve never once thought to ask a single one of my boyfriends, “What is this experience like from your perspective?”

My curiosity recently got to me, and lead me to interview a few rather fine gentlemen that have some first-hand experience with this job.

Before I go any further, I would like to sincerely thank them for their honesty. And, even though I will keep them anonymous, they know who they are, and frankly, they’re pretty fucking awesome dudes. Some of the stuff they have to put up with is really scary and tough, but their ability to see the positive, and bigger picture while providing endless support to the ladies in their lives is really pretty rad.

You hear the quote a lot, “diabetes doesn’t define us”, and that certainly resonates with me. But, no matter how you hack it, having diabetes is a gigantic part of our lives. It’s not something we can ever really let slip our minds, or have put on a back burner. However, on the flip side of things, I genuinely cannot imagine what it’s like to be in a relationship with a diabetic (let alone me…yikes).

When interviewing these guys, not a single ounce of negativity came through in their tone. No one said, “she’s high-maintenance because she can’t just fly by the seat of her pants every day.” Or, “She’s a worry wart that dodges all spontaneous adventure.” Which, frankly, I was really stoked to hear. This means we’re doing our job as diabetics to fight back by simply just…being ourselves.

So, without further ado, here’s one couple’s story…

“She’s my suga momma.” he said (good one, dude). “But in all honesty, her drive, determination, and refusal to quit are my favorite things about her. She was diagnosed just a few months ago, and she’s already kicking the shit out of her ‘betes.” …A man after my own heart; a potty mouth and he abbreviates things.

He went on to share that when his new-to-diabetes girlfriend went to the hospital initially, he was by her side through the whole experience. Learning together how to count carbs, calculate insulin, and correct highs, he looked at it as just another reason to live the healthy lifestyle they were already pretty committed to. “Obviously now there is more planning, questioning, and figuring things out, but its more like a puzzle than a burden…and who doesn’t like puzzles?!” he joked. I mean, I personally don’t like puzzles, but only because I have the attention span of a 3-year-old, and don’t like to mentally work hard unless it’s deemed 100% necessary. I appreciated his sentiment none the less.

I asked him how involved he was in her diabetes stuff, and how often they talked about it together. He explained that they talk about it daily because the learning curve is still so intense, but he tries to be sensitive of overkill to avoid hyping it up to be too much of a focus in their relationship. He also said that truthfully, their lives haven’t changed that dramatically, and he hopes that he can be a voice of “time and patience”. Though he admits, “Who am I to tell her how to feel? We have the same mindset; and I’d be pissed too if I wasn’t getting perfect results within a day. I think working at it together helps take some of the stress off her…I hope so, at least!”

“It helps to know that we can work through difficult things together as a team rather than individuals.”

I kept poking, because I’m a nudge, and asked him what this experience has taught him. “I believe the whole situation thus far has proven how much of a badass she is. Like I said, she was diagnosed less than 2 months ago. The initial diagnosis obviously hit her like a ton of bricks, but we got up, dusted ourselves off, and carried on beating the ‘betes.” I couldn’t help but chuckle at this one, as I pictured Pauly D from the Jersey Shore quite literally beating up diabetes instead of his Italian flag laden DJ turntables.

“Just to see her drive to learn, understand, and conquer the disease is inspirational enough for me…knowing that she has taken a life changing curveball and hit it out of the park, makes me realize there is nothing she can’t accomplish and has inspired me to always see the silver lining in things.” First of all, great sports analogies all around. But second of all, that’s one hell of an attitude and this couple has their shit together. Kudos to them for being an unbreakable support system to one another and for navigating such new and scary territory together as a team.

Another guy shares his experience…

“There have been times when I’ve had to talk her through lows over the phone just so she wasn’t scared to be alone, or afraid of anything bad happening. Those calls are always fun.” “Fun how?” “That was sarcasm.” He said. “Duh,” I replied. “It’s not fun because I feel helpless. There’s nothing I can do to make it go away.”

