Blacktop Roads of Iowa- Here I come!

Bike shorts with diaper-like padding. check.
Spare innertube. check.
Waterbottles full of gatorade. check.
Sunscreen. check.
Protein bars. check.
Hoo Ha Jelly. Check.
Glucagon. check.
Padded bike gloves. check.

Ragbrai, I'm ready! 433 miles in 7 days, let's do this!


A cure: I still want one.

I too was told that there would be a cure in 10 years, when I was diagnosed with Type 1 in 1996. It has been 14. In today's health section of the New York Times this essay chronicles the steps made, both forwards and backwards, in the hunt for a cure for diabetes and the many times that the author has been led to believe that there was hope on the horizon.  I have to admit that there have been many improvements in the way we treat diabetes since I was diagnosed. Insulin pens, pumps, and now continuous blood glucose monitoring systems with the hope of an artificial pancreas in the near future.  I have taken advantage of these advancements and they have improved my quality of life.  However, I have to admit that I don't have a strong sense of assuredness when it comes to finding a cure. But that doesn't mean that I stop hoping for one.


High or Low: I dislike them both, but for very different reasons.

People often ask me, which is worse, to have a high blood sugar or a low blood sugar? And I can never answer. I always end up giving some detailed account of what it is like to be high versus low and by the end of my rambling, both parties have forgotten that there was a question stated at the beginning of the conversation and that it has not been answered.

Why I dislike being low: The physical symptoms are not fun.  My legs get weak and I want to sit down, my face gets sweaty, my vision gets blurry and worst of all I become incredibly irritated causing me to snap and say curt things that I only regret once my sugar has come up. Sometimes I realize that it is happening and if I just wait, it will go away. I don't have to say anything. But a lot of the time, I don't realize why I'm angry until after I've said something mean and my blood sugar has come up. I dislike this mood change the most and the guilt that follows.

Why I dislike being high: I find the physical symptoms of being high to be much more tolerable. I tend to get tired and thirsty. That's about it. However, the emotional symptoms are daunting. At this point I start to worry and anxiety sets in.  I get nervous about the damage that a high blood sugar is causing to my body. I start to think about loosing feeling in one of my feet or having to go on dialysis. I envision clogged arteries and spastic nerve endings or a cluster of blood vessels in the back of my eye. If it continues throughout the day, all of these thoughts are exacerbated and the anxiety increases. And once again, guilt sets in.

I guess if I have to answer the question, I would say having a high blood sugar is worse. While it doesn't feel as bad, it has a lot of consequences later in life to worry about. And since I'm working on getting pregnant, a high blood sugar while carrying a child is a more serious thing, it's more damaging to the fetus, since glucose can cross the placenta. It will definitely be a worry. While a low blood sugar can have consequences, such as passing out or eventually loosing sensitivity to lows, I seem to worry about that less. I sit down and eat M&M's. I like that part. Eating chocolate, that is.


The Day My Pump Was Lifted

This is an account of my pump getting lifted while we were living in Argentina. While it was terrifying at the time, I find it quite amusing now. It was written by my husband on our travelblog in an interview fashion. It's entertaining to read in his sarcastic tone of voice and I thought you all would appreciate it.

The Players: 
Argentine Soldier
Family of Thieves: Consistenting of little boy, father and mother

The Setting: 
Stretch of broken sidewalk which borders a hectic 12 lane street that wraps around the city named Avenida de Libertador. This particular block of Libertador is probably 200 yards long as it stretches past two polo fields. It is a moderatly busy sidewalk which is occupied by street vendors who sell sandwhiches to cabbies on break. At the time of the crime there was a military exposition taking place in the polo fields.

The Props:
Insulin pump
Insulin cord which is attached to Abbey’s beautiful tummy
Bag of groceries
Many, many automobiles

3:30 in the afternoon

Partly cloudly

What were you doing in the moments leading up to the crime?
Well, I had just gone to Jumbo (a major grocery store) to buy Mexican food for taco night and I was walking back home along Avenida de Libertador. I was staring at the military equipment they had sprawled out all over the polo fields and I was thinking about how beautiful it was outside and how I wished I left m
y coat at home.
So, were you carrying your coat?

Yes, yes I was. I had my Mexican food in one hand and my coat in the other, I was also wearing my backpack. In retrospect I might as well have taped a sign to my chest that said "I am a tourist, please rob me."

The blonde hair probably doesn’t help either.

Nope, sure doesn’t.

So how did the event begin to unfold? 
Well, I passed a woman in ragged clothing who gave me an eery stare, sort of looked me up and down, and I admit that it gave me the creeps but I thought that perhaps I was just being judgemental. As I passed her she whistled once, and then she whistled a few more times and I eventually figured out she was whistling to the man and ten year old boy who were walking in front of me. At the fourth whistle, which must of meant cell phone (you know three for backpack, two for wallet, one for purse) the ten year old boy walked up to me and began aggresively begging for money. “Dame monedas, dame monedas!!!”

What was going through your head at this point?
Well, I was afraid that the kid was going to take something from me, but being a native Iowan I am not naturally prone to suspicion or pre-judgement and so I tried to remain calm. But I did start thinking about where my money and cell phone were and whether they were in reach.

