Monthly Archives: November 2010
Surviving the holidays.
Subtitled: A ChronicBabe Blog Carnival Submission by someone with type 2 diabetes, generalized anxiety disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
Things I will do during the winter holidays:
- Travel light on Thanksgiving day. After twelve years of traveling back to the Midwest to see my immediate family for the holidays, I’ve learned I’d rather fly on the big days (i.e. Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day) rather than try to get in early or stay late. It’s not only cheaper, it is much less stress with fewer crowds, something to especially consider this year with the new controversial TSA procedures.
- Do all my gift shopping online. Again, I avoid crowds at all costs, even if it means paying for shipping and handling.
- Continue the agreement with my siblings and parents that exchanged gifts are not necessary. Christmas gifts are for the nephew and nieces, not for the adults. Cutting down the gift list cuts down on the stress.
- Exercise. Even if I do indulge a bit too much with all sorts of holiday goodies, regular exercise should counteract any negative effects those may have on blood glucose and weight. Exercising also makes a huge difference in how I feel emotionally, something that is especially important during the short, dark days of December.
- Pamper myself. Bimonthly self-pedicures, splurging on my first massage in over a year, and dressing up with the crowd for Ignite Boulder 13.
- Be grateful for being relatively healthy this year. Last holiday season found me recovering from major surgery after a serious illness. This year, I can truly enjoy the sounds, the smells, and the joys that the winter holidays bring.
Things I will not do during the winter holidays:
- Lose my cool, even around crowds. I will remember to breathe and to smile and perhaps most importantly, that there’s a bottle of anti-anxiety medication in my purse. Always in my purse. Nobody deserves to see the anxiety-filled nastiness that I can deliver at my worst, especially not at the holidays.
A gluten-free potluck.
What gluten-free is…
And it is something about which Gluten Free Girl (and her chef) changed minds. And something that is a real concern to those who cannot tolerate gluten, or those who are trying to avoid it as much as possible for their families.
What gluten-free isn’t…
It isn’t calorie-free and sugar-free, as Denise told her precious daughters who went back to the buffet over and over. As I witnessed among that plentiful potluck table, full of mostly gluten-free baked goods, not necessarily the best for someone who controls their type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise.
Still, this gluten-free potluck in honor of Shauna and her family proved to be a time to spend with blogging friends made in the past couple years. And while I should have taken pictures, this will have to suffice.
Photo courtesy Jolene’s smart phone. Left to right – Jennifer (Use Real Butter), Jolene (Healthy Discoveries), me, Denise (Eat Play Love).
Go ahead and guess which one of us is gluten-free. I dare you.
Taking it offline.
I admit it.
I am a slacktivist.
I want to do more than just fundraise or donate money to causes close to my heart and my health.
I see an article about research being done at Northwestern University using nanotechnology to make islet cell transplants a more viable option for treating and maybe even curing type 1 diabetes. And that makes me want to do more to support research in diabetes or women’s health or even some little known disease that needs researching. At this point of my life, I know I won’t go back to school and become an engineer or a scientific researcher. Certainly all the job skills gained over my adult lifetime could count for something in administrative support or project management, though.
I want to do more than just use social media to get and give support for my chronic conditions.
I tried to set up a local meetup group for younger adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, then life stuff got in the way and I freaked about meeting new people and I cancelled the latest meeting, even though I would have had a decent turnout last week. I need to move past my own fears if I want to help other people. I thought if this group went well, I could set up another local one for women with chronic illness, but I won’t get very far if I keep letting fear take over.
I want to do more and just say “no” to making excuses.
People tell me again and again that my written voice is strong, that even my spoken voice can be strong when I tackle a topic about which I am passionate. I need to start believing that and take it further than my fears hold me back.
The fight over original birth certificates.
Even though National Adoption Month is more about the adoptions out of foster care that are happening today, or the open adoptions from birth that are happening today, there is more to the subject of adoption than that for me.
In forty-four states, adoptees are not allowed access to their original birth certificates.
In the other six, high fees may apply. In addition, some require the use of an intermediary to grant (or not grant) permission for access to the birth certificate.
I would have thought nothing of this a few years ago. That is, until my father decided to search for any evidence of birth parents still alive or at the very least, birth family.
Lori, a local blogger pal, is raising money for AdopteeRights, an organization that fights on behalf of those like my father, those born before open adoption came to be. Please comment on her post – for each comment, SixSeeds will donate $2 to AdopteeRights this month.
