Sunday, May 17, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week Day Seven: Continuing Connections

The very first inspiration for Diabetes Blog Week was to help connect our blogging community, and that continues to be the most important reason it's held every year.  So let's help foster and continue those connections as we wrap up another Dblog Week.  Share a link to a new blog you've found or a new friend you've made.  Or pick a random blog off of the Participant's List, check it out and share it with us.  Let's take some time today to make new friends. Read all responses here.

The two best reasons to write are for yourself and for others. If you only write for adulation, you never reach truth. If you only write for yourself, you can risk self-indulgence or have your head become an echo chamber. It’s the words that come from you and contain the possibility of connection with others that, at least in my mind, lead to real success and purpose.

I’ve read nearly all the blog posts for this week (I have a little catching up to do from yesterday). Anything that wasn’t on YouTube or in a language that I’m not very good at (anything other than English or French) was read. I think that’s important. If we can read others’ posts, particularly during this week, we should, to increase community solidarity, encourage those who don’t have popular or long-standing blogs, and to broaden our horizons. Even if the experiences resonate a bit less, I think this week is the ideal time to read blogs from people not your “type,” or without your experiences. If you’re Type 1, read blogs from Type 2s, and vice versa. If you have insurance, read blogs from those who aren’t. Read blogs from outside your country, from outside your age group. Pumpers, read MDI blogs. Gluten aficionados, read gluten-free blogs. Low carbers, read carb-loving blogs. It’s great to read blogs that echo our own experience (you are not alone), but it’s also great to remember that YDMV – your diabetes may vary – by seeing how diverse our lives are around the common experiences we have. You might even pick up some tips, or inspiration, from how others lead their lives!

I’d like to thank everyone who commented on my blog this week. I’m great at reading blogs, but have a harder time leaving a lot of comments. This is too bad, because other than the statistics page, without a comment, a writer doesn’t know if his or her writing has had any impact. A nice comment makes my day, and I know it does for others. There are some people, like Kelley, who are absolute commenting rock stars, spreading cheer through the community by finding something to say about seemingly almost everything they read. That’s really lovely, and I really appreciate it.

Here are some posts that had an impact on me this week:

Laddie and I went to the same small undergrad (a few years apart) and while I hope I’ll run into her at Reunions some day, I always love what she has to say at Test, Guess and Go. This week, she inspired me to at some point actually get my vegetable noodle maker (spiralizer) out of its box, where it’s been since I received it at my bridal shower, and do something with it.

Alecia at SurfaceFine wrote two very moving posts: I was left almost speechless at her story of a particularly cruel date, and cheered for her when I read “No Changes”.

I loved the meme and discussion about the must frustrating of words, “controlled,” at T1 and Gluten Free. (Mindy Lahiri says, “Gluten is my favourite food,” and I’m inclined to agree with her, but that doesn’t mean I can’t respect and learn a lot from someone who doesn’t eat it!)

George at Ninjabetic provided me with a great response to a “what’s it supposed to be?” question, re: the number on my meter. “It’s supposed to be I don’t have diabetes!” might be the perfect retort. I almost can’t wait for someone to ask me the previously-irritating question.

You should read all of Heather’s blog, Unexpected Blues, because it’s elegant and lovely.

Finally, Marie’s blog post for “I Can” at Joy Benchmarks is basically the perfect argument for the existence of D-Blog Week: it lets us belong to a community, lets us be accepted, helps our puzzle piece fit with hundreds of others that, for the first time, interlock with our own.

Thank you for letting me be a part of this wonderful community. Thank you for reading, and writing, and just being. Thank you for documenting the ups and downs of the ins and outs of this disease.

They say history is written by the winners. I say those who write history, win. We’re all winners here.

Until next time.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 Day Six: Favourites and Motivations

If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or blogpost that you have ever written?  Is it diabetes related or just life related?  If you are a new blogger and don't have a favorite yet, tell us what motivated you to start sharing your story by writing a blog?  (Thank you Laddie of Test Guess and Go for suggesting this topic.)

