So, I started making comics. It's actually been really cathartic. Also, watercolors are hard. :0
Seriously considering making these into cards that I can carry in my wallet and hand out to all of humanity.
Imagine you're very, very hungover. I have always struggled to describe the way I feel when dealing with the in's and out's of this disease with any accuracy (to non-diabetics), and this is one unpleasant feeling we all can relate to. Luckily, I didn't face the discomfort of high blood sugars until I was 18 years old, which means I was old enough to remember what it felt like NOT to feel these symptoms, and also to know the hell that is the-day-after-drinking-too-much. Basically, extended periods of high blood sugar make you feel:
- hungry, but then eventually...
- nauseous, with occasional vomiting. **
- cloudy/foggy-brained **
- slow to react
- excessively thirsty, then lots of peeing **
- labored breathing
- blurred vision
- unintended weight loss **
I want to make people aware of these symptoms (particularly the asterisked), not just so that I can complain about what a bummer they are (such a bummer) but so that if you or someone you know/love is exhibiting these symptoms (particularly excessive thirst and near-constant, urgent urination (or even accidents)) that you can get to an ER right away. When there is too much sugar in your blood stream and a lack of insulin, your body will work to get rid of it through your urine. When there is too much sugar in your blood for an extended period of time (days) your body will go into a ketotic state, which is extremely dangerous if left untreated. There are kids (and adults) that lose their lives to this disease because they/their parents assumed they were merely "under the weather" with a stomach flu or the like when showing these symptoms and let it go too long without a proper diagnoses.
Type one diabetes can develop in anyone at any time, it does not discriminate. And while it is more often diagnosed in children, adults (like myself) are diagnosed regularly as well.
Please be aware!
Still type one,
I just spent the last three days in Vegas, which can make anyone tired and on-edge, especially if you're gambling your life savings away.
For a diabetic, however, I can't think of a more volatile environment to spend your time in than a casino. You're surrounded by alcohol, shitty food, loud noises and less-than-admirable behavior opportunities. But, it was my only chance to see Justin for two weeks (and it's a half hour flight from Burbank) so I hopped on a plane. As you now know, I'm in the middle of an intense battle to bring down my A1c and change my lifestyle in general. Spoiler alert: I failed miserably while I was in Vegas. I immediately ate a bunch of chicken fingers and had two martinis. I had been so deprived the week before (NO sugar, NO alcohol AND calorie restriction AND hard exercise) that I just about couldn't help myself. Thus began a three-day binge followed by the worst day I've had in a month.
Here's the thing: we weren't alone on this bender, we were alongside hundreds of magicians. "Magic Live" is a yearly convention where the best and brightest (and not-so-great-but-trying) gather to buy, see and discuss the latest in the world of magic. The cool thing about this community, I've found, is that it's one of the very few entertainment industries where the up-and-coming can brush elbows with the pros (no, really! David Copperfield and Penn and Teller were there at certain points and fully approachable). I find that so cool. Justin is really finding his place in the ranks these days, and so this convention meant a lot to him this year.
That said, let's skip ahead to day three (the last night), 8:45pm. At this point, we had been out ALL NIGHT the night before (who do I think I am? A healthy 18 yr old?) which had ended at the all-too-famous Peppermill diner where I treated myself to a quarter of a waffle. I know that sounds innocuous, but it's pretty sinful for me at the moment. I slept (poorly) from about 7am to 1pm, at which point I drew back the curtains in our shitty room (sorry, Orleans, but your hotel is seedy as f*ck) and nearly melted like a vampire from the shock of the sunlight. I made some (again, shitty) hotel room coffee (that made me giggle because the spout was broken and it basically farted my coffee into a styrofoam cup for three consecutive minutes) and dreamed of going home that instant. I checked my Dexcom (continuous glucose monitor) and cringed at the insane peaks and valleys I'd had over the last 12 hours. (I didn't even need to look. I could feel the horrible job I'd been doing).
