Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Miracles Come in all Forms ...

Sure it is a few days post-Christmas ... but the warmth of a feel-good story never gets old. First, how was your holiday? This year was a tad different from years past in that I didn't want the hubs and I to exchange gifts. In all reality, the only year we exchanged presents larger than stocking stuffers was our first Christmas together in 2008. My parents were here, we drank good wines, ate good food and had an all-out celebration.

In 2009, we were saving for the wedding and decided to just do stocking stuffers. In 2010, we had just gotten married and took a killer honeymoon to Fiji, which was a gift all in itself.

In 2011 ... well, we are for the most part DINKS. We both work and have no kids, so when either of us needs, er ... wants, anything, we go out and get it.

This year, we adopted an "Angel" from the Salvation Army, which was something new and also a bit of remembrance. This year, I lost a friend who worked for the Salvation Army. He lost his battle with cancer, but I am sure that he came back in the form of one of the Christmas miracles coming up.

I also noticed that my office Secret Santa game was almost picked by design. I don't want to give away too much in the event my officemates read this ... but let's just say that I unknowing took part in a Christmas miracle that didn't reveal itself until we revealed ourselves to others. Your secrets were safe with me.

The last form of a miracle came  the day after Christmas ... I don't want to focus too much energy on it, but the hubs and I witnessed a car accident where the driver, passenger and little baby in the backseat all walked away unscratched. A driver high on something that wasn't life flew through a red light and clipped the front end of their car. It was one of those split-second moments you only read about: If you were one split-second slower or faster, it would have been disastrous. We also lucky to have been behind this car and not stopped at the light next to it.

So while the season wasn’t filled with gift bags and wrapping paper, it was one of the best holidays ever for me. It was full of love, good friends, good food and lots of fun. After all, isn’t that part of the meaning of the season?

I wish you a warm and healthy remainder of 2011 and a happy New Year ... stay safe out there.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Three Words.

Four years (and one pair of glasses, two scripts for Xanax and 20 lbs. lost) ago, I heard three words that changed my life forever.

It was a Friday morning, offices were getting ready to close for the Christmas weekend, which for most, it was a four-day weekend. It was a four-and-a-half day weekend for my doctor’s office. My frail frame and weary body rolled out of what I did not yet know was almost my deathbed as normal that day. I spent so long in the bathroom that I probably dozed off again before dragging myself to the shower. The brown roots of my red hair were at least an inch and a quarter, my eyes were sallow and the only clothes that didn’t hang off of my body were leggings and a sweater.

I drove to work with my bottle of water because I couldn’t go 20 minutes without it. Mid-day, when I returned back to my desk there were two voice mails on my phone. One on my desk phone and one on my cell phone. They were both from my doctor. “Call us right away. We close at 1 p.m. today and we need you to come in.”

I had just demanded blood work because the Xanax and meditation they prescribed wasn’t working for my “anxiety.” I grabbed my things and a ride to the doctor’s office and it was the longest ride of my life.

I was the only person in the office at that hour and waited impatiently in the exam room, clinging to the last few minutes of life as I knew it. The door opened in what seemed like action-movie slow motion. The doctor walked in, sat down and delivered the news that changed my life forever. “You have diabetes,” she said.

And I started to laugh … and cry.

I couldn’t quite grasp what she said. She wrote me a script for two diabetes medications, told me to read about the food pyramid and sent me on my way. Did I mention it was Friday? Before a four-day Christmas weekend. Yea, I was pretty much screwed.

My blood sugar was 539. To put that in perspective, a normal, aka nondiabetic, person will typically not ever go over 140. That was my fasting number that day. To put that in more perspective, now I usually wake up anywhere from 80-120, maybe 138 on a bad day.

Happy to report, that since then, I haven’t registered over 500 again.

