Everything in life I ever needed to know…

“I decided many years ago that a high blood sugar does not define me any more than a great blood sugar defines me. For 42 years I have been chasing the perfect blood sugar. It has never happened for more than a minute just the same as the really high ones do not last any longer.”

– Rick Phillips

I want to give a shout out to change. Year after year, change has stood by me. More than that, change even visits me day to day and moment to moment. So here’s to change: a truly dedicated friend.

Obviously, I also want to give a shout out to Rick Phillips, whose response to last week’s question is today’s featured quote. A big thanks to everyone who responded and added to our conversation around high-blood sugar blues and how to pick yourself up from them. Rick’s quote jumped out at me because of its utility for maintaining perspective as we manage (versus ‘control’) blood sugar and also as we manage (versus ‘control’) life. Last week I was talking to a fellow graduate student, job seeker and swimmer in the sea of uncertainty at a social for public healthers in my program. She mentioned that it’s taken her a year and a half to feel like she’s truly gotten her footing here and now it may be time to shift everything once again, perhaps even in a totally new place. I thought of Rick’s quote – how many ladders of learning and accomplishments and life experiences do we climb up, only to reach the end and realize we’ve moved not to a new plateau of constancy, but simply on to the next challenge? That sounds a little pessimistic I think, but it’s not intended to. Blood sugar management from the accept and let go perspective can sound a little pessimistic to – like, no matter how hard I try, even if I check my blood sugar and get that magic 90 mg/dl, it’s already changing, I can’t hold on to it. But! BUT! In truth, this is a comfort too. This wisdom of letting go is so helpful in diabetes and in life, because it directs us back to the process, not the product.

I think I’d like to make one of those posters like you see on the wall of dentist’s offices: ‘Everything in life I need to know I learned in kindergarten,’ except it would say: ‘Everything in life I need to know I learned from diabetes.’ That’s a little over-simplified though. In truth, not knowing has led me towards these conversations with friends and others that help me to break free from dichotomous thinking and see that there are ways of seeing and thinking about challenges that I have not even considered yet, which is itself a comforting thought.

So change, you may be a wildcard, the guest who comes to the party in sequins, carrying a jello-cake and two days early – but, you might as well come in.

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!

The Story Begins

Epilogue

If you missed Chapters 1 – 3, which precede this post, you can find them here:

You’re Never Gonna Make It

With a Minute to Spare

The Plane is Coming Back?

And in case you’re wondering, “How long can she drag this story out?” I guarantee you that this is the last in the series about getting on the plane, but I had left the moral of the story untouched, or at least inexplicit, if there is one at all.

None of this was clear to me while I was writing the story, but I realized that during the whole journey from NC to Bolivia, I was balancing two contradictory emotions: panic and trust. Is trust an emotion? For me, at the time, it was. It was a force I could call on, not from outside of myself, but not just from inside of myself either. I would like to say I knew all along that it would work out, somehow, miraculously, meaning some fluke would allow me to defy the odds and make it on my flight, but really, I think I just knew that it would all work out even if I missed my flight and ended up stuck.

How nice that I have that security, even if sometimes it might be misguided. How lucky I am, truly lucky, to be able to have faith in humanity and in individuals, to help me if I am in a bind.

Here’s the thing about the panic: I could have skipped it. I could have proceeded with my plan, read SkyMag on the short flight to Miami, leisurely strolled down the deserted aisles, and arrived at my gate, right as the woman on the intercom was calling us over to let us know that the plane was re-docking.

I’m not advocating for panic. And since this experience, I’ve learned how to calm it down, and reassure myself in the moment that if I am feeling that trust, I can lean on it, and know that even if it doesn’t go according to plan, I’ll be able to make it work. But yet at the same time, emotions overtake us and sometimes hold on with a fierce grip. I didn’t breathe until I got on the cart with Jose and as we were racing, so to speak, towards the gate, I felt that people really wanted to help me, that I wasn’t alone.

With each kindness my panic subsided a little bit more and the glowing warmth of trust that I felt grew bigger. My path was validated by each point at which it seemed unfeasible.

On the plane, making my way to my seat, all emotions stepped aside so that I could experience pure elation (and exhaustion), which I have to say is one of my favorite states to be in. When I found my row, a man sitting by the aisle got up, looked at me quizzically, like, “Where did you come from?” and then let me pass. I flopped down in my window seat. He turned to me and said, “Are you just now getting on the plane.” “Yeah!” I said and smiled. “Yeah, it came back for me. No I mean, there’s technical difficulties I guess, but I missed it, and it came back.” “Wow, you’re the only person who’s happy about this” (talking about the tech issues, which at this point we had been informed were being addressed). I just laughed. Usually I would have explained but I didn’t even really understand what had happened. So we just talked about the plans we had for our trips and our work and lives back in the US. This person would become a friend who I would run into, by chance, two more times during the course of my trip.

The story didn’t end when I got on the plane; really that’s just where it began. Looking back, it seems like the interdependent lucky breaks that I caught were tailored to fit together in one precise pattern, like a code to crack. In truth, I suspect other versions of the story that would exist had one thing been different, would also have been rich and meaningful. But the blessed nature of my departure and take-off carried me through the challenges of travel, and reminded me that I was on the right path.

We all, each day, comprise the narrative of each other’s lives and write our stories together. Today I’m thinking about how we are a community even as we are strangers. Today I’m thinking about how the difference between apathy and compassion sometimes lies in simply looking people in their eyes.  Today I’m remembering the power of helping someone get where they need to go.

 

 

The tongue may be an unruly member…

As I nursed my own aching and raw hurt, so many of my friends and colleagues expressed the same sentiment, “I feel like someone has died.” The mood yesterday (at least in my community) was funerary, grief-ridden, and I approached the world in mourning.

Yesterday I did some writing, but thought to myself that I should keep political opinions off of my blog. I realized though, talking to mom last night, who has waited, and hoped, and fought, for years, for even a glimmer of equality between men and women, that this is not, ‘talking politics,’ whatever that means, this is talking about my life.

When Donald Trump was elected, so many of my hopes for the future and my excitement at the progress we had made as a nation did truly die. My trust in humanity has even faltered. And reading the comments of my friends expressing their fears and sorrows on Facebook, reminded me that this is not just a scary time for me as a woman, it’s a scary time for me as a person with Type 1 Diabetes. With the passage of the ACA, I felt recognition, that I was no longer a person who would be stigmatized for having a ‘pre-existing condition.’ As if any of us are a tabula rasa who signs up for healthcare without any history of illness or health-related needs. ‘Pre-existing condition,’ was a label that made me feel dirty, tainted, somehow broken. It reminded me of that feeling I had hours after my diagnosis, hooked up to IVs, thinking to myself that no one would want to be with me now that I had diabetes, now that I was damaged goods.

I, like so many Americans, am damaged goods in Donald Trump’s eyes. As a friend of mine put it, under this administration we women are worthless save for our reproductive parts. (I would add that even those are only viewed as worthwhile if they are put to use). As a person, who is a woman, who has Type 1 diabetes, and who views the word ‘community’ to mean that although we are all autonomous individuals, the pain and discrimination that my friends are feeling because of the ways that this administration labels them as damaged hurt me too, I am wounded but am not giving up. And so instead of keeping politics off of my blog, I insist on having a space to speak for equality. Again and again in my life, I come back to the words that give me hope in light of injustices: “The tongue may be an unruly member, but silence poisons the soul.” Don’t be silent. Don’t be defeated. Be disappointed, but keep going. Strive to be thoughtful and compassionate and caring for each other.