Mining the World

On one of my final days before moving out of the condo I had lived in for the past 3 years, I sat on the back patio and stared at the back of the house. We were on the second floor, so I had to look up to see our kitchen window, illuminated by a soft overhead light and filled to the edges with plants. Their leaves and tendrils twisted around each other and threatened to exceed the small space we had offered them. I was excited to move my plants to my new home and have space for even more. That night the moon was halved. I looked around the space where we had hosted birthday parties and family gatherings, grilled, played music, sat in a kiddie pool and listened to cicadas and swatted off mosquitoes. My gaze came to rest on a cedar tree growing close to the base of the structure and suddenly my eyes began to water, and I found I was crying. My tree. I would be leaving my tree. I had this sense that it had become my job to protect the tree and now I was abandoning it. How strange, that just pure proximity had made this tree mine in my mind. As if I had claimed the land that it grew in simply by resting my head on top of it. Starkly, I realized this was certainly not and had never been my tree. If anything, I thought, this tree is not looking to me for protection, but rather looking at me as one more of a revolving series of squatters, encroaching on its root system, tying boats and bikes to its trunk.

Strangely, after seeing the backyard of my new place only one time, I had already claimed the tree that grew behind it as mine. I knew this to be true because I thought of it as, “my new tree.” This is all weird, I know. Why am I even writing about this? But I think it is worthwhile. How could I go so quickly from invading a new space to claiming it completely as mine? And how could it almost evade me that once I had decided to move on, I barely even thought about the elements I had previously claimed that I was now leaving behind?

I’m always mining the world. It’s not that I think I’m alone in this, but I do it, and unconsciously. It’s fundamental to our whole way of living to mine the world. I love my new place – I’ve strung my stuff all around it so that I see myself staring back at me in tangible form. The plants are my favorite. Yet, I don’t even pause to ask if they serve any other purpose than my happiness. Isn’t this kind of atrocious? How would it be different if I belonged to them?

Of course, I know objectively that they serve so many purposes other than my happiness. But I rarely pause to place myself in their world rather than the other way around. I’ve been thinking about this lately in my interactions with the plants (I don’t think this blog post would have come out of any time other than COVID days). This re-situation is easier with bigger beings, like the tree in the backyard. The tree in the yard behind the house where I now live is a maple. It has almost black ridges on its thick bark from age. It is full of cicadas and they are crying out so loudly right now, singing for summer. The sun hits the branches of the tree and spills shade over the green table. I realize that to not claim the tree requires a lot of prose. This is interesting. What was ‘my new tree,’ takes a new shape, its details emerge. I see it more clearly now. And I see me more clearly, as a changing being, without as much need to claim the boundaries of the space or the details of the moment.

Independence from expectations

It’s time like these I remember again that everything is uncertain, always. I thought I had grasped that concept before, but the pandemic has taken it to a whole new level. See before, I was thinking about it from within the microcosm of my life; like, everything is uncertain: you never know when you’ll be diagnosed with a chronic condition, or lose your job, or win a gift certificate to a barbecue restaurant from a folk festival raffle. You just never know! I didn’t expect to have to think about it on a macro level: everything is uncertain, you never know when the planet itself will be diagnosed with a chronic condition, when millions of people’s jobs will be dissolved, when the foundation of festivals, concerts, weddings, funerals, the celebrations and ceremonies we build our lives around, will fall away, leaving us…stripped down, unadorned by the trappings of tradition.

