Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Waste Deep

My Christmas was very strange and chaotic - my mother is in the hospital.
A week ago Friday, I got a call that she was headed to Minneapolis (about 60 miles from her home) via ambulance. I immediately concluded that if it were a stroke or heart attack, they would send her by helicopter.

I raced over to the ER and was relieved to find that it was an uncontrolled nosebleed, and she was feisty as ever with the staff. They packed it and off we went to spend the night at my place. I noticed her breathing was a bit labored, but, she is 79 years old. I am not a tidy housekeeper and she immediately asked me where the dustcloths were.

She went back home and two days later was enroute again. This time they admitted her and said her "lungs looked funny". She was diagnosed with moderate emphysema and sent home with an inhaler, being told she could resume her normal activities. I was so relieved. We even decided to go ahead with our Christmas plans.

Last Friday, another call, on her way again. They said they could go in surgically and cauterize the offending vessel, but it was considered major surgery and not something they like to do. On Saturday, she was walking and became extremely short of breath, and and MRI revealed she has a blood clot in her lung - go figure, blood clotting in her lung and gushing from her nostrils.

They are giving her strong blood thinners for the clot, and right now, I don't have a clue what the ENT is planning because he won't call me back.

She is talking about going into assisted living, because she doesn't want to be alone with so much uncertainty. This is something we've discussed "around the edges" but never in detail. My sisters are freaking out. One feels we should take it "one step at a time", while the other is wondering where a copy of the will is.

I came home tonight and there was a message on my machine that I was afraid to play. My heart was racing and it was only FedEx, saying they'd left a package in the foyer - a gift box of nothing I care to eat - pancake mix, heavily sweetened blueberry syrup, vacuum sealed bacon with 1000 mg of sodium per two slices. I did, however, like the basket itself.

My blood sugar was over 350 twice today, but I fortunately chose not to stop at the grocery store after work because I knew I'd head home with Doritos, peanut butter, and Ding Dongs.

One thing that I have learned from similar crises is that if we just step back, a tiny bit, there is an underlying sequence to things - the right friend calls at the right time, help is offered when needed, and eventually, the dust will settle. I just don't like the wait.

I am also glad that I have "stress plan" for my blood pressure that I had discussed with my primary a couple of years ago. He agreed that if I tested it, not guessed, and if was in a certain range, I could take another dose of beta blocker. I took it a couple of times today and it was not off target - a relief.

I know I have to let go of the stress, and the outcome, but it's a big task.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Song Tag

I've been swamped at work and my home pc is not working, so it appears that I've missed a lot of happenings in the OC.
I have been tagged by Super George and these are my favorite Christmas song, among others:

1) Oh Come All Ye Faithful (by the Morman Tabernacle Choir)
2)Santa Claus is Coming to Town (by Bruce Springsteen)
3)I'll Be Home for Christmas (as done by Elvis)
4)Silver Bells (the first "grown up" Xmas song we got to do in gradeschool)
5)The Chipmunk Song (by the Chipmunks)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Me First!!!!!

I am 99% sure of the simple truth that if you don't take care of your diabetes, it's going to come crashing to the front of the line, screaming, "me first".
So, when I make a bunch of dumb-ass decisions that gain their own momentum, what am I thinking? That things have magically changed? (Guess not).

I have been very very high for two days, beginning yesterday with the birthday bagels a co-worker brought in. I'd already eaten my standard breakfast (brown rice and vegetables), but had an entire giant bagel with strawberry cream cheese. Then we had a staff lunch of lasagna and garlic bread, followed by a "few" Christmas cookies and later in the afternoon, some caramel corn somebody'd left in the lunch room. I was chasing the highs all day with Humalog but just kept eating. Then last night had to get up every two hours to be sure I wasn't crashing.

Woke this morning still high, probably from rebound. Then more treats at the office and off I was, soaring, and feeling absolutely awful. I had two completely unproductive days at work (we are very busy at year-end) and now am behind and will have to play catch-up next week.

So here I sit, Friday evening, with a ton of things that I'd intended to do but don't have the energy to - start Xmas cards, inventory my prescriptions and call in renewals, work on the sweater I'm knitting as a gift, cleaning, laundry, and watching part of the "Six Feet Under" third season that I got from the library. Instead, I'll lay around, go to bed early, and once again be up a few times to check for lows.

My Saturday will start poorly from lack of sleep and the general imbalance my body's been through. Seems like as I've gotten older, I don't recover as fast from the highs - the effects linger for several days.

WHY do I do this? I am putting this sequence of events in writing so it will be imprinted on my brain - there are consequences for every action that I choose and the
I can't believe I ate the whole thing scenario led to two completely ruined days and will spill over into the weekend.

You'd think I'd get it by now. Does anybody out there have problems with binging. If so, how do you stop it before it takes on a life of its own? If I'd stopped at the bagel yesterday, I could have dealt with it and by early evening would have been back on track.

Fortunately, this doesn't happen often, and, tomorrow's a new day with hopefully, a better outcome.

Hope you all are enjoying the pleasures of the season.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

She's Here!!

Hey all - that awe-inspiring Chrissie has put up her very first post. How cool is that?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Our Essential Wholeness - The Silent Victory

It's 60 degrees here today in Minnesota, with more warm weather in store for tomorrow - no blizzards, no freezing rain, no single digit windchills. Very nice.

