Monthly Archives: July 2010
Up until yesterday, there was only one brand who reached out to me as an attendee of BlogHer ’10. At first I was offended by the brand seeking me out. I mean, REALLY offended.
Then I started considering this post, and this one, too.
No wonder Metamucil wanted me to visit their “At Home with Your Digestive System” suite at the Hilton!
Seriously, though, I am not interested in brands when I go to New York City next week. Not many seem focused on a DINK with chronic health issues and a love of all things football, anyways.
(And cats. Way too many cats. On second thought, if there is a brand out there willing to come deep clean my house while I am out of town, I would not be opposed…)
I’m focusing on four S words – sessions, socializing, sightseeing, and sleep – and the principle developed by Leah, Permission To Miss Out. No private brand parties are on my agenda unless they involve a quiet dinner and friends.
There is one brand-related thing I must do. I promised Flat Jasmine I’d take her to have her picture taken with Mrs. Potato Head. But she is not allowed anywhere near the Playdoh-scented perfume or the eye makeover offered at the HPV test booth.
(I know, I know, doesn’t everyone want an eye makeover while they’re being tested for a STD?)
You don’t know me, do you?
Taking an idea from Diana and turning into a meme for me. Rather fitting as she will be one of my roommates for BlogHer ’10. And perhaps, any random BlogHer attendee might find this and either really really really want to meet me…or s/he might want to avoid me at all costs…! (And if you already have hung out with me, you may be questioning why…)
10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me
- I refuse to ever watch Titanic.
- I hated The Catcher in the Rye.
- I have watched Beaches over and over and over and still start crying at the same exact point every time. (When Hillary is in the library doing research on her health condition and the song “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” starts playing.)
- It is quite likely that I experienced my first panic attack when I was six years old, though I didn’t recognize what panic attacks actually were until I was in college.
- 34 years old and I still bite my nails. And cuticles. I attribute it to my anxiety issues (see #4). Yeah, I know. SO GROSS. There are worse habits, I suppose…
- I worked a temp job at Celestial Seasonings for exactly one day, soon after I moved to Boulder. Not returning for more work had nothing to do with my ability, though I don’t think I could have ever worked there longer with the peppermint smell permeating throughout the facility. (But I did appreciate the free factory tour!)
- Heavily varied musical taste. From Green Day to Garth Brooks, from Bruce Springsteen to Bruce Dickinson, from No Doubt to Nightwish, from Bob Dylan to Marvin Gaye, etc etc.
- I sing along to the Muzak-type music playing in the grocery store.
- Heavily varied sense of humor. I like dark humor ala the Coen Brothers. I like humor intended for 12-year-old boys. And oh, how I love sarcasm. If you see me, let me tell you the joke about the retired OB/GYN who went back to school to be a mechanic.
- As I grow older, I find myself laughing exactly like my mother and exaggerating when telling stories exactly like my father. Neither bothers me one bit. (And yes, this means I’ll end up laughing rather loudly at the retired OB/GYN joke as I tell it differently than I originally heard it.)
The cliché speaks the truth.
A year ago tonight, I sat giggling uncontrollably with friends, old and new, in a hotel lobby in Chicago, while having conquered social anxiety without using alcohol as a crutch. It felt a little like New Year’s Eve, without all the fanfare.
Today, I sit here looking back and thinking, wow, that was the beginning of a year I could have never imagined. Just when I felt my life was on track, with opportunities arising to advocate on behalf of people with diabetes and with life’s most important relationships on the way to being mended, somebody pressed the pause button. All my energy redirected itself towards fighting off an incredibly serious acute illness, a time when everything could have fallen apart.
Except it didn’t.
Today, I sit here looking back and thinking, wow, I made it through relatively unscathed. No doubt, the physical scar that runs from navel to pubic bone reminds me of the tough recovery periods following two open abdominal surgeries performed only months apart. And the checking account reminds me of the financial impact of those surgeries, associated hospitalizations, and countless doctor appointments.
For someone who had previously experienced the most brutal of panic attacks and the deepest of depressions, however, being so physically ill was not nearly as bad as the worst of mental illness. And more importantly, I did not drown in the emotions that surround such a devastating acute illness.
And for that I am incredibly grateful. Not to say that there weren’t moments when I lost my sense of purpose and direction, and being curled up in bed looked the best of my options, but those moments were so incredibly far and few between. The only way to get well physically meant staying well emotionally – something at which I succeeded – somehow or other.
A couple months back, I managed to press the play button again as I recovered strongly from the second surgical procedure. Those opportunities to advocate on behalf of people with diabetes (specifically) and chronic illness (generally) are still open, those most important relationships grow stronger each and every day.
I know it sounds boring and cliché to say that everything happens for a reason. Seriously, though? Maybe last fall wasn’t the time to press play on life, not when I was still seeking out the rewind and fast forward buttons much too often. Maybe I needed life dangled out in front of me to see what could truly be possible if I lived in the moment. Maybe I needed to go through all the crap to get to a place where I know my purpose and direction.
