Friday, May 05, 2006

Onward! To the Dot Com!




This blog has moved!






Please visit Six Until Me at it's new location: www.sixuntilme.com.
Thanks!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, Six Until Me!

I existed for six year before diabetes came into my life. I don’t remember much before I was diagnosed – all of my memories have been touched in some way by this disease. I went to every birthday party as a kid with my trusted stuffed animal and my black zipper case blood testing kit by my side. I remember every day in elementary school starting with my mother waking me up and testing my bloodsugar. I remember injections in the kitchen before we had summer dinners on the back deck.

It’s not sad that things are this way. It’s just how life is.

What is sad is that for a period of time during college and just afterwards, I felt like I was the only diabetic for miles. I knew there were others out there, thanks to Clara Barton Camp, but I was ten plus years away from camp and hadn’t talked with another diabetic in as long as I could remember.

In my apartment on a sunny May afternoon, I sat at my desk next to the bedroom window. Switched on the computer. Googled “diabetes.”

The page filled with a litany of links, urging me to take fastidious care of my feet, be sure to schedule annual eye exams, and discussing the benefits of testing my bloodsugar at least four times per day. Organizations like the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation cropped up, along with countless medical and research articles.

I have had diabetes for most of my life. I knew the essentials and then some. It wasn’t that this information was useless to me, but it was mostly clinical and statistical and besides, who were these people writing this stuff?

Where are the people with diabetes? The ones who have it? The ones who wake up every morning and deal with the daily maintenance? The ones who have glove compartments filled with Smarties candies and caches of used test strips in the corner of every room? The ones who don’t view juice as nutritional sustenance but instead a live saving medical treatment? The ones who know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with the daily tasks?

Elated at a bloodsugar of 112 md/gl after eating Chinese food?
Ecstatic at an A1c drop of 1 percent?

These people were writing blogs. And there were a handful of d-bloggers when I first started searching. Tek. Violet. Kathleen. Amy. Scott. I’m sure there were a few others, but these were the first that I found. Reading their experiences and feeling an instant sense of comfort and community with these wonderful people, I knew I wanted to do what they were doing. I wanted to blog, too.

A year ago today, I started “Six Until Me.” One fledgling post, perfectly blended with the hope that someone would find me and the fear that someone would find me. One post that ushered me into the blogging community. One post that confirmed for me, almost instantly, that I wasn’t alone.

In self-celebration of my one year anniversary, I’m switching over to my own dot com. Six Until Me.Com will be the link for this blog going forward. The blogspot address will remain active for the archives. If you have my site linked from your own, I would appreciate it if you would update your links!

Thank you. To each reader. To each commenter. To each quiet lurker. To each fellow d-blogger. To each person who has changed me. To each person who has emailed me and made me smile. Thank you to my wonderful family. And my boyfriend, who inspires me.

Thanks to each and every one of you.

Now when I Google “diabetes blogs,” there are so many voices out there to be heard.

We most certainly are not alone.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Define? Or explain.

"Diabetes doesn't define you, it just helps explain you."

It struck me that he was right.

Darrell and I don't talk about diabetes very much. I don't remember ever talking about it when we were kids. We played with Legos and built army forts for the hamsters to live in. There weren't any big diabetes discussions and, quite frankly, we never really talked about it until I started the blog.

But during a discussion we had today, it came up.

"Diabetes doesn't define you, it just helps explain you."

Diabetes didn't make me smart, but being regimented and dedicated to achieving results on a medical level may have made me work harder in school. Diabetes didn't make me determined, but it may have contributed to my constant drive towards my ever-changing definition of success.

Such perspective is gained from a chronic condition, regardless of its complications. It doesn't define me, but the strongest parts of my personality may have been gently shaped by the perspective gained from having it.

Diabetes didn't make me love with such ease, but having tasted my own mortality makes every hug, every laugh, every kiss that much more needed and appreciated.

I hope so fiercely for a cure. I hope for a cure every time I see a press release about new research breakthroughs. I hope every time I test my bloodsugar that the numbers will always be in range. I hope every time I go to Joslin. I hope every day.

"Diabetes doesn't define you, it just helps explain you."

I didn't ask what he meant because I already knew. Diabetes isn't Me. It doesn't own me or define me or ruin me. He and I both know that.

When I wake up every morning and test my bloodsugar, when I prime the pump, when I calculate the carbohydrates in a meal, I know it doesn't define me. But when I am feeling anxious or scared about my medical future or just simply overwhelmed, I know it doesn't define me.

It just helps explain me.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Daisy in the Sand

Sometimes life moves just so damn fast.

I miss so much, rushing from one place to another, making sure I attend to every obligation. Too much coffee, not enough sleep, phone is ringing, writing to be done, meetings to attend, consulting, and a workout to squeeze in daily. How many hours are in this day? How many do I spend working? How often do I take a breath?

The sun rises, sets, and I'm still going well into the night.

But some days, some days are filled with sunshine and the promise that if I just stop for one second...
... I'll see something breathtaking.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Diabetic Dreaming?

My dreams feel so real. The smells, the sounds, the way things taste. How people were dressed. If it was warm or not. Which cat was roaming around. Was I scared? Did I feel safe? What shoes was I wearing? My five senses are completely involved in every dream I have.

While I slept last night, my subconscious diabetic mind played a cruel joke on me:

The eerie lights on the clock radio read "3:42 am."

Dream Kerri woke up feeling like crap. Her eyes ached. Everything was difficult to concentrate on. Her lower back felt tender and her skin was hypersensitive to every touch.

Dream Kerri tested her bloodsugar. 585 mg/dl.

"Holy crap," Dream Kerri exclaimed, rubbing the stubborn sleep from her eyes. She washed her hands, just to make sure, and then tested again.

611 mg/dl.

(It's here that my Real Self should have clued in. My meter does read anything higher than 600 mg/dl. Yet Real Self slept on and Dream Kerri freaked out.)

Dream Kerri pulled out her pump and cued up the Bolus Wizard. Entered "600 mg/dl" and no carbs. The pump cautioned her to check for an occlusion and to consider an insulin injection. The suggested bolus was 11.1 units.

Boop beep beep. Boop beep beep. Her thigh site ached a little bit from the bolus.

No problem. Lay back down. Try and get some sleep. Relax.

Go back to sleep.

--- The alarm went off.

The eerie lights on the clock radio read "6:47 am."

I reached for my meter, performing the ritualistic morning test and ringing in at 114 mg/dl.

"Wow. It only took about three hours for me to come down from that ridiculous high. Good thing."

I scrolled back in the meter's memory to see exactly when I had been 600 mg/dl. Nothing there. The last time I had tested was at 2:01 am, before I went to bed. 182 mg/dl. I scrolled through the bolus memory on my pump. My last bolus was at 2:01 am, correcting that 182 mg/dl.

Nothing else was there. No record of that high. No record of a huge bolus.

Nothing.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Aviva Aviva, Un-Delay!

Woke up late.

Not good on Important Meeting Adventure Day, so I rolled immediately out of bed and began the morning ritual: Test bloodsugar, toss the cats off my legs, kiss Chris's shoulder, stumble into the bathroom, take a hot shower, and read one of his fitness magazines while I blowdry my hair (Today I learned about the omega-3 benefits of walnuts and what the best kind of boxer briefs are).

Iron clothes. Dress in a hurry. Haphazardly toss necessary items into my purse. Recover the tube of lip gloss from Siah's meddling little paws. Throw in a bottle of juice and some emergency crackers. Grab my kit and ...

"Where is my kit?"

I knew I had my kit earlier when I tested first thing this morning. I checked under the bedside table - no kit. I looked on the bathroom cabinet, where a collection of pump caps sit in a soap dish and assorted lotions stand at rapt attention. No kit. I looked in the walk in closet, just to make sure I didn't have it in my hand when I grabbed my shoes. No kit.

