Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Diabetes Birthday To Meeeee

Exactly nine years ago from today I was diagnosed with juvenile Diabetes. Which makes today my Diabetes Birthday! Which feels an awful lot like this:

Just kidding. It feels an awful lot like celebration! One hundred years ago this would not have been possible. I'd be dead. And here I am. And here are all my friends still alive and (mostly) sane.

For three days I got up, almost routinely, seven to eight times each night so that I could pee and drink about sixteen ounces of liquid. My eyesight had been getting worse. Though my mother is not a registered nurse or part of the medical field, somehow she just knew these were the symptoms of diabetes, so she brought me in, October 30, 2001.

The nurse laughed and insisted I was not diabetic. She suggested I get an appointment with an eye doctor to get glasses. My mother insisted, the nurse still refused. This still confuses me, we're not talking about a difficult, complicated, or expensive test. It's a urine sample, or a simple finger stick. Eventually she caved in, probably excited about the chance to rub a good ol' "I told you so" in to my mom's face when the results came back. Just another paranoid mom.

Unfortunately, that's not how the rest of the day went.

I went back to school, and forgot about everything, until I was called to the Principle's office. I started the slow walk down the hall.

I have to stop and elaborate about how I'm what psychologists call a "worryer." It's cute in kids, and stressful in adults. I never outgrew the habit of "What if the tree falls in to my room" "What if the floor collapses underneath me" "What if that plane crashes in to the playground." It sounds melodramatic, but it's how I thought when I was little, and it's how I still think today. Most of the time I'm wrong. What keeps the habit persistent is the few times I'm right.

"What if this is the last time I don't know I have diabetes."

I walked in to the room where my parents were there with the principle, as if this were normal. As if we had this meeting every week. I sat down trying to play along with the charade they'd set up.

My principle was an old nun, very traditional, very pompous, very set in her ways. Every student shut up as she walked by. She was Miss Trunchbull from Matilda in a habit. She clearly thought she was going to control what was about to happen, but my father, my typically quiet and unobtrusive father, had different plans. Though she began to speak, he put his hand up to her very firmly. It was the only time I'd ever seen anyone shut her up.

He looked at me and told me.

The next few days were an adventure for me. I started off throwing a fit at the idea of having an I.V. put in my arm, to very calmly sitting still to get a shot for dinner. Flowers and get-well cards (that I still have in my closet at home) from my classmates made me feel special. That Christmas I got a laptop.

The next few years are a different story.

So here I am. Still kickin'. Hopefully I can celebrate my 50th diabetes anniversary. It will certainly be one to be excited about.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Don't Have a Good Title For This.

I'm much more mature this semester than I think I've ever been. I grew a LOT in the past couple of months. It's apparent in my time management. It's apparent in my stress management. It's apparent in my academics.

But I think it's most apparent in my friendships.

I can remember even in elementary school being completely uninterested in friends' problems. I've got my own problems, I don't have to deal with other people's issues! I equated it all to 'drama,' you know, the kind that everybody has to deal with as a teenager, the kind that some kids try to make while the rest of us try to avoid it. I just wanted to have fun with my friends, I didn't want to have to be sad and upset when I was with them.

Maybe it's because I didn't think I had friends worth fighting for, something I definitely regret thinking. Maybe it's because I didn't think other people's problems were really THAT bad. Maybe I just really was too caught up in my own life, too unsettled with how things were and how I wanted them to be. I don't think you can really help someone else until you're comfortable and secure with yourself.

Lately, I've found myself going out of my way to help other people, to listen to their issues, to want to help them. I know it's my job as an RA, but I'm not doing it because I have to, I honestly want to help other people, and I think I'm finally in a position in my life where I can do that.

I'm adjusted to where I am and where I'm going. I'm comfortable with who I am as a person, both my strengths and my weaknesses. I'm not overworked, overstressed, overwhelmed. I just AM and it's a good feeling.

Now that I have a good foundation, I'm finally able to take on others, and it feels really good.

I'm starting to figure out this whole friendship thing. I'm not all the way there yet, but putting myself out there for others seems to be a good start, because I'm not really under the impression that friendship is a one-way street.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I am wearing purple today.

