Spring Has Sprung (and other life updates)!

So, I’ve been a bad blogger. Like, really bad. I love the idea of being a blogger. I love reading blogs and keep up with a good many, but when it comes to my own, I’m lacking.

Starting in a few weeks though, I will have one month off. No work, no school. Just a few speaking commitments, some interviews, and a jumble of doctor’s appointments. May will be a time of wrapping up life in DC and re-starting life in Baltimore and I couldn’t be happier.

Wait, what? Guys, I’m moving! After two years of working in Northern Virginia in fields that I can not envision myself enjoying in 10 years, I will be moving back to the city that I grew up in and the city I love. I’ve been accepted into a highly selective teaching program in Baltimore City (the Baltimore City Teaching Residency) where I will be teaching elementary education starting in Fall 2013. My summer will consist of long days filled with classes and student teaching as I fast track my way to the classroom.

I’ve always been the kind of person who feels best when helping others. It’s why I try to participate in as much advocacy as possible. It’s also why my most memorable experiences in life to date have been while helping others. I made a decision this past fall that I didn’t want to spend my life working in an office. I didn’t want to spend my life being good at my job without really enjoying it. I wanted to have a job that I felt passionate about.

I officially put my notice in at work today. This was a huge weight off my shoulders since I’ve known I would be leaving for almost two months now. No more being sneaky about what I did over the weekends or when I was going to start looking for a new place to live (everyone knew my lease was up). So here it is office friends and other friends alike:

1. Since February, my life has been crazy! I have had to take the Praxis I and Praxis II. They aren’t cheap tests. They aren’t easy tests. I studied a lot throughout the month of February and March. Sorry that work and life was put on the back burner, but not really. The tests were important. I passed the Praxis I and should hear about the Praxis II any day now. Just in case, I’ve registered again so my life might go on the back burner again.

2. I should mention these tests are extremely stressful to study for and take. They are also stressful because my continuation in the program will only happen if I pass. Any day now, ETS!!!

3. While I’ve told people that I’ve been looking for places to live in DC and Arlington, the fact of the matter is I extended my lease to May 1 and will be moving back in with my parents. I’ve slowly been packing my apartment up now, so when you ask what I did over the weekend, it probably included some packing that I didn’t mention. That’s also why I’ve been hoarding boxes in the storage room.

4. Yes, I just mentioned that I’m moving back in with my parents. Programs like Teach for America, the Peace Corp and the New Teacher Project (the program I’m in) are all about ‘giving.’ We all have to go through a training period before we are able to give though. That training period is not paid and while some programs provide housing. mine doesn’t. Luckily, I have parents who love me and are able to let me live rent-free through the summer.

5. I’m completely excited about this new opportunity! I’m excited about becoming a teacher. I’m excited to go back to Baltimore (peace out NoVa!) I’m excited to work with and help kids and make a difference.

This all brings me back to the fact that I will be moving in a few short weeks and will have a month off before starting my summer training. One glorious month! I have program stuff that I’ll have to do and I was asked to speak at my university, but other than that, the time is mine and I’m pretty excited about it! So I don’t become a lazy lump on a log and sucked into Netflix, I have set a few personal goals for myself. I’m putting them out there for all to see:

1. Find a gym and continue with fitness goals. Over the past two month or so, I’ve become really dedicated as far as fitness goals. I’ve lost about 8 pounds, but I’ve also gained muscle. I’m not a naturally thin person, so I don’t expect to ever fit my wider hips into a size 4, but being really toned is something I’ve never been… it’s a process and I’m finally ready to embrace the process. “Slow and steady wins the race” right?!

2. Blog. Every day I promise myself to blog about something. It will be my thirty day challenge that I can hopefully extend into something longer.

3. Read. I’ve been reading a lot of fun and frilly books lately while working out on the elliptical, but I have a list of heavier books that I’ve been wanting to get to.

4. Write the reviews I promised myself to write. Even though I have been reading a lot of nonsense, I’ve also read some really great books and gone to some really great events pertaining to diabetes. I want to share all of them!

5. Cook. Well, this is a given. I always cook. The difference is that I usually cook for myself. Since I have the month off and will be living with my family, I figured the least I can do is take that off their hands. I hope they are ready for the weird things I eat! I don’t think it will be a problem though since I’ve already converted them on a few things.