I’m thinking about this on the Fourth of July, aka Independence Day. When this all began, I remember being intensely sad about the world. Then I remember allowing myself to also feel sad about all of the things I was looking forward to in this year that would clearly not be happening. But now, longing for trips, conferences, concerts, feels sort of like longing for a sunroof when you don’t have a car. What an amazing exercise in becoming aware of everything we were taking for granted! Layers upon layers of granted. Not just the feelings, the forces, that we take for granted, like love, but all of the ways that we acknowledge it in our daily lives. As another friend is likely postponing her wedding ceremony, I think about how invisible so many of the things that make life rich are until they are unavailable. When I first moved to town and didn’t know anyone, I was lonely. I had a strong community in Asheville and it’s a hugging place, so I would hug or pat on the back or sit next to a friend nearly everyday. In my new town, before friendships had really been made, I was operating at a closeness deficit. I remember riding the crowded bus home from school and feeling so comforted just by being near to other people. In our present reality we are separated by a force field of threat from friends and strangers, and this calls into question what being close to other people really does for us. How being separate makes us, in a way, trapped with ourselves. And for many, I’m sure it makes us long to reach out and connect in a small, simple way, like a hug or a conversation close enough to see the other person’s pupils, that we didn’t even know was so meaningful.

Each year on July 4th I like to declare myself independent from something that’s holding me back. This year, I’m declaring myself independent from my expectations for how things were supposed to go and how they are supposed to be in general. But bigger than that, I’m declaring independence from my expectations about the ingredients of happiness within a given experience. I’m letting the word happiness stand in for whatever pure, unadulterated feeling is necessary for meaningfulness. To be clear, adequate resources, shelter, relative security, all of these are necessary for what we think of as long-term happiness. But in the moment, the kind of food on a shared table, the airplane ticket to a far-off place, the goal and the striving for the next work or life accomplishment, all seem starkly independent from the point. And, knowing that what I really miss now is the ease of connection, once all those other things are accessible again, I hope to remember that.

Slowing Down

Why haven’t I been writing? Months ago I promised a Chapter 2 to follow my last post about Costa Rica. I thought that more posts would follow that – about traveling around the globe for friends’ weddings, conferences, and maybe a little vacation. I had a busy year planned. And yet, now, here it is nearly July and I find I haven’t been more than 30 miles from my home since February.

Slowing Down.

What I’ve been doing during this time of social distancing. It’s a privilege that I have as a single woman with no children or even pets to care for. Up until recently I had a job, which made things still feel busy. I don’t have a full-time job at the moment, and I’m trying to figure out what my life and my schedule looks like without it.

Slowing down. A reset. I’ve been resisting this idea hard. As I think back over the last couple of years, I feel like I’ve been living my life in leaps and bounds. Sprinting towards the next goal without pausing at each milestone along the way. And I wouldn’t say this is unique to me or has even been by choice.

A big part of it is the society we live in. Things move fast – too fast sometimes for reflection. Maybe part of it too has been the pressure of diabetes. For 14 yrs I’ve lived my life on a schedule aimed at balance. A consistent wake time, consistent carbs at each meal, daily exercise everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, whether I really feel like it or not. And the self-improvement articles and health educators (like myself) will often tell you that just this is the recipe for health. “Once you get going you’ll feel better.” “Exercise is the best medicine.” And I actually believe it’s true. But I think this mindset, combined with a taxing chronic disease and a personality type leaning towards perfectionism can get out of control.

I certainly feel like I’m running on vespers sometimes. Running on the diabetes treadmill: time to eat, first take insulin. Now blood sugar will likely spike even if I called the dose right, so it’s time to walk. Maybe walked a little too much, time to eat a snack, and that’s just one meal cycle. That doesn’t take into account sleep and rest; sometimes I want more of it, but I know if I linger in bed my blood sugar will start to rise or maybe it’s falling and I’ll end up feeling worse later. There’s no easy answer. I’m not looking for one. I’m just recognizing the cycle that I feel like I’ve been on for a long time.

And this cycle bleeds over into other realms of my life. Pushing past what feels right into the territory of ‘shoulds.’ Lately it’s started to feel right to write again, but about what I don’t know. Because life doesn’t look like any of us thought it would. So I’m going to keep taking it day by day. Maybe this is Chapter 2 – because Chapter 1 was all about finding myself for the first time as a woman with diabetes in a new country, with a new group of people. And this Chapter is about meeting myself here, now, with very little else to distract me. I mean apart from the imminent dread of the news, but looking inward, maybe this is an opportunity for growth, as they say. Or just an opportunity to slow down and feel.