Chris had already left for work so every light in the bedroom was on. Relatively clean, I couldn't see anything out of place. The closets were neat and the bed was made. Everything appeared to be in it's place.

Checked my purse, just in case I was ridiculously remiss and didn't notice my kit in there in the first place. No kit.

"Where the hell did I put that stupid thing??" Getting mad now. The time to leave was rapidly ticking closer and I knew I had to have it before I left the house. Checked the fridge, knowing that I put the remote control and my car keys in there by mistake before. Systematically trashed the entire bedroom, rummaging under the bed, opening dresser drawers and yanking out the contents,

No kit.
Throwing my hands into the air in complete frustration, I grabbed my back up kit from the closet. I received it as a demo from Roche: an Accu-Chek Aviva. Feeling kind of crummy and potentially low, I opened the box for the first time and assembled the new kit. The black zipper case was crunchy and stiff from lack of use. After coding the machine, I reached for the lancet device that came with it.

Diabetic for 19 years, I figured that I would be able to load the thing up and test my bloodsugar without much of an issue. I've used countless meters and pricking devices. Surely this one would be a snap, right?

I could not have been more wrong.

Couldn't assemble that frigging thing to save my life. I couldn't get the cap off. I couldn't fit the drum inside neatly. I actually had to bust out the instruction manual an even then, I couldn't figure it out. Nothing clicked to let me know it was in place. The barrel of the device kept rotating and my only response was to curse at it.

Then, like the cryptex from The DaVinci Code, the cylinder lined up. The barrel clicked into place. The device deployed and pricked the top of my knuckle by accident.

"[insert blasphemous curse word]!!" Flinging the blue MultiClix across the room, I grabbed a lancet from my stash and manually pricked my finger tip. The AccuChek Aviva flashed me an hourglass, then a "113 mg/dl".

"Meow?" Abby was standing on the edge of the bed, pawing at something.

I threw the Aviva into my purse and grabbed my keys.

"Meow?" A little more insistently this time. She was nudging something under the blankets with her enormous paw.

"Abby, what is the problem? What are you sniffing around at? I'm late for my meeting, I can't find my stupid kit, and now I'm having an animated conversation with my fat cat..."

I reached over and pulled back the covers of the neatly made bed to reveal my kit, lying flush against the sheets.

Mocking me.

"Meow." Smuggly purring, Abby retired to the couch.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Other Two Behave Themselves.

But this foolish Siah Sausage...

Can't

Leave


Anything

Alone.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Scene.

Scene: About 11 o’clock at night. Showcase Cinemas in MA.

There aren’t too many people in the movie theater. It’s not too hot or too cold. Comfortable seats. Handsome boyfriend as my date. Feeling a little tired but content.

The movie courses on. Guy with a mask, Natalie Portman cuts off all her hair, I’m barely interested … little bit of a headache.

Not one crying out for Excedrin, but nagging enough to make me rest my head against Chris’s shoulder as we watch the movie. Sleepy. I close my eyes. About 15 minutes pass.

Still have that headache.

Unzipper the black case and set up my testing kit. Using the backlighting on my pump like a miner, I prick my finger and align the blood with the strip by the faint blue Minimed light.

27 mg/dl.

No symptoms until that moment of realization that my bloodsugar and my age are in perfect synch. Did seeing the number trigger a physiological response? Why didn’t I feel anything sooner? A bead of sweat joins my hummingbird heartbeat as I realize how I don’t have much more than adrenaline keeping me coherent. The crackers in my purse aren’t going to work nearly fast enough.

I wish I had grabbed his arm and asked for help. A bloodsugar of 27 mg/dl, he should know.

Instead, I tossed my kit into my purse and stood up abruptly. Leaning in to Chris, “I’m low. I’m going to get juice. I’m fine.”

Thinking I’m in control, he squeezed my hand and said, “Okay, baby. I’ll be here.”

Scene: I walked as confidently as I could down the dark hallway, spilling out into the fluorescently lit atrium. The snack counter was just a few feet away. “You’re fine. You’re fine. Don’t worry. Just get there.” Motivational Speaker whispered softly into my ear.

