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Friday
Mar272015

The Road to Nuts

"Well at least diabetes is managable"

"It could be worse"

"Diabetes doesn't mean you cannot do what you want to do"

"I could never take shots"

"My uncle lost his leg, but he didn't take care of himself"

"Well, just take care of yourself"

"So do you have the bad kind?"

"I've heard that if you lose weight and eat right you can control it with diet"

All of the statements above drive me nuts. So I say...

No it's not.

True but it still sucks.

Unless you want to be in the military or fly a plane. 

You could if you had to for survival. 

... (I do not know how to respond to this without getting seriously upset)

Ya think?

They are all the bad kind.

Do you think I would have chosen to take shots all these years? 

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I really don't like being so angry and negative but sometimes, like right now, I am just in that place.

Monday
Mar232015

The Birthday

I have been thinking about this day since October of 1991. My father was 42 when he died that year and the thought of reaching that age has been a fear of mine since. And here I am.

Things are different for me than they were for him. He didn’t have the medical issues I have had in my 42 years of life. After having two stents put into my arteries, type 1 diabetes for 24 years, lots of pills, insulin, and struggling with obesity you would think even making it to 42 should have been my goal. It wasn’t.

Last night my family got together to celebrate both my daughter’s birthday and mine. Hers was yesterday. At dinner I was asked what my greatest accomplishment was during this last year. I said being a part of the Diabetes Unconference. I was then asked what I had hoped to accomplish this year. Luckily I was able to change the subject and side step around having to answer because more than any other year in my life I know what my answer would be to this question. To make it to 43.

You don’t have to tell me I am being irrational because I know I am. Why would this age mean anything? Who really thinks just because someone else died on a particular day that you would too? It is silly to think that way! I would agree with all of that and ultimately I know it makes no rational sense. And what makes me think that reaching 43 means I will live a long life afterwards? I could die a year and day from now! It is hard to explain my feelings and thoughts on this which is why I am so thankful I have this place to be to share my stuff.

Losing my father when he was 42 was such a crime. He missed out on so much and so did we. My sisters and I continue to tell his stories, keep up his traditions, and remember him daily so as to never completely lose him from our lives. There were so many things I know he wanted to do and should have been able to do.

Now here I am at the first day of 42 and I plan on celebrating it tonight with my wife and children. I plan on staying as positive about it as I can. I plan on doing everything in my power to make it to 43 and when I do, and I am asked what I hope to accomplish in the new year of my life, I hope to say “anything I want to!”

Wednesday
Mar182015

The Diabetes UnConference

The Diabetes Unconference happened this past weekend and I am not sure how to write about it with any sort of clarity. Since I left Las Vegas I have been thinking about the weekend nonstop. It was incredible but difficult to put into words.

Why was it so incredible? Here are a few of the reasons. 

1. I was a facilitator and able to help Christel in her vision of what the UnConference could be. And the rest of the facilitator team was amazing!

2. Most of the participants were people who I did not know which meant meeting a bunch of awesome new people!

3. Some friends I have only met online were there and we were able to give irl hugs!

4. Seeing old friends is always great and especially when they introduce you to new friends they met. And vice versa!

5. The safe space we all created and respected that allowed everyone to feel valued, respected, and welcomed. This gave people the comfort level they needed to share and listen and react and laugh and cry and swear and whatever else they needed to do.

6. No judgement.

7. Sitting at a table with someone who had never sat at a table with even one other PWD and now had 7 other people toasting to celebrate!

8. Being reminded that I am not alone and never will be again.

9. Almost 2000 years of people living with diabetes in the same room!

10. Vegas baby!

I wonder if any other patient group has done something like this before? I was honestly a little freaked out about how it would all turn out. Who would come? How does an UnConference work? Will people connect and share? Will they like it? 

Everything I hoped for it to be feels like an insult to what it actually was. 

Thank you to everyone who attended, the sponsors, the facilitors, Christel, and everyone who encouraged someone to attend.

I cannot wait until next years UnConference. 

Friday
Jan302015

Toenail Totem

“George we are going to help you up, do you think you can stand?”

“yeah, I think so.” I looked at this strangers face and noticed there were 4 other people in my room. Radios kept coming on which made me believe these must be paramedics.

“Okay, we are just going to walk you outside okay?”

“okay.” Nothing hurts. I can walk okay? Did I have a stroke? Did I have a heart attack? Is this a dream? This has to be a dream.

“Watch your step down and can you sit on the gurney?”

“yeah.” The red lights flickered all around my front door and at that moment I saw my children standing beyond the doorway looking out at me. They looked scared, tired, worried, helpless. This has to be a dream.

“Just swing your legs up and slide to the middle”

“Where is my wife?” As soon as I said it I heard her familiar voice.

“I’m here, I’m right here.”

“What happened?” As soon as I said it I could not wait for an answer. I couldn’t hold anything back. My sobbing drowned out what she said.

When I was in the back of the ambulance I heard my wife talking to the driver so I knew she was upfront. The paramedic in the back started asking me my name, my birthday, and how long I had diabetes.

