I came home early from work today because I’m sick (and I didn’t go in at all yesterday). I decided to take a bath, which I hardly ever do, to relax. First, I ran the water too hot and nearly scalded my entire body. After I got out, I realized my pump site in my leg was still hurting since after lunch, and it had a little blood in it, so I decided to swap it out for a new one. As I’m standing in my kitchen, completely naked, sniffling and sneezing, fighting moderate ketones, drawing up a new pump site, I go to throw away my empty insulin bottle. It bounces off the rim of the trash can, falls to the floor, and shatters into a zillion tiny glass pieces all over my kitchen and living room.
Ten years ago today, I self-harmed by cutting the word FEAR into my thigh with a safety pin.
It wasn’t the first time I had ever self-harmed. I had been doing it for two years at that point, albeit not very often, and rarely drawing blood. Most of the time, I would just trace over an existing scar on my wrist at the base of my hand, but sometimes I’d get more aggressive and scratch and cut a little higher up on my wrist. It was always to cause pain to create a physical release for emotional stress and pain – Never to try to die.
January 26, 2007 I was told by the boy that I liked that he didn’t want to date me. It was yet another blow to my fragile self-esteem. I took a few emo selfies (although that word didn’t exist yet at the time) and then decided I needed to self-harm to bring emotional pain to a physical level.
It was the first time I’d ever cut on my leg. It was also the first time I ever told anyone I knew in person about it. (I had a group of internet friends who knew and we were all open with each other about our struggles). I told a friend the next day that I was struggling and what I had done, confiding in them. They promised they would come and pick me up and we’d go driving around and hang out to cheer me up.
They never came.
I was dragged, kicking and screaming, to the ER by my parents who believed I was suicidal. I was forced to strip naked and be examined by a nurse, who was also a classmates mother who I had known for years. I was then also examined by a doctor who was the father of another classmate. I had to talk to a therapist on the phone at 2am because it was snowing really hard and the therapist couldn’t make the drive down from Kalamazoo. I was eventually released from the ER after almost 6 hours, feeling humiliated and more miserable than ever, and forced to see a therapist a few days later for one session to make sure I was okay.
It was the beginning of a long ride through rock bottom for me.
I had been betrayed by my friends, and that cut more deeply than any sharp object could. I had reached out for love and support from my friends and had been given embarrassment and suffering instead. At the time, I was livid, but so desperate for friendship that I let them back in. However it took a long time for me to be able to fully trust them again. In hindsight I know that it wasn’t betrayal but rather teenage kids trying to help another teenage kid with something over their heads in the only way they knew how.
I knew I wanted to be free from self-harm. I didn’t know how to do it, so I began keeping track of how long it had been since that night. A week passed. Then a month. Then a year.
So now, here I am. Ten years later. I honestly never thought I would be able to say that. I knew I would struggle – and struggle I did. I had the support of a lot of friends through the hardest times, which were the first few months afterwards. (At that time, I didn’t know that part of my problem was undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I began treating in 2012).
I adopted a “fake it til you make it” attitude to get me through, and that was a large part of my success. Did I have my life all together and figured out? No way. But I told myself that I did. I would tell myself that I had it together and that I was succeeding and beautiful and happy until I slowly started to believe those things for real.
With each passing year, it got a little easier to resist the pull to harm myself. There were times where I nearly failed – but I didn’t. I held fast to the belief that if I just held on, that I would get through – and I did.
While compiling this entry and reading through old journals for reference, I found this that I had written two months after the last time I self-harmed:
if i have already felt this much pain at seventeen, then what shit will i have faced/be facing when i am twenty-six or thirty-four or fifty or eighty?
I’ve faced so much since I wrote that ten years ago. I dated a man who was sexually and emotionally abusive, and it shaped so much of who I am as a person. I found and married the love of my life. I was diagnosed with diabetes. I started my own business and have traveled all over the country to do what I love. I received several promotions at work, where I do a job I never thought I’d be doing. I dedicated myself to an extremely strict church for the better part of a decade. I’ve faced my seasonal depression head-on.
And that’s all by age 26. I can’t vouch for 34, 50, or 80 yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got it on lock. If not, I’m going to keep faking it until I make it.
If I can do it, you can do it.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (available 24 hours per day)
Suicide Hotlines by State: suicide.org
Crisis text line: Text message GO to 741741
Additional resources: To Write Love On Her Arms
I seem to make a lot of enemies on my Twitter. I suppose after having one for as long as I have (I was part of TWTTR’s beta, all the way back in 2006!) I shouldn’t be surprised, but, I figured I was done with twitter drama back when I dealt with Tony.
