Life has a funny way of putting obstacles in front of you in order to see how high you can jump. This week is not particularly pleasant for me because of a Cell Biology exam I have on Thursday followed by a poster presentation with a fellow graduate student on Friday. This is kind of the norm of graduate school so I can't say that I'm terribly surprised, but I am a little disappointed to not be more out and about advocating for the American Diabetes Month. I've had to give up my facebook and Twitter feeds for a few days and it's kinda killing me (Yes, I'm one of those poorpeople who's addicted to social media...). I still read a few here and there but doing my best to stay focus is sooo difficult even when I'm in the "zone".
In the moments in between studying and programming and sleeping and sometimes eating, I've managed to at least participate and get the word out about a few really awesome Diabetes Awareness activities everyone with diabetes (and without) should know about. For instance...
The BIG blueTest! or the bigBLUEtest! or the big blue TEST! (see what I did there?) I was in NYC helping out while they were shooting this awesome chick. (yea I'm hiding somewhere in those group shots). You don't have to have diabetes to participate. You just have to move. What's the reward? IMPROVING YOUR HEALTH! and SAVING LIVES! In the good old US of A and across the globe. All you have to do is exercise for 15 minutes. No silly signing up either! Check it out at www.bigbluetest.org
Blue Fridays! With awesome giveaways! Even doable on rainy days! Bonus points if you wear blue everyday?! (okay, no more rhyming. I promise) Every Friday in November, wear a little or a lot of blue to raise awareness! In your hair, on your nails, with your friends...T-shirts, socks, and bathrobes will do too! Check out the Facebook page here! and follow #bluefriday on Twitter!
Team Type 1's Run Across America If there were ever a group of people I'd follow off a cliff, it would probably these 10 (or 11) guys. Phil Southerland (the CEO) is a great guy, and he's a constant reminder that diabetes doesn't hold any of us down from surpassing our dreams. This group of diabetic athletes is running from coast to coast, and they are estimated to land in NYC on November 14th!
Blood Sugar Testing Flash Mob in Times Square I'm gonna try my darnedest to make it out to Times Square for a Blood Sugar Testing Flash Mob in Times Square on noon on Sunday, Novemeber 13th in front of the Kodak screen. If you can't make it, help out this fantastic young man by sending a picture of you and your friend Diabetes to firstname.lastname@example.org to be there in spirit!
World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange Art is always therapeutic, but in this case, it's doubly so because I get to reach out to someone. I was assigned an awesome PWD (or their family, friends, and awesome associates). I get make some art for them. And then I'll get one. Let's hope it's something that doesn't turn out like those finger paints when I was three...
World Diabetes Day Blue Monuments. Diabetes Awareness Events. Reach Out and Hug A Diabetic Events... I may be trapped in class all day, but I'll do something awesome for it all on my own if I have to!
Alright. I have another story to share but it's going to have to wait. Wish me luck on my test.
So I've written about this before here, but for you guys who don't know:
I was a "bad" / somewhat "non-compliant" diabetic for many, many years. When I was diagnosed, I was 9 years old and at that age, everyone looked at me and though I was pretty smart and responsible. I had a fantastic Pediatric Endocrinologist for a while that kept me motivated enough to stay in line. But between her moving to another town and me starting high school, things started deteriorating slowly. I was never a fan of checking my blood sugar (really, who is ever?) and while I took my insulin, it was usually after the fact.
Fast forward through high school, undergraduate college, and my first year of a masters. I had only been in the hospital for one hypoglycemic event in my junior/senior year of high school (where I majorly miscalculated the number of carbs I ate at a party but I was at home so my mom found me, injected me with glucagon, and called the paramedics). Even though I tested occasionally and took insulin through my pump, I wasn't REALLY taking care of myself. Everyone assumed my that my intelligence and responsibility from school stuff translated to my health but that was far from the truth. A friend had come across and article somewhere that featured a prominent DOC blogger (sixuntilme.com). I slowly started devouring her blog posts as far back as I could manage. And then I found another (textingmypancreas.com). And another. So on and so forth.
Reading all their posts made me think, "Hey. If they can do this, why can't I?" Yes, we live different lifestyles. Yes, we have different goals for the future. Yes, diabetes is different for every person. But in the end, there's a lot about living with Diabetes that is the same. Vigilance (lots and lots of blood sugar testing). Healthy Eating (and correct carb counting...). Exercise (running, climbing, playing, working, etc). Regardless of what can be different, finding the Diabetes Online Community has been inspiring. My HbA1c has gone down and become more consistent. I'm testing more often. I'm eating healthier. I'm exercising more.
All of the members are unique but we all have something in common. There's someone to support each and every person. We all have a story to share and we all make a difference to someone else. Whether it's a hello, a smile, or a good joke, every letter typed matters. Sometimes it leads to actual changes in our medical treatment (which pump/continuous monitors/glucometers, better infusion sites, doctors) but it always leads to changes in our outlooks (attitudes, & perspectives) on this crazy life with D.
This post was written as part of the JDRFJuvenation Blog Carnival for National Diabetes Month! For more information, check out their post here or Juvenation.org!
Those are my three words describing what Type 1 Diabetes means to me. Since I like to ramble (on and on and on), here's why I picked those three little words.
Having a condition where one small mistake like taking too much insulin can cost my life scares the daylights out of me. I'm afraid about tons of things about my body (but not creepy crawlies, dark spaces, and strange places). Is every new ache or pain a sign that I'm developing another chronic condition as a complication resulting from inattention to my nagging friend, Diabetes? Is my foot numb because I'm going to loose it or just because I was sitting on it funny? Will I fall asleep one day and wake up the next unable to see? And what if I don't wake up? I believe that somethings are beyond my control. Yes, I could step off the curb and get hit by a bus or have a freak tree fall on me. I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of living a life where I can't do or experience things the way I'm used to because of ME.
I'm angry that there isn't a cure yet (just around the corner, right?). I'm angry I have to stab my fingers. I'm angry that people don't understand (yes, I can eat sugar. Thank you very much for your concern). I don't express that anger all the time but it doesn't mean that it isn't there. I'm angry that I have to spend so much time scheduling and seeing doctors. I'm angry that dealing with medical (or any) insurance companies is so difficult (but I'm grateful that I have it). I'm angry that I survived because I was born and raised in the United States but if it was one of many other parts of the world, I wouldn't have made it these past 14 years. I'm angry that diabetes tries to hold me back, but...
I am stronger for having lived with this crummy chronic condition. I was the only 9 year old I knew that wasn't afraid of hospitals. I'm living the life I want to be (even though I may complain sometimes). Diabetes has taught me about my body and how it works. I had a better understanding of the Endocrine system by the time I was 14 years old than some early medical students I know because I devoured books about my Pancreas (read: Paperweight). I'm a fighter (that anger sometimes helps me with finding energy to fight). Diabetes won't put me down. Not shots. Not sticks. Not sugar. These things won't hold me back from getting to what I want for my life.
This post was written as part of the JDRF Juvenation Blog Carnival for National Diabetes Month! For more information, check out their post here or Juvenation.org!