Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Theme Schmeme

It's been so long since I posted anything on this blog that I'm not sure where to start. So many times I've thought to myself "Hey self, you are experiencing an interesting experience - why don't you go blog about it a little?"

But after I'm done doing Wii Zumba, the only real workout I'm likely to get all week, I'm moving on to some other chore or important Thing, and never get back to describing how I broke into tears just as a physical release and an overwhelming gratitude that I am healthy enough to do Zumba, even if it is in my own living room. With Wii. (don't judge)

Or when I'm feeling so powerless over the past few months since I've been learning about all these new cancer drugs in development at my company - wishing the next miracle drug were HERE already for my beautiful warrior of a step-sister. That topic deserves a whole post about cancer drugs and what I'm involved with to target drugs to the right patients with better diagnostic tests and how much that could help the world.  But my aim is true. It has been a pretty small scope I've been obsessing over for weeks. And as of last Friday, December 14th, my small selfish obsessions became completely meaningless. We lost my Warrior Sister in battle. Shit.

How about the angst I felt walking down the street from yet another evaluation/appointment for Wild Thing to figure out the best way to help him navigate a world he isn't quite conforming to. His brain is wired a little differently. He is so sensitive and intelligent and hilarious and beautiful. He also has a lot of anger sometimes, and a lot of hyper behavior, and an inability to tolerate too much noise or "weird" tastes, textures, feelings. sigh.

I'll spare mention of Teen Wonder for the moment, since she's doing well with college and navigating it pretty much as well as I had hoped and expected. But I still worry...  And I'll spare Mr. Wonderful, who is my partner and co-pilot on this crazy turbulent flight of life. He too is deeply flawed like the rest of us in our house.  Marvelous, interesting, loving people who are all deeply flawed around here.  At least we're not boring.

But let's end on a happy note. This is the first Christmas season since 3 years that I've been healthy and able to go to all the events, trim the tree and decorate the house, bake cookies (well, I WILL bake some before Christmas gets here, I swear it). I even took a business trip to Basel the first week of December, and I didn't get sick there and stay in a strange clinic for a week only to be flown home in a Lear jet by MedJetAssist (buy their insurance btw). And I was able to go at all since I haven't had an "episode" since I got home from the Stanford hospital in January.

That's worth a lot.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Getting fat is a good sign that your digestive system is working...(aka adventures in low-carb eating part 1)

But that's about the only good sign that weight gain heralds. Except that I do try to get fat eating only delicious food and drink. So there's that.

Really I should give this post a different title that would reflect what I have been up to. But it's related in a way because I am trying for a very low-carb diet right now.  Not to lose weight (wouldn't say no to a 10 pound loss, but not my current goal) - no, I'm trying this because I just have to face the music. I have to listen to the Oldies station and ignore Alternative. Except now, this may be "Alternative", so WTF. Let's just move on.

I finally read a book that I have been actively avoiding for at least 2 years.  It's called "Dr Berstein's Diabetes Solution" or something very close to that.  Any diabetics in the audience heard of this book?
Here's the amazon link for The Diabetes Solution - there are tons of reviews and opinions you can peruse.

Well, Dr. Bernstein is a self proclaimed heretic among ADA experts, and his methodology is largely derived from experimenting on himself.  That last part actually appeals to me since as a scientist, it is easier to think of trying changes as experiments rather than mandates from a doctor who will proclaim you "non-compliant" when you are unable to produce the textbook responses they expect. Disclosure: this is a major pet peeve of mine? the whole concept of "non-compliance" in diabetes. Non-compliant to what? Your guess in the dark about what might or might not be a relevant tool or habit for my particular body and lifestyle? I require some serious logic and evidence based medicine before I will blindly comply to anyone's directions when it comes to my body. I'm a scientist and a veteran diabetic so don't treat me like a neophyte. Don't just assume that I'm sitting around eating any sugary treat I an get my hands on while not taking my insulin at appropriate time. And when I do make bad choices, don't treat this as a major moral failing.

That's all I'm asking. I have yet to have a doctor who has themselves have to deal with a chronic disease like diabetes. seriously, I just think the majority don't get it.

Bad patient anyone?  That's just how I do.

Anyway, back to Bernstein's solution. I resisted reading the book for so long because I thought it would be more of the same. Like a reformed smoker preaching to you about the evils of tobacco, or any type of addict or reformed "sinner" who has seen the light and has the discipline to live "right". And if you just tried hard enough, you wouldn't have these problems, and THEREFORE (conclusion not based on logic) all your health problems are your own fault. Like I don't already tell myself all that bullshit everyday of my life on my own, even though I KNOW it isn't a fair accusation to rain down on my own head. BUT HE DIDN'T WRITE THAT WAY AT ALL!  He was very compassionate about the suckiness of diabetes, the fact that none of us "caused" our diabetes, and that the guidelines we get are confusing, conflicting, and often just wrong.

That got him in my door at least. The guy is more than sympathetic to the foibles of humanity and acknowledges the folly of all the different ADA, AHA, and USDA guidelines on nutrition, particularly as applied to diabetes.

Here's the major yucky-sucky - this guy targets a total of 30 grams of carbs per day, including the 5 or 6 grams (no matter how complex) from your cups of green leafy veggies. He doesn't eat any fruit or any kind of recognizable carb based food aside from veggies. And no tomatoes, carrots or beets in his opinion.
Fruit is out of the question.