6. Prepare for the challenges that await me. I have not idealized my summer into thinking it’s going to be a cake walk. I know my days are going to be long and tiring, and that’s just the beginning. The hardest year for a teacher is their first, or so I hear from my friends who have been there. I’m ready for the challenge though, and I’m excited.

7. Watch Netflix… ok, ok. I want to do all the other things I mentioned, but let’s be real here! Netflix has basically been my significant other for the past six months and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon!

So there it is! The biggest part of my life at the moment on blast. Now if only the weather would cooperate and actually be Spring-like instead of 90 degrees… but I’m not complaining 🙂

Typical Diabetes Freak-Out

I’m not normally one to lament on the fact that I have diabetes. I don’t usually get depressed or feel sorry for myself that I have to be my own pancreas. I don’t ask questions like “why me?” unless I’m thinking about it in a very scientific way, like literally why me (since no one seems to know). Was it environmental, genetic?

I’m not in denial or even angry about my disease. Do I have occasional moments where I feel angry? Of course. Do I have moments where I wish I could enjoy a margarita or a piece of pizza without worrying about my blood sugar? Definitely. Do I wish that I didn’t have to lug around meters, glucose, and other paraphernalia whenever I want to make a simple trip to the grocery store? Always. But I think those are all normal things to wish and feel.

My diabetes freak-outs usually come in quick anxious bursts, as do most of my freak-outs over anything. And let me clarify that when I say freak-out, I’m not literally freaking out. Usually no one knows I’m having a mental freak-out because that’s what it is: mental. These little bouts of anxiety literally can hit me at any time in any situation and usually pass in a minute or two. Some might say I’m experiencing a mini panic attack. I get kind of sweaty, my heart rate increases and I can only think about whatever is making me anxious.

This morning, it hit me in my car. I was on my way to work, about 10 minutes from the office when I started thinking about my upcoming trip to Florida and how much insulin I would need to pack. Then I started thinking about how great my blood sugar has been since I started working out in the morning. That led me down a path where I started thinking about what I would do if my numbers all of a sudden got really high and what that would mean. If you don’t know, I’m LADA. I was diagnosed in September 2011 and have only needed one injection of Lantus in the morning for my numbers to be within range, meaning I don’t need to inject before meals. My doctor has made it clear of course that that could change any day. When that day comes, I will have to inject at least four times a day. Thinking about all of that led to the diabetes freak-out.

Lately, I’ve been having issues with my injection site. I inject in my stomach, as I have since I first started injections. One day last week, I injected and not only did it hurt like a bitch, but when I pulled the needle out it bled and left a hard lump. The hard lump has happened before, but the nasty bruise that followed had not. I began injecting on the other side of my stomach until that bruise went away, but there is still pain, slight bruising and bleeding at my injection sites. I know that this is normal and I haven’t had an issue in the past few days, but realizing that I will have to inject four more times a day than I already am made me feel really anxious. Where am I going to inject? What if every part of my stomach becomes bruised? Can I deal with the sting of injections multiple times a day?

It’s a bit overwhelming to think about your whole life and to realize that the daily routine of injections and testing won’t ever go away. Luckily, the anxiety of worrying about the “real estate” on my body went away relatively quickly and I was back to jamming out to the latest pop song on the radio. Until the next bout of anxiety hits…

Do you deal with diabetes anxiety or health anxiety in general? What do you do to calm yourself down?

When You Care More Than They Do…

I’ve been debating writing this post for a while now. Actually about three months to be exact. It’s been a heavy topic on my mind for the whole time.

This post is all about diabetes, advocacy, education, health and what the hell happens when you care about someone you barely know because they are literally killing themselves.

I’ll start out and say that I’m angry and frustrated. If you read any of my other posts, you’ll already know that me being angry isn’t a common occurrence. I try my hardest to embrace the feelings of anger when they come (which, c’mon, they always do) and then let them go. But in this particular situation, I find myself feeling frustrated and angry all the time. I get irritated when I see the person involved. But I also feel sad and scared. I feel a whole mess of things, and I think, if you were in my situation, you would too.

I met Mandy (*name has been changed) about three months ago at work. In a new employee’s first week, I give several meetings on social media and online representation, so it was in Mandy’s meeting where I divulged my love for Twitter and all three of my accounts. I told her that I keep my most personal account separate from my more professional ones because I tweet a lot about diabetes and am very much an advocate for the education about diabetes (thanks, #DSMA and #DOC!). It was at that point that I told her I had Type 1 diabetes and she said she had Type 1 too.

