Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why?

There's a lot of CDE bashing that goes on in the Diabetes Online Community. My response to that is mixed emotions - anger, sadness, confusion, indignation, curiosity. Mostly, I want to know why.

I worked hard to become a Certified Diabetes Educator. It took me seven years. Seven. Years. I spent those years going to school, working, gaining experience and knowledge, and (in general) working my ass off for people who seem to hate my profession.

The consensus I seem to come across most from those whom dislike CDEs is they feel CDEs don't "understand". They haven't lived the day-to-day life with diabetes, so they have no right to try to tell us how to manage our disease. To that, I just want to say, you're wrong.

I know a lot of CDEs. Some, like myself, actually live with diabetes and deeply understand the intricacies of living with diabetes. Of course, there are far more who don't live with diabetes. However, all of them (the ones I know personally) have spent time checking their blood sugars, wearing insulin pumps with saline, and CGMs (continuous glucose monitors). Sure, they get to take all that technology off and put it away at the end of the week. Are you also bitter with the other 70% of the world who would get to do the same? While the educators I know may not involuntarily live with diabetes, they have voluntarily chosen to dedicate their lives to helping you better yours. They understand.

When you see an oncologist, do you look down your nose at them if they haven't been diagnosed with cancer? If your cardiologist has never had a heart attack, do you insist you know more than they do? If your obstetrician has no children, do you go through pregnancy and childbirth on your own because they just couldn't possibly understand? If you answered "no" to any of those, then why do you answer "yes" when it comes to diabetes educators?

Couldn't it be possible for your CDE to, maybe, help you? And isn't it possible that maybe, just maybe, they might have ideas you didn't consider despite not living with diabetes daily? We've all had bad experiences with an educator, myself included. Let me just remind you: "one" is not the same as "all".

When someone reaches out a hand offering to help you ease your burden, take it and say "thank you."

"I like video games, but they're really violent. I'd like to play a video game where you help the people who were shot in all the others. It would be called 'Really Busy Hospital'." ~Demetri Martin


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Short Circuit

Photo courtesy of IMDB. Short Circuit, 1986.
As I ever so slowly and unassuredly dig myself out of the black hole I've been living in for the past several months, I've tentatively taken some steps to reclaim diabetes as my own. I've let it run rampant for the better part of several years and have grown to pretending everything is "a-okay". I have an appointment with my old endocrinologist next week, so I've been diligently doing blood tests so as to have something to show...and basically just a starting point. Change has to begin somewhere.

I have sensitive skin - this is no secret. I've shared many posts in the past about how diabetes equipment has left me scarred and scabbed because of an allergy to adhesive. More recently I'm beginning to suspect an allergy to insulin, or the additives in insulin, as well. (That's to be discussed with my endo next week.) Over time, my allergy adhesive has gotten worse. I change my pump site every 2 days, as opposed to every 3, to avoid some of the skin irritation. Today, when I pulled my site off to change it, a huge chunk of skin came with it. Quite literally. ICKY PHOTO AHEAD.
Embedded image permalink
Gross. (Those other pink spots are scars from other pump sites.)
When I saw my skin stuck stuck to the pump tape and looked in the mirror to see part of my arm disintegrated, my brain short circuited a little.

In that moment, I was done with everything. Done with diabetes. Done with the itchy scabs and bloody scars. Done with stabbing and squeezing and bleeding and beeping and counting and measuring and caring in general. In that same moment, I decided to throw myself a pity party. I'm terribly pathetic at trying to do these types of things, but I was going to anyway.

I peeled off my clothes and filled the tub with steaming hot water. I didn't have any bubble bath, so instead I just squeezed some shower gel into the water and farted a few times. That seemed to suffice. I flooded the bathroom as I tried to squeeze my fat ass into the narrow bath. There was no music to play as my computer crashed a few months ago. I was afraid of dropping my phone or my Kindle into the farty-bubble-water, so there was nothing to read either. So instead I wallowed in the slowly draining water and cried. I couldn't cry enough tears to refill the tub, so I just laid there and sobbed for awhile as the tub emptied, hoping the soap bubbles were enough lube to keep me from getting stuck in the bathtub. When I was properly wrinkled and thoroughly dehydrated, I rinsed off and extracted my slippery self from the shower.
Image Credit
Despite still feeling broken and bitter about diabetes, I had been without insulin for about an hour while I pitied myself in my tiny shower. So I did what I had to. I cleaned off a new area of skin on my other arm and put another pump site on. I jabbed the needle in my arm and smoothed the tape down half-heartedly. No matter how hard I try or how much I want to, I can't completely ignore diabetes. It will always be there, burning my skin, reminding me just how much power it holds over me.

Now I'm sitting on the couch, watching Tom Cruise save Ferris Bueller's girlfriend and the last unicorn on Earth from orcs and the Prince of Darkness with the help of rather frightening little magical people. Just passing the time until the skin melts off my other arm. My life is unfortunate and strange.

