Not By Choice – George Simmons

 

World Diabetes Day is always a pretty special day for many of us living with diabetes.  But last year, November 14, 2008, we were treated to something very, very special.

One of my very best friends, and a favorite d-blogger of many, George Simmons, created a little magic for us.

G-Money (as I affectionately call him) is a real gift to us because he shares so much of himself with us.  We see many sides of him, which is a really special thing.  He shares himself so openly and honestly with anyone who cares to tune into his life (by reading one of his great blogs or following him on twitter).  Not everyone can be as open and honest as G-Money, and I treasure my great relationship with him for those reasons (and many more).

George wanted to share a piece of his heart with us last WDD, and I think he created a masterpiece.  It was so good, and so many people loved it, that he took it to the next level and booked some studio time.  It has been a project he’s been working on for a long time, and it is finally ready for everyone!  If you like what you hear in his YouTube debut, you can now grab a copy from iTunes!

Also, head on over to Six Until Me to read a bit more about G-Money and what this song is for him.  Then go download a copy to keep!

 

A Disease of Little Decisions

Diabetes is such a unique condition.  While the basics are the same for all of us living with type 1, and many of those living with type 2, our bodies are all very different, and we all have to adopt different management techniques.

I think that everyone being different makes it harder to deal with.  Nobody can tell you what to do, only what they have done and learned through much trail and error.  There is a lot of uncertainty involved with that, and a lot of time and energy (both mental and physical) is needed to figure it out for your body.

Think about all of the decisions you make during the day about your diabetes.  Are they big decisions (such as chemotherapy or radiation or surgery)?  Or are they little decisions (such as eating those extra few crackers or not, with or without cheese)?

For me, it is a lot of little decisions.  A lifetime of them in fact.  What to eat?  How much to dose?  I’m playing ball later, do I eat more or reduce my insulin?  Both?  I could go on and on with this – you all know the drill.  It is little decisions all day and night long.

I’ve been thinking about these little decisions a lot lately, and they cut both ways.  If they are such little decisions, shouldn’t they be easy to decide in a positive direction?  Or because they are little decisions are they easier to blow off?  Maybe a little of both.

Related to this, I was watching a TED talk last night.  This one was Peter Donnelly, an Oxford mathematician, talking about statistics and the common mistakes humans make in interpreting them.  A few things he said (at about 19:13) really resonated with me.

it’s very well documented that people get things wrong, they make errors of logic in reasoning with uncertainty“, and “we are not good at reasoning with uncertainty“, and “it is something we are bad at“.

Wow.  There is nothing certain about all of the decisions we make through the day.  And here is a Very Smart Person talking about how we as humans are not good at reasoning (the mental powers of forming conclusions) when uncertain.

In some ways this explains a lot!  It’s not that I’m extra dumb when it comes to getting it right with my diabetes – but rather my makeup as a human being is not very well equipped to reason with uncertainty!

Interruptions at The Rookery

Did you all see G-Money’s vlog post the other day?  The one where he was playing basketball with his family and had to stop because he got low?  If not, go watch it now.  What we get with this slice of his life is how frustrating it can be dealing with a low.

Feeling low sucks. It is very frustrating when it interrupts your day (or night).  But what drives me even more crazy is when my low, my interruption, spills over into other people’s lives.  My interruption is now affecting their life, and interrupting their moment.  It makes me feel very self-conscious and guilty, even though in many cases I could not have done anything at all to avoid the low.

Watching George’s vlog post made me think about a low that put a screeching halt to some fun stuff I was trying to do with my kids recently.  My kids were bummed, but of course very supportive and understanding (as we saw with George’s awesome family).

My son is incredibly interested in nature and creatures.  It’s great.  He knows more about many things than I do about stuff.  I can ask him what kind of bird that was, and he’ll rattle off the name of it in a blink.  It’s so fun.  Along with that I’m enjoying learning about photography, and taking my camera out on nature walks with him (and sometimes my little princess).  My son recently went on a field trip with school, and saw a “Rookery”, which in this case is an island in the middle of the Mississippi river with very tall trees.  Up in the tops of these trees are a whole bunch of heron nests!

Hearing about this, and hearing that it was not far from my house, we headed out one Saturday shortly after breakfast to take a look.  We parked the car and started walking through the park trails along the river.  We walked about a mile towards the Rookery when I felt low.  A test of 56 mg/dl confirmed it.  A quick glance at my pump showed over 17 units of insulin active in my system.  Shit shit shit.

I had just eaten (and taken insulin) for breakfast about 45 minutes ago, which in this scenario translated into knowing that insulin was going to peak soon.  Peaking insulin is a Bad Thing when low.