However, just the other evening, I misread the tweet of a Representative from Minnesota about repealing the Affordable Care Act. I mistakenly thought the Congressman was stating his support for repeal, which directly threatens my well-being with the potential loss of the pre-existing conditions clause. I retweeted the tweet, saying that he was signing my death certificate.
Very quickly, it was pointed out to me that I misunderstood his tweet, and everything was rectified between myself and Congressman Ellison. All good there and everyone who tweeted me to tell me of my mistake were all very nice about it.
However, the next morning I woke up to this tweet in response to mine to the Congressman.
I quickly tweeted Bob, asking if he was making a joke in bad taste, and then went in to work. When I checked my phone later in the day, he hasn’t responded, and had actually DELETED the tweet he directed at me, so I decided to poke the bear. I tweeted him again, attaching a screenshot of the offending tweet. I even told him I was reminding him of how disgusting his tweet was. I followed up that tweet with this one.
He chose to be a coward rather than apologize, but I expected it. Anyone who has the nerve to spew something so disgusting online and not own up to it must be a coward. And honestly, I’m not all that angry about it. People will be horrible to others on the internet because they can hide behind the relative anonymity of it all.
And as I saw someone tweet earlier this week about the possible ACA repeal, I can’t make people care about other people. But, I can sure as hell try.
So here we go.
My name is Abby, and at age 22, I was diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune condition. Pre-Obamacare, I was uninsurable. By repealing the ACA with no replacement, specifically without provisions to protect those with pre-existing conditions, I could be forced to choose between life-saving medication and basic necessities like food and rent.
It doesn’t matter if you identify with the Republican, Democrat, Wig, Green, Tea, Jedi, or any other political party.
If you identify as a HUMAN, you should want to help your fellow humans. And leaving #the27percent of Americans with pre-existing conditions to die isn’t how you do that.
We are vulnerable and scared. So please – think of us. Call your local Congressman. Help those who already struggle to live.
For many people, 2016 was a horrible, no good, very bad year. So many celebrities died. Brexit happened. A very strange US election happened. All among other things.
But for me? 2016 was honestly amazing.
It feels almost like a bad thing for me to be saying that because so many people around me had such a terrible year, but it’s true. 2016 was great in so many ways for me.
Diabetes Awareness Month is over, but my fight with diabetes isn’t. I’m still diabetic. There still isn’t a cure for my condition.
Technology has advanced, but I have to rely on it and constantly plan ahead in case it fails. I have to deal with problems that normal people don’t even know are a thing, let alone think about. (like my dog getting tangled in my insulin pump tubing in the middle of the night)
November 14th is World Diabetes Day. It also marks the birthday of Dr. Banting, the man who co-discovered insulin, enabling those with diabetes to no longer die from their condition.
For this year, I asked my Facebook friends to ask me anything they wanted to know about Diabetes and I’d answer them here. So let’s jump into it!
Allen and I had actually been married for almost 2 years before I was diagnosed. So while I can’t directly relate to Kendall on this one, I do know what it is like to develop new relationships post-diagnosis.
One month after I was diagnosed, I changed jobs. I’ve always been very up-front about being diabetic and what that means for the people who work closely with me. In my experience, it hasn’t hindered any friendships – my coworkers have generally been curious and many have been massively supportive for the past four years. Of course, none of these relationships has been romantic in nature, but I think that ultimately, there are many good people out there that want to understand and be supportive, and as long as you approach every question with a good, honest, informative answer, then people will be open and receptive of who you are.
A non-diabetic person should be around 80-120 mg/dL – and many type 2 diabetics should try to stay close to this range as well. Ultimately, this is a conversation that should be had between you and your doctor. I personally have my range set from 80-180 mg/dL.
Allen has been SO helpful through my journey. He does all of my Dexcom CGM insertions, mostly because I typically want it inserted in places that aren’t easy to do by myself. He also occasionally helps insert infusion sets in hard-to-reach areas.
Otherwise, Allen is very much hands-off in regards to my care. He’ll wake me up at night if he hears my Dexcom alarming, and if I say “I’m low” he’ll immediately jump out of bed and get me a juice (and then ask what my number is when he gets back). We also use Dexcom share (so I can see my numbers on my Apple Watch) but Allen has one alarm set on that one: He’ll be notified if I go below 40 mg/dL. That way if I’m not with him, he can message me and see if I’m okay, and if I don’t reply then he knows to start calling everyone I’m with (or 911 if I’m alone). It’s a system that works for us but it may not be right for everyone.