This gentleman dates someone who’s been diabetic for almost 10 years, and has an insulin pump. He is one to check-in, and ask frequently about the last time she’s tested. He likes to run a tight ship around her attention to diabetes (and all) detail. I asked him if he could tell when she’s high or low. “We’ve dated for a little over a year now, so I can definitely sense when her mumbling is more mumbly than normal that she has probably dropped to an unhappy territory.” He has family members in the medical field, so I asked him if he knew anything about diabetes before dating his main squeeze. “Not really, but she’s so open about it, that I learned pretty quickly. I’ve had her test my blood sugar, and even wore an infusion set overnight to see what it felt like. Fun fact: it’s annoying. I really, genuinely want to know what she goes through so I can be more understanding of her daily process.” He takes the route of compassion, I admire that.

But… guys. What about the other stuff…ya know, the physical part? I remember a few years ago when I first got my very own insulin pump. I immediately thought, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BOYS?!” because…vanity. I would hide it, I would tell little white lies about what it was, and I would purposefully turn my body so my infusion set wouldn’t be visible. Turns out…like most things…boys don’t even notice. And, if they do, they don’t say anything because something that small standing between them and the lady they like just seems ridiculous. One guy in particular says, “When I see her infusion set, I just think…’yep, she has diabetes.’ that’s literally it. She’s my little robot!”

“If anything, her insulin pump is something that just continues to make her stand out in a good way.”

So there you have it ladies, the men in our lives seem armed and ready to protect and serve, but don’t see our diabetes as a game changer for them. If anything, they’re happy to help, and just want to see us happy in return.

Understandably, dating as a diabetic can be nerve wracking. We have to share a big part of our lives that is very personal, private, and somewhat of a nuisance more often than not. However, if you team up with your bf or gf to get through it together, it does take some of the weight of it all off your shoulders. And, as cheesy as it sounds open lines of communication and maintaining a positive dialogue about it, can only help your relationship get stronger over all, right? Just call me Dr. Phil.

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do not fear the fitness lows.

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itsashameRemember that time you bought a fancy new gym membership, started working out again, feeling good about yourself, your new routine, the motivational LuLu Lemons you just splurged on, and then you realize you’re actually getting a little fat? Yeah, me too. But guess what, it doesn’t have to be this way.

My culprit? The biggest downfall to diabetes known to man (and by man I mean me): Fitness lows. These buggers will sneak up on me, bite me in the ass, and then, when I least expect it, make my muffin top go from mini to Costco size.

This is a challenge I’ve had since the day I was diagnosed in 2005. It’s a pretty simple equation. The harder I work out, the harder my blood sugars will fight me if I don’t pay close attention to them. Seems fair, right?

I was an athlete back in the day, so according to science, being in shape is something that was 100% mandatory for me. And, at age 26, being in shape is even more important  because things are starting to hurt when I go up stairs, and because, let’s be real… who wants to be around a lady who doesn’t take good care of her bod. Working out is something I’ve always loved to do. I thoroughly enjoy pushing my body  to punch stress in the face  and to remind myself how strong I really am. However, as a diabetic, some of the joy of this process can be sucked out if we’re not extremely careful.

For the first few years I had diabetes, I let bad behavior slide when it had anything to do with sports or fitness. I would carbo load the night before games as I always had, but found that since my pancreas had benched itself, this method was no longer terribly affective. I was all over the place, and with no pump, I had very little ability to find themes or patterns that would make my numbers more predictable. Before games, I’d let my numbers rise a bit, because the natural ability our bodies have to burn off sugar while exercising was “enough”…about 20% of the time. Other times, I would test, correct, go out there, run my ass off for 90 minutes, come back to the bench, and be rocking a solid blood sugar of 45. I still have a distinct memory of testing at half time in a playoff soccer game senior year, being scary-low, chugging a gatorade and eating a handful of skittles (#powersnack), and playing like shit the second half. We lost, it was the last game of my high school career, and I’ll never forget that after all of that, I was about 300 after the game from over-correcting. Talk about all around fail.

