Diabetes Comedic Relief

It’s the middle of the week. I think we all might need a good laugh.

There are many things I should ‘clean out’ diabetes-wise. There are bad habits I need to break, carbs I need to count more precisely, fears I need to figure out how to deal with. There are medical bills I need to pay, doctors appointments I need to make, prescriptions I need to fill. As I’m writing this, I can feel anxiety ballooning in my chest just thinking about it all. There are about a million things I need to do, or talk about, or work on. ……..But not today. Nope.

Today I woke up and knew I couldn’t deal with anything too heavy. I’m tired and I’m homesick.

I. Need. To. Laugh.

Memes are spectacular when you need to laugh. When I feel like I’m taking diabetes-things too seriously, I just log in to Tumblr and look at t1d memes. I’ve realized Tumblr is where diabetic teenagers go to connect with each other. It’s cool to see, because when I was a (newly diagnosed) teenager with diabetes, there weren’t very many out there. Now there are so many T1D Tumblrs, and there is so much funny, creative stuff on them!

Like the artwork here and here. 

And THIS CRAZY COOL THING BUILT OUT OF DIABETES SUPPLIES!

And all of the memes. So many memes. Sometimes they make me want to laugh and cry at the same time, because they are so true in the best and worst ways. So, here are just a few of them. I hope they make you laugh, too.

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The Languages of Lantus

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It appears as though I’ve started a new collection!

I got the English one in America, the Dutch one in the Netherlands, and the RUSSIAN (which I thought was Greek at first, my bad) one in the Netherlands, too… for some reason. I think I also probably have a French one lying around somewhere from when I studied abroad, too.

Do you think I’m the only person in the world collecting all the languages of Lantus? Probably. Because it’s weird.

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“I could never be diabetic! I’m afraid of needles!”

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Although I know people don’t mean harm by saying this, I hate hearing this.

I hate the illogic of it–that I might have a choice in the matter. That somehow I’ve chosen the needles, the blood, the stupid Diet Coke. That somehow fear could conquer the factors that lead to an autoimmune disease.

My darlings, fear doesn’t conquer anything.

I’m reading Jane Eyre right now, and this quote struck me as the most perfect response to someone saying they “could never bear” the treatment required for type 1 diabetes:

Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it: it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear. 

-Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre 

So, friends. Here we are.

I’m bearing something. You’re most likely bearing something. Instead of words that remind us of how incredibly heavy what we’re bearing can be, let’s just high five. Let’s just keep on keeping on.

I met my favorite band last week, and we talked about diabetes

Not the most rock ‘n roll subject. Probably not what most people would consider a hot topic when meeting their favorite musicians.

But right before my friend Kelsey and I had the coolest opportunity to meet Klara and Johanna Söderberg, Swedish sisters that form the group First Aid Kit, after going to their show at the 9:30 Club in DC, a vague memory flashed into my mind of an interview I remembered reading several years ago, in which Klara stated that she is diabetic.

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I asked the guy standing next to me (some super-fan groupie from England that was following all of their shows down the east coast) if one of the girls did indeed have diabetes.

“Oh, I don’t know them like that” he replied. “But I wouldn’t ask them about it, if I were you.”

I didn’t respond, even though I wish I’d told him that it’s not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of.

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Johanna (the blonde) came out of the venue first and we took pictures with her and chatted for a minute. Then Klara came out and we took more pictures and got our ticket stubs autographed. As Klara was walking up to put her luggage in the bus’ storage space, I (more outgoing than usual, thanks to the 6~ concert beers) approached her and said, “Can I ask you something?” Of course, she said, “Sure!” while kneeling on the ground with her luggage.

“This might be random, but do you diabetes? Type one?”

She stopped, stood up, and laughed, “Yes, I do.”

“Me too!!!” I said with more enthusiasm than I’ve ever had in verifying that I have a broken pancreas.

Then we went into full-on diabetes talk, and kind of laughed and looked around at the people listening to us talk about it.  She started asking me questions about when I was diagnosed, how old I was, etc. I showed her my new continuous glucose monitor and explained how it worked. My blood sugar was around 186 at the time, and I said, “Whoops, it’s a little high right now” and she shrugged, “I would have never known, we measure it differently in Europe.” (I knew that, but I forgot. Maybe I’ll learn how to do it that way when I move to Amsterdam. Or maybe not.) She asked me if I had a pump, and I said no. She doesn’t wear one, either. She knelt down to her duffle bag for a second, unzipped a case, and showed me her insulin pens. (Diabetes show + tell. Lol.) We both take Humalog so we’re basically best friends now, I think.

We talked for a little while longer and she said she doesn’t really have any friends with diabetes, and I said I didn’t either (except for the DOC <3 ). Eventually we made our way back to the others and another girl that had been standing by grabbed my arm, smiling, and said, “That’s so cool that you got to talk to her about that!”