I'm staying in town for the holiday. My family is gathering at my sister's in northern Minnesota, and my restless leg syndrome is on the rampage and I can only sit for 20 minutes at a time, and a three hour car trip is not an option.

So, I'm helping deliver Meals on Wheels, a program that provides hot meals to people who are housebound. Since it's a special day, the volunteers are allowed to take extra time and spend a few minutes visiting. In the evening I'll go to my friend E's, for an enormous potluck with about 40 people meandering through (there is bound to be at least one unsavory green bean casserole).

I often find myself using the term "essential wholeness" and have been contemplating it all day. I think it's the first thing I think of at Thanksgiving.

Our essential wholeness is that part of us that always remains - the core of our soul - that which nothing, not even diabetes, can destroy. Nor can it be depleted by difficult emotions such as fear, shame and anger (that often come along with us for the ride.)

It surfaces in the tiniest acts of faith and kindness - faith that each of our lives has a purpose and will make a difference to our friends, family, co-workers and woman behind us at the grocery store with a screaming toddler in tow.

It is nurtured by looking for beauty in the mundane. On my morning walk to the bus stop, there is a huge old oak tree at the top of the hill. This morning, with bare branches, it looked like a loving grandmother with her arms outstretched, ready to give me a big hug. (And now I'm crying, thinking of my departed grandmas and their big holiday tables, with the chairs that are now emptied and replaced in the cycle of life).

And, it grows to full bloom when we let other people do something nice for us and then pass it on.

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving, be extra kind to someone - including yourself, and then, build on that victory.

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

D Blog Day (Chaotic Ramblings)

I'd like to thank Sandra Miller for pointing out that today is D Blog Day. I had no idea, but, heck, until 6 months ago I did not know what a blog was either.

To preface this, I will say that I have not yet read anybody's posts today - it was slow at work and really hard to keep my paws off the Web - and I'm sure there will be some overlap. Second, I am not going to censor any of my thoughts. Most of the time I try to focus on being optimistic and positive, but tonight, anything that comes flying out of my fingers will stay.

I hate living with diabetes. And my friend J hates living with metastatic breast cancer. And my co-worker D hates living with rheumatoid arthritis. And my departed brother D hated living with AIDS.

My two distinct memories of my diagnosis (1974) were: 1) my hospital bed was right outside the nurse's station and they were having donuts and coffee late in the evening. One said to the other "Did you get bed 2's test tape (a dip strip used to measure sugar in uring)" and she replied, "Oh gawd, is she one too? These diabetics are more trouble than they're worth". 2) When I got home from the hospital, I turned on my favorite television show, Marcus Welby, M.D. - about this kind, fatherly GP and his handsome, hunky associate. It started out showing a girl eating ice cream and she immediately went into a diabetic coma. The next week she was suddenly blind due to retinal hemorrhaging - obviously caused by the dietary indiscretion.. But, Dr. Welby contacted a colleague who was involved in a new, experimental procedure - a vitrectomy and said it coule probably give her some vision back. "Not reading vision", he cautioned. I felt that cold chill of fear wrap around me, and have felt it many times since. Oh, incidently, I have hadtwo vitrectomys and I can read just fine. Ahem.

Diabetes sometimes makes me feel like a freak. After my father's funeral in 1986, we were having a gathering in the church reception hall and offering refreshments. A big tray of cake was being passed down the table and when it got to me, a woman on the other side of the room stood up and screamed , "Don't let her have any - she's diabetic!". Dead silence ensued and the flush rose up into my face. I hate the way that woman made me feel.

The burden and struggles of diabetes wax and wane, just like anything else bothersome in life. I frequently feel like I'm that mythical character that pushes the boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back down to the starting place. Mary Tyler Moore once described the effects of diabetes like "termites" - they are doing slow, consistent damage to the innards of the house while everything looks fine on the outside.

I have had DB for nearly 3/4 or my life. It is a part of me, a companion, that sometimes quietly walks beside me, and other times is a hissy-fit, tantrum-throwing brat that demands attentionat the most inconvenient times. And occasionally it is a fire-breathing demon that threatens to rob every last ounce of strength from me.

Living with DB reminds me of the words of this Motown classic -

So take a good look at my face
You'll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears..........

Oh, baby, I suddenly want to put on Aretha and find a dancing partner!

Friday, November 03, 2006


Perfect timing - I had nothing to write about and now I've been tagged.

Five little known facts about me:

1. I play conga drums in an Afro/Caribbean percussion ensemble. People are
usually surprised because I am conservative, quiet, and could easily fade
into any midwestern crowd. It is a deep pleasure and we perform at
neighborhood festivals, Earth Day, birthday parties and such.

2. The only type of car I've ever owned has been used Honda Civics. They
all had names - Agnes, Cindy, Ignatius, Phoebe and Pablo. Both Ignatius
and Cindy were stolen, off the street, in broad daylight.

3. I once did a summer internship at a school for troubled youth, and
participated in several Native American sweatlodges. It was during the time
when my sugar was always high so I dd not have to worry about having
a hypo and toppling over onto hot rocks. (I would probably not participate
now, and that's okay.)

4. My favorite thing to do when I'm bored is watch old reruns of the tv
series "Kung Fu" - yeah, I know that many of you were not even born when
it was on, and would have no idea who grasshopper was, but I
love it. I have my private collection of all three years.

5. ......................and.....I still sometimes inject through clothing.
Really easy to just zip it through the skirt under my desk.