Now, I can't live with that in its entirety - no berries? what? no tomatoes?  I can live with spaghetti squash instead of noodles, but no marinara? c'mon!! And I have to make at least 4-5 pies per year. Cake and cupcakes I can bake and not eat. Even more cookies I can actually turn away from. mostly. But pie?  I still consider pie a balanced food item and don't put huge amounts of sugar in mine to start with.

okay. But I read the book. And then the same week a piece came out in the NYTimes about how a calorie isn't necessarily a calorie. ("What Really Makes us Fat") And that the low-carb diets really do have a different effect on your metabolism than high-carb low-fat diets.  By then I'd been living it already for 2 days. I got through the 4th of July without a single cupcake, cookie, or sugary cocktail. It wasn't that hard actually - lots of meat and salads around everywhere.

Bernstein wants diabetics to maintain 83 mg/dl. That's his magic number. you can allow higher for insulin takers, and for gastroparesis irregularity. So I'm shooting for 70-120 as my target range.  Some days have been tougher, but with smaller amounts even it is easier to calculate and not OVER calculate in the wrong direction to a huge degree.  So I have had a couple of days of stubborn highs. And a couple of scary lows. But not many - much fewer than with a "regular" diet. The highs are in the 140-180s instead of the mid to high 200s. The lows come on slower so I've only badly over-treated one time. I am on day 14. Two weeks.

I don't think I can eat this way every single day for the rest of my life. But if the splurges become notably infrequent, that would be okay. I don't like the bG excursions that follow even though I can usually rein them in within a few hours. I think it may be tenable to live the great majority of my days taking in low-carb and high protein. I've been wearing CGM (continuous glucose monitor) and I have to say that it feels nice to see the flat lines.

So low-carb I will stay for the time being. I'm curious to hear about other's experiences with experiements like this. We are all built differently and change over time. On the other hand, I'm always open to new ideas!

Getting f

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

unacceptable. condition.

Would I like to send Diabetes to the dungeon for a million years, you mean?  
Why yes.  I would.

Yes. The Earl of Lemongrab is how I'm feeling right now. Rigid and mean. And crazy.

I've been having a sucky time with this condition lately. It is Totally Unacceptable.  I need to get an official A1C done, but I have the home test that is now available again. Let's just say, I'm not any closer to my goal of 7%.  I'm not even going to dream about the newer recommendation of 6.5% until I get to 7.

I've been wearing CGM. I've been testing a gazillion times a day.  And I have proof.  These are untouched photographs of used glucose test strips in their natural habitat. Which is all over the place (does anyone else have this problem?)
Bathroom counter
kitchen breakfast table
Purse 1
Purse 2 (I guarantee if I went through every bag I own I would find at least one of these babies in there. Sometimes a  whole herd of them have migrated to the bottom.)
Kitchen floor
in my car

Desk at work
under the desk...you get the idea.
Obviously this is how they escape. I'm sloppy and always in a hurry and just stick  the used strips back in the pouch along with the tissue that should have been discarded 20 tests ago.  I know. It is gross. sorry.
Look, I don't expect perfection here. But hey Diabetes! Do you think you could cut me an f?!$ing break here?

Mr. Wonderful thinks I have a cold or something. Plus I've been trying to work out again. I think it's sore muscles plus hay fever. Does Diabetes know the difference? I think no. 

But it's a stressful time right now in our lives too. It's been hard to sleep this past week, and I have insomnia issues that don't need any assistance.  I dunno. It's not that my bGs are way out there today. Not in the "scary zone" - but they haven't dropped below about 150 all day today either. And a few days ago (maybe it was over a week ago) I had a full blown roller coaster ride (I plead guilty to rage bolus issues).  Normally I try to stay upbeat about all this crap and not take it personally. I learned a long time ago that it doesn't help. But I'm feeling a bit beaten down at the moment. I was hoping that writing a post about it with some humor thrown in would help.

Tomorrow will be better.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Meditate? Me? Bwahahahahaha!

I was just now enjoying a moment.  I'm in the kitchen with a furry cat on my lap. I'm still in my bathrobe, but I've gotten a few things done. There is a clock ticking to my left. Everywhere I can see from this view is complete chaos. Every counter piled with papers and stuff and dirty dishes. Milk sitting out on the counter.

But there aren't any other humans in the house, no other noises, and I am just breathing (and now typing). And I realized that I feel really calm and peaceful. Just for a minute or two not thinking about anything. Or when I am thinking, only enjoying some nice thought at random.  Somehow, these moments are very rare for me. My massage therapist tells me I would be a perfect candidate for a practice in meditation. I don't know how to meditate, and the idea always strikes me as a little silly.

But if this is the endgame of meditation, maybe I should give it a try.

(WWHHHOOOOOSH!! Look out! Here comes the reality of my monkey brain back from her little break!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's just the way I am. And it isn't my fault.

Diabetes Blog Week continues.
Today's topic: "What They Should Know" - What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn't have diabetes about living with diabetes?

We can write more than one thing, which is good because the one thing I want to convey is really two things:
Diabetes isn't as bad as you think, but it's also probably harder than you think.  
Otherwise entitled "What you don't know about diabetics could fill a book..."
When I was first diagnosed 32 years ago, diabetes management was harder than it is now because we didn't have glucose monitoring, or insulin pumps, or carb counting.  I wasn't good at eating the same thing at the same time in the same portions everyday. I had different exercise and activities day to day at different times. I had either yucky glucose gel or yucky chalk tablets that were in blister packs and disintegrated in a backpack.  I had to explain to coaches and teachers about my diabetes regularly, and I didn't like the extra "attention" that diabetes brought down on my head.  I was an adolescent, which is hard anyway - so you can imagine that testing my urine (and then later my blood) and being careful about food choices was challenging, and that I rebelliously refused to acknowledge the reality of diabetes.  I just plain didn't like it or want to talk about it with people.

