WHAT DO PEOPLE EAT?

Every day, every single day, I ask myself that question: At breakfast while I run down the escalator, biscuit dust flying from my mouth. At lunch, when I spend money I don’t have on a sandwich I don’t need at the cafe across the street. I repeat the question at dinner when I stand in front of the stove making an omelet (again) and then on weekends when I wonder about the nutritional value of guacamole for dinner. I laugh about it on Sunday morning, when a friend informs me that omelets are a no-go for breakfast (they are “demasiado Americano”). He walks down, then up, my one-million stairs to buy bread for tostadas. Spaniards don’t do breakfast omelets. Duly noted.

Confession: I’ve spent the past few days googling variations of “What did Oliver Sacks eat every day?” (sardines), “What did Steve Jobs eat every day?” (apples and carrots exclusively, sometimes for weeks), and “How do I expend zero mental energy on deciding what to feed myself?” Sometimes I  go to the grocery store and spend twenty minutes staring at the canned goods aisle. My mother would probably say buy grains and lentils! And I’d say and then what? I want simplicity. I want four to sixteen cups of coffee a day, a library in my bedroom, and hair that I don’t have to wash. I want bagels to be as healthy and as easy to bolus for as salads are.

Diabetes responds well to routine, stability, and balance–especially when it comes to food. I, however, am a woman who knows no middle ground. I am either fiercely focused or I’m thinking about and doing eighty-two things at once. Feeding myself suffers from this wild disposition. Apart from sharing good food with people I love (the communal aspect of eating is one I can get down with, one-hundred and ten percent), preparing food just feels like a distraction from something else I’d rather be doing (you know, like writing this blog, researching, or dancing to Bey). I suppose that’s how Oliver and Steve felt, blessed be their genius’, and why they adopted such extreme diets.

So seriously, what do people eat? I love a good sardine. Apples and carrots are great, too, but I will not face a room full of adolescents running solely on VC and beta-carotene.  I’m thinking about using this corner of the interweb to document my forays into feeding myself so, if anyone reads this, please do advise: what’s your one go-to meal? Make it low-carb, cheap, nutritious and easy to prepare and I’m all over it. I (in case you haven’t guessed by now) am sixty percent omelet.

Until next time, CHEERZ!

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Some Nights Are Like This

The radiator clicks. Hot water runs through the pipes. I’m used to sleeping in cold rooms. This room isn’t freezing though–not usually, not for me. I’ve been colder is what I mean to say. But tonight I have a visitor who has blood much warmer than mine, so I’ve turned the heating on.

At 4 o’clock in the morning I’m peeling blankets off my body. My head hurts, my teeth are sticky, and vomit feels imminent. I know my number will be high, though part of me would rather not. It’s four-hundred and thirty-two.

Was it the mandarin oranges? Did I forget to bolus? I didn’t.
Was it the walk, or lack thereof?
The position of the moon, the way the waiter looked at me, a gypsy curse from the Puerta del Sol?

These questions and a line from a Lucia Berlin story are my 4 a.m. companions. “Fear, poverty, alcoholism, loneliness are terminal illnesses. Emergencies, in fact.”

I creak my way into the bathroom where the floor is cold. New pump site, just in case. The needle stings this time. I draw breath, squint my eyes shut, raise a middle finger high. This is so old. I’m so over this. (–> Insert un-publishable litany of swear words. <–)  I don’t feel like being kind to myself. I feel like being asleep. I’m graceless and exhausted and infuriated by the fact that this disease is always different, often unpredictable, never-ending. I’m mad that I won’t get these moments back. I’m worried about what monsters they might create, those pathologies I’ve known by heart for far too long.

Tomorrow I’ll be grateful and accepting again. Tonight I’m standing on the cold floor, in front of the bathroom mirror, flipping my body off. Some nights are like this.

Hey, are you aware? It’s November!

Every time November rolls around I think of a line from Amy Winehouse’s “Me & Mr. Jones.” “What kind of fuckery is this?” she sings. She’s referring of course to the fact that her boyfriend made her miss the Slick Rick concert (note: never keep a girl from her music).

This month always takes me surprise, hits me right in the gut. Two months away from a brand new year, Thanksgiving around the corner, the horror of Halloween behind me, and the only thing my heart beats is “what kind of fuckery is this?” How does this happen year, after year, after year? Alucinante! the Spaniards might say. But here we are in the reality of November which also, it just so happens, is Diabetes Awareness Month. DAM!

Since I started writing about life with T1D again, I’ve been thinking a lot about what awareness means to me. When I think about awareness, I think about a lot of things. Too many to write about in one post. One that I think about more than others, though? The vast majority of people with diabetes who haven’t been as fortunate as I have. I was lucky enough to be born in a place and into a family that afforded me the luxury of worrying and thinking about things like the philosophy of illness, in a place and into a family where fighting for technological tweaks and tools that would make my life easier was the norm. I think about that and, while fighting for those things has its place, too (after all, tech progress is invaluable), my awareness focus today falls on those who don’t have the privileges that I do.

Living with diabetes is difficult and demanding in the best of cases but without access to the tools necessary to manage it, it’s a death sentence.  I want people to be aware that there are many people with diabetes in the world who don’t have access to or can’t afford those tools. Insulin, test strips, and the education to know how to use them are absolutely vital.  It is 2016 and people are dying and suffering from a disease that has been manageable since 1922. What kind of fuckery is that?

Because Type 1 International sums it up succinctly, this is the part where I refer you to the Diabetes Access Charter. The world is overwhelming and the advocacy world even more so (there’s so much fixing to be done). The easiest thing one can do, though, is show solidarity. So this November, please take five minutes of your time to read and sign the charter.

