Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dear CrossFit: My Diabetes Homies & I Would Like You To Know....


NO, NO, NO. 
Dear CrossFit: My Diabetes Homies & I Would Like You To Know.... 

Making fun of people with diabetes isn’t funny. It’s offensive, disturbing and it perpetuates diabetes myths instead of perpetuating and teaching diabetes realities. 
And because of tweets/jokes/rubbish like yours, diabetes becomes an unending diabetes blame-game,a target and punchline, that keeps people living with diabetes and regardless of the type, in the Diabetes Closet. 
Your offensive tweet  also directly impacts funding for diabetes research. 
Diabetes shaming is a thing and a horrific thing at that. Diabetes shaming like your unfunny tweet makes fun of a very real group of diseases (t1 diabetes, LADA type 1.5, and T2 diabetes,) that are never ending and have the potential to kill. 

And just to be crystal clear, I didn’t develop my type 1 diabetes as a skinny 8 year old because I drank too much soda. 
And my friend Jen didn’t develop her t2 diabetes because of soda. She doesn’t drink soda, weighs 20 pounds less than I do and has always worked out. 
But Jen’s mother and grandmother have and had type 2 diabetes - so there you go.
Genetics came into play - as it usually does with type 2. 
And lets just say for shits and giggles that some people living with t2 struggle with their weight - as a company that promotes fitness and a healthy lifestyle, do you really think it’s OK to make fun of others via social media (or any other platform,) struggling with their weight???
Do you think it’s OK to publicly mock people struggling with their health via social media? 
NEWSFLASH: IT ISN’T.

Diabetes shaming in tweets like yours are exactly why people have difficulty managing/accepting and living with their diabetes

Diabetes, regardless of the type, is never ending, physically and emotionally demanding - not to mention financially draining. 
People with diabetes work so hard and we never get a break or a day off from living with diabetes - personally, I haven’t had a day off from diabetes in 13,687.5 days. 
As a Type1, I do not have the ability to make insulin because my own body attacked the part of my pancreas (the Islet of Langerhans,) that produces insulin, way back when I was skinny eight year old. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks and put on a 3000 calorie a day diet because I looked like a concentration camp victim - my body was literally starving itself. 

FTR: People need insulin to to live - and will die without. I could run marathons everyday and I would still require insulin to live. 
Do you know anyone that’s died because of diabetes? 
Unfortunately I do and I can assure it’s painful, scary, and you will never get over the loss or the pain. 
My older sister Debbie, who died of diabetes complications as a 32 year old type 1 in 1991, didn’t lose her life to diabetes complications because she drank to much soda. 
Debbie lost her life to diabetes for a multitude of reasons - all directly related to diabetes. 
Unfortunately, Debbie was diagnosed in the mid 60’s, a time when there was no such thing as fast acting insulins or diabetes technologies. The treatment for t1 diabetes back then was archaic the life expectancy of someone with t1 in the 1960s was grim.
 Not to mention that no one ever considered the mental side of living with diabetes, nor was  talked about, let alone treated.  Her little body was ravaged from years of living with t1 and watching her die was a tragedy. 
My parents never got over her death - and truthfully, neither have I. 

Are you aware that people with Type 1 can die from something called “Dead-IN-Bed,” syndrome? They die from a low blood sugar in their sleep. Nothing funny about that. 

Crossfit - You will never get a single dime from me. 
But hopefully Coca-Cola will take the extra millions and millions of dollars they have the potential to win in a lawsuit re: your egregious use of their logo/copyright infringement, and use said money to provide funding for diabetes research for the cure, Peer to Peer Diabetes Support, Artificial Pancreas research, grass roots diabetes efforts and the likes there of.  

Kelly Kunik
t1 PWD (Person with Diabetes) for almost 38 years. 

