10, 9, 8 …………..The Countdown Begins By: Juan Carlos Vazquez Every day is a ritual 10, 9, 8………the countdown begins What can I eat today? 7, 6, 5 ……. Will it be high or will it be low? 4, 3 , 2 ……..I feel like a video game What target will I have to hit…….. What adventure am I going to have to play today? Is it the Galaxy of Needles? Or Will I have to go with the flow of the Animas Pump Universe? 1, 0 ……. 95 score perfect!!
Normal blood sugars are seventy to one-forty.
His reach forty and four hundred.
His average is “acceptable” and we celebrate.
But the reality is, his body is strained.
His nervous system, vision and heart are always challenged.
Seizure, coma and even death are real risks every single day.
He is a human pincushion. Forced to bleed ten or more times daily. He wears his pancreas on the outside.
He must tell it what to do all day long. Even when he sleeps.
He must visit the school nurse throughout the day to deliver insulin and check his sugar levels.
He must leave class when he doesn’t feel right.
He must measure every single thing he eats.
With all this effort, it still ravages.
He is low. He feels “out of it” and “wobbly”. I feel guilt and like a failure.
He is high.
He feels “woozy” and “foggy”.
I feel irritable and anxious. I failed again.
We wait. For the sugar to work. For the insulin to work.
Every day. Throughout the day.
It ravages us both.
His eyes, his kidneys, his legs, his heart. Night after night, I check his blood sugar while he sleeps. I worry.
I wake with a number in my head - his last blood sugar.
Midnight. Three AM. Six AM.
It never leaves me.
It takes my spirit.
It makes me age.
He gets on the bus. I worry. It’s time to check his blood sugar with the school nurse.
I worry, with the phone in my hand.
It’s snack time.
It’s time to get back on the bus.
Still worried. Still have the phone.
The worry ravages.
We put on smiles. Brave faces. No use dwelling on the negative. There is much to be thankful for.
He eats birthday cake; celebrates Halloween.
He is smart.
He is growing.
He is happy.
He is kind.
He is strong.
But it still ravages. His body and my mind.
I am thankful. I am also greedy. I want more.
I awoke from an odd dream last night-
In a barren room sat upright a baby girl, crying.
She cried and cried and cried.
And then she drew up in her pudgy hand a stick,
And with a prick drew blood
And placed it onto an electronic tongue.
I wasn’t worried; I knew what this was about.
72. She bawled, Removed the strip, Tested again.
Click! Prick! Slurp!
72. And so she bawled, Removed the strip, And tested again.
Click! Prick! Slurp!
72. She wailed. “She won’t accept it, Wishes for it to change”
I thought. Suddenly a maternal face appeared,
Loomed over her, extending arms.
Then I awoke.
Dilute. Fuzzy. A bit like someone had walloped me a good one. Damn. My turn.
Click! Prick! Slurp!
Kill count: 1.Clementine, ravaged, unyielding exterior mashed in mouth’s haste. 2.Granola bar, decimated, burial crumbs line the sticky floor (see #1)
3.Fudge: quarter of a piece. Admirable restraint shown. Much better.
So I sigh, and think that I’ve got to work on setting better temporary basils.
I dream funny dreams. Sometime I am eating in a kitchen And I can’t stop. I’m full and my stomach aches. But I keep eating. And eating.
My mouth needs the food, vacuums it in, unstoppable, devouring,
Sometimes I awake and make the most disgusting culinary creations. I remember once it was supposed to be An ice-cream-chocolate-brownie sundae,
With the chocolate and brownies to be warmed and placed on top-
But I was confused and microwaved the ice-cream too.
Sludge! Horrible, glorious sludge! But I
Still, willingly, greedily engorged the slime in my salivating maw.
Sometimes when I dream it’s just me and my bloodstained tester. I know what that means- I’m either high or low, no question about it. I wish it was just a nightmare
But it unfairly sneaks into the waking moments of my world.
And after a bad night;
A 3AM pump fail, 450 floating nauseatingly above the world, More sugar in my blood than in my four family members combined;
An uncontrolled low followed by the unrestrained response,
Just waiting for the rebound and sickening consequence;
I look at my haggard self in the mirror and say:
All it takes is a few touches:
Act. Bolus. Use Bolus Wizard. Sugar whatever. Oh, only 300 grams of carbs.
You say 37.5 units? Of course! Lie down somewhere, Wait.
A funny way to die. What could have saved, killed. A hundred years ago, I’d have been dead anyway.
But I glare at myself and look into my tired eyes and smile And go back to sleep And hope tomorrow will be better.