(As an aside, I would like to congratulate Elizabeth and her husband on the finalization of their daughter’s adoption a few days ago.)
I did not do this to myself.
I did not do this to myself. I could repeat this a hundred, a thousand, a million times. Would I believe it? Would you believe it?
The media as well as the general public’s perception would have you believe that brought type 2 diabetes upon myself. And some of the most scathing opinions on the subject come from people with type 1 diabetes and their caregivers.
“You could have done something to prevent type 2 diabetes – I (or my child) could not prevent type 1 diabetes”.
The thing is, a combination of an errant thyroid and genetics led to my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Fatigue, joint and muscle pain, inability to lose weight – this is what happens when your thyroid slows down or stops working. None of these are conducive to avoiding type 2 diabetes if you are already at genetic risk. None of these make it easy to stay active. (Other symptoms included irregular menstruation in women, cold intolerance, heightened anxiety and depression, and hair loss. Just so you know.)
Most cases of hypothyroidism are autoimmune. Just like type 1 diabetes. And we all know that autoimmune diseases are not preventable.
That makes it so much easier to accept that I did not bring hypothyroidism upon myself than it is to believe the same regarding type 2 diabetes.
Even if I didn’t have an autoimmune disease, though, I may still have been served the short end of the genetic stick regarding type 2 diabetes. I will never know for sure.
I did not do this to myself. Nobody does this to themselves. Who would do diabetes to themselves if given the choice?
Public Service Announcement: If you should ever receive a message from your credit card company about suspicious activity telling you to call their fraud customer service number with your full credit card number handy, it is perfectly okay to call the main customer service line printed on your credit card if you feel suspicious about said message. The people at the main customer service line will confirm suspicious activity and transfer you to the fraud department.
Now you must be wondering how I know this?
I work for a company that does much of its business online and I already held disgust for people who swipe credit card information and use it to attempt to purchase items online. Or worse, sometimes they even succeed.
Now that it has happened to me, however, disgust has increased exponentially. Some asshole swiped my credit card information and attempted to buy over $1k in Ralph Lauren merchandise.
Thank goodness for good fraud detection by Chase.
(You know, since I’m not a Ralph Lauren kind of girl.)
Blogiversary (with a side of thanks).
Today marks five years of blogging.
Well, okay, more than five years. I maintained a blog during the summer of 2003, and I experimented with a semi-private LiveJournal for quite awhile even after I started here.
But this particular blog? It came about five years ago as I (a) tried to express feelings regarding my own type 2 diabetes and hypothyroidism diagnoses earlier in 2005 and (b) tried to figure out my role in the husband’s type 1 diabetes following a hypoglycemic seizure the previous year. Gina created D-Blog Day and I created this space – thank you Gina, for getting me started.
The few who came before me in diabetes blogging showed me that writing about these experiences could be therapeutic. To Kerri, I owe the greatest thanks of all in this area of my writing. Not only did she provide the insight I needed into the type 1 world and not only did she inspire my inner athlete to come out from hiding, she opened a huge door for me with the dLife column and giving me pep talks into doing more with being a patient using social media.
Eventually, I found the need to talk about my experiences with anxiety and depression openly, as there is no denying they played a role in the early onset of type 2 diabetes. I must thank Lee Ann and Scott for their continued support on going public with that information.
Many thanks also go out to David and Elizabeth Edelman, as they invited me to blog at Diabetes Daily a couple years back.
As a result, I moved most diabetes talk over there and started exploring my life here as a ChronicBabe as a whole – the diabetes, the mental health issues, and eventual admission of having lived with chronic pelvic pain. At least I try to be babelicious most of the time, though to be honest, it’s been more difficult lately. I know I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will say it again, but Jenni rocks my world with her attitude as a ChronicBabe.
There must be some reason I keep doing the patient-blogging thing, right? It’s not just about me – it’s reaching out to those who may be experiencing a similar situation but cannot find their own words to express themselves. I cannot ignore the role of mental health in physical health – and I hope more people recognize the importance of healthy mind, healthy body.
For all of those who comment, who e-mail, who connect on some level – thank you not only for reading, but for sharing your own stories with me. I’m not alone – you’re not alone.
Then there’s those darn cats. And my love of football. And travels around the country (and around the state). And cooking. And despite my better judgment, some politics and religion. (You’ll have to do some digging for those.)
