Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pre-Diabetes...the Warning I NEVER Received

I am not close friends with Jealousy. There are few times in my life where I have felt jealous of something or someone.  Mainly because I wasn't raised to have those feelings and I was taught that we are each on our own path.  To whom much is given, much is required--and if they have much, then they are paying the price for it. So, in a world view like that, there is little room (if any) to feel jealous.

Since being a diabetic, however, I have found myself feeling a tad bit jealous of people who are diagnosed with Pre-diabetes. The first time someone told me they were pre-diabetic, I thought "Why didn't I get that warning? Why did my pancreas just shut down without saying a word?"  Then I found myself angry at my pancreas and wondering why everyone doesn't get the same chance at preventing diabetes.

But now, I can't help but respond, "You just don't know how blessed you are."

Pre-diabetes is a controversy diagnosis.  It pretty much means that your pancreas is showing signs (given you a warning) that its production of insulin is not normal anymore. The pancreas is still producing enough insulin to sustain you, but if things don't change, it won't be able to keep up.
picture is courtesy of predisease.com


Some people feel that you shouldn't tell people that they are pre-diabetic because they are not going to change and when the pancreas finally reaches a point where it cannot produce insulin sufficiently and the person is diabetic, they will have a harder time facing the facts.  In short, tell them they are a diabetic and skip the middle process since many pre-diabetics become diabetic.

Other people, myself included, view the diagnosis as a God-given window of opportunity to change your life around. Yes, eat like a diabetic, but celebrate that you aren't one. Yes, monitor your glucose levels, but celebrate that you don't have to before each meal. Yes, exercise to stay healthy AND celebrate that through diet and exercise you have a chance to NEVER become diabetic.

Hearing that you are pre-diabetic is probably a very tough thing to accept. So, I am not undermining the impact of that news. But I'm on the other side of the fence, never had a warning, never had a chance to turn things around, couldn't avoid the expensive hospital visit and the expensive medication that followed, so for me...you're blessed to have the warning that I never received.  Now, the question is...how will you use this window of opportunity?

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Trip to Boston to See a Play about Diabetes

For a few months, I've been silent about my trip to Boston because I couldn't grasp the words to describe it.  And, perhaps even now I don't have the words to capture my feelings, but I can describe the journey getting there.

As you know by now, I feel like the lone diabetic since I don't have any close friends or family with diabetes.  So, when I saw that Robbie McCauley had written the first play about diabetes in African American communities and was performing it as a one-woman production with a talk-back after each performance...I KNEW I HAD TO GET THERE!

So, I searched and searched and thought and thought some more about ways to make this happen.  And as God would have it, it was possible for me to fly into Boston in the morning, catch the 2pm matinee performance, and depart the city on an evening flight.

"Boston for a day," I said aloud to myself.  Some how I needed to hear it.  I wondered if it sounded as exciting in words as it did in thought.  Actually, it sounded ridiculous when I said it aloud to myself.  So, I called my husband, my mom, and my grandma. After telling them that I planned to fly to miles away to Boston, to see this play, I realized that I didn't just WANT to see it, but that I NEEDED to see it.  I heard myself saying, "I think this will be good for me." "I'm still recovering from the trauma of my diagnosis and losing my home in a tornado, I need to do something exciting for myself."  "I just can't help to wonder what it would be like to see another black woman diabetic professor and what types of connections I will made/have/feel?"

By the time I got off the phone, I was solid in my decision. This is would be a big step for me living my motto "Diagnosed Not Defeated". So, on January 28, 2012, I left my home bound for a day trip in Boston.

IT WAS SO EXCITING!!  I hadn't been back to Boston since I lived there 10 years ago. So, I decided to document every phase of my trip.
I'm feeling empowered and I'm wearing my t-shirt as proof

The Sky isn't the limit anymore.

BOSTON: I haven't seen you in 10 years.

I am purchasing a day-pass for public transportation.

And, I got back a bunch of $1 coins, how cool.

I'm taking on the Big City of Boston

Hours before the show...I can't wait.

Can you tell, I'm SO excited about discovering a Farmer's Market? I bought tons of bell peppers

HARD ROCK!!  Yes, I have a thing about visiting these cafes

Singing, "The people are all the same, I wanna go where nobody knows my name"

My walking tour comes to a close, time to head back to the theater...showtime!