For fear of a stroke or to prove to myself I was awake I spouted off every single fact I could pull out of my head. “George Scott Simmons. Born on March 23rd 1973 in Hollywood California. It was Friday. I have had type 1 diabetes for 23 years. I was diagnosed on October 2nd 1990. It was a Monday.”

They must have thought I was crazy.

“So why are your toenails blue?”

This was when I was sure I was awake. Like a totem from the movie Inception, those blue toenails were nothing I would ever dream up so I knew for sure this was real life.

“My nieces were painting their toenails over the weekend and I thought, what the heck. Go for it!”

That was when the paramedic started to tell me that I had a really bad low blood sugar that I could not come back from. That was when I noticed I had an IV in my arm and 3 Band-Aid’s on different fingers.

When we got to the hospital my wife started to explain the entire situation piece by piece to the doctor. It turns out she knew I was having a lot because I threw all of the covers off of myself and started to moan. She woke up and saw my sweating profusely. She came to my side of the bed, grabbed my machine, and had me sit up. She put a strip in my Verio meter and grabbed my hand to prick my finger. When she did blood streamed down my hand on a river of sweat.

She grabbed a hand towel and dried my hand and arm off. She squeezed the same finger and as soon as a drop of blood appeared it found a new river of sweat to travel down. She has never seen me sweat so bad and neither have I.

Finally she was able to check my bg. It was 37.

She grabbed a Level glucose gel and tore it open. She put it in my mouth and started to squeeze the gel into my mouth. She said I bit the end in my mouth and wouldn’t let any gel in. Not in a argumentative way but rather like I had no idea what I was doing.

She flicked my mouth and I opened up. She squeezed the whole thing in and when to get my daughter up to help. I swallowed the gel and lied back down.

My wife got my daughter up and asked her to make some waffles for me to eat. It was 4 in the morning and we usually add some waffles for some more carbs to last me through the morning. She popped in a couple of Eggo’s and my wife came back to check on me.

I was still sweating and out of it. She opened up another Level and squirted it into my mouth. She said I did not swallow it. I just left it in my mouth so she had to keep telling me to swallow it. Finally I did and just then my daughter came in with the waffles.

My wife put a piece of waffle on a fork and stuffed it into my mouth. She said I just sat there with the waffle in my mouth. Not chewing or reacting at all. Like I forgot what to do.

She grabbed another Level, took the waffle out, and squirted it in. Apparently I started leaning forward as if I was going to fall over. My wife got scared and told my daughter to wake my son up to help.

A ramekin full of regular syrup and about 8oz of regular soda were brought in by my son and daughter. My daughter put a straw in the soda to make it easier to drink. My wife said I looked at the straw, took it out of the glass, and stuck it on my finger to try and get blood out for another bg test. She said I kept squeezing my finger to try and get blood out even though she kept reassuring me she already got the drop she needed.

I drank the soda and swallowed down the syrup.

Still I was completely out of it. I could not talk and my family could tell I was not “there.” My wife grabbed the Glucagon shot and instantly was overwhelmed by the instructions. My son stood right in front of my wife’s face and said, “we need to call 911 mom.”

When the ambulance got there they came into my room, put an IV in my arm and checked my blood sugar.

The machine read 34. This was 40 minutes after this all started.

My son remembers them putting a bag of fluid in me via the IV and when it was done they started to stand me up. This marked the very beginning of my memory.

That is what scares me most. I remember nothing before when I started this post. Not a glimpse or flash of the story I heard my wife tell the ER doctor. None of it.

I kept waiting for a fog to lift like a night of too much alcohol. As soon as you hear the story flashes of memories start to trickle in. But this was and is so different.

I have nothing.

So we stayed in the ER until about noon on Sunday after my bg was stable. The nurse asked me why my toenails were painted blue. I told her the paramedics must have done it on the drive over.

My kids had followed the ambulance in my car and they stayed with me all morning. When we all got home we all passed out on the couch. Exhausted and drained we slept until 5pm.

I have never in my 23 years of diabetes had a low like that. I have had bad lows that take forever to come up. I have had some where I couldn’t walk or talk but I remember them. Even though they felt like a dream I remember what happened. But this was crazy.

Have you ever had a low like this? I cannot understand what made it so different. I have seen 34 on a machine before and been totally aware of what was going on.

More than anything I feel so bad for putting my family through all of this. It is not fair.

I pray I will never have another low like that ever again.

Wednesday
Jan142015

The Blogaversary Post

Since starting this blog back in 2006:

Pluto was demoted to a "dwarf planet"

Apple introduced the iPhone

Tu Diabetes is introduced to the DOC

2 Summer and 3 Winter Olympics happened

The United States have held 2 presidential elections

30 Rock debuted and ended

CGM became widely available

Twitter started

Night at the Museum 1, 2, and 3 were released in theaters

I have had 3 different insulin pumps, 2 CGM's, several different doctors, thousands of tweets during DSMA, 1 trip to the Friends for Life conference in Orlando, found and met my soul brother, discovered a community I cannot live without, had a kid graduate from high school, saw my wife acheive her master's degree, kept the same job, moved 3 times, got a cat, had 2 stents put into my heart, celebrated 2 new nieces and 2 new nephews, recorded an original song, and celebrated my 40th birthday.