another one

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

djkAround 4 o’clock this morning, I rolled over in bed and felt my CGM hanging by one sticky thread of tape despite my jerry rigged reinforcement efforts. I let out an audible sigh, peeled the remaining guts of adhesive off of my love-handle, and dropped the sticky wad of sadness on the floor.

While trying to keep the anxiety of “now I’m on my last sensor with no back ups. SWEET.” out of my mind before the sun had even risen, I checked the last reading on my Dexcom App. 94. Word. Back to sleep I go. Before I knew it I was re-snoozin’, and somehow none other than DJ Khaled had snuck himself into my dream. It was like Snapchat IRL. He was telling me to ride with him through the journey to more success, #BlessUp, etc. The key emoji was there, and it was all very weird, oddly motivational, and the reason why I am now sitting here writing this as fast as I can before I lose steam on this very weird idea.

It’s not normal for DJ Khaled to flood my subconscious as my own personal hype man, but it is normal for me to find myself in increasingly challenging diabetes scenarios that force me to problem solve in very weak moments. So between my 4am wake up call and this rapper’s notorious Snapchat persona, I realized there’s a connection there. Like, what if the next time you accidentally ripped your CGM off, DJ Khaled actually did appear…in his towel, applying his Dove deodorant, telling you to shed your self-doubt and focus on what matters. Who knows, maybe we’ll discover Snapchat is the future platform of motivational speaking.

So without further ado, here are 7 ways I think this dude’s message is actually a perfect source of inspiration for we diabetic folk:

#1 Another One
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“Another one” in DJ Khaled speak means he’s done gone and won again. His entire existence is based off of his desire to rack up as many w’s as humanly possible. But he’s not talking just like, million dollar record deals and poppin’ bottles and shit, he’s talking about the little stuff. He wakes up in the morning, is thankful for a fresh start, puts on his #BlessUp sandals, and gets after it.

In diabetes speak, “another one” could mean a lot of things: another test strip. Another infusion set. Another low. Another high. Another day of yelling at the insurance company, or crying to your pharmacist, begging her for more humolog. The phrase “another one” to a diabetic unfortunately, and all too often, has a negative connotation or repercussion.

BUT WHAT IF – instead of tallying all of the dramatic challenges we face every day like we’re writing an episode of Kardashians, we tallied the wins and victories we scoop up along the way. You got out of bed and went to work today. You even remembered to wear pants. Fuck yeah, man. #AnotherOne. We’re trying our hardest here, we should get some damn credit – even if it’s just from ourselves.

#2  The Key
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If Khaled had a batman symbol to throw up in the sky, it would be the key emoji. He likes to tell his Snapchat followers of America and beyond, what the key to success, life, happiness, being a sex symbol etc., is. And dammit, I appreciate the vast range of these keys, because it all essentially nets out to him just believing in himself. He’ll be snap a vid of himself in a hammock and say, “The key to success is more cocoa butter” and I’m like…yeah, it actually is. I deeply feel that. He defines success off of the things that happen or that he loves in his real life. Not someone else’s. He doesn’t have life FOMO like so many of us do. It’s all too easy to be like, “Ooh, their life is shiny and pretty. Can I have it?” It’s all too easy to forget that maybe other people don’t have the responsibility of having diabetes, but they too, have problems. Hell, eeeeeverybody’s got problems. So maybe for us, the key to success is as simple as acceptance.

 

#3 Stay Above Water
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Diabetes is a panicky disease. I have somewhere between 9-43 “OH SHIT.” moments a day where I feel like I’m faced with a snow plow’s worth of worry. I’m constantly digging around looking for things…”where the hell is my phone? my test kit? my sanity?” Something is alway the threat of something falling out of place and derailing the day. Even if it’s just internally. Living in a constant state of fight of flight can be exhausting. On days where my blood sugar has been particularly stubborn, I come home from work totally defeated. Overwhelmed. TIRED. Omg so tired. But. Sometimes mind is truly more powerful than matter. And to this, Mr. Khaled here has something very insightful to say. 