How did this happen?  I am the first to admit that I am not the best at counting my carbs, but I was very confident that I got it spot on for breakfast.  Speaking of breakfast, where the heck had it gone?!  Why was I low?  My confidence was shaken, and I wondered if it was all just sitting in my stomach, not digesting yet.  This was not a new or unfamiliar meal, it was something I had eaten a hundred times before.  WTF!

I started to assess my situation.  I had a full tube of glucose tabs in my pocket, but because I had all that insulin working through me, that wasn’t going to be enough to pull me out of this low .  There was a pop machine in the park house, but I only had a $20 on me.  I knew we had to stop in our tracks and head home, even though we hadn’t seen what we came to see.

I was worried.  I had my kids with me (a diabetic parent’s worst nightmare – a debilitating low while in charge of little ones).  What if I can’t get my blood sugar to come up, and end up passing out?  Assuming I could make it to the car, was I really going to jump behind the wheel, with my kids in the back, and try to get home?

I felt stuck, and helpless.

I had to break the news to my two little nature adventurers, who were having a great time exploring the area and were excited about seeing more.  It broke my heart.  My son was trying to come up with solutions (“dad, I think there is an old hard candy I spit out in the back seat of your car…”), but the only option I could come up with was to eat the glucose tabs and get home (which was closer than any store) before the shit hit the fan.

I chomped down the 40g of glucose tablets I had in my pocket while we walked to the car.  I tested when we got to the car and had gone up to 83 mg/dl.  We drove home, where I kept fighting the low for another half hour or so.  Where. Did. My. Breakfast. Go. ?.

I felt so guilty about messing up the kids adventure, but being the great kids they are, they understood and moved onto the next thing in their day.  They are so great.

I went back to The Rookery another day, without the kids (who were busy with something else).  It was a sight to see.

 

Picture of a heron flying in the sky

Of Course I Should Have Known Better – THYROID!

I have been feeling tired again, despite using my CPAP machine every night.  My blood sugars have been running high.  I’ve been trying to counter that with ever increasing amounts of insulin, without much success.  I’ve been gaining weight.  I can’t focus or stay on task for long.  Everything is harder.

thyroid7All these signals are pretty clear looking at them from the other side of my latest endo appointment.  My thyroid levels have dropped off the charts.

I had some vague ideas about all of the things that are affected by low thyroid levels, but really didn’t appreciate the severity of it.  For most of my life I’ve just taken a small pill or two to “fix” the thyroid issue, and that was that!

But I recently fell into a lazy rut about managing my prescriptions, and had been taking old, expired thyroid pills for the past couple of months.  And it bit me in the ass.

I feel like shit, and it’s my own fault.  The kicker of it is, these pills are the cheapest of my routine meds.  I don’t even have the excuse of them being too expensive.  I think it has a lot to do with my trying to order (and pay) for everything together once a quarter.

I’m on new pills now, but the doc says it will be about three weeks before I start feeling better.  I can’t wait!  But at least I have an explanation for how I’ve been feeling, and for my blood sugars running so stubbornly high.

And, I’ve also learned my lesson about expired pills.

Sunday Tags, Part Two – Eight Is Great

I was tagged for this one by both Rachel and Penny (thanks!).

I’m not a huge “meme” kind of guy, but figured I should get this one done and out-of-the-way, rather than procrastinate on it (sorry Chris!).

Eight things I’m looking forward to:

  1. Always looking forward to hanging with my kids and family
  2. Some real advancements in therapy specifically for type 1 diabetes (a cure would be nice too)
  3. Some snazzy tool that will scan my food and give me a precise carbohydrate count
  4. Paying off my debts
  5. Hanging out with good friends and family
  6. Actually going bald so I don’t have to shave my noggin’ so much
  7. Icy cold beverages (yes, I’m always looking forward to one)
  8. Getting done with my “meme” obligations :-)

Eight things I did yesterday:

  1. Had some ice-cold beverages (Diet Coke and Crystal Light Peach Tea)
  2. Went a photography class that I didn’t like very much
  3. Read most of a book
  4. Relaxed (it was really, really nice)
  5. Took a long nap (which was really, really nice too!)
  6. Played with my kids and hung out with my wife
  7. Finished up some computer work
  8. Tried to fly a kite with my daughter

Eight things I wish I could do:

  1. Eat healthier (both nutrition and portion size related)
  2. Speak multiple languages
  3. Slam dunk!
  4. Ride my trikke
  5. Dedicate more time to playing with my kids (they’re growing up fast, and before you know it they’ll not want to hang with me)
  6. Speed read (and retain it all)
  7. Take better pictures (a work in progress)
  8. Be more handy

Eight shows I watch:

  1. The First 48
  2. Mythbusters
  3. Dirty Jobs
  4. Dexter
  5. Spongebob
  6. dLife
  7. The Boondocks
  8. NBA & NFL

Eight people I want to read eight things about:
I’m going to skip this part (again), which is really lame of me (sorry).  If you want to jump in and share your eight things, consider this YOUR tag!

