Sunday, December 25, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Diabetes Art Day is the brain child of an amazing woman named Lee Ann Thill. This fabulous project began last year. I missed out last year because I hadn't yet found all the wonderful people in the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) yet. This year I was determined to participate.
I saved as many different diabetes related supplies that I could. Thinking that I would use them in my artwork. As it turns out, I fell back on what has always inspired me and moved me the most, words. Whether they are the words read in a book or poem, or the words sung in a song, or even the words spoken in a movie or play. They have all been important to me my whole life. But how could I make them a visual art form?
I briefly thought of writing a poem, but quickly thrust that aside when the words in my head refused to unjumble themselves into coherent thoughts. I also wanted to do something with colour and impact. Black words on a white background seemed too stark. Too well, black and white. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING about diabetes is black and white. Hell it's not even shades of gray.
There are more colours than a rainbow can hold representing diabetes. There is the red in the blood I use to check my blood glucose multiple times a day. The deeper shade of red that is my blood drawn every few months for the endless lab work needed. The purple of my blood glucose meter. The two-tone blue test strips. The gray and blue pens that hold the two different kinds of insulin that I inject daily. The lighter blue of the World Diabetes Day logo sponsored by the International Diabetes Foundation that reminds me that I'm not alone and diabetes is a worldwide epidemic. The lavender paper I peel off of the sterile needles I attach to my insulin pens. The orange caps on the syringes I used to use. The black bottle my test strips come in. The multi-hued pills, glucotabs, and juices that I use to regulate my blood glucose and the other ailments that ran in through the door that diabetes left open.
And then there are the seemingly non-diabetes related colours that are essential in my own diabetes management. The rose of my phone that keeps me in contact with my doctors and allows me to vent/share on Facebook or Twitter. The pink of my Sony eReader and my Sansa Fuze that help keep me sane on days when diabetes is determined to do otherwise. The green bag of the sugar-free Wint-O-Green Lifesavers that make me smile.
These and many more are the colours of my diabetes management. And somehow my art needed to express that. But how? So I opened my favorite "painting" program and started adding colours. I have to tell you, it was a mess. Too chaotic even though diabetes can definitely be that. Then I thought what is the good of digital art if you can't manipulate it and even coax it into what you want it to be. So I took a thin strip out of the middle of the colour chaos I had created and stretched it. Suddenly the chaos became something else. Something almost calm and soothing.
Then I began to list the words associated with diabetes for me. The good and the bad. I began to see what resembled a circle emerging and that made sense to me. I chose the colours because purple is my favorite colour and while some of these things are not my favorites, they are important and they are a part of me.
After placing the newly made diabetes word cloud on the background I'd made I realized there were many shades of purple in that as well. I think that makes it even more about me. That even by accident I've come full circle back to something that I love. But there are also many more colours because no one or nothing can be about only one thing. So while diabetes takes up a large part of my life, it isn't all that I'm about. Because just like diabetes, I have more colours than any rainbow can hold.
But purple is still my favorite. :P
Special thanks to Lee Ann Thill for her imagination, cleverness, and willingness to share. Without her there would be no Diabetes Art Day. Please take a moment to look at the other art posted. Thanks!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
My necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum lesions look like burns and ironically when they are injured they burn like they are literally on fire. A fire that will be repeated at random times during the next week or two that it takes for the injury to heal. The length of time depends on whether or not the living tissue beneath the lesion was injured too. The deeper the wound the longer the healing time. Also, the more frequent the shooting pains through the wound.
Although my loved ones and co-workers are used to seeing the lesions, when I've injured one, they can't help but ask if I'm okay. I can't say that I blame them. The wounds look nothing less than angry. Sometimes they will puff up or swell and often they will actually look like they are infected. Even though they aren't.
For years, I had kept my legs hidden at all costs even at home. No shorts or skirts. I wouldn't even leave my bedroom in my nightgown. I was just positive that everyone would stare at my legs. That this visual evidence of my diabetes made me even more of a freak. Not all of that was vanity or fear. I'm quite pale and can sunburn in a matter of minutes. The lesions can get burned in about half that time.