So, what happens when one Type 1 meets another Type 1? Well, with me, I got excited! I also started asking her about her diagnosis, insulin, etc. After the blank look she gave me, I quickly shut up. She then corrected herself and said she thinks she has Type 2, but she wasn’t really sure.

Huh?

Mandy had absolutely no clue. None whatsoever.

Mandy has Type 2 diabetes. I met her in November of 2012 and she had been diagnosed in March of 2012 and given Metformin to help control her blood sugar. She has (to this day in January of 2013) never owned a blood glucose meter, seen a real endocrinologist, taken her Metformin when she is supposed to, and attempted to eat a better diet. She has however experienced worsening eye sight, extreme fatigue, lots of bathroom breaks and a trip to the ER after she passed out and almost went into DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis= HIGH  blood sugar).

I talked to Mandy pretty soon after she started working in my office about diabetes and what was happening inside of her body because she really had no clue. I explained what happens to the body when blood sugar stays elevated for too long, what happens when it goes too low. I explained the fundamental differences between Type 1 and Type 2. I also explained ways she could manage her diabetes, including better nutrition and exercise. I told her she definitely had to go to the doctor and get a blood glucose meter and emphasized that when I tested her blood sugar two hours after a lunch of Ramen noodles and her blood sugar was pushing 300.

I explained as much as I could about diabetes (of course, there was a lot that I intentionally skipped so as not to overwhelm her) and sent her a bunch of information and resources. The same information and resources that I found when I had been misdiagnosed as Type 2. I explained the DOC in case she wanted to reach out. I sent her a few great blogs that talk specifically about Type 2. I did everything for her that I wish someone had done for me.

She nodded her head and thanked me after we were done talking. I felt good. I felt like I was able to help someone.

That good feeling lasted about two weeks. Mandy said she would make an appointment to get a meter. She hadn’t yet. I also had noticed her diet hadn’t changed and carbs, carbs, carbs seemed to be the theme of the day, every day. I didn’t say anything because I (and every other diabetic) hate the food police. I hate being told from some know-it-all that I shouldn’t be eating a donut or a piece of chocolate. I have Type 1, so that makes things a bit different, but I would never ever want a fellow Type 2 deprived of a delicious and sugary treat every once in a while. I totally believe that moderation in diet is the key for everyone, diabetic or not!

Mandy and I talked here and there and it became increasingly clear that she wasn’t taking her diabetes seriously. I tried expressing just how serious it is and really had hoped my impression had been made.

Fast forward through the holidays. We are finally back at work after the New Year. It was the Friday after New Year’s and I overheard Mandy and her manager talking in the kitchen about the hospital. It had just dawned on me that Mandy hadn’t been at work the day before, so I casually (yes, I’m nosy!) walked into the kitchen. Mandy’s manager saw me and told me I had to talk to Mandy…

Mandy wasn’t at work the day before because she had been in the ER. After a morning where her boyfriend had a hard time waking her up, her eyesight turned completely fuzzy and she passed out as she got out of the car, she landed in the ER where the doctor quite literally asked her if she was trying to kill herself.

As an aside, the thought of going into DKA is terrifying. It’s something I think about a lot and it’s why I’m so vigilant with my health. To have someone with diabetes that I personally know almost enter into DKA is surreal and really grounding at the same time.

Anyway, Mandy and I went into a conference room to chat about what happened. I told her that what happened is really serious and could be avoided. I didn’t want to lay into her too much because it sounded as though the ER doctor and her boyfriend had already done that. What I did do was bring up the emotional side of diabetes. I asked her why she wasn’t taking car of herself. What was preventing her from taking her medicine and making mindful eating decisions?

“I think I’m in denial,” she said.

Denial, I’m thinking. We’ve all been there, I’m sure. Shock, denial, anger, sadness, confusions, frustration. These are all very common and typical reactions to getting life-changing news such as having diabetes. I get that. I’ve also read enough blogs and personal accounts to know that everyone gets the other D word. I told Mandy as much. I did my best to let her know that was a normal feeling.

“It’s time to leave da Nile in Egypt,” I said, trying to lighten the mood with a corny joke. In all seriousness though, I emphasized that there comes a point where you have to get past the denial. Sometimes people can transition into things easily. I was one of those people who got my diagnosis with shock but immediately jumped into a plan of action. I’m not sure I can say I was ever in denial, although I have my bouts with it every now and then. Denial, for me, was never an option. I felt so terrible and unhealthy that I wasn’t going to deny something was wrong with me. I also am a Google fanatic. My friend Liz and I (name twins!) often have conversations about our unhealthy obsession with using Google to find information about anything and everything, from subjects like English literature to current ailments. So, it was in my nature to Google around the internet until I had a bunch of information about diabetes and what I could do to live a healthy life.