Special shoutout to Moira McCarthy for showing up in my Facebook feed the minute I logged on this morning and alerting the DOC! 
######

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lunchtime Chat

I had lunch with my cousin and we talked about life -as in what was going on in ours at the moment; our parents, our family... and diabetes - all the usual KUNIK stuff. 
It was a good conversation and a quick breather in the middle of some very difficult moments.
After lunch and as we rushed through the parking lot and looked for her rental car, we continued the diabetes Q & A , and my cousin suddenly said: God Kel, diabetes really is like a full time job!
And I looked at her and was like: Yeah, it is - and thanks for saying that. 
I hadn't used the analogy with her, she'd asked lots of questions and made the connection on her own. 
Diabetes is like a second or third full time job, without benefits (sans the DOC,) or a 401K! Don't even get me started on stock options! 
My cousin's words made me feel validated because they were validating!
I appreciated that she not only "got it," but that she said what she thought out loud so I could here it.  
And then we jumped in her car and drove back to the hospital, ASAP and diabetes took a backseat, literally and figuratively, and I was glad of it. 

My focus needed to be someone else and I was really glad that diabetes behaved, stayed in the backseat and didn't call "shotgun," once.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Diabetes Days: Some Roar A'la Katy Perry; Some Resemble Rides, Masks & A Long Ago Friend - Some Resemble The Ghost Of My Pancreas Past.

Some days my diabetes gets all Katy Perry and roars continually with a loud, annoying, ear worm of a chorus that seems stuck on a never ending loop of WTF, complete with a glucoaster ride of blood that shows up out of nowhere and stays until it decides to depart.  
The glucoaster ascends to the highest of highs, teetering precariously atop the highest loop for what seems like forever, then quickly descends to the lowest of lows, causing my stomach to drop even faster. 
And lets not forget the equal parts of sideways; upside down, and backwards that D has thrown into the glucoaster mix, just because it can. 
In those units of time, diabetes not only throws me for a loop, it leaves me shaking, tired, and worn out from the ride - and not in the good way.

And on those days that I wear my “I’m Fine,” mask like a champ and few people outside the world of D know how I’m really feeling. 

Other days, my diabetes whispers quietly and plays all nice in the corner and barely making a peep - except for alerting me to a low or high - mimicking my much loved childhood friend G, who rarely talked unless she had something important to say. 

Then there are the strange, eerie -but in a good way, few and out of the blue days, when it seems like the Ghost of my Pancreas Past has shown up from who the hell knows where, accompanied by the poltergeist of my long dead and gone Islet of Langerhans. 
And for those few days it's as if my glucose numbers freakishly resembles someone with a fully functioning pancreas. 
My temp basal rates run 1/2 their normal rates and bolusing for bread becomes a breeze. 

But just as quickly as it appeared, my ghost pancreas fades to black and leaves without saying goodbye. 
And on those oh so rare, Ghost of my Pancreas Past days, become part myth; legend, and mystery of my life - and my life with diabetes. 

Also, I'm weird, or maybe I'm just crazy, but whatever. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Weekend Goals: Embracing, Enjoying & Being Grateful

The weekend is damn near officially here and like many, I'm totally stoked. 
Also: It's going to be hot.  
Sidebar/yearly alert: Heat and insulin pumps don't always play well together, Skunky Insulin Alert Threat level ORANGE. IMO, you might want to keep those insulin reservoirs at half-mast if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors. 
Personally, I'm looking forward hitting the beach for the first time this season.
 But between you and me, I'm not looking forward to getting into my swimsuit. 
Here's the thing - I may not love how I look in my swimsuit right now, but I plan on embracing my body and embrace and enjoy my moments in the sand and ocean and I will be grateful for them - regardless of how I think I look. 
Speaking of embracing, enjoying, and being grateful, I plan on getting back in the business of cardio and being able to breathe freely - Yep, this weekend I plan on filling my bike's tires with air and going for a ride. 
I want to feel the sun on my face and the wind on my back and not worry about how many miles or how fast I go - I just want to enjoy the ride and take it all in.
I will make sure I have carbs on hand (just in case,) a Brita Sports bottle filled with water and I will apply my sunscreen liberally and with gusto. 
And continue to ride because riding my bike makes me happy... it also makes my blood sugars happy. ;) 
And lastly, I plan on visiting a loved one who is on the road to better, but isn't quite there yet - I love and am grateful for this person, enjoy their company immensely. 
I also plan on holding them tightly in a big hug of love when I see them. 