My husband doesn’t like when I commemorate this day. But like a birth, a first date, an engagement or wedding anniversary, or a tragedy, it is a day that changed my life forever. It is a rebirth for me: I woke up that morning living my life as I had for the previous 29 years and 331 days. And when I awoke the next day, my life was different. I no longer just grab a snack out of the pantry and just eat it or no longer sample my way through the warehouse stores without having to pull my cart over, pull out a bag, draw some blood and wait five seconds to see if I can eat it or not. Ok … I still just grab a sample and go sometimes. But I no longer sit down to lunch with friends and just eat. I whip out a bag and a “pen” and start with a finger prick under the table. I can usually get away with it until I pull down my waistband and inject something into my abdomen. If it is a new friend or one with whom I haven’t shared my story, the conversation usually sways to what I am doing and how I do it on a daily basis.

To wrap up on a positive note ... Since my diagnosis, I am proud to report that I am quite healthy. For the most part, my numbers are “normal.” Save for the occasions that I do forget about being diabetic and indulge, underestimating my carb intake. I’ve spent four years learning about diabetes and am the best person who knows how to manage the disease for my own body. And no two diabetics are alike. I do appreciate hearing what works for you or someone you know and I enjoying sharing what works for me, but it may not work for each other.

Living with diabetes (the no-rent-paying roommate, if you will) has brought many amazing people into my life … oddly enough my husband, because if I hadn’t been diagnosed I wouldn’t have been doing what I was doing when we met, and many new friends and opportunities to support finding a cure for the disease.

I will leave you with this: Never be afraid to ask for a finger poke. If you or a young one in your life is ill and no one can seem to figure out why (remember my Xanax comment … I was treated for anxiety when I was really on my way into something much worse form high blood sugar), ask for a blood sugar test. Your doctor should be able to do it and any pharmacy can do it for you. It takes all of five seconds and hurts much less than hospital bills. 

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can include: EXCESSIVE thirst, frequent visits to the bathroom and well, you can pee for what feels like five minutes straight, blurred vision, shortness of breath, major fatigue, and rapid and extreme weight loss. I was losing about six lbs. a week, which sounds glorious, but if you have ever lost that much that quickly ... it isn't pretty.  I experienced all of those symptoms and yes, I shared that with my doctor.

For resources on diabetes, please check out:

And please don’t feel sorry for me … this was probably one of the best things to happen to me. If I had to “catch” any disease, the big “D” isn’t the worst I could have caught.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is it too late to be thankful?

Most bloggers did "30 days of thankfulness" during the month of November. I didn't partake, obviously. I haven't blogged since it was hot as balls in Las Vegas. Know what I am thankful for? That Thanksgiving is over. I don't mean that in a selfish way ... my Thanksgiving was AMAZING. Once again, the hubs & hosted an orphans Thanksgiving ... by orphans I don't mean little curly haired red heads, but friends who may not have otherwise had anywhere to go. We did it last year, but only invited as many people as we can seat. This year, I invited anyone who I knew had nowhere else to go. I had 26 people RSVPing with a "yes." Three people didn't make it and I still had 23 people in the house eating.

I made my first turkey ...

For the turkey, I used Cooks Illustrated's 16-hour brine and tip for crispy skin ... the secret? Let the turkey air dry in the fridge for eight hours. I think it worked. I also heard that using champagne is the secret to a truly tender turkey. I've got a 15-pounder left in my fridge for Christmas. I will let you know if that turns out to be true.

In other Thanksgiving fun news ... we asked (made) everyone stand up and say something they are thankful for. It was really humbling and amazing to hear all of our friends be exited, thankful, grateful and emotional that we took them in for Thanksgiving. It never really occurred to me that so many people really had nowhere else to go. Sure, they could have stayed home with their spouse, but it is much more fun to hang with friends.

In addition to the toasts, we played Rockband. I thought I was Lady Gaga.

Or maybe I channeled my inner Jimi Hendrix.

Thanksgiving was day numero uno of a four-day weekend. I spent the next three days sleeping off my hangover.