Over the last few weeks, I have had a few run-ins with the gentlest of diabetes police - people who don't mean to be second-guessing me or asking me why I'm eating that, but still, they can't help but ask. Sometimes their questions are subtle and we end up having a quiet, private discussion about what type 1 diabetes means to my life, and I welcome these opportunities as ways to help educate and advocate.
But other times, when I'm at the table with a piece of pie in my hand and about to sink my fork into it, knowing full-well that I am at a very good blood sugar and have bolused for the pie carefully, and someone asks, "Why are you eating that?" ... I feel completely defeated. And embarrassed. Can't a girl have dessert without being questioned? And when questioned, why isn't my explanation good enough to justify my actions?
I'd like to be a person with diabetes who sits down for dinner and eats with everyone without the scrutiny.
There's a difference, in my eyes, between choosing to be a diabetes advocate and being forced to explain myself. I have no problem explaining to a stranger what the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is, or what this machine on my hip is, or why my purse keeps BEEEEEEP!ing, or why I'm carrying more candy than an Oompa Loompa. I actually like having these discussions, because I feel like people are only familiar with one kind of diabetes and one linear explanation for "the sugar," and I like knowing that I'm helping to educate them about the different kinds of diabetes, particularly type 1.
What I don't enjoy is having someone look at me like I'm doing something wrong, just because they are unfamiliar with the ways that my diabetes needs to be managed (or the way I'm choosing to manage it). I've written about diabetes and guilt before, and my inability to ever be "the perfect diabetic," so this isn't a new gripe. But what's made me particularly frustrated is how there seems to be this common misconception that "it's only diabetes" and it's okay to pass judgment on my choices. Diabetes isn't viewed as a serious disease to those outside the bubble of understanding, and complications for a young person with type 1 can thankfully be hard to spot, so maybe diabetes just looks too easy to some people. Maybe we are just too good at masking how challenging it can be sometimes.
What would my well-meaning diabetes police say if I responded to their comment of "Whoa! Having pie? You can't have pie!" with a dissertation:
"Yes, I can have pie. If I'm willing to go through the necessary motions, you know? I have type 1 diabetes, and I wear this pump to give myself the insulin hormone that I don't make for myself anymore. Supplementing all day long! Unlike type 2 diabetes, which I know you're more familiar with, I don't make any insulin at all, so every meal is a tight balance of blood sugar monitoring, carbohydrate counting, and then dosing my insulin in accordance with the meal I'm about to eat. Then, after the meal, I'll keep monitoring to make sure that I'm not going too high or too low. It's about balance, but not about deprivation. So yes, I can eat this. And I will eat this. And so long as I'm able to keep my numbers in check, my body shouldn't rebel after a piece of pie."
The thing is, I've given this explanation before. Many times. And I've explained diabetes to so many family members and so many friends (and just as many complete strangers) that it frustrates me endlessly to see that they aren't retaining any of the information. And not only are they missing what I'm saying, but they're constantly - albeit gently - calling me out for my actions. It makes me feel like such a crumb, like everyone is watching me while I eat. (Nothing like that to make you feel paranoid. Not to mention pregnancy weight gain, adding insult to injury.) I know they mean well, and I appreciate their concern, but they need to listen to me when I answer them. And they need to trust me when I give a clear explanation. I'm not asking them to explain their food choices or exercise decisions or the details of their daily regimen - it's not my business.
I'm sorry if I seem frustrated, but the scrutiny is making my head and my heart ache. I don't have a track record of being irresponsible. I don't exhibit signs of disease ignorance or depression or unawareness. I'm taking very good care of myself, especially now with the baby growing inside of me and my focus turned to diabetes the majority of my day. I'm tuned in. I'm careful. I'm doing my best.
Yes, I can have the pie. Next time, I might skip it for reasons all my own. But whatever my decision, please don't assume you have a right to question it. Until you are living with type 1 diabetes, you don't understand. And I'm not expecting you to understand - ask me what you want to ask me. I'm more than willing to talk to you about this.
But if you don't have a question, and you only have those comments, I'm just respectfully asking you to be quiet. Please. I've had enough.
This is the first holiday season in four years that Chris and I have spent within an hour's drive of our family - the last few years have been spent trekking up and down 95 for hours on end, battling traffic and boredom and every kind of holiday traveler.
Not this year.
Finally- FINALLY - we're able to relax a bit and actually enjoy the holiday season. Thanksgiving is behind us (excellent food all the way around, including the sweet potato casserole that Chris made and the key lime pie that I managed not to screw up) and I am so excited to spend Christmas close to home.
Today we spent some time with my father-in-law at a local farm, getting ourselves into the spirit of things. A few photos as evidence:
Red holly berries.
Rows of poinsettias on the farm.
Of course, I took more photos of these gorgeous red plants than was necessary.
And even the budding grape tomatoes got into the swing of things, rocking out some red and green action.
(This pink flower, though lovely and had my attention for a bevy of photos, wasn't Christmassy in the slightest. Oh well.)
Tomorrow, because I can't even wait until December proper, we'll get our Christmas tree and start readying our home for our (hopefully) last Christmas as a family of two ... because next year, we'll have a little BSparl tugging ornaments off the tree.
(And we'll find out on Tuesday if it will be a boy or a girl BSparl. YAY!!!)
Poor cats. We forgot to buy cat food. Forced to supplement with a can of tuna fish. Mewing cats went berserk.
(And I am not doing NaBloPoMo next year. Because I'm embarrassing myself with these filler posts! :) )
Signs of the end of November - more blog memes than you can stand. Here's the 40 Things one that circulated a few weeks ago, and I'm grasping for it like a drowning man clinging to a ... duck? Yes, to a very buoyant duck.
* * * 40 Things * * *
1. Do you like bleu cheese? Nope. Can't stand anything both blue and moldy. Or spelled with the e in the wrong order.
2. Have you ever smoked? Pot? No. Cigarettes? A few times, and I regret all of those times. Waste of lung power for sure.
3. Do you own a gun? No. I don't own things that are dangerous for me to use. See also: stove
4. Favorite type of food? These days? Anything. But usually, I'm always game for fresh fruit.
5. Favorite type of music? Broad range here. Classical, techno, rap, rock, alternative, moody crap like Sigur Ros, big fan of Irish bands (The Frames, Damien Rice, U2, etc), song parodies like those by Weird Al ... and I really, really like the Law & Order theme song.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? I don't often think of them, and at picnics, I most often choose their hamburger friends over them.
7. Favorite Christmas movie? Who doesn't love A Christmas Story? Classic.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Pancake batter.
9. Can you do push ups? I used to be able to. I haven't tried in the last few months because my levels of awkward and uncoordinated are extremely high these days.
10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring. And my SUM necklace.
11. Favorite hobby? Blogging, I think. And then photography, with a side of traveling.
12. Do you have A. D. D.? Y. E. S.
13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? No - as irony would have it, I'm a 23 year type 1 diabetes veteran with perfect vision. Go figure.