Writing is very important to me. It’s a passion of mine. When I was younger, everyone thought I was going to write the Great Canadian Play. That may never happen, but I love getting to “write what I know” on this blog, and in the process, connect with other people in some way. Here are a few favourite moments, for me, in three categories.


 My second-most read post of all time was one I almost deleted, because I wrote it in a very emotional space, and I was worried it would be controversial. “Liar” is about all the things, people, and institutions that lie to people with diabetes throughout our lives. It sparked a lot of discussion, was shared by many people and organizations, and even made it to a conference slide (which I found out about after it was posted on the Internet; it would have been nice to be informed or asked, thanks).

 So when I hear that test strips can be +/- 20% in accuracy (a 10 could be 12, or 8) and are often worse, it makes me sad. Because it's a lie, and we're already dealing with so much misinformation, so many lies, that we'd like something to be true. Something that, instead, takes the best of us, the life from us–blood is life–and turns it into another lie. Something that comes from the heart, which is supposed to (but often fails to) be the truest thing of all.” "Cards Against Diabetes" is my most popular post because I think it’s a ton of fun, and it touches a nerve. Some people are turning against the game as becoming tiresome, offense for the sake of offense, but I think it works well in the context of diabetes – what’s more offensive than that? It’s nice to share our experiences, and make mocking matchups. One day it would be nice to play with a full deck (that’s how diabetes makes me feel, too).


 I do a lot of pop culture referencing in relation to diabetes (see my Star Trek rant from Thursday). One of my favourite pop-culture posts is my comparison of the diabetes life to the life and mission of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (my favourite show of all time). It’s a constant, valiant, thankless and unpaid fight, and all diabetes has to do is have one good day.

As diabetics, we walk the fine line between secretly believing we're immortal and knowing that we've got this expiration date. In a way, we have more conscious control over what our bodies are doing than anyone else; in another way, we have much less, our bodies being essentially out of control with so many factors to deal with.  Buffy's super strong and quick, but she has to deal with all sorts of violently unpredictable outside forces that most people don't.” 

Another, “Latitude and Longitude,” takes an episode of the West Wing, where Sam has his worldview destroyed, and explores how things you thought were solid, like latitude and longitude, can turn into constantly moving goalposts.

 Now, we place great trust in our devices. We try to believe that they will never fail us. We place our lives in the hands of plastic and metal and batteries and medical research, sure that they will work; sure that they will always deliver some sort of base measure of performance. Like latitude and longitude. We know this isn't true. Plastic fails. Metal fails. Batteries are spent. People get sick. People die. We take a lot on faith. Like latitude and longitude, which are invisible.” 

Finally, my favourite kids’ book, The Phantom Tollbooth, lends itself perfectly to the emotional journey of diabetes.

 D-Blog Week

We all need a little impetus to get writing, and D-Blog Week is so amazing for providing that every year. Some of my favourite D-Blog Week posts, to round out the list:
 Diabetes Hero”: All about the people who mean a lot to me. It was nice to thank everyone, and to hope for the future.

 "Everybody who has touched my diabetic life is my diabetes hero. It's trite but it's true. Everybody with diabetes is my diabetes hero. If you asked someone to say or draw the first thing that comes to mind when you say "hero," it would probably be a fighter of some kind. A war hero; a soldier. A firefighter. And that's what we all are. We fight every day against odds that sometimes seem insurmountable; in a way, they are. The odds are literally insurmountable. We can't win. The best we can do is try, and see another day the best we can. Bravery is not the absence of fear; it's having the courage to fight in spite of that fear. The definition of hero seems to be a person who fights even when he or she knows he or she can't win, because it's right. That's what we do."

 Mantras and More” won a couple of D-blog awards, and I’m so happy it resonated with people.

 Each drop of blood is a drop in the ocean
Each high and low is a wave in the sea
Each day you live represents forward motion
Each day you make it the best it can be. 

