Monday, December 26

My Very First Diabetic Christmas

I had a great Christmas. I had great food. I had great company whom I made the great food for.

Alas, I was not a great diabetic.

I had intended to be, but as the song says, 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.' I am so frustrated with Diabetes! I want to eat what ever the hell I want to eat! I want to bake all of the things you are supposed to bake at Christmas and more importantly, I want to eat them! I want stuffing! I want egg nog! I want the sweets! I am starting to HATE the South Beach daily emails I receive in my Inbox. The ones with titles like 'Beach Friendly Holidays' and 'Guilt-free South Beach Christmas'. DELETE. DELETE.

Confessions of a daredevil diabetic:

1. I made egg nog with vanilla icecream, Jack Daniels, and sweetened condensed milk and I DRANK IT!
2. I made homemade stuffing with WHITE bread and I ATE IT!
3. I made a batch of heavenly lemon bars with sugar and butter and I ATE THEM TOO!

Oh, I feel sooooo naughty! BUT I AM NOT SORRY!!

No, I am not.
Did I feel sick at all? Yes, a little.
Would I do it again? Most likely.

Strangly, Diabetes has created in me an intense desire to forge a healthy relationship with my body. To understand it better. To work with it. To fine tune it. To make it strong. So why do I punish it with sugar and starch? Good question. Scary answer. RAW LUST. Lust for food. I simply LOVE creating things in the kitchen. Here is a change: I can make smart food choices from the menus at restaurants, a picture perfect diabetic, but left alone in my kitchen, I am trouble brewing. Cooking fascinates me. The fact that I can open a cabinet and take out a bunch of unrelated ingredients and within an hour or so have homemade baguettes with fresh pasta and homemade pesto is AMAZING to me. I love doing it! CREATING. Cooking is my art. It is something at which I excel. It has become my passion.

So really, here is the deal. My analysis. My 'two cents'.

My head is around this whole diabetes thing, but my heart is slow to follow.

In my head, I understand the enormity of the condition. I understand the importance of having harmony and peace within my body. I understand I have to take responsibility and make smart choices.

In my heart, however, I find a certain freedom that blossoms when I am cooking. I feel alive. I feel sharp. I feel satisfied. I feel challenged. And I feel sad when I don't have total freedom in food. The very thing that once had unbridled potential, now suddenly has limits. I am heart sick you could say.

And I suppose it just takes time. Time to embrace a new lifestyle. Time to learn new methods. Time to discover wonderful things with all of the right food combinations. And I know that there are all sorts of SCRUMPTOUS diabetic meals just waiting to be created by me. But the heart is slow to follow. It tends to dwell on the days of old. It tends to linger, just a little, behind my head.

Does that make sense? It does to me. And reading what my head seems to know sure seems to make my heart feel better.

Wednesday, December 14

The Truth About Pizza

As I pay more attention to the things I eat and their effects on my blood sugar, this is a truth I have learned of late: anytime you see an article with the headline 'The Truth About....', there is a VERY high chance that the article is going to tell you why that thing is so bad for you. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, it is usually something like 'The Truth About Fried Foods', or 'The Truth About Potatoes '. If you don't want to feel guilty from that point forward, DO NOT read past the headline. Usually, by the end of the article, you are armed with all of the reasons WHY dairy products will indeed cause your untimely death. Now, since becoming a person with Diabetes, I have learned which foods I can have that will keep my blood glucose low and I have also learned which foods will cause it to climb completly out of control. Sadly, pizza is one of these 'out of control' things. Now, I LOVE pizza. I cannot look back on my life and remember a time without it. Seriously. The earliest time was when I was about 5 or so. I remember my parents had a friend who owned a Pizza Inn restaurant. I remember eating pizza there. I remember the smell of the place. I also remember that for many years after that, whenever I saw a Pizza Inn, I thought my parents friends owned it. Later on, when I was about 11, we had moved to Houston. I walked to a Pizza Inn near our house with a friend, and proceeded to tell the manager that I knew the owners and they wouldn't mind if we were given a free pizza. He was very kind and smiling, and he did indeed give us a free pizza. I looked very cool in front of my friend, but it turned to embarassment later on when I found out that Pizza Inn's are franchises and our family friend only owned the ONE store. I guess the manager just felt sorry for the arrogant and mis-informed 11 year old, and looking back on it, the 'manager' was probably the owner. I remember having pizza parties. They were all the rage back then, right up there with roller skating parties. Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlor. I even have a picture of me in my little cheerleading uniform with my mom and sisters and a person dressed as a giant RAT (who was supposed to be Chuck E.) at a Chuck E. Cheese pizza party. Then, for awhile, we all loved Mr. Gatti's. Then Godfather's. Then I remember when Pizza Hut came out with a stuffed pizza. I so clearly remember eating that. As I grew older and became involved in drama, we had the cast parties at my house and we always had pizza. In college we had Pizza Hut at least once a week. A large pepperoni, thin and crispy, cooked just so the outer edges of the pepperoni were slightly brown and crisp. OHHHH, just thinking about that sends me into complete ectasy. I LOVE PIZZA! Until recently, I had never had frozen pizza. There was no point, since I lived in America, a vast land of endless pizza eating opportunities. (Well, I had tried pizza rolls back in the 80's, remember those?) Then I married a Norwegian and moved to Norway. Here, everything is expensive. You can get pizza, but it is really not any good and it costs a small fortune. As a result, the Norwegians have a HUGE assortment of frozen pizzas. Like I mentioned before, I have been sort of a frozen pizza snob. They were just sub-standard in the world of pizza. Not being able to afford a 40 dollar pizza, and faced with no other options, I had no choice but to try a frozen pizza here in Oslo. I remember pouting about it in the grocery store. My husband assured me that they were really good, so begrudgingly, I chose one called 'Ristorante Speciale'. It had mozzarella, mushrooms and pepperoni, the all important thin crust AND the mandatory Italian sounding name. So, we bought them and trudged home with our frozen pizzas. Suprisingly good. That is what my verdict was. I'm not sure if it was because it had been so long since I had had a 'thin and crispy' pepperoni pizza, or if it was really that good, but irregardless, it became clear that my pizza eating would go on uninterupted here in Norway.