14. Middle name? Used to be Lynn, but when I got married, I changed it to Morrone.
15. Name three thoughts at this exact moment: The gerber daisies on the dining room table look really pretty. Siah and Prussia are fighting in the crinkle tube. I can't wait to watch Nip/Tuck next week.
16. Name three drinks you regularly drink: Water, coffee, and orange juice.
17. Current worry? Hoping that all is well with the BSparl.
18. Current hate right now? I don't harbor any hate these days. Too much other crap to do.
19. Favorite place to be? Home.
20. How did you bring in the new year? In style.
21. Someplace you’d like to go? I'd like to to Europe again. And I'd also like to visit Montana and drive around where there isn't a speed limit.
22. Name three people who will complete this. I think I'm one of the last diabetes bloggers to tackle this meme, but NaBloPoMo has burnt me right the F out, so I'm grasping at straws. Meme it up if you haven't already!
23. Do you own slippers? No, but my mom does. She calls them "pippers." And that's what I call them, too.
24. What color shirt are you wearing? Blue. A different shade than my blue sweatpants. And also a different shade than my blue bathrobe. I'm dressed like a pregnant smurf.
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? They have their perks.
26. Can you whistle? Not even close. I sound like I'm snorkeling when I try to whistle.
27. Where are you now? Sitting at the dining room table in my home. Being watched by cats.
28. Would you be a pirate? What makes you think I'm not a pirate?
29. What songs do you sing in the shower? I like "Oh Pretty Baby" and anything by Guster.
30. Favorite Girl’s Name? GirlSparl.
31. Favorite boy’s name? BoySparl. ;)
32. What is in your pocket right now? A quarter, a test strip, and my insulin pump.
33. Last thing that made you laugh? Chris. He's a strange ranger.
34. What vehicle do you drive? A black Honda Civic.
35. Worst injury you’ve ever had? There was this one time, way back when I was a kid, when my pancreas died. It didn't hurt at the time, but it hurts sometimes now.
36. Do you love where you live? I do.
37. How many TVs do you have in your house? One. We aren't TV junkies.
38. How many computers do you have in your house? Whoops - okay, we have five computers. Because we are junkies in this respect.
39. If you changed your job, what would it be? Folk singer with a side gig as a puppeteer.
40. If you were granted three wishes, what would they be? Healthy baby, happy family, and happy Kerri in third person.
If you're in the throes of NaBloPoMo and you need a post-Thanksgiving meme, have at. :)
For the past few years, I've been tracing my hand and making a hand-turkey, like any self-respecting adult would do on Thanksgiving. And this year, Chris and I spent a few minutes tracing our hands with crayons.
My turkey is on the left, with too many colors and a hair bow. His somehow became the Hamburger Helper.
And this is precisely why I love him.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!
When I was a kid, I used to watch He-Man (and the Masters of the Universe!!!) and thought pretty much any superpower could be summoned by standing in front of something big and gray and hollering "I have the POWER!!!" This assumption also involved having a tough cat friend that would be my strong, clever sidekick. Like Battle Cat, who was seriously badass.
"I have the POWER!!!!" It would work in all kinds of situations, like when my blood sugar gets all crazytown and I need the insulin to start working immediately. I'd stand in front of something gray, hold aloft my magical ... sword, I guess ... and the blood sugar would start to come down without fail.
Instead, I get this 'gray thing':
I've tried standing in front of her and making reference to "having the POWER!!!" but she doesn't seem to care. She just patters around the house, leaving her little pawprints everywhere (see them, right near her leg, on the fabric of the couch?) and staring blankly into the crinkly tube?
She's even started using the tube as her own, personal top hat. Like she's the dim little rabbit in a sad magician's act.
I'm starting to think that she's the one that has the power.
"Is it too early to be feeling the baby moving?" I asked my pregnant best friend.
"What are you, fifteen weeks along? No, it's not too early. Does it feel like fluttering, or butterfly wings?"
I remember when the NBF was at my house over the summer, about five months along in her own pregnancy, and she was convinced she had felt the baby move for the first time. She and I sat on the couch for 20 minutes, our hands pressed against her swollen belly, hoping the baby would wave at us. She felt it more strongly than I did, but I did feel that whisper beneath her skin. Slight dancing, like a butterfly was trapped underneath her skin.
"Yeah, sort of like what we felt with you. Only ... well, weirder, because it was in me this time."
She laughed. "It could definitely be the BSparl. Or gas."
"I love that this is either my baby moving around in there, or it's just a rockin' gas bubble. Classy, as always."
This was about two weeks ago, and for the last two weeks, I've been checking constantly for signs of the dancing BSparl. (Don't tell anyone, but I even busted out the stethoscope we have at our house, searching for sounds of the baby. All I heard were the sounds of my body bustling around, but still - I tried. I also listened for Siah's heartbeat, just for kicks. She has a heart. Just no brain, it seems.) Sometimes, I think I can feel something, always on the right hand side, down near my pelvic bone. Other times, I realize that I'm feeling my own heartbeat in my fingertips, mistaking it for BSparl. I have no idea what's going on in there, but I know that the last time we saw him or her, there wasn't much room left for him to scuttle around, so I thought I'd feel him any day. I'm hoping to feel a definitive dance from Baby Sparling soon, one that is definitely not passed off as "gas" but instead "Wow, that was the baby moving!" For now, I'm waiting patiently and constantly checking. (Patiently for me, anyway.)
I'm now just past 17 weeks along, and I feel happily porkchoppy. My belly, though popped out and my waist is quickly disappearing, is firm and solid and feels so warm to the touch.
Diabetes-wise, my numbers have settled down a little bit. The lows aren't nearly as frantic as they were, and the overnight ones have tapered off, thanks to some slight basal adjustments. (Granted, I have 6 different basals rates throughout the day ...) I'm going to bed at a number around 90 mg/dl and waking up around 80 mg/dl, with the Dexcom confirming a flatline all night long. And believe me - I'm not boasting in the slightest. These numbers are blowing my mind, and I've never had such solid control before. My last A1C, taken two weeks ago, came back at 6.1%, which is officially the lowest I have been since my diagnosis in 1986. A few highs have crept back into the rotation, but I'm stalking them and they don't hang around for more than an hour or two. Again, this isn't because I'm doing "all the right things" or because I'm suddenly paying rapt attention - something about this baby is making my numbers fluctuate less wildly. I have heard some horror stories about insulin resistance and the third trimester, so I'm going to stay very thankful for this steady second trimester.
One thing I'm having a little trouble with is keeping my insulin pump sites stuck to my body. I'm changing my site every three days like clockwork, but with all the lotion and moisturizer I'm slathering on my itchy, stretching belly, the infusion sets aren't holding like they used to. I'm currently wearing them on my lower back, but I need to rotate out to my arm more frequently in efforts to use a little more real estate (and also so I can finally and properly rub my hips with this fine smelling cocoa butter!).
