Our $100 Dining Table

We haven’t had a place to eat at in years because the table Alex and I bought when we got married fell apart-well not the table, but the stools.  And it’s a counter height table so the usual chairs wouldn’t do.  Nor is that height of table practical for children so….we’ve been eating standing up or sitting on the couch or at the kid’s play table or on the ottoman.

It was driving me crazy and we couldn’t afford to buy a table so I suggested to Alex that he try making a table.  One of those simple farmhouse style tables that are suddenly popular (who knew?)  I’ve always loved their simplicity.

Anyway, Alex got right to work on it.  I haven’t seen him so happy in a long time.  He felt, dare I say, useful.  Not that he normally isn’t but you know men and their need to save the day and boy did he.  When I asked him how he knew how to do the work (he made it look easy) he said, “Well, you know at work, I’m a form carpenter.”  “No way!” I said.  You mean I married a carpenter?  Had I known this before I would have requested all sorts of projects by now.

Anyway, here is the table he made us.  The kids chose the bold blue color.  My insides screamed “no! that’s crazy!” But I managed to tell the control freak in me to be quiet and just trust the decisions of others and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

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Cancer.

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A big scary word.  Because it is.  Of course, it does depend where it is and how far along but my little personal experience with it warrants all the fear it gets.

And now one of my favorite people in the whole world, my dad, has cancer.

It certainly feels different when it hits home.  And I’m not hiding the fact that I’m freaking out.

My dad goes into surgery later this week. We hope this reveals that they can get all of the tumor and that it’s not deeper than expected.

I write about this because I’m asking for prayers or your versions of prayers-happy thoughts, healing vibes, positive energy, etc, to be sent towards my dad.  I believe it helps.  I truly do.  So even if you take just one second to send a positive thought his way, I thank you. So much.

XOXO,

Sysy

Diabetes in the Morning

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I am in the middle of a fantastic dream.  I’m a few years younger (!!!) and so is my husband (!!!) and we aren’t married or with children yet (!!!)  We are at his parent’s house after a date night, just relaxing and talking.  Only his parents are different people entirely (!!!) and the only other difference is their house has an enormous library (!!!)  Alex and I are singing along to an Elton John tune (geez, I can’t even dream the dorkiness out of us) when suddenly, from some very tiny corner of my consciousness, a little voice screams “wake up, you’re low! LOW!”

My dream must have been one of those lucid ones because in the dream I suddenly tell Alex I need to go home.  Then my dream vanishes and I find myself shaky and in bed.  Aw man, I didn’t get to check out any of those books…  I start nudging Alex next to me, “Hey, I’m low…Alex…Alex…I’m low!”  He doesn’t wake up.  I now tap forcefully when I hear a grumble that definitely doesn’t belong to Alex.  I open my eyes.  Alex has gone to work and my daughter is in bed with me.  Her eyes are closed but she wags an authoritative pointer finger in the air and says (in third person, no less)  “No, no Henri!  Aurora sleeping…”  and then she drifts off completely again.  “I’m so sorry sweetie pie!” I whisper, and bring myself to get out of bed and search for my glucose tablets, which apparently, I’ve hidden from my kids as well as myself.

I finally find them and drop back into bed.  I wake up 10 minutes later to a little boy chewing on some glucose tablets on the edge of my bed.  “No, no Henri!”  says Aurora, wagging her finger at her brother.

Free eBook Shares Diabetes Diagnosis Stories

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The online diabetes magazine A Sweet Life has put together two great eBooks you can download for free.  They are each a compilation of inspirational diabetes diagnosis stories but one shares stories from people with type 1 diabetes and the other, type 2 diabetes.

My story is one of the stories in the type 1 diabetes eBook.

It was an honor to share it and I thank A Sweet Life for doing this and offering it to the DOC for free.

If you haven’t checked out A Sweet Life, do so today-it’s full of seriously handy information and a source for excellent opinion articles by a number of people with diabetes.  In fact, I’d say the site is one of the DOC’s best kept secrets.  Check it out and have a great one!

