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Year in Review! Last Minute!

Here’s what I wrote to introduce this post back in 2012:  “Yearly recap?  Sure!  Here we go: the first lines of a definitive post from each month in 2012.  With the same photo I’ve used for the last few years … maybe I’ll update that in 2013.  :)”  Clearly, I have done nothing to update things this year.  ONWARD … ?

JanuaryThe 48 mg/dL I had the other night wasn’t the lowest I’ve ever been, or the most ‘out of it’ I’ve been in the middle of the night.

February:  I travel a lot, so I’m very used to the airport patdown (aka “free massage”) and lots of scrutiny about my insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor.

March:  Way back when I was a young kid with type 1 diabetes, my school lunches were ruled by the American Diabetes Association exchange program.

AprilDear Birdy,  Today is your birthday.  You’re three years old, love.

May:  We, the undersigned, being of sound body and mind, need to go back to that “being of sound body” bit.

June“I really like Ironman.  And Superman.  And Spiderman.”  She paused.  “But not the Hulk, because he smashes things.  Why he smashes things?”

JulyThe oven broke.

August:  “Mawm, I can I help you put on your pump right now?”

September:  It whispered in my ear two January’s ago, when a low blood sugar came too close to becoming terrifying as I felt the whoosh of that bullet go by.

October:  “So what you should do is see what people are searching for and then carefully tailor your posts to draw in those searches.”

November:  “You have diabetes  You seem fine.” “I am fine.”

December:  I had been sitting in the darkened waiting room where people sit patiently, waiting for the dilation drops to take effect on their eyeballs.

Next year (also known as “tomorrow”) is shaping up to be a fun one, and I’m excited to see how it maps out for this diabetes community I’ve come to think of as family.  Happy New Year, and stay safe tonight!

Macular Edema and Pac-Man.

I had been sitting in the darkened waiting room where people sit patiently, waiting for the dilation drops to take effect on their eyeballs.  The room is quiet and dim, with a television set at the front and chairs for people to ease into and watch the DVD menu screen (it was for a Discovery channel documentary about deep sea life – we watched the DVD menu load and reload a dozen different times, until I couldn’t take it anymore and asked a passing receptionist for help finding the remote).  Most people wait alone, holding their jackets and scarves and not making much small talk.  The folks who don’t wait alone are those who need assistance due to compromised vision, or other health issues that make movement difficult.  It scared me to see those people who, for whatever host of variables, were dealing with eye issues.

Dilated diabetic eyeball.  Oh yeah, this eyeball has its very own diabetes.

I thought about my daughter’s face, grateful it was clear in my mind and through my eyes.

For as long as I can remember, Joslin never scared me.  But the eye clinic always did, because it seemed like once you were a patient there, you are never released.

My eye doctor came out to retrieve me, and we briefly discussed my visit a few months ago, where the macular edema was diagnosed.  He pulled up my scans from the summer on my computer.  When I first saw those scans of my swollen, lipid-dotted retina, it reminded me of Pac-Man.  Or a  bunch of white Christmas lights along a gray, licorice-esque rope.   If it hadn’t been my diseased retina, it would have been almost pretty.

“That’s the scan from the summer, and this is the one from now,” my eye doctor said, pulling up the scans taken a few minutes earlier.  It looked as though Pac-Man came through to gobble up the majority of the dots.

“That one there?  The big one?”  He pointed to the screen, edging his fingertip against a larger, round smudge on my retinal scan, then pulled up the correlating scan from over the summer.  “That’s what it used to look like.  And now it’s still there, but much smaller.  I’m hoping to see it shrink more, but we can’t ever be too sure.”

The swelling is very minimal, but still there.  The lipid deposits are also still there, but fewer in number and smaller in size.  “Is this better?  It’s not gone, but better, right?”

“It’s better.  This is encouraging progress, but it could go either way in the future, so I still want to monitor it closely.”

I remembered what the technician had said before putting the drops in my eyes – “Your doctor is really good.  He knows exactly what to look for and how to react to it.  You are in good hands.  But he’s kind of all business.”

The eye doctor turned his chair around to face the computer again.  “I do think we can ease back on the scheduling, and do every six months instead of three,” he said.  “You’re off the immediate ‘watch list.’  Let’s schedule another exam for June, and in the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing.”

I was released to the too-bright regular waiting room, where Chris was sitting and waiting to drive us both home.

And I felt relieved, relieved, relieved and even more determined, determined, determined.

When Sleep Becomes “Sleep.”

‘Tis the season for sleep debt, right?  (Also ’tis the season for blog posts that start with, or include the phrase “’tis the season.”  ‘Tisn’t the season for originality.)  My goal today is to find a place in Birdzone’s room for her new Hot Wheels track (No batteries! Hours of entertainment! Loopy loves the loop-dee-loops!) and also to share this column from Generation D on the epic lack of sleep that diabetes can cause, and the small steps I take to mitigate those variables:

“But it’s the diabetes-related interruptions that set me straight into slept debt. Sleep becomes “sleep,” with the necessary and accusatory quotation marks.

… So what can I do to achieve a good night’s sleep? Is it even possible? It’s hard to hit that target, but I do a few things to improve my aim.”

For the rest of the column, please skip over to dLife, and if you have another minute, please mentally pet Siah in this picture because she looks really, really sleepy and could use a good snuggle.

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my family to yours!!

The Amazing, Carb-Cancelling Power of Walking.

Last week, Chris and I brought the Birdzone to Disney World for some holiday family time (since we are rarely in the same place at the same time, making trips like this a welcomed changed from the hustle and chaos of the norm).  The weather was much nicer in Florida than it was in Rhode Island (when we left, it was 11 degrees in RI, but 71 degrees when we landed in FL), which meant we were on the move, all day, every day.

Normally, traveling for me equals out to harder-to-manage blood sugars because I’m working harder to adjust to time zones, different exercise schedules, and food that’s unfamiliar.  But for trips that involve nicer weather, there’s usually a lot of walking.  And we logged many miles per day on this go-around … according to my Shine, it was close to six miles every day.  That’s not a ton of movement when it’s crunched into a run, but spread out over the course of a day, it makes the impact of carbohydrates melt away.  Walking all day long is a magical, carb-cancelling activity.

Even the three year old managed to do most of the walking (except when she’d turn to Chris and say, with a drawn-out sigh, “Daddy, carry me?”):

Birdy on the bridge in EPCOT.

Lightning McQueen was an awkward meet-and-greet, because with the other characters, you can go up and shake their hand, or high-five them, or at least say hello.  But meeting a car was strange because they don’t hug back.  Or blink.

Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland section is one of Birdy’s favorite places to visit because she can run amuck, go down slides, play with other kids, and generally go berserk.

But for the week, my Dexcom graphs were crazy, with very few highs and a lot of lows that my body kept revisiting because we were consistently on the move.  So many carbs consumed without bolusing and I burnt through the entire stash of glucose tabs that I brought with me.  Even a temporary basal rate (down to 50%) wasn’t enough to keep the magic of Disney from cancelling out my carbs.

Oh exercise … you are as magical on my diabetes as time with my family is on my soul.

[Cue music that’s super cheesy.  Like this.  Balki Bartokomous is awesome.]

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