Tag Archives: Answers

Is That A Pager? And other random things that make me go… hmmm….

It happens at least once a week, more when I’m around people and have to pull out the pump from my pocket. “Is that a pager?” Now, after being asked for like the 500th time, I have some alternate answers to that question.

“Yes, yes it is. Problem?”

“I’m a doctor.”

“It’s actually a morphine dispenser. Want some?”

I can go on and on as to what I tell them and what they ask me. Sometimes they ask if it’s an iPod or something. Yes, it has internal surround sound. Beat that.

There are other things that we people with diabetes use that typically other people want to use just so that they know what’s going on in their bodies, like a CGMS. “Really?” I thought as I read a comment on my Instagrammed CGMS photo from the gym. “I need one of those for my workouts!” it read.

Here I am, not wanting to use the damn thing because of pain and comfort issues, and this guy wants to use it because he’s a workout freak. Can’t they make something like that for the general public? Make it more painful while you’re at it.

The fact that we live in a data driven society makes me weak with an overwhelming nausea. Fitbits, pedometers, heart monitors, work out apps, calorie counters, spread sheets, all that good stuff that people look at and collect is just too much. The first time the doctor took my pump and downloaded all the information it had stored, I was going to throw up. It was like he was reading my diary.

He knew when I took it off, when I didn’t check, could assume why I didn’t check and why I did (and he was right), could tell me when I ate, how I slept and even knew my deepest, darkest secret! (Just kidding on that one, but they can also see when you take it off during “intimate times.”)

They gave me the print outs of all the information that they downloaded off the tiny purple MiniMed and I was overwhelmed, confused and wanted to faint. Did I really have to know about all the numbers and trends and graphs and data points in order to know I felt good? Did I have to know all of that so that I could check my blood sugar and make a smart decision on how much insulin I was going to take? Normal people don’t even know their blood sugar levels on an hourly basis, yet we were getting it every five minutes. Oh, how jealous must those data nerds be right now?!

I find it interesting that diabetes is such an epidemic that everyone is willing to test you on and question (“You know, I heard that if you…”) yet those same people who are ready to judge really have no idea what we go through or what life is like. When you talk about the pain, the discomfort, the repercussions of the sickness, most people say, “I’d never be able to do that.” Yes you would, modie fodie, because you want to live, breathe, dance, survive. When your life is on the line, you’ll do as much as you can to keep it.

After feeling humiliated and naked after they checked out my data points, I decided that I’d have to be really good and not try to mask things. When you have diabetes, your numbers tell it all. It’s like that idea that you can’t hide what you eat because it shows on your body. I can’t hide what I’m doing to myself because it shows on the CGMs. Caught! Red handed!

Sometimes it’s not about the management of the actual disease as much as it’s about the conditioning to keep things on track. It becomes clock work after a while. I wake up in the morning and grab my machine on my way to the bathroom to wash up. I test and brush my teeth, then go along my merry way. That’s my morning, before I make a smoothie, work out and clean something.

Once you do something for 20 days straight, it becomes a habit. How about if you do it for 20 years straight? I think I’ve skipped checking a few days out of those years, quite honestly.

Now I want to know– if you have diabetes, what situations or things have you found yourself in that make you go “Hmmm…”? Tell me! I want to know! 

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Does diabetes really disable me?

Through work, we are voluntarily asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding disabilities– making sure they hit quotas, I suppose, on supporting the people with disabilities in this world. I voluntarily answered the questionnaire, like usual, not afraid of any question that should come up, especially because I don’t think of myself as having a disability.

As I reviewed the questions, I saw it on the list: Diabetes. All of a sudden, a trigger went off in my head and I almost closed the questionnaire because I didn’t want to admit that I had a disability. Would anyone?

In the end, I didn’t close it and I ended up finishing it, however there was a feeling of anger and resentment that went through me. I thought, I’m never going to be like everyone else. I’ve come to this realization many times in my life– it wasn’t something new to me or to anyone. In fact, I’ve written about how diabetes made me different multiple times and I wasn’t ashamed of it.

But now, work knew. The people who employed me and those above them now all knew that I had diabetes. Again, this is not something that I’m ashamed about, however it is something that I’m weary of especially because to those who don’t know me, I’m another person with diabetes– enter all of the stereotypes that screw with the mindset of those who are ignorant to the disease.

Was it really a disability? A few hours later that night, I told one of my best friends about the questionnaire. “You don’t have a disability!” he said to me, so confidently. I smiled because I was grateful to him and to all of my friends who feel the same way.