And there’s the dark and twisty side. After all the talk therapy I have encountered during my relatively short lifetime, I find I would much rather sit down and write my thoughts for the world to see. I know some of it is rather grim when I find myself dealing with some of the fumbles of life. What can I say? It’s cheaper than an hour on some therapist’s couch and I feel much better afterwards.
To those who keep coming back in spite of the dark and the twisty and the football fanaticism and those darn cats, thank you. Thank you, oh so very much.
What other people write.
Some of the writing around the ‘net that has caught my attention as of late:
- Kim at Texting My Pancreas wrote about her time with undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Having been there, done that – this really touched me.
- What do they think on the other side of the pharmacy counter? Like Swimming tells it like it is, pet peeves and all.
- Tracy at Hit by a Pitch talks about the suck of running and working out – and yet why she keeps doing it – to show her 1-year-old son that exercise “is just what you do”.
- Rita Arens, a fantastic writer and a great speaker, tells her readers that writing and queries and book proposals don’t get any easier after the first works are published. (Hey, at least she’s honest…)
- I cannot imagine ever losing my sister and yet I have seen several women lose theirs this year. Most recently, and most unexpectedly, Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess is grieving of the loss of her younger sister. While Amy could not put together enough words to express herself at this time, one of her best friends wrote a piece about Carrie, grief, and life after a loved one’s death.
What have you been reading? What has made you laugh or cry or smile?
The myth of the perfect doctor?
As a patient with chronic illness, I see more doctors in a typical year than the average person. Not only do I see a primary care physician (who happens to practice family medicine), but I also see an endocrinologist, an ophthalmologist, and a gynecologist. I see a psychiatrist as well, though for the purpose of “what I look for in a doctor” for this week’s Patients for a Moment, I will limit that question to those who treat the physical body.
To be honest, this question is an interesting one as I am re-examining what I need from my medical team. The eye doctor and gynecologist are here to stay, though the endocrinologist and primary care provider need some reviewing.
Lately, I have been questioning the importance of an endocrinologist to manage my type 2 diabetes and hypothyroidism. I continue to maintain excellent blood sugar control with the use of diet and exercise alone – and the dose of thyroid hormone has been steady for several years. Admittedly, some of this feeling comes from a recent vibe from my endocrinologist of “what do you really need and want from me?”. Previously, I felt comfortable with him, especially with his expertise with the thyroid, now I feel like it is just a biannual appointment to review lab results. Do I really need to be paying a specialist co-pay every four to six months to review lab results? I’m not sure.
I don’t necessarily need a “perfect” relationship between me and the eye doctor, as long as the annual retinal and glaucoma exams are normal and I leave his office with another year’s eyeglass prescription. Even so, he and his medical assistant remember me and my medical history each and every year, which I do appreciate.
Similarly, I’m not looking for much in a primary care provider. Now that my reproductive system is known to be complicated, I receive gynecological care from a GYN, so what I expect from a PCP is simply an annual physical, flu shot, and skin check. To be available to treat the occasional respiratory infection is an added benefit. What I don’t need is what I currently experience – a rude office staff, loss of an entire electronic medical record detailing a full physical from April 2007, and a doctor who never remembers if I have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Needless to say, it is a never-ending quest for a quality primary care provider.
Contrasted to the other doctors women encounter on an annual basis, the gynecologist must be close to “perfect”. After all, he or she sees what only a significant other ventures towards. Luckily, I hit the jackpot when I picked the GYN who saw me through some heavy stuff last winter and spring. While she maintains a solo practice and participates in several side projects related to women’s health, I never feel rushed through an appointment. You know those body models that can be seen in every doctor’s office? She actually used them to explain what makes my reproductive system different from most. And her office staff is calm, caring, knowledgable – and prompt in returning phone calls. Yeah, it’s all pretty darn close to perfect.
Now that I found near perfection, however, it sets the standard of what I expect from other health care providers, something that is especially meaningful as I look to make changes in my medical team. Do I need the same perfection from a PCP or an endocrinologist that I need from a GYN? No – but I need more than the care I am currently receiving.
The space needle.
You watched me in the hotel room.
You watched me wandering the waterfront.
You watched me as I walked underneath you.
All the while, I fell in love with returning your glances all over the Emerald City. From the hotel room, from the waterfront, from below, from neighborhoods briefly explored to the north.
And just when I thought I had seen it all, you gave me this view of one of your dearest friends, Mount Rainier, on a gorgeous sun-drenched day: