The Feeling of Not Fitting In

Food and drink is a universal joiner. It brings people together and is the center of the gathering most, if not all, of the time. Even if you’re at a concert and food is not served, alcohol is. A recovering alcoholic can get a non-alcoholic beer if wanted. Lucky bastard.

A type one that is under control of their sugars, that pays attention to their body, and actually cares for their health–often feels left out at such gatherings. The people in attendance do not keep food from them or hoard the liquor for themselves. The person in question, the type one, it’s that their damn pancreas has made it such that the they can’t fully participate.

Ordering a pizza at 1am at a party? Shouldn’t eat it. Meeting for dinner at 9pm on a work night? Gonna have a bad morning and have to play catch up to your sugars all of the next day. Want to sit at 10pm and drink wine while your sister cries about her broken heart? A recipe for disaster.

It’s not that I never partake in the above situations. It’s that I am consumed with the math in my head of how to fix what will happen to my cells, I am beating myself up for eating bread at such a late hour, I am acutely aware that I can not participate fully in one of the things that makes us human. Social interactions with food and drink.

And that is frustrating. It happens every single day. From the breakfast prepared for the six members of your home and yours is completely different to peeling the cheese off of the pizza and only consuming that. Leaving a sad pile of starches and feeling badly for the waste of money your co-workers spent on a pizza you shouldnt’t fully devour. Being actually sad that you are passing on birthday cake and they are all smiling as they stuff their faces with the delicious dessert and you just want to scream at their damn working organs. Then walking back to your desk and eating carrots. Not cause you are a health nut and living a super clean Gwyneth Paltrow life, but cause your body will turn on you if you eat that thing.

That makes me want to stay inside. Not even go to the party. And someone always says something stupid like, “Oh, you can’t have sugar?” or “Your diabetes must be really bad, huh?”

“No, Aunt Jane Doe, I can eat whatever the fuck I want and yes, my type fucking one diabetes is horrific.”

It’s also being reminded that my body does not do what it is supposed to. That my body does not function at full capacity. That the thing you are eating can slowly kill me.

I have no idea if other type ones do this sort of thing. It has taken me years of trial and error to see that the above changes help me live as my healthiest self.

I type this while consuming a green smoothie at a tea shop, my sugar at 83 and slowly about to rise, wondering if I will have to inject insulin to process this beverage. (93 now and rising—get the insulin!! Also, it was fucking 42 and that’s why I got the damn thing in the first place. Now, I have to take insulin for the damn thing?! I would like some consistency, Disease!!)

Did I mention that I am also terrible at math?!

Spoiler alert: that wine drinking at 10pm is usually for MY broken heart, not my sister’s.

 

First Dates, Angie Style

First dates are super tricky enough. Am I right or am I right? I’m right.

What the hell do I wear, he wants to see me Monday but I need a haircut and Lucy isn’t available til Thursday, I have to run home and make sure my kids feel supported by their single mother and then drive all the way back out to Chicago, it’s hot and my forehead sweats crazy town in this heat, I need to stop for gas, what if he is not as cute as his profile, what if he’s a bigot or his favorite show is Two and a Half Men?

Add to it: we are meeting for drinks at 7:30 but will that turn into dinner? I need to eat so should I eat before in case it is JUST DRINKS? What if I take too much insulin with the meal I eat before meeting him and I get low at the table? What if I get high and have to take several shots of insulin at different points and he thinks I keep going to the bathroom to vomit or do drugs? What if he sees my CGM site and thinks I’m a horrid beast?

What if he hugs me, cause he likes me and we are getting flirty, and he FEELS my CGM? What if he asks me what it is?

“Ug, it’s a thing. Damn it. I usually don’t have this conversation until it seems the fella wants to see me again.”

I take a sip of my Tito’s and soda and I wish my body was just intact so I didn’t have to fucking do this.

“Do you have type one?” he asks. “Is that a pump?”

I light up inside. How does he know to even ask it that way? Most people just say, “Do you have diabetes or something?”

“Yeah, I do have type one, since I was a kid. It’s not a pump, it’s a CGM.”

He does not know what a CGM is and we speak about it enough for him to understand. He hears me say that it keeps me alive cause I get so low, so fast that I am on the verge of coma, seizure, and/or death. He hears that it keeps me alive. So, it’s pretty damn important.

I show him a photo on the Dexcom site of what it looks like.

And he orders another drink.

I have survived another one of these conversations.