This was fun. If interested, I tag

MileMaster Sarah
Vic,aka cHoCo @ My.Diabetic.Life
Jane@ It's My Life, People
Heidi@The D Lon Cabin
Robert @ S.I.C.K.I.E.S

Fact #6 - I did not "do" links until I started blogging.

PS. If anyone knows why my alternate sentences have short margins, let me know before I go nuts.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Right Now

I just got home from having a meal with my nephew, L, who is a sophomore at the U of Minnesota. He grew up 300 miles from here, so it’s nice to have him nearby.

I remember distinctly the day he was born, 20 years ago. I had had db for 12, and wasn’t sure if I’d make it much further. Back then, it didn’t seem like people lived much past the 20 year mark, and none of my cousins (my only reference point) had. I held him and cried, thinking that I wouldn’t see him finish elementary school.

Living for one’s death is very unproductive and sad and even possibly a convenient excuse, at times. I was always on the outside, looking through the glass at those people who enjoyed the gift of health. I wasted a lot of years paralyzed by fear of complications. It’s very easy to get angry, but no one was to blame - not me, not diabetes, not the people around me who didn’t know how to lift my outlook.

Yet, here I was, this afternoon - waiting in front of Applebee‘s, among the diverse college crowd, seeing him saunter down the street on this beautiful fall day - incredibly smart, kind, and handsome. (The baseball cap on backwards is another issue.) I feel like I held back from getting to know him because I was “on the way out”.

But, I’ve quickly made up for it. Sure, my life may be shortened, even by something other than diabetes, but the”here and now” is full of lots of pleasures, big and small. Many of the members of the OC are living vibrantly, embracing life, and pursuing dreams and I love to read about the victories.

I hugged him goodbye and a piece of paper fell out of his hand. I asked him what it was and he replied, “oh, one of the waitresses gave me her phone number” as he carefully folded it and placed it in his backpack. Is that what girls do now?

Have a good weekend everybody. Seize the day!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


A couple of years ago, I was in my psychiatrist's office for my brain-med appointment. I told him I'd just come from the ortho clinic downstairs and was told that my broken ankle was healing well because I was doing everything I was supposed to - rest, ice and elevation. Dr. Shrink replied, "well, that's good - diabetics are notorious for not taking care of themselves". I then had a small meltdown, wailing about how people don't understand the unending daily challenges we face. When I read the clinic notes a few days later, Dr. Shrink had written, "patient had an unprovoked episode of significant rage". Fortunately, we have since discussed this a couple of times and I think Dr. S. has learned a great deal about living with db.

I was reminded of this today when I was on theTake Control of Your Diabetes site. TCOYD was started by Dr. Steve Edelman, a California endocrinologist who has been type 1 for more than 30 years. Take a look at his "Making the Connection" article. Paragraph 3, describing how a resident physician generalized that the diabetic patient was "noncompliant" is enough to make me go and pound someone's head. Also see the last paragraph, and I think you'll know that this guy gets it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Walking the Walk

I keep a gratitude journal. I meditate on the beauty of life. I read motivational quotes every morning. And I'm very proud of the way I've handled some past health challenges, emerging with my essential wholeness intact. But it's such a fragile balancing act - you could knock me off the tighrope with a feather.

My mother, who is 80 years old and lives in a small prairie town 100 miles1 west of here, chats with me every Thursday morning. When she calls at an unscheduled time, I know that something's up.

She phoned early Saturday morning and told me that one of my relatives, also type 1, had had a fatal stroke. My paternal grandmother had 12 brothers and sisters, and each of them had several children. Now the generation of the grandkid's of the 12 has been afflicted with over 30 type 1's, most of them diagnosed at age 9-13. A few are deceased, a few more dealing with serious complications, and the rest of us circling the wagons with the "it's not gonna happen to me" attitude.

Sure, I'm glad that my retinopathy was successfully treated. I'm also glad that my kidney function returned to normal after starting on Avapro. But why am I the lucky one? I was immersed in self-destructive chaos for 20+ years and statistically I should not have made it this far unscathed. What gives? I am feeling guilty that it wasn't me. I am fearful that I will be next(I am approaching the top of the list of those having db the longest.)

I tried to ignore the news all weekend and tonight it got to me, big time. It's cold here today in Minnesota and we may have some snow by mid-week. I don't like the approaching darkness and the time of year when you can't easily busy yourself and run away from difficult emotions.

The person who died did not take care of himself (neither did I). He had already been db for nearly 30 years when the DCCT results were published. I know he had a meter but I think considered the test strips expensive. And I know he did not deserve this. No one does.

I feel that I am deficient in personal integrity. I can talk the talk and even (for a few seconds) convince myself that I value the developments over the years and the access I have to excellent medical care. I can strut around, full of self-pride because I consider myself to have a "good attitude" about living well with chronic illness. But after talking to my mother on Saturday morning, I felt like ramming my fist through a plate glass window, and will probably be crying into the night.

Yet tomorrow I'll get up and go to work, and know that some delightful, unexpected twist in the road will put me back on track. Those are my deepest pleasures. What one waits for, will come.

Friday, September 29, 2006


This meme has been winding its way through the OC for the last couple of days. It will be fun to see if we can get a big participation.