I still hate that people assume they know what I can and can not eat - it drives me crazy.  Or now as an adult, many people assume I can't even have a glass of wine. And they judge you when you consume something they are so sure you shouldn't.  (They really do - don't deny it. Don't we all judge others for one reason or another?)
Well guess what?  I have the same choices as every. body. else.  And like everybody else, I have to deal with the consequences of my choices. For example, if I overeat, I can take more insulin to keep my blood sugar in target range - but if I do this often I gain weight, just like everybody else. It's gotten easier over time to try and be more "boring" with food choices because it is just simpler.  So I often will forego a piece of birthday cake at work because it's just more hassle than it's worth with extra insulin bolus and testing. Not worth it sometimes for even a pretty decent Costco birthday cake (they really do have tasty cakes, FYI).  But if it is some special treat, like gelato in Venice, I will definitely make the effort.  Having a pump and carb counting have gradually freed me from the confines that I didn't "comply" with in my younger years. I have much more freedom and my choices can be better managed now.  Achieving HbA1C lower than 7 is still quite an effort for me personally because I'm just not a very perfect diabetic. I have a busy full life, which causes stress and sometimes puts diabetes management second or third in a queue of demands. I travel frequently for work, and routines are impossible to maintain on business trips. I respond too well to insulin sometimes, and my digestive inconsistencies muck up the rate that sugar hits my blood from my belly.  I am "brittle" - a term I used to loathe because I felt like it was some sort of moral or personal failing to be a brittle diabetic.

It's just the way I am. And it isn't my fault.  

(this is my  basic current set-up. I also find it irritating (literally) to have these gadgets attached to me 24 /7. I do usually hide my pump in my boobage somewhere though) A=pump B= tubing and infusion set, C= CGM sensor, D=CGM transmitter. They talk to each other, and my meter also talks to the pump to calibrate the continuous glucose monitor (CGM))
On the flip-side, diabetes management was also easier in a way in early 1980 because there weren't very many tools to use - so management wasn't a second full-time job the way it sometimes feels now. I had all these emotions about it all the time to compensate for the lack of control - fear, anger ( a lot of anger), frustration. But the mechanics of diabetes were pretty basic - take these 2 shots of insulin at these times every day, pee in a cup and test your urine 4 times a day and record the result in a 3-ring binder, . And here is your exchange diet plan and list of foods.
No sweets, set number of bread/starch exchanges, protein exchanges, etc.  "Free foods" were a big deal and they were as follows: 1) sugar free jello, 2) beef or chicken broth, and 3) diet soda (Tab or Fresca only). My folks weren't big on us drinking soda so I didn't have that a lot. I think they started buying it more to be nice to me - but it didn't taste like much of a "treat" with the saccharine aftertaste anyway.  Cookies? You may have vanilla wafers, graham crackers, or gingersnaps and only 2 (maybe it was 4 vanilla wafers...) for a starch exchange.

Simple as it was, I much prefer the complicated management routine I have today. I like to bake cookies and pie for my friends and family, I like my complicated mom-scientist-traveler-athletic-craftsy-stressful life. No, correction please. I love my life. I am blessed and lucky.

The hardest thing about diabetes and having other autoimmune issues for me gets harder as I grow older.  The impact that my health has on everyone around me mainly. I struggle with depression (common in diabetics and little wonder IMHO), low blood sugar is disorienting for me and that scares people who see me as a strong, competent, decisive person suddenly unable to make a decision.  More and more as I grow older, friends and family know of people with diabetes who've suffered amputations, heart attacks, painful neuropathies, laser eye surgeries. Painful complications and/or death before it seemed like the right time.  Our D-lifespans are statistically shorter than "normal" people. I know for a fact that the people who love me and care about me worry about me, and that makes me unspeakably sad. I want people to be happier when they know me and think of me.  I want them to smile at my silliness, or idiosyncrasies, or just because they like being around me - not worried sick that my kidneys will fail, my stomach freak-outs will land me in a bad place (not all diabetes related, but gastroparesis is a big factor), or that a low blood sugar will send me into another bad place.  I've never passed out, or convulsed due to low bG - but I am way disoriented and blabbering when it happens. and pale and sweaty.  I'm sure it is almost as scary to see as it is to experience.

Despite all this, I want people to know that it is in fact much scarier for me - the one who can't think straight and is totally dependent on getting my glucose in and the people I might need to assist. The one who has to get constant check-ups and wonder every time if this is the time I'll have to take another drug, or get eye laser surgery, or start dialysis, or on and on and on.  Please don't get mad at me. I'm not doing this on purpose. I'm not a careless person who doesn't take care of herself.

It's just the way I am. And it isn't my fault.

I could probably fill a book with more on this topic, but I don't really want to.  I like dealing with diabetes with a sense of humor and living my life in the fullest way possible despite having diabetes.  And that's probably a better book.
But I need to give it more thought...

*Blue was negative for spilled sugar (over your renal threshold which varies from person to person), and there was a scale of color through the greens and yellows up to orange which was something like +5 high sugar.  I very seldom hit the blue after my first year (a "honeymoon" period where my body still made a little insulin).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One Thing to Improve...move along

One thing? I have to choose one thing to improve? one thing.

Diabetes Blog Week day 3 - On Thing to Improve - "Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at. Today let's look at the flipside. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!"

And all my loved ones and friends who aren't diabetic, you can still be part of the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) via me - cheer me on, dammit! And you can be in our cool D-club. (sorry to be a smart-ass, but picking just one of the myriad things I'd like to improve is really difficult).

