21 April, 2010


April 22nd is Earth Day, a day designed to appreciate our most beautiful planet. At least I must assume it is the most beautiful, as I have yet to visit any others. So tomorrow many will try to be a little more earth friendly, a little more aware. I’m glad we have a day like this, but I also wish that I was better at being earth friendly everyday. I find it difficult to keep in the forefront of my busy mind the many ways that I a can leave less of a negative impact on this lovely place we live.

One effort that I have decided to take on this year is walking anywhere I need to go that is within three miles. My hope is that I can do this at least until winter, when hopefully Mother Nature will not dump another bunch of twenty inch snowstorms on us. I live within a mile of a grocery store, and the walk there is not bad at all. I also found that I buy less crap when I know I have to carry it all back. The closest MOM’s Organic Market is about four miles away, and although I have not ventured there on foot yet, I’m sure it’s a bearable trek as well.

It is certainly nice to know that I am damaging the environment less by using my car less, and I feel accomplished after walking to these local establishments, but I have found that the biggest benefit has come from knowing that when I eat, it is something I have worked for. The food is much more enjoyable, and I’m in better shape too. I think that one of the contributing factors to obese America is that few people do any work for their food anymore.

Humans used to hunt and gather, expending most of their energy to acquire more food and thus more energy to continue the cycle. Eventually this turned into various methods of farming, which still required a significant expenditure of energy. Even after many people abandoned farming people still spent a considerable portion of their day cooking and preparing food before consuming it. But now we are at the point that if it requires more than five minutes of sitting in our car in the drive thru, we had to work too hard for our food.

So what if everyone gave up paying for a gym membership each month, got off the treadmill, elliptical, and various other exercise gadgets, and instead simply walked to the grocery store, farmers market, or restaurant for their next meal?

19 April, 2010

Six Months Clean

One hundred eighty two days ago my life changed for the better; that was the day that I gave up my sugar high. Like most people who make such a life change, I feel happier, healthier, and more alive. In contrast to most addicts however, I had to pick up the needles in order to clean up my act.

Six months ago I drove to an urgent care place for an 11pm appointment. For two weeks I had been drinking like crazy (water, people…water!). I couldn’t get through a lesson without drinking a full bottle. And the obvious result was that every hour I couldn’t get to the bathroom fast enough. I don’t exactly have a job where it’s acceptable to be leaving constantly to pee, especially when the nearest bathroom is nowhere near my “learning cottage” of a trailer. So when I started getting pain in my kidneys, I made the appointment that landed me in a swine flu infested doctor’s office at almost midnight on a school night.

Like most junkies, all it took was some pee in a cup to see that I was positive. The urine test led to a blood test, and the rest played out like a scene in a crappy lifetime movie. The tech pricked my finger and read me the glucose monitor result of 500; she then hurriedly left the room. I already knew what this meant, but being that I was in a doctor’s office (of sorts) I was waiting for someone to give me an official diagnosis before trying to process anything. For those who know me, although I wasn’t trying to process anything, my brain was already moving at 5,000 miles an hour.

My official diagnosis came in the form of the tech and the doctor’s conversation outside of the hardly soundproof exam room door. It went sort of like this “500? Really?” “We don’t get people like that here.” “I don’t think we’ve ever had to tell someone that.” As much as it sounds like something that would only happen on TV, this conversation went on for must have been at least another ten minutes. And then another ten minutes passed. Finally the doctor came in and the great words she managed to come up with after her 20 minutes of planning were, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you have diabetes.” Really? That’s the best she could come up with after all that build up? This was followed up with, “Did you want us to call an ambulance, or did you have someone who could drive you to the hospital?”

So, not really knowing what else to do, I called my parents’ house, woke them up, and gave an explanation about as brief as the doctor’s diagnosis was. They of course agreed to drive down, but that meant another forty-five minutes of sitting in the exam room waiting. To make things easier, the doctor and the tech took turns coming in every ten minutes to ask me how I was doing. This was honestly the most irritating part of the whole event. I was doing just fine; after all, I had had a whole extra twenty minutes to digest my diagnosis before they even gave it to me.

Fast forward twelve hours, and I was walking out of the hospital a new person. Or a slightly cranky, tired, and hungry less than perfect version of my new self. I had spent about four hours in the ER waiting area (again surrounded by the hamthrax) with a poorly placed needle in my arm connected to absolutely nothing. Apparently they do this when you first get there so that when they finally see you days later it will be that much quicker to hook you up to whatever you need. I was then seen for a total of five minutes by the ER doctor, who must have received her schooling in the same place as the urgent care doc. She walked in, looked at my chart and said, “Well, it looks like you have diabetes. When the diabetes educator and nutritionist get here around 8am we will have them meet with you.” And she walked out. The next four hours consisted of me being hooked up to IV fluids in an attempt to lower my glucose level. And waiting. And waiting. The diabetes educator and the nutritionist tag teamed me for the next four hours, explaining how my new life would work.

So, I walked out of the hospital and started my detox. Interestingly enough I received zero insulin while I was in the hospital; my first dose occurred after I picked up my prescriptions and got back to my apartment. I was finally working towards cleansing my body of the useless sugars that had been poisoning me for portions of the last three years. And like any body that had been used to something that was taken away abruptly, my body revolted against my lowering glucose levels. I felt hungry constantly. I wanted to use so badly; I just wanted a damn big bowl of pasta with a side of fruit and a pile of sugar on top.

Over 900 finger sticks and over 700 insulin injections later, I’m pretty certain that the disease that tends to cut people’s lives a bit shorter will actually help me live mine better. Although my endocrinologist says I can eat what I want (in moderation, just like the rest of the world), I still think more about what I put in my mouth (insert dirty joke here). I started to workout again more seriously; partially because I felt well enough to do so again, and partially because I know it will help me maintain healthier glucose levels. I drink less; not that I don’t still have a little fun when I go out, but this was the official end to the complete belligerent nights of my college past. Basically it put an end to the irresponsible way that I was treating my body.

I’m content with the fact that I have diabetes. I was lucky enough to get this disease at what I think must be the easiest time. My parents didn’t have to go through worrying about a young child with diabetes. I didn’t have to be that weird kid that has to go to the nurse all the time. I didn’t have to sit out of rec sports events, or get sent off to sleepovers with a long instruction booklet on how to deal with me. I got to enjoy college to the max with things like homecoming morning breakfasts of mimosas and jello. I also wasn’t at a point where I was too old to care about making changes to my life. I welcomed the changes I had to make; they were necessary whether I was given this disease or not. Diabetes was just a convincing catalyst to get my stubborn self to follow through with becoming a less reckless adult.

So I wake up everyday happy to be alive. Happy to have a disease that has made me a better person. Happy that I didn’t have to be one of the people that has lived their whole life like this. Happy that my diabetes is well controlled and easy to manage. Happy that I have the motivation to prove to myself that I can run further, faster, longer. Happy that I finally know what made me feel sick for periods of time over the last three years (and that I wasn’t just imaging the symptoms). Happy that I’m six months sugar-clean.

And yes, I realize how overly dramatic this is. But that's who I am. :)