1. Do you still have tonsils?
Yes - I was of the generation where it was fashionable to have them yanked

2. Would you bungee jump?
Maybe, but not until I've lost a bunch of weight so I could be sure the cord
would not break.

3. If you could do anything in the world for a living, what would you do?
Landscape architect.

4. How many tattoos do you have?
One, a purple iris on my belly.

5. Your favorite fictional animal?

6. One person that never fails to make you laugh?
My niece Emily.

7. Do you consider yourself organized?
Yes, very much so for diabetes logging, health records, prescription
renewals. No, not at all for the other areas of my life.

8. Any addictions?
Substances: milk chocolate, Diet Pepsi, Dairy Queen onion rings
Activities: knitting and beadwork
Authors: anything by Joyce Carol Oates

9 From what news source do you receive the bulk of your news?
My fellow commuters at the bus stop.

10. Would you rather go to a carnival or circus?
Carnival - it's much more interactive and I love the lights after dark.

11. When you were twelve years old, what did you want to be when you
grew up?
A nurse.

12. Best movie you've seen this year?

13. Favorite alcoholic drink.
champagne cocktail (I have one about every five years)

14. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Plug in my electric hair rollers.

15. Siblings?
One older brother and two younger sisters (that are twins to each other).

16. What is the best thing about your job?
The health benefits - seriously.

17. Have you ever gone to therapy?
Yes, for years. Also currently.

18. If you could have one super power, what would it be?
To relive my 20's and 30's without being paralyzed by the fear of
diabetes complications - note that I did not say without diabetes.

19. Do you own any furniture from Ikea?
Yes, a lamp. I went the opening weekend and stood in line 90
minutes to pay for it.

20. Have you ever gone camping?
Lots, and still do. Up until a couple of years ago I also used to take one
solo camping trip per summer - sort of a mini contemplative retreat.

21. Gas prices - first thought
"What's this world coming to?"

22. Your favorite cartoon character?

23. What was your first car?
A Honda civic with 200,000 miles on it. I cannot remember the
color (so long ago).

24. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?

25. The Cosby Show or The Simpsons?
Cosby Show

26. Do you go to church?
No, but a couple of times a month I go to the Quaker meeting house
and sit with the community and listen for that "still small voice

27. What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Bob Dylan, of course.

28. What errand/chore do you despise?
Cleaning my mini-blinds.

29. First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
"Yipee, it's Friday."

30 Last time you puked from drinking?

31. What is your heritage?

32. Favorite flower?
Purple iris

33. Disney or Warner Bros?

34. What is your best childhood memory?
Going to my grandma's farm in the summer and trekking into the
woods to pick blackberries. The mosquitoes were very thick and
once we did some makeshift mosquito netting from old lace

35. Your favorite potato chip?
Baked Lays sour cream 'n' onion.

36. What is your favorite candy?
Milky Way caramels, Milk Duds and Twizzlers Red Licorice Bites

37. Do you burn or tan?
Burn, like any self-righteous Scandinavian would.

38. Astrological sign?

39. Do you own a gun?
No, but I have 40+ pairs of very sharp knitting needles and an
equally threatening pruning shears.

40. What do you think of hot dogs?
The best way to cook them is on a campfire, sticking them directly
into the flames until they're all black.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I just got done yelling (in all cap letters)online at my nephew, "E", in Duluth because he "forgot" to tell me that his mother had an emergency appendectomy on Monday (she is fine). He and I talk several times a week and he thought I knew.

Well, it wasn't E's fault that I had a meltdown It's because it reminded me of all the sudden things that can be thrown our way, that we don't know are coming, that can shatter our world in a second.

And that's what illness is sometimes about - uncertainty - we hope the treatment will work, but we don't know for sure; this rarely happens, but, in your case...........; our "best guess" would be .....; past experience indicates..........." -- blah blah blah. And with uncertainty comes fear. Fear that I won't be okay, fear that I won't be able to cope with what comes next, fear that my life will be shortened in some dreadful way before I get everything done.

Now we've all heard of the person who gets a clean bill of health at the doc's office and has a fatal heart attack leaving the building, or the individual who gets run over by the bus while innocently crossing the street. Yes, we are all vulnerable, but diabetes makes us more aware of this.

So instead of letting the "fear cauldron" boil over, I'm going to send E an animated e-mail wink and apologize, call my sister and tell her I love her, and make some jewelry with these beautiful glass beads I've been hoarding. Scrubbin the bathtub and other assorted chores on my list for tonight can wait until tomorrow. Diabetes has taught me not to forget what's important.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


This week is my niece Emily’s 5th birthday. At least, it’s her “legal” birthday. Emily was found in a cardboard box in an alley in Wei Lin, China and they did not know exactly how old she was so she was assigned a date.

My older sister surprised us all 4 years ago by announcing that she, at age 44, had been approved for single-parent adoption and would soon go to China to pick up her baby. We were dumbfounded but excited.

I’m pretty much of a homebody and traveling just doesn’t call to me like it does to some, but……………..China, that’s a different story. I have practiced tai chi nearly every day for the last 14 years and have studied acupuncture intermittently for the last 10. A trip to China would be the dream of a lifetime, and to see that baby placed in F’s arms would be priceless.

So, I decided that I’d go with F to “get the baby”. I did endless preparation - planned the “touristy” things, studied the language, got the name of a college of traditional Chinese medicine to visit. I couldn’t believe that this was happening.