Then came Diabetes. Pizza and Diabetes are like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, Tom and Jerry, God and the devil, you know, arch enemies. Not just plain old enemies, but ARCH enemies. After having pizza, my blood glucose is so CRAZY high that I often think, 'surely my meter is broken' and test again, but no, it's not broken, my glucose is just CRAZY high. So, what's a girl to do? I truly cannot imagine not being able to eat pizza. Well, I decided to try 'alternative' recipes for pizza. Here is a summary of each of those attempts.

1. Dr. Lindbergh's Low Glycemic Pizza
Here in Norway, Dr. Lindbergh is kind of like the South Beach doctor, Dr. Agaston, except he is not a cardiologist, but an endochronologist. He is a Diabetes doctor and has created an entire diet based on a Low GI approach. Slow carbs they are called. I think elsewhere in the world he is called 'The Greek Doctor', because he is originally from Greece. Anyway, he came out with a frozen pizza for those of us trying to lead a healthy and responsible lifestyle. Well, I tried it. It tasted like cardboard. As I ate my 'special' pizza and my husband had his 'normal' pizza, I found myself getting very grumpy. His looked and smelled 1000 times better, and I knew from experience, that his tasted better. Maybe if we had both been eating the 'special' pizza, it would have been ok, but the low GI pizza simply could not compete. It was not a good experience. But my glucose reading 2 hours afterwards was NORMAL.

2. The Zucchini Crust Pizza
I got this idea off of a South Beach Diet forum. It sounded very promising. So, I whipped up my pizza crust made of zucchini and egg, baked it and topped it with pizza toppings and voila! I had pizza! Except it wasn't. It tasted more like pizza toppings. I think if you are one of those people who just likes the toppings, this is a GREAT alternative. (I have never understood those people who leave the crust when eating pizza. I LOVE the crust. I am a crust girl and am always the one who says 'Are you going to eat those crusts? No? Can I have them?') It was a great idea, but just didn't give you that pizza eating feeling. Plus you had to use a knife and fork. Again, I tested my blood glucose two hours afterwards and it was NORMAL.

3. The Low Carb Soy Flour Crust Pizza
When I found this recipe, I was very excited. The author said that everyone who tried it was saying stuff like 'this is soooo much better than normal pizza!'. I knew it was too good to be true, but I am a sucker for the faint possiblilty that it just might be better. No. It was not. I ended up just scraping off the toppings and eating those. Maybe European soy flour is different, or maybe, it's just mind over matter. Even more annoyingly, 2 hours later, my blood glucose? Yep, NORMAL.

How annoying right????? I think we can all conclude from these experiments that it is the crust on the normal pizza that causes the whacked out blood sugar! The toppings are all the same. Why oh why, must the crust be evil? That is my very favorite part! Clearly it is not the toppings. It's the flour. The beautiful, soft, innocent looking flour. So what is the conclusion? Must I go through life with only my memories of pizza to sustain me? I think not.

Here is my solution. I think this whole Diabetes thing is about a lifestyle. Especially for us Type 2's. We must have a lifestyle change in how we eat. So, that is what I have done. Well, for the most part, that is what I have done. My theory is, if I am good and eating right for 29 days out of the month, there is NO reason why I cannot have a treat on the 30th day. 29 days of good clean eating surely must outweigh one day of NASTY eating right? So, I look forward to day 30 (or sometimes day 31). That one day, enables me to EMBRACE the other 29 or 30. Knowing, that if I can just get through those, my reward awaits me. PIZZA. Real pizza. With a crunchy, crispy crust!!! So, in order to have it, I must make sacrifices elsewhere. What's your 'pizza'? Don't let Diabetes steal your joy in food! Instead, find a way to incorporate your favorites into a new healthy lifestyle. It is worth it and you will be amazed at how much better your favorite food will actually taste when you are not having it everyday!

So, the truth about pizza?? Well, the truth is that there is just no substitute for the real thing.

Wednesday, November 23

Prick Your Friends Wisely

In the first few months of my diagnosis I walked around in a state of denial. It was very hard for me to believe that I could have Diabetes. I was only 33. I was not obese. So, no, of course I didn't have Diabetes. Yet, of course, I did. At this point I was not on medication, BUT I did get a prescription for one of those Blood Glucose Meters. The meters themselves are pretty cheap, but watch out for those strips! My jaw dropped when I heard how much they cost! (If you don't know, you can basically have EITHER an Ipod Shuffle OR 2 boxes of testing strips.) So, my first task was to choose which meter I wanted. Now, I have never spent much time in the Pharmacy section of drugstores. I love going to drugstores, but just not for drugs. I go for make-up and hair products, and occaisionally, just for laughs, my sister and I have been known to make use of the free blood pressure cuff that is standard in drugstores throughout America. So, when I was shown to the 'Blood Glucose Meter Section', I was shocked! It was like walking into a Circuit City or Best Buy, an entire facet of previously unknown fancy electronics lay before me. And, like most people my age, I wanted the smallest, thinnest, most technologically advanced meter I could have. If, by chance, it could also hold my phone numbers and important dates, all the better. So, after careful consideration, I was the proud new owner of a 'Freestyle Mini'. I was imagining myself being the envy among diabetics, nonchalantly pulling it out and someone asking,
'Oh! Wow! That is one HOT meter! Which one is it?'
To which I would reply,
'Oh, this old thing?? It's the Freestyle Mini. You can take it for a test drive if you want!'
When I heard
'Excuse me, Miss??'
Startled, I was like,
'Oh, sorry! I'm just new to this whole thing and was thinking about how to use it!'
That got me a sympathetic look and a,
'Well, let me show you how it works.'
So we sat down at the counter and he pulled out my box of Lancets. I know, the word 'Lancet' conjures up all kinds of imagery. I imagine Sir Lancelot, wielding his lance to defend the fair maid Guinnevier. Or Lance, pedaling powerfully through the mountains in the Tour de France. Yet I could find no flowery images for these lancets. A more truthful name for them would be 'very small darts'. And you take these deceptively colorful darts and you LOAD them into, what is, in truth, a very small dart gun. Then, once loaded, you pull back the plastic thing, as though you were cocking a gun, until it clicks, and then you proceed to push a button, and like LIGHTNING, the small dart gun propels the small dart foward, and STABS you, and, if you're lucky, a single drop of blood will appear on your finger. If you are not so lucky, like me, you will continue to bleed for at least 3 minutes, while you ponder the reality of doing this 5 or 6 times a day.
'Now you try' the pharmacist said with a little too much pep in his voice.
'How about I try it on you first?' I said. He thought I was kidding. I wasn't. So, as I loaded my dart gun, I tried to think happy thoughts of lancets. Lance in the mountains. Lance in the mountains. Lance in the mount......POW! I drew blood on my first try! Trust me, doing it to yourself is psychologically MUCH easier than someone doing it to you. I filed that information away for future use. So, I left the drugstore with my new meter, lancets and strips, much less enamoured than I was 1 hour ago.