This is going by so fast. In a week, I'll be at the halfway point in this pregnancy, and I can't believe how quickly this is happening. Next week we'll also hopefully find out whether this BSparl is a BoySparl or a GirlSparl, providing they aren't being all shy in there during the ultrasound. And also for next week, we're hoping to have an announcement of an entirely different kind, so just bear with me while I spazz out for the remainder of the month of November - it's a wild time in the Sparling household!
Last week, on Twitter, Elizabeth Arnold posted a link to a photo that made my whole body cringe and I instinctively said, "Oh crap, THAT thing?" (I'm stealing and reposting this photo here, but the original photo credit belongs to Cardinal Health.)
Behold - The Guillotine:
This photo made me shudder because I remember this lancing device clearly. It was the first one I ever used, outside of having my finger pricked by the nurses with the lancet alone, and I remember the shunk sound it made as it came careening towards my fingertip. It wasn't the standard shunk we know now - this sucker would have to be cocked back like a rifle, and once it clicked loudly into place, you had to hit that button on the back to release the spring-loaded lancet. And it wasn't just spring-loaded - The Guillotine had an agenda. It would come screaming over the top of the curve and embed itself into your fingertip, and it was all my mother could do to keep my hand pressed against that little plastic circle at the bottom there.
I hated it. It scared the crap out of me, and even though more humane lancing devices were introduced soon after my diagnosis, The Guillotine lived in our house much longer than I'd care to admit. Even the lancets looked like little harpoons.
Back in 1986, diabetes technology wasn't completely archaic (I was dx'd after disposable syringes were used, and way after pumps were the size of backpacks), but it wasn't comfortable in the slightest for a second grader. That Guillotine still makes me cringe, even 23 years later, and I'm increasingly thankful for every little advancement we've seen over the last two decades.
Because I mean, really. Look at that thing. OUCH!!
As I'm working hard to build a healthy baby, my appreciation for my own mom grows every day. Tonight, I'm revisiting a post from when I first started blogging in 2005, acknowledging just a few of the things that she did to make diabetes feel "normal."
* * *
For my mother...
Thank you for driving me to Joslin, even though you didn’t know the way. And for continuing to take me, despite how scared you were to make that lethal left hand turn onto Pilgrim Street to get to the parking garage.
Thank you for Clara Barton Camp, for sending me there. Spending summers with other diabetic children and counselors made me feel less alone and isolated. And made me confident enough to talk openly about my diabetes. To anyone.
Thank you for hiding ice cream sandwiches in the boxes of frozen peas and Ring Dings in the laundry cupboard so that I wouldn’t eat them. I know you were trying to protect me, but you’ve also provided me with stories that make my friends laugh so hard they cry.
Thank you for being patient with my nasty low blood sugar reactions – when I would throw bowls of cereal or cups of juice at you in my hypoglycemic rage. Or tell you I hated you. Or scream empty, desperate words of fury as my blood sugar plummeted. You know I never meant any of it. Not a word.
Thank you for being patient with the high levels, as well. When I had eaten something I shouldn’t have, or had skipped my shot on purpose. You kicked the plastic container on the floor when I was 385 mg/dl instead of yelling at me. You never said “Why are you doing this?” but instead “How can we stop?”
Thank you for trying with me. Walking to the benchmark on Watch Hill Road, traipsing down to the Harbour House with ice cream as a reward, or just going around the block a few times. You would tie your jacket around your waist, tuck a pack of crackers in your pocket, and talk to me about anything but diabetes as we strided confidently towards good control.
Thank you for crying with me. When I was frustrated. Or devastated. Or overwhelmed. Or lost. You said it was okay to cry. And that it was scary. You were scared, too. But I would be okay.
Thank you for making me feel normal. For not allowing insulin injections or blood sugar testing to come between me and my childhood. When Jill asked me to sleep over for her birthday party in second grade and I wasn’t doing my own shots yet, you drove to her house that night, before cake was served, and gave me my shot. And you came back, early in the morning, to give me my breakfast injection. I was diabetic, but they couldn’t tell by looking at me. They just couldn’t tell.
Thank you for letting me wake up Easter morning to see a basket that looked just like Darrell’s or Courtney’s, save for the fact that the contents of mine were sugar free.
Thank you for making my soul as healthy as my body. You understood that the disease is not just a matter of injections and beta cells, but also emotional strength and perseverance. You helped make me strong, in ways that translated far outside the reaches of diabetes.
Thank you for being certain that I would survive. I know you were scared when I was diagnosed. I was only six. But you were strong and seemed so confident that I would be okay, so I didn’t worry. And I believed you.
And you were right.
I love you very much, Mom.
(If you're looking for fodder for a post, grab this meme and run with it!)
1. Where is your cell phone? Hands.
2. Your significant other? Talented.
3. Your Hair? Long.
4. Your Skin? Clean.
5. Your mother? Loved.
6. Your favorite thing? BSparl.
7. Your dream last night? Nonexistent.
8. Your favorite drink? Water.
9. Your dream/goal? Happy.
10. The room you’re in? Theater.
11. Your ex? Gentle.
12. Your fear? Unhappiness.
13.Where do you want to be in 6 years? Older.
14.Where were you last night? Bar. (Drinking water. I'm a cheap date.)
15.What you’re not? Hyper.
17.One of your wish list items? Bsparl!!
18.Where you grew up? Rhody.
19.The last thing you did? Laughed.
20.What are you wearing? Scarf.
21.Your TV? Home.
22.Your pets? Dim.
23. Your computer? New.
24. Your life? Changing.
25. Your mood? Calm.
26. Missing someone? Grammie.
27. Your car? Black.
28. Something you’re not wearing? Distress. (I'm wearing dat dress instead.)
29. Favorite Store? Mall.
30. Your summer? Best.
31. Like someone? Plenty.
32. Your favorite color? Green.
33. When is the last time you laughed? Recently.
34. Last time you cried? Today.
35. Who will respond to this? Bloggers?
36. Whose answers are you anxious to see? Siah's!
I loved my HP laptop. Loved. Seventeen inches (size matters) of shiny screen with plenty of memory and all my photos and my videos and my writing on it ... it was the technological embodiment of my life as a blogger and I took it with me everywhere. Blood sugar logs throughout the course of my pre-pregnancy and now-pregnancy, drafts of articles I haven't finished yet, and a cache of photos spanning four or five years back.
But last week, the whole thing went kaput on me.
It started at the beginning of October, when the browser windows started to crash on me. Then I received "low memory" warnings, prompting me to back up all of my files on my 500 GB hard drive and delete crap from my laptop hard drive. "That should do it, " I mused, hopefully.
But then things started disappearing. Photo edits slipped right off my desktop as soon as I saved them there. Spreadsheets went from functioning to melting every time my mouse went near them. Word docs became skittish, hiding in the trash without my permission. Photoshop crashed. My video editing software died. And then, my email seized.