Ten days before we were scheduled to leave, I woke up with a hemorrhage in my eye. It was like dumping an entire pepper shaker into an egg white and whisking it up. My retinal specialist got me in that morning and said his best guess would be that the vitreous would clear in a few weeks. But the trip was in less than two weeks - how did my other eye look? I could certainly go with just monocular vision, but what if the good one also bled? Dr. M is a deeply kind person. He put his hand on my shoulder as I cried and said that if it were him, he’d stay home, but it was my choice. I still thought I could pull it off. He told me to come back in a week, three days before departure. He did an ultrasound and told me that my retina had completely separated from the back of my eye and I’d need immediate surgery. I was stunned and rapidly slid into that tunnel of “blissful numbness”, where you shut down because the emotional pain is simply too much.

I don’t feel like recounting the details of the surgery and recovery right now, but no, I did not go to China. I was too immersed in the health crisis and did not experience the profound sense of unfairness and disappointment until days later. Why why why did that f’ing diabetes take away my one dream? I’ve never asked for much from life, and at that time it seemed like I’d never gotten much, either.

But today, 4 years later, I can see all that Emily is - in her Halloween costume, blowing out birthday candles, ripping open Christmas gifts and rushing to greet me with open arms. I can see her cousins (all boys) fussing over her endlessly. I have a picture of her on my desk at her first baseball game (go Twins) where we both came home with peanut shells in our hair - and I could see the scoreboard clearly

Because of laser beams, retinal surgery and Dr. K.M., I am living my reward.

I’m sure that diabetes will be the reason for more disruptions, disappointments and snafus as the currents of life carry me on. But the rage has faded to nothing.

That dear sweet baby was one of a million stars in the sky that was chosen to come and be a member of our family. And because of her, we all shine more brightly.

Happy Birthday Em. I love you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's Only Money

I know that most of us in the OC have frequent concerns about money, the cost of good health care and having our diabetes needs met now and in the future. I think about it a lot.

I needed to document some expenses for my '05 Health Care Spending Account at work and ordered an itemized hospital bill for my broken ankle surgery. I had heard the stories about "charging $5 for an aspirin" and didn't think much about it, until the envelope with 7 pages of expenses came in the mail yesterday.

Can you believe these charges?.............
  • finger-stick blood sugar test $15
  • one 250 mg tablet of oxycodone $22
  • one 75 mcg tablet of synthroid $17
  • one titanium plate (to hold the bones together) $560
  • 5 minutes of instruction on using crutches $300
  • one "Darth Vader" air cast $275
  • one ace wrap $20

But the real whack upside the head was the insulin. I saw the first entry, "insulin/Humalog", $35 and thought, "well, that's pretty much in line - not too bad". Then, the same day I saw three more $35 entries. I called the billing department as I had a couple other questions and the rep said, "oh, they use a new bottle for each injection to avoid cross-contamination". A new bottle for my 3 unit dose to cover lunch? And throw the rest away? Good thing I was only there for 2 days. I then phoned my HMO case worker and we talked about this and she said this particular hospital had recently re-evaluated their policy and they were taking multiple doses from the same vial for each patient.

I had good coverage for the stay and am thankful that there was only a $500 co payment on my part. The total bill for the surgery and 2 nights was $17000. Go figure. Things do seem to be spiraling out of control in a big way and I don't know what to do about it.

It didn't help that the nursing care was fair, at best. I had asked for a toothbrush more than once and was never brought one. Beause of the diabetes I was supposed to have been sent home with detailed written instructions about wound care and inspecting the incisions along with several sets of new dressings (somebody forgot). When I was talking to the surgeon's PA after I got home, she asked how the staples looked and I told her I didn't know I was supposed to take the leg out of the boot. She said it was very important that everything be inspected 3x daily, per the "handout" so a runaway infecction didn't set in. She said to do so immediately while she was still on the line. I said "but I don't have any new bandages" and she suggested I use a minipad. I told her I was out and could I use a tampon instead? ...........she thought I was kidding; I was not.

I'm not planning on going to the hospital anytime soon, but, if so, I will ask for an itemized bill right away while things are still fresh in my mind. And I will not let my questions go unanswered.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Great Minnesota Get Together

Every year my friends E and J and I mark the beginning of the end of summer by going to the Minnesota State Fair. It lasts for 10 days, but we always go on the first day while things are still nice and fresh.

The fair is a chowhound’s paradise - food stands every 10 feet, mostly offering things loaded with fat, sugar and salt - yum. For many people, the only reason to go is to eat themselves into a stupor (been there, done that)

About 4 years ago we tried something different. We went right after lunch, made the decision not to have anything but water. Since we each had then saved at least $30, we would close the day by going out to dinner at an upscale seafood restaurant in my neighborhood.

It has worked great each year - no stress over what to have, no guilt over unwise choices, and no lethargy from being stuffed to the gills. I also treat hypos only with glucose tablets. We all know that just one chocolate chip cookie when low can easily lead to an unbecoming episode (also known as a binge).

13 Foods I DID NOT EAT at the Minnesota State Fair:

Category I - easy to pass up
Deep fried pickle on a stick
Deep fried Twinkie on a stick
Deep fried Snicker Bar on a stick
Yogurt made from sheep’s milk, called “ewe-gurt”

Category II - I’m curious about these
Bayou Bob’s alligator tail on a stick (last year they sold 10,000 pounds worth)
Personal pan-fried nuggets of ostrich meat
Buffalo jerky

Category III - drooling all the way down the street
Giant cream puffs
Yard long red licorice whips
Apple fritters made with the Minnesota State Fruit - the honey crisp apple
Onion rings
Foot long hot dog
Homemade rasberry pie served by blue-haired ladies at one of the many church diners

Fun things we did:
Patted a porcupine
Held an iguana
Watched a race of miniature goats pulling little carts; one of them escaped and was still MIA when we left the arena
Had my posture evaluated by a chiropractic student - yes, I know that my shoulders are uneven from carrying that heavy purse all these years
Saw of likeness of this year’s “Dairy Princess” being carved from a giant block of frozen butter.

