Don’t Forget To Breathe

Don’t know what Diabetes Blog week is? Head over to Karen’s blog to read about it and check out this year’s topic list. I’ll be participating this year and I’m looking forward to reading and writing along with the rest of you! 


Today’s topic isDiabetes and The Unexpected.

Being prepared for the unexpected is not exactly my forte. Given the option, I’d never have a plan. I’d toss my emergency bags and my to-do lists and I’d live footloose and fancy free in a world where nothing ever went wrong. But things do go wrong in this world of ours, of course. Insulin goes bad, batteries die, reservoirs leak, and cannulas bend. You’re so excited about going to a salsa bar that you run down the stairs, fail to notice your pump tubing trailing behind you, get caught on the railing, and lose the battle (what? who did that happen to?) Your relaxing swim in the sea turns into a disaster when a grain of sand makes itself at home in your infusion site and you finally understand the purpose of those cute plastic cap covers that Medtronic includes in every set. A tiny demon called Norovirus takes up residence in your gut and you spend twenty-four hours praying to the porcelain god and wondering whether you’ll ever feel alive again. Ketones emerge and hang around and you end up abandoned in the back room of a Spanish ER, hooked up to an IV.

Sure, eighteen years of Type 1 Diabetes have by default taught me to be more responsible and to consider the possibility of an apocalypse or electrical failure every time I step onto the metro, but I don’t feel particularly qualified to give tips on planning for the unexpected since I am so often an improv actress in my own life with diabetes. I always carry syringes, juice boxes, and extra insulin with me. Many of my coat pockets are stuffed with individual sugar packets, or the remnants of them. Illness unfortunately tends to be difficult to avoid and can quickly get out of hand, so I set standards for when and where to seek help.

My best advice: always carry twice as many supplies as you think you’ll need (especially when traveling), always be open to the possibility that something ridiculous will happen, and then be ready to forgive yourself when your reactions are less than poised. Oh, and don’t be like me. Emergency supplies are best kept in one or two cute little bags, not strewn into separate corners of your backpack (I’m working on it, OK? It’s on my to-do list). Now take a deep breath and trust yourself.

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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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Move More, Ruminate Less

The last time I referred to myself as “a runner” I lived in an almost-arctic Steel City and I was angry at everybody. I ran in the cold and in the rain and after snowpocalypse when the streets were empty and the snow still white. My legs were firm. I was always surprised when I saw them in the shower. They looked like they belonged to someone else.

Quite a few years have gone by since then. I live under the sun in the center of Spain now. The most intense training I do on a regular basis is carry groceries up to my apartment (which, to be fair, is a fifth-floor walk-up, aka: no joke).

My winter vacation was strange. It rolled along without melancholy until one day I woke up ruminating on all the things I don’t have enough of: money, time, close friends to call for coffee. I lost my appetite, dreaded the mornings, wrote mostly of dreams, felt useless, and wished I was working. People call this “the winter blues.” I called it if I see one more bulging bag of gifts, I’m going to lose it. The only thing that might possibly have satisfied my homesickness (aside from going home) would  have been a dance with a Philadelphia Mummer. Any Mummer would have done. Wishing a Dunkin Donuts barista Happy Holidays! may also have have sufficed.

Those feelings spilled over into the new year and finally into a work week that dragged on and on, into mornings I greeted begrudgingly and nights I wondered why the hell it was I’d decided to move again? Eat your fruit & veggies, drink watertry to go to sleep earlycall somebody, go outside. Those things help. This morning I woke up late, fed and dressed myself, put on red lips and headphones and headed to Dunkin Donuts. To-go coffee has always been my remedy for homesickness in Spain. It feels wasteful and silly–and it is. But drinking from a cardboard cup once a year is worth the relief, however momentary it may be, that mediocre coffee and its memories of home provides. Cup in hand, walking through my new city, my favorite neighborhoods, I thought of running. Of solitude. Of those days when I didn’t mind the weather, when I ran to release, when I learned that my body existed for reasons other than being hated.

I have to train againI have to remember what that’s like.

This time around I’ll learn different lessons but run for the same reason: to remember how much exists outside of me, to live in words other than should, could, and would.

“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.