Just don’t touch me, part 1

This is the first in a series (2 part, more?) called, “Just don’t touch me.”

A couple of weeks ago I was walking home from work in the afternoon. I was wearing one of my favorite dresses, black and sleeveless with multi-colored print around the hem. Is this relevant? One never knows.

I was deep in thought; lost in the twists and turns of my mind, but beginning to unravel and straighten things out. I came to an intersection where the fast road meets the city roads and things slow; sort of the awkward convergence of residential and business, sidewalks in pieces and people sparse.

Up ahead, a man approaches. He’s wearing a hat, sunglasses, somewhat clean clothes sans much style. He looks younger than me by a bit. We’re heading towards each other. Typically, you might imagine the scene unfolding in the following way:

  • Our paths meet
  • We look at each
  • One or the other says hello, or nods, or doesn’t
  • We both continue on our path
  • The end.

But it didn’t go down quite like that. As I approach the man, who I would characterize all around as blasé and non-descript, I can tell he’s staring at me hard, despite the sunglasses. We’re even with each other now and instead of walking by parallel to me, he seems to block my path. An altercation is imminent; I can feel it.

Then, with a gross mixture of authority and insecurity [bravado], he says, “You’re coming with me,” to which I reply, “No I’m not,” scoffing and attempting to walk away. He sort of side follows me, like walking backwards beside me, and says, “Yes you are. I’m going to take you by the hand and you’re coming with me.” So I sort of side look at him and feel a spout of words erupting: “Don’t touch me.”

“Alright, alright, settle down,” he says. I should settle down. True, my blood pressure had gone up. He was right. Thank goodness he was looking out for my well-being.

“Settle down. I’m not going to touch you unless you say it’s ok.” Wait, are we having a discussion about this? Is there a world in which he thought I was just going to say, “Ok, yeah. I’m ready. I don’t have anything else going on. Also, I trust that your hands are clean and that you’re going to lead me somewhere safe and provide an interesting conversation – let’s go!”

No.

That’s crazy. Just like the man who was now following me.

So what’s a woman to do?

He says, “I just want to get to know you better.” Better than what? Better than absolutely not at all? Better than my favorite black dress?

“That’s nice,” I said. Nearly walking out in front of traffic to get away from him. “What, you don’t like me?” he asks(?) still following me.

Now here, I could have said one of two things (or nothing, which may have been the safest choice, in hindsight). I could have said what I did, which was, “I just have other things to do.” This was true. But what was also true would have been, “No, I don’t like you. I am experiencing strong dislike for you. In fact, this is a prime example of how someone feels when they really can’t stand another person.” Why did I have to give him a pleasant excuse? Why did I have to protect his feelings? Is it because I’ve been so conditioned by the patriarchy that I am complicit in appeasing others over speaking my truth? Maybe a little, but overall, I would say it’s because he posed a threat to my physical security and taking care of myself necessitated placating him.

Hmmm.

I hurried across a street, dodging traffic. He didn’t follow me, I don’t think, but the rage he ignited did. My thoughts had been completely hijacked. He’d exerted his power to distract me from my world and insert himself as a centrifuge of anger and fear. It is hard to get much done when one is spiraling in anger and fear.

What does this have to do with diabetes? Nothing and everything. As I mentioned in a previous post, diabetes is inextricably part of who I am now – so it makes more sense to me now to blog about life, which inevitably includes diabetes. Autoimmune conditions involve a self-attack, the body’s immune system going into overdrive and turning on its own cells, etc. In the case of Type 1 diabetes, the body attacks and destroys its insulin-producing cells (beta cells). In opposition to emotional autoimmunity* (term created), I don’t intend to let anger wreak havoc inside of me. Instead of swallowing my anger, you could say this post is a way of releasing it – so that I can get back to what I was doing.

 

 

Calling all people with diabetes!

Community Discussion: High Blood Sugar (hyperglycemia)

How do you pick yourself back up emotionally when you have a high blood sugar reading that frustrates you? Please weigh in in the comment section below! I think we could generate some good wisdom amongst ourselves!

Oh, and if you don’t have diabetes, please share this link/blog with someone who does…I know you know someone who does. I’m really hoping to build this community and you are an important part of that effort!

¿Por qué bailar solo?