What I really really need to improve is making time for exercise. I used to be really good at this, carving time out of lunch hours, quick after-work jogs, even early morning jogs or yoga.  I used to really include exercise as just a part of my life that was a given.  Somewhere in the past few years, we had a second child, and my job responsibilities and travel went up. And "poof!" like mysterious magic I found myself plumper, lumpier, and with more volatile blood sugars.


Lately, I have started going to a yoga class once per week (when I'm in town). I have the option of 2 other exercise classes per week (went I'm at the office) on Mondays and Fridays too. but I haven't really committed.  And the expensive gym membership that has bee under-used for over a year now? yeah. like I said...underused.

So what should I choose? Obviously exercise is on my brain so I think something physical.  What gives me the most well-being feeling for the buck? yoga. What gives me the most feeling that I've created a few muscle fibers? A good strength/weights workout. What gives me the feeling I'm breathing hard and will be burning calories and bG for another couple of hours? Something really aerobic like running (meh.), eliptical trainer (eh), or Zumba! (okay, fun). Walking will count for me in a pinch, like when I'm traveling - if I can get an hour or two of "casual" walking, relatively brisk, around a city, I'll let myself off the exercise hook.  Otherwise, my goal is to exercise at least something like that or a yoga session (not always vigorous or aerobic), but preferably with 2 resistance workouts, and 2 high intensity aerobic workouts minimum per week.  The most recent studies say that women my age need to exercise moderately to vigorously for 60 minutes every single day to maintain our muscle mass.  I don't think I can commit to that right now, but 20-30 minutes minimum on the days I can't find any time would be an achievement at this point.

Let's see... My schedule could look like this:

Sunday - Gym for strength and/or aerobic workout depending on week plan, or Yoga session
Monday - bootcamp like class at work (or you'd better pick a suitable alternative, wimp!)
Tuesday - minimum 30 minutes run/walk (gotta start again somewhere
Wednesday - Yoga class
Thursday - gym for some resistance/ weights
Friday - bootcamp like class at work (or you'd better pick a suitable alternative, wimp!)
Saturday - Zumba! with Wii

Well, it's Wednesday night here in Basel Switzerland, and I can tell you that I did Zumba and Yoga last week, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - each day I did some city walking (30-60 minutes), so I'm letting myself off the hook. But I should have squished in a gym visit in the morning (oh, well it's already 2:30 in the morning now!). No. I'm not going to do that because sleep is something I also need.

I will do something tomorrow, preferably yoga or somatics, then Friday I can go to the gym and/or do Zumba.

On the weekends, we are full of excuses because the whole family life thing is pretty full without a need for padding with exercise. But that is of course the completely wrong way to look at it.  Today I realized we haven't done any family bike riding for awhile. Maybe it's time to bring those to the outdor parking spot for the summer!

(move along)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One Great Thing

Second entry for Diabetes Blog Week: One Great Thing.  As in giving yourself credit for doing one diabetes thing really well, even though it is impossible to be perfect.

I have to say, this is a really hard one for me. I don't generally feel like I do any diabetes related thing "spectacularly". I forget to bolus, I forget to carry glucose, I forget my test kit at the restaurant we ate at...200 miles back, I don't adhere tightly to diet guidelines, I don't exercise enough. 

Yeah, I can see why you'd need to give a diabetic a specific instruction to name something they do very well.

Okay - here's two things: 1)  I do always get my checkups for kidneys and eyes, and my HbA1C regularly.  If there is any damage or complication developing I am committed to address it head on and not bury my head in the sand. I've always felt that way, and after 32 years, the only complication I've had to address  so far is the gastroparesis. Hopefully, being diligent with those annual and periodic screenings will assure that anything else is detected early enough to avoid drastic consequences.

2) I still have my sense of humor after all these years.  In the D-blog world, I'm clearly not alone in this - but I also know several people with chronic disease who seem to get consumed in the anger and depression that pretty much all of us have to fight off at least sometimes.  I do get pissed off about diabetes. I do get totally down sometimes.  But I often surprise myself with some witty or sassy or funny take on the situation that helps get me back through the day to day grind of managing this disease.

Find a Friend - it's Diabetes Blog Week!

Normally, I'm really good at finding a friend. I was the little girl of 4 who met my neighbor girl friend through a knothole in her fence - "hi, i'm janet. what's your name?"  And something similar when I met Mr. Wonderful, who I thought was 10 years younger than me (only 3 as it turns out), and he had 2 saxophones with him (another story), and I wasn't even thinking date let alone boyfriend (Husband!? ab.so.lute.ly.not.)  But still I walked up to him by the mini-quiche platter with "Hi, I'm Janet. I live just up the street with my 3 year old daughter." I'm sure it sounded more perky than it looks in print. I was in a really good mood that evening for the first time in what felt like a decade.  Mr. someday going to be Mr. Wonderful looked scared. I think he thought I was a complete nut. I followed up with a question about where he lived, but  between loud live music and a glass of wine, I only got that he lived in Alameda. My new home. Quiet family town.
Who knew?

At work, in our community - anywhere I physically meet people, I usually make some dear friends.

I have a harder time making friends in the virtual world. I think because I read blogs on my own time which means not often real-time. I'm a busy working mom with type 1 diabetes who travels for work a fair amount.  And my first blog was about knitting and crafting and sewing and quilting...so there isn't a huge overlap in the circles (though maybe a lot more than I know.) Plus, since I only have 41 followers on that blog after a year and a half you can tell I'm slow at making real connections via my blog.  I'm old. I don't Twitter (not that old people don't, but I think I would if I were still in my 20s or 30s).  So the few D-bloggers I follow so far are probably already famous in the D-blog world, like Lee Ann of The Butter Compartment, Ninjabetic with the B.A.D. Blog, and (duh) Karen at BitterSweet. I didn;t start to really look around at other health related blogs until very recently, and I took on the HAWMC (Health Activist Writer's Monthly Challenge) in April through WegoHealth.com.