Chapter 1: Hace doce años (12 years ago)

Hace doce años. Twelve years ago. That’s what I kept saying when people asked how long it had been since I studied abroad in San Joaquin de Flores, a small town outside of San Jose, Costa Rica. Twelve years ago I had flown on an airplane only a handful of times and never spent a night out of the country. On the flight down, I remember journaling, fizzing with anticipation, and suddenly realizing that maybe I didn’t know how to speak Spanish. I could sort of write and read in Spanish, but I started thinking of what I’d want to say and found that the words just weren’t there. I hadn’t yet learned to speak flexibly, describing things instead of using one staunch word, while shaping with my hands and body. I love speaking in this way really – like teaching a yoga class without stating the names of postures, but instead painting a picture of the body’s movements. At the time though, the thought was intimidating.

More intimidating than Spanish was my lack of familiarity with diabetes management. It might seem like I should be over writing about diabetes, but diabetes is just never over. It keeps evolving and I with it. When I first went down to CR, I had been living with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) for almost exactly two years. I’d managed diabetes while living in the dorms at UNCA, working at a summer camp, a folk school, and at that point through half of junior year.

When I landed in Costa Rica twelve years ago, the first thing I noticed were the trees. I couldn’t stop gaping at the trees, squealing about the trees, asking our teacher Esteban about the trees. On this recent trip, after I asked a third person to identify the current árbol of my affection, a British pal exclaimed, “Americans love trees!” I think that’s a bit of a broad stroke, because I can tell you that I definitely led the tree fandom among our group of 14 or so American students.

The second thing I noticed was that suddenly I was having to state my needs a lot. Also, suddenly I had a lot of needs, or at least that’s how I felt. This was difficult for me on many levels. I am an independent person. I have always been grateful that I was diagnosed with diabetes after I had left home, effectively as an adult, because I would have fought against the notion of anyone else sharing in my management. That’s the story I’ve told myself anyway. Told myself that I could manage it on my own and probably just as well as my pancreas could have. For the first couple of years after I was diagnosed, I maintained a white-knuckle grip on normalcy. I worked so hard behind the scenes; not just on achieving what I thought had to be perfect blood sugar, but also on stifling the emotional and physical burden of managing a condition as demanding as T1D. I told myself that I could outsmart it. I told myself that if I gave in to its demands, I was weak. I tried to hide the anxiety and worry that was filling me slowly to the brim.

I know that sounds dramatic, but it wasn’t at the time. It was slow and subtle and by the time I got to Costa Rica, I didn’t even realize it was happening. I was prepared to have the time of my life. Yet here was this chronic condition in tow (one that I would not be able to recognize or name as such until years later. I wasn’t just supposed to be tramping through the jungle, I was supposed to be partying with my new friends, trying new food, open to all experiences. And of course, I was supposed to be completely carefree. Isn’t that the study abroad, or even the American college, myth?

But I felt like I had a new shadow. The specter of diabetes was following me on every excursion, in my classes, walking down the streets. And I had to explain it as part of me. But it wasn’t a part of me that I knew. I was strong and healthy and physically capable of keeping up with anyone. I had built all of that into my identity since childhood, playing softball, camping with my family, kayaking and snowboarding throughout high school, and just generally loving physical adventures. I also loved trying new foods, connecting with new people, experiencing life differently than I knew it in my standard routine. That was who I was.

It was the first time I’d introduced myself to people who were meeting me as a person with diabetes. In the US, my friends and family all knew me as Katie who suddenly got diagnosed with diabetes. They knew me first. Now I was worried that people would think of diabetes first.