"Change The World (Sweat The Small Stuff)” was about the things that seem small, but really mean a lot. The post meant a lot to me.

 The refrain is constantly there. The small stuff is the heartbeat pumping the lifeblood of diabetes: the fear inherent in every move we make. The small stuff is the big stuff. The big stuff is the small stuff. We are made of atoms, and capillaries, and the tiniest prickles on the skin. When we complain about the small stuff, we are saying: we are here. We are saying: we are scared. We are saying: listen.” 

Hope this wasn’t too self-indulgent! It’s fun to walk down memory lane.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week 2105 Day 5: Foods on Friday

I have to admit that I almost used a wildcard for this one, because I worry about being judged based on my food intake. On other social media, people get excited when you post about the decadent food you’ve consumed; when it’s in tandem with being a person with diabetes, it’s a potential opening for someone to tell you “you’re doing it wrong.” Even some “confessions” you read are enough to make you feel bad. “I totally cheated today! I had half a chocolate! I’m so bad, tee hee!”

What do I eat? Anything and everything. Too much, probably. My family has always been a food-forward family. My father is an amazing gourmet cook. (Ask literally any one of my friends who has been to my parents’ house. They will tell you.) There was a joke that I was the only person to ever go to college and LOSE fifteen pounds. I joke, but I’d really rather be a person who wasn’t super interested in food. I’m often not sure if I eat a lot more than other people or not. What I am bad at is moderation. I feel I am excellent at not eating, and excellent at eating a lot – it’s the in between. Of course, a lot of what I eat is vegetables. One of my favourite snacks is a whole cucumber, and I have to stop myself from eating the whole bag of carrots.

One of my favourite things about Toronto is its wide variety of food from all over the world. I’ve always found it incredibly difficult to calculate carbs, even when given a book, because so much of it is, “potato, 30 carbs,” and there are usually maybe a couple of pages devoted to “ethnic food” (sigh). One of my favourite things in the world is okonomiyaki – yeah, not really in the carb counting book. I’m getting better at calculating for it from sheer number of times consumed. Eventually, I’ll get dim sum right…one of these days.

With my family providing the occasional amazing home-cooked meal, and my city providing a cornucopia of delights, and my tendency, when I’m home, to consume vegetables, excellent cheese (brie, bleu or goat…or really anything, but give me some St. Agur and I’ll be your friend for life) and low-ingredient combinations like chickpea salad, I’m not a great cook. Mostly it’s lack of interest. I make great eggs, and a mean balsamic vinaigrette, but my husband does most of the cooking, and it’s mostly of the heating variety. We’d love to be more invested in making meals, but it’s going to take a lot for us to change.

Of course, throw in the blood sugar insanity, and many of us are often unsure of when we’re actually hungry. It all leads to a very strange relationship with food.

My three worst sins are a) not eating in the morning, b) letting myself get hangry, and c) overeating at night. (I typed “my worst sin,” then “my two worst sins,” then revised again. I feel like the Spanish Inquisition.) I’m a night owl (I’ll stay up all night if I’m not careful, which is not a good plan on days where I teach at 8:30am!) That means I have a lot of conscious night hours, which leads to more time at night wanting to eat, and I tend not to be hungry (or even feel nauseous) in the morning. Often, if I do eat in the morning, I find that I’m incredibly hungry for the rest of the day, which I feel is the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. If I eat in the morning, in any case, protein really needs to be involved for me not to feel terrible. I am trying to get better at stopping myself from eating much past dinner, but it’s hard when I might eat at 6pm and be up until 3am or 4am, or if I have so many commitments back-to-back that dinner is at 10:30pm.

This Wednesday is a good example of various “sins”

On Wednesday, I didn’t have the greatest selection of food in the fridge, and I didn’t feel like eating breakfast. I then went and taught my class (transit time: 55 minutes). Then, it took me 95 minutes to get to my phototherapy appointment, which was one minute and seventeen seconds long. Then, it took half an hour to go back to my apartment to get my gym bag. I had five minutes before I had to leave for the gym. It was already 4pm. I hadn’t eaten. I shoved a couple of slices of deli meat, a cube of cheese, some cucumber, and a couple of spoonfuls of a light chocolate mousse into my mouth, and ran to the subway to get to the gym. I was so hangry (hungry and angry) at the more than three hours of transit and lack of food that my friend insisted I had to start with boxing. It was actually a great idea, as we were both hangry.