Some of it is vanity though. These hideously ugly lesions have turned my once porcelain skin to an orange, red, & purple mottled mess. No lesions have moved to my feet, but the colouring has. A possible foreshadowing of what is to come. One that leaves me fearful and worried when I'm completely honest with myself.
Despite their almost disgusting appearance, I have been very lucky. Most patients have developed pits and bumps because of their lesions. For the most part, my legs are even and smooth. Only their colour and cellular make-up has been irrevocably changed by this disease. And of course my already nearly non-existent self-esteem has taken a hard knock, but not a lasting one.
I don’t remember what exactly made me change my mind about covering up my legs. But I do remember that my loved ones made an effort not to bring up the change. In fact, I remember walking into the kitchen in shorts one Saturday, and hearing my Pops’ comment cut short by my Mommy’s elbow in his side. Poor man. He did tell me later than day (when Mommy was out of earshot) that I had nice legs and I shouldn’t hide them all the time. I took that comment to heart and rarely hide them now. And on good days, I agree with him. They are nice legs. There are a lot of women I know that wish they had 24 inch thighs. Now if the rest of me just matched. :D
For those of you who aren’t familiar with necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum, here is an overview of it. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1103467-overview
And here are a few pictures of my legs and feet.
My Left Leg
That divot is not from the NLD. I had a benign tumor removed from a blood vessel there in February 2006.
Both of these are the outside of my Right Ankle. This is where the pressure ulcer was when I was diagnosed in June of 1991. I wrote about it here. The ankle is a bit misshapen because of the muscle tissue I lost, but to me it's beautiful because I nearly lost not just my ankle but my whole foot.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
I miss you. I keep waiting for the sharp, breath-stealing need to see you to fade, but it feels just as strong today as it did the day you left this Earth. I still get halfway through your number before I remember you aren't there to answer it. The thought of you still makes me cry and smile at the same time.
You weren't perfect and sometimes loving you was hard. But I'd sell my soul for just one minute of that hard time. You taught us that family isn't always who you're related to. That it can be those people you love enough to gather around you & hold close. You taught us to love deep and long.
You never tired of hearing every single detail of my day, even if it meant I'd talk for hours. You always tried to teach me how to be a lady and never got mad when I just couldn't manage it. You never hesitated to say "I love you" or to hug us even when moving your arms was agony for you.
You taught me to be quietly strong like steel cloaked in silk, but that it was okay to be loud when it was needed. And sometimes when it wasn't. You told me to be me no matter what anyone thought, including you. You encouraged me to use my imagination and listened patiently as I made up story after story instead of you reading to me at bedtime.
Sometimes you were harsh with Mommy and that bothered me, but I just kept reminding her and myself that it was because you loved her so very much. As the strokes became more frequent, your love for her became evident as you clung to her. Taking care of you those last seven months nearly killed both of us, but neither of us would trade one single moment. I can't speak for Mommy, but I know that I would do it all over again.
I've posted these poems before, but nothing has changed. You're still gone and I still miss you. Some people say that I should just get over it and move on. After all, it has been seventeen years. Just typing that makes my heart ache. I'm pretty sure I'm going to miss you every single day until I see you again. God willing, that won't be very soon. I love you, Grammy. Keep saving that seat next to you for me and I'll be there when I'm done down here.
