Friday, May 25, 2007

Remembering... For Memorial Day

As I drove to work this morning, I couldn’t get my Papa out of my head. I had this insistent, aching desire to see his face again. My father’s father served in the United States Marine Corps for almost 8 years. He fought, as did so many of his generation, in the Second World War.
But I didn’t know anything about that until I was a older.

Mostly, I knew my grandfather to be an eccentric, funny tough guy – who treated me not like a princess but like a fighter; like someone he loved AND respected. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, he came to the hospital. My mother said that as I slept, with an IV in my arm – too thin and too pale - he watched me – much as he had stood in the window of the nursery watching me sleep on the night I was born.

My grandfather had watched my grandmother struggle with type 2 diabetes (which in retrospect was probably type 1.5 – as she went on and off insulin for years and eventually succumbed to kidney failure) for many years. I have lots of vague recollections of the days around my diagnosis – and a few that are vivid – crystal clear. One of those clear memories is of my grandfather telling me “Coley, your parents don’t think you’re old enough to hear this, but THIS is your war. You will never give in to this, you will never stop believing that you are stronger than this disease. Do you understand that?” I nodded – even though I didn’t understand at all – I didn’t want to let my Papa down.

Maybe he knew that his words would stay in my mind, my heart for all these years – maybe he knew they’d remain – inspiring me and comforting me. Maybe he realized that when times got tough – I’d still have his confidence in me, his conviction that I’d be OK. I’ll never know. But I’ll always have that look of certainty on his face as he told me that I was strong.

I dream of him sometimes – usually of him in the driveway of his house working on his RV – cursing, laughing, having a beer. On occasion, I dream of him out of context – doing something strange or wondrous or ballsy. And when I ache to see him, as I do today, I take comfort in knowing that he’ll find me in those dreams.


Just over a month ago, another of the greatest generation left us. Bob’s granddad – who had become over these past 8 years, a granddad for me, served on a PT boat in the Second World War. The first time I visited Bob’s parents home, I saw photos of Granddad in his uniform. Those photos were my first introduction to this amazing man. I knew just looking at them that I was going to like him. The thin lanky young man standing in his dress uniform in one of them had a devilish glint in his eye and a grin that made you think he was up to something.

A couple of weeks after meeting his photograph, I had the privilege of meeting the man. We sat in the living room of Bob’s grandparents home – a home that the two of us now share. Granddad took us on a tour and then pulled out an album of photos. I heard the story of his early life in Washington State and his mother Sarah. I heard of how he joined the Navy and went to war. I heard of his spying Bob’s Gram at a dance and his thinking she was an American Indian. I heard of how he knew he would marry her, of their building a family and a home together, of their riding motorcycles and taking boats out on the local river and living a life that was – at once – stable and adventurous.

I saw in this man - all of the amazing qualities he’d passed on to his children – and more importantly, to his grandson. They were the qualities I’d fallen in love with. Love of family, strength tempered by gentleness, an unrivaled work-ethic, a loyalty to friends and loved ones, spirituality that surpassed the bounds of organized religion, patience, and a willingness to work at relationships and love.

It broke my heart to watch Granddad stolen from us. Alzheimer’s Disease is slow and vicious. But I’ll tell you – in the year before he died – there were a few moments when I could see that man I’d met all those years before. Sometimes, it was just the glint in those blue eyes – sometimes it was as he told us a story of days passed.

Now that he’s gone, I see Granddad everyday in the man I love. I see him in the person that has stolen my heart – a person worthy of everything in my soul.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Short but sweet. Or not so sweet.

A quick update.

I am hoping that some of you might have a chance and be willing to go here and support my efforts to fight breast cancer in honor of my Aunt Kaye McDonnell - who has been fighting breast cancer for several years. My Aunt Kaye is an inspiring, funny, tough New England native with a rasp of a voice, a penchant for collecting animals at her Maine Farmhouse, and a job as a victim witness advocate with the state. She is soulful and gentle and strong at once. She means the world to me. I walk in her honor!

Please help today!

I have come to realize over the past few weeks that I am compulsively fickle. A true mess of confusion - never really knowing what I want at all. There are a few parts of my life that aren't like that - a few parts that make me feel solid and sturdy and sure. But mostly - I'm fickle and flighty. Not exactly a bonus for organizations, companies, hobbies, and sometimes (but not all that often) people with whom I associate.

Had my endo appointment today... Here's how it breaks down.

Weight - Gained 2 lbs since January. This does not make ANY sense. I have cut calories and have been exercising faithfully. But there it is.

Unfortunately, my endo forgot to order my thyroid test - which might explain this nonsensical weight gain. We set it up for next time though.