Nope, but there are some I prefer to avoid. Orange juice is the main one. It’s one of my favorite things, but I just can’t ever time the insulin right for it and end up miserable. I usually avoid cake and cookies as well if I can help it. I also will always choose diet pop over regular – I’d rather save the carbs for food instead. I probably should avoid more things, like Chinese food and pizza, but they are just too yummy.
Yes, insulin companies offer coupon programs and discount cards – however, these are usually unavailable to the people who truly need them and they do not address the true problem– sky-high prices for consumers.
There are a lot of groups on Facebook where people can pay it forward and directly send supplies to someone in need. I actually benefitted from a pay it forward group early on in pumping when my insurance was changing for the year and I was having issues getting supplies because of having to get prescriptions and authorizations. However due to the fact that selling or trading prescription medication is illegal (and if the items were purchased by insurance dollars then it is also fraud at that point) many people shy away from this. (Test strips fall into a gray area because they can be bought OTC)
You don’t see the repeat lows through the night. Waking up 4, 5, 6 times in one night because your blood sugar won’t come up (or go down). Trying not to overcorrect, trying to figure out what you did wrong/right/different, trying to just get some freaking sleep.
You don’t see the body image issues. The weight gain as punishment for doing your pancreas’ job, the bruising and scars from poke after poke after poke, the struggle to find clothes you can wear your pump with (dresses with pockets are SO hard to come by).
You don’t see the hundreds of times I make a diabetes-related decision every single day. I haven’t been to my desk in a while so I missed breakfast, did I already give insulin for it? I hope I didn’t. I’ve been running around like crazy, being way more active than I usually am so my blood sugar will probably start dropping soon. I want to have the cupcakes my coworker brought in but I don’t even have enough insulin in my pump to cover it, I will have to pass for today.
You don’t see the shame and emotional toll of having a seriously misunderstood and often joked about chronic condition that will likely kill you. You don’t see every time a diabetes myth is perpetuated, or misinformation is spread, or a joke is made in poor taste but people who aren’t directly affected by it don’t care because.. why would they? Human nature – if it doesn’t directly affect you, then do you really care? Not typically.
If you read through all of this, know that I appreciate you. Any advocating I can do is a step in the right direction. Diagnosis rates are still on the rise. If I can only ask one thing, that is for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes. It can happen to anyone at any time – it happened to me.
Earlier today I saw a post in one of the diabetes groups I’m in, and it struck a chord with me.
A lot of the general ignorance of type 1 diabetes doesn’t phase me anymore. I’ve become so numb to the harmful (and completely misguided, ill-informed jokes) that they just roll off of me now.
But this got to me.
The post was an article about the ever-rising price of insulin. Someone had left a comment on the post and the mom of a type 1 kid screenshotted it and shared it in the group I’m in.
A thousand thoughts rushed through my mind – familiar thoughts that I’ve had many times before, but that doesn’t make them any less troubling.
What if I’m meant to be sick?
What if I’m meant to die?
Survivor’s guilt. It isn’t something that is openly discussed in the Diabetic Online Community. At least, not that I’ve seen. So here I am, proclaiming it – I deal with survivor’s guilt over my diagnosis.
Before 1921 when Dr. Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin, every single person with type 1 diabetes died. Every. Single. One. At most, they could live a few months post-diagnosis – but it was more of a shell of a life, an existence spent in ungodly suffering from the havoc high blood sugars can cause.
Is my life greater than any of theirs?
What about the people who are on insulin but still pass away due to dead in bed or other complications of diabetes? Or the ones who are misdiagnosed and die.
I shouldn’t be alive. I suffered under misdiagnosis for five months. I should have complications. But I don’t. Why? Were those people somehow less deserving of life than I am?
Is it destined that only the richest of the rich will be able to afford insulin and the rest of us will wither away? If you look on the streets, that’s already the case. Diabetic homeless people die every day because they do not have access to insulin. Are their lives of less worth than mine?
I don’t write this to incite pity, but rather to just air my feelings out. I can’t help that I feel this way, and living in denial of what I’m dealing with will only make things more difficult for me. As someone who already suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I don’t need anything else messing with my mind.
Softball season is officially done for me. I have to miss our final game of the season next week because I will be in North Carolina photographing a wedding so tonight was it. Of course, what last game would it be without it being our double-double? We played 4 games in one evening and I’m exhausted!