Mandy isn’t like me. I have to keep reminding myself of that. Mandy is Mandy and Mandy is going to do what Mandy wants to do, even if it’s the wrong thing to do. And who am I to judge it’s the wrong thing to do? Granted, I’m sure a lot of people think her denial and lack of motivation to do anything about diabetes is the wrong thing to do, but who are we to judge? (See my problem!)

We ended the conversation talking about resources to help with coping. I suggested she talk to a Certified Diabetes Educator and maybe even a psychologist. I stressed the importance of her getting over the denial in order for her to start on the road to a healthier life. We talked about what would happen if she continued down the path she was on. That path would include insulin injections, complications or even death.

I hoped her trip to the ER would snap her out of denial and wake her up to what a life with uncontrolled diabetes can cause. I thought she would take that as a sign to do research for herself and change her lifestyle for the better.

I understand lifestyle change is hard. But I don’t understand at the same time. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but when I was diagnosed with diabetes, I immediately cut out all carbs. I’m serious. My diet became vegetable and protein rich. I stayed away from carbs. I ate cheeseburgers without buns, avoided pasta, gave up pizza. I did all of that (at least until I got my blood sugar under control). I’m not saying that’s the right path for Mandy, but I don’t think drinking a regular Coke is a way to control diabetes either.

A regular Coke, people! This happened about a week after Mandy’s trip to the ER and our conversation. I saw it at lunch and was flabbergasted. I mean, I haven’t had a regular Coke since about 2008 and would only ever drink it now if I was super low (my treatment of a low is usually glucose tabs or something desserty, like a cookie). Even then, just a little bit of that 24oz bottle would be enough to bring a low back to normal. I was stunned that she would drink the whole bottle.

I spent my lunch break walking around like I usually do and kept going back and forth on whether I wanted to talk to Mandy about this or not. Food police, like I’ve said, is not something I’m interested in doing.

But I was so worried about her that I decided to talk to her. This conversation was similar to the last one I had with her. I told her what the Coke was doing to her body right then and there. I told her she has got to start reading labels and looking at carb counts. Things like Coke and apple juice have more carbs in one bottle than a lot of people with diabetes eat in one day. Spending a lot of time reading labels is something she would become used to.

Again, the issue of denial came up in our conversation. She doesn’t want to change her lifestyle. She loves food. I told her that I got it. I understood. I’m a self proclaimed foodie too. But, I said, things HAVE to change for her health. She HAS to do this for her health. If she wanted to have a healthy pregnancy (which she mentioned) she would have to get her blood sugar under control. If she didn’t want to take insulin, she had to get her blood sugar under control. I again mentioned resources and information.

Sensing a pattern yet? Getting frustrated by the same conversations? I was.

I wasn’t only frustrated by the time we had this conversation. I was annoyed.

When I think about Mandy and her diabetes I want to scream. I literally want to pound my fists into a wall and scream. I want to yell at her. I want to do something that will wake her the fuck up. No more denial. Let’s get real here!! It is time to get real!

I know this post is long, and I’m hoping it makes some sense, and I want to thank you for bearing with me. Maybe if I had written this out as it was happening, I wouldn’t be at the point I’m at now. That point is feeling a bit desperate for Mandy. I’m feeling desperate and worried.

The day after the “Coke incident” I saw Mandy drinking apple juice. I bit my tongue. I tried to forget about it.

I keep telling myself (and my mom does too) that people have to want to help themselves. Change only comes about if a person wants that change to come about. I know this. I know that I can have fifty more conversations with Mandy. I can show her pictures of amputations. I can show her statistics. I can give her information about support. I can encourage her to eat better and point her in the direction of great healthy food blogs. I can do a variety of things, but it won’t matter because Mandy has to want this for herself. Many won’t change because I want her to change or her boyfriend wants her to change. Mandy’s health is solely Mandy’s and she can do what she wants with it (which, she is). But I still feel like I have to do something.

I feel a responsibility to do something. Is that normal? I barely know her. I think it’s because I’ve met so many people through social media that are a part of the DOC. It’s that bond that immediately happens through diabetes that makes me feel compelled to help, I think. But would you?