A1C - 6.0 - Not too shabby, but higher than my last A1C of 5.8 - I attribute the slight rise to cutting out more lows. Which is a good thing.

LDL - Still not under 100 (just over at 105) but this is better than 149, where I was before. I still need work. Hopefully, continual exercise, medication, and my healthier diet will rein it in some more. I am also going to start on Fish Oil caplets. I wish I could take a statin. But I can't tolerate them at all. So - I battle my genetic make up (two parents, two brothers, and two sets of grandparents all make for a nasty family history of high cholesterol) with less than superior but better than none tools.

Kidney Function - Excellent!

Protein in Urine? "Not even a trace"

Blood Pressure 116/70 - great.

My feet apparently look OK.

In other diabetes news - I am returning my Animas 2020. Honestly, this is a tough decision to have made. I found that the inconveniences really outweighed the advantages of this gadget. I am going to get the Cozmo upgrade - which will give me the food database that I really wanted with the Animas without the things I didn't care for. What are those things, you ask?

The button pushing. In today's world - giving insulin in meetings and around others and trying to do so covertly is made very difficult when the number of buttons that need pushing to accomplish delivery is doubled. Sometimes, I would think I'd finished a task and I hadn't.

The one push bolus canceling thing. When you give a bolus with this machine and then put your pump away immediately, you run the risk of accidentally hitting a button - any button - and canceling the bolus. Weird, they make you confirm everything else with this pump with several button pushes, but canceling insulin delivery only takes on push. Not good. I have canceled boluses and not realized it. Not good.

The lack of software. This pump was supposed to come with software that enhances it. It did not. I cannot get an answer about when I'll have my software. And when I do - I'm wondering if I'll even like it, given how unhappy I am already.

So - I don't want a pump that's going to sit in my closet, waiting for me to use it. Especially since my insurance won't pay for another one for four years.

I think this pump might work for some people - but it wasn't the right fit for me. And this has nothing to do with my being fickle. I think.

That's it for now.

More Later.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Does being the spouse of a diabetic always make someone a negative force?

I was going to post something more. But I'm going to just leave it at this:

Diabetes does not make you lazy.

Diabetes does not make you sensitive. Being a feeling human does that.

It is not a curse to be married to a diabetic. In fact, I know many people who value, love, and respect their diabetic partners - even when they're being screamed at during their partners' lows, watching their partners' suffer through highs, or enduring their partners' generally blowing off having this disease and probably getting themselves into trouble. Some stand by, some support, encourage, demand - I've not heard many that are accusatory and angry and mean - insisting that the diabetic should just "get on with their life." I pray that no one ever tells my boyfriend that their prayer is that he not marry a diabetic. I pray that no one ever tells my young diabetic counterparts that their prayer is that they not marry a diabetic. Imagine how much that could hurt someone - even if their diabetes has not made them overly sensitive.

I have had diabetes for 25 years. That's long enough to know the rollercoaster first hand.

It's also long enough for me to know the potential my body has to malfunction and the strong likelihood that it will. The fact that I accept in silence - and sometimes not - that my kidneys MIGHT fail, my eyesight MIGHT go, my hands or feet MIGHT end up altered or gone - does not mean that I don't know these things could - or are even very likely to - happen - it just means that I've armed myself for battle with this disease and my venting is more about my day to day struggles, the challenge of "getting on with my life." MOST of us know EXACTLY what this disease is capable of - how it may ravage us.

I am not selfish. Diabetes has not made me selfish, even afer twenty five years. I know that when I'm low, I can be mean, vicious. Sometimes, I forget the horrible things I've said - sometimes I lose entire hours - there have been times I've lost even more time than that. I know that my partner struggles, I know I've hurt him in my low or high rages - I know that the prospect of a future with complications scares him, angers him, frustrates him. I am terribly grateful that even when he expresses his frustrations in writing, his ire is aimed at diabetes - not at me.

In the years I ignored my diabetes - prefering to be thin, vein, ignorant, or some other thing - I hurt people. I'm sorry about that. Again, though, I'm grateful to have had people in my life who recognized it was often the disease - not me.

All of these things to address generalizing.

A blog is a public forum - when you put things out there - you shouldn't be surprised when people react to them. When you start a post with a question like the one I started mine with, you should expect that people will be hurt - that you're implying something about them based on just one piece of their being - or based on your experiences with just one person who shares that piece of their being. Even if what you're implying is wrong/untrue - it still hurts.

Diabetes and denial and frustration with it is difficult for us all. But generalizing about people with diabetes - and those who love and care for them solves nothing. We've got to recognize that our venting sometimes hurts others. Sure, we could stop reading - but when the headline alone hurts and it flashes in your face - what then?

In the end - I owe an apology. I reacted in anger - and snapped - instead of thinking and fleshing out as I've done above.