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.