My Speckled Fingertips

A lesser-known fact about me: I used to love writing poetry. I wrote tons of it when I was a middle schooler and sometimes used it to explore the emotions I associated with my diabetes. I even won a prize in a poetry competition once for a poem that was about my journey to accepting my diabetes. Today, I revisit my poetry roots in this short piece about the scars that years of fingerstick checks have left on my fingertips.

If you squint reeeeeeeal hard, then you can see the careful placement of fingertip scars that I put onto this graphic hand. (I tried to take a picture of my own with less-than-satisfactory results, so a cartoon representation will have to do.)

Tiny black dots
Littered across my fingertips
These fingertip freckles are
Constant reminders of
Decades of life with type 1 diabetes
My speckled fingertips
Rough from the scars
Worn from thousands of pricks
Poked and prodded and pinched
Countless times
As part of the process to
Help keep me alive
Blood droplets
Flood scarlet, startlingly red
In contrast to my fair skin
Temporarily masking the marks
When wiped clean
They reveal themselves
Maybe I should be
Proud of them, too.

A Diabetes Stream of Consciousness

I first heard the term “stream of consciousness” when I was in high school. My creative writing teacher used it in class one day when she asked us to start writing in our journals for 10 minutes straight – without stopping.

She described it as an opportunity to just let our thoughts flow out from our pens without interruption. Anything we wrote didn’t have to make sense…it was simply an exercise in just letting our writing be, in an unrefined and unapologetically honest kind of way.

hugging the cactus - a t1d blog
What would your diabetes stream of consciousness look like?

When I was struggling to write a blog post for today – because let’s face it, writer’s block is real – the stream of consciousness concept popped into my mind. And I started thinking about it in a diabetes lens, which resulted in this*:

Ugh there’s my alarm blaring again
let me reach for my phone and check my CGM data first thing
okay I will use this to bolus for breakfast what do I even want to eat today
okay let’s go ahead and just get the insulin pumping
input for 30 carbs even though I am not sure that I really want to eat 30 grams worth of carbs but whatever I’m sitting at home all day anyways so I may need any of the extra insulin that gets delivered
finally roll out of bed and make my way down the stairs and eat breakfast and do the crossword like I always do to wake my brain up some more
then set to work and work straight for the next two hours or so I forget exactly how long it was but then my CGM alarm interrupts my flow so rudely OMG why am I this high
okay I guess it’s time to take my lunch break a little earlier than I wanted but my blood sugar is too high and it will distract me further if I keep trying to work through it so I get up and do a high-intensity cardio workout for half an hour
and that does the trick, by the time I jump into the shower my blood sugar is coming back down
oh that’s so much better I sit back in my chair not too long after and get back to work and pause again only to have lunch
I make an egg with an English muffin and also eat a banana for “dessert” though I wish I could have chocolate boy am I craving chocolate lately or what
I pad my bolus with extra insulin because I seem to be trending higher lately which is obnoxious and then I settle in for an hour-long meeting and I’m relieved to discover I’m on mute when my CGM starts alarming again and I’m so fucking exasperated,
I’m high again and it’s probably because of the banana although I can’t really be sure so I start rage bolusing
get that insulin in my system puh-lease and then I work again for another couple of hours before it’s time for another break and
I go for a walk with my mom and the dog and we’re midway through our usual route when I start to feel those familiar signs of an early low blood sugar some shakiness and some general unease
sure enough when I get home I check my CGM (so many times that I check it throughout the day) and I’ve got a down arrow and I’m plunging into low territory quickly and FINALLY I can have some of that chocolate I’ve been wanting all day
YUM Cadbury eggs.

*I added punctuation and line breaks after writing for five minutes straight just to make this somewhat more readable.

What did I learn after doing this little writing exercise? Diabetes really dominates my mind from the moment I wake up. It is the reason behind just about every decision I make and I don’t really ever get a mental break from it.

But luckily, there’s chocolate for that.

An Interview with my Diabetes

Diabetes does not have a life, a voice, or a soul. But many people with diabetes, including me, tend to characterize it like it has human emotions and reactions. “My diabetes is so misbehaved today!”, “Ugh, my diabetes hates when my stress levels get too high”, and “Oh, exercise makes my diabetes very happy!” are among the sentiments that have been said countless times, in a variety of ways, by tons of people with diabetes.

Podcast Logo_
It shouldn’t be surprising that my diabetes, personified, is a cactus. 

So I decided to take it a step further with this blog post and imagine myself conversing with my diabetes…actually, it’s more like an interrogation. There are so many questions I’d like to ask my diabetes so I could maybe, hopefully understand it better. And these are the answers that I can see myself getting in reply.