I think so, too.


 

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If you haven’t listened to First Aid Kit yet, you should really check them out! They just came out with a new album titled Stay Gold and it is literally all I’ve been listening to on repeat for 2 weeks. All of their music is good- and their lyrics are completely heartbreakingly wonderful- but their new album is just the best one ever.

My favorites from the new album are Fleeting One, Stay Gold, Shattered & Hollow, My Silver Lining and Cedar Lane. And all the other ones.

Here are the vides for My Silver Lining and Cedar Lane !

The Purpose Of This Blog

After studying abroad for 10 months, I applied to be an Education Abroad Student Ambassador at my university. This big, fancy title essentially meant that I worked to promote and encourage students to study abroad. I set up tables in the student commons, gave speeches to classes, and attended global education-oriented events. I did it because I believe SO MUCH in the experience of studying abroad, and I want everyone to be able to do it. My ambassador job was really fun, plus there was usually free pizza involved. +++

(Here I am being really enthusiastic at a study abroad storytelling event) :

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Earlier today over our ‘farewell lunch,’ one of the study abroad advisors, Kelly, told me I would make a great travel writer. I told her that is literally my dream and then I told her about my blog, Coffee & Insulin. I told her I started it for many reasons, but a big reason is because at 21 years old, I packed my life into a single suitcase and moved to France (where I knew approximately zero people) to spend the next 10 months riding trains around Europe and stumbling over the French language. And I have type 1 diabetes and of course it didn’t stop me. And I want other young diabetic people (or any people, really) to see/hear that from as many of us as possible.

Kelly proceeded to tell me that just last week a t1d student dropped out at the last minute of a summer study abroad program because of her worries of diabetes management abroad.

That student was so close, it was so soon. I hate that that happened. I don’t want that to happen.

But I don’t blame him/her (or their family) for being scared. Traveling abroad is nerve-wrecking enough with a working pancreas. Traveling with t1d requires extra planning, consideration and definitely some extra luggage space, but god, it really is worth it. It really is possible. I rode a camel for 2 hours to reach a campsite in the middle of the Sahara desert in Morocco. I sipped wine and ate macaroons and baguettes in front of the Eiffel Tower with my best friend (and then I took a lot of insulin and regretted nothing.)

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I  learned the ins and outs of the French healthcare system- went to the doctor and the pharmacy and got the medicine I needed. (And I will be forever haunted by how fucking incredible socialized medicine is. sd8fas087fsauhdf I can’t even talk about it.) It was definitely challenging sometimes, especially at first, but I will never forget the feeling of walking out of the French pharmacy with Humalog in hand, thinking, I navigated a foreign healthcare system in a foreign language. What can’t I do?

I wish I could have spoken with the girl that dropped out of her study abroad program. I would have told her that yes, it is difficult to manage diabetes while traveling. It is also difficult to manage diabetes at home. The internal scale is always tipping wherever we are; the circumstances are ever-changing, and we will always, always be re-evaluating and re-adjusting. Whether we are in Minnesota or Prague or Patagonia, we will have low blood sugars and we will have high ones. And we will treat them, and we will keep going, because that’s just what we do.

‘Not traveling’ was never an option to me, I’m way too stubborn and adventurous. My mom sent me on week-long spring break trip to Germany and Switzerland when I was 16 (I remember hearing about it from my best friend and immediately whipping out my cell phone in homeroom, whispering in the back of the class, begging my mom to let me go. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Mom!!!!!!!” )

Several years later, she told me one reason she fully supported me going on that trip was because she wanted me to learn early on (I’d had diabetes for 2 years) that I could still do things. I could still go out into the world and maybe almost die riding a donkey up the side of a cliff in Santorini, Greece (the key is that I didn’t die) and get lost in a maze of winding alleys and pastel-colored buildings in Portugal and not know exactly how many carbs are in the Italian gelato- and be okay.

One of the reasons I started this blog is to try to use my experience and my voice to show whoever I can trick into reading it that, if you want, you can do these things, too. (Although I really do strongly discourage riding a donkey up the side of a cliff in Santorini, Greece. Oh, you want a picture that encapsulates the moment?) Okay, I’ll break it down for you:

We went from this:

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to this very quickly:

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I would looooooove to talk to more travelers with diabetes. Also, if you are diabetic and happen to be reading this and are considering studying abroad or know someone who is, feel free to email me! I’m not an expert at traveling with diabetes and I don’t have it all figured out, but I’ve done it, and I’ve learned a lot from it. When dealing with travel, much like when dealing with diabetes, we must simply plan to be surprised. We must be flexible and we must be brave.

Yes, I’m diabetic. I’m also young and curious and wanderlust and alive, so I’m still doing the damn thing. And I want everyone to join me.

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