My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth again. It wasn't the same kind of stuck you get when you eat a peanut butter sandwich with no drink. It was that dry-yet-syrupy cling that comes along with a high blood sugar. My Dexcom sensor had failed in the morning (more on that later), so I pulled out my kit, tested, and clocked in at about 350 mg/dl.
I'd been crusing between 117 mg/dl and 160 mg/dl all morning, which were good-looking numbers for me compared to some I'd seen lately. The culprit for the high, I believe, was putting sugar in my coffee and forgetting that fact. (Cringe all you want, I freely admit I choose my vices and consume artificial sweeteners.)
I knew I needed to correct this bad boy before I felt any more gross, so I pulled out a syringe and drew up my correction by hand. I was wearing a thick sweater and couldn't inject through my clothes. I know my boss likes to watch the security camera from time to time, and I was not in the mood for her to be asking what I was doing with my shirt, and if I was feeling okay. I was, however, wearing a thin skirt.
I looked down at my thigh. Hmm. How bad could it be? My abdomen has always been, and genetically will forever be, plump and squishy to some degree. It just makes me more fun to cuddle. My thighs are mostly muscle. Aren't you supposed to be able to pinch up an inch of fat where you inject? Do I even have that much on my legs? Maybe I'll just do this. I mean, I've had diabetes for how long now? HALP OH GAWD I THINK I'M ACTUALLY GOING TO TRY THIS.
So that's when I did my first-ever thigh injection.
Note--I am not complaining about my body or trying to body-shame anybody else here. It's merely fact: I come from a line of women with fat stored around the midsection. I have slender arms, and legs, and I'm busty, which gives me more opportunities to hide my insulin pump. I see this as a win. I've never used my arms either, and for the record, my mom is too weirded out to do insulin shots on arms or legs too, so I know for a fact I'm not alone. What a digression....).
It stung like hell for a few seconds, and then it was over. I don't think it worked any better or faster than my usual injection/infusion sites, but it did work. I'm not sure it's something I'd want to repeat terribly often, but after 23 and a half years with Type 1, I guess it shows you can learn and try new things all the time. People talk about using their thighs, their arms, their bellies, their "side-butt" for sites. It's purely a personal choice thing, with the exception of problems with absorption or other issues.
Where do you like to inject? Where do you put your infusion sets and glucose sensors? Do you think I should keep trying new things, or just stick with what's working?
"Proper" etiquette may sometimes be in the eye of the beholder. Not all people lift their pinkies when drinking tea. Some people double-dip their buffalo wings in the shared dish of bleu cheese dressing without a single afterthought. Some men will hold a door open for a woman and allow her to pass by, while others will hold it open about halfway until the woman takes over. (And until recently, Ms. Hannah did not realize it was potentially recognized as rude to wipe one's nose on a cloth restaurant napkin. Ms. Hannah was clearly born in a barn.)
It seems, Gentle Advice Columnist, that in your opinion, it is rude and unsightly for a diabetic to do their blood tests and "medical procedures", as you called them, in public. You suggested that people should test in the bathroom or another private room. Some of Ms. Hannah's colleagues and peers have taken to the internet to badmouth and rail against such advice. What this blogger sees is an Advice Columnist who may not have any experience with diabetes.
You say you "draw the line at drawing blood", and it's true the sight of blood makes many people uncomfortable; however, for people with diabetes, a little blood is a fact of life multiple times a day. The diabetics of this world are not drawing out syringes full of blood from their own arms. A blood glucose meter reading takes approximately 5 seconds, and plenty of people with diabetes never have a second thought about plopping that meter on the table in front of everyone, conducting their diabetes business. (It is not even a blip on the etiquette radar, much like Ms. Hannah hastily wiping her nose on a cloth restaurant napkin.) It's often just a tiny drop of blood, or a quick poke with an insulin pen.
The good people of the Diabetes Online Community typically call things as they see them, and in your column, they saw ignorance, intolerance and perhaps even ableism. These days, it is unavoidable that people share details about their personal lives online. Some people, including this blogger, discuss things that some people find unacceptable to share with unauthorized individuals or strangers. Everyone in this country is entitled to health information privacy, but a number of folks choose to disclose their visible and invisible illnesses and disabilities in a very public way.
Gentle Advice Columnist, Ms. Hannah is certain that what has angered those in the DOC the most is your seemingly rigid and outmoded stance about what is proper for diabetes management in public, as it seems you have no experience living with diabetes yourself. Additionally, Ms. Hannah would like to note that answering questions in the third person may make you seem haughty, holier-than-thou, and inaccessible to younger readers who prefer their advice more off-the-cuff. (She would also like to note that writing in third person while trying to relay a personal opinion is pretty effing difficult, so kudos to you for doing it for so many years. Clearly, you have a good editor.)