And maybe, just maybe, another cliché makes perfect sense in my case. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
Oh, here I go with politics again…
For the second election season in a row, I have seen political advertising painted on the benches at a particular public transportation stop not far from my house (but not in the city in which I live). This time, a Republican; last time a Democrat.
While I am most definitely a liberal and a Democrat, I would say that either party’s advertising does not belong at a RTD bus stop. Or light rail stop, for that matter. I see bus stops and park-n-rides and such as an extension of government, government which should be serving the people as neutrally as possible (ha ha, I know, right?). Semi-permanent advertising for one candidate or another doesn’t seem quite right. (I don’t like it when candidates come to the park-n-ride to do meet-n-greets, either.)
I know it is not RTD who maintains the area around the bus stops between stations and park-n-rides – that is left up to the municipalities involved. I admit to not knowing who handles the painted advertising, though if someone reading this has the answer, I would like to know.
Does this happen in other parts of the United States? What do you think about it?
When the search is over (a book review of sorts).
For the first thirty-two years of my life, I knew nothing of where I came from on my father’s side. Oh, I knew that his adoptive father was the favored and fun Grandpa of my siblings, though I was too young to know him like they did. And I’d seen movies of a family trip to New Orleans and Miami when he and his brother were youngsters, catching glimpses of his adoptive mother being the tough cookie everyone remembers.
Once I was old enough to understand adoption and its ramifications, I would imagine strangers walking down the street as my biological grandmother. Or my grandfather. Or an aunt or an uncle. Or cousins. I would make up fantasies about celebrities or sports stars or politicians, hoping they would swoop down and find us.
Out of respect to his adoptive parents and to his wonderful stepmother, my father chose to wait until all of them were gone to pursue a search for biological family. Two years ago, he found a half sister and with that, stories of their shared mother. My biological grandmother. Now I know where my father came from, where part of me came from.
Although I have yet to meet the half sister and her family, I plan on doing so soon enough, hopefully in the spring. My parents, sister, and her children will be joining them for the second year in a row at their annual family retreat next month. (Oh, and they are ordinary citizens, just like us, no fanfare needed.)
Many emotions surfaced since my father began searching and began finding – and those are just the emotions I have felt. Because he tends to keep emotions to himself, it is difficult to know for sure how this has affected him. While outwardly, this has been a positive experience, there still must be some uncertainty about pursuing this new-found family.
That is why Swimming Up the Sun by Nicole J. Burton affected me so. While her search was relatively easy, even back before the internet made things infinitely easier, the emotions that emerged as a result of that search were unexpected.
It raises questions about opening adoption records and the well-being of both adoptee and birth parent after a successful search has been completed. It raises questions on how much of a life to share after decades of not knowing the true biological family.
Burton does not mince words as far as the difficult relationship she endured with her birth mother once found. She explores her awkward connection to the Jewish faith through her birth father’s heritage. And she finds the strength to begin her own family, once she knows more of where she came.
Searching for the truth may not always been happily ever after or all the answers to the questions one has been asking his/her entire life. Though I can imagine it brings a certain sense of peace knowing. Even as the child of an adoptee, some of the mystery of the past has been solved with finding some of the present.
(Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money. I was not paid for this review – it simply came from the heart.)
Turn back the clock: Lost in New York.
I present my nine-year-old masterpiece entitled “Lost in New York”. Mrs. Eisenhuth, my fourth grade teacher, would become the first in the line of many educators to notice decent writing ability.
Of course, reading through this the other day, I cringed at its relative simplicity. It does show that I desired to visit New York City someday entirely based on my love for the movie Miracle on 34th Street. But it also shows that I exhibited significant innocence at that age, particularly when you consider I wrote it in the days before Rudy Giuliani cleaned up the city as mayor. Oh, and yeah, my childhood cat just happened to be a calico, and she just happened to be a kitten when I was in fourth grade.
No editing occurred, other than creating paragraphs where there were none.
It was a cold snowy evening and Mariann and Sherrey were walking down a New York City sidewalk on December 20th. Four-year-old Sherrey and thirteen-year-old Mariann were scared. They couldn’t find their Mother or Father anywhere.
They fell asleep on a corner on Main Street. They woke up in the middle of the night and walked down the street and met a stray kitten. They wanted to keep it. They named it Kittenella. It was a calico cat.
Later when they were going to sleep, a woman put a blanket on them so they wouldn’t be cold. The kitten went to sleep on Sherrey’s beautiful long, red hair.
In the morning, people crowded around them. People asked, “Are you lost?”
The girls got up and decided to go into Macy’s Department Store. The girls asked Mrs. Sowski, a store clerk, if she had seen their mother, Mrs. Kinsline, but she said, “no”.
Later, they were looking at dresses for about an hour. Then Mrs. Sowski decided to give them some soup for lunch.
Then, at about 5:15 , that evening, their Mother and Father came in the store. The girls ran into their parents’ arms. The girls felt lad to see their parents.
Sherrey asked, “Could we keep the kitten?” Their parents said “yes” and bought them both a pretty new dress. They had the best Christmas ever!!!!!!