My husband took photos at several of the games, and I’m so thankful. It is awesome to be able to have these memories. Plus, I had a blast and although we never won a game, I still made some killer plays and played my heart out! I even exceeded my goal – I only wanted to make it all the way home once, and I managed to do it twice in the same game tonight!
At times it was very hard to manage my diabetes while playing. I noticed right away that the adrenaline sends me sky high during a game. I had to wear my pump, Dexcom receiver, Pebble watch and iPhone on me at all times because if I left my dex or phone in the dugout, the Bluetooth would go out of range. If I gave myself an insulin correction for the high, it wouldn’t budge and I’d end up low in the middle of the night while sleeping.
However, I proved to myself (and everyone else!) that I can still play a sport even with diabetes.
Plus, our team BY FAR had the most fun of all the other teams this season. That’s a win in my book.
We’ve played 3 softball games so far (well, technically 6, because every day we play is a double header). Every single game, we’ve been mercied. But! I’m having a blast.
I got hit 3 times in the same spot on my leg in practice one of the first weeks, and it never bruised.. until a week later, when I suddenly had a dark, ugly settling of blood in my foot. It was super weird and took forever to heal (as do all injuries – thanks for that one, diabetes!)
Using my Pebble to watch my blood sugar as mentioned in my previous post has worked very well. However I ran into an unforeseen issue: Tegaderm wasn’t cutting it. We’re having an unusually hot late summer/early fall (it was 83 degrees at the start of tonight’s game!) and I was getting sweaty and gross, and the tape wasn’t staying on. It didn’t help that I was on an old sensor as well, so when I finally pulled it, my skin was a wreck.
Fortunately, my friend Frank recommended Vetwrap in place of Tegaderm and so far, so good. It confuses people because they wonder why I have a cast on my upper arm (lol!) but otherwise it works great for at softball. I hate how it feels after a shower and it likes to migrate around my arm a little, but it’s a decent trade off.
The only other major hiccup in softball so far is that I go SKY HIGH while playing. Even though it’s hot and I’m running my butt off for two hours straight, I have consistently hit and stayed at 280-300 for every game. Adrenaline, you suck!
Overall it’s been a great experience. My teammates are all super supportive and when I’m looking ragged, they ask how my sugar is and ask if I need a snack or a break. Nobody makes fun of me or says anything at all about me wearing my flip belt on the field stuffed with my pump, Dexcom, phone, and several rolls of smarties. I’m glad I get to participate – and apparently, I’m halfway decent!
I recently joined a softball league that my work is sponsoring. I am NOT sporty/athletic but I had played in middle school on a league and we were really good (we won the city championships both years, the first year as underdogs!) plus my best friend Katie is the one who started assembling the league.
Today is our first game. I’ve been struggling with finding the perfect bg balance during practices. Most times I’m running ultra high even though it’s been 90 degrees and super humid, but one practice I did crash low and had to sit and smash a few rolls of smarties while everyone else kept practicing. That sucked.
As much as I LOVE my Apple Watch for monitoring my bg during various activities, I have to do what’s best for me out on the field so I can perform at my best. That’s why I made this decision: I will be wearing my Pebble Time while playing softball. Here’s why!
1a) I have to sidebar and note that the WatchSugar app I have on my Apple Watch is great, but it only updates every 20 minutes or so. This is an issue on Apples side of not updating Complications. It will be changed in WatchOS3 coming out next week where we can have timely Dexcom updates on the watchface.
1b) Also note, the native Dexcom app gives live updates but it is not ON the watchface. I have to navigate to it. And then wait for it to update. I can’t use that much time staring at my watch while on the ball field!
2) I will be a LOT less devastated if my Pebble gets destroyed by a line drive than if my Apple Watch did.
2a) The Pebble is pretty rugged. It has a couple scratches on the face, sure, but overall it’s pretty tough! Sadly I feel like my Apple Watch wouldn’t take the abuse as well.
3) Since I’m only using it for softball, I shut off all the extra stuff on my pebble. I don’t need my calendar, or text message notifications, etc while I’m on the field. That’s a lot easier to do than switching those settings on and off all the time on my Apple Watch!
4) Battery life. The Pebble lasts way longer than the Apple Watch. Plus it charges so fast, I could throw it on the charger 10 minutes before a game and probably have enough juice for the whole game. Not the case with my Apple Watch.
One of the big Cons to this setup is that my Move goals on the Apple Watch won’t be accurate. Of course I’m gonna be moving during the games and since I’m not wearing my Apple Watch, my “rings” won’t catch that movement and I’ll look super lazy on those days 😉 But it’s a small trade for the benefits of using my Pebble on the field!