Monday, October 28, 2013

My bowl.

The other day I watched Blackfish.  It was a documentary on CNN about Killer Whales procured by Sea World, and the subsequent tales of sad living conditions and danger to all involved, whale and trainer.

I shivered through the entire show.  That kind of terrified electricity that runs up your spine when you see something haunting?  I felt that to the nth degree.  I cuddled up closer and closer to the corner of the couch until I was a ball.  My 15 year old walked in and said, “What’s wrong, Mom?” 

I pointed to the TV.

He finished watching with me, and left.  I knew that it affected me more than it affected him, which surprised me.  I’m a pretty level person.  I look at everything on TV with an understanding that what I’m watching is biased.  No matter sitcom or World Report, I always know that there are two sides to a story and someone behind the scenes with some kind of agenda. 

But this feeling I had while watching this documentary was pronounced.  Sure it may have something to do with my lifelong terror of the deep deep ocean, but it was something more.  I spent a couple days pondering it all.  Why did those whales haunt me so?

And finally it clicked.

I completely relate to those whales’ plight.  In fact, I feel like those whales.

I’m at a place where I feel like I’ve been plucked from my home.  The only home and family I ever knew, and have been thrown into a small tank just big enough for me to swim for the soul purpose of surviving. 

Breathing.  It feels like all my energy these days is put into just breathing.

I feel like I’m not where I belong.  I feel like there is an expansive universe out there that I’m missing out on, something bigger meant to be.  I seem to be living my life only to perform for others.  I know what is expected of me, and I’m doing it.  And when I see my boys smile, for a moment I forget my bowl, and I fly into the air.

But at the end of the day…I’m back in the bowl.

Going through the motions is the crux of my existence.

But as I pondered this more, I realized there is one distinct difference between the whales and me…

This bowl I’m in?  I’m keeping myself here.  I can jump out anytime. 

I can change my life at anytime. 

The only thing I’m a prisoner of is grief.  The sadness and hopelessness of my future is all on me.  I have the power to jump out of this rut. 

And I know I will.  It’s just that…now isn’t the time yet.

I must keep my world small to continue the healing process.  As much as I want to rush into new worlds and new experiences, I know that right now I’m exactly where I need to be.

Sometimes it’s necessary to go through life on autopilot so that our delicate ecosystems can rest, and heal from the tolls of heartache.  My life was kidnapped from me.  It’s only natural that my body needs to recover from the violent ripping apart of my future.

This little happiness coma is allowing much needed restoration to occur.

I’m going to back float it out until one day I’m strong enough to jump out of the pool.

When I do?

Watch out.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I know some of you are jealous of my ultra glamorous life.  And rightfully so.

I have four really awesome boys.

They are fun, and handsome and everything a mama bear could want.

But we have our adventures like everyone else. 

You know, sometimes things happen out of nowhere that are no ones fault whatsoever.  Things that are totally out of our hands and are what smarter people than me have deemed “par for the course.”

One of those moments happened this morning. 

This kind of thing so ultra rare, a blog post like this should be worth millions.  I mean it’s THAT rare.  Stuff like this n.e.v.e.r happens around here.

This mother is so prepared for everything, that something like this happening just doesn’t happen.  Well, you know…maybe once in a blue moon.  Or maybe once every other leap year. 

Practically never ever.

(I’ll let you figure out for yourself which words above these words here, are truth or fantasy.)

Anyway, back to the story…

This morning I dropped the boys off to school and as 11-year-old B was jumping out of the car he said, “Oops.  I only have 1 unit of insulin left in my pump.”

Now if I believed in tough love I would have been all, “Well it’s your fault mister!  You’ll just have to do without all. day. long.  And think about what you’ve done!”

But I’m a softy.

Looking at the clock I saw I had 30 minutes until I absolutely had to be at work and thanks to our entire city being under construction, I was 20 minutes away from home.

 As veteran D Mom problem solving scenarios were flying through my swelly brain at light speed.  The first logical one was going home, filling a reservoir and sending it back with my 18 year old. 

“If I send a reservoir, can you go through the steps to prime it and get it done?  You can just attach it to the old set and after school I’ll insert a new one.”

((Blank stare))  He’s done it a few times along side me, but he’s unsure.

“I can try.”  He says.

Okay.  Better plan!

“Give yourself that one unit of insulin to cover the missed basal and give me your pump.  I’ll get it set up and your brother can bring it to you in less than an hour.”

The game was afoot! 

Now this next part has nothing to do with the end of the story.  The end of the story is M drives the pump to B.  He gets it and his sugars end up being brilliant all day long.  You don’t have to keep reading, it’s ok.  But I just need to get this off my chest.

The traffic.  You know that feeling when you’re in traffic and you need to be somewhere ASAP?  I’m assuming you do, because every other car on the road apparently felt the same way I did.  Which logic then dictates you’ve been there too and know exactly what I’m talking about.  Anyway, I was feeling that feeling, hard.