This isn't about gay marriage. This isn't about religion. This isn't even about civil rights.

This is about not tormenting children.

Everyday kids are bullied. They're called names, they're physically hurt, they're made to feel like crap. This isn't just by other kids, this is often by adults, indirectly even when adults don't stop bullying when they see it.

I try to imagine how awful it must be to feel like you have to hide something like this from the world. To feel like you have to change how you talk, how you dress, how you act, your mannerisms. To feel like you're constantly acting for other people. I try to imagine what it must feel like to need to lie to everybody around you, including your own family.

It must be terribly lonely. And suffocating.

I don't personally know how awful it is, but I do know that when I have children I will teach them to respect everybody, including the kids they don't really like. Including people that aren't anything like them. Including people they've never even met before. If my children bully others, I will stop them. I will teach them not to.

Let's not just stop with my future children though, let's talk about my friends. Every time someone says "faggot" or "that's gay" I stop them. I tell them I don't like it. I explain why. I understand that I probaly don't change people's minds, and they probably just stop saying it in front of me. But by speaking up about how I feel, I have not implicitly consented to that language. I've brought attention to the issue. I've not backed down just because it would be easier to do.

I'm not going to wipe out homophobia by wearing purple or writing about it on my blog. But I am showing that I don't tolerate it. I'm making it known that I refuse to back down and let other people think that homophobia is okay. Homophobia isn't going to stop, but it's going to stop around me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


In the past, I've taken my health sort of kind of seriously. I've tried to eat well, but it's hard. I don't have a very hard and fast schedule, I'm frequently on the move, and I'm embarrassed to admit that some nights my dinner resorts to kitkats. As a diabetic, I take pretty poor care of myself as well. It frightens me to no end. But it shouldn't, as this is all under my control. It's really not anybody else's fault how I take care of my body or how I treat myself. It's my own responsibility. As an adult, it's slowly becoming entirely my responsibility. I've been weening my parents off of the control over the entire course of my diabetic life, but I think I forgot in the process that that gave me more control and more responsibility.

I've tried in the past to eat better, but I don't think I ever committed to a long term goal. It was always because I randomly wanted to lose 5 pounds, completely unnecessarily. Over the summer I actually went to the food pyramid website and came up with a solid meal plan, and that worked for a little while. But it got really hard and a little expensive, and eventually stress derailed me.

Stress always derails me.

I get so afraid of failure that I stop trying. Which, I know, is basically the same thing, but psychologically I've got that confused.

They say it takes 2 weeks to build a habit, right? And they say a habit sticks better when it's written down. I'm not expecting anybody who reads this to hold me to any of this, and in fact, please don't. It's so psychologically counter-productive to my goals. It's weird I know but I have a frustrating sort of brain like that.

Starting Sunday, but practicing starting tomorrow, I'm going to have these goals:

1. For two weeks, I'll just focus on my eating. I'll follow a meal plan that will allow for my cafeteria trying really hard to throw me off. I want to lower my cholesterol and feel a lot better about how I eat. I put this before focusing on diabetes because better eating habits will lead to better control of my diabetes.
2. For another two weeks, I'll focus on my diabetes. By that time, the bruises on my stomach from the CGM should be cleared up, so I can use it again. Don't get me started on this stupid thing, I could literally go on for hours about how something so useful could be so unusable. My overall goal will be to get my A1C below 8. I know that might be shocking that it's NOT, but look, it's been a rough past like...forever. Diabetes has psychologically taken its toll on me and for the most part my way of dealing with it has been to ignore it. I can't do that forever, I know that. It's really time for me to grow up.
3. For the final two weeks, I'll start focusing on getting regular exercise in. Exercise usually throws my diabetes off and makes everything difficult, that's why I put this at the end. If exercising makes things difficult this time around, I will not focus on it some, and instead try to find a regimen that works for me and my needs, not miserably force my diabetes to work for my exercise. That has never worked.

At that point it will be Christmas and my main focus is going to be on keeping my pattern regular. I think at first it will be stressful, but in the long run I will have less stress as I stop worrying about how much I'm not taking care of myself.

