Living through a natural disaster as a newly diagnosed Diabetic SUCKS! Plain and simple! (And, I'm not going to search for more sophisticated terms).
Do you really expect me to remember diabetes when my home is blowing in the wind?
I admit...after seeing how the tornado Karate-chopped my home and left me scrambling for the pieces, I forgot all about diabetes. The first thing I did was call my mom as I ran through the rubbish of broken trees and debris. Before hanging up the phone to book her flight to get to me, she asked if I had eaten and checked my glucose. Frankly, checking my glucose was not on my To-Do-List. I wanted to see if I could salvage any of my belongings. But, she insisted that I stop and check my glucose. I reassured her that once we hung up that I would do it.
What do you know? She was completely right--my sugar was low and I needed to eat something immediately. I was in the midst of a natural disaster and there was a disaster brewing inside my body. So, I ate a PB&J sandwich (Items that I had just bought from the store while picking up my medication). But, talk about being frustrated. I wanted to do things, help someone, cry at the roofless apartment complex, get out of the rain, yell, anything but sit in the car and eat. But diabetes isn't so accommodating, it's demanding. And it held me hostage: demanding food or threatening to shut my entire body down (again).
Which will kill me faster Diabetes or Fast Food?
Let me start with this disclaimer---I hate fast food. Of course it wasn't always like this. I too have tasted the savory goodness of McDonald's french fries, Wendy's burgers, and Burger King's fish sandwiches. However, when you know better, you should do better. And one look at Super-Size Me should make anyone want to cut back on fast food. But in a natural disaster, fast food seems to be the only food available. It's almost as if those places are made of titanium with bunkers that keep the barrels of grease unscathed.
So, I found myself eating burgers, fries, diet cokes, and praying that the little pieces of iceberg lettuce would offer at least an ounce of nutrition. For three days, I asked myself, which would kill me faster, this fast food or the diabetes? I think my mom was convinced that it would be the diabetes because every 4-5 hours she made sure I ate something (without her, I'm sure I would have had a few diabetic attacks). It pays to have a nurse for a mom.
In the midst of a storm diabetes can be vicious. It demands a schedule, a routine, and medication that cannot be taken without food.
I was able to avoid pork (Yeah!), but most of my other picky dietary quirks were tossed out the window (along with my belongings). I had to nurse my diabetes by feeding my body whatever was offered by the disaster relief, the apartment complex, local churches, or whichever restaurants were operational.
My first hotel-cooked meal was so delicious I wanted to kiss the plate. Perhaps, I have never said my grace with so much meaning as I did over the plate of broccoli, rice, and baked chicken. I could FINALLY eat according to the "Plate Method" (1/2 plate of veggies, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 carbs). Oh joy!
With only a few minutes, do I grab clothes or diabetic supplies?
At one point Firefighters allowed us to enter our homes (with an escort) for only about 5 minutes. We were instructed to grab a few "essentials" and exit because they did not know how sturdy the foundations were.
If you've been a diabetic for a while then it makes sense to grab your supplies. However, as a new member to the club, I didn't even think about test strips, Glucena shakes, alcohol wipes, the box of lancets, or the bottle of Metformin. I went straight for the 200.00 dollars I stashed away, a jacket, and some panties. I didn't think about medication until I was escorted out of the apartment. So, it was a blessing that I missed the storm by five minutes because I was filling all my prescriptions and therefore had fresh stock in the car.
This experience has taught to me have a Diabetic Kit in one place with everything that I need inside. It was a tornado for me, but for someone else it could a fire, a hurricane, a gas leak, a typhoon, or whatever. A part of me would like to believe that it was easy to forget the diabetic supplies because I'm a newly diagnosed, but seriously...when your world is crumbling around you, what REALLY will you prioritize?
What are things that I reflect upon?
How funny it seems now that earlier that day my biggest concern was which recipe would I make from the Soul Food for Diabetes Cookbook.
I'm glad I dressed up for work that day because those were the only clothes I had for 2 days.
The joy I felt when I discovered a gym bag in the trunk of my car with clothes, shoes, a towel, and soap.
It never felt so good to go back to mom's place.
How will things be different when I move into a new place? Will I become anal about backing up files on a virtual server? Will I still care about my CD/DVD/Wii game collections like I did before the storm?
The level of care, love, and concern my friends have for me is indescribable. I am so honored to have gotten care packages, financial gifts, prayers, and words of encouragement from them.
It is an awkward feeling to be at an extreme level of need. It's a level where your pride wants you to say, "Thanks, but no thanks," however, there is no way you can turn down help. So, I found myself in the FEMA line, the food stamp line, at the food banks, at Tide Loads of Hope, in the prayer line, and every other line that was available to help restore my life. What a life-changing (and humbling) experience! The blue collar, the white collar, and the no collar are all in the same disaster-relief lines.
Mother Nature has been spitting out tornados across America since March 2011 at an unprecedented rate and none of us know when she'll stop. Since my last entry, Jopin, MO has been leveled by tornados. Who knows this year's upcoming Hurricane Season may bring. Surviving a natural disaster sucks for us all, but as a diabetic, the feeling is compounded by the limitations of the disease.