I hope that this will be a week that I can reach out and find a new friend or two!  Certainly I didn't expect to find such a rich D-community

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Never give up

I have about 5 minutes for this post, but I saw this video clip on another blog, and it made me tear up.

Now, this is the 2nd time in a week that I've teared up and both times yoga was involved.  On Saturday I woke up from this weird and bad dream in which I was trying to re-learn how to do a handstand.  Surprisingly, it wasn't my Dupuytren's hands preventing me - for some reason I just couldn't get my legs up off the floor. I tried over and over again, and the dream yoga instructor was saying "I'm sorry. I just can't help you. I don't think you will be able to do it."

So okay. That is not the part where I got teary eyed. It was just a dream, so I dismissed it as an anxiety dream manifest as a goal I'd like to achieve. My fears and physical vulnerability, blah blah blah.  Basically I just got up and carried on with my day.  My day included Zumba!. Do you Zumba?!  No? Well, it's a pretty pre-packaged routine franchise of some sort, but I think it's fun. I like learning the dance moves and the music is good.

In the middle of Zumba! I finished a particularly tricky dance move song, and at the end I felt triumphant. And the yoga anxiety dream came flooding into my brain, and I teared up. Out of gratitude maybe? That I can still move around and learn new things and so nothing is ruled out. Don't give up.

It lasted like 2 seconds because the next song started and it was time to dance some more.

Anyway, the blog I saw this on is called Ninjabetic, or The B.A.D. Blog. Ninjabetic - I love that.  And B.A.D stands for "born again diabetic".  Who doesn't need to be reborn, right?
Just reading his post was moving because I too suffer from Hypercritical Inner VoicE Syndrome, or HIVES as I like to call it (actually I just now made that up).

This video is awesome and moving and it reminds me that I was right on Saturday. Never give up.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

HAWMC 2012 Wrap-up

I'm a day late with my wrap up post, but still want to write at least a brief one...
Prompt: Recap HAWMC. You did it! 30 posts in 30 days. Which was your favorite prompt? Which was the most difficult? Which ideas will you reuse? Who was your favorite fellow blogger?

Writing a post every day was a real challenge for me - especially with business travel and Spring Break thrown in the mix.  I don't think I would have had as much fun without the writing prompts, for sure.  The ones that elicited the most personal response were the ones that got comments and a little more traffic. Especially the "Letter to your 16 year old self" and the "Memory in the third person", as a couple of examples.  Some of them gave me a chance to use humor (legit) - I liked that. Like the Pinterest board, the "Stay Calm and Carry On", the "Six Sentence Story".  Actually I was a little sad more people didn't read my six sentence story - I thought I was being so clever. but maybe not.  I guess the most difficult prompts were the ones I didn't write - like "Writing Style". I don't know what my writing style is or how it's changed. For my health blog, I haven't been writing very long so maybe this will be more clear to me at some point.

Ideas I'll reuse?  Probably the word cloud, and pinning more health related things on Pinterest. The "Letter to 16 year old Self" is not one I'll likely use again on this blog, but maybe at a retreat or workshop. I think this is something everyone can relate to and would learn from.  I'll likely use the "memory in the third person" as a way to indulge in some creative writing - it became so obvious how authors can incorporate their own experiences into stories and this was something I didn't really think about before.  And I loved the 6 sentence story challenge.

Anyway, the last on the prompt list - my favorite fellow blogger. This will sound a little dense, but I hadn't tried very hard to connect with the larger community of health bloggers before HAWMC. I've added several to my Google Reader, like Linda at Leading a Healthy Life, and a bunch of diabetes bloggers like Karen at Bitter Sweet (even though her laptop bonked), smartDpants, and several others including some that were links I found through browsing blogs from HAWMC. I want to make some effort to get involved in this online d-community especially.

What's my next challenge? I'm so fricken goal-oriented. Something I could blog about my experience, the research I'll do, etc. I'm thinking of a 6-week exercise challenge of some sort. Or a challenge to try the super low-carb diet approach (even though I'm pretty sure I don't want to do that forever).  Any ideas or suggestions?

Monday, April 30, 2012

word cloud

HAWMC Day 30 prompt: Word Cloud. Make a word cloud or tree with a list of words that come to mind you thingk about your blog, health, or interests. 
(make your own or check some out here: http://www.wordle.net)

I used both my blogs for this word cloud - but I would play around some more with this.  There's also a word cloud app somewhere on FB that I tried once. It's interesting to make your own word list vs. just auto creating a cloud from what you've written.  This it the end of the HAWMC 2012 - I made it!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sometimes the Dragon Wins

The dragon woke late that day - about 11am - and wondered what (meal) the day had in store, as there had been a string of brave knights coming from the village lately to try their hand at slaying her. The dragon snorts as she lumbers slowly toward the cave opening, sending tendrils of smoke that get sucked through the rocks, clearing her nostrils. She is surprised to see today's Knight du Jour - a girl with a long braid running across the shoulder blades of her armor - her sword drawn and her face determined. The dragon considers this situation as she circles the girl, licking the braid with a lash of flame occasionally, but not with intent to roast.  This girl-knight is valiant and quick, dodging and darting in to take swipes at the dragon's front legs and trying to get a stab in at the heart so she can conquer her worst enemy and biggest fears. How hard this courageous girl works at it, but never getting it quite right, and not understanding that trying harder just makes it more difficult - which is a real shame, thinks the dragon, as she opens her mouth and takes the first bite.