Years later, I would find myself training for a half marathon. Still no pump in my life, but I did have a little bit more wisdom with regard to the pre-workout, mid-workout, post-workout rise and fall of the finicky blood sugars, or so I thought. I got a little cocky with it, and would often find myself dangerously stacking my insulin dosages to avoid staying high. I was training during football season so I would also find myself eating wings and drinking Shipyards on Sundays after long runs because …well, I had just run 8 miles, what could possibly go wrong? You get the picture about where this went…

I was a roller coaster of crazy. Well, I always am anyway, I’m me. But I mean my numbers. Since I ran in the evenings my lows would strike under the cover of darkness and disrupt my slumber almost exactly at 4am when my Lantus (long-acting) insulin really kicked in. It was so brutal. I’d spring up out of bed, sweaty, shaking, feeling all around pretty black out. And, since I was 87% asleep, my willpower was minimal. I would eat. Oh my god, the disgusting concoctions I would create were something to be featured on a stoner’s food blog. I would eat frosting. I would eat pretzels. I would eat pretzels that I dunked in frosting. Then, to top it off, I’d snag a handful of Ritz and a piece of cheese because…why not. It was as if I had convinced myself that lows were a free pass. That no calories would enter my body if I was correcting a low. I would wolf this garbage down as fast as I could, not measuring anything, not counting out 25g of carbohydrates and then waiting 15 minutes to re-test. I would just binge, think about how miserable I was, then face plant back in my bed, hoping for the best. Needless to say, the guilt complex that would abruptly bubble up the second I awoke was only rivaled by the nausea I would experience post-pig out. Almost every time I did this, I would wake up in the high 200’s essentially negating all the hard work I would do all day to fuel my body to run 13 miles. It was not good. I packed on about 10 pounds during the months I was training, and I refused to believe that my low-correction process was incredibly unhealthy both physically and emotionally.

Shortly after that half marathon, which I ran very successfully with shockingly stable blood sugars, I realized it was time to make some serious changes. It was infuriating to work so fucking hard on making progress towards a fitness goal, only to derail my own efforts with offensive midnight binge fests. The lows had to stop. And, the swings overall, needed some serious attention. That’s when Derek came in, and he changed everything.

Now, when I go through my spurts of, “maybe this is the year I’ll lose my baby weight!” and start hitting the gym more regularly, I remember that soccer game in Gorham in 2005, and how disappointed I was that I hadn’t been more careful. No system is ever going to be perfect. However, frosting is not the answer. I still get insanely frustrated when my numbers plummet after a workout. But now that I have a pump, insulin stacking is harder to do, and the control to cut dosages pre-workout is a no brainer.

Diabetes and fitness can be aggressive frenemies. Working hard is already enough of a physical challenge without fearing it will be totally sabotaged by your blood sugar. It took me a while to realize, too, that allowing my numbers to rise too high for a workout to avoid the lows, was just as lethal because, as we all know, artificial insulin injections also contribute to weight gain! YAY! SO, the moral of the story is: being low makes you fat and being high makes you fat. Right? Unfortunately, this is not far from true. So what’s the solution?

TEST. Yeah, I know, it hurts like hell and takes a grand total of 1 minute to do, but it’s truthfully the only way to figure out how your body is reacting to your workout. You’re the only person that can do this for yourself because as much as we all love the Tone It Up girls and Jillian Michaels, they don’t have diabetes.

Yoga, Spin, Barry’s Bootcamp, running, whatever your flavor of workout is, they’re all going to impact you differently. You can bet your bottom dollar that high-intensity cardiovascular workouts are going to chop your numbers down… and fast, so maybe you let yourself be a little higher than normal right before a workout, and store a healthy low-correcting option in your bag so you’re not tempted to ruin your your beast mode if you do crash afterward. Yoga can be surprisingly impactful on your numbers, too. I used to get low after yoga often. My hypothesis was because of the deep, low, and slow muscle work, so now I keep a coconut water in my bag just in case.

