Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, as much as I'm not in a blogging kind of mood, I somehow feel bad letting this day pass without honoring it with a few words. Normally I'm a very festive holiday person. But this year has dealt me some rough blows and considering that and the fact that I worked from 6pm last night to 8:30am this morning, I'm not feeling particularly thankful for anything. In fact, I'm actually feeling pretty grumpy.

But in truth I am so grateful for so many things in my life. Here are just a few:

  • I have wonderful opportunities coming just around the bend.
  • My husband and I will be moving into our very first home together in just two months.
  • Even though I'm working at a job that isn't always my favorite I have met some wonderful people there who have been nothing but wonderful to me.
  • Even though working the entire night before a holiday isn't what I'd call fun, last night I got to do what I love which is help a baby get better and help her family heal in a different way.
  • My friends and family are wonderful and soon I won't live so damn far away from them!!
  • 64 days and counting until I'm finally free from this job and this horrible commute!!
  • Last and the most important, I have the best husband I could ever imigine. He's the most patient, kind and interesting person I know and I love spending my life with him. He takes care of me in ways I never thought I'd need and I think (I hope) I do the same for him. He's also my best friend. Sure he's directionally challenged and has holes in his memory like Swiss cheese, we can't all be perfect can we? Even still, I love him more than anything.
  • Oh! Yeah, I have this rotten, spoiled little rat living with me. She's stinky and bossy but I love her like crazy. (See the family pic with this little rat here.)
So even though I'm exhausted and not at all hungry and have a day of house-hopping in front of me, I can't really be a grouch. So without further ado, this is the best way I could think of (in light of what I do for a living) to wish you all a happy holiday:

I hope it's wonderful for everyone. Have a great time and don't make yourselves sick! (No worries, I have plenty of insulin in tow for this occasion!)

Gratefully Yours,
~Layne

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sometimes people suck

Those of you how know me "in real life" know that I test my blood sugar and take my insulin wherever and whenever is convenient. At the table, in the car, at work, wherever. And I've always assumed that every diabetic does this. I remember in elementary school I had to go up to the nurses station to do everything. I even had to keep my supplies there. It was really frustrating and inconvenient. Finally my mom got feisty with the principal and the school board and I was allowed to carry my supplies with me and do whatever I needed to do, wherever I needed to do it.

I'm still pretty free about it. If I'm around someone new, I'll ask if they mind if I take a shot in front of them since some people are squeamish, I do try to be sensitive but truthfully, I don't much care. Most people, even if they are squeamish. just offer to look away rather than ask me to leave their presence. I appreciate that. I mean, really, it's my life. I'm the one taking the shot and it's what I have to do to eat. So why can't I do it at the table? I'm not sitting there wiping blood all over the place. It's quick, it's subtle, it's clean.

In the last few years, I've had people tell me I was gross. Sometimes to my face, sometimes through a mediator, I've been asked to change to make others around me comfortable. I've even had people talk about me behind my back. Saying that I was being rude and disgusting and that I should go someplace private so no one has to see it.
Ouch. That hurt. I always assumed people were understanding. That they saw someone with a disease who had to take care of themselves. I mean, why would anyone begrudge me that. Now I wonder how many people have said things like this about me that I never knew about.

That crap pisses me off. It's part of my life. It's not fun. I don't get a kick out of grossing people out. This is what I do to
live. Why should I have to hide it to make someone else feel better? And if I'm the one sitting here living with this sucky disease, don't I at least deserve the convenience of treating it where, when and how I want? Besides, sterile syringes in a public restroom? Yuck.

So I will continue to be blatant with my diabetes. I will wave my syringes proudly. :-) Also, I must say, it's a great way to get ahold of a waitress in a restaurant. I've waited forever for a refill or made eyes at every server in the place and been completely ignored. But the second I pull out my needles and insulin and get ready to shoot up and sure enough, that's when a server walks over. Figures.

Speaking of rude insensitive people, I found a hysterical post about "diabetes etiquette." Apparently someone has gone out of their way to create a wallet-size card that outlines the appropriate behavior when interacting with someone who has diabetes. Now (as evidenced by the above rant) I have definitely run into my fair share of rude, hurtful, and/or downright ignorant comments from people who are completely and utterly unfamiliar with diabetes. That being said I would never pass these little babies around but they do give me great amusement. :-) For everyone's edification I will go ahead and lay out the rules of diabetes etiquette below. Everyone out there feel free to take a cue from these and be aware that yes, people do say/do those things.

Enjoy:

1) DON’T offer unsolicited advice about my eating or other aspects of diabetes.

2) DO realize and appreciate that diabetes is hard work.