Keep your head above water. I’ve been writing so much less lately because it wasn’t feeling good. I was under water. So I’ve tried to monitor the emotional water levels a little better. I’ve been socializing more, I’ve been watching less shitty TV. Trying to subject myself to less bullshit. Slow down. Listen to Podcasts. Doodle. Cook healthy meals. Go to bed earlier. I’ve even started working out in the morning. Which, if you know me, is like a sick…sick joke. I’m trying to shift my focus to thing that make me feel more in control. Like I have more time to breathe well above water. Positive vibes. All positive.

 

#4 They Don’t Want you djk.png

Whoever “they” is, Khaled is very convinced they don’t want him to be happy. JK – “they” are def his h8rz. Ya, you read that right: h8rz.

As a diabetic, there is so much stigma. It feels like there are so many rules…so many conflicting beliefs and tactics. Our “They” could be like, 400 things. “They” don’t want you to sleep in on Saturdays because you’re blood sugar will spike. “They” don’t want you to run a marathon because you’ll be low the whole time. “They” don’t want you to wear a bikini because your CGM and pump will be exposed to the world. THEY is usually the voice in my own head. And THEY tends to be a huge asshole. She’s the same person that tells me “You can’t do it” at the gym. So take a screengrab out of Khaled’s story and remember: You CAN. You WILL.

#5 Ride With Me

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Having diabetes can be insanely lonely sometimes. After a frustrating day of balancing what can feel like the world on your head, you just want someone to understand what you’re going through. How tired you are. But here’s the thing, all you have to do is ask. People want to be there for you.

Type 1’s are a rare breed and we’re exceptionally difficult to find in real life. I recently met a few new diabuddies at a fundraiser, and it was such an infrequent experience for me that I forgot how to socialize. I was as awkward as a 7th grade boy at his first school dance blubbering like an idiot. But after I walked away from them – however embarrassed I was – I was so incredibly happy to speak to someone who lives the real deal just like I do.

Diabetes really IS a journey and we really ARE on a mission to feel successful about managing it. But that’s really fucking hard. So whether it’s through an online community or in real life, anything helps. Lately, I’ve taken to Instagram to meet and talk with other diabetics. It’s a perfect platform to share and commiserate. I’ve learned so much from other people, even if they are just little teeny tiny usernames and selfies on my celly bling blang.

#6 #BlessUp
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I’ve always been a very fast-paced, panic first, react selfishly, “why me” kind of person. But the attitude is gratitude, amigos. And when I force myself to slow down and process the larger impact that other people have had on my life, it’s pretty heavy. I usually cry a little. Try to hug people too tightly. It can get awkward, but we all get through it.

Khaled says #BlessUp like… every 10 minutes. I’m not a religious person, but I am a big fan of always trying harder to be more appreciative. When you’re right in the middle of a stressful situation, it’s hard to think about the good things, or the people who have helped you realize you can get through that stressful situation. But it’s something we can all be more conscious of.

So next time there’s a mini meltdown on your horizon, take a deep breath and think…is this a #BlessUp moment?

#7 Coco Butter
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I have absolutely nothing to say here. Just: “Yep. This is correct.”

Okay, welp. Thank you for baring with me through that outrageous, long-winded attempt to relate having diabetes to DJ Khaled’s motivational Snapchat stories. If you don’t follow him…you should. If nothing else, it’ll add some entertainment to your day.

Byyyyyye. #AnotherOne

 

treat yoself

pump it up, well rounded wellness

tysWhen you get a fresh pair of running sneaks, how do you feel? I always feel like Usain frickin’ Bolt and think can run like 20, 5-minute miles. The reality remains that I’d be happy to simply run FOR 5 minutes, but that’s not the point. I always feel inspired by something shiny and new, something that promises performance enhancement (and/or a smidgen of hope that I’ll become prettier, funnier, skinnier, etc., but that’s neither here nor there.)

This applies to everything though, friends. Not just sneakers. New mascara…SO exciting. I am obsessed with eyelashes. A new water bottle? Hell ya! I’m going to drink the crap out of every drop of water I can possibly carry around in this ridiculously overpriced, BPA-free vessel of first-world problems.