After doing that, running a couple of miles, doing a weight machine circuit and stretching, we decided we desperately needed dinner. We walked to an izakaya and I had some takoyaki (I want to define this better than “ balls of octopus,” but it’s difficult) and a tonkotsu ramen soup. (By now, the carb book that I used to use would have been throwing me question marks and blank looks.) My post-exercise body sometimes goes low, and sometimes throws me a random high. This was one of the latter. I stayed up a good eight hours after the meal, and didn’t eat anything else, which is unusual. Also unusual was that I didn’t have a rehearsal for two hours after gym, which I usually would on Wednesday, after which I’d play games at a friend’s place for a few more hours. (Can you say “overcommitted”? I have at least three rehearsals a week for various groups.)

There is no typical food day for me. I love that about my life and my city, but it certainly makes diabetes chaotic.

I’ll close with a random food success story from this week:

The other night I had Thai food; pad thai and coconut cashew vegetables. When I ate it at 9pm, my BG was 7.2. (I had run 5k a little earlier and done some weightlifting.) I was hungry again at a little after 1 am, so I tested. 7.1. I was suspicious, feeling like I might drop later, so I ate more of it without taking much insulin. When I woke up? 7.1.

I felt like a diabetes god, I tell you what.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 Day Four: Changes (Where No D Has Gone Before)

Today's topic is Changes.

Today let's talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you'd most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people's perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you? (Read all posts here)

I have been watching a lot of Star Trek: TNG with my husband lately (it’s my first run through the series), and though it appears that they’ve cured a lot of things in the 24th century or what have you, when it comes to changes, I’ve really got my eye on that replicator, and how useful it could be with diabetes as it is now. There's a reason they call it the Enterprise D, right?

The food replicator could create anything you needed, with whatever nutrition you needed (I’m assuming it makes food that tastes the way you want it to with only the requisite survival calories, as otherwise it would be very difficult for the entirety of the future population not to weigh 600 pounds apiece). Chocolate sundae, 20 calories, five carbs please! Or, if it couldn’t do that, at very least it would be able to tell you exactly how many carbs there were in your food. No more SWAG-ing.

I got this, don't worry
Or, you could be, like, “hey, replicator…replicate some insulin into my pancreas” and the replicator would be like, “hey, man, what do you think this is, kindergarten? I just whipped you up a brand new pancreas.”

And Bev would be like, “who cares about all that? I’m an awesome space doctor and will just wave a buzzing thing over you and you’ll just be fine. Don’t worry about vision complications. You won’t get them, but in any case, we have sweet visors now.”

Anyway, yes, the replicator. Changes for now, right? You could make instant Dex tablets and Glucagon, and expiry dates would be a thing of the past. You could replicate medications and replicate out the side effects, and you wouldn’t have to pay half your salary to do so -

And Bev would be like, “why are you bothering with Glucagon? If Picard can have an artificial heart, you can sure have a perfect artificial pancreas. Or, here, let me just wave this buzzing thing as you lie under a silver lamé blanket for a few minutes and you are totes fine! Enjoy your space adventure.”
(I know it's really called a "medical tricorder.")
But what I’m really talking about, of course, is the replicator! You could use it to make beautiful crystal blue circle jewelry, and signs for your diabetes walk. You could create petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures for funding for research. Maybe you could even fund research with a replicator. You could create perfect footwear, which would never damage your sensitive feet. You could ask the computer, “Computer, what is the status of my blood sugar?” and Majel Barrett’s voice would always reply, “a perfect 5.0!” (this is the FUTURE and everyone uses METRIC like Canada, you know).