I think I'm really motivated because I really changed my study habits for the better this semester. I was doing awful last year, but this year my time management skills are unbelievable, and I kept it up long-term, and I think I can use that confidence and ability to channel my health into something good. I feel really good about this.

I really don't want to blog about this regularly because that feels so amazingly cheesy and stupid. I'm mostly putting it here to keep myself honest.

Like Kanye always says: #ITSAPROCESS

Classics Shmassics

I have a confession to make. It's not going to be pretty, and some people are going to be really upset about it, but here it goes.

I think J.D. Salinger's writing is awful.

There. There I said it.

I don't think there's anything to profound about what he writes. I don't think it's interesting. I don't think the ramblings of a psychotic teenager are emotional. I think it was boring. Boring and irritating.

And I don't like Jane Austen either. It's Gossip Girl set in the 19th century.

And I think Joseph Heller forgot to put plots in his books.

I don't understand why these people are accepted as "classics." I used to think that I just didn't get it, I wasn't well-versed enough in literature to understand what all the hype was about. I used to try and force myself to read books by these people, thinking eventually I would get it, and I would have learned something through the experience.

But then I realized why should I spend my time reading books that I think are awful, when I could instead read books that I think are enjoyable and wonderful? Why was I forcing myself to accept the "truth" that these people are wonderful authors? I'm happy other people like them, but to think that it's "fact" that they're good is a little beyond me.

Basically, I've decided to stop trying to impress people with all the classics I've read and cave in to popular demand by liking what is accepted as "good" and just doing what I like. Seems simple but it took me awhile to figure it out.

So while I'm here, Adam Smith's "The Invisible Hand" is actually NOT awful. Not that you should take my word for it or anything. :P

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 Signs You Might Be Dating a Diabetic

1. There are test strips in your bed
2. There are test strips on your floor
3. There are test strips in your laundry
4. There are test strips in your couch
5. There are test strips on the bathroom counter
6. There are test strips in the kitchen
7. There are test strips in your car
8. There are test strips behind the television
9. There are test strips in your yard
10. There are test strips in your cereal box

Erik wrote this for me. It was lulzy. I enjoyed it.

One time my dad found a test strip in his sock. I honestly have no idea how it got there. I swear they're alive and teleport to wherever they think is the most inconvenient place for them to be. I'm surprised it's not so bad that my friends complain about it. I'm sure there are test strips in the RenXChange room though, I just haven't heard a complaint about it yet.

It's unfortunate there aren't more diabetics in my life for me to pin the blame on.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I'm Reading Books Again So Naturally I'm Going to Blog About it

"The woolen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, most all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country! How many merchants and carriers, besides, must how many ship-builder, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world! What a variety of labour, too, is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workmen!"

-Adam Smith, The Invisible Hand

TL;DR - there is a CRAP TON of work that goes in to everything that we use, every single day. Even the most menial of objects represent the work of hundreds of men and women and years of technological advancements and innovation.

I think it's really easy to talk about how awful humanity is. There's war, there's murder, there's hate. There's inequality. There's politics. All constructs of man-kind. It's much harder to talk about all the good that we do.

I think one of the greatest things we do is take a basic tenant of being alive and though it could be something awful, we turn it into something wonderful. We take our natural inclination to care about ourselves most of all-our survival instinct-and use it to inadvertantly help others. Through our bartering system, be it chickens for corn or video games for money, we have developed a "you help me, I help you" themed exchange. We don't try to change who we are, we use it to our advantage in a way that creates a stable society. Biologically and psychologically, we care about ourselves before all others, but that doesn't have to be the bad thing it sounds like.

Ayn Rand talks about how greed is good, and I'm not shy to agree with her. Greed can be bad, but I think what's most impressive is how we make it good. Adam Smith talks about how no man lives upon the benevolance of others. We don't expect others to just give us stuff, we expect to work hard and earn it, and give others things they want in return. It's a kind of independence, but really it's more of a co-dependence. We benefit from each other by only thinking of ourselves. We took something that could be bad and can't be changed and made it good.

As an engineer, I appreciate efficiency, and this is truly a beautifully designed and efficient system.

As a sidenote, I'll never look at anything I own the same ever again thanks to that passage.