The 16 year old girl turned her head to me, the Showcase Cinemas logo on her black visor momentarily distracting.

“I’m a diabetic. I’m having a very low bloodsugar reaction. I need juice immediately.” My fist hit the counter, a five dollar bill clutched in my hand.

“We’re closed? The machines are locked up?” Young Girl looked nervous.

“I need juice now. Right now. Please hurry.” I looked nervous, too. That numbness was settling into my mouth. Warm waves of exhaustion coupled with panic rolled over me.

Her hands fumbled with the keyring as she leaned over to unlock the juice machine. My mouth formed the words “Thank you.”

“I’m sorry, we’re closed.” Manager Woman came over, snapped her gum at me. Her hand came down on Young Girl’s wrist, stopping her from opening the juice machine.

“I’m diabetic. I am having a low bloodsugar reaction. I need juice right now.”

“We closed at 11. There is a convenience store across the street.”

“I am diabetic. I need juice. Now. Please just open the machine. I need you to help me.”

Precious seconds pass.

Her hand took the keys from Young Girl. “I’m sorry. We’re closed.”

Silently apologizing to my mother in my head, “Diabetic. I need sugar right now. Open the fucking machine and get me some juice. NOW.” My voice crescendos to an angry peak.

A dirty look crossed Manager Woman’s face as she throws the keys to Young Girl. “What size?”

“Small, please.”

She grabbed the largest cup from the stack. My mouth is completely numb, hands trembling. Young Girl fills the cup as fast as she can, opening a straw for me and sliding it into the enormous cup.

“A large. That will be $4.05.” Manager Woman extends her hand for my money.

I’m already halfway through the basin of red juice. I hand her the money. She takes it and hands me my change while she relocks the juice machine.

Scene: Back in the theater. Mumbling about 27 … huge thing of juice … Why didn’t you tell me? … I’m sorry … I’m glad you’re okay … 27 … Did you feel it at all? … I feel it now … Keep drinking …

Scene: In the car. Explained what happened. Chris is furious on my behalf. I am, too. Angry at Manager Woman. Angry at myself for leaving my juice in the car. Angry at my body for betraying me.

What is causing these? I’ve read that blood pressure medication can make people experience hypoglycemic episodes. I’ve also read that it can cause dulled symptoms. What do I choose?

Should I be writing a letter to Showcase Cinemas, advising them that their staff needs considerable training as to dealing with medical emergencies?

Will my appointment as Joslin in two weeks help me figure out what is going on?

Can I get a CGMS? Can I afford it?

Can I afford not to?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I : Meme.

I am: tired, happy and filled with Easter Eggs.
I want: a new job. Tomorrow. Please.
I wish: that I knew, with certainty, that everything will be okay.
I hate: medical insurance. Or better: I hate having to worry about medical insurance.
I miss: my grandparents. And I worry about the Only One I Have Left.

I fear: that all this hoping for a cure will be in vain.

I hear: Siah Sausage walking around on the desk next to me.
I wonder: if I will be a good mom..
I regret: any time that I told my parents I hated them. It was never true.
I am not: without fear.
I dance: like I don’t care whose watching.
I sing: the wrong words to most songs.
I cry: when I am afraid.

I am not always: patient enough. I need to work on that.
I make with my hands: blankets, dinner, his back muscles relax, the cats purr, shadow puppets, fists, and sometimes I make obscene gestures.







I write: so I won’t forget.




I confuse: myself. Often.
I need: nothing more than I need him.
I should: stop being so hard on myself and just enjoy all the mess.
I start: thinking about how much they all mean to me and I can’t believe how lucky I am.
I finish: what I start. Even if it takes my whole life.

I tag: the lurkers. Hop to it. (End of my Easter humor.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Six Short Points on a Pseudo-Friday

1. I have been in so many listless work meetings today that my head is filled with phrases like “forward thinking,” “marketing analysis,” and “extensive research and application.” These phrases have replaced the fun ones I was thinking earlier, which included “Paas coloring kit,” “lethal Cadbury mini eggs,” and “Thank the lord for fast acting insulin.”

