Sarah Grace

Sarah Grace

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A letter from the faraway nearby

Craggy Pinnacle, Asheville, NC

When Georgia O’Keefe moved from New York to New Mexico, she signed letters back to her loved ones across the country, “From the faraway nearby.” Distant, but still so close. Far and near, it can all be true.

I haven’t updated this blog in a year and a half, but I’ve thought of it often. For a while I thought I’d walked away for good, but people I’ve crossed paths with—friends and strangers—have continued to inexplicably bring it back into my awareness. From emails across the world to new friends stumbling across it, again and again it has surfaced. It has always come back to me. Reading one of these emails or hearing someone say “I found your blog and I love it” always got me asking silently, “What is this about??? Isn’t that chapter closed?” I guess not. I’ve taken to paying attention to what comes into my field and Coffee & Insulin has been ceaseless. Don’t get me wrong… I’ve always loved writing here, but at some point I ran out of things I felt inspired to say. The energy I once had for it was gone. I got bored with the story. Then I moved to the mountains…

The past year has been a whirlwind of growth, change, challenge, expansion, and surrender. I moved to Asheville, North Carolina last March and spent 6 months studying plant medicine in the ancient Appalachian mountains. I’ve camped, hiked, harvested, swam, and prayed my heart out around here. I’ve turned 27, taken a bunch of beach trips, let a job that didn’t inspire me, and started one that does while also giving me the freedom to work on some other projects (!!!). I continue to deepen into Spirit, sobriety, and simplicity. I began taking a good, long look at the stories I’ve told myself about my own life and how they have served me (or not.) I tell myself some new stories now, more honest, more uplifting, more true. Acknowledging that I am not a victim, to diabetes or any life circumstance, has set me free.

It is also why I’ve been absent here. I’ve been working out my relationship with T1D daily, offline, in my body, and in my heart. When I stopped writing here, it was partly because I was feeling increasingly confused and frustrated as to why I was getting a lot of *sad face* reactions to my posts… I wanted to bring hope, but I didn’t realize that I couldn’t give away something I didn’t have, and underneath anything else I wrote about living with type 1 diabetes, there was always fear and frustration. So, of course, it translated that way. We can’t hide in our own writing.

This year has been a huge shift in the way I interact with every aspect of my life. I believe deeply that every one of us has the ability to heal that which we perceive to hurt us. We are all free, despite circumstances, labels, and conditions. Right now I’m in the process of radically shifting my diabetes management (aka probably getting an insulin pump after 13 years of injections and thinking ‘I NEVER WANT A PUMP,’ something has shifted and I’m open to trying it now… eeeeek!) I’ve missed the diabetes online community and conversation (and in-person hangs even more so.) I have an exciting project underway, and with it, I will need your help!!! More soon! Much Love.

XOXOX

Sarah Grace

ps — I am active on Instagram (@coffeeandinsulin) and am trying to get better at sharing those posts on the Facebook page which also needs some love in general. I’ll get there. I still also have email — [ coffeeandinsulin @ gmail . com ] but I’m honestly not great at replying. Email at your own risk is what I’m saying and don’t roll your eyes if my response reaches you in November. Love!

My life is, in a word, sharp.

I know about needles. 

That is the first line of Andie Dominick’s 1998 memoir, also titled Needles, on growing up with type one diabetes. I read it when I was sixteen, after Googling “diabetes memoirs,” because I was the only person I knew with this disease, and I was lonely.

I, too, know about needles.

//

Read the rest of this post at ASweetLife Diabetes Magazine (here), where I am now a contributing writer! I have a bit of catch-up to do, as I’ve written a few posts for them so far, but this was the first one and I’ll roll the others out soon.

Happy 2018, by the way!

xoxo, Sarah Grace

In the midst of miraculous mystery

A few months ago, I lay on my back on an exam table, wearing a blue cotton hospital gown. The doctor held my right arm in her hands. There was a medical student, a man about my age, sitting next to her, watching as she dotted my arm up and down with black marker, marking various nerve spots. I was having an EMG (electromyography) done, to test the muscles and nerves in my right hand, because of a very subtle tremor I have only in my right hand and only when writing. (This is no small problem when you are a writer.) An MRI last December showed inflammation in the middle of the back of my hand, but it is a mystery as to how it happened, and why. Seemingly out of the blue at 23 years old, I stopped being able to hold a pen properly, or write anything down.

The doctor picked up a tool and sent electric shock zaps (not the medical term) into a nerve near my elbow five times. It twitched, each time a bit stronger. Each time a bit more painful, but bearable… though I no longer know what my pain tolerance is compared to someone who doesn’t give themselves 6-8 daily injections.

The doctor explained to the medical student what they were looking for on the computer screen beside them, after the zaps. Something about timing. Something about nerve response. She did this all over my arm for about 30 minutes, then told me everything looked good. But we weren’t done— next, to test muscles, she had to insert thin needles up and down my arm and wrist and hand, into the muscles. Then I had to flex the muscles with the needles in them. This was not fun. This was painful. I’m sorry, she said over and over again as my limbs constricted in pain, eyes tightening. Afterward, again, she told me everything seemed fine.