The city has an entire section of roadway under construction; so three lanes must merge into one lane and go 2 miles an hour until allowed to again spread into two lanes again. 

Everybody knows what is going to happen ahead.  Everybody KNOWS.  But there are the few that think their lives are more harried than everybody else’s, and they go into the lane that is obviously closing RIGHT ahead, just to get four cars ahead of everybody else.  You know these people.  They don’t make eye contact.  They pretend they didn’t know the lane was closing.  But it’s been a month people.  We know you know.

And as I sat in my lane doing all the right things, I was forced to accommodate these leaches who suck out my happiness to take off an extra minute from their commute.  And the worst part of it all: I almost always catch up to these offenders a couple lights ahead.  All of their A-holishness is for not.  We are at the same place.  Turns out they never even gain a minute, they gain seconds.

Pile onto this the fact that the construction company people set up for their roadwork at exactly 8:00am, when we are trying to get our kids to school, and get to work.  They have to know that the majority of the city population starts work at 9am.  If they waited just one hour lives would be changed, people might actually like the city again, and this D Mom’s head wouldn’t explode every livelong day.

I looked at the faces of the people cutting in and almost hitting other cars, and I tried to understand their lives.  I tried to make up stories that made their actions ok.  I tried to pretend they have children with medical issues too.  Or they can’t be late or they’ll be fired.  Or something. 

But then I looked at myself in the mirror, and there I was, following all the rules…and still…nothing is easy.

Even though I’m always prepared!  (Sarcasm font.  Where is the sarcasm font button?)

I’m doing the best I can.  I’m trying to be a good person.  I’m trying.

But even though everything in front of me says chaos, (see: traffic metaphor,) I can’t shake the feeling that one day the sea will part and there in front of me will be redemption.

I don’t know how it’s possible.  In fact if I think about it, all I can think of are reasons for it not to be possible.  It’s hard not to doubt good things lie ahead.

I heard a quote recently that struck that handy “truth chord” I have in my soul, and that quote was “Doubt your doubt before you doubt your faith.”

So I’ll keep following rules, and trying my best, and maybe even try to be a little more prepared, spiritually and diabetically, and I’ll let the fates take care of the rest.

Because (as I say over and over again,) I can’t do better than my best.

And that my friends, is apparently what passes for a blog post these days from moi. 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

World Diabetes Day, and Four Years of Living with Diabetes

Hello sweet peeps! It's about that time of the year again! Diabetes awareness month is fast approaching... and with it will come another year of living with diabetes, for me. November 17th will mark my four year anniversary of living with this insidious disease.

What will you do for diabetes awareness month? Will you wear a diabetes awareness pin? Will you hand out fliers, or educational materials? Will you donate money to the cause, or participate in a walk? Will you help the International Diabetes Federation light up a building blue? There are so many things we could do. I was considering making little educational booklets for the recently diagnosed type 2 diabetic, being as there is often so little information given to patients. This might take me a little time, and expense... but it's a goal I have. 

November is also a month in which I contemplate my life with diabetes: Where am I? Where am I going? Am I where I want to be? What have I learned about myself. 

Through my four years of living with diabetes, I've gone through several approaches as to how to manage and cope. From stricter, to less so, to more of a balanced and moderate approach. I've had to sit down and think long and hard about my attitudes toward food, weight loss, and how I was emotionally comforting myself. For a while, I practiced extreme low carbing, and realized it was not the best approach for me: it was not financially doable, plus it was also not realistic as to enjoying life with others in social situations. And well... I just dislike almond flour and excess fat. Now, I love the approach of eating with awareness, or intuitive eating, but I must be aware that as a person with diabetes, I must mind my level of carbohydrate consumption, as well as some of my calories, so I still needed to put some limitations on myself. 

So far, I've come to a place where I practice a sort of hybrid of both: I try not to eat more than 400 calories per main meal (I'm only 4'9... I really don't need that many calories), and then I eat my meals with awareness, so I may not end up eating that whole meal, if I don't feel like it. I can be one of those people who eat distractedly, or emotionally, so if I 'fail' to stop where I want, at least I won't have eaten a lot more than 400 calories in one sitting meal. If I am physically hungry and need more food than this, I'll eat it. I try to do this approach of mindful eating when I'm in restaurants, too. If I can, I will order less of the regular portion, or box away half of the portion, etc., adding veggies or side salads, helping to balance things out, as well. I generally don't like to take portions home.  

I've started trying to cut ties with certain foods, not because I can't have them, but to reduce my cravings for them, while increasing my appetite for others. It has given me quite a bit of freedom in my walk with diabetes... leaving some foods to rare occasions. I won't say what these foods are: I think that's irrelevant, really. What those foods are, could be different for everyone. It's the concept that matters. 

I am fortunate right now, that I have a very physical job at a restaurant, and I get quite a bit of exercise running around a busy dining room all day, and often lifting heavy things. I should add more physical activity to my life, though, as I go along. And this won't be too difficult to do. I just need to schedule it in, and go do it. 

