Saturday, June 03, 2006


Ran errands today with Jenn, and did our once-every-two-months-or-so Costco run. My blood had been running high at lunch, so I wasn't very concerned about it. I walked up our three flights of stairs three times, and for the first time in months, the idea of slogging up them didn't make me tired.

I grabbed a light bulb and the step ladder and went to my room to change the light bulb in my closet. I got everything ready and realized I felt a little dizzy. One of the things the big ADA book harps on about is that anytime you feel off, you need to check your blood right away. There's no "just give me five minutes" wiggle room. And I sure as hell wasn't going to be an idiot and risk falling off the step ladder.

I checked my blood, and sure enough, I was at 62. I ate three graham crackers and lay in bed and read for a few minutes until I felt better, then got up and changed the light bulb. I went back to reading.

Jenn came in with a pile of books to join me, and we sat around reading for awhile.

I still felt like crap. I started sweating and got shaky, and saw those little bits of darkness at the edges of my eyes.

I checked my blood again.

I'd dipped to 45.


Drank some orange juice, ate three more graham crackers and lay prone on the bed again. I had Jenn give me one of the Lifesavers (oh, that's ironic) candies that I now keep on my desk. Ate that too, and continued lying in bed. It took another 15 minutes or so before my heart stopped racing.

Best I could figure, all the wandering around Costco and the walking up and down the stairs and the push-back of dinner by an hour (I had things to do!) threw me off, and my sugar level plummeted. The graham crackers weren't working fast enough. It's orange juice all the way, next time.

I'll be happy to start my new, lower dose of the Lantus insulin tomorrow morning. I think that's going to clear up a number of these hypoglycemic episodes.

What a weird disease.

Food Wars

Interesting article on the "food wars" going on in the school system . If the changes were about health, I'd love to get behind them: put more juice choices in schools, more trail mix as opposed to Snickers bars in the vending machines, making lunches palatable so you're not rummaging around for snacks all day and scarfing somebody else's pizza... I'd love a food program like that.

But having a pizza party once a week and a cupcake during a birthday party isn't the end of the world. And the more neurotic we get about food, the more we start encouraging binge and purge dieting, particularly in children. If you're not getting enough to eat or eating the right kinds of foods, you're more likely to binge. If you're getting the message that you're supposed to be skinny but your body's set point keeps bringing you back up into the silly "overweight" range on the bizarre BMI scale, you're more likely to start purging or cease eating all together (in my reading about diabetes, I discovered that many teenage type 1 diabetics, particularly girls, will take less insulin and keep themselves at a higher glucose level because they'll burn more fat that way, just like I was unintentionally doing before I was diagnosed. The problem with maintaining a high blood glucose level for a long time is that it puts you at risk for nerve damage [feet get chopped off], kidney failure, and blindess... but you'll be skinny, so you're Really Healthy, right???).

The more you try to limit a person's choices, the more you teach people to agonize over food, the more likely you are to encourage an eating disorder.

Food was a major subject in our house and among our relatives. Everyone wanted a say in matters of our weight. My mother - like, I suspect, many children's mothers - was always obsessing about weight and food. You pick that up pretty quick as a kid, and as kids who were just naturally bigger than everybody else, trying to "lose" those 20 extra pounds ended up sending all three of us into spirals of binge and purge eating styles. Sure, we lost the 20 - then gained 40, lost 30, gained 50. You end up putting more weight on than you would have had if you hadn't dieted.

It's taken me a fuck of a long time to break that cycle.

The first thing my buddy Stephanie's mom said when Steph told her I had type 1 diabetes was, "You mean type 2 diabetes."

Um. No.

The reason it took me so long to crash was because I was in such good shape.

At 200 lbs, obese by BMI standards, I was working out regularly, lifting weights, and for some time, doing boxing classes and jogging as well (looking back on it, I realize I ended my boxing classes about the time I started getting sick. I was just too tired to take that on, and the high-maintenance stuff in my life went first as I got progressively worse).

Now I'm 176, still "overweight" by BMI standards, and sicker than I was 25 lbs ago (working on being less sick, and gaining back some weight).

180 is a "fit" weight for me - below that, as now, is scary. It took me getting deathly ill to get me here.

But what about that pesky type 2 diabetes epidemic (type 2 being linked to excess weight), particularly in children? Well, it turns out those numbers are a little fuzzy, too:

We often hear, for instance, of a rising tide of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, especially in children. But the science behind such pronouncements is shaky. A study of nearly 3,000 children presented at the American Diabetes Association's 2005 conference suggested that a third of the children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with being overweight, were later found to have Type 1 diabetes, linked to genetics.

I would love to encourage kids in particular to eat right, have fun, exercise, make the most of their bodies, live forever. But kids know it's not really about being healthy and living forever. It's about being thin and popular.

When we approach the issue, seriously, as about health and not weight, I think it can be positive and successful. But as long as everyone's completely neurotic about food and weight, we're just going to go on perpetuating unhealthy ideas about exercise and nutrition.

(via bfb)

The Shovel

Did another follow-up call with my doctor, Dr. S, this morning. I've had a couple of nights where I've been running under 70 on the blood sugar count (and had two low sugar reactions in the middle of the night), so he's cutting my long-lasting morning insulin dose from 30 to 26 units, which makes me happy because Lantus is $80 a bottle.

He wants me to cut down my blood monitoring to twice a day - once before breakfast and again before dinner (and any time I feel weird, of course). The idea is that I should only have to take 2 shots a day now instead of 4 (and to be honest, I haven't had to take 4 shots a day since the first week and a half or so).

I also received a ridiculously big check from Jenn's parents, who - when they heard about my shit insurance and huge deductible ($2500) - said nobody should be worried about health insurance.

I don't deserve this sort of generousity. The love I get from the people around me is staggering.

The money is enough to set me breathing slightly easier, and be so thankful, once again, that I'm surrounded with amazing, generous, loving people.

How the fuck did I get so lucky?

Because that's the one thing I don't ever want to forget. The fact that I'm alive is one big roll of the dice, and I'm damn lucky. I arrived home from the hospital knowing I was going to miss two weeks of work I couldn't afford to miss - and opened up my email while still in a high-blood-sugar-daze to find that I'd been assigned another two writing passages for the contract writing job. The total check for that work is nearly equal to two weeks of work at my day job.

I'm not a huge believer in coincidence. Luck, maybe.

The universe will wack you in the back of the head with a shovel, but if you're lucky and work hard and value the people you love; if you're brave enough to accept some help in dragging yourself up off the floor, well, the universe just might help you take care of yourself, too.

After it hits you with the shovel, of course.

Fucking shovel.