Tag Archives: type 1 diabetes

it’s time for a segment i like to call: sugar-free pop culture!

Get it? Because diabetics have to drink diet soda…and some people call soda, pop?

Moving along.

Being both a fan of pop culture and a diabetic, I tend to be hyper-aware of references to the betes on TV, in a movie, in a song, in a book, etc. And being someone who likes to pretend she’s organized, sometimes I make lists of these “sightings.” Here’s what I’ve spotted lately (which happen to be exclusively from television. Will add more variety to next edition):

  • Insulin-suicide lady on Law & Order: Since moving into a one-bedroom apartment, I’ve watched more Law & Order re-runs than I care to admit. On this episode, the hospitalized, suicidal main character finds insulin, injects herself, and passes out with a blood sugar of [wait for it] TWO. Holy hypoglycemia, Batman.
  • Uncle Herman’s leg on Mad Men: The ever-wise Betty Draper asks her father, who’s in search of sugar for his coffee, “You wanna wake up with a cold leg like Uncle Herman?” Showing that, unfortunately, popular conception of diabetes hasn’t changed too much since the 60s, Betty adds that “diabetics don’t live long, and sometimes lose their legs.”
  • Accurate future-predicting on Conan: I still believe it would have been more hilarious had The Late Show with Conan O’Brien retained the title The Year 2000 for their bit, but, alas, this diabetic reference is from the bit The Year 3000: “Fast food restaurants will offer soft drinks in two sizes: diabetes now and diabetes later.”

And that’s what I like to call sugar-free pop culture. Join us next time for more humor, drama, and suspense, all in the name of diabetes.


american diabetes month: time to celebrate, y’all

By the power vested in it by the…diabetics of the country, or, um, something, the American Diabetes Association has claimed November as [cue inspirational music] American Diabetes Month!

Diabetes Month marks the launch of the ADA’s national movement to Stop Diabetes, in which it ask us to help it confront, fight, and most importantly, stop diabetes. Clearly, this is a just a noble cause, one that I am completely behind.

But I propose, in addition to supporting the ADA’s mission, that we use November to celebrate diabetes. Like, with hats and songs and dances. Don’t get me wrong–diabetes sucks. Its lasting health effects can be devastating, and it’s spreading like wildfire. But until that cure is found, it’s here, we deal with it every day (or know someone who deals with it every day), so let’s use it as a reason to party.

My Diabetes Month celebration will consist of three parts.
1) A serious goal. Keep my sugars in check so my next A1c test in December is where it should be.
2) A prolific goal. Write more often on this damn thing. Seriously, there are so many ways to make being diabetic humorous (am I right, or am I right?), I really have no excuse for the sparse updating.
3) A decorative goal. What better way to celebrate Diabetes Month than to bedazzle (or…decorate in some way, possibly involving puffy paints) those things I see daily that remind me I’m diabetic: my pump and my glucose monitor. That way, every time I unzip that black fabric case and ready myself to squeeze blood out of my fingertip, my day will get a little bit brighter.

Wilford Brimley’s celebration will presumably consist of wearing a custom party hat and maintaining a grave facial expression.

Brimley's Party

Ain't no party like a Brimley par-tay.

How will YOU celebrate Diabetes Month? (Sidenote: humans with perfectly normal functioning pancreases are encouraged to participate as well!)

my pump & me: a story of friendship, insulin-dependency, and robots


We’re attached–spiritually, emotionally, and by 23 inches of thin, semi-stretchy tubing. We go everywhere together. We sleep together, go to work together; to the park and to the beach; in cars and on trains; to the mall and out to eat. And when I’m in the shower, it waits patiently in its spot on my dresser, ready to be plugged in, right where it belongs, when I’m clean.

Sometimes, it fits snugly into my jeans pocket, other times it braves the day tucked inside a bra, and every now and then it gets to try out its little black case, attached to a strap that velcroes around my thigh, hidden away like a sheathed weapon.

I even give it nicknames, like insu-pod (because it looks like an mp3 player from 2001), Jiminy Click-it (because its cute buttons make clicking noises when I dial in a bolus), or my little pager (Only drug dealers and doctors have beepers, right? I never tire of that joke!).

My pump is just so adorable, from its MS-DOS–like display screen to the way it gets all vibrate-y when it’s hungry [out of insulin] or tired [in need of a new AAA battery]. Like most humans, sometimes it needs things, like new reservoirs or infusion sets, and while those can clean out my wallet, it’s a small price to pay for a friendship such as ours.

Before my pump came along, I was hanging out with a less savory crowd–the syringe gang. They were a dime a dozen (or, rather, $10 a box, but it’s all the same). They were always around, at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed, but they didn’t stay by my side. They came, the poked and pinched my arms and thighs and stomach, and they left with the next day’s trash, never to be seen again. Then there were the times they’d show up in my purse, and I’d grab one accidentally and offer it to a stranger or coworker in need of a writing utensil. They made me look more than a bit sketchy.

But those days are over, and now it’s just me, and my beloved pump, robot-and-human friends ’til the end.

bowie, bars, and bras: times i’d like to just blame the betes

Sometimes, I like to keep my diabetes quiet. I like to focus attention elsewhere (“Hey, is that David Bowie from the 1986 movie Labyrinth?”–jab the needle in, take it out–“Oh, nevermind, just another super-tight-panted man with eyeshadow.”), sneakily eat some glucose tablets without anyone asking if I’m okay, or order an ice cream without the line of questioning that starts with, “You can eat that?”

And then there are times I wish I had DIABETIC stamped on my forehead, just for clarification purposes.