After a slew of curse words and frantic backing up of the contents on my laptop before smoke started to stream out the sides, I made a very, very rash decision to replace my laptop.
So I've crossed over to the other side. I bought a Macbook Pro, seduced by that little light up Apple logo and the promise of no viruses. Brandy new, full of room for my stuff, and way above my pay grade. But I'm considering this a business investment, or at least pretending it's one.
I have to admit - I feel a bit like a sell-out. I liked my PC, and I am still planning to have it fully crashed and rebuilt. All of my Dexcom software is on my PC and most of my diabetes-related programs only run on a PC. (Note to diabetes software developers - maybe you'd like to think about making stuff for a Mac?) I've never been the "OMG I must have an iPhone" and I'm perfectly happy with headphones that AREN'T white, but after working on an iMac at dLife for a few years, I did have a chance to see how fluid the Macs are when it comes to video editing, design stuff, and overall smooth usage. So with a PC netbook in our house and a few other PCs floating around, I wanted to make the change to the ol' Apple.
Honestly, I do love it. :) There's something so nice about a completely clean computer, one without all the error messages that my wounded PC was throwing for the last few weeks. It just feels like an upgrade from my four year old PC laptop. I'm not going full-Mac, but I am embracing the new computer and all it's jazzy features. Only tricky part is that I need to replace my design software with the Mac version, but other than that, I'm ready to roll with this new Macbook.
Any of you guys make the switch from PC to Mac? Do you feel those pangs for Windows at all, or am I just being weird? What do I need to do to make sure I'm using this machine to its fullest capability? Are there any websites you'd recommend? Is iMovie where it's at for video editing, or is there something else I should be using? Anything I should be careful NOT to do? Newbie Mac'er here, and would love the advice.
When in doubt about what you really want to write, go with a bloopers video. If nothing else, it will become clear why these segments never made it into an actual vlog post. :) (But doesn't explain why I'm talking about books for no reason, what's with the cursing streak, why the cat is on the toilet, and why Abby is impersonating the MGM lion.)
BSparl is getting bigger. (And so am I.)
I spent a lot of time planning this pregnancy, starting from back in 2003 when I decided to go on an insulin pump. And even though preparation didn't begin in earnest until Chris and I were married, having a child has always been something I've wanted with my whole heart. So I read up on what to expect, and what to do to help improve my diabetes control, and what prenatal vitamins to take.
What I didn't do much research on was the actual pregnancy itself.
I didn't expect the low blood sugars that hit hard and fast in the first trimester. I had heard that I could run a bit lower, but I didn't think my blood sugar and my age would be in sync so often. And I also didn't expect the exhaustion of the first three months. I had heard that I'd be "sleepy," but I didn't think I'd be driving home from work on my lunch break to take a nap, and then to collapse back into bed right after work for another hour or two.
I also didn't expect the weight gain to affect me so emotionally. I'm starting to feel like a porkchop. (Thrilled to be pregnant, but shocked by how fast I'm growing.)
I've never been a twiggy little thing, but I have managed to fight the fat that seems to want to cling to my body and instead maintain a healthy, slightly athletic build. (And for those of you who have ever seen me play sports, I'm begging you to stop laughing. Just let me go with this, okay?) Just never skinny, and never without hips or thighs. The gym and I needed to be friendly in order for me to stay in any kind of shape. And with the help of Chris's dedication to his own workout routine, I have been holding steady for the last five or six years.
Except for the last few months. Because my beloved BSparl is rocking my world with this whole weight gain thing. Today, I'm four months and 2 days pregnant, and since finding out I was pregnant on August 31st, I've gained 8 lbs. May not sound like a big deal, but it's definitely an adjustment, not being able to button my jeans (for weeks now) and living in the blue sweatpants I snagged from the Gap. The weight isn't all just in the belly, either. I can feel it on my hips, in my arms, and in my face. And now, in the second trimester, I've entered the "pound a week" club, which means that by the end of this pregnancy, I could end up gaining almost 40 pounds.
Chris reminds me constantly that this isn't "fat," but "pregnancy." And it's what's supposed to happen. My doctor says the same thing. And believe me, I eat when hungry and I'm not taking any measures to skip meals or skimp on calories. Even if I gain 40 pounds, so long as my baby is healthy, it's a win.
What frustrates me are the empty calories I had to consume in the first trimester, which caused me to gain a lot of that weight. Gulps of grape juice almost every night to treat low blood sugars, glucose tabs by the jar, and an influx of fruit carbs (which were among the only kinds of foods that would keep me over 100 mg/dl for more than an hour) - it's all showing on the scale. Diabetes is making this pregnancy difficult, and excessive weight gain only adds to it. And for me, the weight is making me feel a little emotionally bummed out.
Exercising is only just now starting to return to my regimen, since I'm not fall-down tired anymore. Chris and I have been going for bike rides on the bike train down the street from our house, and we're clocking in a good 7 - 8 miles easily, which makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. That, coupled with the ellipmachine that I'm trying to use a few times a week (while watching Glee and Family Guy on Hulu - love Hulu) is making me feel like I'm at least getting some movement in. It's just an uphill battle. And honestly, seeing all the magazines with the stupid celebrities who are "Back in their skinny jeans just 10 days after giving birth!!!" makes me want to put blinders on when I am in the grocery store checkout line.
What's the point of this post? I'm not even sure. I'm just ranting, I think. I'm having a hard time adjusting to getting bigger, and I know this is only the beginning.
But Chris, again, reminds me of what matters. He puts his hands on my belly and makes me focus. "This is our baby. And you are doing everything you can to protect him. [Or her.] Stop worrying about the way you look and enjoy this. You've worked so hard for this."
What can I say - the guy has a point. And when I look in the mirror and see that blooming bump, I can't help but picture the baby growing inside of me, and how smitten I am already with this kid.
Love you, BSparl. All 40 lbs of you. :)
(I am almost POSITIVE I've used that pun before, but blast - I'm going with it.)
Seeing as how I'm going to be a mommy next year (holy crap), I'm in full-on nesting mode at the house. I make the bed every morning. I do laundry and have actually found myself attempting to whistle whilst doing said laundry. And I'm even making efforts at cooking food.
For those of you who know me in person, I'm sure your eyes are the size of saucers. I KNOW, right? Cooking? Me? What the hell is going on??
It's the BSparl. This teeny baby had hit my "domestic goddess" switch, and even though I come with faulty wiring in that department, I'm trying. At the very least, this baby will have plenty of clean onsies and a belly full of Jell-O.