Then Bev would be like, “hey, I’ve cured you twice already. Stop worrying about this crap. Go to the Holodeck and beat the shit out of a personified version of your immune system for a while for some catharsis, or talk to Troi, I don’t know. Diabetes is OVER. Did you not see the buzzing thing?”

And you’d be like, “Working pancreas! ENGAGE!”

Sorry, I got sidetracked. I was talking about the replicator and all the cool things we could use it to make to solve most of our problems, but I guess we’d just be replicating a bunch of band-aids.

What we need is that buzzing thing, and the cure.

Make it so.
Damn straight.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 Day Three: Clean It Out

Day Three of DBlogWeek (by the way, I haven't said thank you to the lovely Karen Graffeo for starting this wonderful tradition, so thank you! Also, read all of today's posts here!) begins with a command to Clean It Out.

Yesterday we kept stuff in, so today let's clear stuff out.  What is in your diabetic closet that needs to be cleaned out?  This can be an actual physical belonging, or it can be something you're mentally or emotionally hanging on to.  Why are you keeping it and why do you need to get rid of it?  (Thank you Rick of RA Diabetes for this topic suggestion.)

My closet has been cleaned numerous times due to moving (from Toronto to Princeton to NYC to Toronto to elsewhere in Toronto), but there are still a number of things I should probably get rid of, including what’s left at my parents’ house, which was a bit of a shrine to old diabetes stuff. I think it’s been pruned, but there’s always more to purge.

Dear cluttered Self, here is a list of things you should get rid of:

Lancets from a meter that was obsolete by 1999. You know you could use them in a pinch, but at the rate you go through lancets, by the time you get to the bottom of the box, your blood sugar will be able to be checked by nanites.

Syringes and pen needles by the score. As clunky as the insulin pump can be, you’re probably not going back on MDI any time soon. A box of syringes for pump emergencies, though, should be kept. These you do wear out, if only because, when you keep one in your change purse, the numbers rub off the barrel (and you get some weird looks at the checkout counter).

An old, certainly expired half-bottle of Lantus that you’re hoping will work if you’re off traveling and your pump stops working. Girl, just ask for a prescription in case of emergency, or figure out something else. The only way that thing is going to help is as a talisman, like how taking an umbrella somehow prevents it from raining.

In a similar vein, Glucagon that expired in 2009. I know you’ve never had to use Glucagon in your eighteen years of diabetes, but get some new damn Glucagon. Make your family happy.

A Dex4 travel tube with two scraped-at, stuck GlucoLift tablets in it that you thought would fit because they looked approximately the same size. You are never going to get those out. You have tried fingernails, a knife, water, and everything else, and they are now gross, and apparently have the property that paper has when you fold it a bunch of times – you thought it would break easily, but now it’s impenetrable. You have replacement tubes. It’s not like you can get GlucoLift in Canada, anyway, so they’re just mocking you now. (Report: tube was turfed.)

Most of all, this is not in my closet, but all over my apartment, my purse, and everywhere I seem to go: test strip detritus. Pervasive, incorrigible, unstoppable, the discarded test strips line my path. I think I’m due for a strip purge, but like tribbles (The Trouble With Test Strips) they appear to multiply when I’m not looking. Case in point: this shoe was bought on Friday. This picture was taken on Saturday. Within 24 hours, a test strip mysteriously appeared. I have no reasons. I have no theories. I have no excuses. 

I just need to clean.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 Day Two: Keep It To Yourself.

Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see.  What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet?  Or from your family and friends?  Why is it important to keep it to yourself?  (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone.  There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects.  Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won't tell them.) (Thank you Scott E of Rolling in the D for this topic.) 

Today's Diabetes Blog Week topic sounds like a command, or even a paradox: "Keep it to yourself." It's not that DBW, DSMA and the DOC in general aren't all about sharing, but just as Your Diabetes May Vary, so may what you share and why. We all have our limits in how diabetes affects us, and we all have our limits in what we're willing to share with other people. In a world where social media is vitally important, but can also ruin your life and job prospects in an instant (feel free to read that in movie trailer voice), sometimes we have to be careful of what we put out there. It's not even the consequences of other people reading it. Sometimes, there are emotional consequences to ourselves, just in the act of sharing.