2. “Generation D” has been updated for April.

3. The weather outside is sunny and warmish and if my office had windows (and if I had an office) I would be pressing my face against the glass. Instead, I grabbed my markers and drew a big, yellow, smiling sunshine on an insurance report before I submitted it. The chuckle and the wry look it received were warranted.

4. My mother is auditioning for “Deal or No Deal!” and the video submission that Chris filmed for her is currently in post production. My mother, her three sisters, and I are the No Deal Team. I’m coming to realize that we may be a slightly peculiar family.

5. I am so looking forward to this long weekend that I keep bursting into a grin for no apparent reason, causing the Brits who sit near me at work to eye me suspiciously.

6. And everytime my fingers hit the keys, my Larry Bird bobbles his head in agreement.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What Came in the Mail.

I hadn't checked the mail in a few days, so I wasn't surprised when I came home to a pile of envelopes on the kitchen table.

"Thanks for checking the PO Box, Chris."

"No problem. Hey, there was a big package that came in, too."

Big brown shipping box. Marked "Fragile."

I took a pair of scissors and sliced through the packing tape. Eight thousand pink Styrofoam peanuts flew out everywhere, much to the delight of Ms. Siah Sausage. I flung out all the packing peanuts and then I Saw Him.

That blonde hair. Those ridiculous socks. Half a smirk graced his plastic face as if he knew the three-point shot was nothing but net as long as he had control of the ball.

My man, Larry Bird.

This is precisely why Mr. Scott K. Johnson is one of the coolest people on the planet. So I extend my biggest THANK YOU to Scott for the vintage Larry Bird bobble head. It's tremendously cool and my cardio workout thanks you. Here's to your vast collection of test strips in your night table drawer.

Siah found him to be rather delicious, too.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Health Care Reform: Use the BatPhone.

Standing at my desk and chatting up a coworker, coffee in hand, I noticed the tiniest twinge of a headache. Not overly concerned, I sat down and pulled out my meter. “Just to rule it out,” I thought, loading up the meter with a strip and clink … ringing in at an icy 39 mg/dl.

“You have to be kidding me…” muttering under my breath, grabbing a bottle of juice from the stash in my desk drawer. There were only six sips available in the bottle so I grabbed a pack of peanut butter crackers and ate two of them.

Nothing but a headache. No foggy feeling in my brain. People’s voices weren’t echoing. I could see and hear and feel everything just fine. Even the headache wasn’t bad – nothing I thought a cup of coffee couldn’t cure.

Instead: 39 mg/dl.

As I sat at my desk and waited for my bloodsugar to rise, I thought about the television show I’d watched for a few minutes the night before. It was on MSNBC or similar, discussing the health care reform being rocketed through legislative bodies and the plan was quoted as being something that will afford consumers more “control over price and quality”. Consumer driven health care. Making people more aware of how expensive health care is. As though we need to be told.

Price and quality?

“An atrocity.” I said to Chris, becoming livid. “If this legislation passes, it won’t be price and quality, but price or quality. You either chose the best care available and pay an obscene amount for it or you chose what you can afford.” I was completely pissed off at this point. “For someone like me, it could mean going back to injections, even though the pump keeps me the healthiest. Or not testing as much during the day, sacrificing my hard earned A1c for my checkbook balance.”

“I knew that one day I would be worrying about paying for medical coverage, but I thought it would be when I was sixtysomething and on the cusp of retirement. Instead, I’m 27 years old and panicking about whether or not my health will be compromised as a result of government decisions in the next six months. Absolutely ridiculous. Don’t they understand that keeping me healthy now keeps money in the insurance companies’ pockets later? Preventative measures now to ward off paying for treating a complication later? They think pump therapy is expensive – wait until they’re paying for my leg to be amputated.”

Crying now, so angry.

