Friday, June 29, 2012

It's my Birthday and I'll eat if I want to

On Monday I turned the big 25!  I can't believe another year has passed.  This was my second birthday with diabetes.  Last year I had some real challenges dealing with all the junk food and alcohol but this year I think I was able to enjoy myself and be safe too.  

The gang in all their glory
I drove down to Fairhope Alabama to meet up with my family and some close family friends from Oregon.  From there we all spent time at the beach, which was lovely.  
I decided that for a full 24 hours calories didn't matter but carbs still did.  I had Dreamcakes Bakery here in Birmingham make me a cake and they were kind enough to give me the exact recipe for the cake, frosting and filling.  With my trusty friend Calorie Count, I calculated how many carbs were in a standard, big ol' slice.  My cake had 99 grams of carbs!  At least I knew what I was up against!

I also calculated the carbs in my cinnamon rolls beforehand and put the info into my pump's meter so 
I got plush organs as my present!
with the press of a button I could bolus my way back to happy blood sugars.  

Happy 2nd Bday diabetes
Of course I drank too.  I very rarely drink these days but I had to go all out on my special day.  I bought margaritas in freezable bags so that way they had the nutritional values printed on the back.  It's so hard to know exactly what is in alcoholic drinks so anything with a label is good in my books.  
Eating the famous 99 carb count cake!
I drank three of them and lounged on the beach, hoping that Tropical Storm Debbie wouldn't be a downer.  (She wasn't :))  I leaned over to my dad and said, "gee I drank 3 margaritas and I don't feel anything"  Being the good father he was, he made me a long island iced tea.  That did it for sure and I didn't feel so hot after that.  

In the evening we got all dolled up and I drank a bunch of diet powerade to offset the dehydration I had experienced on the beach.  The gang headed out to The Hangout in Gulf Shores and were treated like kings and queens for the evening.  I ate fried pickles, shrimp and rounded it off with my 99 carb count cake.  They were even kind enough to turn on the bubble machine just for us.  I ran straight into the pile of bubbles and thanked the lord that my pump was waterproof.  

I may be 25 but I can still play in the bubbles!
Bolus after bolus, test after test I was able to keep my blood sugar under 200...barely.  I felt hungover and sick for two days afterward but you know what, it was worth it.  The moral of the story is that even if we have to deal with diabetes day in day out we can always have some fun and keep ourselves healthy.  I wouldn't recommend eating like that every day though!
A gorgeous view of the beach

Now it's back to my low carb meals!  This diabetic dancer needs to stay in shape for another 3 hour rehearsal tomorrow.  
This is a video of us playing in the bubbles!  I'm in pink!

-Exit Stage Left

Sunday, June 17, 2012

JDRF keeps me hopeful

This week has been crazy!  I've been taking two summer classes, teaching anatomy, rehearsing and most importantly working with JDRF's Junior Board here in Birmingham.  

We had one meeting for just us junior board members which involved electing officials and I got a nomination to be the chair of community involvement!  I'm crossing my fingers and thinking of every possible connection I've built in Birmingham and how we can link it to JDRF.  I'll find out soon if I am elected and I'll let you know.  

While that was exciting the next night was a special annual meeting for the senior board.  Members of the junior board are welcome to come, so I packed the prettiest pants and shirt that would fit in my book bag and ran over after teaching my class.  Only a few junior board members were with me.  I was nervous to run with the big dogs with their gold name tags while I was stuck with my "hi, my name is" sticker.  Luckily my own endocrinologist was there too.
Dr. Anath Shalev

We discussed the success of the year as well as new research that's currently going on.  Anath Shalev, MD, a brilliant researcher from Switzerland came to talk to us about her findings.  She is investigating how a specific protein, turned off by the presence of a calcium channel blocker, can help preserve existing beta cells in people with diabetes.  

She showed us graph after graph, table after table and micro pictographs (photos taken with a microscope) of the beta cell masses of mice with diabetes.  She found that with the use of a calcium channel blocker, found in the common blood pressure medicine Varapmil, preserved and reversed the damage of the beta cells.  I was glad that my science courses gave me some literacy for all of her research.  

I sat there stunned.  There it was.  The proof that someone was working her tail off and getting incredible results.  Due to the fact that Varapmill is a generic drug that has side affects (like dropping your blood pressure!) big pharma has no interest in producing it.  Dr. Shalev is working tirelessly to isolate the compound responsible for preserving beta cells and hopefully, in time, there may be a cure in our lifetime.

Like any diabetic, I have heard every trick in the book; that cures are just "10 years away" or that research is bringing advances every day.  We get excited, we wait and then give up and get on with our lives.  Somehow meeting a researcher and seeing her work has demystified my dreams of a cure.  I think it's great for us to remain hopeful but also take good care of ourselves so when the cure comes we'll be healthy enough to receive it.  

-Exit Stage Left

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rehearsals begin for Sanspointe's 10th anniversary outdoor performance

This Saturday Sanspointe began more rehearsals for it's special 10th anniversary outdoor performance located at Railroad park.  One of the dancers asked our artistic director Rhea, for a really difficult dance and so Rhea delivered!  We began working in the studio with a fast paced dance including turns, flips and jumps.  We all started sweating in the heat of the studio but I was having a great time.  

My pump has an alarm on it to check 1 hour after I bolus.  I like to see how I peak after meals so I have some information for my endo.  So my alarm went off to me to check and surprise surprise, my blood sugar had sharply dropped to 58.  I felt so confused.  I felt fine.  I was picking up complicated choreography and my balance was great.  Rhea asked me if I needed water and I told her I needed a glucose gel.  I was in good spirits so she decided to pull out the line "Juice is better" from Steel Magnolias.  The whole company chuckled and I laughed myself.  We are in the south after all.  

An action shot of me flipping over my shoulder!

I downed my glucose gel (which is made by my friend Ethan.  Check out his website here!) and knew that it contained the right amount of glucose to keep me safe.  Since I was feeling fine I decided to keep going with rehearsal and within a few minutes everything was back to normal.  I quickly transitioned back from a diabetic having a low back to a dancer in rehearsal.  Another dancer in the company is also a nurse and asked me what my number was.  When I told her she made a face and went "oh dear". It's nice to know that when I'm low I have a nurse and an understanding, compassionate director.  

Later on, we went outside the studio to practice the new piece of work on the stage that we would be performing it on.  Railroad park is a large, gorgeous park located in downtown Birmingham.  Our stage is a massive raked stage on the grass.  The grass made the turns difficult but it made doing flips and jumps much more fun.  I tried out new and risky movements that I had never done before.  Nothing like a little fear to make you feel alive.  

More rehearsals and photos will be coming up!  If you are planning in being in the Birmingham area in October I would love to see you in the audience.  For performance information check out our Website!

-Exit Stage Left

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Students with Diabetes Conference

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Students with Diabetes Conference.  It was a whirlwind of late night talks sharing our personal diabetes struggles, inspirational speakers and hilarious experiences.  Nicole Johnson, former Miss America (with type 1 diabetes!) was our fearless leader and took us down the road to validation, strength and connections.  

Since a picture is worth a thousand words and I need to stretch my sore dancer legs I leave you with a slideshow of our adventures!

-Exit Stage Left