3) DON’T tell me horror stories about your grandmother or other people with diabetes you have heard about.

4) DO offer to join me in making healthy lifestyle changes.

5) DON’T look so horrified when I check my blood sugars or give myself and injection.

6) DO ask how you might be helpful.

7) DON’T offer thoughtless reassurances {i.e. “it could be worse, you could have cancer!}

8) DO be supportive of my efforts for self-care.

9) DON’T peek at or comment on my blood glucose numbers without asking me first.

10) DO offer your love and encouragement.

They missed the one about "If your loved one has diabetes and is in a foul mood, DON'T ask them to check their blood sugar. It is their right to be cranky, dammit."

Sarcastically yours,
~Layne

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Am I weird? Wait, don't answer that. . .

The more dBloggers I encounter the more I get to thinking about all the little things I do as a diabetic. I don't know anyone with diabetes. A few of the nurses I have worked with had Type 2, but that's a totally different animal. I met friends at camp with Type 1 when I was little, but of course we've all lost touch. Plus, I never knew them in their day-to-day life. I've never seen anyone but me go through the day-to-day antics of diabetes management. I've managed to solve small problems in my own way. I vent about stuff to my husband. But lately I've been forced to wonder, is all this normal? Do any other diabetics out there do stuff the way I do it? Do they think the same thoughts? I started wondering about my habits, my musings, my rantings and ramblings. And I was curious if I was alone these crazy thoughts, habits and notions or if other diabetics out there shared them. Here goes nuthin':

1. From almost the time I was diagnosed, I lick my fingers after testing my sugar. I never bothered scrambling for napkins, gauze, alcohol wipes or whatever. I test too often for that nonsense and my purse is full enough without adding more supplies to it. So I just lick and go. Some people I run into who don't know me have commented that this is gross but I do it anyway. I also hate using alcohol. So I don't. I don't swab my insulin bottles or my sites before I inject. And I've never once had an issue.

2. I carry around my supplies in a baggie. I know they have fancy-schmancy, handy-dandy kits that hold meters, strips, insulin vials, alcohol wipes, etc. But they are huge and I've never found them that handy or dandy. So I found the smallest meter imaginable and I stick my syringes and insulin in a snack baggy (those half-sized ones) and throw it all in my purse. I'm always curious how other diabetics haul their supplies around. But baggies have always worked best for me.

3. I also store my syringes at home in a cup on my desk next to my office supplies. It amuses me to have them out like that. And I like that when I put them in my Florida cup the orange caps coordinate with the blue cup to make Gator colors!

4. I have always used the butter compartment to store my insulin in the fridge. Throughout childhood and college and with every new roommate, I stake out the butter compartment in every fridge I've ever used. They know it's mine and that's where my insulin goes. It makes the most sense! It's enclosed and easy to access with no chance of spillage from other food stuffs. Although, I have on occasion opened the compartment door with a vial poised right against it, sending the vial crashing to the kitchen floor. Sheesh. There go shards of glass, insulin and money down the tubes. Not to mention stinky-insulin-smelling-floor. But for the most part the the butter compartment has served me well. I use the butter in the tubs anyway.

5. Sometimes, when I'm super low my mouth, chin and tongue gets all numb and tingly. This weirds me out because I've been diabetic for years but this symptom didn't emerge until college. The first time it happened my roommate (Ashlee) and I were in the grocery store and I got low. I grabbed a drink for a quick fix but as I was drinking I noticed this numb, tingling sensation in my lower lip and tongue. It was super weird. I mentioned it to Ashlee offhand but she didn't seem too terribly interested. ("Uh, okay?") But as we were walking around I kept biting my lip, sticking my tongue out, rolling it around, dragging my lips and tongue across my teeth, poking my chin with my finger, making all-around funny faces. Can you tell I was very distracted by this sensation?!? Finally, Ashlee started looking at me like I was nuts. She grabbed my arm and clamped her hand over my mouth. She told me I looked like a mental patient and proceeded to mime back my actions to me. We both broke out in fits of laughter in the middle of Publix. Eventually the tingling went away. But I still get this symptom every so often with my lows. I've always thought it was strange.