Mandy was out yesterday going to the doctor. I briefly talked to her today about what happened. Her primary care doctor told her she thinks she needs to go on insulin and got her a quick appointment with an endocrinologist who said the same thing. I asked her if either of them gave her a blood glucose meter. She said no and this is where things smell fishy. Why wouldn’t either of these doctors give this poor girl a meter? Why didn’t Mandy ask? She knows how important this is. Mandy went on to tell me she wanted to get a second opinion about going on insulin.

I laughed. Or maybe it was a scoff. I’m not quite sure.

A second opinion? Really? Mandy, dear, you don’t have time for a second opinion. Your blood sugar is out of control. You need to do something! You’re killing yourself. You need to do something to help yourself and right now it might mean taking insulin (I told her this would happen if she didn’t get it down). She’s scared of needles. Scared of insulin. I understand that, but what choice has she left herself with? What other option is there? No second opinion needed. Also, who are these doctors and why didn’t they start her on insulin when she was at the doctor’s office? Some of her story seems a bit fishy, but I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt that she did actually go to the doctors and not just tell the office she did (everyone at work is worried about her now).

Readers, DOC, non-diabetic friends… what would you do? Would you give up on Mandy? Would you feel as frustrated as I do? Is there anything I can do to help her out of denial and on a healthier track in managing her Type 2 diabetes?

I feel an obligation to help. I feel even more of an obligation because I keep failing at helping her. I also don’t know how to go about helping anymore. In the past, when I’ve worked as a teacher, I knew my role and I knew what I could do to help my students succeed. I’m not Mandy’s teacher. I’m not her doctor or her CDE, so what’s my role? I can’t just watch someone with diabetes do this to themselves.

So, I’m asking again. What would you do when you care more about someone’s health than they do? And thank you. Thank you for reading this and for being there for me when I need you. I promise, in return, to always be there for you.

Well Hello, 2013!

Happy New Year!

I truly hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday. I spent most of my vacation at my parent’s house in Baltimore, where I laid around by the fireplace watching Netflix and reading for countless hours by the light of twinkling Christmas lights. Great food was consumed, presents were exchanged and traditions highlighted everything throughout. Family took center stage this year as I opted to stay in and celebrate my Mom’s birthday (New Year’s Eve) with lamb and flourless chocolate cake, with an interlude of yoga, bubble bath, and nap before midnight where my younger brother and Dad set off an arsenal of fireworks and my Mom and I cheered and hollered at the dark sky as it lit up with festive reds, greens and silvers. I will remember the end of 2012 as relaxing and while I’m sad to see the holidays in my rear-view mirror, I’m excited about the upcoming road ahead!

snow

Snow and Christmas lights…love!

"The stockings were hung on the chimney with care"

“The stockings were hung on the chimney with care”

tree

Christmas Morning… first awake!

I’ll be honest and say I had a crap of a year in 2012. I was blinded with positivity and optimism at the beginning of the year, in a relationship that I knew deep down was failing. That positivity that I’ve carried with me throughout my life was tested as I hit one of my hardest walls in the spring and summer of 2012. Struggling to stay afloat and out of the depression that threatened to grab hold of me was my biggest challenge. My breakup left me torn up and confused. 2012 threw a lot of shit my way, but it also showed me that I’m pretty damn strong. I literally dug my nails into the Earth as I climbed up out of the hole that I was quickly falling in to. And somehow I managed to come out of it a better person. I have a long way to go from where I want to be but I ended 2012 on much better terms than I started it.

I also have to give myself a pat on the back for managing my health so well through all of it. It’s easy to let life take over and stick diabetes in the trunk. I think I knew somewhere in the back of my mind, though, that if I wanted to get better emotionally and mentally, I needed to at least maintain some control over my blood sugar. I think if that had started spiraling out of control, things would have been a lot worse.

While 2012 was hard, I learned a lot and I don’t want to take any of that back. It’s true that I cringe when I think about some of the stuff that happened in the past year, but I smile after because I know that I’ll never have to deal with that again. Learning lessons. Life is all about them! I’m taking my lessons learned into 2013.

Call me crazy but 2013 is going to be awesome. 13 is my lucky number and my birthday is February 13 (2/13). 0 is just a great number. All of that combined means 2013 is MY year. Ok, I don’t necessarily believe in all that superstitious stuff, but honestly, it can’t get much worse than this past year.