It is difficult having a device on my body. It reminds me every damn moment that my body is failing me and I need medical advances to stay alive. It reminds me that at any moment my body may just shut down simply because of a lack of glucose.

I have a super happy disposition. Like, for reals. I am happy that I laugh at everything; that I am stronger than most and have come out waving my fist wildly is some dismal situations, laughing all the while. That is the only way I can get through the constant pain and frustration of this disease.

To fucking laugh at it.

So, yeah, guy I’m on a first date with. I’m a cyborg.

 

 

 

Michelle Obama has Ruined My Days

Everyone gets really excited when someone brings sweets to work. The office is a buzz for about 10 minutes while the word spreads.

If you are at my place of employment then you also hear this shouted across several desks: “I brought donuts….SORRY, ANGELA. Hahaha.”

What the mother effin what?

“I’m buying everyone new shoes! SORRY, JOE WITH NO FEET. Hahaha.”

“Let’s all walk to the corner for lunch. SORRY, KIM IN A WHEELCHAIR. Hahaha.”

“Everyone gets tomorrow off for Family Day. SORRY, BLAKE THAT LOST ALL HIS FAMILY IN A HOUSE FIRE SO THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE MOST ARE DEAD. Hahaha.”

I don’t get it. I never have. The lack of understanding and insight into type one diabetes is so vast. However, does that mean someone should make a joke of it? To the face of the person with the disease?

I know nothing of epilepsy. Nothing. But I’m not a dick wad. I would never say to an epileptic, “We are gonna rage with our strobe lights tonight. SORRY, HANNAH WITH EPILEPSY. Hahaha.” People would stop what they are doing and take it to the mattresses for poor Hannah. As they should.

But type ones, we kinda just have to take it. People think it is funny that food, or the lack thereof, may kill us.

Also, IT IS NOT OKAY TO SAY THINGS LIKE THAT TO A TYPE TWO, A PRE-DIABETIC, OR A GESTATIONAL DIABETIC.

I get a bit more incensed as a type one, as I should. I did not eat or sit myself to my disease. The public is so ill-informed. Including good ol Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama is known for her Let’s Move campaign which is pretty great. I think. I have no idea. I just Googled stuff she said about diabetes. Her Let’s Move is an attempt to get the youth of America moving. As they should. It’s weird how much they sit. On the day of the campaign launch on 2/9/2010 she said, “Economic experts tell us we are spending outrageous amounts of money treating obesity-related conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.”*

Um, did she just say my disease is obesity-related? To the entire world? “TYPE ONE IS NOT OBESITY RELATED FOR FUCK’S SAKE” came spitting out of my mouth. (Earlier in the speech she did cite type 2 diabetes specifically. It’s just that she should have kept that going.)

Even before that, she had this thing with elementary kids at the White House. They planted a garden, tended the garden over time, then picked the veg and fruit, then made a meal, and ate it with Michelle.  Sounds super fancy. The anticipated meal was called The White House Garden Party, 6/19/2009 at 4:30pm….if you care. She said a whole slew of stuff that must have bored the kids to tears. Such as, “ Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high-blood pressure are all diet-related health issues that cost this country more than $120 billion each year.”**

Are you frickin kidding me?! Who does her fact checking?! Two more words would have made her speech accurate and not enrage type ones across the United States. TYPE TWO was all she had to say. That’s it. She actually said that my disease is DIET RELATED. She ruined my life in that moment. Ruined it.

There are two problems here. 1) People being inconsiderate assholes and 2) people being inconsiderate assholes.

I joke about my disease all the time and so do my close friends and family. It is common to do bits with my improv team centered around my diabetes. If I couldn’t laugh at life and especially laugh at it with people who love me, life would be tragic.

BUT…..

If you are in a place of power, do some light research before saying that diabetes is diet related. Duh.

If you are not my friend or share my bloodline, do not laugh in my face about a disease that can kill me at any moment. Duh.

 

 

The spots where I done read my Obama quotes: *https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-first-lady-michelle-obama **https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-first-lady-white-house-garden-harvest-party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the world, failed organ

Betes. Dia-betus. T1D. Broken pancreas. My pancreas abandoned me. Type one, not type two. This is how I say, “I have type one diabetes.”

I was diagnosed the summer of 1999. I had just graduated high school. I got really super sick and ended up in the ICU with a blood sugar over 1000. I was in and out of a stupor for days in that hospital bed. When I woke up from the minor coma I was in, I should have lost brain function. But alas, I did not. I recovered fully. Except for the type one diabetes part.