What about you? What and or who, do you plan on embracing, enjoying and being grateful for this weekend? 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Diabetes And A 46 Low Blood Sugar At TJMaxx ~

This happened a few days ago.
####
The meter flashed the number 46 as I stood there, leaning against my shopping cart at the TJMaxx/HomeGoods super store, and I tried to figure out my next move. 
I’d already eaten a Kind Bar and I quickly downed another one and suspended my insulin pump. 
I was sweating and shaking and the square footage I’d have to cover in order to get to the register where the sodas were seemed to be at least football field away.
I stood there somewhere between the Girls aisle and Women’s Sportswear and tried to keep it together. 
I was sweating, like really sweating and I had no doubt that I looked like a hot mess.I watched the clock on my phone for a good 10 minutes before I tested my blood sugar again. 
the number 54 appeared & I didn’t feel comforted, I actually felt worse. 
I had two more KIND bars in my handbag, and quickly downed KIND bar number three and silently said a prayer of thanks to the local store I’d purchased them at the day before. 
I wheeled my cart as quickly and as steadily as I could towards the registers and my blood sugar savior - the red Coke fridge holding the ice cold sodas.

There the red Coke fridge stood, shining and acting as a red beacon of hope and blood sugar balance. 
I saw the green sprite bottles and I needed one immediately. 
But just as I was within arms length of grabbing a Sprite, I  was quickly soda blocked by a  mom and her little girl, who, and out of no where, had planted themselves firmly in front of the fridge’s door. I uttered, “excuse me I need to get a soda,” without even looking at them, grabbed a twenty ounce bottle of Sprite and cracked it open. 
I drank a big swig and made my way towards the patio furniture display just past the registers and by the front doors. 
And there I sat for a good twenty minutes - trying to pace myself with the Sprite and wrap my head around what had just happened. 
I hadn’t felt the 46 low come on until I did and the number had literally and figuratively thrown me for a loop.
I was alone and I wasn’t wearing my medical ID bracelet and the whole “what could have happened,” made my eyes burn and start to leak - OK, maybe the low blood sugar had something to do with that, too. 
I breathed and closed my eyes - I couldn’t get upset about what I didn’t do - I needed to focus on what I did do - And I needed to stay calm and stay the course. 
I thought about the beach and the ocean waves and how calm they made me feel. 
I thought about swimming out towards the pier and diving under the waves. 
I thought about the sounds of waves and gulls and I felt better.  
A few minutes later I checked my blood sugar again and it was 89. 
I took few more sips of soda, got up, went to the register and paid for my soda. 
The woman at the register looked at me and said: Is this all your getting? 
Me: Yep, it’s exactly what I needed. 


And that opened, half finished bottle Sprite sat in my car for a week - just in case, before I could bring myself to tossing it in the trash. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

tbt: Dear Kelly In the Past.....

The following  TBT piece was originally on the blog way back when, on September 15th, 2008  and back when my blog was less than a year old!
I wrote this post for all sorts of reasons, but explaining those reasons would take up to much time and bandwidth.
Bottom line, we are imperfect people in an imperfect world - Diabetes or not....And we are magnificent!
######

Dear Kelly in the Past - 

It’s Kelly from the future. I’m writing you for several reasons. To remind me just how far I’ve come whenever stress and sadness start to creep in regarding life with the big D.
And how far I still need to go in order to achieve all that life has to offer.
And to remind others that life goes on and happiness happens, regardless of diabetes. That there’s stuff (shit) that you to need to move past in order to indeed, live and flourish - d related or not.