Again, those are just my experiences, yours can be different. But, there is no need to go through life fearing the fitness lows, or making excuses to not workout because of them. Testing and being well-prepared were what saved me from my weight swings, my low binges, and all the other fun stuff that comes with trying to look like the girls on the cover of magazines. Like I say in almost every Sugars post. Just…do it for you. Do it because you have been dealt a hand of cards that makes life a little more challenging and you owe it to your body to make it a fortress. To build it up a little stronger. To give it more of a sense of life and access to more excitement. And, of course, despite the infusion set sticker on your back, so that when you look in the mirror BUTT NAKIE, you can say, “oh damn, I look good.”

#throwbackthursday

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letgoLike most things in this world, people with type 1 diabetes come in all shapes and sizes and with a unique story. Since we didn’t exactly plan on having diabetes, it’s hard to give a bulk characteristic or defining quality to our tribe. Many of us were “someone” before we were “someone with diabetes”, and it’s safe to say that that coping with that is one of the biggest emotional challenges that comes with this lovely disease.

At times, it’s really tough to not think, “but what if I had not been the kid on road trips that had to pee every 10 minutes? Or the one that ate a piece of pizza than was sick and exhausted? And how about the fact that I needed every water of molecule from Lake Michigan to quench my thirst every minute on the minute? That was fun…”

I work in social media, so naturally, #TBT (throwback Thursday) is a big part of, well… my Thursdays. Every week, I find myself searching frantically through my personal photos for some historic gold to post on the Interwebz that will make people “lol” and reminisce. It’s a great tradition and Internet fad that shows no sign of dying out. But this particular Thursday it got me thinking…

As a diabetic, it’s easy to get scary-down about the, “woulda shoulda coulda” scenarios that run through our minds when we look back in time. For example, the day I got diagnosed, I was at lacrosse practice on a beautiful spring day without a care in the world. Absolutely not one thing was wrong on the surface. I was completely and utterly blindsided with news that would impact and scare me for the rest of my life. The damage the diagnosis did not only took away a significant amount of my freedom as a “normal” 16-year-old, it cultivated an underlying mentality of fear. And, it destroyed my trust in the universe. It made me realize that bad things happen to good people. It also made me put my fists up like a boxer just waiting for another blow to come my way. If this had never happened to me, where would I be? Where would I have gone to college? Would I be running my own business? A much more colorful world traveler? Single? Married? Richer? Poorer? Would I have actually followed- through with my wish to play lacrosse in college? It’s easy to think I missed out, or chickened out with regard to certain elements of my life. But, that’s a tremendously shitty way to look at things. What about all of the good things I’ve become because I’m a diabetic? I am far more compassionate, self-aware, introspective (hello, this blog…), my health is a priority, and I am much more appreciative of little, happy moments. Not to mention, many of my friendships are as strong as they are because of diabetes. I am able to share my story with others that have experienced similar challenges, and that brings us significantly closer.

My life is absolutely perfect the way it is. Pitching myself down a dangerous slide of “it would be so much better if Derek never came in to my life”, is neither productive, nor fair. DEREK IS THE MAN. I am an insanely lucky person who has had a rich and joyful life up to this point. I have had amazing experiences, I have supportive friends, an empowering boyfriend, unconditionally loving parents, a brother who teaches me how to fight, and so much more. I live in the busiest, most fascinating city in the US and arguably the world. I have nothing to complain about. I also don’t know what I would change at this point, if I could. Sure, I’d go back to that sunny day and come home from lacrosse practice, eat dinner with my parents, and carry on with my bad self. But it’s unfair to look back and think that being diagnosed with diabetes ruined my life. Nothing, by any stretch of the imagination, is ruined.

Looking backward is so important for reflection and understanding. It also helps us understand patterns, and remember lessons we may have forgotten. Also, memories are kind of awesome. But there is a fine line we have to keep in mind. Being malicious about a past you can no longer control, doesn’t help us embrace ourselves as we are right this gee dang second. It’s best to just call things what they are, find something to smile about, and carry on.

pistachio, pistachio

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If eating pistachios is the answer to type 2 diabetes prevention, than we have finally arrived in a world I want to live in.