Prompt for day 29: Six Sentence Story. In this day of micro-blogging - brevity is a skill worth honing. Can you tell a story and make it short and sweet? What can you say in six sentences?  Check out some (more) here: http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/

Saturday, April 28, 2012


HAWMC Day #28: The First Time I… Write a post about the first time you did something. What is it? What was it like? What did you learn from it? 

I have some great first time stories that I went over today - first time I flew in an airplane, first real "car date" (ended badly and with possum carnage), first real job offer. But since this is a health focused blog I will talk about the first time in yoga practice that I did a handstand.

I'd been practicing yoga for a few years, but never really advancing beyond a beginner level. That was okay, because at that time yoga was for me a practice in slowing down, observing my body and all sensations without judgement. With a spirit of "un-doing".  That's pretty much back where I am today in some ways, but my understanding of both yoga and my body's doings and undoings is deeper now than it was then. Back then is sometime I think during 2002. I'd scaled back on heavy exertion exercises due to asthmatic and stomach issues I'd been experiencing and decided to really throw myself into a yoga practice. A yoga practice in which I took a live class at least 2-3 days per week plus an additional 1-2 days for a full home practice.  After awhile I would also incorporate short yoga "breaks" in my day.  

This was a good practice for me.  My breathing capacity increased without the stress of outdoor allergy induced bronchial spasms. My endurance and strength increased without the demands on my joints and my stomach to keep up with full-court basketball.  I learned about run-walk interval training and elliptical trainers at that time since I still had the urge for some good old fashioned cardio. I still did strength training in the weight room, but not as frequently as before - moving to an intermediate level of yoga practice takes care of a lot of strength training, actually.

So I started getting braver about inverted poses. Handstand and headstand preparation poses were very taxing (are very taxing again!) - I lacked the strength and the openness in my chest required for those poses. I lacked the core development and the upper back development. Moving to half-handstands was even trickier - but that was often assisted with a partner.  When we felt ready it was time to start practicing kicking up, both instructors I was seeing at the time encouraged us to try. At first very clumsy looking like a quick scissor kick in the air behind me.  After weeks of this, my kick up started to occasionally touch the wall behind me. Then the instructor would assist the final inches so we could feel the sensation of both legs straight up, using the wall for balance assistance.  I could only stay there for a few seconds at that point.  Progressing over more weeks, the kick-ups got more controlled with stronger core muscles. The assisted handstands could last longer and I could play with my shoulder alignment to find the right balance point.

Then one day, I just did it without anyone to spot me. I didn't hit the wall hard with my heel, my core was ready. I could stay there in that position for a little while, and look in between my hands for the optimal balance point.  After several times of this over a few weeks, I could take one foot away from the wall and then another.  I was addicted to the feeling of going upside down. to the feeling of strength and balance it gave me.  Every time, I would relive the elation of that first time I made it to a handstand on my own. From there I found it very easy and so rewarding to move to elbow stand and headstand - but only after building the strength and skills for handstand was this possible.

I haven't been able to do a handstand for quite awhile - first frozen shoulder, and then the Dupuytren's in my hands made it impossible.  With my success at treating Dupe's (albeit still at the beginning, and not completely fixed), I feel optimistic that I can make this a goal again one of these days.  I'm starting from the beginning, or even behind that since I have the limitation of my hands. The preparation poses feel very awkward and difficult.  But I remember the feeling of going upside down and I want to go there again.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

(wahee ahee ahhhhh...bwah bwah bwah...)

Writing prompt for HAWMC day 27: Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

Top 5 biggest challenges:
1) consistency - both me being consistent in my habits and the fact that physiology is just inconsistent too.
2) the baggage - i.e. stuff attached to you, stuff you have to carry with you ALL THE TIME. meh.
3) chronic anxiety - about pretty much any aspect you can think of. I pretty much will obsess about it
4) pacing myself - my body can't keep up with my drive sometimes
5) expectation management - mostly my own but also sometimes those of others

Top 5 small victories (but really, I think any victory is a big deal):
1) perseverance - every day that my bGs "flat-line" (and/or I exercise/get enough sleep/etc.) is a small victory
2) traveling the world - refusing to let physical challenges dictate my biggest dreams
3) keeping my sense of humor intact - not as hard for me as for some, but still an effort at times
4) learning how to take a nap - I thank Mr. Wonderful for teaching me it is okay to just lie down if I'm tired
5) starting this blog - having the courage to reveal some of my more vulnerable side

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Help Wanted - Apply Within

Prompt for today: give your blog a Tag-line

Well, I think "Janet's Self-help Book" is already half my tagline.  Probably the whole thing should be:

Janet's Self-help Book - because good help is hard to find.

Or maybe just this tagline alone:

Help Wanted - Apply Within

ooh, I like that one...

What do you all think?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bigger on the inside...

She sits in the same chair of her pediatrician's office that she's been sitting in since she was standing on it to see Dr. Snook better. And even before that. He smelled of pipe tobacco in a warm good way. That smell and the taste of tongue depressors and the smell of the leather chairs mixed together always, into the indelible image of him in her memory. Though maybe he didn't smell like that anymore. When you're 14, you've sort of passed beyond that sort of observation.

She sorts through the list in her head. Based on symptoms of diseases they'd studied in 8th grade Health Class, she figured it was either diabetes or cancer. Losing weight, losing her hair, tired all the time, unquenchable thirst,  having to pee all the time, and an insatiable appetite. Well, some of the time - sometimes just feeling too tired and yucky to eat.

But who knows? That Health teacher also told the class that women don't have orgasms (an anonymous question slipped by some student, probably one of those smelly, ridiculous, loud boys, in the Question Box). Even at 14, she knew that wasn't true.