One item that we've been making a lot since the move is chili. Chili seems to be, for me, one of those magical foods that doesn't give me much of a spike at all, and all the fiber and meaty goodness keeps me feeling full. (Which is a bonus when BSparl is urging me to eat every two hours or so.) Here's a quick rundown of what goes in the pot:
1 package of lean ground turkey
1 package of chili seasoning (we like the Old El Paso one)
1 10 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 can of white cannellini beans
1 can of black beans
I can of kidney beans
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1 block of sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper (no Spinderella in this recipe)
This past weekend played host to World Diabetes Day, and there were so many cool diabetes advocacy events that I can barely keep up. Here's a run-down of just some of the WDD events that took place across the blogosphere:
For me, my focus was turned to something entirely less diabetes-related: my best friend's baby shower. I spent the last few weeks making one of her gifts (thanks to plenty of time in airplanes -makes for quality crocheting time):
And she liked it. :)
And then preparing for and celebrating the day with her and her family this weekend. It was a nice baby shower for a beautiful mommy-to-be. (And I can't wait for her baby to be my baby's best buddy. Circle of life, indeed!)
We bought a crinkly tube cat toy to keep the cats occupied during our attempt to train them to stay out of the bedroom (in preparation for BSparl's arrival). More on that later, once I figure out how to actually keep them out of the damn room.
Siah has claimed it as hers. She sits in it for hours, forgetting how to get out.
She looks like a dim little "cat"-erpillar, waiting to transform into a pain-in-the-butterfly.
Happy Sunday. ;)
Happy World Diabetes Day to my friends in the diabetes community!!!
Tomorrow is World Diabetes Day. While my best friend's baby shower is this weekend and I'll be busy preparing for and helping with that event, I know there are lots of events taking place to celebrate the big, blue circle (including the Big Blue Test ... more on that later).
But today is just another day in diabetes management, and it happens to be another endocrinologist appointment for me and the ol' BSparl. BSparl is getting bigger, as evidenced here:
I am now sporting my first baby bump, and it's becoming more and more pronounced every day. (Pronounced baaabeee buuuhmp.) Clothes don't fit, maternity jeans are necessary, and when I zip up my sweatshirt to head down to the gym, the zipper strains a bit over my belly.
But is it all baby? Or could it be some weight from treating all these lows?
One of the things I'm talking to my endocrinologist about today is low blood sugar. Specifically, the crazy-ass low blood sugars I've been experiencing over the last four months. The other night, I woke up to the BEEEEEEP! of the Dexcom and a pool of sweat in my clavicle. Blood sugar was 33 mg/dl, and I wasn't even entertained by the Larry Bird reference.
Instead, aside from the sweat, I was completely symptom free. And that scares the hell out of me, because there have been several lows in the last few weeks that clocked in under 50 mg/dl without a single symptom. Last week, it was a 29 mg/dl that just sprang up on me, and even yesterday I had a 41 mg/dl with my only symptom as thirst.
THIRST? That is my low symptom now? Come on, diabetes. That doesn't even make any sense!!
In preparation for my Joslin appointment today, I have two weeks worth of blood sugars all logged and ready to roll, and as I was printing out the logbooks, I noticed that there isn't a single trend. These lows are cropping up at 3 am, 10 am, 4 in the afternoon, while I shower, while I'm at the grocery store, during conference calls ... you name it. No reason for these pesky lows (and also no reason why I shouldn't just buy stock in glucose tabs, seeing as how I've wrecked through a bottle in the last week alone). Plenty of other type 1 diabetic women who have been pregnant have told me about the epic low blood sugars they've experienced, but I had no idea what they meant until the 20's and 30's started pestering me at all hours of the day.
I have high hopes that my endo can help me peel back some of these lows without sacrificing the excellent post-prandials that I've been working my butt off to achieve. I'm willing to let my A1C creep up a bit in order to bring my machine average back up into the triple digits. I just need some help in making these lows stop.
(I also have high hopes that I can stop sleeping with a bottle of honey next to my bed, because when I slap my hand against that instead of the alarm clock, it's all sticky.)
Woman to her yapping dog: "Stop acting like such an animal!"
- Overheard in the elevator, heading to the gym.
The second trimester (not semester, as I keep mistakenly saying) is in full swing. According to the baby books I am reading daily, it's time to start putting on 1/2 a pound to a pound a week - oh what a weird concept!!! For those of you who have been reading me for a few years, you know I work hard to keep the poundage OFF, so the concept of gleefully adding 20lbs in the next 22 weeks is foreign to me.
The weight gain is a weird adjustment. I log in to the What to Expect (When You're Expecting) site daily to see the progress of the BSparl and because it helps me keep track of how far along I actually am. I'm now in the 16th week of my pregnancy and the site says the following:
"It's hard to watch yourself gain weight during pregnancy, even when you know there's a wonderful reason for it. The challenge, though, is to try to embrace your body's new shape and think of every pound you put on as a sign of good health for you and your baby. As long as you eat right during pregnancy (minimize junk and maximize nutrient-dense foods) and get regular exercise, you'll be fine in the long run. Remember, every woman is different and gains (and loses) at her own pace."
Eating right has been a little bit of a challenge because what I'm craving is changing hour to hour, it seems. Earlier in my pregnancy, I could have devoured an entire fruit stand in a week, craving anything with a high volume of vitamin C in it. Kiwis, orange juice (yes, with pulp!), blackberries, and raspberries by the fistful. Healthy choices, right? But now, with about 7 lbs on board already and closing in on the fourth month of BSparl, my tastes are turning towards less ... diabetes friendly options, shall we say.
Like the other night.
"I want a McDonald's cheeseburger, like you read about." I said this to Chris from the safety of our home, away from the tempting glow of any golden arches.
"Really??" He knows I'm not one for fast food, especially McDonald's.
"Yup. It's twisted."
The thing about that craving is that it didn't go away. No sir ... that one was on board for 72 hours, until Monday, when Chris and I were coming back from an errand and I knew there was a McDonald's around the corner.
"Dude, I'm caving."
He grinned. (He finds this whole thing amusing, from the potbelly to the bizarre things I want to eat now.) "It's time."
While he waited in the car, I ran into McDonald's and ordered a cheeseburger from the lady behind the counter.
"One cheeseburger, please!" I think I looked euphoric. I must have.
"One cheeseburger, happy lady?"
"One cheeseburger for the happy lady!" she said, punching the order into her register and calling back to the guys in the back.
"Cheeseburger coming up!" A minute later, the cheeseburger I'd been craving slid down the counter and was tossed into a paper bag.
"Cheeseburger for the happy lady!"
"Thank you!" (Everyone speaks in exclamation points at this McDonald's, apparently. And there's nothing wrong with being the "happy lady," in my opinion.)
I went out to the car, my face glowing with pregnancy cheeseburger happiness. Chris was already laughing at me, but I can't care. This is part of the process, I guess, all this very odd food stuff. I bolused 3.5 units for this culinary disaster and ate it in one gulp. An hour later, 109 mg/dl.
I swear BSparl was in there, clapping his little hands, the whole time.
Oh, the diabetes interwebs have some things to share ... so here's a few I wanted to make sure I passed on to you guys.
Over the weekend, I saw a sneak peek of the final Making Sense of Diabetes video, brought to us by the Diabetes Hands Foundation. (But for Gina and I, in the hotel lobby, it was bought to us by Manny and his laptop.) I have to admit - and these aren't the pregnancy hormones talking - this video brought me to tears. Not necessarily because it's depressing, but more because it's inspiring. The people featured in this video are people with diabetes, and they're sharing the intimate details of what their life is like. I'll admit it, I cried a little. And Manny and Gina hugged me. (Whoa, holy digression but bear with me, I'm an emotional mess this morning. But the point is: I needed a hug after watching that.) Enough chatter: Watch this video. You'll find inspiration, even if you aren't looking for it.
Also, last night I had the chance to "hang out" with Chris from A Consequence of Hypoglycemia on his podcast, Just Talking. Admittedly, I thought it would be tough to fill an hour with "just talking," but Chris (iam_spartacus) is cool and keeps the conversation flowing, despite the fact that we've never actually spoken before. It's an hour's worth of random chatter (including some sound-effect editing over the less than desirable language), touching upon diabetes-centric stuff, the Red Sox/Yankees battle that wages in my own home, #voltron, BSparl, Buried, stupid Siah, and my grandmother's obsession with Orville Redenbacher. (Please excuse the phone that keeps ringing in the background. It was making me NUTS.)
And Elizabeth Edelman (from Diabetes Daily) has created a diabetes cookbook just in time for the holidays. It's called Thanksgiving with Diabetes: 17 Lower Carb Recipes Your Family Will Love and it is AWESOME. The recipes look delicious, the photos are gorgeous, and Elizabeth Edelman is a staple of our diabetes community, so please visit Diabetes Daily and check out this fantastic endeavor.
That's all I've got. I'm out!
Over the weekend, I found myself on a plane again. Yes, another xanax-free trip at 33,000 feet, this time heading to Fort Lauderdale, FL for the Diabetes 2.0 conference, put on by the Diabetes Research Institute.
Three quick things:
First, never watch the Disney movie "Up" while on a plane and pregnant. I found myself sniffling and crying to the opening of that movie, headphones in my ear and my hands clutched firmly around the BSparl. Oh Disney, you made one sad, lovely cartoon, my friends.
Secondly, Tom Karlya (far right in that first photo and dapper as can be in his yellow tie) was responsible for wrangling in all the bloggers and he was a wonderful host. Thank you, Tom, for everything.
Thirdly, and most importantly, if you want to see where a diabetes cure may be born, it's time to take a tour of the Diabetes Research Institute.
I've had type 1 diabetes for a long time, and over the last two decades, I've seen a lot of doctors. I've also done a lot of diabetes walks, received plenty of mail asking for donations, and have been more recently exposed to every possible snippet of public relations "awareness" campaigns for diabetes. But in all my years at Joslin and all my exposure to the info (for better or for worse) out there, I've never seen an actual research lab. Sure, Joslin has them in the building, but I'm always rushing to make my endocrinologist appointments on time - I've never been invited to tour the research floors.
But at the DRI, that's just what we did. Diabetes bloggers and advocates, pictured above, hung out with research scientists and talked about exactly what was being done to move us towards a cure for type 1 diabetes. Over the course of our three days at the DRI, we saw the research labs, heard about the newest advancements in cure technology, and attended presentations about the science behind a cure. Some of us even spoke at panels of our own, talking about the impact of the diabetes community on our personal lives, and sharing our diabetes stories with the folks who attended the conference. (We also Tweeted the hell out of this.)
Bob Pearlman, the President and CEO of the DRI, said this, and it stuck in my head and stayed there all weekend long: "Our happiest day will be when we take our name off the door and go do something else."
These guys are cure driven, and their mission remains true - cure diabetes.
I had the pleasure of speaking on the Connecting Online panel, with Manny Hernandez, Jeff Hitchcock, Scott Strumello, and Ellen Ullman. We talked about the needs filled by online connections (can you say "massive support network?"), how being online has helped us cope with a life with diabetes, how the online community has impacted our diabetes care, and what we thought of the DRI.
Jeff, our moderator, gave us the questions in advance, except for that last one. (And the one where he asked us about our blog traffic numbers - tsk tsk. That's like asking a lady her weight! ;) ) So, while on the spot and being asked about our DRI host, I managed to put my foot in my mouth yet again.
"I've received all the press releases about the 'cured diabetic mouse,' but today I actually got to see the mouse. The cured mouse! Seeing and meeting the people who are actually working to cure diabetes was like receiving a golden ticket and getting to see inside the Chocolate Factory ... whoops, that's a bad pun ... but it's amazing to see the cure in action."
Thankfully, people were patient with my bad turn of phrase, and they laughed, but I did mean it. Seeing things like islet cell encapsulation devices and the sterile rooms where islet cells and pancreases are actually transplanted was amazing. I'm not big on waiting for that cure and assuming that a biological cure for diabetes will come to pass in my lifetime, but I actually left the DRI with some hope. Maybe if not for me, then for the baby that grows inside of me.
Thanks to the Diabetes Research Institute for flying us down, putting us up, and listening to everything we had to say. I'm grateful to have been a part of this conference, and I'm really excited to see what kinds of developments come from the DRI in the next few years.
And before Chris and I flew home to Boston, we spent an hour lounging in hammocks outside of the hotel. It was a very relaxing way to end an inspiring weekend. (We also saw lizards. But that's not exactly relevant. They were big, though!)
(One last thing - to Juliana, the very nice dentist who I met after the panel. THANK YOU for your card and for your very kind words. It was a pleasure to meet you! Good luck with your A1C, and I hope to see you again at another event!)
The first time we saw him (or her), it was at the emergency room back in Connecticut. We were only seven weeks into the pregnancy and barely had caught our breath from finding out when the bleeding happened and I panicked. We spent five hours in the emergency room, poked and prodded and with an IV line at the ready, only to finally be wheeled into the ultrasound room.
"Just relax, Mrs. Sparling. And we'll take a look and see if everything is okay."
And the screen switched on and Chris and I saw our baby's heartbeat, strong and steady and fast, beating inside of me. Everything changed forever, even though nothing had changed yet.
The bleeding stopped that day, and we moved forward, cautiously, frightened, and so hopeful. A few weeks later, my mother and I (Chris was in LA on business) were at my Joslin appointment for the first "official" ultrasound, hoping to see the baby growing strong and steadily.
"Oh, there it is. There's your baby. Those parts there at the end? The feet. Those are the little feet, ready to kick."
And I watched as the teeny, hamster-looking creature inside of me kicked his little feet. So small. So ... surreal. I couldn't wait to see him again.
Two weeks ago, Chris and I were at the Joslin Clinic for the first of a few second trimester ultrasounds, and from what my eight months pregnant best friend had already told me, this ultrasound was very different than the first one. "It looks like an actual baby at that point," she said, her blue eyes wide.
Chris and I talked with Dr. T, the OB/GYN, for a while about how I've been feeling, my numbers, and overall how the pregnancy is progressing.
"I feel good. Tired a lot, and doing a bit more traveling than I'm used to these days, but I'm feeling better now that I'm in the second trimester and past that fall-down exhausted bit from the first couple months."
"Good, sounds like you're doing great. So ... wanna see the baby?"
I hopped up on the examining table and Chris took a seat by the ultrasound monitor as Dr. T. moved in with the external ultrasound wand. "A little bit of this warm gel right on your belly and ... okay, there we go!"
On the screen was a baby. A whole baby, all big-headed and waving arms and kicking legs. Our baby. Hands with fingers, legs with knees. This baby looked like a real baby.
"Oh my God, is that him? He's so big!" I couldn't believe this was the same little hamster from just a month or so ago. He took up the entire space of my uterus, which was a big change from all the room he appeared to have a month ago. Now he looked like he was out of room in there (and I knew that meant my own expansion was coming fast).
"Yes, that's the baby. Calling him a 'him,' are you? We'll find that out next month, right?"
I watched as the baby turned and squirmed, raising his arms up and his body lurching just a little bit every few seconds.
"Dr. T, does he have the hiccups in there?"
She looked closely and smiled. "Yes, that looks rhythmic and steady. Looks like hiccups to me. Would you like to hear the heartbeat?"
She turned a knob on the ultrasound machine and suddenly the room was filled with a steady whump whump whump sound - the sound of our child's heartbeat. It was incredible, hearing my own heart thudding in my ears with excitement as my baby fluttered along inside of me. Chris held my hand as I brought the other one up to my eyes to catch the tears that collected there.
Two heartbeats, both inside of me.
And today, on D-Blog Day, I wanted to share this story with you guys. You have been with me from when Chris and I first moved in together, back when the dream of a heartbeat other than my own was something I only hoped to one day hear. Now, every day that passes brings BSparl closer and closer to meeting his mom and dad.
When I was diagnosed, they said that children would be near impossible for me. And while I know that nothing is certain until that baby is in my arms, I am already so proud of where we've come, as a Sparling family and as an even larger diabetes community. We have hope now, hope for lives that are wonderful and meaningful, despite diabetes. Diabetes is a heavy load to carry, but with the support we get from this community, the burden is so much lighter.
Happy D-Blog Day, you guys. And thanks for being part of my extended family.
If someone took this:
and threw it in the dryer with this:
It would become this:
Abby looks like she's made out of a melted peanut butter cup.
That is all.
This cartoon took FOREVER to make, complete with bouncing chocolate chip cookie and a broccoli tree, and it's pretty terrible. But it still makes me laugh. So I'm revisiting this one - The Diabetes Police video.
I'm in my last batch of travel for this round - thank goodness - but I've been really short on time lately and it's been tough to post. So I did a quick comb through the SUM archives and I'm revisiting some of my favorite posts from back in the day. This one, An Open Letter to my Pancreas, originally ran on November 15, 2006. (Before my wedding, as you can tell by the old "Morrone" there in the return address!)
I’m not sure what the hell happened to you, but you’ve taken it upon yourself to stop working. You did have that job for about six years, where you got up early every day and produced my insulin, but apparently that was too much for you. You were laid off or fired or something. Don’t blame it on that virus again. I think you just slept through the alarm and were let go and you just don’t want to admit it.
All you do is sit around, hiding out behind my stomach, reading smut novels and watching reruns of The Facts of Life. Sure, you push out the occasional juices and you can sound important when you talk about “trypsinogen” and “chymotrypsinogen,” but you and I both know that you don’t do much. It’s not even like you empty the dishwasher or anything. The least you could do, after I’ve been testing blood sugar levels and bolusing all day long, is have dinner on the table when I come home. Is that too much to ask?
Oh no, you’d rather just sit there like a bump on the duodenum, letting me do all the work. Don’t worry, Pancreas, I’ll make sure I count the carbohydrates in every little scrap of food and bolus accordingly. No, no, don’t get up. God forbid you raise an islet these days to let me have a cup of coffee.
And I don’t care that you’re jealous of The Pump. I’m sick of listening to you whine about it. “She gets all the attention.” “Everyone loves her best.” “You never made me a special pocket in your skirt.” Sigh ... Pancreas, if you would just do your job, I could toss The Pump forever.
Remember what it was like when you were working? How happy we were? I was playing outside and drinking the Bug Juice Kool-Aide that Grammie made and you were secreting insulin and everything was cool. We had fun, didn’t we? Just you and I? A Girl and her Pancreas? No pump, no measuring cups, no medic alert bracelet. Just you and me.
And now this: Unemployed. Lazy. Would it kill you to even just make some glucagon? Or maybe cover a meal or two?
I miss the way things used to be.
That’s it: you need to find a job. I’ve had just about enough of this. Tomorrow morning, we’re going to load your resume onto Monster and see what happens. I know that the Wonkas are always looking for help.
A few days ago, I noticed a hairline fracture in my insulin pump, starting right underneath the "Esc" button and stemming down into the insulin reservoir window.
And the day after I noticed it, the crack spidered out just a teeny bit more. It's weird - I am actually able to look at this crack and think, "Wow, how did that happen," forgetting that the insulin pump is attached to me, literally, twenty-four hours a day. I could have banged into a door jam (not that I ever do that - nope, not me), dropped the pump on the floor, jostled it against a bag or a package, or, for all I know, Siah could have gone at the thing with a hammer. No telling how this little pump ended up wounded.
I called the Minimed customer service line and pleaded my case. Thankfully, since my pump is under warranty until 2011, they said they'd overnight a new pump my way.
"It's a refurbished model," the slightly sleepy-sounding service rep told me, and I could hear her fingers tapping against her computer keyboard as she typed up our discussion.
"Not a problem. I've had one once before."
I'm all for recycling, and I also believe in the value of "certified, pre-owned" merchandise. But I thought about the places that this pump has been with me. This one insulin pump was built into my wedding dress, traveled to Spain and visited a movie set with me, and has been a part of my first pregnancy. It comes to bed with me every night and it has been tucked close against my body for countless hours at a time.
Kind of intimate for a machine, eh?
I can't help but wonder where this refurbished pump has been. Is it from across the country, maybe a California pump? Has it ever experienced a freezing cold New England winter? Has it ever been with a woman before? Can it tolerate my stupid cats? (Can it survive awkward me?)
The new pump is scheduled to arrive in about an hour, just in time for me to swap out my old pump before heading to Florida for the DRI's Diabetes 2.0 conference. And I'll send the old one back to be refurbished and distributed to another clumsy PWD.
Thanks for the quick turnaround, Minimed! I'm off to Florida!
UPDATE: Just kidding. Minimed missed the overnight and now the pump is arriving tomorrow. But I won't be able to access it until I return on Sunday afternoon. Here's hoping this cracked pump can make it until then. Minimed - FAIL.
I think this video is brilliant, and I'm not just saying that because I adore these two fellas. George and Scott teamed up to create a Making Sense of Diabetes video for TuDiabetes and they focused on taste ... showing how we, as people with diabetes, don't get to taste much of anything without embarkng on some kind of blood sugar testing, carb calculating, math confusion adventure.
As I said - brilliant. These guys raise awareness using humor, but boy does this message resonate. See for yourself:
During my endocrinologist appointment last week, I brought up that itchy, scratchy Lovenox rash to my OB/GYN, Dr. T. And she wasn’t comfortable with how my body reacted.
“That rash is from two weeks ago? How does it feel now?”
“Less itchy, that’s for sure. But it got all hivey and wouldn’t relax, not for about a week. It itched like mad.”
“I don’t like that. I don’t want you to continue to take Lovenox, especially if it gave you that reaction. Who knows how bad the reaction could be the next time? I want to switch you to something else.” She started to write on my chart. “Heparin could be another alternative for you.”
“Okay, what’s the difference?”
She told me that both Lovenox and Heparin are large-molecule drugs that don’t pass into the placenta, so Bsparl is safe, and also that they both serve the same purpose: to protect me and my baby from blood clots (the risk of which increases with both Factor V and pregnancy).
But you guys know how I am by now. I feel weird taking extra drugs, and I’m very conservative about adding more and more Rxs to my daily routine. Also, consulting with Dr. Google brings me all this scary information about how Heparin is a category C drug, meaning it could have effects on the baby. I don't know what's what, but I do know that I need to trust my doctor and her years of experience over a Google search. (Right now, I'm wondering if I can bypass these drugs altogether and just work out in the airplane bathroom for the whole flight. Kidding. Sort of.)
Yet I still find myeslf feeling uneasy, and looking to see if any of you have had personal experience with Heparin. I'm very WTF about this and confused as can be. Right now, I’m only on insulin, pre-natal vitamins, and blood pressure meds (don’t worry – safe for baby), but according to Dr. T, I’ll be taking something to help protect me from clots for six weeks after BSparl is born. (Great.) So now is a good time to figure out what works best for me.
Once again, I’m clueless about what to expect. I’m sorry to keep pestering you guys with all these questions, but when it comes to anything other than insulin, I’m lost. When I wrote about Lovenox before, you guys were invaluable and I learned a ton (even brought some of it up to my doctor). Now I’m asking once more – has anyone ever taken Heparin? Any weird, itchy side effects? Any burning at the injection site? Any … anything?
(And BSparl says hi. He just sent a messenger pigeon to me from the womb. He is baking cookies in there. Busy little peanut.)
Last week, I toddled my pregnant self up to the Joslin Clinic for my endocrinologist appointment and an ultrasound with my OB/Gyn. And as excited as I was about the ultrasound and the opportunity for Chris and I to see our baby kicking around in there (more on that later), I was just as excited about the H1N1 vaccine.
I can't believe I'm saying that, either. Yes, this is the same Kerri who wrote about feeling "eh" about the flu shot a few weeks ago. But a few things have come to light in the last couple weeks that have changed my outlook on things.
Like the fact that the Joslin Clinic has been riding me about getting this shot because of my high-risk situation, being both type 1 and pregnant.
Or the fact that every healthcare professional I spoke with at last week's ePatient conference kept asking me, "You are getting the H1N1, right?" and the look of concern when I said, "I haven't received mine, yet."
Or the very scary fact that pregnant women, regardless of any chronic illness, are singled out as one of the highest risk groups out there.
I'm not one to leap without looking. But I'm also not one to put my baby at risk if I can help it, so when Joslin said there was an H1N1 vaccine available to me, I jumped at the chance to get it. Seems like this vaccine, for some completely ridiculous reason, is not being made readily available to people who need or want it, so if there was one available to me, I was taking it.
It was unnerving, knowing they were injecting me with a virus. A dead one, of course, but still, with all the information circulating out there about the pros and cons of the H1N1 vircus, it's hard to know what's true and what's just speculation. Or, unfortunately, what's purely fabrication. In any event, when I heard about a little girl in my home state who, at the age of 12 had being diagnosed with H1N1 and then died from it just a few days later, it was enough to scare me into rapid and determined action.
But even at the Joslin Clinic, I had to jump through a few hoops in order to be viewed as "eligible."
"No, I'm sorry. That vaccine is only for patients who are 24 weeks pregnant and up."
"Really?" I said, my hands against the counter. "I was told that being 14 weeks and also having type 1 diabetes made me a shoe-in for this vaccine. It's like my prize for being the in double risk pool. So there isn't one for me?"
She checked her chart again. "Type 1? 14 weeks? Okay, you can have a seat over there and we'll call you in for your injection in just a few minutes."
It felt so odd, fighting for something I wasn't even sure I wanted in the first place. But I kept thinking about the pregnant women I'd heard about on the news who had died from H1N1. And then I thought about all the public transit I'd taken in the last few weeks, and my upcoming travel plans for this week. Did I want to take the chance?
If it was just me, I may have. I may have waited or put off the shot or taken my chances. But I'm responsible for this baby. And when we heard the heartbeat, loud and strong, and saw him (or her) kicking around in there, I knew that I needed to do whatever it took to take the best care possible of my child.
So they shot me up with the H1N1 vaccine. Oddly enough, I felt grateful.
And that night, I promptly felt ill and slept for about 15 hours straight, waking only to test, snack, and drink water. I wasn't experiencing any full-fledged sickness, but the weather was above me enough that I hid out all weekend long, missing any Halloween festivities and instead camping out at home with hot tea, chicken soup, and Kleenex.
Today? Feeling much better and on my way to speak at a seminar in New Jersey. But I keep hearing about others who are seeking out the H1N1 and still haven't been able to gain access to a vaccination. What does it take to get protection when you need it? How are there H1N1 clinics in some states but not in others? Are you someone who is trying to get this vaccine but can't? Or are you avoiding this shot, and why?
I've already jumped, so my opinion is moot on this one. I'm pregnant, my doctors told me this was best, and I (for once) listened. But this issue is getting bigger and bigger, and with diabetes month just getting started here, I want to know how the diabetes community at large feels about this H1N1 vaccine.
It's November, which means that NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) kicks off today. Also, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Not to mention ADM (American Diabetes Month). It's a whole month's worth of abbreviations being kicked around this November, so there's plenty to talk about and plenty of diabetes awareness to be raised.
But, of course, no NaBloPoMo is complete on my blog without Siah mucking it up.
Yes, that's my little piglet, sleeping contentedly amongst the clean laundry. Which needed to be thrown back in the wash, thanks to her shedding.
And it's on for another November of posting daily - I know plenty of other d-bloggers are taking on this challenge, too, so here's to the pack of us, raising our voices for diabetes awareness, one day at a time!