Some days I am only gray Some days I’m seeing red Some days I’m green with envy But with you, I am forever blue. A child bride was I Forced into an unholy matrimony You were my first codependency An immediate departure from normality A swift slap of reality, And my first taste of mortality, My forever blue. When someone asks me, “how are you today?” I’ll never answer, “Today I’m just surviving on borrowed time From a needle and a vial”, I’ll smile and say “Fine”. Because you were my first acting coach, My forever blue. “Fine” is a lie, no one really knows, How you threaten me. No one knows all the variables You try to control. No one knows the daily pain You course through my veins My forever blue. But… You were also my first determination to keep a journal every night One of those many monsters I will always have to fight. You were the first inspiration For my very first verse At the tender age of ten You were a blessing and a curse. And if forever you must be A damaged, but integral part of me, Then as the warrior I am, This is my declaration This is my affirmation You will not define me You will not defeat me You will not break me You will not make me, And you will not take me Mark my words today, I will outlast you. Because the truth is, I don’t have to be Forever blue.
My dreams are wild and vivid. My dreams tell stories of pursuits,fears; Decision-makers for present and future state,
Reintroducing the past—unraveling mysteries.
Sometimes there are no answers;
Just quirky dreams or dream-reactions
Caused by an insulin reaction,
A condition that I wish was only a dream.
A deceased loved one appearing jovial: a net of safety.
3 visions in 3D, black and white, rouge, azure, shocking pink.
Colorful as Crayola Crayons, primaries in a box of Trix,
I vision neon. I’m tripping’ on my trips, profound and esoteric,
for me the drum beats. Only I write my lyrics, melodies.
Illusions in chapters, chuckles during sleep,
As I continued dream from chapter 1 of last week.
Under a bridge, dressed in floral lingerie,
Mother and I pranced over broken glass
in the street. Drizzling, raining, pouring buckets
Too much sugar coursing through my veins As a result a Type 2 diabetic I became
The symptoms I knew was sure and true
Excessive thirst with a blurry vision
Oh how I wished to reverse this condition
Now I'm on the ultimate fight
To lower my sugar and to constantly eat right
A true blue quest of pricking my finger
Taking daily meds x's2 to help out my pancreas
that doesn't know what to do
Naturally sweet yes that's me
but I'll overcome this challenge
just you wait and see
I accept this trial as God's permitted will
To be a testimony of emcouragement to others in this plight
Together we will stand strong against this diabetic fight
So, don't be discouraged or even dismayed
This ailment is controllable at any given age
Do support this cause and stay informed
because the life that's saved could be your own.
No one ever quite comprehends. Maybe they don’t want to.
On the outside I look fine, normal even.
The times that my disease does manifest,
to the healthy ones it remains incomprehensible
that my life is so marked,
so caged by the numbing routines.
It’s easier for most not to think about the complications that await
or the daily reminders I face
that make me feel as though I were
born in the wrong body.
Meaning well I am offered a sympathetic look
and the ever-infuriating phrase:
“I hope you get better soon.”
A Carnival ... Filled with the most amazing rides the tilt-a-whirl that spins round and round, faster and faster
Just when you get used to the spinning flying swirling motion the ride s l o w s d o w n to a STOP.
and the arms of the ride start flailing again
faster, faster, round and round
until everything around is just a dizzy tizzy blur
Life when one has "d" and has those days, living
in a tilt-a-whirl
a dizzy tizzy blur between high and low.
The tilt-a-whirl starts slowing down
the arms flailing slower a n d
s l o w e r. STOP!
Walking off the the tilt-a-whirl,
fuzzy unstable ground
Is it just the tilt-a-whirl
or am I high right now,
or perhaps I'm low?
Pulling out my meter on the carnival walkway
find a safe place to test
clean my hands
prick my finger, blood on the strip, and wait
5 seconds seems like an eternity
have my results,
No, I'm just fine, 128!
So I can keep going
off to the next
ride in the Diabetes inspired
where the roller-coasters
were built based on the CGMS graphs
of so many people with diabetes
which makes for some amazing hills
and very steep drops down
Just trying to integrate the regular day to day diabetes life
with an amazing exciting dream
where the roller-coasters follow CGMS,
the tilt-a-whirls follow the angles of some of the graphs as well.
A Diabetes friendly carnival, from the rides to the food, to the people filling the carnival.
A girl can always dream, right?
Yeah, I'm Talking To You I am not a number
Nor a statistic
I won't be labeled
This disease is not me
My sickness will not call the shots
I will reach my dreams, whatever they may be
I will eat healthy, because I say so
You, Diabetes, you will not be in charge
I will have beautiful, healthy children
I will watch them grow
One day, I will play with my grandchildren
Reading is one of my passions
So I plan to keep my eyesight, thank you so very much
I like to run, jump, dance
Just so you know, Diabetes
So I plan to keep my legs and feet too
This heart I have, won't be corrupted by you either
You already took my pancreas
You should be happy with that
But if that's not enough...