The Pricking obesession:

My husband was my first victim. I tried to act like it was a spontaneous sugesstion, but truthfully, I had been rehersing it all day. As I was checking my blood sugar I acted like I 'suddenly' had an idea,
'OH! Why don't we test your blood sugar as well? Doesn't your mom have some hypoglycemia thing?'
To which he responded somewhat hesitantly,
and then, with what has become my favorite question,
'Will it hurt?'
Now here is where you can really have some fun with people. I have a few answers I am prepared to give, depending on the person being pricked.

1: 'Nooo! Well, I mean, not really.
2: 'Well, I'm not going to lie to you, it'll sting a little'

Then, after they have agreed to getting pricked, I make a big display of changing out the lancet. Dramatically twisting off the plastic covering of the new needle, then holding it up to the light as if I am checking for flaws on the needle, sometimes I say,
'Just checking. I would hate for it to get caught on your skin on the way out.' And then I wink at them while they become even more nervous and panicked. Now, it is important to note, I have NEVER forced anyone to get tested with my meter. 100 percent of the time, people have WANTED to. All I have to do is say something like,
'Hey, doesn't your dad have Diabetes? Do you want me to test you?'
Or something along those lines. Bottom line is, people have a fascination with things that have to do with their bodies. They think it is cool that I can prick them, draw blood, and within 10 seconds they can know what is going on with their blood sugar. AND, I ALWAYS am sure to say,
'This is NOT a diagnoses or 100 percent accurate. If you feel you may have Diabetes, or be Pre-Diabetic, please seek the advice of a medical professional.' See how responsible I am? Here is a short list of some of my friends and family and their results:

Christopher (my husband): normal
Andreas: normal
Hanne: normal
Christopher (my friend): normal
Lars Peter: normal
My Dad: High. I advised him to see his doctor.
Kindel (my sister): refused repeated requests of being pricked.
My mom: Same as Kindel.
Kari (my mother in law): high normal, but she already knew that.
Hans Peter (my father in law): normal
Janice (my aunt): high normal, but she had a banana about 2 hours earlier.
David (my uncle): normal
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Now why do I do this you may ask? Well, on a superficial level I could say that I am providing a service to the community, early detection. But I think reality is, everytime I test someone, I secretly find myself hoping that someone else will be high like me. That I will have someone I can share this with. Because sometimes I feel alone in all of this and having someone who could say, 'I know what you are feeling', would make all the difference in the world.

Thursday, November 17

I'll Have the Special Meal Please!