Anyway, she was only here because her ski club buddy refused to ski with her after too many trips to the lodge to pee.  Her mother said it was probably a bladder infection.

And what the hell? Didn't she have enough with the back brace and frequent visits and x-rays for scoliosis? That wouldn't be fair.

The next 48 hours  is a complete blur (was it 48? maybe 24? maybe 72?). The colors and faces and scenes bleeding into each other like watercolor frames washed across from a spilled glass of water. Something about her urine...something about another doctor she should see...more waiting. Her mother terse lipped and not talking to her. The next day (or 2 or 3) she is sitting in another doctor's office, only much much different. This one was loud and bustling with so many people wearing white or blue (or both). Dr. Snook was just him and a nurse as far as she could remember. She sits in a chair watching people (women, mostly) taking tubes of blood and sticking them into this or that dishwasher looking machine. She sits a long time. Is her mother still there? She doesn't remember anymore. She's gotten used to waiting in exam rooms from having the back braces fitted and mended "while you wait". She wishes she'd brought a book (she often forgets). She doesn't remember whether she met a new doctor. Did she meet a new doctor? Sometime closer to evening than morning, a nurse comes to her with a syringe, takes her arm and gives her a shot. "Insulin." the nurse says to her. The girl feels very confused and says quietly "so...do I have to keep taking shots?". The nurse replies cheerfully, almost laughing at the question, "I don't see anyway around it!"


Day 25 prompt: recreate a memory telling it from the 3rd person perspective.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A dog? I'm the dog in this scenario?

Today's HAWMC prompt: give yourself, your condition, or your health focus a mascot. Is it a real person? Fictional? Mythical being? Describe them. Bonus points if you provide a visual!

I thought about this quite a bit, and then suddenly it came to me. My mascot would be the St. Bernard - and I would call him "Barry" after the most famous of these Swiss Mountain Dogs. These dogs were originally bred by the monks of the hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass in the Swiss Alps.  There is some debate about the breeding - the original dogs were smaller and today's St. Bernard comes from a hybrid that included larger dog breed - according to Wikipedia it was the Newfoundland.  The famous Barry saved more than 40 people (maybe as many as 100) by using his awesome ability to navigate the rocky and treacherous terrain, to search out and find people who were trapped under snow or ice so that the monks  could pull them out and back to safety. 

When I was at a leadership training course through work several years ago, one of the many things we did was a 360 degree review from the people we worked with, and then we reviewed our results in small groups of 6.  It was an incredibly intense exercise and very uncomfortable at times, but one that I value tremendously. To cut to the chase, one of the wrap-up exercises we did in our group included "if ______ were an animal, what animal would s/he be?" (we also did what food, what musical instrument...you get the idea).  The animals people chose for me were all large, strong, protective animals - multiple lioness votes, and I don't remember all but there were two dog votes. Specifically the St. Bernard (we were at a facility in Switzerland at the time so maybe that was part of the influence).  

I was a little taken aback. A dog?  You think I would be a dog?
You think I would be a dog.

I didn't really know anything about St. Bernard dogs. I still don't know much more than a few facts, but I like the idea of a mascot who can navigate their way under the most adverse conditions.  A mascot who is strong, but part of a team - never acting alone to rescue a trapped traveler.  

Sometimes I'm the lost and half-frozen traveler. Navigating a complex set of physical challenges is tricky.

But other times I can take the lead and approach the problem at hand in a systematic and pragmatic way, and with a cool head.

Besides, who wouldn't feel better with a barrel of brandy on hand to warm you up during emergencies?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Have glucose, will travel...

Today is a blogger's choice day for HAWMC (day 23) - I can write about whatever I want

Maybe since I just got back from an international business trip, I can talk a little about the challenges if you have diabetes, particularly type 1 or insulin dependent.

Packing: This is probably the hardest part. Make a list and check it twice! I got stuck in Vienna a couple of years ago when the volcano erupted in Iceland.  Fortunately I had enough extra pump sets and glucose test strips with me to make it through the extra week.  But it started getting stressful when I got down to the last of my supplies. So I always have to pack extras of everything - strips, pump sets, CGM sensors, glucose tabs, batteries, syringes, insulin - I've even packed a spare meter for more remote destinations or extended trips. You can also get a spare pump from Minimed for trips, but it costs 50 bucks.  But I did have a pump failure last summer while in Europe for a two-week trip (combo business and family vacation). That really stunk.

So pack a lot of extra of everything. Since I have other issues, I also have to pack other medications - several for "just in case".  And the regular stuff everyone packs like ibuprofen, Excedrin, band-aids, neosporin, etc.  But I only pack extra stuff for prescription meds unless I'll be in the middle of nowhere.  Even so, my pouch full of medical supplies was larger than my entire toiletry bag. And that doesn't count my standard blood glucose test kit or the pouch I always take with me that has the basics for changing pump sets and CGM sensors.  What really stinks about all this is that I rarely travel without checking my bag. But I still have to carry at least a couple of days worth of everything on my person. And I never put my insulin in the checked bag - not even the extra vial(s).  Technically you should keep all your medications with you, but I don't always do that if it is a long trip. I'm not very consistent I guess...

Airport security:  Liquids in a clear bag, medications can be in their own separate bag.  To be honest, I don't usually bother to put my insulin in a clear ziploc for the security check and no one has ever noticed.  I have been asked for a bag inspection a few times - usually it's batteries or something like that setting it off.  I usually remove my pump and send it through with my stuff.  I have no idea which way is better for the pump itself, but even the tiny metal parts on that thing result in patdowns almost every time I wear it through the scanner.  If I'm within a day of a sensor change, I'll forego CGM for the flight - you are supposed to turn off the RF on your pump anyway, so it wouldn't do much good.