a sound draws my attention
as i move towards it
i realize its a laugh
then i recognize it
and my heartbeat quickens
i turn the corner
to find her sitting
in her favorite chair
“grammy!” i cry
and throw myself
into her loving arms
“i’ve been waiting for you, baby”
she says with that smile i miss
i feel my chest tighten
a sound behind me
makes me turn
when i look back
she is gone again
then i wake up
and for just a moment
she is still alive
if i hurry to the phone
she’ll answer when i call
dazed, i walk into the kitchen
my sister asks what’s wrong
then holds me as i cry
listening as i tell her
my dream turned nightmare
and i wonder
will it ever stop hurting
will i ever stop missing her
is she watching me now
is she proud
does she know
that i loved her so much
my heart is still breaking
even though she’s been gone
for six years
and seventeen minutes
i saw a woman the other day
with her hair colour
you know the one that
miss clairol makes
and i had this urge to
colour my hair that shade
so she would be with me
each and every day
but my eyes are all wrong
hers were brown
and mine are gray
i guess the hair colour
doesn’t really matter
besides a million things
make me think of her
the smell of coffee brewing
the sound of christmas carols
the taste of peanut butter
the feel of her blue blanket
the last thing she ever touched
before she died
except for me
i just wish she had known me
those last months
i waited every day
for some sort of spark
or that light in her eyes
she always had for me
or the way she had
of calling me ‘baby’
that never bothered me
even though i hadn’t been one
for far too many years
but up until her last moment
i was a stranger
i would cry in the kitchen
so she couldn’t see
i only smiled in front of her
as i put her medicines
through her feeding tube
changed her sheets
bathed her tired body
rubbed lotion on her fragile skin
and brushed her gray hair
that was once that colour
you know the one that
miss clairol makes
Monday, May 02, 2011
After September 11, 2001, I was glad to have a place to freely express my grief & horror. Today, I am grateful to have this blog to do so again. Since last night's announcement, I've had a hard knot in my stomach. Like a rock weighing my whole body down. I'd thought it was dread or fear of the coming repercussions. While I am feeling both of those things, I think it was mostly an inability to express how I was feeling. And not just because I couldn't find the right words, but also for fear of being verbally attacked for my point of view.
Anyone that knows me can tell you that I'm probably the least political person they know. I just cannot wrap my head around the amount of name-calling, mud-slinging, & hate-mongering that goes on. Despite a high IQ, it's a concept that I just cannot grasp.
Since I got home from work, I've been reading a few posts on Facebook & a few of my favorite blogs. I now know that what I really want to do is remember & honor the people we lost in 9/11. I cannot bring myself to celebrate the death of anyone, even a madman. It's just not in my nature.
So I posted this quote from a well-spoken man that I greatly admire as my Facebook status: "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" — Martin Luther King Jr
Then I found my spirits lifted by two of my fellow members of the DOC (Diabetes Online Community). Kelly over at Diabetesaliciousness wrote this Today and made me realize what I really wanted & needed to do today. And Simon from the 70's made me even more proud to be an American with his Lest We Forget post. Thanks to both wonderful authors for always writing from their hearts.
Now for my less eloquent words. Mere days after 9/11, I wrote a poem about how I felt. A year later, I wrote another one. I'm posting both of them here. In a way, they both still ring very much true for me today.
lest we forget
the sound of freedom
as it rings
or the feel of tears
as they fall
or the demand for justice
as it is cried out
we will forever
keep a prayer
in our grieving hearts
for those fallen
sacrificed for our great land
civilian and soldier
young and old
men and women
all without blame
against our country's will
by a monster
made of cowardice
but destined for defeat
will be flown
will be great
and our fight
will be unending
one more year
nothing much has changed
one more year of tears
one more year of fears
that’s a whole lot of nothing
innocents turned heroes
heroes turned victims
free people became prisoners
prisoners of a war we can’t see
prisoners of a war we didn’t start
but is it a war we can win?
nothing much has changed
one more year of terror
one more year of fighting
that’s a whole lot of nothing
hope turned into grief
mourning turned into resolution
a divided world tried to become whole
people around the world
stood beside us in word and spirit
maybe it will last
nothing much has changed
one more year is past
one more year since the last
and that’s a lot more than nothing
Saturday, April 16, 2011
A few years ago, a good online friend and fellow writer (Hi, Cormac!), suggested that I write flash fiction or very short pieces. I was scared, but I gave it a try. I did manage a few posts here on my blog and since them have posted a few more. I also tried my hand at Six Sentences. I even had two of them accepted. Some of them weren't and never really saw the light of day. For no reason whatsoever, I think it's time they did. So here they are.
The first one was declined by Six Sentences by the nicest rejection I've ever had. Robert McEvily (the editor of Six Sentences) said, "
I've decided not to use this piece, but I wanted to thank you for sending it, and I hope you'll consider sending more work in the future." He only has himself to blame for the many submissions that followed. :)
She had looked forward to this day all of her life and now it was nearly here. She would soon change her name and her life forever. She had hoped and prayed about this moment for her whole life. She had planned every last detail. She knew it wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be a dream come true. She just couldn’t wait to be a doctor.