6. I think I'm the only diabetic who was on the pump and kinda hated it. I'm seriously met with shock and awe when I tell people I hated the pump. It didn't start out that way. I was on the pump for over 5 years and, sure, my blood sugars improved initially but now I can do the same thing with injections without the tubing, the tangling, the stupid alarms and the itchy sites that get yanked out by clumsy me and stupid door handles. It felt so freeing to be able to wear clothing without pockets. To shower and swim without worrying that the adhesive on my site will peel off. And sleeping or doing other ::ahem:: activities in bed without getting tangled in tubing!! Plus, those catheter needles were friggin' huge back in the day. Ouch! I love me my 31G short, ultra-fine needles. :-) Not to mention having to carry around all those supplies. I like that I have my meter, my strips, syringes and insulin and I'm in business. If I were still on the pump, I'd have to add extra tubing, batteries, Tegaderm, new site equipment, extra cartridges and needles/plungers to go with it. Not cool. Oh! And can I just tell you how many times I dropped that damn thing on my toe!?!?

7. Okay, this is the one I probably feel worst about. Because I'm worried it will sound like I'm being judge-y towards other diabetics. But as a kid, when I told people I was diabetic I never really had to think about what people thought of me, it was obvious I was Type 1 . But as I've grown older, I've started to get paranoid when people find out I'm diabetic. Most people think that adults who have diabetes are either super old or have it because they are overweight. So I always wonder, what do people think when they find out I'm diabetic? Do they think I'm Type 2? I usually try to squeeze into the conversation that I've had it since I was 8 and I'm a juvenile diabetic. (Good one, Layne. Very subtle.) And I'm usually thinking the whole time in my head, don't judge me!! I didn't do this to myself!! I couldn't help it! Sure I'd love to lose 10 pounds but those 10 pounds didn't make me diabetic. I'm Type 1, dangit!! Of course there are some Type 2-ers that can't help it either. Just sayin' I'm not a fan of being labeled and I get weird if I think someone my be labeling me "Type 2" becuase there are all sorts of connotations to being Type 2 that just aren't good.

So those are a few of my crazy thoughts and deeds as a diabetic. And if anyone out there finds them not so crazy after all, feel free to leave some comment-love to reassure me of my sanity! And for those of you out there who are my friends and know me in "real life:" Sorry if I grossed you out with my finger-pricks and shots at the dinner table but I know you love me anyway. :-)

In the end, it really doesn't matter if anyone thinks like me or does things like me. Those without diabetes really don't have any room to criticize how someone with diabetes chooses to live their life. Those of us with diabetes probably all understand how important our little habits are because they make us sane. They help us get through the day and are the ways we've found to make this disease a tiny bit easier to live with.

~Layne

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I did good.

Saturday night sucked. It took a while, but gradually I woke up. When I opened my eyes I saw that it was 3:35am. Who knows how long I had spent floating on the edge of consciousness, trying to wake up. But at 3:35am, I woke up. And I felt like crap. My heart was pounding, I could feel it in my ears. It was like I had just run a marathon but I wasn't even out of breath. I was also sweating and clammy. And my knees had that familiar wobbly, weak feeling to them. That's right folks, I was low.

I haven't woken up low in forever. (Well, at home anyway. I wake up low all the time in the hospital when I'm on call but that's another story.) And it's not fun, but I am lucky in the respect that some diabetics don't wake up at all when they are low. I have always been able to feel it it my sleep and it gradually sucks me out of my rest. Which is a good thing really because bad things happen when you get too low. There was only one time in all my 18 years as a diabetic where I was low and I didn't wake up. Thank God my husband was there. There was no seizure, nothing too nuts, but I was crazy out-of-it. My husband has been with me so long (he even went with me one summer to be a counselor at a diabetes camp). So he did great, got me to sit up and slowly sip some orange juice. I don't remember most of this but let me tell you, when I came to, I was completely freaked out. ::shudder::

Anyway, I was shaky but I could tell I had this one under control. I decided to let Brad sleep and go out into the living room to take care of myself. I tested and my blood sugar was 42. Awesome. I had a Barnies Coffee Cooler with friends earlier that night and those things do a number on my blood sugar. So I gave myself plenty of insulin. Well, obviously I overdid it because 5 hours later, I was sitting on my couch shaky and clammy downing a glass of milk. That's my go-to low fixer. Milk. I know it's weird. And sometimes I use OJ when I'm on the go and just need a quick fix. But milk works great. About 8 to 10 ounces is perfect, has just the right number of carbs for me (15gms or so) and protein so that I my blood sugar doesn't crash again in a hour when my body has burned all that sugar. It takes a little longer than OJ to kick in since it doesn't have anywhere close to the crazy sugar power of OJ. But if I have the luxury of time it's great and doesn't bounce my sugars all over the place.

Here's where the devil on my shoulder comes into play. I really should have stopped at the milk. But I had just made some chocolate-peanut butter fudge and it seemed like the perfect time to indulge. But I promise it was just one piece!! And since I knew I'd rebound, I stayed up for a while to check my sugar and take some insulin before I went back to bed. I was hoping that I wouldn't wake up with a narly high. And when I rolled over the next morning and realized I had to pee like a mo-fo, I was worried. But my blood sugar was 122. Perfect!! I was pretty pleased with myself.