I don’t have any specific resolutions. I feel like New Year resolutions set people up for failure and would much rather make resolutions and goals along the way. I would like to focus on health and fitness more in 2013. Clean and mindful eating, building strength and endurance. I want to meditate more. I want to learn more and experience more. Travel is always a goal, but this year I’m going to do it with books too.

I vow to be present. Too often people are consumed by unimportant things and more focused on putting on a show (gotta Instagram what I’m doing!) rather than enjoying the show. I work in social media and have to live tweet all of the events I go to. For that reason, it’s probably why I don’t live tweet when I go out with friends and why I barely was on my social media accounts throughout the holidays. I don’t want to miss the joke because I was too busy posting a picture from five minutes ago.

Focusing on myself will continue to be the theme of 2013. For once in my life, I don’t feel the pressure to date or have a boyfriend. I don’t feel the need to kiss someone because he wants to kiss me. For too long I’ve spent my time making sure someone else was happy. I’m not saying I won’t ever be ready to make some guy feel like the center of my universe, but for now, while I’m in my 20s, I think it’s acceptable if I’m the only person at the center of my universe.

Also, I will be true to myself. Going along with focusing on myself, I will not lie to people about who I am. I tend to mold myself into what a person expects or what I think they would like (mostly with guys). I know the error of my ways, which is why I’m telling everyone now. If you don’t like what I’m saying about gun control or think I’m a prude because I won’t kiss you on the first day or think I’m a slut because I will, well too damn bad! I can’t be everything to everybody or even everything to one body and I want to be done trying. So I will stop and be everything to myself. From there, I can give you, whoever you are, all of that.

As always, I promise to love. I promise to love myself and all of my flaws. I promise to love the sunrises and sunsets, delicious enchiladas, salted caramel chocolate cheesecake, laughter, couples holding hands, drunk/sober nights with friends, my family. I promise to try and practice zen when it comes to everyday frustrations like traffic, rude people, petty arguments and bad coffee. I promise to try and release the anger when it comes. I promise to just try. I will try at everything I do and try to be the best person I can be. I think that’s a resolution everyone should make because in the end, people won’t remember if you lost 20 pounds or cut sugar out of your diet. They’ll remember the type of person you were, so isn’t it important we be the best we can be?

NHBPM- Day 27

“I bet you didn’t know…”

My favorite animal is a polar bear.

My favorite color is pink.

I adore anything fuzzy and/or polka dotted.

I have a severe sweet tooth and I love to snack. If I had to pick between three meals or snacks throughout the day, I would choose the latter.

Right before my diabetes diagnosis I went through two bags of almonds and a jar of peanut butter. In a week and a half. I lost 15 pounds. Then I gained it all back after starting on insulin. Think about the calories!! I wish….

Speaking of peanut butter. I don’t buy it anymore because I will eat it by the spoon.

I’m not a fan of Will Ferrell.

I choose Backstreet Boys over N’Sync but Hanson above anyone else.

2013 contains my lucky number (13) and is also my birth date 2/13. I’m thinking that’s a good sign for the upcoming year!

I feel lucky every day for the life I have. Through weight gain because of my thyroid to grumpy moods because of high blood sugar, I always keep in mind that it could be worse. Tragedies happen every day to all types of people. Struggles, successes, failures and achievement. Love, anger, sadness and happiness. My life is far from perfect, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

NHBPM- Day 24

“If I had unlimited funds”

This is a post for dreamers. Which I am. I frequently like to day dream about various scenarios.

I blame it on all the reading I’ve done since I learned how to read almost 21 years ago (yes, I was reading at the age of three).

I do so much reading that my Secret Santa gifter at work gave me two novels and I LITERALLY squealed with joy. I’m pretty sure no one else I work with would have been as happy to receive books as their gift. I’m a bookworm. I own it.

Anyway, if I had unlimited funds I would be reeeaallllyyyy stress-free. In a previous NHBPM post, I talked about the importance of mental health and de-stressing. I’ll be honest and say that money is a huge stressor for me (and probably most people). I don’t make a ton of money a year, I live alone, I like to eat well (and that means spending a bit more money on quality) and I have the added cost of my medicine.

In case you weren’t aware, insulin is expensive!

So is Synthroid. $30 a month, which might not seem like a lot until you realize you feel like you are constantly in the pharmacy handing over your credit card to pay for medicine.