And that as a child or adult with diabetes, you need to live and experience ALL life has to offer.

First off Kelly, please remember no matter how tough life gets with diabetes or otherwise – you deserve the best life has to offer you.  
Your not damaged goods because of a faulty pancreas. And every time that voice of self doubt speaks regarding your self worth and what you deserve, remember that everyone – diabetes or not - is never born perfect, no matter how they appear on the outside.

Everyone on earth is born with imperfections and issues and that’s part of life. 
Don’t think you deserve less because a very small part of your pancreas doesn’t function.

Only the dead are perfect, and that’s because our memory allows that in order for us to get past the grief. 

You deserve it all. To be loved, accepted, and respected. You deserve to reach your dreams, instead of worrying so much about your health and what the future holds, that you actually hold yourself back in the present.

Look to all the positives your diabetes has given instead of just the negatives.

Would you truly be such an empathetic, funny, intuitive person had diabetes not entered your life?  

To that gangly 8-year with the face full of freckles - You don’t have to be so brave about it all. It’s OK to cry in front of your family regarding your diagnoses. Your family is scared and sad too.  

Continue to look to the funny as way to handle your diagnoses. You’ll be tempted to rebel and embrace the angry side of things. Don’t. It's wastes energy, confidence, and precious time that you’ll never get back. 

Your first Endo Dr. Baker was right, “you’ll only hurting yourself.” 

Adolescent Kel, I know your parents drive your crazy, especially about your diabetes.
Please keep in mind that they are suffering and stressing themselves. 
But because they love you, they aren’t going to show you how horrible your diabetes makes THEM feel!  
Now, they might need some persuading to let you do a few things (like wear contacts) but they really let you do so much more than they really were every comfortable with.
They’ve let you go on sleepovers; they’ve sent you to camp, allowed you to dance and perform on stage, and always had orange juice waiting in the wings. They let you work and earn spending money and as a child, they never let you wallow in anything even resembling diabetes self pity. They didn’t let anyone else to allow you to wallow in it either. 

They prepared you to be an independent adult. Some day, you will appreciate it more than you ever thought possible.

There will come a time in your life when you’ll realize all they did with the knowledge that was available to them, which at the time – wasn’t much. You will be thankful.

I know your scared about your sister. I also know your really angry. That’s OK.
Talk to someone.

Speak up when someone hurts you, instead of being stoic. Stoic is for the birds - it's bullshit. 
Taking in all that hurt and anger only hurts you in the long run, no one else.  

To quote Don Henley (whom you will have a major crush on in your late teens) said it best.  “Carrying all that anger, will just eat you up inside.”

Kelly, this is a hard one. Forgive and move on. Let things and people go who have hurt you, no matter how difficult it might be. Remove the weight of sadness from around neck and surround yourself with those who not just embrace you, but who embrace positivity as well. You will learn so many wonderful lessons from them!

Don’t fight diabetes, OWN IT. Because the minute you start to accept your diabetes, you will find that many of the issues that you struggle with regarding diabetes, will fall to the side as you begin to become empowered by ownership of your disease.

What you will be left with is a feeling of control regarding not just your disease, but also your life. 

Forget what’s popular with masses and go with what your heart knows is right. 

Teen Kelly, Remember that those kids who made fun of you because of those horrible glasses (and maybe your diabetes, but not so much,) you had to wear, might have been picked on for reasons that in actuality, had absolutely nothing to do with you.
Most likely their parents didn’t understand the whole diabetes thing and children learn from their parents.
Maybe (and just as likely,) they had problems at home much greater than your 14 year old self ever imagined. Problems that were even bigger than your diabetes.
Problems like parents divorcing; eating disorders, sickness in their own families, and struggles within themselves that they shared with no one. Perhaps they suffered from such a poor self-image that picking on your visible imperfections helped them to ignore their own.