The next one was actually published on the Six Sentences website. http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/2009/01/obsession.html
Our conversation abruptly stopped and I looked up to find him staring off into nothing with a far away look in his eyes. My first thought was to wonder where in the universe he was when I realized that I didn't really care. It also occurred to me that he was mentally absent from our life together more than he was present. I let out a deep breath that I felt like I'd been holding since we'd met twelve years ago and left the kitchen. In less than thirty minutes, I'd packed everything I wanted to take with me from this life, grabbed my laptop, and headed towards the door. I only stopped long enough to erase my number in his cell phone, before I exited this life and entered another.
This one was the "Bonus Six" at the end of the Six Sentences newsletter. http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/2009/02/newsletter-sixes.html
She has such a tight grip on her heart that she can barely breathe. She's so determined not to fall that she's forgetting to live. Happiness isn't the lack of unhappiness; it's something you have to work at because if it was easy then it wouldn't mean anything. You have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light. But if you don't let go of the darkness, how can you ever let in the light? You have to open up your heart and let the light shine in so happiness can grow.
Now for the ones that haven't really seen the light of day. Robert has seen them & there were posted on my page on the Six Sentences social website, but that was pretty much it.
He called again today and it's all I can do to not draw him back into my world. I don't love him, but the lure of being adored is almost irresistible. Knowing that with just a word from me he'd abandon his fiancee and rush to my side is intoxicating. He'd risk a lifetime with her for just a moment with me. Having no intention of keeping him usually strengthens my resolve not to use him to take the edge off of my loneliness. But tonight my need to be loved might override my need to be kind.
The beat of the music vibrates up and down my spine and makes my body tingle. Trying to disguise my intense observation as casual curiosity, my eyelids flutter rapidly. My eyes track his movements like a predator on the hunt as he continues to dance with girl after girl in happy oblivion. The only comfort is realizing he never dances with any of them more than once. Their lack of appeal keeps them safe from him and me. For now.
The truth is that no one gets out of this alive, so what is the big deal? They say you can't take it with you and she was okay with that since what you should take with you had nothing to do with dollar signs. What she valued was that moment as she stepped out of her car and he wrapped his arms around her and instantly felt like home. The time, years later, that their lips met and their friendship blossomed into something so much more than either of them had ever expected. That night they parked by the lake and he confessed that he loved her, that he'd never told another girl that before, and probably never would again. As she looked down at his peaceful face and felt him leaving her, those were the things she hoped he would take with him on his final journey.
I think that last one is my favorite. There are many more short pieces in the archives of my blog. Feel free to give them a read. Thanks for stopping by. :)
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I am a woman of......
passion & compassion
hope & help
life & love
words & phrases
needs & deeds
mysteries & truths
dreams & nightmares
needles & numbers
frets & debts
melodies & harmonies
paper & pages
uploads & downloads
highs & lows
strengths & tears
giving & holding
heart & mind
heaven & earth
Pretty sure that doesn't clear up anything, but it makes sense to me. And I'm sure there are a few people that know me well enough to see the sense in it too. Now I'll pass on the challenge. Who are you?
Saturday, April 09, 2011
A friend of my mom's sent me to his very expensive dermatologist who was also an expert in rare skin diseases. He took one look at it and knew what it was. The biopsy result confirmed his diagnosis. Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum*. He told me I needed to get to an endocrinologist right away because only diabetics get this skin disease. I knew that couldn't be right because I didn't have diabetes, but he insisted.
My mom's friend helped out again by sending me to the best endocrinologist he could find. The visit is a bit of a blur, but I do know the man never took any blood for tests except for the finger prick for a blood sugar test. He wrote a lot in my chart, but didn't talk a lot. He never even shared the blood sugar test result with me. He simply said I had Type 2 Diabetes, gave me a couple of pamphlets, an exchange diet booklet from the American Diabetes Association, and a stern warning that I needed to lose weight. I was too deep in shock to realize that I'd basically been given the bum's rush out of this guy's office.