The truth is that I wasn’t just embarrassed, I was afraid. And it was really the first time in my life I had experienced that kind of fear…fear for my life. I was a pretty unafraid kid. I wasn’t reckless, but I had a sense of my limits and they didn’t really encroach on what I wanted to do. Now suddenly fear had crept in. What if I go low? What if I’m alone? What if I’m tired and forget my bag in the trunk of a taxi and the driver leaves with all my medical supplies and I die? It was like the cork had blown loose on the possibilities of what could happen and how it might lead ultimately to my demise. Then there was just your standard, everyday long-term complications of diabetes to worry about. I was afraid that if I let my blood sugar spike out of “normal” range, I would definitively develop kidney disease, neuropathy, etc.

I had started practicing yoga in high school and had a sense of how to calm myself down, so I tried, often. But diabetes would always creep back in. Sometimes I’d try to meditate and breathe long slow inhales and exhales, but then I’d realize I was low and I’d have to stop and double-check with a finger prick, wipe off the blood with an alcohol swab, find a snack, eat, and suddenly there I was, thinking about the power that diabetes had over me again.

I worried that people thought I was making it up. Not diabetes, but everything I had to do for it. If you don’t live with a person with diabetes, you can’t know how many tasks go into it every day. If you live with someone with diabetes but don’t have it yourself, it’s impossible to conceptualize the amount of decisions and thought that that it takes every day. Even if you’re highly empathetic, you just can’t know. And after 14 years of living with it, I believe that if you are a person with diabetes, eventually even you stop realizing how much you’re doing – both externally in action and internally in planning and calculations.

Studying abroad in Costa Rica was one of the best four months of my life. Yet I felt isolated by and even ashamed of diabetes at that time. I was afraid that going back would mean relieving those emotions, that I’d be pulled back into shame. I felt guilty that it had been so hard to just enjoy my life. A few really scary things had happened while I was there too. I had at least two intense lows while I was alone, one in the jungle (I hear you, why did I wander off into the jungle alone?) and one in a hotel room. I also ran out of insulin after leaving some of my back-up at a lodge on a weekend excursion. I had to obtain more without the guidance of my endocrinologist, and it was my first experience feeling the full nature of my dependency on an external source for my survival. How it could stop everything else. How fear and anxiety suddenly flooded my body when I thought about not having the insulin I needed. On top of that, I couldn’t get in touch with my endocrinologist at home (we did not have cell phones then! And the call your doctor, wait for them to call you back long-distance model was just not working). Eventually, a protracted game of phone tag ended with my mom as the middle woman translating my endocrinologist’s advice, which was to take only half the dose of the type of insulin I was given. Had I taken my dose as normal, I could have had a severe low blood sugar overnight.

Diabetes was part of why I stayed away from Costa Rica for so long, so I was surprised to realize that it was also a big part of what brought me back. Three days after I landed, the diabetes camp began. We awoke at 5 AM and departed San José as the sun was just beginning to enliven the colors of the city. Although we drove off into the mountains, we arrived at the camp in no time – the start of three very full days ahead of us. Three days of diabetes multiplied by about 80. So much diabetes. Everyone, from counselors to campers, living and playing and eating and sleeping with diabetes.

Diagnosed at 18, I never went to diabetes camp. I had also never worked at a diabetes camp before. As I was learning the system, I began to transition from paying primary attention to my own body, to guiding my attention towards any signs of low blood sugar I could spot in the kids. This was an interesting shift. Suddenly my own diabetes felt lighter. My brain had been unleashed to do what it is always doing but on a larger scale: strategizing, monitoring, and attempting to balance blood sugar. But here it was, finally, outside of myself.

At the end of day one, I laid down in my bunk bed, exhausted. My cabin co-lead told me that the doctor and nutritionists would come in at 12 AM and 3 AM to check every campers’ blood sugar. She said that they might even check mine. At first, I reacted to this with something like horror. No one else, save maybe for nursing staff at the endocrinologist or hospital, has ever checked my blood sugar. It’s my blood sugar. But then I was like, “Hmm…so I wouldn’t have to worry about my blood sugar overnight…” I could go to bed without that subtle background fear of having a low. That thought was nice, comforting. And that’s how I went to sleep. They didn’t check me after all, but I slept hard through the night knowing that someone else was monitoring the campers. I awoke the next morning feeling grounded, ready to start the day.

