11 September, 2011

Moving forward doesn't mean forgetting the past.

9/11 - 10 years later

Today, my facebook news feed was filled with statuses sharing what people remember from 10 years ago today. If I were to try to think back that far to any other Tuesday, I doubt I'd be able to remember a thing (who am I kidding, remembering what I did last Tuesday is hard). But just like most others my age, my memory starts much the same way - I was in my senior year of high school, and at the time I was in European History working on a group project. Mr. Ditman left the room for a minute to get something from the printer for one of the students in our class. When he returned, he told us that he knew there wasn't supposed to be a place for religion in public schools, but he knew what he needed to do it. He told us that a plane had hit the world trade center in New York, and that he would like us to gather together to pray for those inside. I personally am not very religious, but I stand by the choices Mr. Ditman made that day - we needed guidance from an adult, and he provided it in the form of his prayer. Right around 9:00 am, he turned on our classroom television, and we, like many others in the school, watched in silence as the rest unfolded on the news. When news broke of the Pentagon attack, many students began to panic, and many classroom teachers forwent the normal rules and allowed students to try to call home from the classrooms.

My reflections in the days and weeks that followed have remained largely the same when I think back on the events of that day. Ten years ago, my thoughts were about how unsafe it now felt to be in our country - and about how children in war zones must feel that all the time. I was in awe of the outpouring of pride in our country, in being an American, but also saddened by the hatred that was blanketed over a group of people simply because a few extremists happened share some commonalities. And I felt swells of emotion when I thought of all of the first responders that day, most of whom knew the tragedy that lay before them, but reported for duty anyway.

I recently visited the Faces of Ground Zero: 10 Years Later at the Time Warner Center in New York City, and while in New York, I caught my first in person glimpses of Ground Zero in person. Some of the very same emotions went through my grown-up mind now 10 years later, as those that traveled through my teenage brain in 2001. I feel mixed emotions about the wars our country has been fighting since that attack. I feel the same swell of emotion for those who have reported for duty, which I think can be summed up with a line from the Bixby letter that George W. Bush read today "and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom". I feel a tremendous amount of indebtedness to those who serve or have served our country - they have signed up for a job that requires great courage, and they have gone forward with the knowledge that they may not return. When I think of the wars our country is fighting, I still can't help but think of how more innocent people continue to lose lives - a hurt that is so universal - a hurt that is not unlike what people felt when they lost loved ones on that day 10 years ago.

Ten years later, I continue to feel saddened that my fellow countrymen continue to show hatred or discrimination towards people simply because they are Muslim, or are of Middle Eastern decent. There are extremists in every religion, every sect. Nobody deserves to have to take the blame for something one person did just because they share the same hair color, or eye color, or overarching religion. Extremists can interpret ANY religion to justify ANY poor decision, and it shouldn't put the entire group under an umbrella of shame. I was relieved to hear today that there would be interfaith remembrance events, because this event didn't leave a single American untouched - and what makes me proud to be an American is that I can call myself that regardless of my race, religion, gender, or country my family originated from.

Sadness is not all I feel on this Patriot Day in 2011. I also feel hopeful. And this reason is two-fold. We have stuck by two sentiments that we heard countless times in the days and weeks that followed 9/11. We must move forward, and we must never forget. I observed both of these things many times over today. Moments of silence, memorial ceremonies, and sharing stories of that day occurred all over the country. But normal things happened too. Some of which were as normal as what may have been happening on September 10th, 2001. I laughed with friends. My dad watched football. My best friend boarded a flight to head home. Cory photographed a wedding. My day with friends was speckled with moments of reflection and remembrance. Football games all began with tributes, and players and coaches wore hats and ribbons to honor those lost. And while there was a heightened sense of uncertainty in airports and on airplanes, to have planes in the sky this evening, unlike this day 10 years ago, we are saying we cannot be brought down. And for the couple that got married, many would say why today? But really, what day better to share your love and devotion to one another? On this day 10 years ago, we were reminded to love - to feel it deeply, share it openly; this tragedy reminded us of the fragility of life.