SUGAR, the play, was FANTASTIC.  I received more than I could have anticipated. First, Robbie McCauley's simple staging allowed for the audience to zone in on her and the words she spoke.  We could travel down the historical journey of diabetes in African American communities through her perspective as a Type 1 diabetic.

There were two scenes in the play that touched me so deeply that expressing myself through the flow of tears down my cheeks was the only option. The first scene was when McCauley acted out the severe hypoglycemia diabetics experience (usually while on insulin) often called "a low," "a diabetic attack," or "a hypo."  This was the only time in the play she did not speak. The sound of her voice came through a speaker instead, and highlighted that her speechlessness during the diabetic attack did not mean a lack of thought and consciousness. As we heard her inner thoughts asking God's mercy to get to the orange juice in time or wondering if this will be how she dies, her body staggered over the stage. The physical reaction of the hypo was emphasized dramatically and accurately.

I was in awe. Watching her perform MY emotions, MY struggles, and MY reactions on stage was liberating and reassuring.  I don't speak during a diabetic attack, but mind races like a horse. I'm so focused on wondering if this is how I'll die that I have no time for words. I'm so frightened that if I don't get sugar within the next second that I won't make it out of this that I have no energy to speak.  I'm so determined to make my way to something sweet that I have no space to ask for help. I'm angry at my pancreas, I'm upset that I've been chosen to have this problem for life,  I'm wondering how did this hypo happen,  I'm thinking about what I ate or didn't eat, I'm trying to connect with and move my hands and feet, I'm trying to get over the shaking and trembling because I know that this means that a seizure is approaching if I don't get sugar, I'm worried that no one knows that I'm fighting to survive and I have a limited time to do it.  Nothing and I mean nothing else in the world matters, because I am at the brink of death.
When you have all this going on in your head, how can you talk? But, until this moment in the play-I thought that it was just me.

The second scene was when Robbie McCauley sat in a chair in the center of the stage, checked her glucose (we use the same glucometer :-D, cool),  gave herself a shot of insulin, and shared her dream of being able to do this in public without fear of having to endure strange stares from other people.

I couldn't help but think about all the filthy bathroom stalls I visited when it was time to give myself an injection (how unsanitary). I thought about the many corners I stood in, turning my back to others-so that they wouldn't get grossed out or notice me. I thought about how I would plan my injection sites (stomach for home and arms for public places) because I took other people into consideration. I even remembered the first time I had to give myself an injection in public and how nervous I was about it and how I avoided eye contact with everyone while I administered the injection just to make sure that I didn't endure someone's weird gaze. And, as she spoke, I cried at the thought of how much relief I would have had if I could take care of my diabetic needs without thinking about other people's views--like she was doing on stage. What a wonderful world that would be!

During the talk-back following her one-woman play. I shared my story with the audience. I let everyone know that I'm newly diagnosed, feeling alone in this struggle, and how I traveled there to get a glimpse of hope, community, or inspiration to keep going.  The feedback that I received from the audience (mainly a room of diabetics and those who love us) was OVERWHELMING.  It was a space where age, gender, race, sexuality, and religious differences were transcended. I got more hugs than I can count, phone numbers, email addresses, and words of encouragement from other diabetics. And best of all, I got to meet the wonderful Ms. Robbie McCauley and give her one of my t-shirts.

She too, is Diagnosed but NOT Defeated

The Poster

Attending any "WORLD PREMIERE" is an awesome experience


And, no trip to Boston is complete with having a cup of New England Clam Chowder from Legal Seafoods. God really rolled out the blessings for me on this day trip. And, I am thankful!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My First Diabetes Expo



Yesterday, I went to my first Diabetes Expo.  It was in Atlanta, GA.  I had a blast meeting people and seeing all that the expo had in to offer.  My high school friend Ava joined me and we played at the Expo, oh joy! 

It's definitely the place to get health checks (glucose, cholesterol, liver levels, and more).  It's just a shame that they didn't have food--I mean diabetics have to eat.  





Overall, it was a great experience, I can't wait to attend the next one.