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Counterintuitive Island

25/09/2017 12:24


Today I am building a sandwich of sorts.  It has been a while since I shared some thoughts on “paper.”  Being an optimist (in a realist non faker kind of fashion), the sandwich is going to look like this:  good stuff, real frustrating recent experiences & observations & a happy present in progress.  As a sidebar, I never could stand the tired looking sandwich of 2 slices of bread & a few different things in between in a predictable & boring kind of way.  Since it is lunch packing season again (for the next 10 months) I found the most creative lunch recipe book recently & I have bookmarked at least 30 pages of that.  Not one of the recipes included is one of a black & white kind of routine sandwich.  These are fun ideas for adults & kids but in our case I am creating these new lunches for our 3 sons.  The recipe book is entitled, “Beating the Lunchbox Blues” & the photos are jazzy & encourage a smile when the bento box or other container you prepare gets opened up.  Even if our sons are having a bummer of a day my hope is that they can see that their Mom has tried to stir in some love with pizzazz. 

My heart’s hope is that you had a hit it out of the park summer.  Our summer here in my wee corner of the world was different.  That does not mean good or bad, just different.  The parts that I loved big time all have the same thing in common…seeing the smiles during the little moment moments.  Our youngest son, Alex, 10 now is addicted to baseball.  He practices every single day.  We found a couple of local batting cages & he practiced some more.  His baseball team won the championship this year & the picture in my memory of that final win is etched in my heart along with the tired yet exuberant smiles of those 10 year olds holding their trophies.  It was pretty cool that Alex’s team was The Blue Jays & as I have shared lots of times, that is our favourite team in the MLB.  Alex & I got to go to 3 Toronto Blue Jays games at Rogers Centre this past summer & we had an absolute blast.  Alex “aka” the Alligator got to have swirl ice cream all 3 times served in the little replica Blue Jays batting helmets because hey you are only 10 once.  Alex was able to “score” practice MLB baseballs 2 out of the 3 games mostly because he dressed up in his Blue Jays baseball uniform head to toe, pants tucked into socks and all Kevin Pillar style minus the beard.  He was and is seriously cute.   All electronics were tucked away & replaced with a good old fashioned game of catch in our neighborhood. I even got my own glove this summer which delighted our resident 10 year old.  Health-wise, I finally got into the treatment program for the dizziness, nausea & weird illness that had plagued me previously for many months.   There are some days that are still not driving days let’s say but those are only a few per month so that is great news after living and frankly feeling like many aspects of life were involuntarily on hold) with all those yucky symptoms for months & months. 

It was a different kind of summer from previous ones for us.  Our second born son, Brian officially became a teenager this summer.  We celebrated his birthday for a week.  He loved that.  Now there are 2 teenaged sons living here yikes.  Seriously, we are fortunate because our oldest son, Matt is a studious, kind –hearted, young gentleman with an eccentric sense of humor with a flair for engaging conversation about interesting topics & is always up to date on what is going on politically in the world.  He loves coffee & we love going to coffee shops every once in a while & just chatting & laughing.  I am going to miss him fiercely next year at this time when he is off at university.  Yes I will be the Mom dropping him off & then sobbing up in the car afterwards.  His room looks like a cyclone went off in it but thankfully there is something called a door that I can simply close & try not to sweat the small stuff like messy boys’ rooms.  Brian, our newest teenager is all about not getting a haircut, playing the drums & guitar & listening to music & talking about music & started going to concerts over the summer. He is a cool young man with a natural talent for listening to music & then being able to play it right back.  He is a hoot to watch on his drum kit because he reminds me of “Animal” from the Muppets.  He bangs those “skins” in a way that looks like a huge amount of fun.  He has a natural flair for other languages too & has chatted with friends who speak French & Spanish seamlessly.  And yes I will be that Mom next year who drops him off for his first day of high school & then goes back to the car & has the alligator tears.   Happily, all 3 boys humored me big time on the last summer vacation day by going out with me for glow in the dark mini golf.  Since they were such good sports about it, I surprised them afterwards by taking them for dinner at Montanna’s.  That is a rare treat because our sons eat like horses but they love that restaurant because of the mud pie dessert.  It was kid fun that day.  It was more challenging finding activities that would appeal to all 3 boys this summer.  They are not little kids anymore. 

Okay, so that is the bottom layer of the sandwich.  The middle part is the type 1 diabetes (insert any swear word of your choosing) stuff.  So, there is still no cure yet although it was supposed to be cured 5 years ago for every single person since 1920 something (tongue in cheek remark).  If you live with diabetes you will have been hearing that a cure is 5 years away for as long as insulin has been around likely.  That really (insert swear word) ticks me off.  A new gadget will be available every 5 years or less for sure.  Gadgets are gadgets & cures are cures & they are not the same (insert swear word)!  Even after having type 1 for 10 years now, it can still serve me up a curve ball.  This past summer I learned something new about the type 1 beast.  I learned the hard way that when I am in a low blood sugar doing what is smarter for me to do is counterintuitive.  Specifically, you know if you live with type 1 that when there is a low blood sugar happening thinking straight is beyond belief difficult.  The thing that I experienced over the summer is that when I was in low blood sugar & in the process of either getting ready to treat it or was in the middle of treating it that if the phone rang or the door bell rang I answered them immediately & did not or could not express to the person I was communicating with that I was in a low.  My new homework in progress is to find a way to either ignore ringing of every variety while I am in a low or communicate the low & treat it immediately somehow. (I feel like Homer Simpson stupid sometimes when I am in a low). Then there is the trouble with not wanting to offend anyone.  I have never told someone when I am in the middle of anything(aka have previous plans, am busy, etc) but instead I always drop everything & focus on the other person.  Also, I am never the one to say, “I have to go now.”  What is that all about??!!  I guess it is some leftover doormat behaviour that I still need to work on.  One thing at a time though.  Priority one will need to be the counterintuitive action of treating a low & ignoring the rest because also passing out is not polite (I am joking because humor is a great thing).  Just this morning the doorbell rang & I answered it although I could feel the unmistakable signs of a low blood sugar.  On the other side of the door a cheerful fellow in a business suit was holding an iPad & said that he just needed 45 seconds of my time.  Had I been thinking straight I would have known that there is no way it would be a 45 second interchange.  Sure enough, it was a fellow with the Jehovah’s Witnesses & he got polite me not wanting to be rude yet trying to bring the interchange to a conclusion 10 minutes into what he decided could be a debate.  Finally, I said to him that I was sorry but had to go to treat a low blood sugar.  I am sure he has heard everything yet finally that counterintuitive “save yourself” in a more physical kind of urgent way came into focus & I went & treated that damned low blood sugar & did not give a rat’s ass whether he thought I was blowing him off with a story.  Seriously, I have to make treating lows number 1 though I have learned. 