Luckily I have insurance. Without insurance, I’d have to pay even more for my Synthroid, hundreds more for my insulin and thousands for test strips (which come out to roughly $1 a strip… I test about 5-8 times a day, so that’s $8 a day).

I will ALWAYS have to have a job with insurance coverage. Goodbye freelance dreams.

I will always have to worry about money in a way that a lot of people don’t understand. Sure, I rely on money like everyone else does for my basic needs. But my basic needs extend even further, and that costs a lot.

So, with unlimited funds, I wouldn’t necessarily do anything different. I would still work. I might buy more clothes and live in a fancier place (why not?!) More importantly, I wouldn’t have to stress about my health. I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about paying for all of my medicine. I wouldn’t have to employ my defense mechanism (joking) every time I go into the pharmacy and fork over money in exchange for medicine for two diseases I wish I didn’t have.

“Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like.”

NHBPM- Day 22

“Write about what you’re thankful for”

Pretty sure this prompt fell on Thanksgiving… and it’s now less than a week from Christmas. I’m terrible!

Anyway, I’ll keep it simple and do a list.

I’m thankful for:

– My family. Shout-out to my parents! I’ve laughed with and at them. I’ve cried and fought with them. I’ve shared my highest moments and lowest depressions. They mean the world to me and I couldn’t have asked for a better pair even if I had wanted to…which I don’t.

-My brother. Mashed potato Nater. Sometimes it’s hard to have in-depth conversations with a brother who is six years younger than you. We still don’t necessarily sit and have hours upon hours of conversation, but with him, we don’t need to. A few words is all it usually takes for us to know what the other means.

-My friends. Duh, of course! There are a few specific people who I’m especially thankful for. They showed me what true friendship means and that distance doesn’t mean a damn thing.

-Wine. God, I don’t know what I would do without it. I don’t really drink during the week anymore, so I’m all the more thankful when Friday night rolls around.

-My body. Despite a defective pancreas, my body works. I can walk, I’m strong and lately I’ve really been pushing myself to get in the best shape possible. I’m lucky I have the ability to do that, and I think about those everyday who would love to run but can’t.

-Insulin. Nope, it’s not a cure to the big D, but it sure as hell beats the starvation method being used prior to insulin discovery, which if you’ll recall wasn’t that long ago. Less than 100 years. Ponder that.

-Life! It’s truly beautiful when you open your eyes and look around.

NHBPM- Day 19

“Write about: Life and Death”

To let everyone (all 10 of you) know what’s going on with my blog, I’m participating in NHBPM at my own pace since it’s already December. I have a draft of all the writing prompts and am trying to work through them when I can. Day 19 asks bloggers to write about life and death. Since this blog carnival is all about health, I know that we should write about life and death as far as our health is concerned, and I will. But first I want to share what I just found out after coming back from a great Friday lunch break with my co-worker where we chatted about silly boys, diets and weekend plans over a glass of wine and healthy entrees (living our life). I found out about death.

Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut had a mass shooting this morning. Right before I went to lunch. While I was planning my lunch, children, 18 as of now, were being shot and killed. I hate to put it so bluntly because my stomach is in knots and I feel nauseous thinking about the terror that school experienced, but that’s what happened. Parents sent their kids off to school in what I can only imagine as high spirits with Christmas looming around the corner. Fridays were always my favorite day of the week while in school (still are as a working adult) and I’m sure laughter was in abundance at Sandy Hook.

I don’t know all the details. They haven’t been released to the public because they are still being gathered. As of now 27 are dead, 18 of those 27 are children. 18 children won’t experience Christmas this year. 18 children’s stockings will go un-stuffed and 18 children’s families will spend their holidays in mourning. But that’s not the extent of the damage. 27 families will spend their holiday thinking about the death of their loved one. Many more families will be affected by the shooting and thoughts about life and death will inevitably come up.

I experienced the panic that comes from knowing someone inside of a school that has a gunman. My brother started his senior year of high school this past August with a mentally ill child shooting up the cafeteria. The panic I experienced was unreal. I had never felt so scared in my life, especially when I didn’t know the details and didn’t know if my brother was one of the kids who had been shot. He wasn’t, luckily, but my thoughts lingered on how he could have been. My grief lay with the children who had been shot and the shooter himself.

To think so little of your life and the life around you that death is the only solution.