XOXO

Who Forgets Their Diaversary?

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Me, that’s who.

November 4th marked my 18 years with diabetes.

This year, more than ANY OTHER YEAR, I’ve felt much like I did the year I was diagnosed as an 11 year old.  I feel confident, strong, melancholy, and hopeful.  That’s exactly how I remember feeling that year.  Things got worse after the first year when the realities of diabetes hit me and I rebelled.  But then things started to get better, when I began to shift my way of thinking and viewing the world.  And now I’ve come back around full circle so to speak, to the place where that young child lives in me, hoping, yearning for as much as I can make of this life.  And unwilling to back down.

If you don’t feel confident or hopeful, consider that I spent many years not feeling this way, too.  But consider that everything can change if you want it.  Just take a baby step in that direction.  And know that you can get to a happy place with diabetes.  I can still hardly believe it’s true.

18 years and counting!

The Polls in VA Weren’t So Bad

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I went to vote yesterday afternoon after my husband got home.  I was expecting to be in and out like last time around but was pleasantly surprised to see loads of people in front of me leaving me almost outside the entrance to the building.

I knew my blood sugar was around 70-80 and felt confident going in that I’d be fine to go vote and then get something to eat.  But of course when I saw all those people, I gulped thinking, “Can I make it?”  I searched my purse but didn’t have anything thanks to two little munchkins who think glucose tablets are candy.

I thought, “Well, I’m not low yet, I should be fine.”  After an hour and 15 minutes I realized I was too low to think straight and I did the irresponsible thing and argued with myself about whether it was worse to pass out in front of so many people and miss my chance to vote or walk out of the line I stood in for a long time and appear to be giving up on my voting to everyone around me.  I don’t normally care what people think but this election has me emotional and my low had me irrational so those were my thoughts.

Finally, I turned to the two ladies behind me whom I was chit-chatting with and casually mentioned, as if it were amusing, that my blood sugar was low and I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the voting booth still standing.  They looked at me and one said, “Oh, you have hypoglycemia, too?  I get low, too”.  I clarified, “I have type 1 diabetes but yes I get low and eventually go unconscious if I don’t get sugar in me.  The women looked at me with concern and one went over to the volunteer desk where people signed in and asked for some sugar and explained it was for a diabetic who needed it.

The lady at the desk looked at her huge container of juice and said, “That’s mine, we don’t have anything else.”  Another lady said, “Sorry, I don’t have anything.”  And they both went back to business.  I started feeling panicky, reluctant to make a scene and start asking people if they had Halloween candy in their purses.  I live in Virginia in a town that is divided 50/50 in this election and you could seriously feel the tension in the air.  It made me feel the opposite of warm and fuzzy and I didn’t want to ask anything of anyone.

But, I was starting to get really foggy.  All I could think was, “Sysy, you idiot, get sugar!  It’s important!” But what is it about when we’re low?  Suddenly important things become the things we hesitate about the most.

The line moved along and we ended up near the entrance to the church’s kitchen.  The three women behind me gently pushed me in there and helped me get some juice and a man ran over to me and gave me the chocolate chip cookie that he had just retrieved from his car.  I wasn’t even aware others knew about my situation.

Eyes were on me and people encouraged me to “drink and eat!” so that they wouldn’t see me hit the floor.  My blood sugar must have been really low at this point because everything was numb, especially my tongue.

After a few minutes I felt better and nervously laughed and said, “And they say people don’t help each other out anymore…”

Random comments from all around like “That’s right”, “We don’t have to agree to be united”, “People are people”, and “We’re just glad you’re ok” echoed around me and suddenly, the room didn’t feel like such a divided place.

A woman across the line said to me, “We don’t need to agree on what President to have to support each other.”

And I hate to admit it because of my cheese intolerance but that felt real warm and fuzzy.