For more about the camp and the rest of the experience, stay tuned for Chapter 2!

IMG_2618
View of the soccer/games field at Campa Dia Vida.

 

Am I pancreas or a woman?

I’ve taken shots on planes, shots on trains, shots on buses, shots on shuttles, shots in a car, shots in a bar, shots in meetings, shots at crowded dinner table seatings, and after my recent four days of traveling, for whatever reason, I have ended up more tired of shots than anything else.

Obviously, this is a diabetes blog, so I don’t mean liquor, not even in the bar. I mean insulin shots and the role they play in my life as pancreas.

I would say in a typical day, I take a minimum of 8 shots. On the trip, I took maybe 12 – 14 a day. I take shots as if I were a pump.

Some of you know a lot about diabetes and others less. Some of you know what an insulin pump is and how it works, but if you don’t, quick summary: people wear insulin pumps on their body using a site that can be either be connected to the pump by a tube or connected to a pod that is stuck directly on the body (no tube) with adhesive. Now, both of these are changed somewhat regularly, usually 3 to 4 days, and in the in between time, you don’t take the site off. You might disconnect your pump to shower or for a few other reasons, unless you have the Omnipod, in which case you just shower with it. The pump delivers a continuous infusion of insulin to the body.

The potential benefits of insulin pumps are numerous (there are also downsides that I won’t cover here). Some of the reasons why people wear them is so they can eat a more flexible diet, giving themselves insulin in a way that lines up more perfectly with their eating habits, think: many smaller injections a day to compensate for unexpected snacks or eating more at a meal than you planned. Also, you can reduce the stable background amount of insulin you’re getting to lessen the risk of lows during exercise. I can’t do that on my current insulin regimen, which, as aforementioned, is a bunch of shots.

I like to both maintain as tight a control of my blood glucose (bg) as I can, while also having the maximum freedom to eat and be spontaneous in my life, which for me has turned into a bunch of little micro-doses a day. Traveling amplifies this, because I’m not in control at even a base scheduling level. Flights might be delayed; I might not have time for a meal. When I do have time for it, I might be on a 5-hour flight, and then not be able to move around afterwards and help my bg come down with physical activity.

If you’re like: “I don’t get what she means by help my bg come down with physical activity,” please let me know in the comments and I will write on these topics in more detail or point you to some resources.

I have a busy year of travel and this trip made me wonder if my attempts to free myself of the burden of wearing an insulin pump has saddled me with an extra burden. If I’m going to mimic what an insulin pump could do with shots, should I just go ahead and get with the times?

When I travel, I like to let go of the ideal of a regimented lifestyle and be free to follow what comes. On this particular trip, the first thing that didn’t come was my Lyft. I was waiting by the door at 5 AM, but twenty minutes later I made a quick pivot, driving to the airport and parking in the econo lot. No bolus insulin in my system meant that missing one shuttle bus to the airport after a dead sprint across the lot sent my blood sugar straight up (potential moral: stress is bad for you).

Eventually I made it to my gate, just as boarding was set to begin. Still on the ground an hour and a half later (potential revised moral: could have skipped the sprint) it was clear that making my connection with only an hour layover in between would be tricky. But, by some miracle (apparently pilots can floor-it if necessary), I made my next flight after only a light jog. There was no screen on that plane (I had already watched ‘Elf’ on the last leg) and I had no internet, so I spent some time (2 hours) staring idly at the seat-back. I recommend this sort of in-flight meditation. Upon landing, I felt refreshed and ready for a three hour longer day. Of course, my blood sugar had been taking off and coming down all day, after around 8 shots over the course of the two flights.