I also artfully dodged a big glob of llama spit that flew over my shoulder. Its owner said, “now, honey, you went and provoked him - he doesn’t like being stared at and you made him mad”. (Ahem, what is he doing on display if he doesn’t like being stared at?)

We happily ended the day with a lovely meal of scallops, new potatoes, and key lime pie.
(Post prandial bg = 157).

Why the food thing worked:
It was planned behavior.
I had proof from previous years that it would work.
Other people did it with me.
There were many distractions
I knew that eventually there was “a treat” at the end of the day.

As we were driving home, I told E and J that I was going to recount my day at the fair on my blog and J said “oh, don’t - all those people will think we live at the crossroads between Hooterville and Lake Wobegon”. Well, we do, and I love it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Be Careful What You Ask For.........................

I've felt that my clinic is a bit behind the times because they always draw the blood after my quarterly visit with Dr. S. I then wait a few days and start to get really anxious, looking for "the envelope" in the mailbox, then ritualistically lay it in a certain spot on my kitchen counter and wait a couple hours to open it.

Well.........this morning when I got to the check-in desk the lady said, "oh, we have a new procedure - your lab orders are already written up and you can go down right now so that Dr. S. can discuss the results with you today.

NO!!!!!!!!! they can't do that to me - I need time to psyche myself up to hear the result - I'm not ready for it today - this was not in my plans..................shit.

So I drag my heels down to the lab and then plod back up to Internal Medicine.
Dr. S. comes in and says I look upset and I mumbled something about not feeling very flexible or adaptable.

But, it was good to have it over with and be able to discuss the AlC number in conjunction with my logging records. Hell, I am a medical consumer, my HMO pays a lot for me to have these appointments and yet I feel like I'm going to the principal and have to defend myself for misperceived bad behavior.

When I was ready to leave I asked him to renew my prescriptio for test strips. I told him I wanted 200, and to specifically say "use as directed" He said, "ok, sure - so 200, that's a 3 month supply. " (Do the math, doc, I've just shown you a log book with 7 tests per day..............................) Ouch.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Finish this sentence.........."Because of the diabetes.........'

I would say that............ 1) my life has been ruined
2) I have clnical depression and have to take meds
3) I weigh more than I'd like to
4) I'm stuck at a dead-end unfulfilling job
5) I have to spend a lot of money on co-payments for
oral meds, insulin, and office visits - money that I'd
like to be spending on clothes, recreation, new
furniture and vacations.........
(I decided I'd limit myself to 5 salient points.)
Rebuttal........................ 1) inconclusive, as my life's not over yet
2) clinical depression is rampant on my mother's
side of the family - if I been taken back 40 years, the
treatment of choice was electro-convulsive therapy -
3) what in the heck does diabetes have to do with me
stuffing my face?
4) well, probably not
5) well, maybe

Now for the next page:--please note that all things in bold face are advancements that occurred within the last 30 years.

1) Because of laser therapy, I can see out of my left eye.
2) Because of retinal angiography, the dr. knew exactly where to put the laser and did not have to destroy healthy tissue.
3) Because of the nitrous oxide bubble technique, I had the best possible chance of my detached retina healing well
4) Because of the ACE Inhibitors, my kidney function has returned to normal.
5) Because of June Bierman and Barbara Toohey, I am probably alive today. These dear sweet ladies launched their writing career with "The Peripatetic Diabetic", a book that I was initially annoyed with because of the PollyAnna optimism. But, it gave me hope in those early days to keep on living.
6) Because of Dr. Lois Jovanic and Dr. Charles Peterson, I was willing to try MDI. Their book "The Diabetes Self Care Method" launched a whole new world of matching carbs to insulin and getting rid of that wretched exchange system.
7) Because of blood glucose monitoring I no longer have to pee in a cup. I no longer have to guess when I'm low. I no longer have to leave a high untreated.
8) Because of the A1C test, I am given valuable information on whether things need to change or remain the same in my daily self-care.
9) Because of the glycemic index, I have an idea that not all carbs are the same.
10) Because of those obnoxious, sour-chalk glucose tabs, I can treat a hypo reasobably quickly, without a lot of overkill.
11) Because of books, magazines, and the world wide web, we get exciting new information right away.

Because I am sobbing very hard and don't want my keyboard to be ruined, I will sign off. (Why do we pwd have to feel things so deeply?)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wait and See

I had my MRI follow-up appointment today, to see if I had a stress fracture in my foot. I was pretty confident that everything was fine because the pain was lessening every day and people at work were commenting on the fact that my limp was gone. Stopped and took my bp in the waiting room - 122/65. Yipee! The body is doing well today!
The nurse took me to the exam room and said that Dr. P. was out of town and Dr. D. would see me - “he’s the real kingpin around here - the Head of the Department - he really knows his stuff and you’re lucky to see him”.