Me: Hi, diabetes. Wow, 22 years with you and we’re finally just getting to talking now. What’s it been like to grow up with me?

My diabetes: WELL, it’s been a TRIP! Time flies when you’re having as much fun as me, wreaking absolute havoc in your life!

Me: Um, that’s kind of rude. But accurate, I suppose. And it leads to my next question: Why are you so temperamental? Like, one day you’ll be swimming straight in between the lines of my CGM graph…and the next day, I do and eat the exact same things as the day before and you go haywire.

My diabetes: Biiiiiitch, that’s just because I like to keep you on your toes. And I CAN go nuts whenever I want, so why the hell not?

Me: Whoa, relax. No need for the name-calling –

My diabetes: I’ll do what I want! See, look! Your blood sugar is going up RIGHT NOW just because you’re getting all flustered over this interview! Hee, hee, isn’t this fun?

Me: Thanks a lot! Whatever, I’ll just take a bolus –

My diabetes: You’re gonna need a whole lot more than that! 1.5 units to take this 250 down? That’s hilarious. So cute of you.

Me: WHY YOU LITTLE – *lunges for “my diabetes” as if it’s a physical object I can take into a chokehold and strangle, Homer Simpson style*

*Record scratching noise*

That, my friends, is where this totally made-up interview would definitely be cut short because I imagine my diabetes as nothing other than the petulant asshole that it seems to be lately. I’m dealing with a lot of stress lately, and my diabetes is punishing me with plenty of high blood sugars and sluggish responses to my fast-acting insulin.

It’s extremely annoying, but I will admit that writing this fictional interview with it was a little cathartic.

It’s the Most Bolus-Worthy Time of the Year

It wouldn’t be the Christmas season if I didn’t attempt to rewrite a classic Christmas carol…

I apologize in advance for the cheesiness of this “new” tune, but I was thinking about how there are just so many parties, gatherings, and opportunities to eat absolute junk food this time of year. But even though I’m feeling pretty disgusting by the time January rolls around, I don’t regret it because I love everything about this season…so you might say that I think it’s worth every extra unit of insulin I have to take to cover the food I eat, making it the most “bolus-worthy” time of the year.

So naturally, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was the perfect song to redo for this blog post.

it's the most bolus-worthy time of the year.png
Please sing along to this blog post in your best Andy Williams voice!

I sprinkled in references about questions that people with diabetes commonly get, as well…because with all the time that’s spent with family and loved ones, they’re bound to come up again just as they do year after year.

Without further ado, here is my rendition of the song…please feel free to read (sing!) along to the tune of the original – it makes it so much more fun, trust me!

It’s the Most Bolus-Worthy Time of the Year

It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year
With the Dexcom CGMs yelling
And everyone telling you “what’s that I hear?”
It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year

It’s the ca-carb-iest season of all
With those holiday sweets
And so many treats when friends come to call
It’s the ca-carb-iest season of all

There’ll be parties for pumping
Temp basals a-bumping
And answering the same old,
There’ll be “can you eat that?”
And all that chit-chat
You can’t help that your eyes rolled

It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year
There’ll be so much indulging
And insulin will be flowing when goodies are near
It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year

There’ll be blood sugar for checking
Marshmallows for correcting
And sensors and sites to change
There’ll be silly relatives’ questions
And answers in your irate expressions
They should know by now ‘betes isn’t so strange

It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year
There’ll be so much indulging
And insulin will be flowing when goodies are near
It’s the most bolus-worthy time
It’s the most bolus-worthy time
It’s the most bolus-worthy time
It’s the most bolus-worthy time of the year!

Christmas Caroling: Diabetes Style

I am exhausted from the Thanksgiving and National Diabetes Awareness Month activities from last week and didn’t have time to write a brand-new post. But…we are now in December, and this means I’m starting to feel festive! So I thought it was appropriate to repost this Christmas carol that I changed the words to last year to make it diabetes-related. Enjoy, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with new content.

I love Christmas. And I love Christmas carols. Why not express my love for Christmas carols here, on my diabetes blog, by switching up the words to some Christmas tunes and making them about the ‘betes?

Have a magical Christmas!

Here’s attempt #1 of two to transform a classic Christmas song and make it about diabetes. First up, we’ve got the words to “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” changed to reflect to something else that comes ’round this time of year…high blood sugar. Oh yes. I can’t be the only one who seems to experience higher blood sugars in the month of December, largely due to the fact that there’s tons of tempting treats to be enjoyed, potlucks to attend, and dinners to savor. So I wanted to recognize that episodes of hyperglycemia may be an unwelcome, but inevitable, aspect of the holiday season by singin’ about it. Because what else are you going to do while you wait for your insulin to kick in?