What weren’t you thinking about him stealing?
My insulin pump and my mexican food.

Which of those two items is more important to you?
Well I haven’t had Mexican for five months (or anything with spices for that matter) and I was pretty excited about finding the ingredients for a good guacomole dip, so the Mexican food was certainly a priority but as my insulin pump makes it possible for me to eat mexican food and remain alive in general I am going to have to say the insulin pump.

It was one of these two items that he grabbed though was it not? 
Yes, the little guy was so close that I sort of tried to nudge him away and when I did he grabbed my sleeve with one hand and then with the other he swiped my insulin pump, but what he didn’t know was that not only it was not a cell phone but this particular device is attached to my body. So when he started to run the cord stretched out across the sidewalk and he was clearly perplexed by the whole situation but he kept yanking and eventually the cord snapped.

What was your initial response?
To scream like I have never screamed before while simaltaneously crying my eyes out. I think it took less then a second for my tear ducts to shift to fifth gear. And I don’t think this boy had ever been presented with this situation before as he is probably used to people saying “hey, he has got my cellphone” rather then “SOY UNA DIABETICA, SOY UNA DIABETICA, SOY UNA DIABETICA, NECESITO MI INSULINO, POR FAVOR, POR FAVOR!!!!!!”

He has got the pump, what next?
He darts into the middle of a twelve lane avenue, an avenue that I would never enter without a walk signal as people usually drive around 45 to 50 miles an hour, and well, you know how they drive here. At this point his adult accomplices ran after him, or with him I should say. However you have to understand that you can’t turn off this street as there is a racetrack on one side and the polo fields on the other so there are no sidestreets or allies to go into. Even though he miraculously got to the other side of the street without being run over, once he got there there was really nowhere to go. So, like the superwoman that I am, I ran after him screaming and crying the whole time.

Did you drop the mexican food?
Did I explain how hard it is to get good guacomole here!? I guess I was in shock but to be honest I think it was to my advantage to keep carrying all my stuff because as a blond, foreigner, screaming in spanish with an obvious accent and a bag full of groceries I was able to attract the attention of one of the soldiers who was on duty outside of the military exposition and he too ran across the street. However I was so filled with adrenaline that I was actually gaining on the gang as my life was somewhat dependent upon me winning this foot race.

Did you catch him? 
Well when they got to the other side of the street the woman goes left, the man goes right, and the boy gets confused and decides his best option is to hide underneath a parked car. I don't think they really have much of a plan. So anyway the soldier drags the boy out from under the car and retrieves my insulin pump, and despite my loud declerations about insulin and diabetes no one has yet grasped the fact that this is not a cell phone. The military officer was laughing at my emotional state and my accent, so I stared at him and said very slowly “this is not a phone, I need it to live!” At which point he was consumed with guilt, as he should have been! Then I thanked him repeatedly for his help. However he also pointed out that he is not the police and he can’t really arrest people.

So they got away?
Not before the man/father kicks the poor boy and slaps him around a little bit and tries to establish this pathetic rouge that he wasn’t in on it and the boy was merely acting on impulse. But when he came up to me and started asking if I was ok and pretending to be upset at the boy, I used the one spanish cuss word that our landlord lilliana taught me and told him to “fuiste” which is equilivant to “get the hell out of here,” but then I gave up and went to my old standard English cuss words and duniciations. Then when I walked back across the street I felt the urge to explain to all the street venders and military officers that I wasn’t going crazy just for my cell phone but that it was a little more important than that.

Mark, where were you at this time? 
To my shame, I certainly wasn’t there to help, but to my credit I was randomly buying Abbey gifts, not knowing what she had been through.

What were the gifts?
Flowers, multicolored socks, and a pencil sharpener (which is a rare find in Argentina) all of which, in my mind, are perfect post mugging gifts.

Mark what was your first response to Abbey’s trauma?
As soon as I saw that she had her pump I skipped right over the fear and sympathy part and went straight to a sense of overwhelming pride and affection for my crime fighting girlfriend.

Abbey would you say that you were sending a message to Argentine criminals? 

What was that message? 
Don’t mess with corn-fed Iowa diabetics because we are not going to take it anymore!


Happy Birthday America!

The goal of the weekend was to go on a hilly bike ride through the back roads of Wisconsin with 10 of our friends.  We wanted to thoroughly prepare for Ragbrai, while others were preparing for a triathlon.  It was a success and helped keep my blood sugars steady over the weekend despite all of the brats, sweet corn and fruit salads that I ate. We took off on a hot and windy morning and rolled past dilapidated red barns, goat herds, hay bales and lamas. The first 15 miles of rolling countryside took us along side Kettle Moraine Park to the LaGrange General Store where we lunched on fresh made sandwiches and local goodies before we mounted our bikes again. We continued until our thighs started to burn and my face was so red it looked like it was going to burst and the hills no longer gave us an adrenaline rush. We parked our two wheelers back at the lake house where we were staying and went for a dip to cool off. We followed our swim in the lake with a trip to the local ice creamery, J. Laubers, where we sipped on old fashioned shakes. The evening ended with grilling out, beers and fireworks. A perfectly satisfying way to spend the fourth of July.