Pacing myself with weight loss has also been another big lesson. When I first was diagnosed with diabetes, I was in such a hurry to lose weight and be healthy -- I was so scared of this disease. I did manage to go from 243 lbs down to 170, which was a great accomplishment, but it left me feeling tired, deprived and trapped by having diabetes. It made me burnt out. Eventually, I yo-yo'ed a lot with my weight, gaining and losing weight quite a few times, up to reaching 226 lbs again. I am now, presently at 183 lbs... and losing slowly, and as peacefully as possible. Even us advocates need to be reminded that this is not a sprint, but a marathon; that we need to pace ourselves along the way. Love ourselves along the way. It is hard to feel much love for life, ourselves, or any peace with diabetes, when one is pursuing strict, short term solutions, to long term problems. This rocky relationship brings moodiness as well; depression, anger, eventual high blood sugars, and further uncontrolled emotions.  

Diabetes has been for me then, a deep exercise in introspection: a deep learning to pay attention to my needs, to want those things I'm doing for myself, to love and desire to be healthy, and in good spirits. It is the courage to look at what we want in the face, versus what we need... and to turn what we need into what we want.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Ryan called her Sha-mae-mae. 

When I first found her I pronounced her name, Shay-me. 

When I spoke to her on the phone the first time it was the first question I asked her.  “How the heck do you pronounce your name??”

It was Shamae.  Like, Sha-may.

At a young age, she was one of the original D Mom bloggers.  When I wrote my first post and sent it out into the interwebz, my Sister in Law was eager to read it.  As she Googled around looking for my first post lost in obscurity, she ran across Shamae’s blog.

“Do you know there are others?” She asked.

“Others???  Others like me?”

Sure enough when my sister in law pointed out Shamae’s blog it was akin to finding the Promised Land for me.  Her sidebar lit up with a list of other D Mom bloggers.  I was so thrilled I read every one.  Commenting on every one.  Bursting with excitement with EVERY ONE.

Shamae will always be my life preserver.  She threw her heart to me and I held onto it with dear life.  Finding others like me in the sea of craziness online just seemed too good to be true.

We spoke on the phone.  We texted.  We got together a group of D Mom bloggers and met for Sunday night chats. 

And after the chats faded away, we still kept in touch.  Even though Shamae took a long blogging hiatus, Facebook served its divine purpose of keeping those far away close to our hearts. 

When Ryan passed she called right away.  She spent weeks gathering supplies from the entire state of Idaho to send to our family.  Four huge boxes FULL of life for my boys. 

She was an angel.

She was my dear friend.

She was 30 years old.

And in an instant, she is gone.

I know enough to know she is in a glorious place.  I know enough to know she has a renewed perspective that makes all of this ok.

But I also know enough to know her family is aching right now.  I don’t know how husbands deal with losses like this.  I can’t even say I know how wives do...but I know how I did/am.  And my heart is imploding thinking about the hurt that is happening in that home right now.

It brings me back to where I was a year ago.  It’s all still very raw. 

And that’s all I have to say about that.  I can’t bear to say more about those feelings.

Shamae, thank you.  Thank you for your kind heart, and your resilient spirit.  Thank you for all the laughs, and joy you brought into my life.  But most of all, thank you for not being afraid to live authentically.  You lived your life and your faith out loud, and for that you will forever be a bright example to me.

May the angels comfort your family.  And may your family know that your existence was not only to bring three miracles into the world, but also to create an online world that changed the lives of many women.

Mine included.

After Ryan passed away, Shamae wrote this poem for me.  She also sent me the link to the song below. I hope it will give her family some solace during this difficult time:

Dear Meri,
The tears in your eyes I know you can’t hide,
In front of our family, I've seen how you've tried.
You want to be strong, but the ache is too great.
When I passed on, I watched your heart break.

Please don’t cry, don’t shed a tear.
You can’t understand; the path is not clear.
You see the part where I have passed on;
but try not to worry ‘cause it won’t be long,
till your eyes are opened and you’ll finally see—
I’m happy in Heaven with more family.

Christmas is coming and I know you are scared,
because this is a holiday we always have shared.
I miss you too and in my heart there’s an ache.
 ‘cause I won’t be around to make this year great.

But you’ll be surrounded by our family and friends;
they love you dearly and are there to lend
a hand to hold or to share a smile.
They’ll give you compassion and stay for a while.

Meri, I want you to know that I’ll also be there,
this holiday season we still get to share.
Although I know your eyes can’t see,
I'll be sitting beside you with our family.

Mistletoe above, I’ve move my lips to your cheek,
I’ll give you the kiss you longingly seek.
My hand on your hand, I’ll give it a squeeze
you’ll feel my love while you decorate our tree.
 Meri, please don’t cry, don’t shed a tear,
‘cause I’ll get to be with you for Christmas this year.
Love always, Ryan

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