The pamphlets were vague at best and he never mentioned a return visit at all. A few week later I called his office to find out when I should come back and was told that I didn't need to because Type 2 Diabetes was all about self-care. The nurse informed me that the doctor said he couldn't do anything for me if I didn't lose at least 100 pounds. When I asked how I was supposed to do that she replied that she didn't know but maybe I should stop eating so much. Yes, she actually said that. And to add insult to injury she said it in quite a snotty way. My response will NOT get me sainted for sure. I said, "Really? And I bet you'd be less of a bitch if you stopped breathing," and I slammed the phone down.
Over the next 6 months, I cut out as much sugar as I could. Switched to diet sodas, unsweetened tea, and stopped eating candy. Even though I didn't really eat or drink much of that anyway. Of course the pamphlets didn't say anything about carbs or how to check my blood sugar. I had been on the exchange diet when I was a kid due to Hypoglycemia, but it had changed and I couldn't make much sense of it. I did the best I could and moved forward.
It seemed like each day I was hungrier than the last. No matter what I ate, I never felt full or satisfied. I started bring snacks to work to stop the gnawing stomach pains. It seemed like I was constantly eating. Small Ziploc bags of cereal & other snacks would surround me at any given moment at work or home. And despite all the eating, I was losing weight.
At first it was gradual, but as the hunger increased, so did the weight loss. A couple of pounds a month turned into a couple of pounds a week in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Worse yet, my personality began changing. I had always been a perky and happy person. Almost annoyingly so. Suddenly I was moody and grumpy. Where I once sprang out of bed each morning with a smile on my face, I now crawled out of bed with a grimace and often remarked that I felt like I hadn't even slept. I was constantly tired and just generally felt bad.
This went on for nearly a year. I wouldn't find out until June of the following year that I had been misdiagnosed. If the so-called specialist had bothered to do any real blood tests on me, he would have known right away I had Type 1 Diabetes. If he had stopped looking down his nose at me and looked past my weight, I might not have had the three-month-long battle to save my foot and ankle.
Looking back now, I know that I'm lucky I survived. There are so many things that could have happened during that time. On any one of those restless nights, I could have easily slipped into a coma and never woke up again. I could have had kidney failure due to diabetic ketoacidosis. I could have lost my foot and my ankle because after all that time and stress on my body it just simply couldn't heal. I definitely got lucky. Really lucky.
The next chapter of my diabetic life story continues in the post I wrote for the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy website - http://diabetessocmed.com/2011/participants-point-of-view-life-stages-w-diabetes/
Friday, April 08, 2011
Needless to say, the DOC is up in arms. Reversing Diabetes?!?! Really? And who is your medical expert, Reader's Digest? Halle Berry? Any REAL medical expert will tell you that you cannot REVERSE diabetes. Unless you have invented a magic ray gun that changes your DNA. And if you have, are you planning to make one that can reverse stupidity? I'd like to nominate Halle Berry as your first test subject. I'm just saying.
Anyway, today I read a blog written by Kelly Kunik from Diabetesaliciousness. She might be my new hero. The blog details the multiple calls she made to Reader's Digest today. I was impressed to say the least. Kim & Kelly made such lasting impressions on me that I want to share their blog posts with you.
Please take a moment to read both of them. And if you feel like calling Reader's Digest & expressing yourself, Kelly has included phone numbers. :)
You can read Kim's post here - A Letter To Reader's Digest
You can read Kelly's post here - Just Got Off The Phone With The Director of Customer Care for Reader's Digest
Like so many members of the DOC, these women ROCK. They are worth their weight in BG test strips for sure. :)
Monday, March 21, 2011
After last week's chat & show, I was asked to write a blog post about the topic we discussed. I was honored to say the least. And boy was I nervous. Posting here on my own blog is one thing. Let's be honest, the only readers I have are friends & family who could call me for this information. Their website is public. Like public, public. As in LOTS of public. :)
So while I continue my Fan-Girl Happy Dance, go take a look at my post. And of course, let me know what you think!