Since being diagnosed with Diabetes, I have made various attempts to radically change my eating habits in an effort to FORCE my body into having low blood sugar readings. My intentions are always good, but I find it brutally hard to stick to lean protein, low carbohydrate, low fat and sugar free choices. I love food. I love cooking. I love using olive oil and butter and cheese. I love pasta. I love baking bread and cakes and cookies. I love wine. So,while reading one of about 30 books on how to live with Diabetes, most of which have different opinions on the best ways to control it, I read how the author had not had a piece of fruit for about 30 years. I immedietly put the book down. I cannot live like that! What discipline this man had! I have nothing but admiration and respect for him, but it made me sad and it scared me. Is this what I am destined for? To never eat a piece of fruit again? It's not like I am a huge fruit eater mind you. I am famous for spending several minutes picking out beautiful specimans of fruit at the market, only to have them languish in the fruit bowl at home, never to be eaten. (I know I am not alone in this! How many of you throw away fruit and vegetables on a regular basis? Admit it!!!!) So, it's not like I am a fruit eating machine, I just want to have the CHOICE of whether or not I WANT to eat fruit. This is unbelievably hard. Of course I want to do what is best for my body, so, prior to a recent overseas trip, I got all responsible on myself, and without thinking it through, I phoned up the airline and requested a 'Special Diabetic Meal'. I hung up the phone and spent several moments feeling quite pleased with myself. I had turned over a new leaf! I was, once again, taking responsibility for my health! I was going to get this Diabetes under control! The moment lasted for about 20 minutes.
So, fast forward a month, and I of course had forgotten all about my 'Special Meal' request. I had even made myself some 'Diabetic Snacks' for the flight because I wanted to be smart and prepared, knowing the adverse affect airplane food might have on my condition. So, I was somewhat surprised when a flight attendant came to my seat and leaned over, and with great discretion and a very low tone, said,
'Hi, I just wanted to confirm that you ordered a special meal for today's flight'.
My wistful thoughts that she was coming to give a complimentary upgrade to Business class were quickly shattered. My husband looked at me, eyebrows raised, as if to say 'Special meal my ass', and I looked at the flight attendant and smiled and said, with great discretion and an equally low tone,
'Why yes, I did, thanks for asking.'
We shared a conspiratal moment of eye contact and she went off to continue her mission of searching out the other special meal passengers. I gave my husband a smug look and said
'I'm being responsible! I have to get this Diabetes under control!'.
'OK' he said, and I just knew he was thinking about the pizza we had the night before.
'I can change' I said, a little too defensively.
He knows me too well.
So, about an hour later, after the first beverage service, a different flight attendant came down the aisle carrying a stack of what I could only imagine were special meals. He got to our row and looked at me and said, in a not so low and not so discreet tone, 'Special meal??' 'Yes, Thank you.' He set it down in front of me and on the fancy foil cover in black magic marker was a HUGE letter D. D for the Diabetic in seat 27F. I noticed other passengers in the immediate vicinity looking over at me. I know what they were thinking. I used to do the same thing before the big D:
'I wonder what's wrong with her that she got a special meal?'
'She is probably a vegetarian, or a strict kosher Jew.'
And to make matters worse, the meal service for the non-special meal folks had not even started. It was very awkward. I didn't want to be the ONLY person eating in my row. I wondered if all of the other special meal people felt the same.
'You can go ahead and eat' my husband said. He thought I was just being polite, waiting for the others to get their meals. In truth, I was just embarrassed and angry. And getting angrier every time I looked at the big, black D on the foil in front of me. Who was I angry with? Diabetes. Special Meals. The loud flight attendent. The people looking at me. Me, for ordering the stupid special meal.
So, knowing I couldn't avoid it, I lifted the foil and entered the world of the special diabetic meal. Mmmmmmm, chicken. On rice. The brown kind. Broccoli. No sauce, but two generous lemon wedges. My mood was spiraling quickly. I also got a salad. A wholewheat roll. No butter, but some heart-healthy spread. Water and about six red grapes for desert. I couldn't find my salad dressing or salt and pepper, although there was a complimentary pack of 'Mrs. Dash'. I rang my call button and the flight attendant came and I said
'Yea, hi, sorry, but I can't find my salad dressing'.
Without missing a beat she said with a big smile, 'You ordered the special meal'.
As if that answered my query. Then I suddenly realized that nothing was missing. I didn't get salad dressing. This was an intentional part of the diabetic meal. That was apparantly why I was given TWO lemon wedges instead of ONE. One wedge for the salad and the other wedge for the sauceless chicken, brown rice and broccoli. I was poking at the chicken thinking violent thoughts when the regular meal service came through.
'Chicken or Beef?'
'Beef' my husband answered. He got a choice. Beef tips in a red wine sauce with pasta. A salad, but his had a packet of Ranch dressing on the side. Not only did he get a roll, he also got cheese and REAL butter. His desert was not fruit, it was some cake thing. It all looked amazing. Was I hallucinating? Was I lusting over an airplane meal? Apparantly so. I was on the verge of tears, when my sweet, darling husband offered me the Ranch salad dressing. 'What about you?' I asked
'I don't need it' He said sympathetically.
I fell in love all over again. I used that packet of ranch dressing sparingly. It was important to ration it out so that it would last the entire meal and cover everything that I put into my mouth. Against all odds, I achieved my goal and begrudgingly ate the grapes. I did it. I completed my first special Diabetic meal. That sense of pride was sneaking back in, but I quickly tamped it down, less it compel me to consider requests of special meals on future flights.
8 hours into our 10 hour flight, I was starving again and looking forward to snack time. I panicked when I saw the special meal flight attendent heading towards me again. I had nowhere to run. He handed me a tray. Are you kidding me? There are Diabetic snacks? I just thought it was the meal service. It was turkey with lettuce on whole wheat bread, fat free mayonaisse and a red apple with a big bruise on it. Overall not that bad. Then my husband got his 'snack'. Some hot cheesy stuffed sandwich, a bag of Ruffles and some chocolate covered nut thing. I did not want my snack. I wanted his. I proposed a trade. My apple for his Ruffles. 'I'm allergic to apples' he said, as if to imply he would have gladly gone through with the proposed trade had it not been for that pesky allergy. 'Yea, well isn't THAT conveinient??' I thought. I was in SUCH a bad mood at this point. All I wanted was to get off of the plane in Texas and find a Whatabuger. Stupid Diabetic meals and snacks!

Now, isn't this interesting? Countless times in my life I have had meals just like this. In all of my various 'get in good shape' spurts over the years chicken, brown rice and broccoli were a staple in my diet. So what about the chicken, brown rice and broccoli was making me so angry now? Simply put, before, I CHOSE to eat that way to get into shape and lose weight. I didn't HAVE to, I WANTED to. It was no longer a way I COULD eat, but the way I HAD to eat. It was what I HAD to do to save my body from this disorder, that, if left unmanaged, promised horrific consequences down the road. I felt like my choice had been taken from me. My joy in food had been stolen. I was suddenly handed a new set of rules. Rules I had not made nor had I chosen. So i wasn't angry about the meal. I was angry about what it represented, lack of choice. How could I regain control and still find joy in food? Do you know what I mean? Have you ever felt this way? Yet somewhere in all of this, I managed to call and confirm that I had a Special Diabetic Meal on the return flight. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

Tuesday, November 8

Fresh Start

So, I guess a better name for this blog would have been 'The Invisible Diabetic'! Two months since my last post. I wish I could say that I have been incredibly and importantly busy, but no. I haven't. So, I will make this post a 'Catch you up on the last two months' post. So, now I will condense into ONE post all of the things I think have been important/fun/interesting and blog worthy.

1. Diabetes:
In a word, FRUSTRATING. I had a really bad experience with the doctor who initially diagnosed me and had to change doctors due to what I can only describe as incompetence. And to be fair, a MASSIVE language barrier. The final straw came when I questioned him on the drug he put me on in relation to the drug my Cardiologist has me on in regard to potential drug interactions. (With a dead sister and cousin, I feel it is my responsibility to ensure that all drugs which enter into MY body can exist harmoniously!) When I told him I found literature on the drug makers website that urged 'extreme caution' when combining these two particular drugs, he reacted in a way that I would say was a little less than professional. He called me (and my sweet husband) liars. Said that if we wanted to question his recommendations that we needed to go to medical school. He then said he believed the majority of my problems where emotional and I should just sit my husband down and say 'I need you to LISTEN to me so I stop acting out with imagined medical conditions!' (As if heart disease and Diabetes can be faked!) He then recommended that I take it easy for a couple of weeks and talk with friends and cook a little. OH!!! And the best part was 'You worry too much! It is not your job to worry about your health, that is for me and your husband to worry about!'
AAUUGGHHHH!!! I couldn't believe it! Was this for real?? I looked closely at the plants and paintings in search of the hidden cameras, fully expecting Ashton Kutcher to burst into the room and say 'You got PUNKED!!' But sadly, no, this doctor was 100 percent serious about what he was saying to me. 2005 and I was being told my health problems were imagined due to emotional imbalance and I needed to be a good wife and just cook and chat with friends while my husband worried about my health.

