Monday, November 14, 2016

Positively Diabetic

Earlier this fall a guest speaker came in to my company, accompanied by his wife and service dog.  Along with topics related to accommodating and addressing disability in the workplace, he discussed “disability positivity.”  This man was born with cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia – physically there isn’t much he can do other than some small control of one hand.  But the talk he and his wife gave was about being positive and was often laugh out loud funny.  Sure, he admitted to being frustrated by his disability at times.  Most recently before that presentation he was denied entrance to the flight from his home in Toronto to my company in Cleveland because of the size of his wheelchair (see the story here).  But he also pointed out the positives, like being more creative in life at problem solving because of things he can’t physically do.  The whole presentation got me thinking…what are the positives in my Type 1 diagnosis?  Clearly a list is in order.  All of these are true, though some are much funnier than others! 

In no particular order, the positives of living with T1:
  • I’m much more motivated to go to the gym, which may help me keep my toes in the long run.  I can’t afford for my feet to be any smaller, I wouldn’t be able to reach the gas pedal!
  • I have an excuse to eat candy in bed.  Not something I ever dreamed about, but now I have an assortment next to me every night in case of lows. 
  • I get to see the many amazing colors bruises can turn.  Technicolor!  Every injection is a mystery…will I bruise this time or not?
  • When I needed to take blood thinners after ankle surgery I wasn’t stressed out about another daily needle to the stomach.
  • I’ve learned about the incredible people who fight this disease, including some inconceivably tough kids like Luke and River.
  • I’m science fiction in motion, with a gadget attached to my arm that tells not only me what my sugar is doing, it tells my friends no matter where they are.  Beam me up!
  • I get to buy increasingly larger purses to accommodate all of my D-stuff.  Why wouldn’t I want to take luggage with me everywhere?  I’m trying to learn to appreciate a giant bag.
  • I carry portable meat in my giant purse for when I need a snack.  Portable meat.
  • I’m a part of an active online community of people with T1D where I continue to learn about fighting this disease, help others learn how to fight and where I have a 24x7 sounding board to vent to people who understand when things just don’t go the way I want.
  • I’ve been exposed to the wonderful world of skin adhesives.  That space gadget on my arm won’t stay there long without extra help.
  • I’ve developed a strong affinity for sugar free strawberry jell-o and chocolate pudding.  Don’t judge.
  • I’m more patient with myself.  There are variables in play that I can’t see or feel, and those affect my results.  I’d love to see what my sugar was right before we jumped out of that plane skydiving, but I had to leave my phone on the ground and out of range.
  • I’m better at meal planning.  It’s easier to do all my cooking in advance than worry about what they’re serving for lunch in the cafeteria or what I’m going to eat if I don’t get home until 8 PM.
  • I’ve discovered the largely invisible “diabetes” section at pharmacies.  Be honest, you didn’t know I had a section all my own where they sell things like socks and portable glucose.  No, I don’t wear diabetic socks.  But you’ll notice them the next time you’re at CVS!
  • I was diagnosed as an adult.  Why is that a positive?  Because though this may cause my parents some stress from time to time they’ll never have to live with the ups and downs and go through sleepless nights managing my T1D for me.  I caused them more than enough stress growing up!
  • I’ve developed a sixth sense for Sharps containers where I can dump the used needles I’m carrying around.
  • I’ve discovered the joy of glucose tablets.  Raspberry is delightful, orange is tolerable, chocolate marshmallow should have been destroyed 5 minutes after it was created.  I’m starting to search for new flavors online to expand my sugar palate, but I recently found “citrus punch” and “tropical fruit” at CVS.  We’ll see which end of the ratings they land on!
  • I learned that my immune system is amazing.  People say that diabetics get sick more often and are slower to heal injuries, but my immune system is so powerful it killed off a perfectly good pancreas.  I’m unstoppable.
  • Wearing a CGM means I can’t go through the scanner or x-ray machines at the airport.  Free massages from TSA every time I fly!
  • Because there are many ways to treat low blood sugar, beer has probably saved my life more than once.
  • I get to do my part to educate people about T1D.  Until I was diagnosed I knew it as the diabetes that kids get, and had no idea how serious it was.  Now I’m able to share my experience to raise awareness and change perceptions.
  • I have a blog!

Why do I carry a giant purse now?  Here's what I carry daily to take care of my T1D.  A glucose meter, needles, 2 types of insulin and a chilled pouch to keep them cold, needles, test strips, pepperoni sticks to snack on, M&Ms and glucose tablets to correct a low blood sugar plus a protein bar for before the gym.  I'm ready for anything!