I have been a T1D for over half my life. I’m a single mom with two kids, sit at a desk talking insurance all work day, exercise intensely six days a week, sometimes five, and am an improviser in Chicago. This seems like no big deal, like you know plenty of people doing the same thing. The difference is my body wants to slowly die, on a cellular level, every damn second of my life. On a cellular level my body works harder than pancreas-loving bodies to stay alive. I am exhausted, on a cellular level, everyday. My cells do not have what they need to function. My pancreas up and quit on me for no fucking reason. Wait. There is a reason but no one knows what is, yet.

When you eat, all food turns to glucose eventually. Some foods take longer to turn to glucose, like plain ass oatmeal. Some turn quickly into glucose, like jelly beans. Glucose is what gives our cells energy. That does not mean that the more glucose you eat, the better your cells are. Don’t go shoveling glucose into your system to help your cells out. For reals.

Anyways, the food goes into your bloodstream and turns to glucose. Then it is carried to the cells and used accordingly to provide energy. It is carried to the cells by this fucking hormone called insulin. Insulin is fucking needed to fucking live. Now, if the insulin does not carry the glucose to the cells, the glucose just sits in your bloodstream. When it just sits in your bloodstream, your blood sugar/blood glucose is raised. High blood sugar damages your organs, makes your circulation all messy, and a whole heap of other ailments. In addition, your cells have not gotten the energy they need to function and therefore, keep you alive. The cells decide to forge on and attack your fat cells for energy. So, there is inevitably weight loss. But then the fat is gone and now the cells have nothing to eat. Now, they slowly shut down.

Meanwhile, the glucose that is just sitting in your blood stream is now creating ketones. Ketones will kill you. This is called ketoacidosis. Ketones, and this absurd ketoacidosis, are real bastards. High blood sugar over long periods of time can result in amputations, blindness, kidney failure, and/or death from diabetic complications. High blood sugar has serious long-term effects. Totally tubular.

On the opposite end of that is when there is too little glucose in your cells. You have insulin that was released to cart that glucose off to your cells. What if there is too much insulin and not enough glucose? You’d think the insulin would just go sit and wait to be used later but no, it is an impatient asshole. The insulin now attacks everything. It is eating you alive from the inside and you are now shutting down, losing all energy, and headed for coma, seizure, and/or death. Low blood sugar has serious short-term effects. Super cool.

So, a type one, me, does not have this hormone. Therefore, a type one can slowly and painfully perish from high blood sugar, medically called hyperglycemia OR quickly and painfully perish from low blood sugar, medically known as hypoglycemia.

Did I mention that insulin also tells your body how much fat to keep from the food you eat, when you are hungry, and when you are full?

Not having this insulin hormone naturally occurring in my body fucking sucks so much. 

I inject insulin as needed and eat glucose as needed. Which is like, all the time.

Now, and this is important, just like everything I said before is important. Type one diabetics and type two diabetics are not the same flipping thing. Here is my honest and quick telling of how they differ.

Type one diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The pancreas of a T1D does not produce insulin and there is not a known cure. A T1D did not cause it by eating too much damn sugar or sitting on their damn faces. There are plenty of T1Ds that do that, I know, but that is not what caused their disease. A type one is in constant battle with high and low blood sugars; constantly striving to stay in a normal glucose range.; always fearful of dying from hypoglycemia. There is not currently a cure or preventative technique for type one diabetes.

Type two diabetes is a metabolic disorder. The pancreas of a type two diabetic does not produce insulin, or produces too little of it, because of their lifestyle. That is, their diet and activity level. You may always have type two diabetes but you can simply manage it with healthy food choices and activity level. A type two is trying to get their blood sugar down to a normal range. The cure and preventative technique for type two diabetics is to eat healthy and to move your body.

Do not confuse them. It is ignorant. Nay, stupid. It is stupid. Don’t do it.

My body does not process food. I have to inject insulin to do that. I have to draw blood from my body and see how much or how little sugar is in my blood. I have to look at food before I eat it and decide how much insulin I may need to process said food. I have to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same time everyday cause my body does not like surprises. I have to immediately get glucose into my system if my sugar drops too low. I have to know my blood sugar before going to bed, before being alone, before driving, before working out, before everything. I think about this disease probably every ten minutes of everyday because I am determined to not let it kill me. I am in control. I am reminded 52,560 times a year that I have a disease and I am the only one that can steer its direction.

I am scared and I am tired and I feel alone most of the time.

Type one diabetes is a fucking ass bag.