Recently, I was at a spin class in SOHO (the neighborhood I truly believe actually stands for ‘Skinnies Only, Heavies Out’), and my badass instructor, Liz and her very public insulin pump approached me after class. She had noticed my pump (Derek) and his sloppy tubing half-dangling out the side pocket of my leggings. I was honored. I could have fainted I was so happy to be talking to one of my people! It was as if Chrissy Teigen had just called me up and asked me to go out for chicken nuggets together. Here Liz was, a totally normal fitness buff, who genuinely believes that the secret to life is embedded in a hip hop lyric, jamming with me about her deep dark diabetes secrets. She told me a story about the time she accidentally spilled all of her insulin on her lap on a flight to China. “I was in a massive metal bird 30,000 feet above f’ing Russia and it was just gone. All of it. I’ve never felt my stomach hit rock bottom so fast in my life.” She then proceeded to tell me that she has CGM, it was the greatest thing that’s ever happened to her, and that I needed to bang on my doctor’s door at 9am the next day and beg for one.

I guess this is what people mean when they say they’ve had a lightbulb moment. I felt a little spark fire from some sort of neuron or whatever in my brain. I almost reached out to hug her. I realized that just like I often need a saucy new little workout outfit to be inspired to workout again, I needed some saucy new little diabetes gear to kick my ass back into gear. Liz was right, I needed to get a CGM – and I needed to get it as soon as possible.

No, I didn’t go bang on my sweet, confusingly Russian and/or maybe Italian doctor’s door at 9am demanding a continuous glucose monitor. But I did make some phone calls and fill out some forms online. And now here I am waiting for my very own, insurance-approved performance enhancement promise in the form of a Dexcom G5 Monitor. The shiny new thing that’s going to remind me that life is short and a few sacrifices here and there will make it much more enjoyable. And to be honest, I’m so excited. I feel like it’s diabetes Christmas. Yes, it’s another infusion, another needle, and another battery I have to change. But for now, just the anticipation of a new gadget is exactly what I need.

So, thank you, Liz, for reminding me that “treat yo self” doesn’t always have to be Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford style. It can be a hi-tech, tiny little doo dad that’s going to check my blood sugar every few minutes. A small price to pay for something that will whip me back into the shape that not only I want to be in, but deserve to be in.

how i was inspired by isabella

the secret life of

waltdisneyI’ve always wanted to interview one of my heroes. But I never thought the week of Thanksgiving, after a year that has given me so many new challenges and gifts, I’d be on the phone with a 4-year-old little girl in Ohio.

This is the story about how I was inspired by Isabella.

I have never met this little lady in person, but she and her amazing parents, Kristina and Greg, are the stars behind the diabetes awareness and advocacy website, InspiredByIsabella.com. Kristina had read The Sugars before, and reached out to me through Twitter a week ago. Before we knew it, I had totally fallen in love with her family, their story, and wanted nothing more than to talk to this tiny gal that goes through life with such a tremendous amount of courage.

Isabella is 4-years-old, she is a triplet (to brother, Max, and sister, Mia), and she was diagnosed with diabetes at age 2 while her family was living abroad in Mexico. They were thousands of miles away from family and friends, with hearts full of fear and hope. Without ever stopping to question this challenge, the tribe of 5 picked up the pieces and carried on as they always had. They’re home in Ohio now, and they have made it their passion pursuit to be able to say “our daughter USED to have diabetes.”

Last night, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Isa’s entire family via FaceTime.

When the call rendered on Isabella and her mom, she was sitting on the couch with a nervous little grin on her face. “Hiiiiiiiiii!” she said with surprising confidence. I could immediately sense that this girl knew what she was doing. She was the boss. It is also important to note that she was wearing striped tights, a chic black tutu, and a Hello Kitty shirt. She also had a pink bow on her headband, giving her an extra dosage of charm. (Spoiler alert: my kid will1,000% sport this look.) She also loves princesses and playing dress-up.

Isa stared at me for a minute, trying to figure out if she could trust me or not, then wiggled over to her mom and whispered (/yelled/spit/blew hot air) into her ear: “Momma, where’s her POD? Can I see hers?” Kristina laughed nervously like, “Sorry my kid just asked you to essentially flash her within 1 minute of meeting you.” She then proceeded to proudly show me her Omnipod and CGM, and I showed her my Minimed pump and infusion set. Instantly, she smiled. It was like I had successfully completed a top-secret handshake to be let into her exclusive club.

