Monday, June 27, 2011

A Trip to Martinique


Earlier this month, I took my first trip to Martinique as a diabetic.
There were a few things that I remembered about the island from my previous trips that made me nervous to have to tag along diabetes.

#1-I swim almost every day when I'm there.  But now, I'll have to check my glucose before and after swimming which means carrying extra strips with me.

#2-Like Black America, Martiniquian meals are rich in starches, so I'll have to be strict about carb counting.

#3-I wasn't quite sure how to I felt about telling my in-laws about being diagnosed with diabetes.  The diagnosis came a couple of weeks before my husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and I felt guilty about it.  I figure, who wants a sick wife within a year of marriage.  While he and I are working through this (mainly him reassuring me that he's here through sickness and in health), I wasn't quite sure how his parents would take the news.

Plus, since I am not fluent in French,  I felt horribly nervous that I wouldn't understand their first reaction.

On the flight over, I had a low blood sugar.  I'm not sure where it came from, but it caused me to inform half the flight crew (in search of someone who spoke enough English to understand) of my situation. It turns out that when people hear that you're diabetic and that you are in need--they want to help (what a relief).

For two and a half weeks my eating schedule was all over the place!  I was sometimes visiting family, sightseeing, or swimming and then realized that too many hours had gone by since the last time I ate.

But, alas, I made it through the vacation.  I had some low points, but overall it was well worth it.

p.s. We ended up having a discussion about diabetes with one of his diabetic Aunts. It turns out that he has about four diabetics in his family, so it was totally different than my family.  I had a private conversation (in French) with his Aunt in which I thanked her for sharing her story with me because these past four months have been turbulent. I didn't have the vocabulary to tell her that I worried about how you all (the family) would feel about me being a diabetic and that I was completely OVERJOYED to be loved (and perhaps even more) by them.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

You Can Do This (the process and the video)

When I first hear about textingmypancreas' idea for the You Can Do This project, I was excited.  I knew that I would record and upload my video.  I just didn't know exactly what I was going to say.

So, I turned my video camera on and talked from my soul.  For 15 minutes, I talked, laughed, cried, and sang.  I figured that this would be the best way to capture honesty.  I uploaded about four and half minutes of that 15 minute conversation with myself (imagining an audience).

Here's a link to that video, I hope you like it.



Monday, June 6, 2011

Diabetic Attacks-In My Own Words

Within hours of being diagnosed with diabetes the nurses told me to "Beware of low blood sugar."

What they should have said was, "Watch out for those diabetic attacks, if you think you've kissed death while your sugar is too high, just wait until it gets too low."

Of course they couldn't say it just like that, but since I'm not in the medical field--I can! So here it goes, "Watch out for those diabetic attacks, if you think you've kissed death while your sugar is too high, just wait until it gets too low."

Here are some textbook symptoms  of  low blood sugar: 
shakes, confusion, hunger, blurred vision,
sweats, convulsions, pounding heart, 
clammy skin, and irritability. 


Here are my top thee real-life symptoms: (I am describing the diabetic attacks that occur during the night while I was sleeping, so I woke up in the midst of the following)

#1 The Shakes--It feels like your body's natural vibrations have drank Red Bull, so they are in OVERDRIVE. It's subtle, but present and gaining strength as if a convulsion is on the brink.

#2 Sweating--Imagine sitting inside a home in South Florida or the Caribbean, with no air condition or fans. It's about 3pm (not high noon sun, but it's still bright and shining) and it's time to start cooking, so the oven and stove are turned on.  It's the type of sweat that washes your entire body.  You realize that parts of your body are sweating that you didn't even know existed.

#3 A Beating Heart--Your heart is beating so hard that you feel like it just joined The Marching 100.

When I'm violently awaken from my sleep with these symptoms, I am in a state of fear so intense that it's almost measurable. I can smell the plants in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  When my glucose was high, I felt like I was oozing, slipping, creeping into a coma.  But, during a diabetic attack, I feel like I'm running, dashing, sprinting into the open arms of death. I 'm in the small space between fighting for my life or reflecting on my life and letting go. So, I fight for my life.  And what do I have to fight with...

SUGAR!  

The very thing that diabetics have to avoid most days is the life-saving nectar that we need during an attack. Orange juice is my sword of choice, but I also carry glucose tablets on my keychain (just in case I have an attack during my awake time).

What the textbooks don't address is the level of anxiety diabetic attacks cause.  I haven't sleep the same  since my diagnosis.  After experiencing two attacks back to back while taking a much needed nap, I have stopped taking insulin.  Apparently, I was having frequent attacks because my dosage was too high. (Thanks again to my mom who, as a nurse who worked at a diabetic clinic, told me that the sliding scale I was put on was too low for me and that I needed to stop the insulin).  

Since I am no longer on insulin I have not had a diabetic attack, but the residue (fear of waking up in the middle of an attack) is still present.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An 8-hour International Flight

Before becoming a diabetic, I loved to travel.  "Traveling" has been my initial response to the question "So, what is your favorite thing to do?" since my days as an undergraduate.

Traveling for me is so freeing, so liberating, and a way to clear my mind.  When my car tires hit the road for a long drive to a new destination or I board a flight to a different city, something inside of me comes alive.

But recent experience with an international flight was not pleasurable for a couple of reasons.

#1, After paying for the ticket, I went straight to the "special meals" section in search for a "Diabetic Meal." Previously, I would have gone directly to the seat selection link, but hey, things change.  To my surprise, this airline didn't have that option, bummer!

#2, My carry-on luggage is calculated, organized, and full to the brim.  But carrying a little black bag, alcohol wipes, extra medication, and all that jazz requires MORE room.  So, I found myself paying an extra 60.00 busks for another checked bag.  Yet another way that diabetes is costly!

#3,  I had to carry a mini cooler-bag for the medications that require refrigeration.  New airplane policy prohibits flight attendants from storing medication in the airplane's fridge on 8-hour flights.

By the time flight was over, my icepacks (they made it through security check-YEAH!!) had melted.  Just before departing the aircraft, I asked for some ice and the flight attendant was nice enough to give me some for my cooler-bag.

#4, I checked my glucose before the first meal and I was just above 70.  I decided that although it wasn't a "diabetic mea;" that I better eat everything except for the cherry dessert, in hopes of preventing a lower reading. The  low 70s was a little abnormal for me, but I figured that once I ate a good meal, (with two rolls) that things would balance.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.  Four hours later, when the crew served a "snack," I checked my glucose again.  This time I was UNDER 70. I was so surprised that I checked my glucose twice.  Both reported numbers below normal.  This sent me in a bit of panic.  I haven't been below normal since my days on insulin and I was told that Byetta and Metformin prevent below normal readings from occurring.

I wished that I had kept the cherry dessert.  But since I didn't, I politely asked the flight attendant for a cup of juice with the sandwich. Shortly afterwards, I was feeling a little bit better.
___________
I don't want diabetes to kill my love for traveling.  I want to feel that freeing feeling again, rather than thoughts of anxiety and worry.  I want the open road and anticipation of a new journey to remain the rejuvenating, soul-stirring pleasures they have been for years.

 But as for now, I'm wondering how in the world can the two coexist?