Anyway, back to 8:45. Justin and I had FINALLY discovered a great restaurant in the casino and were having a moment of relief that we weren't going to eat bad food for the first time in days. I was starting to tap my toe, because we needed to be at the 9pm "big show" that would wrap up the convention and still had not gotten our food after sitting there for an hour. For a normal person, this is an annoyance and an inconvenience. For a diabetic, it's the recipe for disaster. We spoke with the manager, who put on a good show of regret and got us our food to go by 9:02. At this point, I could feel myself slipping, blood sugar-wise and patience-wise. We got to the show and slipped in some seats in the back, took out the food (trying to be very quiet) and started eating it. It was pitch black, however, and we couldn't see what we were eating. I hate that. My patience slipped even more. We closed up the boxes and decided to wait. This is the point that I lost it. Not eating when you need to eat (when you're diabetic) is not just physically uncomfortable and harmful, but it's the mental equivalent of blue balls. For me, all logic goes out the window and a deep sadness descends on my entire body.
When the show ended I was close to tears. The culmination of days of bad control was coming to a head, and there was no stopping the crash. I left and retreated to our room, ate a Kind bar (tearfully) and fell asleep. When I woke up, it was 1:30 am. I had missed the afterparty. More importantly, I had missed a "surprise" parading of all of the living magicians to ever have graced the cover of "Magic" magazine (including Justin), and a million texts from Justin about how important it was and how much he wished I'd come down to see it. So then, of course, I cried some more. There is nothing more frustrating to me than when this disease takes over my body and emotions, and even more so when I miss things because of it. I felt like I had come to Vegas for nothing but to mess up my progress and feel a bunch of unwanted feelings. The entire next day was filled with nothing but frustration, fatigue and cringe-y self-reflection. And a turbulent flight back to reality.
I'm back home now and back on track. I feel better, but I have an emotional hangover from all the swings. I'm going to do my best to keep going with this tight control thing, and hopefully not slip as far as I did this week. Check out my beautiful straight line (all below 100!) from the past 12 hours! Nothing feels better than this. (Well, eating chicken fingers when you've been dieting does...but that's neither here nor there).
Sugar crashes suck in so many ways. Writing about it is helping me realize that I need to dial it back a little bit with this crazy diet. I clearly "let loose" in Vegas for a reason, and if I can keep it all in moderation (as the wise nutrition gurus say) then I might not feel the need to fall so hard off the bandwagon. We shall see.
Still type one,
I'm about a week in to a surge of motivation to exercise and not eat everything in sight. If you see me on the street and I ignore you, it's because I can't see you through my thick cloud of hunger and anger (aka HANGER).
Usually when I decide I need to drop a few pounds, I see some results by now. Unfortunately (and fortunately) for me, this is also the month I've decided to get my A1C down (in short, this means better average blood sugar readings. It also means that I'm having a lot more low blood sugar incidents than usual). It's really tough to do both of these things at once, as calorie restriction and treating low blood sugar episodes are canceling each other out. It's a catch-22. I'm actually starting to wonder if good (diabetic) health and weight loss can actually co-exist.
This summer (I'm catching you up because I'm a horrible blogger, but you already know that because I haven't posted in so long) has been--how do I put this--educational, to say the least. I've been reading every blog, forum and book in existence trying to understand this disease better than I already do (I'm currently into Think Like a Pancreas by Gary Scheiner, so more on that later). This is really the first time in my life that I've paid this much attention to my body, and I've realized that in order to have really (I mean really) tight control over my blood sugars I have to be paying attention ALL THE TIME. There is very little margin for error when you're keeping your sugars (or attempting to) in a tight range, and thus much less time for day dreaming (or real tasks, for that matter).
Manual mode is hard. This post is a rant. That's ok, right?
I have so much to say about all of these changes I'm making and how much I've learned, but I'm really grumpy this week because all I want is pizza and beer. I promise I'll be back!
Still type one,
First of all, let me start by saying that my mom is alive and well. I talk to her fairly constantly via phone (and she's extremely active on social media...perhaps too active). When I say "imaginary" friend, I really mean that I sometimes refer back to quips and phrases she used to say to me when I was a kid so that I can address a current (adult-ish) issue on my own. I find that many of the things she'd say to me back then apply now more than ever, and "hearing" her say them to me generally speeds up the process of me pouting/sulking/swearing to finding some semblance of peace. Here are the MVPs, for posterity's sake.
This one gets a lot of play time. Back when I was a kid, this phrase was usually used to "correct" me when I started to cry over something stupid, or if I took a tumble that shocked me more than hurt me. It still applies, but more to dealing with youtube commenters, walking to my car by myself at night, airplane turbulence and youtube commenters. Did I mention youtube commenters?