I was so honored.

After some casual back and forth, Isa asked me, “Where’s your mom, why are you alone?” I laughed. What I thought in my head was, “Ohhh, you sweet little peanut…just wait until you’re in your 20’s…we’re all so very alone.” but then I remembered I was talking to a precious child and revised my response to, “My mom lives in another town!” I’m still laughing about it now.

Next, Isa asked me a very personal question. “Have you ever been to the hospital? Cuz I have.” I thought of the picture her mom had posted on their blog from the time in August when she had been hospitalized with a serious DKA incident. My heart sank. “No, I said. I’ve been really lucky. I’ve only been to the hospital one time at the very beginning of having diabetes. Was it scary?” 

Yeah.”

My heart sulked a little more. “You’re so brave. But you’re okay now, right?” I tried to change the tone, lighten things up a smidge.

“Yeeeeeah!” she exclaimed, fluffing her tutu and jumping up and down. There we go, devilish confidence was back. She leaned over and “whispered” to her mom again. I could hear everything she said…the whole art of speaking quietly is rather lost on a 4-year-old. She wanted to tell me who her favorite singer was. “I love Katy Perry!” she squealed. And promptly thereafter proclaimed that the Cars gummy snacks she’d just finished were great and all, but she was still hungry. And then poof, she disappeared in search of Daddy, who would have to test her blood sugar again, and bolus her…again. Sigh.

While Isa went hunting for some Goldfish (only our mutually most fav snack ever), I got to know Kristina. This woman, I’m convinced, has some serious super powers. She was so composed, patient, funny, and open-minded. We got real personal real quick, which I loved. Secrets are no fun. Truth be told, she shared, Isabella is struggling emotionally. She’s not always the happy, bubbly 4 -year-old her siblings are. Because she’s so young, she can’t always articulate why that is, and as a loving parent, that’s understandably torture. Isabella gets really pissed off when she’s high, and really goofy when she’s low. She acts out and causes trouble when she’s high, and laughs hysterically about things when she’s low. Her numbers are so unpredictable; on Thursday she woke up 51 with no explanation. She has a CGM and an Omnipod. She’s learning to test herself, and know what the numbers mean. And, though she barely can recall what she ate for lunch (she and I have that in common), she told me her least favorite part of having diabetes were “the shots” before she was on the Pod. How does she even remember? I was fascinated by this response. She also likes to decorate her Pod with “tattoos” to snazz it up. All of this, Kristina says, is growth and progress. Obviously, she and her husband look forward to her becoming more independent with her diabetes care, but there’s no denying that the learning curve and drastic swings in her blood sugar affects her happiness day in and day out.

Kristina talked about her fears: leaving Isa at birthday parties where no one knows how to care for her, reprimanding her unfairly for misbehaving because her numbers were too high, making sure her other 2 kids get as much care and support as Isa, Isa growing up and becoming a defiant teenager that resents her diabetes, and even further down the line…what’s in store when college comes around?

And, true to form, I asked her about the humor in their diabetes infused life since that’s the only way I get myself out of sticky situations in one piece.  She recalled a time when a woman was staring at Isa’s Omnipod (it’s a tubeless pump, so it literally is just a little white pod attached to the skin) and tapped Kristina on the shoulder. “Is that some sort of insect repellent?” she inquired. No, honey. But thanks for askin’!

We also talked about some of her parenting philosophies, one of which particularly stuck with me:

“Greg and I never apologize to Isa if we have to inject her with insulin. We never want her to feel like she did anything to deserve this. We want her to just accept diabetes as part of her life without feeling like it’s all negative, all the time. Causing panic and alarm would just add insult to injury. Bad blood sugar? There’s no such thing. Everything is fixable. Using guilt is not a healthy way to raise a little girl with this disease.”