My hope for the future is that we continue to live life with more purpose than before. That we face our differences with more compassion. That we appreciate our family and friends with the knowledge that we can't plan when we go, or when they might leave us. And, that we never forget the events of that day. We can't forgot those who we lost, we can't forget the feelings we had.

One last thought that I walk away from today with - sometimes the rules are meant to be broken; sometimes you have to just do what's right. A hero is someone that knows when to make those tough calls. For me, being so far removed from the tragedy, those heroes were the teachers that knew we needed to know, but knew we also needed their support in digesting this news. At ground zero and the pentagon, the heroes were the people that led others out of those towers even when people were told to stay put, and those who were told not to go back in who went searching anyway. The heroes are those on flight 93 who made the decision to fight back. The heroes are those who can pray alongside someone of another religion, fight alongside someone of another race, and combat fear with notions of peace.

13 August, 2011

It has changed the way I view the world....or at least the items in my shopping cart

I would love to say that I've remained completely unchanged since my pancreas stopped doing its job almost 2 years ago, but that is hardly the case. I've acquired necessary insurance fighting skills, I've become much more aware of what goes in my tummy (not at all meaning that I always eat healthy food, just that I know the consequences when I splurge), I try not to walk around barefoot (the key here is that I TRY to be better about this), and I see nearly everything differently.

One of the scariest symptoms before my diagnosis was that I went to

bed with 20/20 vision, and woke up unable to read anything far away. I couldn't read any street signs on my drive home from New Jersey (making it difficult to spot the hundred rest stops I needed to stop at to use the bathroom on my 3 hr ride), and I couldn't see anything far away at work (which as a middle school teacher, is far scarier than not being able to see on the turnpike).

Luckily, that isn't want I mean at all about seeing things differently. Those symptoms only come back when my glucose levels are way out of whack, and according to my doctor (whom I hate merely because she dilates my eyes once a year) I have maintained 20/20 vision, and have no signs of diabetic retinopathy. But I do see things differently.

I now see pockets as one of the greatest things ever invented, and as one of the greatest items that makes this disease manageable (although my pump and insulin pens aren't half bad either).
Take these running shorts for example:

Normal eyes see: a pair of running shorts.
Normal eyes on a body that has seen its share of running see: a pair of running shorts w/ anti-chaffing built in lining.
Diabetes eyes see: a pair of running shorts w/ anti-chaffing built in lining and pockets that allow me to cut down on the number of dork belts (more on running w/ dork belts in another post) I have to wear to carry all of my gear.

back zipper pocket perfect in size for holding a GU or some glucose tabs

hidden pocket inside the lining, just the right size for securely holding my pump without too much bouncing.

FEMALE Diabetes eyes see: THEY WERE ON SALE!!

14 July, 2011

Kayaking Cures

I took some time off from writing (publicly at least) because I had misplaced my positive mindset for quite awhile. While I know some find it therapeutic to share when they are down, I find it even more so to share when I'm upbeat - that way when I look back and reread, I have some of my own thoughts to keep me going in the positive direction. I apologize for the hiatus, but even more so for the nerdy 'betes and kayak jargon that fills this post - its summertime, so that's really all I've got going on :)

Tuesday night I went out on the Potomac to practice my paddling skills, and was excited that we would be spending more time on moving water than we normally do. The two practices I had gone to prior to this one both had their diabetes moments, and I was sure that this one would too. At each of the earlier practices, other kayakers had noticed my pump - the first asking me if it was a fancy waterproof cell phone, and the second (in the medical field and use to work in an endo's office) asking if they finally made waterproof pumps. The first experience made me laugh a little, but gave me a chance to give a quick diabetes info session. The second made me happy just because someone knew what it was - I love that feeling when someone gets it!

So, I checked my pump before I left to make sure I had enough insulin - 6 units remaining, but plenty to get through a few hours of kayaking in the evening (my basal rates are really low at this time of day, plus I knew I'd be cranking down the temp basal anyway). I checked my blood sugar - just over 200 - a tad on the high side, but I only give myself a quarter of my correction, knowing I'll be burning up glucose like crazy on the river. You might wonder why I don't just take my pump completely, since I use so little insulin then anyway. I've done this before, but I really prefer to keep it on during exercise so I have the benefit of the tiny doses of insulin so my body can access and burn up the carbs that I take in. I tossed a spare set of everything in my bag knowing that after 3+ days and 3 hrs of kayaking, my infusion set probably wasn't going to be too keen on staying adhered. Got my gear, made sure my rash guard was tucked in over my site to protect it, put on my spray skirt, pfd, and carried the rest of my gear down to the river.