One time I forgot to reconnect my pump until it was time for a meal on the flight. That wasn't so great - it had been at least 2-3 hours so I had to make a correction bolus.

Flying:  Oh I forgot to mention: make sure to pack some snacks. Drink a lot of water. Test your bG a couple of extra times because flying just seems to be stressful on the body in general.

Time difference/Jet Lag:  This is the trickiest part of managing diabetes and other medication schedules.  For what pills when, I try to stick to the regular cycle - so when I'm overseas I take the morning meds in late afternoon and the night meds in the morning. I don't have any night meds that make me drowsy, so that would add an extra challenge.  Diabetes is typically more unpredictable when I travel.  The pump is a godsend because when I used to take multiple injections my bGs would be over 200 mg/dl for 2-3 days. Except for the middle of the night when I would invariably have a hypoglycemic episode.  Alone in a hotel room. It was sometimes pretty scary.  This past trip, for some reason I was low quite frequently. Go figure - it's usually the other way around.

So again, pack some snacks in your bag - I take Luna Bars these days. Often I'll go to a grocery and get bottled water, biscuits, and a couple of yogurts to have in my room.

I also take Ambien if I can - but I have to be able to sleep at least 7 hours so it's essential to take it early enough and often I'm late from a business dinner and schmooze-fest but have an early meeting.  I've been much more disciplined about getting enough sleep and skipping the nightcaps on business trips this year. And that has been really good.

That's it! Sounds really simple, no?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What does your sticky note say?

HAWMC - Day 22 (and Happy Earth Day too!)

Today's Prompt is called "The Things We Forget".  Visit http://thingsweforget.blogspot.com/ and make your own version of a short memo reminder. where would you post it?

Actually, I found a site where you can generate sticky notes online and save the files to your computer or flicker.  I like the interesting read on "thingsweforget" blog - there is a lot of food for thought there and you can buy some pretty cool premade collections of stickies.

 But it was fun to make my own little sticky notes.  Here's my initial collection:


Okay that last one is obviously stolen.  But I swear I could write these things all day and they would range from the extremely mundane to the ultra "deep".  We use a lot of sticky notes around here...  The site is http://wigflip.com/superstickies/  if you want to go and make some stickies of your own.  I will be bookmarking the site for future reference, that is for sure!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

healthy pancreas's what?

Okay, it's day 21 and it's still the 21st - so I can catch up with this post if I can get it written!
Today's Prompt: Health Madlib Poem. Fun with parts of speech! Today’s prompt is inspired by the classic game – and poetry – put together. 

The Wego Health blog directs writers to the website Language is a Virus. They have a few fun tools – one of which is a poem generator: http://languageisavirus.com/cgi-bin/madlibs.pl. You enter any words you want and they automatically fill the words into a classic poem.

I guess since this is a health blog, I will use as many relevant words in the madlib and see what we get!

healthy pancreas's healthy pancreas

I run my principles and all the bone turns foot; 
I punish my bananas and all is feel again. 
(I touch I hurt you up inside my chair.) 

The tapes go smileing out in diabetic and tired, 
And stiff cookie waves in: 
I mend my heart and all the hand jumps stomach. 

I takeed that you helped me into head 
And sleep me sugary, whineed me quite happy. 
(I touch I hurt you up inside my chair.) 

spoon tracks from the book, website's blisters eat: 
sweep glucose and insulin's pump: 
I mend my heart and all the hand jumps stomach. 

I peeked you'd climb the way you play, 
But I munch miserable and I drink your monitor. 
(I touch I hurt you up inside my chair.) 

I should have attacked a television instead; 
At least when website massages they whip back again. 
I mend my heart and all the hand jumps stomach. 

(I touch I hurt you up inside my chair.) 

- Janet & Sylvia Plath

Okay. Maybe I don't get it.  Let's try again and see what happens.

healthy pancreas's healthy pancreas

I shoot my persons and all the battery falls sound; 
I walk my syringes and all is sleep again. 
(I gulp I climb you up inside my kidney.) 

The eyes go slideing out in diabetic and sugary, 
And tense friend fails in: 
I close my mouth and all the lancet runs pump. 

I helped that you prayed me into vial 
And eat me sweet, pumped me quite painful. 
(I gulp I climb you up inside my kidney.) 

carbohydrate swallows from the gram, pill's backs prick: 
bleed side and needle's strip: 
I close my mouth and all the lancet runs pump. 

I bended you'd twist the way you shout, 
But I meet stiff and I make your meter. 
(I gulp I climb you up inside my kidney.) 

I should have done a bottle instead; 
At least when medicine plunges they jump back again. 
I close my mouth and all the lancet runs pump. 

(I gulp I climb you up inside my kidney.) 

- Janet & Sylvia Plath

Nope, still not loving it. Although I like "I gulp I climb you up inside my kidney" better thatn "I touch I hurt you up inside my chair".

Here's Sylvia Plath's original poem:

Mad Girl's Love Song by Sylvia Plath

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; 
I lift my lids and all is born again. 
(I think I made you up inside my head.) 

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red, 
And arbitrary blackness gallops in: 
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. 

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed 
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane. 
(I think I made you up inside my head.) 

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade: 
Exit seraphim and Satan's men: 
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. 

I fancied you'd return the way you said, 
But I grow old and I forget your name. 
(I think I made you up inside my head.) 

I should have loved a thunderbird instead; 
At least when spring comes they roar back again. 
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. 
(I think I made you up inside my head.)" 

- Sylvia Plath