I was 17 when I was diagnosed; presumably old enough to “do it by myself.” My mom and dad never had to experience the fear of laying in bed, terrified that I wouldn’t be able to help myself in the middle of the night if something happened. They never had to teach me what 300 meant vs. what 80 meant while trying to mask their anxiety. I tested when I wanted to. I tested on my own. I didn’t need nurses or caregivers at school or home. I resumed life on the lacrosse field, in the classroom, and with my friends. I was still me. I honestly cannot imagine a world where I had to learn how to be a kid, while also developing the fine motor skills advanced enough to handle the mechanics of opening a bottle of test strips.

Talk about perspective.

Kristina admitted to me that every time Isa takes a bath and the Pod and CGM are visible on her little body, she snaps back to reality — that as much as we all want to say Isa is a “normal little kid”, she only looks “normal” when her pump and CGM are hidden under her clothes. Or when there isn’t a pizza party going on at school. Doesn’t everyone know what pizza does to 4 year old diabetics? Isa is only able to be “normal” because of the incredible little devices stuck in her skin, monitored by others 24/7. These are the same incredible little devices that are stuck in my skin. Kristina expresses her appreciation for having the ability to take care of Isabella. That technology and the diabetes community have made it doable.

She wants Isa to grow up aware that though her troubles may be taxing, someone else out there is having a worse day no matter what. And to not compare problems to problems, she wants her kids to adopt the mission of seeking out others in need, so they can make them smile.

I admitted that I too, have had many moments with myself where I’ll stand in front of the mirror before a shower or before the beach, feeling an equal mix of disdain, gratitude, and pride. I’ll stare at my infusion set, trying to grasp its significance. It’s a powerful thing that I often forget to do. It’s a little white circle stuck on my back. It allows me to be me. It keeps me alive. Now Isa and I can celebrate that together in spirit.

Kristina was smiling as she shared all of this, but I could see some pain in her eyes. She knows the road ahead for their whole family will be a long one, but she is so proud of her kids and their resilience. For their ability to care for one another, and understand their inherent bond. She is so filled with gratitude for the diabetes community that they have become such an active part of. Isa actively seeks out other diabetic kids so that she can bond with them over their “Pods”. She is proud. She’s vocal. She’s extremely brave.

Isabella came back into our conversation after snack time 2.0. She wanted to know if she would ever see me again. I asked her if she’d want to come New York and eat Goldfish with me. She said we could. But we could only eat 5. I should be so lucky.

For the grand finale, Isa, in her purple leopard print jammies, danced to a song for me. It was a remix to “All About That Bass” called, All About That Cure. As the little kids in the video sang, “All about that pump, bout that pump, and testing” I totally cracked up. Kids are fucking awesome.

Spending an hour on the phone with this family was an amazing experience. There was laughing, whining, things crashing in the background, two rounds of testing and bolusing, snacking, Minnie Mouse stuffed animals flying around, and just about everything you’d expect in a busy, loving household at night. But what I got out of it was so much more than a sense of, “Good God, I need a glass of wine after witnessing these two perfectly innocent parents try to put 3 kids down for bed”.

I will think about Isa now. Always. Whenever I test I’ll think, “I hope Isa feels happy today.” Whenever my blood sugar spikes I’ll think, “I hope Isa has laughed enough today.” I hope that in the future, there is something I can do to help Isa out in some way… I tell pretty bad jokes, so I don’t think that’ll be my angle. But maybe eventually, she really can come to New York and hang out with me. Maybe getting Isa to crack up and “throw her head back like a muppet” as her mom described her laugh, could be my mission. Just knowing she feels enabled to be the fun-loving kid she’s entitled to be, will continue to motivate me.

So, now I can officially say I’ve interviewed one of my heroes. Or five, I guess. The whole family was incredible. But just knowing that Isabella is out there, seeing her face, hearing her voice, learning about her day-to-day, made diabetes feel a little more real, much bigger than myself, and yet it made the daunting task of taking this on seem much more plausible. We’re in this together now. No two diabetics are the same, but we can certainly be there for one another.

This Thanksgiving, I hope we’re all able to reach out to someone that inspires us. Someone who has gone through something in a way you found really impressive. A person in your life that you admire and respect. Thank them. Tell them what they’ve done for you. Let them know that they are very special to you for whatever reason. There’s no greater feeling in this world than being told “I appreciate you for ___________.”