When It All Goes Wrong: A Horror Story

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Halloween is upon us, so why not break the blog silence with an awful story? Like the one about my recent return to Spain?

I’ve traveled plenty and I’ve managed to do so with problems no greater than my seat-mate falling asleep on me, drooling on myself, or missing an occasional bus, but this year was different.

Continue reading “When It All Goes Wrong: A Horror Story”

Because awareness matters…

I was inspired to write this after reading Meri’s post yesterday, which she followed up with this wonderful post today with more perspectives from the DOC, and real ways you can help.

There are certain things I don’t like to discuss on the internet—namely, anything involving my love life or my political leanings. It’s not because I believe we shouldn’t discuss these things (actually, wait, my love life will never be up for discussion, ya weirdos). Where politics are concerned, however, I prefer to stay out of it. The people of the internet carry pitchforks and these topics are so hugely complex that I don’t think status updates do them justice. Even worse, comment sections tend to skew towards arguments between Your Drunk Uncle and Your Communist Cousin: two people who might kill each other at Thanksgiving, but most certainly will if given the opportunity to do so from behind the comfort of a screen. You guys know The Internet—you’re on it, after all. It can quickly turn into a whole lot of people talking AT each other, rather than a place to gain perspective, understand, and respect one another (I truly believe that the internet can be that when it has its best face on, which is why I’m on it—and also for this).

Continue reading “Because awareness matters…”

“If there is to be a panic, let it be organized.”

If any of you are regular readers (are you? if so, heyyyyy!), you’ll have noticed that I try to post here every Wednesday. I have a lot of things I want to say about living with a busted pancreas. But I’m also a (fairly functional) perfectionist and I don’t like to let ideas out into the wild until they’re fully formed, with legs and wings and all of that stuff they need to fly.

Today is one of those days when stress has edged its way into my consciousness, effectively squashing my ability to write anything that I don’t want to throw into a deep dark well. I recently accepted a job offer and now I’m calf-deep in paperwork (it could be worse) and organizing a move to the Spanish capital with that annoying, low level nausea that always accompanies change. My breaks involve drinking coffee (I should stop, I really should) and dancing to Sia songs, half wishing I’d grown up to be Maddie Ziegler. Also, this song?

I DON’T KNOW!

So this post is just to say: I’m really sorry that my brain won’t let me organize anything today. My meter is screaming at me: giiiirlll, pleaaaaseee chill!

If you have any fail-proof stress relievers please do Tweet, comment, or send me a raven.

Books That Helped Me Live a Better Life

A few DSMA chats ago, it came to my attention that the DOC is a literary bunch. One of the chat prompts was “describe your ideal Friday night” and at least 70% of the responses involved a good book (also, wine). So I thought it would be fun to share four books that have, in one way or another, influenced my life with diabetes. Without further ado:

  1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

    What does John Steinbeck have to do with diabetes? Objectively, very little. I read this novel in high school between algebra equations, during lunch, and before bed (I was a really cool teenager, obviously). One quote in particular changed the way I approached daily life with diabetes:

    “But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win… It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of the deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice!”

    Ever adept at taking things out of context, the words were like a light-bulb going off for me: hey, I can choose how I react to and confront life with T1. I had a tendency, and sometimes still do, to focus on the bad and weigh myself down with worry and resentment about all the things that weren’t right about being a young person with diabetes. I’d often avoid checking my blood sugar because each “bad” result felt like a personal failure, a prediction of a future that I had no power to change. After reading East of Eden, I thought of this quote often. I tried to embrace the idea that, although I didn’t have the power to cure myself, I did have the power to choose how I confronted and lived my life.

  1. Illness: The Cry of the Flesh by Havi Carel

    Part of Routledge’s The Art of Living series, Carel’s slim volume is a meditation on living with illness told through the lens of philosophy. Carel relates her account of living with a rare, progressive lung disease called lymphangioleiomyomatosis(LAM) while incorporating ancient and contemporary philosophy to explore what it really “means” to be ill, and how well-being can be found within illness. She even touches on language and the way that HCPs can deeply affect patient experience. This book is not your crusty, elbow-patch-wearing professor rattling on about a bunch of old dead guys. It is not that hipster you sat next to in Russian Lit saying I think Nietszche would agree that a woman’s significance lies in the fact that she can give birth to a superior, intellectual man. Its philosophy, a discipline that suffers a lot of ‘Does This Subject Matter?’ debate, that is alive and in dialogue with lived experience. It matters here insofar as I think anything else does: by enriching and improving the way we understand our lives.

  2. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks

    I already mentioned my love for Sacks when I wrote about Spanish health insurance. This was the first book I read of his and I value it, first of all, because it’s fascinating. Sacks recounts the case histories of his neurologically atypical patients in a humble, human way that is worlds away from the cold, purely scientific modern day case history. Many of the stories speak to what Carel wrote about in Illness: finding well-being within a life that is irrevocably changed by and experienced through disease. I have always been fascinated by the ways in which humans adapt to objectively negative circumstances and find ways to accept and assimilate the “atypical” parts of life. That is, of course, always the hope: that we find ways to be at peace in our imperfect bodies.

  3. Lady Oracle by Margaret Wood

    This one has nothing to do with diabetes. Absolutely nothing. But I have a soft spot for novels about women who run away, Margaret Atwood is a dream, and laughter is the best medicine.

    So, DOC, what do you read? Diabetes related or otherwise, I want to know what’s on your bookshelves!