You get my blood multiple times a day
I've jabbed myself with more needles than I can count
And have an endless amount more to come
Someday I'm afraid I'll start to leak
Seen more doctors, nurses, diabetic educators, dietitians and labs
I couldn't possibly remember them all
That's all you'll get from me, only what I have to give
The rest, well, the rest I plan to keep
Diabetes, you are not me
I can't get rid of you, but you won't be my master either
I will be happy
I will survive
While patiently waiting
Until the day comes
Hopefully one not too far away
A cure for your wretchedness will be found
On that day, oh Diabetes, to you I will say "Bye-Bye" and be on my way
You live in the countless bottles of countless pills with counted minutes and counted doses.
You live in my fingertips pricked and bruised pulsing with numbers, predicting the hours to come.
You live on the pages of my journal, the ink a map scratched out by purpose, making legend my trials.
You live in my life as predator’s eyes, eyes devouring, my hands denying that wished for taste.
You live in each lost footfall, the struggle recognized my step numb, my pain felt, my resolve unbroken
You live, ingrained in my day. imbedded, inherent, intense.
You live on my path, on the road I travel I chose to follow the signs and I chose life
You live in my every choice. You live in my every dream.
You live in my every thought.
You are like the first cup of coffee in the morning – my life doesn’t continue without
You are like the pattern on a zebra’s back
– expected but unpredictable
You are like a tattoo
– not my skin, but undeniably there
You are like a rose
– the beauty of life that is a lie if we don’t see the thorns
You are the uncommon portrait
– it is different but it hangs on my wall every day
Part of Me
Its a part of me.
It trys to control me,
But i dont let it.
I fight back!
If it makes me high,
I get up and dance.
If it makes me low,
I lay and think about
How much my sister must love me.
To run to and fro to get me carbs.
And when my blood sugar is just right,
I know i will be to.
If a three year old can do it,
So Can I!
Thirty four years, Thirty four long years Living with diabetes
Diabetes Brought challenges
A thirst for life
To be responsible
Words and the art of managing mix
Expressions of inner beauty spring from struggles
Formed and positively transformed
Creatively and uniquely diabetes
A proud & grateful life
This poem is dedicated to Anne Newton from Medtronic and Kelley Crumpler from Brazos Valley Endocrinology.
Old Dogs and New Tricks by Mary Jo Powell
Know that old saying 'bout "new tricks" and "old dogs"? I'm now out to prove that it should give one pause.
After 50-plus years of syringes and vials,
With good days and bad nights and plenty of trials,
I've entered a new world of sensors and pumps
And am finding it's giving me plenty of lumps.
It's like learning to do this all over again
And struggling to make all this "stuff" a new friend.
I;m now dealing with decimals instead of just ones,
Finding what I don't know is measured in tons.
But learning new things is a challenge in life
And one that can cause you a great deal of strife.
But thank God for nice people who're willing to help,
Like Anne from Medtronic and Kelley herself.
And there's doctors and bloggers and other friends too
All anxious to help me learn just what to do.
So I head on, determined, in this new exploit,
Hoping that soon I'll become more adroit.
For I know that others have done this same thing
And that soon I will grasp that elusive brass ring
Then control my condition, not let it rule me,
And then show what I've learned so that others can see.
All to prove that "new tricks" can be learned by "old dogs,"
And facing new challenges need not give one pause.
A Letter to the Pain in My Side by Elizabeth Strait
Hello again, To my familiar little prick,
My inconvenient lifeline;
At least you’re tiny, sharp, and quick.
Though the pain just lasts a second,
You stick to me somehow;
A tiny little burden
I’ll have to cope with now.
You pop up under T-shirts,
Protruding from my side;
A tiny little bump
I try my best to hide.
But you’re just the cuff
To my ball and chain.
Now to that Ball;
Hiding YOU is a pain!
You’re heavy, big, and fat,
You’ve hooked yourself on me,
A necessary bother
But I sometimes want set free.
Where am I supposed to put you
Say, if I’m in a dress?
Though I can solve that problem,
It’s not something that I’ll confess.
And when I’ve got you hidden
Is just when I need you out;
Now that’s a public scene
I’d rather do without...
You two are bothersome enough,
But before I say adieu,
I’ll give credit to the chain
As you cause trouble too.
Getting caught, getting tangled;
You’re just as bad as they!
Too bad I need the insulin
That you pump my way...
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