I smiled politely and HIGH-TAILED it out of there and promptly found a new doctor who politely listened to the whole sordid tale and at it's conclusion shook his head in silent disgust and said 'I am so very sorry you had to go through that.'
I felt justified and cleansed. When a medical professional casts dispersions on your character, no matter how ridiculos his rantings, it really does mess with you a little bit.
So, I love my new doctor. He suggested that we just start over. So we did. Based on my blood work he didn't think things looked right. My first A1C test with him was 6.2, 3 weeks later he took another A1C test and it was 5.1. He promptly took me off the Amaryl that the previously mentioned doctor had put me on. Either the Amaryl was causing me to have bouts of super low hypo-glycemia that was driving my A1c number down, or I was having really high high's and really low low's that were balancing each other out. He also wanted to test my pancreas for Insulin output to determine whether or not I could be a Mild Type 1 Diabetic. Started me on Glucophage, which is much better for me than Amaryl, and all and all made me feel like a human being again! I love my new doctor!
So, as of today, I am still a Type 2. My insulin production is on the low end of normal. I am not producing extra insulin like most Type 2's, so we are doing further research. Medically it has been an interesting 2 months.
Now, what have we learned today??

  • It is NEVER ok for a doctor to talk to you like you are insane.
  • It is ALWAYS ok for you to do independent research on your own and to ask your doctor about it.
  • You must ALWAYS do whatever it takes to FULLY understand ANY diagnoses you recieve from a doctor.

And finally, and I believe most importantly:

  • OWN your disease..Do NOT let it own you!!! Our identity should not be defined by being diseased, but rather by how we LIVE with that particular disease. In the end, it's all about living. Living well. Living completly. Living. Period.

Wednesday, September 7


So, I am officially on Diabetic drugs. I did not want to take insulin, so at least that part of my request is being honored. I started Amaryl yesterday. 2 mg. About 2 hours after I took it, I began suffering from HYPO-glycemia. My blood sugar plummeted! I had to drink chocolate milk to get it back up again! (And eat a croissant, but must we go into details?)
But throughout the day, my numbers were SUPER low! Between 90 and 130. I haven't had numbers like that in awhile. It makes me feel good and I can slowly feel myself begin to wonder what all the fuss was about when it came to taking DRUGS! Oh yea, I wanted to remain drug free and treat it naturally. I have done this to myself really. I have no self discipline. So, I will take the drug for now. Taking it forces me to be disciplined with my eating. At least the timing of my eating. I have to eat regularly or else my blood sugar PLUMMETS. (I like that word today: Plummet) So, Amaryl, my new drug. So far, I can handle it.

Tuesday, September 6

A Little Diversion, If I May...

Can I tell you how saddened I am by Hurricane Katrinna and her aftermath? The destruction of so many cities and lives. Including those who aren't talked about who reside in the long shadow of New Orleans. The towns of coastal Mississippi who are STILL waiting for help 8 days later. I am relieved my family members got out. Their homes are destroyed in New Orleans, but they were able to evacuate before Katrinna hit. Ironically, New Orleans was fine in the immediate aftermath of Katrinna. George Bush declared it a federal disaster zone on Monday, BEFORE the levees had even been breached and the flooding began in earnest. What saddens me is the irresponsibility of the media in situations like these. Liberals, whose sole purpose is to promote their own agenda in the face of tragedy. Was everything done right? Of course not. But is it fair to point a finger at ONE man and blame him for all of this? NO!!! So, you hate the president, FINE! But please set aside your agendas, for now, and focus on the real issues! I agree that the Federal Response has been slow. But reality is, we are looking at a devastated area the size of the UK! That is huge. Reality is, there were some major shortcomings at the local and state level of government here. As I heard someone say, it was unrealistic to herd 30,000 people into the Superdome and then to realistically expect them to be evacuated within a few hours. This is a disaster, the likes of which we have never had to deal with. And ALL levels of our government could have done more! The mayor of New Orleans could have provided city busses to evacuate the poor and homeless 2 days before Katrinna hit. He didn't. The governer could have requested 'early response' action from FEMA before Katrinna hit. She didn't. The current administration could have granted the funds for the Gulf Coast restoration project in October of 2004. They didn't. This isn't any ONE person's fault. It shows the shortcomings of a nation. A nation with a great divide between classes. A nation with no national health care. A nation, who until now, has done well to hide her urban poor and homeless behind sleek buildings in huge cities. Reality has been uncovered. The question is NOT who is too blame, but rather, WHAT can we do to come together as a nation?
Those are just my random thoughts.

Wednesday, August 24

Enough Already!