Thank you so much to Greg, Kristina, Max, Mia, and Isabella for taking the time out of your busy night to talk to me and teach me about your life. I hope we can stay friends, talk again, or go play in Central Park when you come visit the Big Apple someday soon.

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(This is Isabella telling me Katy Perry is her favorite singer. Girl’s got great taste!)

yo, be easy.

the secret life of, well rounded wellness

ImageThis might sound weird, but I am not very gentle with myself. I push myself to the extreme kind of all of the time. My mom gets really mad when, every time I show up on her doorstep, I have bags under my eyes and greasy hair. “You’re doing it again. You’re burning the candle at both ends.” I obviously roll my bloodshot eyes and go straight for her wine stash in the basement, “Mom, I’m fine.”

I am one of those people that looks in the mirror and sees a perpetually unfinished project. I see a pile of laundry half-folded, but mostly just a ball of wrinkledness. I see a meal that is prepped but not cooked. I feel the pressure of conversations that are awaiting initiation, or of a whopping credit card bill that is getting impatient with me. I’m opting to ignore the 10 pounds that I’d be stoked to find out have miraculously disappeared from my thighs, and I really need to go to the dentist. I’m also still missing my Patagonia vest, is it at work? I need to find that.

I get pissed at myself when reality reminds me that I am not, in fact, a magical wizard that can snap her fingers and have everything instantly figured out in her world. I bust in and out of my apartment like Kramer – frazzled and boiling over, but laughing at the irony of my exhaustion. It’s cute, but like…it’s not sustainable. Can’t all of my friendships and relationships just be in ship shape while I kill it at work, am dressed to the nine’s, am in killer shape, and, most importantly, my diabetes supplies is so organized it would make every bitch on Pinterest squirm?

I have struggled with prioritization my entire life. I am such a sucker for anything that is “fun” and “easy”…and I have a really hard time with the word “no.” I am literally like a moth when an outdoor light gets turned on. Like, “Hi, here I come! I have no control over my mind or body right now…what’s up, you hot, bright thing!” I know that I have things that need to get done, and they certainly do get done…eventually. But if any opportunity to be distracted by laughter or an engagement with a lack of seriousness arises, I have a tendency to sign-up immediately regardless of what’s on my plate.

Diabetes is the anti-everything I just described. It takes an insane amount of discipline and planning and research and discipline and … did I mention discipline? It’s so intimidating that I cower at the thought of truly “doing diabetes right.” I’ll go on the interwebs, Google something, see the results and go, “Zoinks! This is too hard, these people know a lot more than me and I don’t really know if I feel like learning right now. Also, now I  feel like I suck, because, clearly, other people are doing a better job than me.” Then guess what happens? I get sad. I get down on myself. And I get mad because I just perpetuated the cycle of this god damned unfinished project. Like, can’t I just nail this one down? I’m really trying, here! I got a new Endo like a big girl, I check my blood sugar like, 6 times a day, and I run many miles many times a week. Can’t that just be enough?

Downward spiral, engage!

Earlier today, I was reading one of my favorite diabetes blogs (I only have a few re: statement above that they all scare the shit out me so I avoid them like the T in August during a thunderstorm.) I enjoy this blog, though, because the author is hilarious. She also swears on the Internet, which is my favorite activity in the whole wide world. She is very real, and she is so forgiving of herself. She is her toughest critic, but also allows herself to acknowledge her efforts and that they, though maybe not perfect, are enough. After reading this teeny tiny, uber simple post. I went, “Oh.”

I had a moment where I said to myself what I say to people when they’re getting fiesty with me for no reason. “Yo, be easy.” I beat the crap out of myself when I fall short of where I want to be. Or when I make a mountain out of a mole hill. Or for missing an opportunity. But one thing I don’t do is appreciate the efforts that I am making. And though there is probably always going to be room for improvement, it is imperative that I take time to celebrate little victories, progress, or even just say, “God dammit, kiddo, you’re doing your best, what the hell else are you supposed to do.” And for that, Kerri from Sixuntilme, I thank you.