When I came home, I sat on my balcony in the sun and started listening to an OnBeing podcast interview Krista Tippet did with Naomi Shihab Nye, called Your Life is a Poem. I was particularly struck when she said this:

I mean, just thinking about everything that’s going on, kind of like when you’re a child fascinated by all the stuff that’s going on inside your body, and you didn’t have to tell it to do that. Like, I used to think my stomach is — I’m digesting right now. I didn’t have to tell it to do that. It just did it. That’s incredible. Or the heart beating, or the blood rolling through the veins.

And you think, wow all this stuff goes on. That’s not commonplace to me. That’s miraculous. It’s amazing.

I paused the podcast, and thought about that for a second. I don’t often stop to notice my breath unless I’m being told to in yoga or meditation. I don’t walk around thinking about my heart beating in my chest, unless it palpitates, and then I’m only thinking of the plethora of things that could be wrong. I write a lot about my interior body, but only in its chaos, only in the wake of the things it can no longer do because of diabetes. And as I curse it for all of its brokenness, it continues to carry me. It continues to provide me with breath and blood, vital and wholly unnoticed.

I took out my notebook, and began to write the sentence, I’m in the midst of a bit of a medical mystery. Only, I accidentally wrote “miracle” instead of medical, so the sentence read, I’m in the midst of a bit of a miracle.

And then I stopped writing, looked at it for a long time, and took a deep breath. This sentence told a different kind of story. One within which I can breathe, and live. One that, when I can pause long enough to let it in, rings so very true.

I’m in the midst of a bit of a miracle.

I left it just like that, my one-sentence-story, unstoried and restoried with the matter of one word, and turned my attention to the glowing green leaves of the sugar maple tree bending toward the ledge of my third-floor balcony.

We are living in a poem, and we are the poem itself.

 

Heavy Stone

“Chloe” by Jaume Plensa

I woke up early this morning, feeling unrested, achy. Today was the first day in many days that I was able to sleep in, and I’ve been so burnt out lately that I really thought I would. But I didn’t. I woke up around 7, unsettled. I’ve been having a rough few days, so while reaching for my Dexcom, I thought to myself, I need a good number. Please.

:::::: 313 ::::::

A heavy stone formed in my chest, because that is what happens. No falling to my knees, no screaming, no crying. I might have said Fuck out loud. But this quiet weight, hard to hold, rolled through me.

It got worse when I zoomed out to get an idea of my entire overnight blood sugar situation. Not only was it 313 right then, but it had been for hours, and for a while before that, it peaked at 400.

Fuck.

I took insulin. I drank water. I made coffee. I sat curled up on the couch in my quiet apartment.

I don’t know if I’m angry, or sad. I don’t feel sick. I don’t want to hear words of sympathy. I don’t want to dissect what went wrong at 11pm last night, what I did and did not do. I don’t want to think about the pile of these hyperglycemic nights that have happened lately. I don’t want to consider this a lesson or a punishment.

I just want it to be what is has been: hyperglycemia that is now coming down.

I just want to do the next right thing, which varies, but is some form of self-care:

a phone call, an appointment, a snack, a deep breath. 

To be kind to myself through this is incredibly important,

because it happens, and it will happen. 

And because the bottom line is: 

I am never not trying.

 

Waking Nightmare

Last night, in my dreams, I was trying to save my own life. Then I woke up, and realized I actually had to.

I’d been dreaming I was eating gummy bears, but there were only a few left, so I began drinking glass after glass of apple juice. The apple juice was thick, and had cinnamon in it, in that weird way dreams distort reality. A mix between an apple’s juice and sauce. I remember, as I drank, worrying that the juice wasn’t working to raise my blood sugar.

By the time I came to consciousness, body and brain lead-like at 3:07am, my Dexcom only read “LOW.” This happens when a person’s blood sugar drops below 40mg/dL. At that point, the machine abandons numerical value and says to you, person with diabetes who is in the throes of a medical emergency, FUCK THE EXACT NUMBER, GOOD GOD YOU NEED TO PUT SUGAR IN YOUR BODY RIGHT NOW.

There is nothing more terrifying to me. Nothing.

It took me a few minutes to realize that I had not, in fact, already treated this low with gummy bears and saucy cinnamon apple juice. That I had dreamt it, and that I was still very much in danger. I must have only halfway woken to the Dexcom’s other Low alarms, thought to myself “I need to treat this low” then gone back to sleep instead and done it in my dreams. This isn’t the first time this has happened—I remember more than once in college, waking to my alarm at 6am for work at 7, hitting snooze, DREAMING I had gotten up, taken a shower, gotten ready and gone to work, only to jolt up several minutes later realizing I had to do it all over again in real life. Never a pleasant way to start the day.

Once I got my bearings, I dragged myself to the kitchen and poured two glasses of apple juice, spilling some on the counter and knocking over some cans in the process. I broke off a cube of my roommate’s cookie dough, shoved it in my mouth, and stumbled dazedly back to my bed.

Usually, when I’m treating a low, I start to feel better very quickly, within minutes. Just the relief of swallowing sugar, knowing it is where it needs to be (in my body) and will do its very important job (keeping me alive) is enough in itself to stop my shaking. Not last night, though. As I watched the number on my Dexcom climb back up over a span of half an hour—62, 83, 95—I couldn’t stop trembling.

Near 4am, I grabbed a granola bar out of my purse and ate half of it, knowing full and well it would send my blood sugar over the threshold of 200 and into High territory. I didn’t care. I just wanted the trembling, the worrying, the waking nightmare to end.

 

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