"Save those tears for something REALLY sad"
Based on this phrase and the last one, you might assume my mom didn't care much for blubbering idiot children. And you'd be right. "Attention" tears were simply not tolerated, and yet in retrospect I appreciate her wording immensely. She could have easily said, "stop crying, you're not fooling me because you're 4 and your acting is atrocious" but nay, she found a way to make it a lesson about picking and choosing. For most of my childhood, I actually believed that we (humans) had a finite amount of tears, and that if we didn't use them for good reason they'd be gone when we needed them. Now, obviously in my adult life I've cried over some stupid shit. PMS never ceases to humiliate me, and I really believe that the ASPCA has made a lot of money via menstruating women's hormone imbalances (screw you, Sarah McLaughlin). However, when I'm better in charge of my emotions, this phrase has come in handy in weighing the actual "worth" of a difficult situation. Is it worth being upset about? Is it worth putting energy into?
"You're on the ride"
This one was never literal, as A) I don't think we've ever gone on a ride together (until "Peter Pan's Flight" at Disneyland last week, actually!) and B) rollercoasters have never been our cup-o-tea. Rather, this phrase has always been a metaphor for uncomfortable situations that one has little to no control over. Someone farted in the elevator? You're on the ride. Plane stuck on the runway for three hours? You're on the ride. Food poisoning? You're one the ride. The very mechanism of a ride says that the ride is over when it's over, and no sooner. So what it usually means is, "hang in there." However, if there's any way in hell to enjoy the ride you happen to be on, you might as well (because baby, YOU'RE ON THE RIDE).
"You catch more flies with honey"
...than with vinegar. I have always been quicker to anger than I'd like to admit. In fact, if anyone remembers "Animaniacs," my family used to lovingly refer to me as Katie Kaboom thanks to my short fuse. My mom, after what I'm sure took many episodes of stooping to my level and yelling back at me, would remind me that I'm never getting anywhere by pissing people off. These days, while I think I'm much better than I used to be, I've found that being married to Justin has shown me that I have room to grow. He has mastered the art of "catching flies" with honey, as I've seen through his relationship me, his friends and family and especially strangers. He always repeats people's names back to them, asks them how they're doing and stays calm (even when they've lost our luggage, or our reservation, or double-charged us for something). Sweet-talk is so much harder for me than showing how exasperated I am about a mishap, and yet I always hear my mom's voice in my head (even when I'm breathing fire and making an ass of myself).
"Do you need a happy pill?"
No, my mother was not offering a three-year-old anti-depressants (although I currently do take them, and have from time to time in the past). When I was a toddler, my parents began to catch on that I was EXTRA crabby when I was hungry. I was eventually diagnosed with hypoglycemia and--get this--DUMPING SYNDROME (a horrifically and hilariously named condition where your stomach contents empty too quickly into your duodenum, also known as rapid gastric emptying). These conditions pre-dated my type one diagnoses by many years, and the only way to treat me (much like when I have a low blood sugar episode today) was to FEED ME. Easier said than done when you're a new parent dealing with a grumpy kid, so my mom developed a system where she kept a bowl of M&M's on the counter in our kitchen. When she suspected I needed sugar, she'd give me some "happy pills" (which I'd gladly accept) and if my mood evened out a little, she knew it was time to eat again. What a difficult beast of a robot-child I was. Anyway, these days I wear a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) on my body which alerts me when my sugar is dropping, though many times there's a brief lag. When my meter isn't 100% accurate, I find myself asking myself (in times of grumpiness), "do you need a happy pill?"
M&M's are no longer my go-to, but the system is still in place after all these years.
Bonus: Things my dad used to say that have made it into my imaginary conversations as well...
- Do you have gas?
- Did you wash your hands?
- Do you need to tinkle before we leave?
- Bus your dish to the sink and then you can be excused.
Still Type One,
If you know me, you know I'm more than a little obsessed with food. My podcast and blog, Snacks and Hacks, have become a passion project that Eden and I have a healthy obsession with. In the last few months, we've been stepping our game up (working with a production company, planning live podcasts etc). That said, when I had the opportunity to attend the 1st annual "Everything Food" conference in Salt Lake City last weekend I jumped right on it.
Aside from the jaw-dropping beauty of the city itself (Jesus has DEFINITELY settled there in his retirement) SLC happens to be the mecca for a lot of food bloggers. As I started talking to people between bites of free samples, I realized that many of the people I was meeting (mostly women) were waaaaay at the top of the food blogger food chain. I had accidentally stumbled upon my newest heroines, so I quickly put them all in my kung-fu grip of food-networking ("do you have a card?" "are you on instagram?")