Most of us have heard the phrase, “no man is an island.”  If we live with a “365” like type 1 or another chronic illness there may be times that we feel like an island.  I know I felt like an island big time for the first 2 years of being diagnosed with type 1.  Finding another adult with type 1 was like finding Waldo.  There were days that I felt like a complete freak because I would either be having an extreme high or low blood sugar & felt like complete shit & people around me did not get it or really want to try to understand what that was like.  I had not found my circle of support & that felt like isolation in a crowd.  Part of it I realize as well was my attitude.  I could not understand why people responded or reacted the way they did sometimes with such detachment or coldness.  Here’s the thing though & that is that I expected people to get it on their own while I soldered on saying things like “I am fine” while crying behind closed doors.  I was the poster child those first 2 years for over the top positive statements & yet hiding the despair & going underground on the super shitty days.  But still I thought on some illogical level that people would see through that & offer up encouragement & connection.  It did & does not work that way in my experience.  I get how it feels to experience the sting of feeling alone & I decided after those 2 first years living with type 1 that I would never experience that again because I actively found ways to build a strong circle of support from a myriad of sources.  Along with that decision I also promised myself that I would actively find ways to reach out to others who felt alone within the diabetes community & outside as well.  This past summer I had many heart connection conversations with a dear friend of mine who has many health challenges (not diabetes).  She asked me in our most recent chats if I ever felt like I was alone in some health challenges.  I told her that she was preaching to the choir.  We were able to connect on a real human & heart level of “I get it” & man does that feel freaking amazing!  My experience is that the “wrong” crowd around me can still cause me to feel like an island so I make sure that I find ways to get around influences that remind me that I am the furthest thing from an island.  That is where the circle of encouragement comes in.  Part of that circle is people & part of it is tools that I have found that strengthen my hope & knowledge that I am not alone & most certainly not a freak.  And yes part of that circle is an arsenal of humorous content…mostly dvds of stuff like Monty Python, stand up comics ranging from several Canadians to U.S, Scottish, British & Irish comedy routines.  The best kind of exercise for me is laughing my ass off.  (My swear jar continues to grow). 

The whip cream (in my case coconut based whip cream due to dairy allergies) on the top of the sandwich is my non plan for this Fall & Winter.  This is the year that I have decided that I am not going to micro plan ahead for Fall & Winter.  These next 2 seasons are going to be seat of the pants seasons for once. (With some logical parameters of scheduling family stuff aka taxing kids & stuff like after school on days that this requires).  Maybe in the Spring I will get back on track for planning a special trip to Quebec City to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary (my husband’s & my anniversary celebration that due to my illness last Spring & most of the summer had to be delayed likely until next year sometime) for next summer.  Although I cannot speak much French I just loved going to old Quebec a few years ago.  There are parts of the trip that I wish to do again & other parts that we did not get to do last time because our sons said “that’s boring.”  Yes, I would like to experience those “boring” things & also drink oceans of espresso & super strong coffee that melts your spoon.  Whether I get to go next summer is up in the air but in the meantime my only plan is to be more present in every moment of every day including the moments when I should eat a fast acting sugar at the speed of light to bring up a low.  Some things are easier by nature to be present with & for me at least, diabetes is still a work in progress.  Thankfully I do 10-12 blood tests a day so even though my blood sugars are a dog’s breakfast, I have a pretty good idea what is going on (even at night when my beeping alarm goes off for a blood check at 2:30am).  Yes I hate that ringing the most but what I hate worse is knowing that waking up each morning is not guaranteed so I am just giving my guardian angel an assist by doing the middle of the night check in.  There is no guarantee in this life & it is bloody scary when you have type 1 diabetes in my experience just plain going to sleep at night for obvious reasons.  I don’t obsess about this but I don’t pretend that I don’t live with a life threatening disease either.  I have lost many friends that are still so young to type 1 in the past few years.  It is challenging to decide for 2 seasons to “take it as it comes” as the Brits say but it is time I feel to be in the present completely.  That is difficult at least for me to do I have found but profoundly worthwhile. 

My heart’s hope for you is that together we all make sure that we take action immediately to treat all low blood sugars like the number 1 priority that it is.  And I hope that you have a circle of encouragement that keeps you & your hope strong.  You are not an island.  I am not an island.  We are in this together.  I get it.  You get it.  Thank God.




Have a gentle start to your Fall season.  The next story sharing will be October 30th.