Dr. D. soon then appeared and asked how I was doing, and I told him "much better”. He said, “Well, that’s good, but we found two stress fractures in your foot and we’ll have to wait and see. This is not uncommon; just wear good shoes, don’t go barefoot, no running or jumping and you should be fine. You can walk as much as you want."
I started crying and then sobbing at a grand level. I muttered, "I've been through too much and can't take any more - the last 'wait and see' situation was with my left eye, and ten days later I had a fully detached retina”.

He looked startled and annoyed. He slammed a box of Kleenex on my lap, and said “Now you listen here, missy - I’ve been practicing orthopedics for 30 years and have horror stories about diabetes and lower limbs that would give you nightmares. You were extremely lucky - your ankle healed without incident. Look - you had 49 staples on the outerside and 35 on the inner and you hardly have a noticeable scar. And now you’re hysterical about a non-eventful stress fracture - you’ve gotta get thing in perspective or you’ll make yourself crazy”.

By then I was down to a sniffle. He stood up and said “And oh, by the way - the best thing you can do at this point is lose about 20 pounds - even 10 would take a lot of stress off your bones.”

He left and a moment later the nurse came in and handed me a piece of paper. “Dr. D. said to give you his pager number and if you have any concerns, leave a message and he will personally call you back. "

The magic of this life is that the messages are always out there for us - we just need to be listening.

Build on the Victories. MN

Saturday, August 05, 2006


This weekend is the Art Fair Weekend in Minneapolis - three art fairs. all in the heart of the city, each with something for everyone. Alas, I happen to live in the middle of one of them (and there is no "disrupting my tranquility" discount.
I went to all three, walked a total of 19,000 steps, thought I could tolerate a bag of caramel corn with all that activity, but had a nasty spike of 340.
I bought this tiny cloth figure, a "wildwoman doll". She looks sturdy, determined, and well-grounded. I told the artist that I was going to have to thinkf of a name for her, and she replied, "no need - her name is Gertrude". The only Gertrudes I know are a friend of my grandma's and my neighbor Charlie's Saint Bernard.
When I got home I looked up the meaning of the name, and it is Germanic for spear-throwing strength. (Gulp.) Oh my.
I'm going to have to think about that one. I'll let you know if anything comes to me.
But for now, I have fastened her to my bathroom mirror, to remind me that I can go forward each day, strong, competent, and willing to try something new

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Further Comments on The Numbers

I was doing a lot of thinking about my last post and hope I didn’t convey the impression that I was trashing “the numbers”. The information the numbers provide is priceless - it’s just that I have a habit of getting emotionally entangled in them and sometimes it’s a tight corner to break out of.

I was running a bit low all day yesterday, and when I got on the bus to go home tested at 47. I have a pretty consistent pattern of a gradual rise in bg between 4-6 p.m., so decided not to treat the hypo and thought I’d be fine. I also really, really wanted to be able to record a “70” in my logbook rather than a “140”. Good Girl. Good Job. Your numbers looked great today…. ……….but, poor decision.

I got off the bus and headed to the grocery store to get some fresh blueberries. I then had the sensation that I was on a treadmill and the sidewalk was moving underneath me, rather than me moving above it - a nofail sign that I was headed south, rapidly. The store that I shop at always has these seductive trays of cheese cubes for sampling. I think the intention is to put just one on a toothpick. Well, I was getting very famished and started stabbing three or four on at once, furiously making my own personal mini-kebabs, and then tried a couple more but my coordination was down the tubes so I moved on to the brownie bites. Had maybe 6 or 7. My mouth was starting to tingle, another sign of a bad situation.

I was pretty lucky to have made it home - testing at 32!. I did not bother to change out of my work clothes and popped a Lean Cuisine in the microwave. When it was ready I stared at it, not quite recalling how to take the cellophane off, so instead opened some juice and spilled it all over my nice dressy skirt.

What an inexcusable chain of poor choices. If I hadn’t been so stubborn and taken 4 glucose tablets, I would have been absolutely fine by the time I got home, had a nice relaxing dinner, and not ruined my favorite piece of clothing. At 7:30 I was up to 360 and spent the rest of the evening chasing after the high and had to set my alarm for 1 a.m. to be sure I wasn’t bottoming out. I feel that caring for the diabetes takes up so much time, but so does sweeping out the trail of dust that is left by a dumb-ass attempt to keep my ego inflated. And, not to mention the fact that even though I’ve never passed out from a hypo, I could have easily been nose-down on the sidewalk.

Do I need another broken ankle? I don’t think so. Do I need a $200 co-payment for an ambulance ride? Probably not. Do I need to forgive myself and try again tomorrow? Yeah, you betcha.

