Diabetes Blog Week: What Should Change About Diabetes?

Today let’s talk about changes, in one of two ways.  Either tell us what you’d most like to see change about diabetes, in any way.  This can be management tools, devices, medications, people’s perceptions, your own feelings – anything at all that you feel could use changing.  OR reflect back on some changes you or your loved one has seen or been through since being diagnosed with diabetes.  Were they expected or did they surprise you?

This one is easy.

I’d change the lopsided power structures and unjust systems that keep poor people sick.

Multiple scientists agree that social class is the biggest determinant of health. Being poor increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. (I’ll give you studies, upon request.)

Both adults and children across the world die every day from poverty, corruption, and lack of insulin.

This is not a matter of “this could use changing.” This NEEDS changing.

Read more Day 4 “Changes” posts here.

They say it’s your birthday (doo doo de doo)

Sunday was my birthday and it was a lovely day! For the first time in a few years, I didn’t have external woes on my mind. (2012-14 featured, respectively, my boyfriend’s kidney stones, a terrorist manhunt, and my grandmother dying. Who said life was orderly?)

I went to church and we were graced with the presence of former soloist and friend, Bertilla. Our anthem, “Jesus Will,” was a ton of fun and you can see the Spirit moving us all in this video. By the 5:10 mark, the whole congregation was on its feet!

That’s me towards the back. Thanks to Mark for taking video.

Afterwards, I hit the bar and spent the afternoon drinking with my sister and a few friends.

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In the midst of all those birthday shots, my man’s mom called and asked what he was up to. When he told her it was my birthday, she invited us out to dinner. I sobered up and we had a terrific dinner at Burger and Barrel.

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Even my coworkers surprised me the next day with tiramisu and more off-key renditions of “Happy Birthday.” I couldn’t stop laughing because I was COMPLETELY oblivious to their whispers and plotting (apparently, the candle broke!).

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I feel enormously grateful to all the people in my life who made it such a fun weekend (or week, if you count Lord of the Rings as the beginning of birthday festivities. Wheee!). I’m young enough to realize I’ve got a lot of life and wisdom to gain still……but old enough to recognize that this is my only shot at it. Soon my twenties will be over, and that’s a decade I’ll never get back. (Would I WANT to get it back, though? There’s a lot of quarter-life angst that I’ll be happy to never revisit, thankyouverymuch.)

Here’s to the next year– may it be filled with growth and pleasure for all of us!

Being a White Girl Marching for #blacklivesmatter

This weekend I brought my voice to the Millions March NYC, in protest of police brutality nationwide. The pain is especially raw here, after the grand jury decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.

So how do you describe a march like this? It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t good. It was not a pleasant way to spend a Saturday. But it was important. It was important to have a mass show of support, to send a signal to politicians and leaders. And, on a personal level, it was important to me to be supportive of the black/brown/not-white people in the city (and in my life) and speak up for them. (I have written previously about why I think this is indeed a racial issue.) Maybe selfishly, it was important for my soul to stand on the side of justice.

So if it wasn’t fun, good, a picnic, etc, what was it? It was powerful. It was angry. The march hummed with an energy that I did not expect. Just a few months ago I participated in the People’s Climate March to protest climate change and demand action. We did get action (hooray!), and the march was significant primarily for its size. Over 300,000 people marched in NYC alone. And maybe it was my pocket, but there was a sense of bland goodwill in the air. It mattered because it could affect most of us there, not because it already had. (Notable exception- the band of Hurricane Sandy survivors we passed near Central Park.)

The Millions March Day of Anger, though……there were five percent of the protestors and twice the energy. The chanting was almost constant, from “Hands up, don’t shoot!” to “Grand jury, bullshit!” to “Eric Garner, Michael Brown, shut it down, shut it down!” Waves of shouts or cheers would roll from the front of the protest to the back. Even though we were cold and tired and walking for miles, determination filled the air.

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These were a few signs among many that resonated with me. Equally powerful were signs showing pictures, names, and cause of death of innocent African Americans killed by police for doing such shocking criminal acts as sleeping at home, stepping out of their car after being pulled over, or asking for help from an officer.

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People peacefully entered a store and posed with hands up, near Canal Street.

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You can barely make it out, but the sign quotes “A Change is Gonna Come.”

It has been a long time coming, and as a white girl in a predominantly white country, I will do what I can to hurry it along. That means listening to the stories and experiences of other-hued people, especially black and brown people. It means standing up for what is right, even when it is uncomfortable. And it means putting my faith in action and doing justice for the oppressed.

Speaking of which, this was the sign that I carried (yes, photographed while taped to a wall because it no longer lies flat).

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Things I love this week (12/10/14)

1. Shiner Holiday Cheer beer
2. Starting spring season with Team in Training
3. Five Tips for Being an Ally, by Chescaleigh
4. Somewhat related to #1, the giant Christmas tree made out of kegs
5. And most thrillingly of all……..

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…..having tickets to see THESE GUYS next year!

Nine

Wednesday was my ninth diaversary, but let me take you back a few weeks before we get to that.