"Broken today, healed tomorrow. There is nothing mysterious about how life works. It just goes on." ~Unknown

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's Been A Long December

In 2013, I only blogged about 1/3 my typical yearly posts (when compared to 2011 and 2012). There are probably many reasons for that, so rather than having a typical Year In Review blog post, I thought I'd do a list of things I hope to see disappear in 2014. It's different. And the truth.


1. Talking like you're texting. Seriously. "Totes", "McGotes", "brilly", etc - all these words need to disappear from our daily vernacular. Not only are they incredibly annoying, they make you sound like a 12 year old girl. When I hear people utter these words in public, I envision crimped hair and side ponytails. 

2. Amazeballs. Who came up with this word? THIS IS NOT A COMPLIMENT. Your balls are not amazing. I equate saying something is "amazeballs" to saying it's "super cool, just like a fuzzy nutsack!". Whether hairy or not, there is nothing fascinating about the meatball hanging between your legs. It's a lopsided lump that houses all the babies I don't want. Nope. Not amazing. Also, "awesomesauce". Please go away.

3. My sense of adventure. Like Dorothy, I thought all the answers to my problems would come with leaving home and exploring new lands. While hers was more accidental, my exploration of Oz ended much the same - with tiny humans, witches, and a desperate wish to be back with my family and friends. In all honesty, There's No Place Like Iowa (Home).

4. The Kardashians, Justin Bieber, and Miley Cyrus. Because if I have to hear whiny voices, see tongues licking mallets, or listen to 15 year olds sing about love, I may just lose my mind. (Yes, I know both Miley and Justin are older than 15 - work with me here.)

5. Hopelessness. Depression stole a large part of my year from me. It contributed a lot to my dislike of Illinois. When I fall asleep at night or wake up in the morning, I don't want to feel lost anymore. I want to look outside and see all the places I need go and things I want to do. I want to stop panicking about the future. I don't want to be alone anymore. The nature of depression is to make you feel sad and lonely. I long to be done with that. 

6. Job hopping. Since I completed my dietetic internship in 2010, this is my third stint in unemployment or underemployment. I would really, really enjoy finding a job and staying there for a few years. Finding satisfaction in my work. Contentment in what I do. I'm not asking for much, really - income and a smile on my face. Anyone in Central Iowa interested in a dietitian and diabetes educator? I'M HERE. Also, I am super qualified to play in piles of puppies all day. If you want to pay me generously, I am willing to accept that position also.

So, really, what am I looking for in 2014? I just want to be happy. I've said it every year, and I'll say it again - Maybe this year will be better than the last. 


"It's been a long December and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last." ~The Counting Crows, Long December

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Next Step

"This shit life...We must chuck some things...We must chuck them...in this shit life." ~The Weatherman (2005)

Michael Caine said it best. Something's gotta give. So I chucked my job. The life was being sucked out of me. I cried myself to sleep at night and couldn't get out of bed in the morning. I hit a breaking point. Something had to change. So I gave my two weeks notice at my job.

At the end of November, I'll be (once again), packing my life into a UHaul and trekking five hours to the next state over. I won't have a job or any source of income. I'll be eligible for COBRA and, for the first time in my life, I'll have other potential healthcare options thanks to the ACA. I'll be calling my parents' basement home. Again.

Being at the tail-end of my 20s and living with my parents is not where I hoped to find myself when I once contemplated the future. Compromising my mental health, my values, and my sanity by living and working somewhere I don't enjoy wasn't what I had envisioned either.

I find myself in an all-too-familiar place. Unemployed and re-evaluating my life. Wondering "what's next?" and "where do I go from here?" I've never pretended to have answers or even know what I'm doing. I'm comfortable living with the choices I have made; however, that doesn't make me immune from questioning them from time to time. The familiarity of confusion is unnerving. Everyone hopes by the time they're 30 they would feel some sense of satisfaction in their life.

So what is next for me? Being honest, I really don't know. GTFO of Illinois is my first task. Second, a job. After that, the world is wide open. Again.

"You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could've, would've happened...or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on." ~Tupac Shakur

Thursday, November 7, 2013

GTFO

As my first year in Illinois comes to a close (where the eff did the time go?), I find myself continuously reflecting on where I am now.

I've been in therapy since the end of April and slowly find myself regressing. While I'm not agoraphobic in anyway, I leave the house less and less. I don't get out of my pajamas unless I have to and rarely move off the couch. This is in no way my therapist's fault, mind you. As I sink farther into a sad loneliness, I've found my will to "get better" was left on some higher rung of the "happiness" ladder. My therapist tries. We set goals together. Each session I come back and admit I didn't even bother working towards the goals, though I contemplated it a few times. The pull to become one with my couch is much stronger than the pull to socialize. And whom, exactly, am I going to socialize with in this god forsaken place?

In short, my depression is getting worse. A lot worse. In fact, it's kicking my ass. My butt hurts.

In many, many ways, moving to Illinois has been the best and worst decision I have made in a long time. (I don't say "I've ever made" because allow me to remind you I am an alcoholic.) Let's start with the positives:

This smile
This face
And these cheeks
Those three reasons are why Illinois was a damn good choice. I mean... Seriously. C'mon. LOOK AT HER. Everything is adorable. She even looks more like me than she does my sister, so it's obvious we're related. Naturally, all the good stuff comes from me. THE BEST AUNTIE EVER.