Life and death as it relates to me and my diabetes is something I think about as a very real idea. My diabetes has caused me to lead life in a different way. I try to appreciate the little things. I stop and take time to watch the sun rise and set. I find beauty in the small things around me that I never noticed before. I don’t know if it’s because subconsciously, I know I could die. I worry about death but don’t fear it, if that makes sense. I worry that I will have a low at night and I won’t ever wake up from it. I worry about diabetes complications. I worry about cancer. I worry about my health on a constant basis because that’s what happens when you have a chronic disease. You worry. All the time.

It’s knowing that I could die from something diabetes related either now or in the future that has helped me really live my life. I’m a much more laid-back person than I was and really try and do the things that are best for me.

My relationship with death is intertwined with my relationship to life. In a way, for me, the two go hand in hand.
It took me 23 years to come to terms with that relationship in my life. I wish those children had been awarded the same.

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome”

NHBPM- Day 17

“My strengths and weaknesses list post” is the Day 17 prompt for NHBPM (yup, I realize it’s no longer November, but I have been enjoying writing these posts).

I have a lot of strengths and a lot of weaknesses, probably like most people reading this blog. Depending on what the situation is, my strengths could be my weakness and vice versa, so I’ll just name a few of what I think are my strongest strengths and weaknesses.

-I’m extremely caring. This can be both a strength and weakness, especially since I tend to put other people in front of me. I’m slowly learning that I can’t do that though, and have been trying to do what’s best for me in most situations.

-I like things done my way. I get really antsy and annoyed when something is done in a way that I wouldn’t do it. I try to bite my tongue if the situation isn’t a big deal, but usually can’t control what I say if I have a strong opinion on the matter.

-I like to plan things. I have tons of lists going at any given time. I like to know what is happening at all times. This can definitely be a strength and a weakness. Since my diagnosis, I have become more flexible though since a lot of times things happen unplanned.

-I’m positive. For the most part, I’m a cheerleader. I have been called “bubbly” a lot in my lifetime and I attribute that to my attitude. Positive thinking really does wonders for a person’s psyche and those around them.

-I have a lot of love to give. This might go along with the caring but it’s true. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and I think a lot of that has to do with love. Unfortunately, I’ve been burned by this a few times and while I will always consider myself a loving person, my last relationship taught me that being too free with that love doesn’t always end well.

-I have a constant, nagging feeling that I could or should be doing more with my life. I’m not 100% happy about my life situation and do my best not to let it bring me down on a daily basis. Not living in the present is something I struggle with sometimes and definitely wish I could change.

I realize some of these are not clear cut strengths and weakness. This list is not all inclusive, of course and has much more to do with my mental health and well-being than physical.

NHBPM- Day 10

Day 10 of the NHBPM challenge is to write an LOL post. I laugh a lot. Sometimes uncontrollably. Sometimes to the point of crying. Sometimes to the displeasure and embarrassment to those around me. I laugh unabashedly. I love to laugh.

Here’s a story about my laughing.

Three coworkers and I were en route to a cooking class in Alexandria, VA from Arlington. As we were walking from work to the Metro, we were all talking and laughing animatedly. I’m lucky in that my coworkers are also people I consider friends, so we all have a great relationship and act in the same way one does with friends.

As we neared the elevator that would take us down to the station, we came upon a fairly large group of people waiting for the same elevator. There were a couple groups of people also talking loudly and laughing with each other while they waited. When the elevator came, everyone piled in. I was facing an older man and one of my coworkers, while my other coworkers were to my side. I’m sure that the groups of people who had been clumped together outside the elevator were standing near each other.

However, the laughter and chatting that was so vibrant just a minute before boarding the elevator came to a complete standstill once inside. The only noise that could be heard was the grinding of the elevator as it started its descent. I started looking around at everyone and noticed the same look on everyone’s face. The averted eyes, neutral expressions. I looked up at the older man in front of me, willing him to look at me, but his eyes remained at a fixed point somewhere above my head.

I started to laugh. First, it started as a giggle but quickly turned into a full on fit of laughter. Here were all of these people, my group included, who had been having a conversation and probably cut it off as soon as they were in the elevator. Here were all of these people trying so hard to avoid eye contact, clearly uncomfortable in an elevator full of strangers. It was hilarious.

What made it even funnier is that absolutely no one said anything. No one started laughing with me. No one did anything. In fact, I probably made everyone a bit more uncomfortable because they thought I was crazy.

When I think back to that elevator ride, and most elevator rides I’ve had since, I can’t help but laugh. I also can’t help but be happy that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind making a fool of themselves so they can laugh.

“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh”