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dLife Update.

Quick post before the entire New England area gets smacked by a Nor’Easter and blanketed in the forecasted sixteen inches of snow:

Generation D” on dLife has been updated with my new column: “I pump, not iPod.”

Now I’m off to the grocery store to get bread and milk so I can make … Bread & Milk Soup, I guess.

 

Part Three: Mayhem in Mexico

There were about 20 of us on this excursion, including Chris and myself. Our guide, Miguel, rode up front and the Other Guy followed the back of the crew in a red Jeep Wrangler.

“Stick with me, okay! You keep up, okay,” Miguel’s voice carried back on the wind.

But I was just in front of the Jeep, riding as leisurely as I could on my bicycle with the broken seat, my bloodsugar at a crispy 384 mg/dl and the insulin pump tucked safely in a plastic bag in our stateroom on the cruiseship.

The theory was this: Since we’d be riding bikes for a few miles and then snorkeling for an hour or two in a cavern in the middle of Mexico, I figured I’d disconnect the pump for the afternoon so I wouldn’t have a Low of Epic Proportions. I couldn’t think of anything that made me more nervous than being in a dimly lit cavern and on the verge of convulsions, with no medical facility closer than a helicopter ride. And possible losing my pump.

Apparently I forgot about the potential for an Enormous High.

That morning, Chris and I woke up early and went to have breakfast. It was the last day on my infusion set/reservoir combo and I planned on wearing the set right up until I disconnected for the excursion. We sat down on the deck of the ship with our breakfast plates and a hot cup of coffee and chatted as we enjoyed the view of the aquamarine waters of Mexico.

Nice big breakfast. Nice big bolus.

I had no idea that, since I was at the end of the reservoir, the heat had caused a few bubbles to crop up in my reservoir, which siphoned out into the tubing, which crept into me instead of my insulin when I bolused for breakfast.

Oh shit.

I disconnect and leave the pump in the room. Chris grabs the bookbag, which is loaded with a Humalog pen, five bottles of juice, two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (thank you, room service), my testing kit, a syringe, and a spare bottle of Humalog — in addition to everything else.

We trot down the gangplank in a terrifically pirate-esque manner, and join our group for the cavern excursion. Before I get on the bike, I test.

284 mg/dl.

“Chris, I need the insulin pen. I’m all cranked up from breakfast.” He hands it to me, I take 4 units and we start to ride.

20 minutes into the ride, the group takes a break. Chris shields me as I test again.

328 mg/dl.

“Chris, I’m going up, not down.” Panic, like a warm blanket, covers me as I contemplate the potential for ketones and DKA on this many mile bikeride through 90 degree Mexican heat.

“It’s okay. Drink this water while we ride. And we’ll test again in a few.”

I down the water. Another 20 minutes passes. We break, shortly before we reach the caverns. I unzip the little black bag that holds my kit.

384 mg/dl.

“I need the pen again. It’s still going up.” I can feel the twinge of a backache. The sweaters on my teeth. That cinderblock that is settling in between my eyes, pressing against them with its sharp corners. That panic. Am I going to have my first DKA episode in Mexico? Fear wins over rationale as I uncap the insulin pen with my teeth, instead of waiting for the first dose to catch.

Another 3 units of Humalog hits my system. We ride just a bit more and then we start changing for the cavern dive.

And the heat becomes more intense. I’m hot and sticky from the hot sun and long bike ride, but now the sweat is clammy and insistent. I look up and the leaves on the trees are throwing patterns on the rocky steps leading to the cavern. My mouth feels tingly. Chris is talking to me but I can only focus on half of his words. Every sound I hear bounces from the tip of my ear, spirals into my eardrum like a marble in a funnel, and waits a few minutes before registering in my brain.

He’s saying something but I can’t reach through the fog enough to hear him.

Three bottles of juice, half of a melted peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a moment where he wipes away my frantic tears later, 104 mg/dl.

And two moments after that, we’re peering down into 30 feet of dimly lit water, armed with nothing more than a snorkel, a mask and a flashlight to illuminate the depth. The crystalline water reveals a forgotten Myan burial ground, snow white sand, and fish that shine blue when my flashlight beam grazes them. Stalagmites and stalactites jut out from every surface.

Panic and fear are left on the edge of the water as Chris and I explore the cavern, occasionally finding each others’ hand in the deep.

Part Two: The ship.

Palm trees? In January?

My Rhode Island self could barely conceptualize the idea. 

We rounded the bend after passing Star Island and saw the massive cruise ship docked in the Miami harbor: The Fascination.

“Oh my goodness, Chris! That ship is huge! We’re going on that? We’re really going on it? For a whole week??”

Kenny, who lives in Miami and is a friend of Chris’s, laughed as he drove us closer towards the ship.

“I take it you’ve never been on a cruise before.”

For those of you who have had the luxury of cruising before, forgive me for sounding so excited about it but that ship was the most incredible thing I had ever seen. Ten decks, two pools, a waterslide, bars, dance clubs, hot tubs, a gym, dining rooms, and countless state rooms! I was amazed at the most trivial of things: the super magnets that held the bathroom door opened when the ship tossed a bit, the fact that room service really would show up at four in the morning with a Portobello mushroom sandwich if you asked them to, and the towel animals.

Ah, the towel animals. Chris told me that the housekeeping services would make animals out of the towels, but I wasn’t sure. Sounded complicated. And kind of messy. But the first afternoon, upon our return from dinner, I opened the door to see a dog crafted entirely out of white bath towels, sitting on the bed.

“Chris! Look at that!”

I think he got more out of watching me enjoy everything than he did out of the actual cruise itself.

Every time I went back into the stateroom, I would open the door oh so slowly, just in case there was a towel animal peeking at me from the bed. I definitely bought the book on how to make the little buggers. I plan on making every towel in the apartment into an elephant, a dog, a hanging monkey, or maybe even Voltron.

The food was incredible. Wearing my pump was truly the best course of action, as bolusing for some of these meals was tricky. A two hour dinner of stuffed mushrooms, filet, fresh fruit, escargot, stuffed chicken, vegetables smothered in butter sauce, and decadent desserts would not have fared as well were it not for the grace of the Extended Bolus.

And my diabetes remained quiet, for the most part. The insulin flowed freely and my sugars didn’t crest above 230 mg/dl or below 60 mg/dl (not bad for excessive eating and drinking).

Except for Wednesday. When we were snorkeling in a cavern in Cozumel, Mexico, miles from the ship and my insulin pump.

But that’s a story for tomorrow.

Until then, enjoy a picture of Chris and I at the first dinner night, with our mariachi pal. 

 

Part One: The plane ride.

Sitting in the terminal, it occurred to me how angry I was at whoever named the waiting area. Terminal … cruel joke of a name. How can I combat this rising anxiety as I sit in a place called “terminal?”

Damn it. Thirty minutes until we board the plane.

Bags are checked at this point. My enormous Nine West upright clocked in at over 50 pounds due to the cache of juice bottles snuggled up against my dresses and sandals. Twenty-five dollars extra to check that bag. The people at the security checkpoints barely noticed the insulin pump peeking out of the front pocket of my jeans, except one security woman who put her hands out to stop me.

“Got to get rid of that iPod, lady. No iPods.”

Nerves raw. Anticipatory tears in my eyes.

“Not an iPod. It’s an insulin pump. I’m diabetic.”

Pause.

“Thought it was a fancy lookin’ iPod. Go ahead.”

No mention of the carry on bag, housing a full bag of syringes, two insulin pens filled with Humalog, seven bottles of test strips, my meter, back up pump supplies, and the ubiquitous Glucagon kit. I guess they really have seen all this stuff before. I had a letter from Joslin stating that “Kerri is a diabetic and will be carrying supplies necessary for traveling, namely …” and so forth, but it remained crisply folded in my handbag.

Barely time to blink before we’re through security, down that long corridor towards the plane, bags stowed in overhead compartments, and I’m nestled against the window, right over the engine.

I need to quell this rising panic. Second alloted Xanax pill is taken with shaking hands and a sip of water. Breathing deeply. Chris reaches over and wipes the tear from my face, leaning in and fixing his warm brown eyes on me. “It’s going to be okay. I promise. Just try to relax.”

Gripping his hand tightly, we taxi out onto the runway. Gaining speed, the nose of the plane raises up and I feel the ascent into the sky. A single tear escapes from my eye and I can’t wipe it away because I’m too scared. Engine roaring. Cabin pressurizing. The late afternoon sky painted pale pink by the setting sun and I closed my eyes as the plane took off.

“Baby, open your eyes.”

Lashes part and I see a blanket of clouds stretching as far as I could see, all the way to the horizon. Beautiful. The beat of my heart is suddenly no longer visible through my shirt. A deep sigh eases from my lips and I see Chris smiling out of the corner of my eye.

“You’re doing great, Kerri. You are doing a great job.”

Why did I wait this long to enjoy this view? Here, on top of the world. On top of the very clouds I’ve tried to find shapes in at baseball games.

The hum of the engines causes my eyes to close again, and I rest my head against Chris’s shoulder. A smile tugs up the corners of my mouth against the weight of my fear, and I drift off to sleep, thinking of the cruise ship that waits docked in Miami.

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