Ms. Hannah's initial reaction was anger as well. "Where does this woman get off, telling me I need to run to the loo for a five-second blood test? Perhaps she will perish in a fire," she said to herself. Soon, this blogger realized that was an overblown reaction, having never taken kindly to some strict viewpoints about politeness. Another thing she realized is that every person is different. People with diabetes have just as much a right to disagree with you as they might to agree with you. In fact, allow this blogger to lay out a shocking fact for you:
Ms. Hannah has tested, changed insulin pump infusion sets, injected and applied continuous glucose monitor sensors in public restrooms. She has also tested her blood and injected insulin in front of party guests, out at dinner, and even while working the door at a poetry slam. Is she wrong for doing it in one place and not the other?
There is no reason for either to be wrong, because it seems the sort of thing to be based on situations and personal preferences. Ms. Hannah does not do things involving needles and/or blood in the sightlines of friends who go pale and woozy at the mere sight of needles and/or blood. While she wants them to understand her Type 1 Diabetes, she does not want them passing out into their craft brews and plates of vegan brunch. That's bad news for everyone.
To make up for any accusations of potential flip-floppery in her opinions on etiquette, here are some rude things Ms. Hannah has done which may shock and appall you, Gentle Advice Columnist--perhaps much more than any quick injection in public:
--Licking a finger following a blood test
--Not disposing of sharps in a proper biohazard container
--Hitting "ignore" on a phone call from Ms. Hannah's mother
--Removing wedding rings to apply hand lotion
--Sitting on, not hovering above, the toilet seat in a dive bar bathroom
--"Breaking wind" at work when I am alone in the office
--Asking friends with bleeding paper cuts if they would like their blood glucose checked
--Hoping her blood glucose would drop low as an excuse to not bolus for a donut
--Wiping her nose on a cloth restaurant napkin
That being said, this blogger advocates individuals continuing to do what is best for them, and learning how to educate others along the way. People with diabetes and other medical conditions that require constant monitoring or potentially obvious medical interventions in public should not be obligated to choose "Team Tidybowl" over "Team Test Strip on a Lap, or Inside a Purse, at the Airline Gate". Ms. Hannah also feels that PWD should not be jerks who yell "DEAL WITH IT!" at people uncomfortable with diabetes-related bloodletting and poking. Perhaps the polite thing is for the PWD to explain what they are doing and advise the squeamish to look away until they're told it's over?
Gentle Advice Columnist, the DOC may have had choice words for you in the past couple of days, including telling you to eat a number of...unseemly things. Ms. Hannah advises you eat something, too--a cupcake, while sitting down to chat with someone with diabetes about the realities of what they see as proper in polite company. After that, you may truly be able to dispense applicable diabetes etiquette which is relevant to everyone's interests.
PS: For the record, I agree with you sometimes. I think baby gender-reveal parties are unnecessary. And as a person who has drawn hearts, smiley faces, and written stuff like "Woo hoo we can't wait to see you!!" on wedding RSVP cards, I did rather enjoy the way you dissed them in the letter just above the diabetes letter that caused all this controversy.
That's right, January. You are dead to me. You have been nothing but trouble, trial, and tribulation.
How's that? you ask.
This is the third time my car has been in the shop this month, possibly for all of the same problems each time. This has resulted in less of a surplus than was planned this month, so some payments I was really hoping to double up on are not really getting anywhere.
This is the month I've had to take a bus to the El train to another bus to get to/from work while my car is in the shop. The total trip one way is about an hour and twenty minutes.
Frozen pipes in the kitchen. One kitchen sink overflow as a result.
Painful muscle tension caused by work stress and the general crappiness of this month.
Matt's grandmother passed away. She was a wonderful woman who will be dearly missed.
Definitely not getting out enough, due to aforementioned car issues.
There was, for certain, a lack of poetry.
Oh, and snow. Lots of snow. Snow that gets in the way of travel plans--this is how we were not able to attend Matt's grandma's funeral. This is how I had a FIVE AND A HALF HOUR commute home last week during the storm. This is how my snow shovel, which I'd only had for three weeks, was stolen from the front of my house and swapped with a small rake. I can't make up stuff like this. If they wanted to borrow a shovel, they just had to knock and ask me! What am I going to do with this rake now?
And if you are only here to read about diabetes stuff, let's throw in a few sticky, gross, eye-blurring, tongue-drying high blood glucose readings that were tough to bring down, even with site changes and injections. Oh, right, I attribute that to all the jerkiness of Jerkuary!
Jerkuary did spare me in a few ways. There were some generous SEPTA employees who took pity on me for not having the proper fare or who rushed us all through the gate without having to pay for the already-late subway. There was the incredible Balkan brass band show Matt and I attended. There was the kindness and ingenuity of Matt's brother, who set up a Google+ Hangout session on a smartphone so we could virtually attend the funeral service that we couldn't travel to. There were friends, hugs, Hello Kitty slippers that I got for $5, there were recipes tried and well-received.