So, ok, I am trying to 'Livestrong', really I am. But I have a dilemna. Since my last post I still have not been to the gym. In my head, I have been several times, each time completing a greuling workout that leaves me sweaty and out of breath. The reality is, I am too tired to go to the gym. Really, I am. When I first moved to Norway, my husband and I were contemplating the idea of opening up an authentic Tex-Mex restaurant as there are NONE here. So we concluded that I should get a job in the service industry to 'learn the ropes'. So, there is this quaint little cafe by our house called 'Evita'. I applied for a job. In my mind I envisioned myself to be like Rachel on Friends. Having relaxing days serving cappucinos while various friends came in to visit, and along the way, learning a bit about how the service industry works in Norway. The illusion was quickly shattered. NEVER, and I mean NEVER, in my life, have I worked in a place so utterly stressful. That place is PACKED. Norwegians do not drink coffee the way the majority of Americans do. I used to run into Starbucks and grab a coffee and run back out, my paper cup securely in my hand. Here, they drink out of GLASSES. Latte glasses. They look like run of the mill water glasses, but they are Latte glasses. And then the Cortado glasses. And everyone drinks water with their coffee. Out of glasses. So you are CONSTANTLY running around, trying to find glasses. Washing the glasses. (now I have said 'glasses' so much that it doesn't look like a real word. It is kind of freaking me out. Has that ever happened to you?) Glasses. Glasses. Glasses. EVERYWHERE. I hate them. I secretly delight everytime I hear one break, but then I panic cause I know it means that we are now short one glass and I will have to work harder to find and clean new ones to feed the endless supply of Norwegians who walk through the door and want their coffee in GLASSES! If only we could use paper cups. ONLY paper. But I assure you, there would be a riot if we tried to sneak away the Latte glasses. We would lose customers over it. It's true. average day for me working at Evita is: I get up at 5.23am. AT work by 6. Spend half an hour unchaining 16 heavy iron based tables and moving them into their proper places for outdoor seating and then carrying out about 45 chairs and setting them up. (That qualifies as weight training doesn't it??) We open at 7. The second person gets there at 10.30. At this point, the two of you work together to clean up the place, which has been TRASHED from 7 to 10.30, and wash GLASSES to get ready for the lunch crowd. Suddenly it is 2 in the afternoon. I have been there since 6. Running around. Somedays you get a break, somedays you don't. My Canadian friend Tyler who works there with me, he wore a pedometer to work one day, to see how far we 'scurried'. TEN KILOMETERS. That is 6.2 miles. In my mind, I think that is alot. So, like I said, I am TIRED. The mere thought of having to go to the gym after that is torture. So, on Monday I asked Tyler if he thought that the 6.2 miles was enough exercise, or if I needed to do something extra. Tyler says that even though it is 6.2 miles, it still really does not produce any cardio vascular exertion. That is not the answer I was looking for. It is movement is it not?? Then I come home and walk up 4 flights of stairs. More movement that leaves me breathless everytime. So, Monday, I am passed out on the couch, and all I can think about is Tyler saying 'It really doesn't have any cardio vascular benefit as far as exertion goes', and I am doing my best to NOT have to go exercise. Well, I decided that I would go for a jog. So with a lot of whining, I put on my exercise outfit, and out I went. 2 miles. One of which was uphill. Every inch of me ached. I came home and collapsed. But my bloodsugar was 5.9 (about 100), the lowest it has been in a month. I was happy, but at the same time, kind of sad, cause now I knew that even if I work my ass of for 9 hours, I still have to do something else to get my blood sugar down. Oh well. Tyler and his pedometer! I wish I had never known that we go 6.2 miles on average per shift! Because the knowledge that it is not enough is really disappointing to me! I know it is beneficial and good. But it doesn't supply the cardio vascular kickstart that my body so desperatly needs to drive down my blood sugar.
Well, I have to go and get ready for work. It is kind of overcast today, so maybe we will be a little slow. But Norwegians have a saying, 'There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes'. So, even if it starts to rain, they will be there. And they will want their coffee in a glass.

glasses. glasses. glasses.

Wednesday, August 17


So, I have returned to Norway after traispsing through the vastness of the good ol USA for 3 weeks! I went places I have never been and suddenly found myself wanting to impress my Norwegian husband and our 2 Norwegian friends with my country. Let me assure you, there is nothing that will bring out every bit of latent patriotism in you like traveling through your country with a bunch of people who are not from there. As we drove through the Grand Canyon, I thought to myself, 'This is MY country.' As we drove along California's highway 1, I thought, again, 'this is MY country'. I was so proud! America is beautiful. Filled with beautiful and generous people. It was so good to reconnect with that!

So, I mentioned that I have been a bit of diabetic daredevil. This is my term for my reckless culinary behavior while on vacation. For some reason, this whole 'diabetes thing' just won't sink in. I am lazy. I am lazy. I am lazy. I know that going to the gym will lower my bloodsugar. Have I gone? NO! I don't want to take insulin, but HAVE I GONE TO THE GYM?? no.
So, while we were in San Franscisco, I went into the Border's bookstore in Union Square. Now, a little background information on this excursion. When I moved to Europe, I was amazed the first summer because in July, all regular scheduled programming is pre-empted for 5 hours of daily coverage of...yes...Le Tour de France! Or as we say in the states, The Tour of France. So, I have never really known ANYTHING about cycling, but I got hooked, and it was even better that an American named Lance Armstrong was winning. It was very exciting and I became a huge fan. I read about him and was truly impressed with his recovery from cancer. So, we went into Border's and I saw his book, 'It's Not About the Bike' on the shelf. I bought it. I read it. I was inspired by it. I mean, if Lance can beat testicular, lung and brain cancer, SURELY, I can manage my Diabetes!
Now, I am going to admit something. I have always disliked those yellow bands that everyone in the world seems to be wearing on their wrists. Yes, the one that say LIVESTRONG on them. And I have not been too big of a fan of the countless reproductions that followed in every color from the rainbow.

I had a conversation with my two selfs. The lazy self and the self who wants to be healthy.
'OK lazy self, I will make a deal with you. You are going to march into that Nike store and you are going to buy one of those yellow Lance bracelets.!'
'NO!!!, I don't like those. I don't want to look like I am trying to be trendy!'
'Too Bad! You should have thought about that before you refused to tackle diabetes! You are going to get one of those bracelets and you are going to wear it, and everyday, you will look at it, and you will be reminded that you can BEAT this! That you can get yourself to the gym for natural insulin and that you don't have to be sick! To remind yourself that you can LIVESTRONG and not sick! And you cannot take it off until you reach your goals!'
'I don't wanna wear it!!!'
'Tough luck kiddo! Shut up and buy it!'

So, healthy self won out over lazy self and I bought one. Three of them actually. But lazy self refused to put one on until she returned home to Oslo. So, I finally put one on. It's like a binding agreement. I look down and I see these words 'LIVESTRONG'...powerful words those. Live strong. And I tell you. I am going to try.
I don't want to die from this. I don't want to be sick from this. I don't want my eyes to go bad from this. I don't WANT this. But since I do have it, I am going to do everything in my power to make my body a VERY uncomfortable place for Diabetes to live.

Wow. It sounds so good. So, here's to living strong.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, August 5

The Wild Blue Yonder

Hello all! Thanks for your inquiries as to my whereabouts! We left for vacation on July 22nd and I was so stressed trying to finish up baking (I bake cakes and cookies and sell them to cafes to make extra money) before we left, that I simply ran out of time! I am in Houston right now and we are going 24 hours a day trying to get ready for Courtney's Crusade which is Saturday night! It is going to be a huge event this year and we think we are going to make ALOT of money to buy AED's and save lots of lives! All in memory of my little sister Courtney! Check out the website:
Anyway, we have been all over so far. The Grand Canyon, VEgas and all of California! I have to confess, I have been what I like to call a 'Diabetic Daredevil'. It has been hard. I have NO discipline and my blood sugar has been out of control most days to the point where I have felt sick many days! I know it is irresponsible, but I have this SICK mentality of 'well, I am on vacation, so my diabetes must be as well.' It is so stupid. I think I am having a bit of shock about all of the diabetes stuff a little delayed. So, we are back in Oslo on August 14. I look forward to writing more in depth and catching everyone up with what is going with me.