I had just started using an otterbox the week before (I figured it might be good for me to have a spare meter with me when I'm out for longer paddles), so I stashed that in the back of my boat before hoping on the water. We practiced rolling on flat water, and then headed upstream to play in the chutes. We paddled upstream for awhile, and then stopped to rest for a bit - this is when I felt around and noticed that my infusion set had come out completely. So, knowing I didn't have many options, I pulled that sucker off the rest of the way and shoved the whole thing in my pocket. We were 30 minutes in to our 3 hours on the river.

For the next hour we practiced rolling our kayaks in the rapids - normally rolling is a great way to cool off - but with air temps at 100, and water temps over 85, it wasn't much of a relief - but it was great fun! We did a bunch of ferrying drills, and practiced some peel outs, and generally exhausted every muscle in our bodies. I took a break for a few - feeling worn out, but also feeling like my lips and mouth couldn't possibly be more dry. I wanted to drink the whole potomac, except that I'd likely grow a third eye, or suffer from hormone overdose. So now I'm thinking about how I was 200 before getting on the water, and that I've been disconnected for at least an hour, but likely longer, and I haven't felt this thirsty since I was in the hospital. I sip some water from my now warm bottle that has been sloshing around in my boat, and I decide its time to play in the waves a little more. So I pretend to be brave for awhile, and ferry back and forth across some of the more tame waves while watching some guys in playboats do some pretty wicked tricks.

Our instructor asks if everyone is down for staying out later tonight - and I find myself nodding with the rest of the crew, despite thinking in the back of my head that I really need to hook myself back up to an insulin source soon. Since we've all agreed to stay, I jump back in to practicing, and we go back to spotting each other for more rolling practice. I finally force myself to take a rest, thinking that I'm likely in the 300s, which isn't the greatest time for vigorous exercise. I dig my otterbox out of the stern of my boat, nearly flipping myself over since my muscles are kind of shaky and unstable at this point. I open the box, dry off my fingers with the tiny towel I keep inside, and I fish a test strip out of the container and shove it in my backup meter (thank goodness the aviva strips are bigger than the ones I use on my regular one-touch - so much easier to handle out on the water). Prick, wait 5 seconds, and up pops a 99! Can't get much more perfect than that! So, disconnected for at least two hours at this point, but my blood sugar hits the mark spot on - glad that site got ripped out, otherwise I would have ended up quite low. I guess the exercise and adrenaline cancelled out perfectly - pretty sure this is a sign that if I just stay out on the water all the time I'll be cured! I even got to down some juice when I got out of the water and keep my pump off til after my shower without going too high. I was clearly meant to be a fish - with a working pancreas :)

28 June, 2011

A frustration I cannot escape

Yes, this post will likely turn into a rant.

Today I went to the pool instead of doing the hundred things on my neatly written to do list (read sloppily scrawled list on the back of an empty opened envelope that was promptly lost immediately after writing). After all, it is summer, and I spend 10 months working at least 12 months worth of hard so I can have two months off to read by the pool.

Today is no different than any other day at my apartment complex pool - the pool is full of children, at most one of whom can swim. They are all clad in swimmies and floaties and noodles and such so that their parents can feel safe enough to ignore them for the rest of the time at the pool.

Enter rant phase.

Perhaps I do not yet understand because I do not have children of my own. Perhaps spending endless hours with young children makes one crave adult attention/conversation so much that ignoring those very children at any opportunity to interact with another adult becomes necessary. As I said, I'm not there yet, so I can only try to understand as an outsider looking in.

So today's case of "I had kids so that I could ignore them" went like this:

Enter two moms each with two boys. And two water guns. And four inflatable rings to put the kids in. And two coolers full of sugary snacks. After much insisting from the moms that all four boys put on their "floatie" rings to stay safe, the kids are allowed in the pool. The three older boys swim off happily, with two water guns to fight over between them.