Here are the things I don’t discuss:

Largely, I try to keep other people’s stories off my blog and the Internet at large, particularly things that would be embarrassing to other people. If I do, I try not to use identifying information. Many people’s stories interact with mine, but I keep the focus on my involvement, not due to narcissism (well, maybe a little) but because they aren’t my stories to tell.

Anything that’s too gross or embarrassing about things bodies do tends to stay out of my blog. I wrote, in my response to the Miss Manners post a while ago that sparked so much controversy, “so much of 'manners' is pretending we don’t have bodies.” In many ways, I’m against that form of politeness, because it causes people to demand, for example, that we test our blood sugar in the washroom, making an inconvenience even more inconvenient, and signaling to the person with diabetes that she or he is actually the inconvenience. I think it’s important for the world in general to acknowledge that we have a right to self-care in the public sphere, and not to hide diabetes away. I don’t think people should be embarrassed over the names and functions of their own body parts. However, I’m sad to say that I don’t always practice what I preach. Blood is really the only bodily fluid you’ll get me to talk about, and rarely if ever will I show it. I wish I were braver and more open in talking about the weird ways bodies react to things, because I appreciate when other people do, and I think it makes almost everyone feel less embarrassed or alone. You’re not going to see it from me, though.

I don’t really talk about complications or my fears about them. Maybe sometime in the future, but for now it’s like summoning the boogeyman or repeating “Bloody Mary” in front of a mirror. I don’t want to confirm any fears or tempt any fates, which I don’t even actually believe in but why take the chance? If I do have them, why make them real by putting them down in writing?

I promote the "Spare A Rose" campaign yearly, but otherwise, fundraising is not my forte. "Spare A Rose" is nice because nobody’s sponsoring me specifically, and the money goes to people who aren’t me, and who are clearly in extreme need. I donate to research-based organizations as well, and I’m desperate to fund a cure, but asking people for money that will go to something that is designed to help me…it does not come easily. A goal of mine is to get better at this and realize that my cause is worthy, even if it’s mildly selfish.

So other people, body weirdness, complications, and fundraising are the rarest of birds on this blog.

However, if you’re looking for a parody song, literary criticism by way of an explanation of how Shakespeare/Buffy/The West Wing/the general narrative impulse relates to diabetes, and long, impassioned musings on the condition’s psychology, I’m your girl.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Diabetes Blog Week 2015 Day One: I Can.

Welcome to Diabetes Blog Week 2015! Today's topic: I Can.

In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of "I can...”  that participants found wonderfully empowering.  So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes.  What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren't sure you could?  Or what have you done that you've been particularly proud of?  Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?  (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.)

"You don't think I can love you/But I can, and I will, and I do" -Barenaked Ladies

These lyrics are the first thing that popped into my head when I read this prompt. I thought they were off-topic, honestly. I parody songs often (it's a sickness, really), so I'm no stranger to songs stuck in my head, ready for a twist. Taken out of context as they are, the lyrics whirled insistently through my brain.

Diabetes, you don't think I can love you/But I can, and I will, and I do.

Do I love diabetes?

Do I love it for the right reasons?

Anybody who has known me for more than two seconds knows that I am fiercely proud of my academic achievements. I roar as a Princeton Tiger and as a Columbia Lion. I've always graduated with high or highest honours from wherever I was enrolled. I've done it while often feeling unimaginably terrible.

Diabetes, you don't think I can…But I can, and I will, and I do.

I've only rescheduled one test due to diabetes. I very, very rarely called in sick to work while I was in school. The one time I remember doing so, I was supposed to go into scene shop, lift heavy wooden sets and possibly use power tools, and because my blood sugar was so low I could barely walk under my own steam, I figured it wasn't safe for anyone. The only time I took a paper extension, I was real people sick with walking pneumonia, and I didn't ask for it - I looked so bad that my professor unilaterally declared that I was taking one.