While I was up I was remembering all the dBlogs I had found recently. And I was thinking, cool, I can blog about this and maybe other diabetics out there will see it and totally relate like I was relating to their stories. But mostly I'm just proud of myself for treating my low, not overdoing it and not ending up sky-high the next morning. Sometimes it can be so hard to deal with the ravenous hunger that comes with lows. I feel like a never-ending vessel, running out of fuel, needing the sustanence so badly that I will just eat and eat and eat. And sometimes it takes so long to come out of those lows. Of course I know from experience that once the low does subside, that I will feel like crap for eating like it was going out of style. My blood sugar will also suffer the consequences later on. More often than not I try to take it slow. It does help to have a go-to staple for lows. Like I said, I like milk or sometimes OJ. That way I don't have to think or scramble for a solution, I have on on-hand and my low-brain won't get the opportunity to steer me wrong.

~Layne

Friday, November 14, 2008

World Diabetes Day

Well, today, November 14th, is World Diabetes Day. For whatever reason, I was inspired to Google some new blogs and I was curious if I could find a few from people like me living with Type 1 diabetes. Well, I found more than a few!! I found hundreds. And I also happened to stumble upon the fact that today, November 14th, is World Diabetes Day.

Seeing all these people's blogs humbled me. I feel like I try damn hard to take care of my diabetes and be an example of compliance and control. Well, these people put me to shame. Some had A1C's higher than mine, some lower. But they put me to shame because they have a voice. They are speaking out to other diabetics. Shit! I feel downright lazy in comparison.

For those who know me well, I'm sure you've seen me get frustrated with my diabetes. But it's more than that. It's something I live with every moment of everyday. I can't even get hungry without thinking a thousand thoughts of "am I hungry enough for it to be worth eating?" or "is this snack worth taking a shot for" or "why am I hungry? what's my blood sugar?" This stupid disease is a mind-game, it totally gets in your head and messes with you. For example, my dilemma right now is I'm about to run out of syringes. I'm "not allowed" to get anymore for another week because my insurance won't let me refill more than once every 3 months. So with every shot I think, do I have enough needles? Should I throw this one away or save it and use it again? So this week, I'm resorting to using syringes multiple times before throwing them away in order to stretch my supply. Ever been given a shot with a dull needle? Not fun, my friends.

But it's not about the shots. Everyone thinks it's the shots. The number 2 question I get is "how many shots do you take a day?" (The number 1 question I'm asked as a diabetic is "are you allowed to eat that?" That's about the most obnoxious thing and I hear it over and over and over again.) When I tell people the answer (which is 4 or 5 usually) they gasp, act pained and say they could never do that. Damn right they could. I hate when people say that, like I'm better or braver than them. I don't have a choice. And if they had diabetes, they wouldn't have a choice either and you better effing believe they would take shots, prick their fingers, get their blood drawn and do whatever they had to to stay healthy.

Anyway, my point is, the shots don't bother me. They bother everyone else but me (the one who actually takes them). What bothers me is the mind game this disease plays with my head. The symptoms of the highs and lows and never knowing when they will strike (at work is the worst, by the way). If I gave myself the shots and tested by blood sugar and did everything I do now and my health was always kosher (great blood sugars between 80 and 110, wonderful A1C under 6, no symptoms, no highs, no lows, no complications later in life) this disease would be a walk in the park.

But, no. Unlike other chronic diseases, the patient can do exactly what they are supposed to do and never know what their blood sugar will be, never be able to get their diabetes under control and never be able to predict what the future will bring. That's what sucks. I'm testing my blood sugar all the time and I feel like I'm constantly on top of my diabetes. My best A1C ever was 6.1. Usually I run mid-6's. But I want more. I'm sick of the giant swings in blood sugar and the headaches and jitters. But what else can I do other than just keep on keepin' on?

I'm so happy that today is World Diabetes Day. I hope people other than the diabetics in this world actually know about it and care about it. I'm also happy that this day has been recognized by the United Nations. But for me, November 14th doesn't go away. Every day is diabetes day. It follows me everywhere. For me, this isn't a cause. It's my life.