Thanks again DSMA!!!!!!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
He liked that her body was sensitive to his touch. That even the most innocent of contact between them could make colour rush suddenly into her cheeks as she thought of him repeating that contact the next time they were alone. The sight of her pupils dilating with pleasure as she remembered the last time they were alone. That shy look through her lowered lashes that told him that she not only wanted him, but loved him. The way she always closed the space between them without even thinking about it that told him her need to be near him matched his need to be near her.
He could watch her forever and never get his fill. The way she tilted her head back when she laughed that exposed her creamy throat in a way that just begged to be kissed. The way she sometimes watched his lips while he was talking that made him lose his train of thought. The way she covered her mouth when he surprised a giggle out of her. The sweet way she blushed when he teased her or complimented her.
He found himself making up excuses to touch her. Brushing her soft hair out of her eyes and tucking it behind her ear. Offering her his hand to help her out of the car. His hand in the small of her back as he walked beside her in a crowded place. Touching the tips of her fingers as he takes a book from her. Covering her hand as he makes a point during their dinner conversation. Over and over he found himself drawn to her. Maybe she was perfect. Perfect for him.
Writer's Note: The inspiration for this piece of very short fiction came about after a conversation I overheard between two guys. The first one had just described a girl (I can only assume she was his girlfriend/wife) & the second responded with, "She's not perfect, but she's perfect for you." The way he emphasized the word "you" really got me to thinking. Then later that night these words began banging on the inside of my brain demanding to be let out. I happily obliged since the inspiration to write doesn't come around nearly as often as I'd like.
That was a few weeks ago. I didn't post it right away because even though the inspiration was the conversation between two strangers, the end product seemed personal & almost private. Like I'd put way more of myself into it than I had intended. There is something of me in every thing I write, not just the fiction & poetry. I think that's what it takes to be a really good writer. Not that I'm a really good writer, just that I hope to be one day. I decided to post it this morning when I realized why I had been reluctant before.
I don't remember a time in my life when I have ever been comfortable with my body. I cover it up & I avoid mirrors at all costs. It is so far from perfect that it's in another universe. In my head, I know that no one is perfect & in other people I know that perfection isn't required for someone to be beautiful, handsome, or even sexy. But only in other people. Somehow I can't seem to let myself off the hook for my lack of perfection and not just in looks.
If I'm not perfect, then no one will love me is what the voice in the back of head has told me all my life. As an adult, I know this is not true. I'm not perfect and I am very loved. But I can never seem to vanquish that thought completely and I think that's because as a child I didn't know for sure that it wasn't true. By the time I knew it was nonsense, I'd already heard it non-stop for years.
The bad things are easier to believe than the good things. My proof of that is that every "bad" thing ever said about me or to me went straight into the thought bank of my little voice, but only about 1 out of every 10 "good" things made it in there. Although in the last few years, I'd say that the "good" numbers are definitely on the rise & a lot more of "bad" things are just discarded before my little voice can get a hold of them. It's a slow process though. So bear with me, I'm a work in progress. :)
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Even though this postcard is the one that spoke the loudest to me this week, I nearly didn't share it. The postal strip covering up part of the words annoys me greatly. But then I realized that this one resonates with me so much that I can fill in that last part with my own secret.
I joked recently that I would go out with the next guy that bought me flowers, but if the truth be told I would take a book over flowers any day. The gift of a book makes me feel so much more than loved. It lets me know that this person knows of my love for books, thinks that I am intelligent enough to enjoy reading, and that they took the time to pick out something special just for me. If they get me a book that I love without having to ask me what book I want*, then it's about 100 times more special to me. It means they are really paying attention to who I am.
* - Asking me if I already own the book they are planning to purchase for me is not the same as asking me what book I'd like them to buy. It's always a good idea to check if I own something before buying it since I own quite a few books. :)
PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Love Language Scores:
2 Words of Affirmation
11 Quality Time
1 Receiving Gifts
8 Acts of Service
8 Physical Touch
In Quality Time, nothing says "I love you" like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes you feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed activities, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
If you're curious, you can take it here.