It’s not a disability simply because I don’t treat it like one. I technically have not been disabled from doing anything in my life. Besides wanting to maybe be in the peace corp or a fighter pilot (because I mean, who doesn’t want to do something like that in their life?), I’ve done everything that I’ve ever wanted to do. Sure, a vital organ in my body doesn’t really work the way it should and I’m part cyborg because of the pump that I wear on my hip, but in no way was that a disability.

I take care of myself as best as I can. Sometimes that does slip from me because of my busy lifestyle and all the different things I get myself into. At times, I don’t check myself as frequently as I should, but I always keep my pump on. That’s one thing that I can’t not do; I can’t not take insulin. It’s not like taking aspirin or a pill of some sort. It’s not a medication that I’m taking to help me live. It’s a hormone that I NEED to live.

The kicker here, is that diabetes can become a disability. If I let it slip enough, I can go blind, lose a limb, lose my life. This is why I continue to go to the doctor so that I can stay on top of my issues and making sure that I can prevent any harm that may come my way.

It’s important to track and important to know what’s going on in my body, since it’s not something that I can take advantage of and not think about. I was told to go back to the continuous glucose monitoring system to help better control myself and I have. There are dietary restrictions that I’m putting on myself just out of mere knowledge and understanding that certain foods don’t cooperate with me. I have to do these extra things so that diabetes NEVER becomes a disability.

There may be sacrifices, but I don’t see them that way. I see them as ways to live a better and longer life. If not eating rice and bananas means I get to stay here and enjoy life for a few more years– then so be it. Here I’ll stay.

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Filed under Complications, Diabetes, Health, Personal

When Your Child Is Diagnosed With Diabetes…

Two of the most important people in any child’s life are parents. No one is going to dispute me on this, I hope. We can also add any parental figures to this as well.

They are your initial caretakers, guides, protectors, allies, sponsors—they are your world and you are theirs. They pick you up when you fall, they tell you that everything is going to be OK and they know that you’ll make it past your first bike crash, burn and flu.

Until something happens that can’t be reversed. This is more than a cold that will pass or a fever that will break. This is something that will forever change the way their child will look at the world and the way that they will consider their child’s needs. This will mean excellent health insurance and health care. This will mean a number of checkups and monitoring of daily activities, proper meals and emergency kits, always hoping for the best of days yet knowing that every day is different.

It will mean daily shots, finger pricks, carb counting, understanding what the child is going through and what’s more is the challenge when the child is too young to speak and cannot relay how he or she is feeling. Keeping track, finding patterns, relaying information to not only the doctors but also trying to explain what’s going on to the child, while worrying about everything else that comes with a family is trying and exhausting.

This is what happens when your child is diagnosed with diabetes. The world changes. Not only does the diagnosed child have to learn to manage the disease, so do the parents of that child. The meaning of “it takes a village to raise a child” becomes real and suddenly the life of the child is literally in their parents’ hands.

I was diagnosed at seven years old with Type 1 diabetes. I followed directions from my parents, found it funny when I would start to shake from hypoglycemia and made lowering my blood sugar a game to play every day. I could talk and could tell my mother how I felt. I also know that my mother was very sad at the time. I didn’t understand why, only because I didn’t understand what having diabetes really meant.

As I got older, my mother helped me to understand different aspects to my body and what happened to my pancreas but she could only guess due to the fact that it wasn’t happening in her body but in mine. At the age of 18, she told me to start going to the doctor by myself. From watching the way she talked and trusted in doctors of all kinds, I learned to do the same and ask questions about the tests and numbers they were constantly doing.

Sometimes I find myself thinking about myself and my future children—will they develop diabetes, too? Along with that, will they be born with it and diagnosed at months old as opposed to the way I was diagnosed? What would I do if that was the case?

I can’t imagine what my mother was going through. I don’t understand the feeling of having something “go wrong” in your child that you have to figure out and learn about and then manage. However, I have given both of my parents the props to do what they did and the help to guide me in the right direction. I give all parents a big congratulation for getting through any type of disease with their child.

I don’t know how I would be or what I would be doing without the help I received from my parents. They’re the ones who laid it all out for me and understood that I wasn’t going to let this get in my way and that all they needed was to be there to support me through it all.

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Importance of Diabetes Awareness: Do you have a pancreas? Beware of Diabetes.

Apparently, we haven’t been screaming loud enough or taking the proper measures to ensure that people know how big of impact diabetes is making worldwide. I’m honestly quite shocked that new and updated numbers about those living with and those living with who have gone undiagnosed have not yet been revealed. The last time that I looked at the stats, they were the same, so let’s not dwell on that.