Without further ado, here’s my rendition of High Blood Sugar’s Comin’ to Town…(please, please, PLEASE sing along to the tune of the original song. It really is so much more fun to read that way!)

High Blood Sugar’s Comin’ to Town

You better carb count,
You better take care
You better have the right amount,
Or else you will swear
High blood sugar’s coming to town
High blood sugar’s coming to town
High blood sugar’s coming to townGrab your glucometer,
Check your bg twice;
Gonna regret eating that cheesecake slice,
High blood sugar’s coming to town
High blood sugar’s coming to town
High blood sugar’s coming to townIt keeps you from sleeping
You’re forced to stay awake
It makes you super thirsty,
So stay hydrated, for goodness sakeWith buzzing Dexcoms and beeping pumps,
Beep bop boop and now-I’m-a-grump,
High blood sugar’s coming to town
High blood sugar’s coming to town
High blood sugar’s coming to town

It keeps you from sleeping
You’re forced to stay awake
It makes you super thirsty,
So stay hydrated, for goodness sake
Goodness sake!

You better carb count,
You better take care
You better have the right amount,
Or else you will swear
High blood sugar’s coming to town
High blood sugar’s coming to town
High blood sugar’s coming
High blood sugar’s coming
High blood sugar’s coming to town

(Coming to town)
I’m a busy girl, I’ve got no time to play
I’ve got tons of sweets to enjoy on Christmas day
(High blood sugar’s coming to town)
(Coming to town)
(High blood sugar’s coming to town)
(Coming to town)

What Would it be Like to Have Diabetes in the Wizarding World?

I’m a Harry Potter fan. A major one. I attended the midnight release book parties. I saw every movie in theaters. I’ve dressed as Hermione Granger for Halloween on more than one occasion. I’ve been to the theme park in Florida, I’ve read the books a countless number of times, and I’ve even written fan fiction before. So maybe I’m a little bit more than a fan…I’m an ardent enthusiast.

Even though the last Potter book came out years ago, I still indulge in the wizarding world somewhat often. One day, I was thinking about it and how nobody in the books ever suffered any serious maladies (okay, having all of your bones removed by your Defense Against the Dark Arts professor or getting petrified by a basilisk snake or Splinched when Apparating are all pretty significant conditions…but bear with me here). None of the characters had anything chronic, like arthritis, or Crohn’s disease, or type 1 diabetes. And one might make the argument that it’s the effing wizarding world…why couldn’t magic be used to cure any of these illnesses?


My response to that question would be: How come Mad-Eye Moody had a fake eye? Couldn’t a new, working one have been magicked into his eye socket? (Same thing goes for his wooden leg.) George Weasley lost his ear, thanks to a Death Eater – how come it couldn’t be restored onto his head? Dragonpox, Spattergroit, and lycanthropy are all serious conditions in the books that, if curable, weren’t easily healed. Particularly lycanthropy, otherwise known as a condition in which a person transforms to a werewolf. The books specifically said there was no cure for this; only Wolfsbane potion could be drunk by the affected person to ease the transition from human to werewolf.

So obviously, I think that lycanthropy = T1D, and Wolfsbane potion = insulin in this hypothetical comparison/scenario. That being said, life with diabetes in the wizarding world as I’ve imagined it would be a little something like this…

  • Diagnosis would take place at St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Madam Pomfrey would be on-hand to learn how to help the affected student.
  • Pumpkin juice and butterbeer are definitely the best/most preferable ways to bring up a low blood sugar.
  • Honeydukes, the confections shop in Hogsmeade, would offer sugar-free confections that tasted so wonderful that I’d forget they were sugar-free.
  • Insulin would be administered in a much less painful and invasive way. Perhaps Professor Snape would let me brew some potions for doing so in class?
  • Quidditch would be the ideal form of exercise/would help keep my blood sugars in check.
  • Instead of Express Scripts, I’d get my medications via Owlery Express – my very own Hedwig-esque owl would deliver them to me. And they’d cost no more than a Knut (the lowest value coin in the wizarding world).
  • In Charms, I’d learn how to calculate the carbohydrates in my food with just the wave of my wand.
  • My Care of Magical Creatures class would introduce me to a hot-pink colored pygmy puff who would be the magical equivalent to a diabetes alert dog – just with a touch more inherent as opposed to learned knowledge about diabetes.
  • I’d learn all about Banting and Best in Muggle Studies.

Well, what are your thoughts? If you’re well-versed in the PotterSphere, what would you add to my bullet-point list? Drop a comment below…trust me, it’s actually incredibly fun to imagine a world where diabetes is a bit more tolerable, especially one so fantastically magical.