I'm still trying to figure out how this will work with bangs; so is David Bowie.

I'm still trying to figure out how this will work with bangs; so is David Bowie.

Here are three such instances.

Scenario 1: When ordering a drink at a bar. Bartender, I’m not trying to be difficult. I just need to ask (eight times) if that’s diet soda, because if it’s not, we’re likely to have a problem. No, I’m not a super weight-conscious diet freak; I’m not an Atkins-ite afraid of carbohydrates; and I’m not accusing you of doing your job incorrectly. I just really don’t want to go home with my blood sugar at 300. Is that too much to ask?!

Scenario 2: Deciding where/when to eat (especially in large groups). I know it’s hard to find a restaurant that suits everyone. There’s menu, price, location, seating to consider, and nobody wants to be responsible for the decision, just in case it turns out to be a regrettable decision. But for the sake of all things holy, we’ve been walking around for six hours and I need a place to sit and some complimentary dinner rolls. …And I really want to avoid pulling out the look-at-me, look-at-me diabetic card, which tends to cause the “‘ohmygod I forgot, I’m so sorry,’ if there were a gurney accessible I’d be strapped to it and wheeled to the nearest place selling anything that resembles food” reaction.

Scenario 3: Keying a bolus* into my insulin pump—when said pump is stashed in my bra. I’ll just give you the details of one particular mortifying event: a co-worker walked into my cubicle and saw what, to an outsider, most likely appeared to be me self-administering a breast exam. In reality, I was repositioning my pump, which was at the time living under my arm/inside my bra. But, the horrorstruck look on my face when I realized what it must have looked like prevented me from being able to explain that. After a few seconds of awkward silence, we commenced with the work-related conversation, ignoring the fact that my hand had just been down the front of my shirt. Way down.

*bolus (n.): incredibly gross-sounding word that really means chewed up food, but, in the Encyclopedia Diabetecum, refers to a mealtime dose of insulin

alyce and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad betes-day

Alright, so perhaps I’m being a bit melodramatic. But there are some days I just can’t take it anymore.

I’m running late, but I still have to make time to jab a big needle in my side and–woops!–that didn’t go in right. Do over. That’s a wasted $20 and a bitch of a sting in my side. It’s finally in, now time to check the sugar so I don’t pass out on the walk to work (because, of course, I am out of glucose tablets/granola bars/easily portable & sugarful snacks to throw in my bag in case a “situation” should arise). But the blood just WON’T COME OUT of my finger! I squeeze and I prick and still, the gross, calloused fingertip skin will only spew a spot of bright red liquid–not enough. Finally I’ve milked (yes, that’s a legitimate term used when teaching patients how to use glucose meters, no joke) enough and I get a reading…in the 200s. Awesome.

At least I have my pump, my little pal who will bring that blood sugar right down to where it needs to be. But, my dear pump, where will I put you today? I’m wearing a dress to work, so no pockets to stick you in. That god damn velcro garter belt/pump holster device I paid fifteen bucks for is not the most comfortable on a hot summer day, and I’d really like to avoid looking like I have a tumor on the side of my boob, but, well, you’ll have to live in my bra today because there’s nowhere.else.to.put.you. You god damn thing! Why must you be attached to me every second of the day? I’m getting a little claustrophobic in this relationship; I think I need some space. Oh, that’s right, all the space you can give me is the length of your 23-inch tubing–and that would only work if I had a handmaiden/small child to walk near me holding you all day. Nope, that wouldn’t be awkward at all.

And it’s days like these I don’t want to punch diabetes, I want to annihilate it.



End scene.

i’ve tried, but i can’t ignore nick jonas any longer.

The type 2 diabetes crowd has respected Cocoon-actor and beautiful mustache-grower Wilford Brimley. They have legendary-guy-with-deep-voice B.B. King.

And we have Disney-manufactured popster Nick Jonas, one-third of the brotherly trio the Jonas Brothers. He’s 16, he has type 1 diabetes, he writes songs about it (for real, see below), and I think he’s a wee bit dramatic.

“Got the news today,” sings Nick in the Jonas Brothers’ betes-anthem A Little Bit Longer, “but they said I had to stay a little bit longer and I’d be fine.” Here the lyricist lament having to stay in the hospital (probably for a day or two) learning to administer insulin. He continues, “But you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone,” surely refers to a functioning pancreas, which he has just found out he does not possess. The verse ends: “And you don’t know what it’s like to feel so low. And every time you smile or laugh, you glow. You don’t even know, know, no.” He’s right, most non-diabetics do not in fact know what it’s like to feel so hypoglycemic, but what the hell betes side effect causes him to glow? I guess I really just don’t even know, know, no.

(For anyone who might want to hear the lyrics with music and without my comments)

All this was easy to overlook until he became THE FACE of diabetes advocacy last week when he met President Obama (and a bunch of other Washington folk) and spoke at the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on federal funding for diabetes research.

Nick Jonas

I appreciate what you’re doing, Nick, really. I’m sure there is a large contingent of teenage girls & boys with diabetes who feel you speak for them. But for the sake of the rest of the diabetic young adults everywhere, let’s work on finding you a more…relatable counterpart.

blame it on the betes: celebrity edition

Yesterday, I discovered some disturbing news.

Bit of news #1: Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor broke her ankle at the airport.

Bit of news #2: Desperate-to-hang-on-to-fame-despite-failing-looks-and-lack-of-relevance rocker Bret Michaels suffered what had to be a gnarly head injury at the Tony Awards.

But what is most troubling about these two events? Both Bret Michaels and Sonia Sotomayor are…type 1 diabetics!

Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.