I assure you, I have a plan...I always do. The question is, will I stick to it?

Talk to you soon and thanks for caring guys!

Thursday, July 14

Is It Just Me??

It seems as though there are thousands of different opinions on how to deal with Diabetes, especially when it comes to eating or more specifically, what not to eat. There are so many websites with so many different reccomendations. I have never been one of those people who does something just because someone says so. I think it comes from my mother saying to me when I was young, in response to, 'But mom, EVERYONE else is doing it!' and she would say 'Well, if everyone else were jumping off a bridge does that mean you would to???' The same has been true with Diabetes. The doctor told me: 'No sugar, low fat, exercise, no fast food, no white flour'. I think we also have to take into consideration that I live in a country where I am not 100 percent fluent in the language and my doctor happens to be a Vietnamese gentleman speaking a mixture of heavily accented English and Norwegian. Gives a new meaning to 'lost in translation'. (The care is good, I just chose not to go the 'So, you've got Diabetes' course at the hospital because it was in Norwegian. Also, my doctor recommended taking the summer to adjust my diet, lose 10 to 15 pounds and monitor my blood glucose and come September we would decide if any medication needs to be added) So, I have depended less on the doctors here and more on information I gather on the internet. And I must say, the contradictions are shocking. Especially when it comes to diet recommendations. I am still in Diabetic Kindergarten, but I have a sneaking suspicion that just like DNA, Diabetes is individual. I want to know how individual foods affect MY blood. I don't want to read about how the 'experts' say those foods will affect it. I hope I don't sound cavalier about this, but for me, it is important that I understand MY disease. And for me, understanding comes through experimentation. I KNOW I am not supposed to have that pizza, but I want to see how it affects my glucose. I test before I eat it and then again 2 hours later. Ok. Crazy high glucose levels. Now I know. Now I can start developing new pizza recipes with a spelt crust and lower fat cheese and chicken. But at least I know! Does that make sense??? It's not like I do this EVERY night. I largely maintain a 'healthy diabetic' diet. I could just be naive, but I don't think experimenting like this will cause me to go blind or have a stroke or have fingers or toes chopped off. (Granted, I think, from what I have read, Type 2 diabetics have more lee way here.) So, those are my thoughts for today. All set off by one website where they SWEAR you should have margarine rather than butter after I just read a different website a week ago where they SWEAR you should have butter instead of margarine. Oi Vey.

Wednesday, July 13

The Story of my Little Sister

230. Clearly a strong indicator of Diabetes. Strangely, I was really calm inside. I wasn't scared. I wasn't upset. I was numb. Really nonchalant about the whole thing. In fact, I kept making myself laugh, as I am prone to do, by telling myself in a thick southern accent in my head 'Well hun, looks like you got yourself the Shuga' Die-bee-tees' (Trust me, it's funnier if you could hear me saying it!) And I think this is why I was so calm about it: August 10, 1999 my little sister Courtney died suddenly from Long QT Syndrome. She was only 24 years old. A week later me and my other little sister Kindel, who also happened to be Courtney's identical twin, had heart surgery to implant ICD's. (ICD's are a combination pacemaker and defibrallator).
If you have a moment or want more info on Long QT Syndrome and the annual benefit my family holds in Courtney's memory, check out our website:
(There are lots of links to good information and pictures of me and my family and of past benefits! A good site for a good cause!)
So after being through all of that TRAUMA and DRAMA, most things in life tend not to scare me too bad. Most things. I did worry about telling my mother. The thought of her losing another daughter is sickening. What it would do to her. But she really surprised me. She was very upbeat and glad that I had finally gone to the doctor and as I told her the news of my diagnosis, she said, quite matter of factly, 'Well, if you have to have a disease, Diabetes is the one to have!' 'What??' 'Well, it's so treatable and managable.' The woman had a point. So ever since I got diagnosed I like to tell myself that Diabetes is treatable and managable. And for some reason, that makes me feel better.