Diabetes, you don't think I can love you/But I can, and I will, and I do.

In a way, I think diabetes made me tough. Sometimes, I actually enjoyed it. One perverse thing about university culture (and I think it's pervasive in our culture in general, with the higher-powered professions and schools most heavily invested) is that we like to brag about our hardship. You got four hours of sleep? Child's play. I'm running on three. You wrote fifty pages this week? I wrote a hundred. You did it with a cold? I did it with bronchitis…and with diabetes. Hard to trump. Diabetes can make you "special" in identity, or in hardship; sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes for the wrong ones. Shakespeare, in his play Antony and Cleopatra, differentiated between Roman and Egyptian cultures. He billed the Egyptians as being in touch with both nature and their own senses, ready with passion, love, and a sense of enjoyment, from which they drew their power. Romans were in love, instead, not with themselves and their world, but with a sense of order and duty. How loyal could you be? How much could you work? How much could you sacrifice? Shakespeare's Romans were in love with hardship.

One of the things about "I can" is that many of us, as people with diabetes, feel we have something to prove. We want to show that we can do just as much as anyone else. This can be a great motivator, driving us toward success. It can also turn a person into a hardship-loving, hard-driving, Shakespearian Roman.

I'm doing this without an insulin pump.

I'm doing this without checking my blood sugar regularly.

I'm doing this without letting anyone in.

I'm doing this without a support network.

I am the best Roman. I am a CENTURION.

I can, and I will, and I do.

When I achieve something, or strive to do so, I am slowly learning to ask myself whether it is something I want to do, or something I feel I have to do, because it's so difficult. Do I have to play the game on the most difficult setting? Do I have to fight this thing at all turns?

Paradoxically, asking myself this question is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

Less paradoxically, it's been one of the most rewarding ones.

It may be a mistake to talk about loving diabetes, because, if I think about it a little more, that's just a slipcover for the heart of this thing. The lyrics don't even refer to diabetes. They really refer to me. How I learned to stop worrying and love diabetes is really how I'm learning to stop loving hardship and to love me.

Five years ago (in fact, I finished graduate school five years, less one week, ago), I found myself out of school for the first time, and I was unemployed. I felt rudderless; I had my achievements, but right now, I had no work to be doing. It was a perfect time to discover a support network in the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy network. Talking to dozens of other people from around the world, I found the hardship lessened, and that it wasn't a weakness; it was a strength. The Roman in me was always primed for war. The other side realized that making peace with the enemy takes more cunning than going in, guns a-blazing. Not only that, it's actually harder, but in a good way. June Callwood, in her wonderful article "Forgiveness" that she wrote at the end of a brilliant life, quotes a source as saying, "anyone who thinks forgiveness is for wimps hasn't tried it." Callwood then writes, as hard as forgiveness is, "it is worth the candle." Letting myself feel better and have the space to heal was a way of forgiving diabetes, and loving myself. Giving myself more tools to do better (an insulin pump, regular testing) is a way of loving myself. Going to the gym now, running up to 10K at a time, something I would have laughed at the concept of me doing - yes, another gift to myself.

I am still guilty of "being tough." When I smashed my dominant arm's elbow into two pieces a couple of years ago, I only took one day off work after the surgery to put the pieces back together, and the only reason I took that day off was because I woke up and I physically could not move. When I brag about that - as I have done - I realize I'm being a Roman again.

But I'm getting in touch with Egypt.

Can I promise I'll never fall back into those ways? Probably not. I still need some of my drive. I'm still overcommitted, but I'm mostly overcommitted to the things I love, and in which I can take real pride, not just hardship-pride. I love being a professor. I love having written a course that is now required for every student taking a BA program at my school. I'm trying, however, to achieve all of this with myself, rather than against myself. To make the hard choices to make things a little easier.

I can, and I will, and I do.