Thursday lies ahead, and the weekend is in sight. Take care. If anyone has any foolproof tips for removing purple grape juice from beige linen, send them my way.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Caught Up in The Numbers

I had a nice day at work - focused and productive. I was happy to see one of my friends at the bus stop and we exchanged pleasantries about the weekend coming up. Then another person came along and said "oh, how can you stand it out here - it's 90 degrees!" Well, until then, I hadn't thought a smidge about the weather - no opinion whatsoever - it's July in Minnesota, no more, no less. But.......within a few seconds I started to feel a tad uncomfortable, and craned my neck to see the digital thermometer on the bank up the street. It said 96 degrees (in direct sun) and then I noticed that my face suddenly felt flushed, my hair was starting to frizz and my skin felt like the sweat was oozing out in big honking drops. All because of the numbers...............the numbers that dictate how we should feel at a certain temperature.
Since I started working on my control, I think a lot about numbers and sometimes they tell me how to feel. When I get on the scale and the numbers haven't changed, I feel like a big fat cow and hear "nothing's gonna make you look good today, so don't bother putting on anything nice". When I look at my pedometer at the end of the day and see 9950 rather than 10,000 steps, I hear, "you are lazy and undisciplined - why even bother". When I take my blood pressure and see 128/75 I hear "that's toward the top of the target range - I'd be really worried if I were you".
And when my dawn phenomenon is very active and I wake up with a blood sugar of 180, I hear "ha - your day is off to a rotten start so you might as well stop at Starbuck's and get a nice gooey cinnamon roll".
The numbers can change my mood in the second that it takes them to appear.
Yes, I am thankful for the wealth of information that numbers provide - when my meter tells me my blood sugar is 42, it's time to treat the hypo; when my A1C goes down .5 of a point, it's time for a pat on the back.
But, the next time the numbers threaten to throw me into an irational, undies in a bundle tailspin of shame, apathy, fear and depression, I'm going to calmly say, "you're not the boss of me" and walk away.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Them Bones.....................

Good golly, it took me awhile to get the hang of all this - templates, settings, formatting, editing, but I think I'm on my way.
About a year and a half ago I fell on the ice and broke my ankle, needing 2 plates and 2 pins and 8 weeks on crutches. Every time I went to the clinic I was upset and angry that the Dr.'s main focus was the diabetes -
"because of the diabetes, the bone might not heal", "because of the diabetes, the incisions might become infected", "because of the diabetes......blah blah blah". It was an endless tirade that remnded me of things that I knew were true but were tucked away in the back file. I even heard the nurses out in the hall whispering "she' diabetic". I felt like standng in the middle of them and swinging my crutch 360 degrees and whacking as many people as possible.
But, thankfully, I healed quickly and completely. The day I looked down and saw shoes on both my feet was fabulously liberating.
About a month ago I started having weird pain on the top of the same foot, and immediately went to the symptom checker websites (the hypochondriac's gold mine) and concluded that I should be evaluated for a stress fracture. Went back to the same clinic and this time the doc said, "we'll have to do a full set of xrays of the lower leg and foot, just to be sure your ankle's not falling apart - there's an uncommon complication callet 'Charcot's joint' and if you've got it you're in big trouble". Well, I'm familiar with Charcot - one of my cousins had it and was completely disabled. He left the room and that familiar gut wrenching cold sweat terror sank in, that primordial fear that leaves you pleading to whoever will listen, "please, not me". I hate that more than any of the other unpleasant emotions that accompany a health issue. It is paralyzing and send your common sense reeling away.
After many drawn out minutes, the xrays were taken and transmitted to my computer file. He pulled them up on the screen and said, "the ankle looks fine, and stress fractures don't show up on xrays". So, I am scheduled for an MRI and some physial therapy.
I am disappointed in myself, becaue I was so sure that I'd gotten stronger, much stronger in the last couple of years during my retinopathy experience, feeling that I could handle whatever else came along, but there I was, a near basket case in the ortho clinic.
I asked the PA if I could continue to walk on it and go shopping, (because I had taken the whole day off) and she said "sure" so off I went to the Mall of America and consoled myself with some picket fencing and sidewalks from LegoLand.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Maiden Voyage

Greetings to everyone in the circle. This is my maiden voyage in posting. I ran across an article by Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer in Yoga Journal and found she had written a book, went to her website, didn't know what a "blog" was and had to find out, went to Scott Johnson's page, found out he was a fellow Minnesotan, and here I am. Diabetes has led me down some rocky paths over the years and now I'm about to take a side trip.
I grew up in an extended family laden with Type 1's - my grandmother had 12 brothers and sisters and their grandchildren's generation was afflicted - 36 of us at this count. By the time I was diagnosed I had witnessed nearly every devastating complication and after a few months of "good-girl compliancy" said "f--k it" and decided that if I was gonna end up like one of them, I might as well have some fun along the way. I spent 25 years wandering around with a blood sugar of 350 or more, sometimes feeling smug that nothing bad had caught up with me. I ate what and when I wanted (and never gained any weight). The only sensible thing I did was convert to multiple daily injections when they became the treatment of choice - somehow that assuaged the guilt from the other stuff I was doing. But even with that aspect, I embraced self destruction like a crazywoman and reused syringes and injected through clothing.
About six years ago I nearly died during an episode of ketoacidosis, and believe me, I was ready to go. Yet ten days later I was on the sidewalk outside the hospital, waiting for a cab, thinking "now what"?
There was no big "aha" moment, but it was the beginning of the cleanup of my act. Since then I've had several A1C's under 7, and this last January learned that the microalbumin in my urine had completely disappeared. But facing the reality of the disease left me in a major state of clinical depression. When I finally found a med that worked, it was refueled by a stint with retinopathy.
But my life today is pretty okay. I work and do my job well; I'm a good friend and family member; I have many interests in diverse areas and thankfully the reasonable health that allows me to pursue them.
Spilling my guts in these few words has left me emotionally exhausted.
As I write this I still think it's about somebody else - no, not me. But, when I read everybody's wonderful posts and discover that other people with diabetes are extremely bright, articulate, compassionate and funny, I may come to see that it's not such a bad clan to belong to after all.
Build on the victories.