Tuesday, July 12

The Diagnosis

July 12, 2005

Picking up from where I left off...WHAT??????????? Needless to say, 'We think you might have Diabetes' was the last thing I expected to hear. I was blown away and immedietly thought the Norwegian health care system was seriously flawed. My mind was running 10,000 miles a minute! 'There is NO way I could be diabetic! Doesn't this only happen to overweight, old people??' Then, to make matters worse, I suddenly remembered playing in my Grandmother's carport when I was little. I remember finding a box and in the box was this crazy pair of glasses that belonged to my Grandfather. I remember putting them on and almost falling over they made me so dizzy. Special Diabetic glasses to help him see better. I remembered hearing about special socks Diabetics wore. I called my husband in an absolute panic. I just screamed 'I DON'T WANT TO WEAR WEIRD GLASSES AND DIABETIC SOCKS!!!!!!!!'
As soon as I got home, I attacked the internet. Keywords: 'Symptoms of Diabetes'. The first thing I saw was 'Fatigue'. I had a sinking feeling. That had been the biggest symptom for me. I had been EXHAUSTED for over a year. 'Extreme Thirst'. Well, I drink water like a camel. But I thought it was just because I love the water here in Norway! It comes out of the tap ICE cold and is sooo PURE. It tastes so good. In Houston, you only drink the tap water on a dare. When ice cubes melt there are things floating in your glass. I AM NOT KIDDING! (sidenote: If you go to Houston, do not drink the tap water! I am not exaggerating on this point!) Ok, so I was tired and thirsty. That didn't sound too unique to me. 'Weight Loss'. HA!!! I had GAINED weight since I moved here! In my married bliss I had become a gourmet chef and Mexican was my speciality! At least 15 pounds! So, I had one up on Diabetes.
Diabetes 2- me 1. Ok...'Frequent Urination'. Well of course I pee a lot! I am drinking TONS of water!--duh...'Increased Hunger'- Well I was hungry alot, but I thought it was due to all the 'fresh air' and needing more fuel in the dark winter time. 'Blurry Vision'--WEll I thought my contacts were dried out. As you can see, I had an excuse for everything. I still couldn't believe it though. There was just NO WAY I could have diabetes. I DIDN'T FIT THE TYPE!!!
So, the next morning I went back to my doctor to have my fasting glucose tested. 120! 'That is LOW' I thought. (my first blood result was 180). My doctor agreed. 'You are probably just PRE-Diabetic, but tommorow you will go and have an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test'. Hmmm, I thought I was off the hook! Next morning I went to the hospital. Fasting glucose about 135. Nothing to be too concerned over. Then they mixed this HORRIBLE sugar water drink. It was sooo thick. Now, I am not a vomiter, but it was all I could do to swallow that mess. I finished the glass, relieved, and was shocked to find I had 3 more to go! The nurse saw my distress and graciously offered me 'lemon flavoring'. Yes please. That wasn't so bad! It now tasted like any glass of lemonade or sweet tea you could get in Atlanta. So down they went and off I went to the waiting room. 'I'll show them' I thought. '2 hours?? No problem!' After an hour, I suddenly felt very sick and weak. My hands and feet started tingling. I got the nurse and asked her 'Excuse me, is it normal to feel like I am vibrating? and I also feel very cold. And I feel sick. Is this normal? Is it?' The poor nurse. Stuck in a room with an American in panicky denial who seemed like she was about to go into Diabetic Shock or something. They monitered me closely for the next hour. Then came the final test. They took what seemed like a GALLON of blood. I begged them to give me the 'prick' test! 'Ok, they said, as long as you don't expect us to diagnose you! The only test that is used for diagnosing is when they run your blood through the lab.' 'Fine, I just am curious to see what my Blood Glucose is.' I was sure it would be back down under 120. So she pricked me. 7-6-5-4-3-2-1-BEEP BEEP BEEP 230. 230. 230.
You could have heard a pin drop in that place. I was absolutly STUNNED. No way I thought. And with that, the nurse looked at me, with a lot of sympathy and said, 'Well, you must try to have a good weekend anyway! Be brave!'

Monday, July 11

The Very Beginning

So, about a month ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I am still somewhat confused by the diagnosis. I don't fit the profile. I am not obese. I am not over 45 (only 33). I do not have an immediate family history of the disease. I really do not know where to begin. I suppose the easiest way to tell the story is to start at the beginning ('a very good place to start' according to Maria)...

So, about 2 years ago I married a Norwegian and moved to Norway. I am a native Texan, born and raised, so you could say that the climate change was somewhat of a shock. I have heard of snow. And also heard rumors of places where snow fell and actually accumulated on the ground. Where I am from, if there was even a HINT of snow, panic ensued. The store sold out of bread, water and batteries within an hour. School shut down and we were warned not to drive as the roads were 'slick and dangerous'. So, when I arrived in January of 2004, it would be an understatement to say I was shocked at what I saw. Everything was white. As far as the eye could see. I was like a 5 year old. Absolutly fascinated. I would sit in front of the window and just stare at the snow falling. Big, fat, fluffy snow. I was enchanted. Everytime it would start to snow, I would beg my husband to come outside with me. I just wanted to stand in it. To let it fall on me. It was amazing. I think my husband was secretly wondering what he had gotten into and how anyone could be so abnormally fascinated by something as ordinary as SNOW. But I was, and I like to think that it added to my charm!
A new beginning in a strange land! The next oddity was the lack of daylight. At first I thought it was just getting cloudy at 3 in the afternoon, but I quickly learned that it was in fact the setting of the sun. At 3.30 in the afternoon. And then it didn't get light again until 9.30 or 10.00 the next morning. But you could still see the snow. Snow lights up everything. It is like it lights things from the ground up and everything just starts glowing.
So, time went by. I noticed I was tired. Tired a lot. But just thought it was the winter depression I had heard about. I complained to my husband that I was tired all the time. I told my mother I had no energy. I was yawning ALL the time. It was very strange. They all told me to go to the doctor. But I am from America, I have never had good health insurance and had never considered going to the doctor for something like 'being tired'. It just seemed silly...'So, what brings you here today?' 'Well doctor, I'm just tired.' So I didn't go.
Fast forward to a month ago. I had some sort of flu. Again. (I have never been sick so much in my life since I moved to Northern Europe. Other American's and Australians say the same thing) So, finally my husband says 'You are going to the doctor!' So off to the doctor we went. The doctor poked and prodded and then, because he had very little information on me, he ordered me to the hospital to get a full blood work up so he could have it in my file. Of course I had no intention of going to the hospital to get my blood taken! But again, my husband said 'you are going!' Ugghhhhh...FINE!! So I went.
The next day I got a call from the doctor's office. And because my Norwegian is still not so good and their English is not fine tuned in the art of B.S, what came out of her mouth was quite BLUNT. 'Your bloodwork came back. Everything is fine. (Phew) EXCEPT...Your blood sugar was quite high and we think you may have Diabetes.'


the beautiful diabetic takes flight

July 11, 2005

I have sat staring at this blank space for quite some time, frozen by the fear that I won't be clever with my words. But then I remember that this is for me. If others do read it, that is wonderful, but it is only me that I need to be clever for, and considering how easily I entertain myself, this shouldn't prove overwhelmingly difficult.

So, welcome to the beautiful diabetic! I will start with the name. I didn't decide on the name out of vanity and strong conviction of my beauty. I decided on the name because I am tired of disease marking people as 'flawed' or 'weak' or 'sad' or 'dying'. I decided on the name after living with disease throughout the last decade. After watching an UGLY disease kill my little sister, who truly was beautiful. After realizing that I have spent too many years at war with this thing called my body. Calling it names that are ugly and spiteful. No more. I am diabetic and I am beautiful. Therefore I am the beautiful diabetic. I expect those words to love each other. To be what my mother always called 'Fast Friends'. To wrap around each other in a warm embrace, like two things that were always meant to be, but were always somehow kept apart. A homecoming of sorts. Where diabetic will say to beautiful- 'At last!' And beautiful will say to diabetic- 'It's so good to see you!' And two words who have been kept apart, will fall together naturally, and suddenly the beautiful diabetic will have taken flight.