Hay mucho sobre que pudiera escribir, pero quiero empezar con una discusión sobre la palabra ‘prójimo.’ Esta palabra ha entrado mi mente y mi mundo mucho recientemente, y estoy pensando en lo que significa ser una buena prójima. Otra palabra que ha entrado es comunidad. Fui a una comunidad ayer adonde es evidente que hay esta idea de vivir, en las palabras de una residente, “de una manera interdependiente.” Es, dice ella, una alternativa de vivir tan independiente, sin reconocer que somos dependientes el uno del otro. Por qué es tan dificil en nuestra cultura (en todas las culturas?? Algunas más que otras??) a aceptar que no podemos hacer todo por nuestra cuenta. Por qué se da tan mucho miedo ser vulnerable y aceptar ayuda? Pienso que es una funciona de nuestras percepciones sobre la relaciona entre nosotros y los demás, o sea, entre nuestro mundo interior y mundo exterior. Es aquí adonde traeré diabetes entra la conversación. Está semana me caí por las escaleras. Le di un asusto a la mujer que estaba subiendo desde la otra dirección. Fue interesante que mis movimientos y la acción a mi cuerpo podría moverla también – que estábamos conectadas en esta manera. Luego, en mi clase de bailar con mi pierna doliendo mal, me di cuenta que mi azúcar fue muy bajo y que posiblemente era por eso que caí. El nivel de azúcar dentro de mi cuerpo influye mis movimientos en el mundo. Esta es una metáfora perfecta para la influencia que tenemos en nuestros aldrededores. Nuestros pensamientos, creencias, prejuicios, y historias personales tienen un impacto en el exterior sin nos guste o no. Somos conectados. Solo podemos operar en el mundo sin reconocer que dependemos de otros mientras tenemos poder, o sea, hasta que perdemos el control. Para mi, cuando me caí, perdí control. Fue una experiencia humillando, que me transformó en otro cuerpo temporalmente. Este viaje, pienso que es valioso, porque permite empatía. Esto, empatía, pienso que es el ingrediente clave (para mi) de ser una buena prójima. Obviamente, hay otra moral aquí también para mis amigos que tienen diabetes tipo 1 (o 2 realmente), que es, por favor, mide tus niveles de azúcar frequentemente y cuídate cuando tienen bajos. Ahora mi pierna se siente mucho mejor y estoy otra vez pensando en como podemos usar la palabra gratitud como un verbo. Tal vez, si estamos luchando por encontrar empatía, podemos pensar en todas las cosas en nuestras vidas por lo que deberíamos tener gratitud.

H2O

10 things you can do with water (that are great for diabetes):

Brush your teeth – People with diabetes are at an increased risk of periodontal disease and oral health issues

Drink until you’re hydrated – Dehydration can lead quickly to an emergency situation during ketoacidosis

Make hummus (soak chick peas, cook them, achieve desired consistency) – The fiber, protein, and other nutrients in hummus make it one of my favorite diabetes power foods

Wash your hands – When you have diabetes, infections can cause inflammation in the body that elevates blood sugar levels, which in turn makes it even harder to get well

Mop the floor – Clean floors are a vital part of happiness

Flush the toilet – Sanitation, obviously important

Wash your clothes – Although, I read on a tag of one of my ‘Toad&Co’ shirts that ‘clean is the new dirty’ and we should wash our clothes less often

Wash your dishes – Along with the next one, cooked meals are typically healthier than meals out. Keeping your kitchen free of foodborne bacteria is important to avoiding gastrointestinal illness

Clean your (non-starchy) veggies – My favorite diabetes superfood group!

Take your Vitamin D – there’s some promising research out about the importance of maintaining healthy Vitamin D levels for people with diabetes (and all people)  

Interestingly enough, this is also a list of 10 things you can’t do without water. In my town this past weekend we were under a state of emergency for over 24 hours because of over-fluoridation and a water main break (two separate incidences). I had a friend visiting for the weekend, so she and I went to stay at another friend’s house in a neighboring county. We all had a great slumber party and then the ban was lifted.

It worked out so well for me that it was particularly sobering to realize how blessed/privileged I am – in terms of this country and internationally. I was able to afford bottles, access them, and also have a nice place to stay because of my social network. Then too, thinking about the world, how bizarre that we declare a crisis and state of emergency after an hour of reduced water when in some countries people live every day with no expectation of running water in their homes. Why don’t we think about how lucky we are to have clean water that we can access almost anywhere by turning on a tap? If clean drinking water is something you don’t think about every day, chances are you’re privileged in comparison to many people in the world. Worldwide, more than 1 billion people still lack access to improved drinking water. And in many places, global warming and industry is causing water sources that entire communities depended on to dry up completely: Climate Change Claims a Lake, and an Identity (this is a great NY Times article about Lago Poopó in Bolivia).