I will leave you with this.

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Bye.

patience, my dear.

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2154ef3ab1bb0c16bb0388d988169263Sometimes, when we’re in the thick of something unpleasant, we are completely incapable of seeing beyond the walls holding us in that ugly place. Remember last month when I wrote a post that sounded like a potential death wish written by a sociopathic creature? Yeah, me too. That was intense, huh? Well, surprise! I’ve begun to de-Eeyore myself. No longer do I feel like I signed up for something I was wildly unprepared for, or that I made a horrible mistake. The smell of trash when it’s 92 degrees out isn’t that bad, I swear. Well, it’s not usually so traumatizing that the Doo-wop group on the F train can’t remedy the situation fairly quickly. And to think, a month ago, I didn’t know what the F train even was. Life is good, guys. It is. And what have I learned in the past month to come to this realization? I’ve learned to chill. To be patient. To ride out each storm because they do eventually end.

But what is patience, you ask? Technically (and by technically, I mean the Internet says) patience is: “The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” I am often upset. I’m rarely capable of tolerating delay. I’m always begging my friends and family to make me feel better. Suffering and trouble? Forget it; I’m a lost puppy. So… nowhere there do I sense any “capacity” for me to “accept” much of anything other than glitter and baby duckies. But like, let’s give ourselves a little bit of credit here. No one should be good at being miserable. There is no science or calculation to “making things not suck sometimes.” There may be a bit of an art to it, though. And, since I’ve finally found myself in a new job that tickles my creative pickle, I’m going to go with the “art” angle. Calling patience an art insinuates that practice, royally fucking up, focus, and experimentation are involved. It also means that settling for something less than what is beautifully your own is unacceptable. Until the precise aesthetic desire is met, there will be no quitting. Playing things by ear and “seeing how they feel” is crucial to accelerating progress. It means that some days you’re going going to get mad at your wash & fold lady for losing one of your socks, and it means that some days you’re going to laugh your ass off at the homeless man wearing a blinged out necklace reading, “Trust No Bitches” (yes, this happened to me…today, in fact).

Evolution took time. Like, a lot of time. And being in a new place with a new routine, a new diet, new people, and new surroundings forces you to evolve in your own mental, physical, and emotional way. Strangers are exhausting. Seeing how small your IM chat list at your new office is disheartening. Google mapping your walk to happy hour is embarrassing. Where do I go for a run? Like, just 1 mile, that’s all I want! Nothing happens over night. Well, a lot of creepy things happen over night. And I sleep at night, so I guess that’s also something that happens at night. Those two things are mutually exclusive so don’t feel weird now, please. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, you can’t rush your own personal ability to evolve no matter what the circumstances are asking of you. That’s probably why the dinosaurs are extinct. They were likely anxiety-ridden worry warts and died out before their little T-Rex arms could get longer.

Sometimes, even though you’re literally bursting at the seams with frustration or the anticipation of feeling better, the payoff of sticking it out is significantly more powerful. Yesterday I said, “we” when referring to the state of New York. My brain has finally accepted that this is home for now. And that that’s okay. I’m no longer fighting with myself to embrace this city and experience.

In Boston, I used to make announcements to my friends when I was having a moment of overwhelming joy. “Guys, it’s happening again. I’m so happy right now, I might pass out.” And Jill, I did that the other night, didn’t I? Good just feels that much gooder-er when the bad naturally comes to an end. When you know that the gnarly part of the storm has blown over. When you wake up refreshed and alive, and your mind is quiet. Let the tough part of your journey be what it is. Every day gets a little better. Every day streets look more familiar. Every day more people will notice you. Every day you’ll feel the weight on your chest lose a little bit of its strength and power over you. And, in no time, you’ll be a regular at your neighborhood dive, and you’ll be ready to tackle your next adventure.