Let’s dwell on the fact that people are still not aware of the repercussions and issues that lie ahead for our country and our world if we do not do something about the health and wellness for those communities who are getting hit hardest by this epidemic (because by definition, that’s what this is). Additionally, there are things that need to get done for those living with Type 1, not just Type 2, as well.

I don’t know if I should technically call it discrimination, but I’ve come across those folks to who’ve been “shocked” to hear that I have diabetes. I’ve also come across those who feel like they can cure me of my disease. Trust me, I’ve had those beliefs myself but to no avail, I know that this is a lifelong battle I’m going to have to go through. But how long will we be able to go without starting to ask questions about a cure or a more formidable lifestyle that’s agile and convenient, because I’m going to be honest, I’m tired of this disease.

Regardless of all of that, people who are shocked to hear that I live with diabetes are also ignorant to the fact of how it all works, possibly taking for granted the fact that their bodies work the right way. As a society, we are not aware of how diabetes comes into our lives, the causes nor the effects that they have on us as a whole, and in turn don’t understand how to fix the problem. That’s what we need to get to—people have to learn what’s wrong in order to fix it.

Let it also be known that I’m jealous of Breast Cancer Awareness. Yes, I said it. The whole month of October turns pink. And I have to wonder, is it the fact that Type 2 diabetes is, for lack of better description, believed to be a lifestyle onset disease rather than something that “just happens” the reason why people don’t support it? Because when it comes to diseases that kill people, Diabetes takes more lives than breast cancer and AIDS combined. However, that doesn’t seem to be enough to cause a ruckus, which I think is due to the inability to comprehend just how bad it can be and how with some awareness it can possibly be curbed.

There’s an Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, the NFL got in on it with their pink gloves and now retailers are merchandising pink products during October because, well, they need to make money on your boobs, too! While the ADA has its Walk to Stop Diabetes every year, it is nowhere near the fundraiser or awareness tool that it is meant to be. If those diagnosed were walking, there would be well over 70 million people taking to the Lake Shore Drives of the world. (I live in Chicago.)

During November, we should be talking about the issues that those living with diabetes face. These topics include the lack of healthcare; the lack of resources; the lack of education; the lack of proper doctors and medical service people who actually know diabetes inside and out and who can suggest proper measures to ensure the well-being of those who have been diagnosed or have been living with it for years.

We should be talking about the advances in medicine like the strides in creating pumps closer and closer to becoming the artificial pancreas we’ve all been waiting for in order to take our lives back and not live under the beck and call of this monster of a disease. We should be taking part in studies and writing about them—as I will next week.

There are plenty of us living with this disease and we’re loud and proud and active in so many spaces, that we should make those funders of health and illnesses listen to us, to know that we need to do more in order to teach people about diabetes— all types. We should be preaching to the choir, but have those members of the choir preach to their flock.

Think about it, I don’t have breast cancer, I hope to never have it, and I know about it. Why do I know about it? Because I’m a woman and have breasts. Doesn’t everyone have a pancreas that has the chance to malfunction? Not to be a Debbie Downer or anything, but folks should learn more about the pieces of their body that MIGHT have a chance of going awry.

The importance for talking about diabetes has not died, nor will it ever. It’s an epidemic, disease, disorder that will impact citizens of the world for as long as people walk the planet. We, as “preachers” or members of the DOC write and talk and expel and share and endure all that comes from having the disease, but now it’s time to reach out to those who have a pancreas to make an even bigger impact. I mean, I got a tattoo that represents diabetes awareness so that people HAD to ask me about it, even if they don’t have diabetes and know no one with it.

So, during this month of November, I ask you, how can we keep the conversation going?

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Preguntitas…

Here’s something I haven’t done since I’ve started. I want to ask if anyone out there has any questions about diabetes and being Latin@.  If you have any questions concerning food, substitutes, exercise or anything else, ask away!

But first, I’d like to thank the chicas from the TikiTiki Blog, who mentioned my blogs on their piece Latina Bloggers for 2011. The only little problem I had was with my last name. It’s spelled with a G not a Q. It’s fine, my landlady did the same thing on the mailbox.

So, back to my preguntas! All right, I’m seriously going to be waiting for people to ask some solid questions. Whether it’s personal about me or about having diabetes or about what can happen, I’m an open book and will tell you what you need to know!

That’s my blog post for today. I will be posting it everywhere, so don’t be alarmed if you see it more than once. If you would rather ask questions privately, please email me at kikisbetes@gmail.com. Otherwise, post a comment!

Te estoy esperando!

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Filed under Culture, Diabetes, Health, Latinos