I don’t want to give the impression that my trip was anything but pure joy – because one thing I’ve become good over 14+ years with diabetes is carrying the annoyance and frustration of diabetes alongside all my other emotions. This is one of my happiest evolutions in life with diabetes. I used to be so much more critical of myself and my ability to be a pancreas. But I’ve come to accept my imperfection in this way, because it allows me to do and enjoy so much more simultaneously. Some of the non-work-related highlights of this trip were:

  • Remembering my general love affair with San Francisco and its angles, colors, and vibe.
  • Reuniting with one of my best friends from high school. We explored the small mountain city he lives in outside of San Fran, looked at new houses for him and his partner to move into (which was an unexpected delight), and recounted all of our best inside jokes multiple times.
  • Racing from Palo Alto just in time to make it to a dear friend’s yoga class (why is my life full of so much racing? Do I need to leave earlier or just accept being late? Timeless questions). Afterwards, he took me to Mission Chinese, which was some of the best food I’ve ever had. The whole place is cast in a magical red glow. We ordered Kung Pao Pastrami, Spring Rolls, and Taiwanese Eggplant, and remembered all of the potlucks, adventures, and characters of college.

In summary, by the end of the trip I was left with the vague impression that all I had done for four was balance my blood sugar – but in truth, that was just exhaustion speaking. In the moment, I’m doing it all. Upon returning however, I did look over my bg records and identify a few times when I could have done less tweaking and perhaps gotten better results. So maybe in times of reduced control, loosening my grip on the idea of it could bring be a little bit more bg, and general, peace. It’s a thought experiment I may report back on.

Thanks for reading and happy new year!

Katie

 

 

The first week in May

Dear May,

You are so beautiful. No matter where I am; in Asheville or in Chapel Hill, your irises shine bright as the twinkle of sunlight off Jordan Lake or a smooth icy cold pool on Flat Laurel Creek.

Your bluets are blushing with a joyous periwinkle hue,img_1629

columbine nodding in coral and gold –

Your lizards are scurrying: anoles, skinks, and more whose names I don’t know

turtles are recharging their sweet, cold bodies on hot, dry logs over opaque, brown water

and I am lost in both awe,

and an allergy-induced haze of high blood sugar.

You know it’s weird – allergies – inflammation – our body’s interaction with the environment – with the first kiss of sun – but year after year, the first week in May is a blood sugar roller coaster.

I get what I like to call, ‘false highs’, because I feel ok at first, but I’ll be stuck, way up in the blood sugar clouds, heavy with rain. Then of course that number starts to weigh me down, stress me out, the sluggishness compounds and I feel like doing nothing more than sitting in the midst of a garden full of peonies and tulips burst open into past-bloom and maybe wild roses and a bit of hyacinth although to tell you the truth I don’t like the smell of hyacinth but oh the honeysuckle and the proud plump snapdragons!

Dogs and diabetes

Hi Friends,

I’m writing to share a piece I submitted to Diabetes Daily as part of an effort to promote the new fundraising campaign by Life for a Child (LFAC) that features stories from kids with T1D in Bolivia.

Check it out here: Profiles in Strength: A Story of Type 1 Diabetes in Bolivia

One more thing – I suspect I’ll stop posting my blog on Facebook soon, so if this is the way you find out about new entries, please follow me so that you’ll be notified in your inbox. You can always unfollow or adjust email settings if it becomes too much! And please feel free to share this blog with anyone who you think might enjoy it.

Thank you,
Katie

136 mg/dl and a break…

Dear Readers,

It’s the eighth day of blood sugar (reporting) and I’m over it. I’m ceasing the experiment due to ethical concerns for me, the participant.

You wouldn’t know it, but typically I’m very private about my blood sugar. This has been a big stretch. It’s been a good experiment and I have many, many thoughts to share after the holidays. For now though, I’ve realized that the extra burden of reporting has gotten me too in my head about this whole game and out of touch with the necessary and natural intuition that is one ingredient in my personal magic potion of blood sugar management.

Parting thought for now from a friend who also has T1D – “You can do everything the same way twice and not get the same results.”

Genius. So true. Also, so frustrating, if you think about it too hard. For me, having T1D is an interesting reminder that mind and body are one, and that listening to oneself is key.