I met a bunch of these women for dinner after the conference wrapped up and I decided NOT to tell them about my diabetes while we were eating. I am always wrestling with whether or not to share this piece of information, and I generally ask myself two questions:
1. Will it help? (clarify, educate, etc)
2. Will it hurt? (distract, stigma-fy)
In this case, while I liked these women and wanted to be really open with them, there is always a block that forms in my throat when I'm talking about, writing about or (most importantly) EATING food. While sometimes it can be a great topic of conversation when I pull out my pump to give myself insulin during a meal, other times I find that there's this veil of judgement over the whole idea of me eating anything that isn't a brussels sprout. This stems mostly from the fact that many people don't know that I can eat foods with sugar in them as long as I dose correctly (this misconception is always thanks to the confusion of type one (insulin replacement) with type two (insulin resistance) diabetes).
So, I answered the question accordingly: sharing the fact that I have diabetes will distract these people, and might cloud the idea that I could offer some food expertise to the world despite my "condition." I only wanted to talk about food, blogging, and how to get everything to the next level without that "food handicap" lingering over the conversation. Not ideal, but sometimes necessary.
Now, here's what I learned:
Mormons can be pretty damn hilarious.
I'm pretty sure all of these women were Mormon. Some I can confirm, others not. But ALL of them had a whole bunch of kids and they had never had a sip of alcohol. They were all around my age. I must admit, in my Hollywood cocoon I had formerly understood Mormonism as a lateral move from the Amish. Maybe that means the Amish are cooler than I thought, too. And, while some of these women did live on farms outside of SLC, they were surprisingly hip and had refreshingly dry senses of humor. Seriously, at least three of them need an agent (I'm talking to you, Hey Grill Hey).
- Blogging can bring in a lot of $$$.
Blogging is something you can do from home, which is why these women are able to do it while also raising a slew of children. In fact, it seems to be one of the best things you can do (money-wise) if you also want to be able to be at home with said children. The kicker: you better know what you're doing, and do it right. Which brings me to...
- Consistency and advertising are the key ingredients.
You better commit. This is my problem, I've learned. I'm spread too thin and never post anything at the same time every week (or multiple times per week). Time will tell if I can actually change this habit...;/
And then there's ads. Ad clicks make you money, but first you need people reading. And they'll only read if they can depend on you to post. Ugh, I hate these rules.
- People will scratch your back if you scratch theirs.
After meeting all these bloggers I realized something was missing from our conversations: cattiness. I've never been part of a world where people are more genuinely happy to help (and feed) each other, and where working together is always mutually beneficial (ie, if I featured someone on my blog, it would drive people to their blog and diversify my own). Maybe the willingness to help stems from the fact that they/we are always working on a full belly. Ideally.
Still type one,
Hi there, internet friend. This is going to feel very conversational, so feel free to chime in whenever.
I've had a bunch of blogs since "blogging" became a thing, none of which I've actually made public because I'm terrified of going on record saying anything I might later regret. You get it. I'm that nervous-wreck person much like you that wakes up sweating at 3am wondering why I said that stupid thing to that one guy that one time in high school (SHAME SHIVER). That being said, I have always wanted to share more about my life, but have been completely unwilling to talk about diabetes. The problem, of course, is that it has proven impossible to separate that portion of my life from any of my experiences. When part of your body is in permanent "manual mode" rather than "automatic," managing the operation system is completely integral to every moment of every day. If I want to tell stories, many of them need to be told through that lens. Don't get me wrong, not everything I want to say is about diabetes. But when I don't talk about it, it's kinda like I'm in a room full of people telling a story while wearing an invisible headdress made out of concrete. And I just wanna be like, "if you thought that was cool, get this: I did it all while wearing this two-ton hat!" And everyone's like, "I don't see the hat you speak of" and I'm like, "I know, but I'm wearing it, I swear!!!" Autoimmune disorders, AMIRIGHT?!
I was diagnosed with type one at nineteen. I was a freshman in college. I'm thirty now, living in LA and married with two pitbulls. I've been fairly quiet about having this disease for most of the time that I've had it, and only recently have I even really come to terms with it. I'd love (I think? I'm really so indecisive) for you to join me as I write some things about my life sometimes. Why not?
BTW, if you happen to get the reference in the title of this post, let's be friends and watch Chan-wook Park movies all day.