Being Bad

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Some people are perfectionists.  I have a little of that.  As a result, I beat myself in the head with thoughts having to do with self improvement and practice makes perfect and try again until it’s right and so on.

Because of this tendency I find that I can easily go to extremes.  About losing weight, I have a hard time keeping reasonable thinking like, “I want to lose 5 pounds.”  Instead it’s “I want to be thin like I was at age 10”.  Or instead of thinking “I need to eat more vegetables” I may think, “I’m going to eat nothing but vegetables from now on until the end of time”.

I don’t actually stick to those extremes thank goodness, but it’s a nagging tendency that isn’t healthy and certainly not comfortable.

Something I learned at IIN, where I graduated recently, was to sometimes “be bad”.  Not go-to-jail bad, but stop-striving-for-unobtainable-perfection bad.

So I’ve found that when I get wrapped up in thinking that I will never eat another bite of anything unhealthy again, I plan for a night with a little ice cream.

Or recently, I got myself some clove cigars that I really like and have one when I’m feeling like all the “right” choices are kind of stifling me with boredom.

It’s hard to try to be “good” or “compliant” all the time and with pretty well managed diabetes, that’s what it feels like.  I mean, I give insulin to bring down a 130.  To me, that kind of control is worth it, I truly believe so, but to balance all that I sometimes sleep in my makeup, smoke the occasional cigar, skip a shower, or read the Fifty Shades Trilogy (yes, I read that marvelous piece of literary crap.  In three days.  My world stopped for a week.  Don’t worry about me I’ve recovered.  Team Matt Bomer!).

Being “bad” reminds me to chill.  It also makes me realize that if my idea of being bad is sleeping in my makeup, then I think I’m going to be ok.

What about you?  What do you do to be bad?

National Diabetes Awareness Month 2012

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It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month.  And what are we going to do about it?  There are so many ways to pitch in and I’ll be trying to pass the word as I hear about it.  But first, I want to appeal to those out there possibly asking themselves the question, “What’s the use?”

First off, I understand.  I mean, as a society we’re also trying to cure a bunch of other devastating diseases so sometimes it feels overwhelming trying to fight for one’s own plight.  Even though I’m doing ok with my diabetes as of 11am this morning (it’s always subject to change, I’m aware of that), others have had loved ones die, depression, financial difficulties and other huge challenges to handle alongside their diabetes.  So I want to advocate not just for myself as a person with diabetes, but for all those who are struggling immensely and paying high interests for it.  Not to mention all their loved ones.

Secondly, diabetes researchers have given us very compelling statements about how close to a cure we are.  They say the main factor between us and our cure is in our wallets.  Now if you’re like me, your wallet is more decorative these days than anything else but just knowing that possibility is a strong push for me to think “Ok, how can I advocate for diabetes and get more money to the researchers?”

The clock is ticking for all of us and will soon be ticking for many more who will be diagnosed this month.

So again, It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month and what are we going to do about it?  Just pick one way in which you personally can help.  No matter how small, your help is a big deal.

In fact, start by doing the Big Blue Test.  And stay tuned for more info.

XOXO

Sysy

Travel and Diabetes Ramblings with a Stranger

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One of my favorite places in the world is the airport.  I knew early on the significance of such a place having moved from another continent to this one as a young child.  The airport is like a revolving door of possibilities and opportunities literally flying in and out all day in the most organized fashion we can manage.  Each trip to and from an airport includes new sights and faces.  Each trip holds a little mystery and anticipation.  In an airport we’re forced to be patient.  We’re forced to have faith in others, namely the pilot of the plane.  We’re forced to sit still and be one with our thoughts and observations.

It’s so healthy.

It’s true that frequent travelers tend to dash about, mindlessly hooked to their device of choice, but I think even they must feel much of the same.