So in sum – have a wonderful holiday however you choose to celebrate, and thanks for sticking with me this past week on the nighttime blood sugar sleigh ride, where Santa’s asleep at the wheel and every reindeer is in charge! [stretch metaphor 🙂 ]

196 mg/dl

On the seventh day of blood sugar…

I slept in an hour past my alarm (it’s ok, it’s Saturday) and my meter gave to me

a 196 mg/dl.

Yesterday I went to the gym in the middle of the day and a yoga class after work. I ate well enough and went to bed at 137 mg/dl, still with a little insulin working in my body (did not finish eating by 8 pm).

It’s hard to exercise after work and still get in a reasonably early dinner. It’s a strange trap to have to choose between the two.

But really, I think my bg crept up in the morning hours, as it does if I fail to take my 24 hr insulin around the same time every day. I had taken a little booster shot of it the night before, as is my habit on weekends. Typically I take my 24 hr insulin at 6:45 AM or so. I take a pretty small dose and it seems to wear off at almost exactly 24 hrs for me; meaning that if more is not injected to replace it, I will begin the slow rise. I meant to wake up at 8:30 AM, but my body knew better and kept on sleeping.

Health trade-offs. Not pleased about this. Blogging a number that is ‘too high’, gives me a new understanding of how kids must feel when they have to report their blood sugars to doctors or parents. Intuitively, we know that the number is not a grade or score, but it can sure feel like it. I wasn’t a kid when I was diagnosed, so I’ve always been a self-grader, but I bet it’s scary when you feel like your actions are going to be judged by others because of a blood sugar reading. I bet it feels like that sometimes even when others aren’t actually judging you.

131(?) mg/dl

Yesterday was a wash.

Literally, it was gray and pouring out. I stood by my window at work and felt dampened by the weather.

Figuratively it was one of those rare days when I forget my meter at home – and this left me unmoored, confused, uncertain.

I do this, I would say, about twice a year. I realized it after walking and busing almost all the way to work. I can’t park at my work, so the thought of going back home felt to my maximum-productivity brain like a real waste of time.

In truth though, not having my meter really isn’t safe – I typically can feel my low blood sugar coming on, but I learned yesterday that I really overestimate my ability to feel where I am – so much of that ‘feeling’ is really a complex set of predictions based on my last reading, which ideally is no more than 2 hours ago. And about the safety thing – my rational brain knows that taking the two hours of sick leave it would have cost to go back home for my meter, is a lot less than the amount I would have had to take if I’d had a real problem (read: very low or high blood sugar) because of it.

Every time this happens I think of the kids with T1D who I met in Bolivia who can only test two to three times a day, max. Checking infrequently is their norm. I think of them and wonder how they manage when I feel so utterly lost.

A friend asked me how I was yesterday – I said I don’t know. I didn’t know. How I’m doing is very tied to my blood sugar, I realized anew.

Realizing anew is frustrating isn’t it? We realize, we forget, we tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, and then we have to realize anew!

Anyway, I ultimately did decide to leave work early. When I got home I was in the low 200’s. I took some insulin, did some yoga and then, as a reader so keenly pointed out in yesterday’s comments, of course went low before dinner. About 2 hours after dinner I was 130, an hour later I was 175…can I explain that? Nope. Not even a guess. Too few data points to guess. Correction dose, bed. I woke up at 3:51 AM at 150 mg/dl; at 7 AM at 131 mg/dl. Grateful to know.

“So what’s the plan?” I ask myself, because after forgetting my insulin pen one day, I installed an extra labeled in a plastic bag in our shared fridge. The plan is definitely, as of today, to store a backup meter at work. I have several from years past on different insurance plans, and I still have enough test strips left to get me through a mess up day.

*Reminder about the big, giant disclaimer: I do not have medical expertise and this is not an advice blog. I’m not saying that the way I manage is the right/safe way, or that my goals and targets are right/safe for anyone else, but rather I am simply recounting my experiences as a person living with Type 1 diabetes.