In May, I went to see one of my fellow church choir members singing with the Broadway Inspirational Voices choir. Yes! A gospel choir entirely composed entirely of Broadway actors and actresses. Norm Lewis, the male lead in Porgy and Bess, was right there in the back row. You can imagine how phenomenal it was, especially for a girl like me who secretly has a fat black Baptist lady trapped inside.

My favorite song– besides the one in which my friend and fellow choir member Bertilla had a solo– was “It’s Only a Test.” The soloist was jumping up and down. People were dancing and shouting “Yes! Amen!” in the aisles. I was clapping along so furiously that my palms hurt straight through intermission. The Spirit was so fierce, I think if there had been one more encore we would have blown the roof off of the church.

It’s not quite the same, but here’s the original song:

I’m one of those obnoxious people who gets stuck on songs, so I came home, bought the original song, and spent the next three weeks playing it on repeat in iTunes and bopping around on the subway to it, singing along under my breath and perhaps generating a lot of looks from cooler-headed New Yorkers.

I was catching up on blogs and listening for the 46th time when I came across this post. It was a guest blog by Victoria Cumbow on the blog Diabetesaliciousness by Kelly Kunik. (Side note: if you do not read these ladies’ blogs, you should. They are both funny, fierce, and faithful!) It’s only a test! I thought. Diabetes is only a test.

Fast forward as I thought back to that moment on Wednesday.

This blog post I wrote last year sums up my usual approach to the diaversary. It’s a time to look back, to feel bummed out and do something nice for myself, to clink a glass to another year down with an often noxious chronic illness. Another year down, and how many more to go…?

This particular bummer always alights at this time of year: the endless grind forward. Another year and I’m still alive with limbs and kidneys intact, yay! The reward being….another year. And another and another and another and another. Until they find a cure– which, let’s face it, is on the horizon as much as Neptune is.

No cure, no remission, no test that ENDS like a breakup or unemployment or surviving the 74th annual Hunger Games.

So I moped until I remembered the chorus of that song:

Hold on!

Be strong!

It’s only a test!

It’s only a test!

A really long, annoying, potentially fatal test. A test that still makes me cry and scream periodically, nine years later. A test whose questions I sometimes don’t understand. But only a test.

So, like Victoria said, I remain optimistic. I’m going to spend another year, as Bishop Larry Trotter says, keeping the faith and not giving up.

And how did I celebrate another year of passing the test? By enjoying dinner with some of the dear friends I would have never met without this damn disease:

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And you’d best believe that I will doing something GRAND when I hit double digits next year!

Seven Drunken Pirates, Seven Deadly Sins, Seven(ish) Weeks Ahead

I admit, I felt a little bit like a heathen on Ash Wednesday.

Instead of going to church or receiving ashes, I went to….a Flogging Molly concert.

Of course, I have always held some fundamental Presbyterian discomfort about Ash Wednesday. Or Lent in general. All the self-flagellation! All the ash that gets in my hair! All the guilt, all the fishsticks on Fridays! When I look around, I see a lot of people who give up stuff for Lent, with scant spiritual benefit. One friend told me that she gave up masturbation one year…and spent the Saturday night before Easter in bed with an issue of Playgirl, counting the minutes until midnight. Does neglecting Mrs. Rosy and her five daughters really lead to unity with the divine? (I don’t know, but I do know this: I was thinking about Lent this Sunday during church, and recalled said friend just as our pastor said, “Lent begins with Ash Wednesday….and climaxes with Easter.” Your immature blogger extraordinaire had to chomp on her knuckles to keep from snorting.)

So I hit the Hammerstein Ballroom on Ash Wednesday instead, accompanying my friend V., a devoted Flogging Molly fangirl. And it was GLORIOUS. Punk isn’t really my scene, so aside from a few casual listens to the CDs that V gave me, I wasn’t familiar with their music. But the high energy of the band and the crowd had me bouncing along and singing to whatever words I could catch. When we weren’t dodging the mosh pit roiling right next to us, anyways.

At a more sedate moment.
At a more sedate moment. Image courtesy of silverplatter.info

Dave King is a terrific frontman, performing with gusto and punctuating the show with lots of anecdotes (including a crack about….all of us heathens who weren’t at church for Ash Wednesday). And funnily enough, he shares a name with an Irish friend of mine. Whom I met…in line for admission to an Irish band’s show. (Three guesses as to which one.)

The whole show captured what I love best about a good concert– the mix of the corporeal and spiritual. Bodies bumping against each other, dancing to the music, the sweat, the electricity, the euphoria, the snap of community when everyone is crowded together, singing the same song. It’s pure, natural joy. You couldn’t have slapped the grin off my face. Or flogged it off.

But I’m looking for that connection to the spiritual in me, longer lasting than a three-hour show and more fulfilling than an awkward worship service. So my goal for Lent is to spend more time with God. Really with God, not just a “Wassup, nice to see you here!” on Sunday mornings. An adding on rather than giving up. Things in my church are chaotic and painful at the moment, so the time is ripe to shift the focus away from the Christian community and towards the individual relationship I have with this amazing, perplexing, infuriating, giving God.

No fishsticks.

And probably no moshing, either.

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