So I know you may be wondering, what’s the call to action here? Well I’ve got two for you. The first one is to sign up for your town’s Public Health Reserve Corps (PHRC) or another similar organization that will alert you to volunteer opportunities during crises like the water shortage we experienced. The second is to challenge yourself to discover one thing that you take for granted in your day-to-day and learn about what life is like in regards to this element, whether it be water, clean air, reliable transportation, or something else, for people living in another part of our world. Please feel free to add your thoughts, experiences and/or calls to action in the comments below!

My New Favorite Diabetes “Free Food”

I want to start off by saying that I’ve never liked the term “free food,” whether that refers to an edible’s effect on diabetes management, weight, or anything else one might be concerned with. That disclaimer aside, I use the term to mean a food I can eat without immediately and involuntarily thinking about how it will eventually raise my blood glucose, even if only slightly. The list contains beverages such as water, tea, and coffee (although some people say caffeine has a noticeable effect on their bg, it does not seem to raise mine). I do not add anything to my coffee and put only a splash of unsweetened almond milk in my tea.

Which leads me to my newest craze, and revolution, inspired by a friend of mine who does not have diabetes, but who calls this his, “bedtime drink.”

Whole Foods Brand Unsweetened Almond Milk, heated.

It’s just that simple.

I heat it until it’s almost boiling, like as hot as I would drink tea. If it’s right before bed I have it plain. If it’s earlier in the day I’ll stir in a little bit of unsweetened cocoa (antioxidants!) and then sprinkle, carefully, a dash of cayenne on top.

It’s not a sweet drink, and the carbs are minimal: 2 – 3 grams max. My favorite thing to pair it with, depending on my blood sugar, is 2 blocks of any number of varieties of dark chocolate.

I don’t do the cocoa and cayenne at night because they keep me awake. Also, for people who are sensitive to spice, cayenne can be hard on the stomach. After working at an Indian restaurant for two years and learning to enjoy vindaloo sauce, I learned to love spicy.

Lest you be concerned that I’m promo’ing Whole Foods arbitrarily, this brand in particular is my jam because it does not contain carrageenan, which is an additive derived from seaweed that has been linked to cancer in some studies.

Please note (aka Disclaimer #2): I am not a dietician/nutritionist/or otherwise medical expert. My posts are not meant to advise, but rather to simply share my experiences. 

Saying Goodbye to Mary Tyler Moore: a Member of Our T1D Community

Yesterday the Type 1 Diabetes community said goodbye to Mary Tyler Moore. The New York Times talks about Moore as a “feminist icon” in her role on the Mary Tyler Moore show and NPR discusses her comedy and wit. America knew Mary Tyler Moore for all of these things, along with her beauty and charm, but many may not know that she did it all while managing Type 1 Diabetes. In fact, she was diagnosed in her early 30’s, shortly before the Mary Tyler Moore Show first aired.  In her book, Growing Up Again, she details her journey with Type 1 Diabetes from diagnosis, to becoming a champion and funder for diabetes research. I found the book approachable and inspiring, and recommend it especially for those diagnosed in late teens or early adulthood. I want to offer a quote from Chapter 3, because it resonates with the pain I felt when I was diagnosed so clearly:

“Spontaneity is one of the first of life’s pleasures that’s lost when diabetes appears. Everything must be thought out carefully before doing almost anything. No one likes to give up any sort of freedom, but when dealing with diabetes, there are some things one must accept. This and other matters fall under the heading of control. If you don’t control diabetes, it will control you.”

In this quote I think we see the Mary Tyler Moore spirit that viewers loved her for; the feisty, playful nature, coupled with the acceptance of a life-changing condition. And yet, despite all that careful thinking, Moore did so much in her lifetime, including advocating for others living with T1D, as covered by USA Today.

I’m moved by her story because she’s celebrated as a woman who accomplished so much, and yet all the while she had the full-time job of diabetes to attend to behind the scenes. I’m so grateful that Mary Tyler Moore decided to share this part of herself, her diabetes story, with the world, and give her inspiration to our T1D community.

References:

Moore, T. M. (2009). Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Painter, K. (2017, January 25). Mary Tyler Moore was a role model for others with type 1 diabetes. USA Today, News. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/01/25/mary-tyler-moore-type-1-diabetes/97058152/

Baker, J. (2017, January 25). She turned the world on with her smile: Mary Tyler Moore dies at 80. NPR: All Things Considered. Retrieved from  http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/25/461947952/she-turned-the-world-on-with-her-smile-mary-tyler-moore-dies-at-80

Heffernan, V. (2017, January 25). Mary Tyler Moore, who incarnated the modern woman on TV, dies at 80. The New York Times, Television. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/arts/television/mary-tyler-moore-dead.html?_r=1