Fast forward to this morning, sitting at my work desk, drinking a bottle of juice as my bloodsugar teeters precariously at 39 mg/dl, wondering why people from the United States Senate offices are just reading my blog instead of contacting me directly.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Top Five Revisited. Again. Once More. Redundant.

Faithful Readers, I saw a picture of John Cusack this morning on someone’s desktop. After a wistful sigh, I remembered “High Fidelity.” And the Top Five bit that I was convinced I had invented. And the fact that we haven’t played since October.

Oh, it’s on.
Six Until Me proudly presents …

Top Five.

Top Five Non-Diabetes Related Websites
Top Five Reasons You’re Grinning Today
Top Five Uses for Bacon Bits
Top Five Places You Want to Travel To
Top Five Guilty Pleasures


Bloggers, start your proverbial engines! Lurkers, de-lurk! Mom, feel free to not post about your guilty pleasures as it may make my head implode.
Game on.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Things I've Done to Torture Myself at Work : April 3rd Edition

Checked the weather in LA. It’s 70 degrees and sunny, just so you know.

Overheard a conversation between two managers, which included the following phrases: “flow chart conversions,” “leaning out processes,” and “restructures.” Uh oh.

Saw a small pile of what appeared to be Bacon Bits on the countertop of the bathroom. (It turned out to be the shavings of someone’s eyebrow pencil.) Sudden urge for Bacon Bits now.

In recognition of Daylight Savings Time, changed the finger prick lancet. Realized that I may be slightly gross.

Watched a manager take two coffee breaks within an hour, then proceed to chastise an employee for leaving their desk to go to the copier.

Caught a glimpse of the sunshine outside. Filled with jealous rage towards trees based on the fact that no one expects them to sit at a desk for nine hours.

Listened to the man who sits in front of me talk about the upcoming Yankees game. “Love them Yankees!” Realize that he doesn’t sit close enough to actually hit, so I just threw a pen at him and then blamed it on someone else.

Checked the weather in LA again. Still sunny.

(Redeeming moment: In Googling the word "Sunny" in search of a picture, I came across a book series called "Sunny."

Description: Sunny wakes up on a bright, summer morning to the familiar sounds of his wonderful world. Inspired by what they hear, he and his friends decide to invent their own playful brand of music. Before long, the happy children get down to a hootennanny time."

My mood has significantly improved just from reading the work "hootennanny.")

Friday, March 31, 2006

s. 1955 - TAKE ACTION NOW.

Sitting on my desk at home, right now, is a bill for $2,390.00, covering test strips, pump supplies, and three doctor’s visits. I am paying this bill responsibly. I work a full time job. While I may despise my current employment, I stick with it in order to retain medical insurance.

Let’s cut to the chase here: I wear an expensive insulin pump. I test my bloodsugar very often. I see the doctor at least every four months. I take blood pressure medication. I do these things to prolong and improve the quality of my life. I cost my medical insurance company a pretty penny, but I do these things in order to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Preventative measures. Following this regimen will keep me from having serious complications in the future, thus keeping me from costing my insurance company more money for expensive surgeries and additional medication.

So explain to me why the government wants to make it more difficult for me to remain healthy? It will only cost them more money down the road if I become very ill and require federal assistance. Why would S. 1955 even be considered?

According to a press release from the American Diabetes Association, “Under the proposed legislation, all people with diabetes covered under state-regulated health insurance plans would be in jeopardy of losing their diabetes coverage protections. Insurers will be able to offer a low-cost health plan to employers or individuals that exclude one or more state health care requirements, such as coverage for diabetes supplies, education, and training.” Essentially, employers choosing insurance that covers my test strips and pump supplies would be left to whims. Such an act may render me unable to financially support my own disease.

To make such efforts to prevent alarming and expensive complications, only to have those efforts undermined by health care reforms? Why would a legislative body want to keep me from maintaining good health?

If it were their child with this disease, I’m sure this bill wouldn’t have made it so far.

But for some of you, it is your child. And for others, it’s you.

Invest in the health and well-being of yourself and those you know who are affected by diabetes.