~Layne

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Job News

Well, we all knew it was coming. Me especially and I couldn't be happier. So I can finally say it OUT LOUD!! That's right folks, last week I officially resigned from my job. YIIIPPPPPPIEE!!!!!! For anyone who's been reading this blog for longer than a minute, this shouldn't be too much of a shock. I've been pretty outspoken about how miserable I've been. First of all, the job is just inherently not what I want. Let's start with a list:
  1. The job is an hour away from our apartment. Which sucks because our apartment is super far from everything else: friends, family, Target, Moe's. Yes, Target and Moe's are of vital importance and must be close, 10 minutes away, max! The only reason we live way out here is so I can be "close" to my job . . . . which is an hour away!! And when we move to our new house it will be even farther away, more like an hour and a half. And I know that we could have picked a house closer to my job but, again, I hate where we live right now. And I love where our new house is located. (Side note: If you haven't tried a Moe's burrito, you should. Seriously. They are wonderful. Everything is wonderful there. It's cheap, Mexican, cheesy, steak-y goodness. Oh! And definitely get the queso for your chips. Yummmmm.)
  2. The unit is a Level 2 NICU. The babies there aren't as sick. Not that we don't ever get sick babies but we have to ship them off ASAP after we stabilize them. We will occasionally get a vented patient and when we do, I love it. Maybe that makes me a horrible person, but these are the kids that I like to take care of. My passion is Level 3, the sickest, smallest babies. It's complicated and interesting and I really feel like I'm helping them and making a difference. That's what I was trained to do and that's what I love.
  3. Okay, so I don't mind just the Level 2 thing. It's not optimal but it's not awful. What is awful is that I cover the newborn nursery. For me, the newborn nursery is hell on Earth. Besides the fact that it's halfway across the hospital from the NICU, it's boring as all getout. And frustrating. Mind-numbingly awful. Basically, I spend the vast majority of time at work doing one of two things. I'm either 1) taking perfectly healthy infants away from their parents to do a stupid physical exam once a day where I once again verify, yep, this kid is fine, which the babies hate and the parents find disruptive at best. 2) I'm trying to convince a newborn nursery RN that the baby she has paged me about 5,000 times in the last hour is, in fact, healthy and does NOT need to be admitted to the NICU. That's my favorite. Really.
  4. The hours suck. The practitioners only work nights in this unit. Meaning I never get to see Brad, because I leave for work in the afternoon before he gets home from work and come home after he leaves in the morning. Anyone out there who is married or even in a serious relationship, I'm sure, can appreciate how much this blows.
  5. Going back to how far away this job is . . I spend a crap-load of money on gas and tolls. Like $400 a month. Ugh, it hurts to say it out loud. I have also put about 5400 miles on a car that I bought 2.5 months ago!!!! For those of you out there you aren't math majors, that means I will put 30,000 miles on my car in a year!! Just driving back and for to work. Um, no thanks.
So these are all things about the job that just can't be changed. They have all gotten to me but that's not the only reason I've had it up to here with this job. I haven't been treated all that well. The practice I work for has gone through some rough times while I've been there. And for that I sympathize. But I have been expected to shoulder about half of the burden and that's just not right. First off, I'm a brand new practitioner, just graduated a year ago and I personally don't think it's right or smart to expect that of me. Second, I've only worked there for about 7 months and all of a sudden I feel like I'm carrying the whole freakin' unit by myself with one other person to help. Not fun.

Once we found our house, it became clear to me that I couldn't continue this. Especially after we move. So I gave my notice on October 30th. I was super nervous, but it went better than expected. My contract says I have to give 3 months notice so my last day will be late January. Until then, a HUGE weight has been lifted off of me. I have been so unhappy the last few months and it is a big relief to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And the best news . . . . I have an interview at an Orlando NICU for a job I really want. There are at least 4 others interviewing so who knows what will happen but please pray for me!!

~Layne

Now if you're feelin' kinda low
About the dues you've been paying
Future's coming much too slow
And you wanna run but somehow you just keep on stayin'
Can't decide on which way to go
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I understand about indecision
But I don't care if I get behind
People livin' in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind.
- Boston, "Peace Of Mind"

Monday, November 3, 2008

What a GREAT day!

So we are officially home-owners! I can't believe today is closing day! This past week has been (yet another) week of big changes. And all of them wonderful! Our biggest news is that today we became home-owners! Again! Well, again for me. This is Brad's first time and I think he's thrilled. The only buzzkill is that we won't actually move into our new digs until January sometime. So this whole thing is a little surreal. But we are still stoked!

So I've already posted a link to pictures of the house. But since it's officially sold I'm sure it's only a matter of time before that link is dead. So to commemorate this day, here's a slideshow of pics of our new house:



To be honest, there is so much else going on right now. Lots of new changes on the job front. ALL GOOD, for once. But today all I can think about is our new house. But I'll be sure to post more updates soon!

YAY!
~Layne