The moms cling together as if this may be their last opportunity for adult conversation. ever. They talk about their husbands being deployed. They talk about working out at the gym, and about the steam room. and the steam room. and the steam room. If that woman said one more thing about how great they were, I would have thrown my book at her.

Boy gets out of pool and asks mom for towel. She waves her hand in the direction of the table with all their junk, but continues her conversation with other mom. Other boy keeps shouting across pool while looking at his mom "why can't I go anywhere??" I want so badly to tell him because that stupid "floatie" is getting in the way of your arms moving and if only your mom had taken the time to teach you to swim, you could be zipping around this pool. But I think better of it, and quietly pretend to keep reading my book.

I grow tired of my people watching, and roll over for a nap. I wake up to one of the boys putting his towel on the lounge chair next to mine, bumping in to me repeatedly. I silently groan, sit back up, and go back to reading my book. Boys are bored - never a great combination. So out of boredom comes this new game - shoot all the ants with the water gun. This apparently included ants that were crawling under my backpack, ants near my book, oh and there must have been ants on me. Not really frustrated with the kids, as they are just using their creativity to try to enjoy their day - I shoot some angry glances towards the moms in regard to all of my stuff getting soaked. Oh wait, they weren't even looking. Having no clue that their children were going around the pool soaking everything and everyone with their water guns, the moms were discussing the college perks that the military provides.

I dry off my stuff, and go back to reading my book. I hear the boys attempt to get the moms attention again - and again, no response from them. Fast forward to all the girls in the pool screaming, because the boys have now taken to stealing all of their toys. Sigh. Perhaps if the moms had engaged the boys in some sort of game, or, I know this is crazy, but spent the time in the pool teaching them how to swim perhaps they wouldn't have been such terrors.

The part that made me cringe the most today is when mom 1 asked mom 2 if the smallest boy was sleeping through the night. When mom 2 said no, mom 1's advice was "you know, tylenol every night will cure that problem". Really? This is the motherly advice they were sharing at the expense of interacting with their children? It makes me shudder even more to think that these boys' fathers are fighting hard and sacrificing time away from them, and are probably wishing more than anything that they were able to throw a ball with these boys or play a game with them, and here are two moms that have that opportunity, and are choosing to ignore it.

I see this in the grocery store, I see it at the pool, I see it at work. I see it every.day.

So my question to the world is...why have children if you have no desire to truly interact with them - to not just be in the background of their childhood, but to shape their childhood?

I'm frustrated because I know of people who want so badly to have those moments with a child - to read them bedtime stories, teach them to swim, let them help with the grocery shopping (even though they know it will take longer), but they can't have children. And then I see on a daily basis those people who put about as much energy into raising a child as it would have taken to avoid having one in the first place.

24 June, 2011

The Big D and Me

Who gets to be the Big D today?

I'd like to think that more days than not, I get to be the Big D. It is a title that is awarded to the winner for the day - and the contenders for the title always stay the same.

Will Dana be the Big D today? or will Diabetes win the title?

Most days I feel like I'm in control - with New Pancreas at my side and enough test strips to completely cover my floor, I manage to keep diabetes in check. By testing often, I can keep those highs and lows at bay and come out of the day feeling victorious. One of my favorite victories is when I test and I'm out of range, but the suggested correction factor is exactly equal to the amount of insulin my pump says I have on board - this is a good sign that I've bolused to near perfection. These are the days that Big D stands for Dana - the one who says, "diabetes, I see your lack of insulin production, but I raise you one pump and one meter" and diabetes folds.

I wish I could say that I've had a an undefeated season, but I'm not sure that's possible in this sport. On the plus side, I have a better average than my dear O's. There are days when I'm caught off guard - when I don't bring my A game to the show. These are the days when diabetes gets me, and I have to hand over the Big D title. Waking up low in the middle of the night, having to end a workout early to have some juice, or correcting and correcting and correcting again for those highs that just wont quit are all sure signs that diabetes has me beat for the day.

The good thing is that the fight starts over each day, giving me a fresh start to reclaim my title.