Other than my niece, though, I honestly haven't ever felt at home here. Never felt settled. Making friends has, in all reality, been impossible. And the deeper I've sunk into depression, the less energy I've even bothered to put towards attempting to make any. As with every job, there are pros and cons to mine. Lately, that Deep Dark Monster inside me has been able to find a lot more cons. Those times I've been able to convince myself to get out of bed (admittedly, I've called in sick twice due to my mental status - I laid in bed and cried most of the day), I end up rolling into work in a panic around 45 minutes late. Because I work a lot of hours, this is generally ok. Because I work a lot of hours, I don't generally feel ok (when you're overwhelmed, 50 hour work weeks and 12 hour days don't bode well). So then I face the decision: do I admit defeat and look for a job back in Iowa or do I put on my boxing gloves and fight for a life here in Illinois? Both take energy I'm not sure I possess.

I don't sleep. I stare at the ceiling a lot. I cry into my pillow most nights - for reasons I don't even know, other than I know there is something sad out there in the world, and I'm going to shed a few tears for it. When I do fall asleep, I'm plagued by nightmares. Always someone chasing me. Always someone trying to get me. My dreams are representations of my unsettled mind and views of the world.

I think about death. Now, please don't misunderstand me - I don't actually want to die. I have absolutely no thoughts or plans to end my life. I think about death in more general terms. What happens after death? Is there an afterlife? Is everything truly just finished when you die? Are there dogs in heaven? I hope so. If I don't have to work and get to be smothered in puppies and other fuzzy, baby animals, maybe death is where I want to be (not really).

Also, I've been pretending diabetes doesn't exist. Sort of. I take insulin. I always take insulin. Like I said, I don't want to die. But I don't do blood tests. And carb counting is more like carb SWAGging. I put in a number and hope to God I've got it right. Diabetes is dangerous when you don't pay much attention to it. It's a fickle bitch. I completely realize I'm making it A LOT harder on myself by not testing, but the reality of that realization doesn't mean I'll do the logical thing. Sadness doesn't make sense.

There is less and less light in my world. I have fallen into a very, very dark place. I can't ever escape it. On the outside, when I'm forced to interact, no one would ever know. I make a point to ensure they don't know. After all, it's not their fault I feel generalized rage towards the universe. I shouldn't make them suffer, like I do. Although a friend in misery, on occasion, does sound like fun. My therapist has commented a few times on how I don't necessarily act jaded in our sessions. But she's also trained to pick up on the cues I'm unintentionally giving off. She knows. I deserve an Oscar, damnit. (Some sort of recognition for something would be appreciated, ok?)

Depression lies. But when it lies often enough, it becomes your reality. So I'm just going to stay here. In the dark. And struggle to stay above water in the all the confusion. (Let's be honest - I'll actually be eating gluten-free Oreos on the couch in my bathrobe, while I watch Bridget Jones' Diary and cry.)

All the while hoping some magic will force the darkness out.

Cartoon courtesy of Hyperbole and A Half. The best blog confronting depression ever. EVER. Ever. 
"Hello darkness, my old friend." ~Simon and Garfunkel

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Thirst

Someone filled my mouth with cotton. The inside feels thick and sticky. I run my tongue along my teeth and gums. It feels similar to the Sahara Desert - hot and dry. The one all consuming thought in my head is water. I need water.

My muscles feel like lead as I move from one room to another. One with a sink. And maybe glasses. But I'm not below drinking straight from the flow of water. I've lived with a dog long enough to know that when you're thirsty, you're willing to drink out of anything. Glasses are optional.

I drag my three-ton body to the kitchen, grab the largest cup I can find, and fill it to the brim. 32 ounces. I bring the cup to my mouth and feel the cool liquid move past my lips, my teeth, saturate the empty lake bed of my tongue,  and slide down my throat as I swallow. Nectar of the Gods. The first drink is the best, as it's the relief from the only thought in my head, drink.

After that I gulp the entire glass in greediness. Temporarily my thirst is quenched, but my mouth remains dry and thick. My stomach groans against the 32 ounces of fluid pouring into my digestive system. I stand at the sink, nauseous, for a moment. Then sprint to the bathroom for fear I may either pee my pants or throw up. Possibly both.

The entire time, all I can think of is water. That glorious clear liquid - it sparkles and shines in the sun. Runs freely out of the tap into a cool, clean pool. Water. Such a beautiful, naturally occurring wonder. I need more. Is my glass big enough? Can my stomach hold as much as I need to drink? My tongue feels like sandpaper. So dry. I need more. Lots more. I'm not sure there's enough. 

The thirst. It's hard to function beyond the basic need for liquid. When the thirst from high blood sugar strikes, it takes all of your energy to hold yourself together until you can enjoy the feel of sweet, cool relief. Water.

Water.

"Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it." ~Lao Tzu