But really, Jerkuary, I'm glad you're heading out of here. Next month is my month: February. My birth month tends to hold lots of good things. At this point, almost anything could be an improvement.
Out with the old; in with the new. Sounds like a good plan to me.
In 2013, I didn't blog as much as I wanted. I renewed my URL, but never quite got it applied because of the hassle I was going through and a lack of time. I allowed aspects of my struggling work life to interfere with the life I enjoy, but at the same time, I made a lot of changes for the better. What happened that was notable?
I was a reader on Live from the Kelly Writers' House on WXPN fm.
I had a couple of poetry features in different places.
I was published in APIARY Magazine, then later ended up joining their staff as Coordinator of Outreach and PR. I met a lot of really great people by doing this, and my life is better for it.
I celebrated my 31st trip around the sun, and my 23rd year with Type 1.
I moved into the City of Philadelphia proper. I am still learning the ways to make it my home, but it's coming along nicely. I like it here.
Despite the anxiety and stress I've been under on the job, I still get up, I still come in, I still do my work. 2014 is the year the daily grind is going to stop grinding me down. I will find something new. The "daily grind" will be more like some fresh-ground espresso--exciting, energizing...good-smelling?
I made plans to get myself in gear after a really awful A1C.
I got a new insulin pump! (Tandem T-Slim)
I decided on a potential name for my Dexcom G4: Jadzia. If you ever watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, you will hopefully find this as amusing as I do.
Here in December, I began experimenting on Victoza. I took a little break for the holidays, but I plan on being back on it by Thursday. I am definitely going to share some experiences with you all.
I didn't write enough blog posts.
I got to be a guest on DSMA Live!
I dressed an insulin vial up for Halloween.
I wrote some new poems, but I definitely didn't write enough of those either.
I wrote one short-short story, and that felt pretty good. I think I need to do more of that.
I changed my hair color a couple of times.
I discovered how much I love brightly colored and bold lipsticks.
I let my inner girly-girl win out and got subscriptions to Ipsy, Birchbox, and Julep. (If anybody else out there would be interested, I think I have referral links you can use that benefit both of us in the end.)
I met Scott J! And Cherise! And Sara K! And Mike Lawson! And Hannah and Aaron and Jerry the Bear! And Chris Snider! And Colleen! And I saw Allison and Kerri and Manny and others! What a kickass year for DOC hugging!! It deserves more exclamation points than I can comfortably continue to fit in this little line break.
Most of all, I am happy I made it through another year in relative good health and high spirits. May we all learn something from 2013, may we all reflect fondly on the good things. Happy New Year, Dorkabetic readers! See you in 2014!
I don't feel amazing. The A1C I received recently can be accurately described as "total crap". My body aches, my ankles swell. My mouth has suffered the dryness of approximately one jillion cotton balls.
Winter, aka The Time I Am Most Likely to Be Down on Myself for the Silliest Things, is upon us. I am less than thrilled. Completely non-plussed. Sometimes utterly discouraged. I've beaten myself up psychologically before. I've tried to pretend things that bother me might go away if I look in the other direction.
I get more anxious about my future than I do my blood sugar levels, and I suppose in a way, that's good. I still feel like a mostly-normal human being, albeit sometimes a flawed and out-of-shape one.
But I'm still holding on. I keep reminding myself to revisit all the good and great things that have happened lately, and luckily, there are a lot of those.
I just need to remember to learn. To move on. To not ignore the things that frighten me because honey, they ain't goin' anywhere. I need to remember to wear my Dexcom all the time [dammit]. To realize that the numbers are very important, but they don't define who I am.
Can we all just take a minute to get all existential/philosophical and appreciate how beautiful and terrifying life can be, and that sometimes just still being here is a major achievement? Can we all just give each other a hug?
There's a person I follow on Twitter, and he's one of those people who posts at least two Tweets on the hour, every hour during the day. He's got some good information and interesting personal stories, he likes to focus a lot on the oft-ignored effects of diabetes on mental health. All good, right?
However, this guy makes me question myself all the time. Many things that happen to me that I chalk up to depression, anxiety, or career-related ennui could potentially, according to things he says, be merely diabetes related. Maybe this is supposed to serve as a relief to some people, but for me I am finding this unnervingly stressful.
If I snap at someone for no reason, can I just blame my bad blood sugars? If things seem to be bothering me more than they would bother a normal person, can I just blame my diabetes? Do I even need to see a therapist at all when I feel overwhelmed? Would a perfect A1C just make me a happier person overall?
If what you say is true, Mr. Twitter Man, have I been doing it wrong all of these years?
Because that's every diabetic's favorite thing to hear, right? That we're doing it wrong and if we just stop doing (xyz) everything will be so much better.
I am irritated because I know there has to be some truth in what this guy is saying, and I'm sure he's not intending to make his fellow PWD feel bad about themselves.
There is a reason that the 'Unfollow' button exists, but what am I losing or gaining by clicking it?