And now, I shall finally visit the city of my dreams in just over three weeks for BlogHer ’10. I don’t plan on getting lost. Or bringing home a kitten.
Grief is a funny thing.
Yeah, that sounds weird, I know.
One of my oldest and dearest friends lost a sister the other day. And it is hitting me, oh it is hitting me so hard. And at the most random of moments, too.
It is S going through this pain. It is the girl who I started to write to as a pen pal when we were twelve, it is the teenager with whom I shared teenage angst, it is the young mother with whom I started trading e-mails instead of letters, it is the woman I know now. Even though we have only met once, we know so much about each other and our families.
S and her sister, me and my sister, roughly the same age differences (with siblings in between). Our sisters were our caretakers and our heroes when we were younger with that eleven year difference. They both left home as soon as they could, but we were always welcome into their new lives. While S and her sister never faltered in their relationship, me and my sister have had some bumps in the road as I figured out life as an adult sister instead of the baby sister. Things have improved over the past year and I just can’t imagine losing her. Of course, I have told her how much I love her this week.
And then there’s how S’s sister passed. Hers is not my story to tell, though I can say that after spending 40+ years with type 1 diabetes, she had experienced most of those scary complications we all hear about when diagnosed with diabetes, when sitting in the endocrinologist’s office, when scouring Doctor Google. That puts a human face on the cold hard truth – that people do die because of the damage diabetes does. While there has been news this year of sudden deaths in the diabetes world, this was not a sudden death.
It is seldom talked about, the impact that T1 can have on the siblings, the impact it can leave on a family after loss. In S’s case, she has two other sisters with it, though things have been smoother for them. I feel for them as they’ve watched what their disease can do, I feel for the entire family. And for the first time, I wish they’d find a cure already because this just sucks. A family has lost a daughter, a sister, an Auntie. Not fair. Not fair at all.
Her name, in Finnish, means “fairytale”. Fairytales are supposed to have happy endings, not this. Oh, she was full of life despite all her obstacles, and she loved her family dearly to the end. But no one should have to go through what she did the last few years of her life.
Who’s on my team?
No, no, I’m not talking sports here. I have a whole other blog for that. (Whoops, some shameless self-promotion…let’s move on, shall we?)
I’m talking about the team behind my chronic conditions (type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism, and mental health issues) and more recently, some wild stuff that went on with my lady bits and appendix. The next Chronic Babe carnival theme is “Who’s on Your Team?” and I shall explore this in two realms – my medical team and my personal team.
Endocrinologist. Upon being diagnosed with both type 2 diabetes and a thyroid disorder, I sought out an endocrinologist whose emphasis was on the thyroid. I knew from a college level physiology course that the thyroid controls so much of our bodily processes and that undiagnosed hypothyroidism was likely a contributing factor in the weight gain that led to my insulin resistance. Still, this endo knows enough about the latest treatments for both T1 and T2 diabetes to provide expertise in handling that condition along with the more easily managed thyroid condition.
Psychiatrist. I found THE ONE last summer. A mental health professional who listens, who didn’t automatically throw pills at me and who didn’t want to dissect my entire life to figure out my anxiety issues. Yes, she is a M.D., though I get so much more out of visiting with her than a prescription. She knows I am in tune with my body’s monthly cycle and the blood glucose fluctuations that can result from said cycle. From there, she can assist in finding how those patterns fit in with frequency of panic attacks or episodes of depression.
Gynecologist. Yeah, it totally sucks I needed a second surgery to clean up what was left behind from the first surgery for an unexplained pelvic abscess. If I had to have a second surgery, I am so lucky to have found a gynecologist who listened – both to me and a consulting radiologist – to discover I needed more done to get well. Who believed I was still experiencing pain from a seemingly unrelated ovarian cyst.
The online diabetes community. If you didn’t know, this group of bloggers and tweeters and podcasters are quite the powerful bunch, especially if you get a group of us in a room with a big name medical device manufacturer or the American Diabetes Association. Yet, we support each other through highs and lows, both literally in the form of hyper- and hypoglycemia and in the emotional sense as we navigate our daily lives with diabetes.
ChronicBabe. It isn’t just about the website, though finding the site was an important milestone in getting through my first year after being diagnosed with the diabetes and thyroid condition. Meeting Jenni Prokopy last year came in between two significant changes in my life – finding THE psychiatrist and the ordeal of an acute illness followed by two major abdominal surgeries. All three of these experiences led to a less anxious, less serious, less negative me. (Yes, even that seemingly negative experience of two hospitalizations took me for a positive turn.) Jenni truly warms the spirit of those around her and I couldn’t help to be influenced by her positivity.
(To those I didn’t mention but who support my healthy habits or who pick me up when I’m feeling down and out, thank you for being you.)
Just a thought…
Instead of attempting to meet a writing deadline, I am contemplating thoughts and feelings surrounding a recent event…
Sarah Jane and I were the only ones to witness a sixtysomething couple making out at the crowded hotel bar the other night, complete with enough groping to wonder when they would head up to their room. Public displays of affection THAT involved are never okay, no matter how old (or young) you are. (Hint, hint, Al Gore.)