Sunday Tags, Part One – Honest Scrap

 

Image of a sign that says "Honest Scrap"Chris, from A Consequence of Hypoglycemia, awarded me with a tag a while ago very long time ago and the Honest Scrap award.  Thank you Chris!  Here’s how it works.  I am to tell you 10 things about me that you may not know, but that are true, and then I have to tag 10 readers with the award (but I’m going to skip that part, ’cause I’m lame like that).  Here we go!

  1. I hate the “sticky drip”.  This is when the soda fountain on either side of the diet soda drips on my hand as I’m filling my cup.  I always have to find the water spout and rinse it off real quick. But then I feel bad, like I’m washing my hands in the soda fountain, which is gross.
  2. The ketchup bottle better not be empty.
  3. I hate vending machine gum, because it is not the flavor I really want, and usually very hard and crunchy (two things gum should never, ever be).  I still end up buying and chewing it though, because I’m desperate (mild oral fixation anyone?).
  4. I like to drink an ice cold diet soda while I’m chewing my gum.  I don’t know what it is, but I like how it makes the gum almost freeze up, and then as I keep chewing the flavor comes back out as it warms.
  5. I say “Great post” a lot when I comment on your blogs.  A lot.  But I sincerely mean it. Every time.
  6. I once had to use my trusty swiss army pocket knife to pick the little lock on a public restroom toilet paper dispenser.  The damn thing malfunctioned at a critical time, and I had to do what I had to do.
  7. Speaking of public restrooms, those fancy Dyson “AirBlade” hand dryers are bad ass, and I wish I had a big one at home that I could walk through after showering.
  8. I love people watching.  When I’m feeling blue, I need to get out to a mall or some bright and active place.  That usually makes me feel a little better, at least for a while.
  9. I have a bad habit of leaving restaurants with their cups (full of diet coke, of course).  I do however leave the ketchup, just in case dook is next to sit at that table.  :-)
  10. I once bought the same book twice because at the bookstore I remembered I wanted to read it, but didn’t remember that I had already bought it and that it was in my bookshelf.
That’s all I got folks!  Chris, my bad on the uber long delay dude.

Making The Same Mistakes

I’ve been wresting with myself the past few days.

I did something I knew very well I shouldn’t.  In fact I did it three times.  And each time I was miserable and scared afterward.  And once I was done being scared I felt guilty.

Mistakes in life happen, and are necessary.  We need to make mistakes in order to learn.  We are supposed to learn from our mistakes, and then not repeat them if possible.  Sometimes it takes a few times for the lesson to sink in, and sometimes the scenarios change a little bit, forcing us to translate the experience a little bit in order to learn from it.

But I’ve made this mistake so many times in my life, and just don’t know why I keep doing it again and again.  Without diabetes it would be unhealthy.  But with diabetes is it downright dangerous.

The details of this mistake might not matter much, and it can all be thrown in to the “binge eating” bucket.  This particular binge eating bucket was full of melted Velveeta cheese and tortilla chips, which I know damn well causes me a lot of problems with my blood sugar — both up front and hours (and hours) later.

Fooling myself into thinking that I might be able to indulge AND manage my blood sugars, I took a crapload of insulin.  Then I ate until I couldn’t stuff another cheese covered chip into my mouth.  No counting, no measuring, no thinking.  Just eating (and eating and eating).

My blood sugars were a mess for the rest of the day.  I had started a wild and reckless swing of ups and downs, highs and lows, and a lot of emotions about my failing to control my impulses.  It’s just chips and cheese.  How could I let something so stupid invade my (hole-filled) fortress of self-control?

But here is what is more crazy.  I did this exact same thing three times in three days.  It was as if I knew I needed to get rid of it all so it wouldn’t temp me again – except instead of just throwing it away I ate it all, in two separate sittings.  What the heck is THAT all about?

InsertBrainHere

I don’t understand what goes on in my head sometimes.  Why do I think it is alright to get so reckless?  No, that’s not the right question.  Why do I get so reckless when I KNOW it is not alright?