The other day as I checked my blood sugar on the plane I noticed how uncomfortable it made the older man next to me.  So I started talking.  I explained what I was doing and why.  I shared the results, “141, I’ll take it!”  The man looked out the window and let out a deep breathe.  He said, “So many people have diabetes.  It’s going to ruin our country.”

“If we let it”, I said.

“Well, I’m glad you seem to be taking care of yourself but what about everyone else?  Why can’t people just eat better and exercise?”

I went into clarifying some myths and misconceptions about diabetes while the man listened intently.  Then I said, “I wish we could bring everyone out on a trip somewhere and educate them all about diabetes and health here in the airport.”

The man laughed out loud and furrowed his brow at me.  “Oh?  Why at an airport?”

“I don’t know, just seems like a good place for all sorts of educational metaphors to really click.”

“Oh? Tell me more.” he said.

“Ok…well, just as with travelling, living life with diabetes is full of possibilities and opportunities.  In fact, every morning we get to face a new day with blood sugars that haven’t happened yet and strive to make the best of them.  Each day we have the power to choose what we are going to do with our health, you know, what we’ll eat, whether we’ll exercise or not, and how we’ll approach challenges.  We can get organized with our lifestyle habits and diabetes management routine for better, more consistent results.  We can choose to take inspiration and support from everything around us, from the people we encounter to the day’s weather.  We can learn to accept the risks of living with diabetes and not let them slow us down just as we choose to get on a plane so we can go somewhere even if we’re scared to do so.  We can learn to handle anticipation so we can move past unsightly blood sugar results.  We can learn how being patient doesn’t mean we have to wait forever and that eventually, we’ll get where we’re going.  We can learn how to trust others and ourselves to do the best we all can.  I just feel like the airport is a peaceful and safe place for learning, I don’t know.”

The man stared blankly at me for a moment and then scratched his head.  Then he laughed again and said, “And on the plane, we go over how to bring up diabetes with strangers by testing blood sugar in front of them.  Then they can ask questions, be educated, and hopefully feel compassion and understanding and spread that around.”

“See?  It would totally work!”

In between chuckles the man said, “It did, today.”

Denial

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We’re so good at it.  All of us.  Or most of us, anyway.

I just read an article in Oprah’s magazine about a woman who has worked as a teacher and a life coach.  She mentioned that she witnessed art students being instructed to draw straight lines and circles for the longest time.  And even though they felt frustrated about such a beginner task, she noticed they rarely saw the imperfection of their circles and straight lines.

Now that she works as a life coach, she helps clients accept the flaws in their life.

I was reminded how denial is our way of procrastinating on the fear and discomfort and shame we feel when we confront the truth about ourselves and our situations in life.

The thing is, those unpleasant feelings dissipate really quickly once we see truth, accept it, and act on it.

The most healing thing I’ve ever experienced is acting on the truth.  Only, the first thing to do before acting on truth is realizing it and accepting it.  Doing that made the right actions possible in the first place.

And the right actions bring the right results.

I have always noticed how people will genuinely believe in a false truth and will act on that and then wonder why they aren’t getting the results or outcome they want.  And the trust is we can put 110% of effort into the wrong actions and get nowhere.  This feels unfair but it’s just the way the world works.

It’s absolutely crucial to be brutally honest with ourselves about why we’ve gained weight, about why we’re lonely, about why we are financially tight, and about why our blood sugars aren’t where we want them.

Only then can we take the correct steps towards improving our situation.  And only then do we experienced the sense of peace that brings a full acceptance of our reality.  Our reality really isn’t that bad when we look at it.  It’s more the thought of it that’s scary.

Look at an area of your life you want to improve and sit by yourself for a few minutes.  Be really honest with yourself about why things are the way they are.  Cry, scream, let out your feelings.  And then meet them with a plan that’s full of clarity and hope.  Be really specific about your plan and layout steps for the next month, week, and day.  You’ll feel better when you’ve done this, I promise.

This is something I help clients with in my health coaching.  Because sometimes we just need some support.  Nothing wrong with that.

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