Sugar… oh honey honey!

Roller coaster

As always, I am late.  I’ve been told (on NUMEROUS occasions) that I will be late to my own funeral!   However, this time there are no annoyed people waiting for the star of the show to arrive!  😉  Just kidding.   *Enter every single one of my friends and family members slapping me upside the head and rolling their eyes*

I am one day late to celebrate National Diabetes Awareness Month (November).  I didn’t want it to go by without some sort of mention, so to give everyone a glimpse into life with Type 1 Diabetes, I thought I’d share something we experience many times a day – our roller coaster.

The other day, I was making some brownies for a work event, and as I was mixing the chocolate mix in the bowl, the aroma took over.  My stomach started grumbling.  (I hadn’t eaten yet…big mistake!)  Then my mouth started watering.  So, by the time I finally poured the last amount of mix into the pan, I went to TOWN on that bowl, licking it spotless and eating every tiny spec of brownie mix left on the mixer blades!  Followed by a nice ice-cold glass of milk, of course.  Culinary nirvana in my mouth!

fireworks

Mmmmmmm… but then I’m instantly slapped back to reality as I remembered, oh crap, I didn’t measure how much I ate!  How much sugar was in that amount?  How much insulin should I take to cover that?  I should’ve taken my shot BEFORE pigging out on the scraps!  Now my sugars are going to fly through the roof and damage my precious Kirby (and all my other organs I shamefully haven’t named)!

crazy monkey

Yeah, the satisfactory “moment” was very short-lived, and ironically, this type of guilt and fear is very common for anyone who has diabetes when indulging in even the smallest amount of food we “shouldn’t have”.

I’m not perfect.  No one is.  We all partake in those small (or sometimes big) “treats” to ourselves… our fave pizza, an extra beer… because it TASTES SO GOOD!  Who could blame us?  I mean, this is what living is about, right???  Don’t you hate it, then, when that little angel wearing the doctors’ wings on your shoulder starts shaking his head in disappointment?  I hate that angel.  Such a killjoy (does anyone ever say that word anymore, or is that a total 50’s thing?  LOL!).  I have to give it to him, though, he sets me straight.  I know it’s a treat I can’t eat too often because, while those treats could have the same effect on everyone regarding the extra poundage we might gain, the sugar has the added effect of tearing up my organs to pieces… in a very slow and drawn out process that only us lucky diabetics get to enjoy.  Weeeeee!

As I grudgingly pulled out my glucose monitor to check my sugars and see what kind of damage was done by my brownie mix tear-down, I got angry.  First at myself for being stupid enough to go hog-wild on something that I knew could be bad for me.  Then I start to get angry because I SHOULDN’T be getting angry at myself.  I’m human!  We only live once and I don’t want to live with regrets!  It’s just a freakin’ brownie for Pete’s sake!

Then I start getting cocky… why am I so worried?  It’s not going to cause any immediate damage to me NOW.  It’ll take YEARS and bathtubs full of brownie mix before I ever start seeing any kind of damage!  Right?  Then I get a bit scared… wait… Um, hello?!  I’ve ALREADY been seeing those damages.  What the hell brought me to my current situation in the first place!?!   Will I lose my kidney again?  What if I go blind overnight?  I’ve heard that happens!  Why did I eat that brownie mix!?!  And why did I follow it up with a stupid glass of milk (added carbs)!?!  I’m going to lose my foot now!!!

Then the guilt sets in.  I can’t believe I allowed myself to place myself in such danger… I don’t want to be an amputee!  I don’t want to go blind!  I don’t want to damage and possibly lose Kirby (whom I’ve fought SO HARD for)!  I’m never going to eat another brownie again!  NEVER!

guilt free brownies

If only…

All over a few stupid fingerfuls of brownie mix.

Ok, so seriously, I don’t bust into an all-out panic attack with every bite I take, but there is always a quick 5-minute wave of the entire process above that shoves it’s way through my mind when I veer from my usual, approved meal plan.  Most of that, I know is due to the years of fear tactics my doctors have shoved down my throat.  (They have to.  We wouldn’t take them seriously if they didn’t, especially when we never see immediate damages!)

I’ve been lucky enough to manage these feelings of guilt and fear by educating myself with the facts.  I’ve been taught how to correct these sugar overloads, which aren’t “mistakes”, they’re “human”.  I’ve learned to discipline myself and not go overboard with any of the foods that can badly affect me.  I’ve learned it’s OK to have the occasional “treat” if I cover it with enough insulin (note – “occasional” is key word here).

So the next time you grab a donut (or two…or three) at the office this Friday, or stop at an ice cream shop just because you have the craving for a double-dip vanilla cone, stop and observe what your thoughts are when you eat it.  I’m not asking you to feel guilty because you can more easily eat these items, I’m simply asking that you understand the difference of what the thought process is behind your treat and ours.  And please don’t ever guilt us into something by saying “oh, a bite or two won’t kill you” because, again, you’re setting off that entire emotional process above that shouldn’t have to go with enjoying a bite or two…

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  If you’ve gotten to this point of today’s post, I’m thankful you actually took the time to stick around and read this whole thing!  Whew…

2.  Sooooo thankful that my first Thanksgiving turkey dinner went off without a hitch!  Everything turned out so yummy and I had a blast cooking it all!  (I should also be thankful that my family actually liked it all! hee… )

3.  Manini’s GF All Purpose Flour – the Cadillac of GF flours!  This flour allowed me to make the best, fluffiest, softest dinner rolls I’ve had since being diagnosed with Celiac!  SOOOO good!  No brick breads for me!

4.  That I was able to spend fun quality time with my closest friends and family during the holidays!  (Shout out:  Steve, Nick, Elissa, Kim, Matt, Mom, Dad, Barbara, Ladonna, A.Kathy)  😀

5.  I’m thankful that my Aussie kidney friend, Maria, has a chance to share her experience via a possible book deal!  Check out her website here!  Good luck Maria – we’re rooting for you!

 

 

 

Take a look at me now!

Whoa!  Where have I been?  I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything for almost a year!  Is anyone still out there?  *knock knock*   Hello?   Beuller?

I’m glad to say that my absence hasn’t been due to any horrific circumstance… it’s actually due to the opposite!  Things have been going so well that I felt there really wasn’t much to report on!  Which, given the nature of this blog, is actually an awesome thing.  However, after hearing back from a few people, it seems people actually liked my blog and want to see it continue.  😀    *enter warm fuzzy kitty grin here*

Sally Field

So, on that note, here’s the scoop:

  1. The biggest and most important change I’ve encountered this year is with my job.  I FINALLY got my dream job back!  I can’t even begin to tell you how good it feels to be back doing what I absolutely love.  I’ve missed it TERRIBLY these past four years, and being back in this role just feels like coming home.  It’s almost like I’ve finally found the last piece of the puzzle for putting my “old” life back together!
  2. I’ve been able to travel again! Obviously, from my last post, I was able to visit Europe for the first time, but now I’ve got the freedom to allow me to see outside of my little Dallas bubble again.  I’m lucky that my job pulls me to all parts of the country, so I can continue to add memories to my travel check-list.
  3. I’ve regained my independence. This year, I was finally able to move back into my own place again.  I am blessed with an amazing family that took me in and took care of me while I was sick and incapable of handling everything on my own.  However, once I got better, I was itching to get my own kitchen, my own living room, my own mess, and even doing my own chores again.  There’s something about having your own little piece of the world to take care of that is very empowering.
  4. I was able to join the committee for the JDRF Type 1 Nation event in Dallas!  For the first time, I felt able to put my expertise to use for a good cause!  It was the first time this event has been held in Dallas and it was a total success.  I can’t wait to do it again next year.  😀  (FYI, anyone who has diabetes, has family with diabetes, or simply wants to learn more about it should absolutely attend the one in your city.  The speakers, information, and networking are invaluable!)
  5. I think the one and only fly in my soup is my cheeks.  I’ve complained about the prednisone “moon face”, and I know I don’t have it nearly as bad as others, but I still feel as if I don’t have my normal face back.  My cheeks are still “Dippity Dogs” as I call them, but if that’s the worst of it, hey, I’ve got it GOOD!

keep-calm-and-look-like-droopy-dog

That being said, regarding my health issues, I realize I am very fortunate to have been able to regain a healthy post in life.  I have watched the successes and failures of several people around me who have suffered similar health set-backs and am fully aware that unfortunately, the blessings I’ve been given don’t fall into everyone’s lap.  One of the guys I met while going through my transplant clinics had a kidney/pancreas transplant, and his recovery has not been very smooth.  My heart goes out to him to think not only of the suffering he still has to endure, but of how disappointed he must feel after having such high expectations post-transplant.

We are rolling dice with our outcomes.  There is never a guarantee that our lives will ever be the same after such a large life-altering circumstance.  I bet big, though, and I’d like to believe that someday the odds will “ever be in our favor”!  Yes, I totally just dropped a Hunger Games reference there…

Beat odds

At this point, I’d like to re-focus my blog on more exciting and positive experiences.  I may be stuck with the list of “ailments” I’ve been lucky to receive, but there are always going to be advancements.  For those of you who were following to keep up with my transplant, the journey continues, and I hope you stick around to hear the good things that are waiting around the corner!  This isn’t a journal for me.  I’d like to think of it as more of a community – a place where I can share what I know/learn, and for you to do the same.  I LOVE feedback, and always welcome it.  🙂

Now, given I’m about to make a turkey dinner for the first time ever, anyone got some tips/advice to share?  Hee…

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  I love my job.  I am so thankful that my company has worked to create a position for me to return to and that I have a very helpful and supportive boss that is pushing me to grow.   Yay Essilor!

2.  My sister has been able to switch her careers too and start her dream job as a teacher! She’s worked very hard to get there, and I’m so happy to see her get what she wanted.

3.  The unity world-wide following the Paris attacks. It’s fascinating to me how such horrible crises end up with so much love.  All of those small, petty annoyances we tend to focus on day-to-day tend to disappear when we see the suffering of others in such a terrible way.    Those terrorists have no idea what kind of power comes with this type of support…and I hope their asses get kicked!!!  #prayforparis

What are you doing New Year’s…New Year’s Eve?

one-year anniversary

Happy New Year’s everyone!  Did this year fly by or what?  And it hasn’t seemed to slow down at all…it’s already mid-January and it feels as if several months have already passed.  Yikes…SLOW DOWN already!!!  LOL!  I don’t want to rush into my old age any more than I have to, thank you.  ;P

So, to start off, I’d like to proudly announce that this month (Jan. 5th to be exact) was my one-year kidney-versary!  YAAAY Kirby!!!  To celebrate, my family and I had a special dinner in the glamorous city of Paris!  We even partook in the London New Years Parade!  (Come to think of it, why did I NOT do a Kirby Flat Stanley??? Ugh… wish I had thought of that earlier to share with ya’ll.)  I’ll share more about my trip in future posts.  I’d like to say the Queen was absolutely enamored by our presence, but I think our giant drum (Big Bertha) stole the show and overshadowed us all.  LOL!

London NY Parade

Our gang at the press/media performance in Trafalgar Square.

 

Me and Barbara London parade

My sister and I just before the parade…It wasn’t so blurry on my phone. 😦

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t expecting that year to go so quickly, but am kind of glad it did in a way.  I don’t wish the initial post-transplant medication tweaks and side-effects on anyone! My family and I were reflecting about the last few years and all of the shit we went through to get to this happy moment today, and one by one everyone added something that made the list longer…  I was struck a bit silent when I thought about it.  In my head, I always convinced myself that I was “tough enough” to get through each scenario as it happened, and I can proudly say I did.  However, had I seen this list of things BEFORE they happened, I’m not so sure I would have been brave enough to push through.  I guess ignorance was bliss in my case.  So, in a brief moment of chest-beating, I’d like to summarize the last three years of hell:

  • Kidney failure (hello, the start of it all)
  • Loss of my dream job
  • Stroke-like symptoms and seizures/stroke scare
  • Dialysis
  • Too many visits to the ER
  • Pleurisy (multiple times)
  • Peritonitis
  • Staph infections
  • Blood clots in my lung
  • Death of my soul-kitty cat (RIP Zaney)
  • Cataracts and Retinopathy
  • Severe anemia that left my sister literally carrying me to our apartment
  • Heart attack
  • Two stents put in my heart
  • Cancer scare (in my liver)
  • Ridiculous skin rash that covered my entire body
  • Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
  • Organ transplant
  • Hair loss (maybe not that big of a deal to some, but I am a girl…)
  • Baseball-sized hematoma

So, it’s safe to say (at least I’m daring to put this out in the universe) that I believe the worst is behind me/us, and I can look back at those years and…grin?  I don’t want to fully laugh for fear that karma might come back and say “Oh yeah? Add THIS to your list!”   I CAN say that I have everything in the world to look forward to.  🙂   I also don’t want to scare anyone that might be reading this that might be early in their diagnosis of kidney failure/transplant process.  This is MY list.  Everyone is different.

As challenging as it was, 2014 was a great year!  On a more positive note, I’d like to also list all the small, yet amazing things I’ve been able to accomplish since my new kidney came along:

  • No more dialysis!  YAAAY!  No, seriously…YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!
  • Travel to Boston, finally!
  • Travel to Austin, finally!
  • Travel to Europe for the first time
  • Progress in getting my career kick-started again
  • Tennis lessons
  • No emergency trips to the hospital
  • Brought my A1C down 3 points (diabetes blood result)
  • Been more active in the non-profit community
  • Grew my fingernails out, finally!
  • I have fabulous eyebrows, finally!
  • Did not even catch a cold!  (I just had a case of the sniffles last week, but seeing how many flu epidemics I’ve been hiding from, this was a huge feat!)

I’ve made several other personal accomplishments as well, however these are the main items that I’m proud to list/publish. Some are baby steps to getting back to what I had before, but it’s a huge start!  I don’t think I’m going to make any New Year’s resolutions this year since I feel most items still left on my “to do” list are more goals I still need to accomplish rather than resolutions for one year. In the meantime, my door has been swung wide open for new opportunities, and I plan on attempting as many as I can!  😛

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  I made it a year!!!!  Hey Kirby…it’s yo’ birth-day!  We gonna partay like it’s yo’ birth-day!

2.  American food.  I have to say that it sucks being a Celiac.  Especially when you’re traveling in a country known for their BREAD!  In Paris, there were no crescents, no macarons, no flakey French bread sandwiches for me… just grapes and a handful of my backup GF pretzels when I got home.  It was SOOOOO good to get home and have options again!

3.  The discovery of galettes – a naturally gluten free crepe that is apparently found all over Paris!  Yes, I had one.  Yes, I got a bit glutened.  Yes, it was absolutely worth it.  😉

4.  DuoLingo.  Ok, so I was dying that I had the first chance to really use all the French I spent years learning…and I had forgotten it all!  I even had a friend (Elissa – shout out!) send me these amazing French lessons I could use to polish up, and I never got as far as I wanted to with them.  However, with one month to go before our trip, I was able to get a good quick refresher-dose using an app – DuoLingo – a bit every night.  It made me look a little less foolish when I scrambled to say “The red shark ate the dolphin in the library” in everyday conversation!

5.  Timing.  We were pretty close to the Paris terrorist shootings the day they started and I’m extremely thankful that we were as quick to act as we did to leave the city.  I’m thankful that we had no issues with transportation getting to and leaving the train station, and I’m thankful that we made it back to the US unharmed.   I’m also very grateful for all of our friends and family who checked in on us to make sure we were ok!  Thank you!

6.  Opportunities.  Being able to make a trip like we did with my family and friends was truly a lifetime experience.  Thank you Mom, Dad, Barbara, Aunt Ber, Aunt San, and Roy for making it possible!   The memories are going to live forever.  🙂

7.  Robert, my hairdresser, for making all my new baby hairs look like they finally belong… with the intro of baby bangs.  Can’t say I’m a huge fan of them, but it’s something new, fun, and I’m workin’ with what I’ve got.  LOL!

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