Instead of thinking that they might be right, know that they are wrong and are unhappy.  
Ignore them and focus on the positive. 

And stop wanting a nose job for god sakes – trust me, you’ll grow into your nose and be grateful that your not one of those poor people who are walking around with minuscule nose on large featured face.


Kelly At 16: When someone compliments you, look them straight in the eye, with a smile on your face, and say “Thank-you.” Regardless of whether you think you deserve or not.
A compliment is two fold. Yes, it’s given to make the receiver feel good, but it also makes the person giving the compliment feel good.
Don’t diminish or belittle the persons attempt to be nice and confident by brushing it aside and being embarrassed by the kind words said on your behalf.  

And remember those compliments, they will get you through the self-doubt.

Listen, I know you don’t want to hear this, but shoulder pads and helmet hair are indeed a "Glamour Don’t," regardless of what Teen Magazine says.

And yes, your mom and was right - Bangs are not your best look, and iridescent lipstick might work for some, but is just makes you look sick.

Kelly at 20: You will be so happy you started with the whole 30 & 50 sunscreen thing, and your 7 year skin plan – TRUST ME. And FYI, the tan goddess bitch who called you "Casper' when you were dating her ex boyfriend – her face looks like a Catcher's mitt now.

Don’t try so hard to prove how normal you are “in spite” of being a diabetic.  
You will realize that what’s normal for some, is completely abnormal for others, and that’s ok. What I’m trying to say is, your normal is different that someone else’s, and your normal works for you. So run with it!


Kelly in your 20’s: Embrace ALL of who you are.
Go after your dreams, instead of listening to what others think you should do or be. 

22 year old Kelly: Remember to tell those you love, that you do indeed love them, no matter how much they might drive you crazy. The people you love won’t be around forever. And trust me, you will miss them terribly when they’re gone. 

Kelly, good call regarding your parents. You will be incredibly grateful that you started to say “I love you” every time you said goodbye. They learned to say it back, and they began to say it first, and often. Soon, it flowed more freely than beer at a bbq - and all of you will know how deep the love really was, and is.

To 27 yr old Kelly: You are NOT fat, and no, your not rail thin. But your parents were right, you are beautiful, inside and out! Please see that instead of only the imperfections. 

I know that your scared that history will repeat itself - it will not. 
Your doing what you have to do, put whatever mistakes you made with your diabetes in the past, and learn from them. It will not only lead you to good health – but to a wonderful world regarding the diabetes community. I world that you’ve tried to shut out instead of embracing for a very long time. 

Let the guilt go regarding Debbie. You did the best you could. 

To 33-year-old Kelly: Someone who has no love or self- respect for them self, will never have any for you – no matter what they say. If they don’t love, like, and respect who they are, they can’t love, like, & respect you.  

Don’t surround yourself with people who won’t do the work on themselves, they’ll only blame you for what they lack from within.

Kelly in real time: Remember too keep loving yourself – all parts of you.

Hold your head up, continue to learn, continue to laugh, and most definitely continue to love.  
You are older and wiser. Life has been full of changes, and going with the flow gets a bit tricky at times, but you are lucky to be in the world, and the world is lucky to have you. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Diabetes Myth Busting @ Starbucks, Keeping My Cool & Extending My Post Endo Afterglow~

I don't know about you, but I always want to bask in the afterglow of a good Endo appointment as long as possible. That's not always doable, especially when you're put on the defense about your disease and your community with some one who has no idea.
Still, I'm thankful that I was able get my diabetes myth buster cape on, keep my cool and hold onto my post Endo afterglow. 
#####
It was cold and rainy in the city yesterday and I made a beeline to the Starbucks directly across the street from my Endo’s before heading home. 
I was freezing and in need of caffeine, so much so that I decided it was worth risking incurring extra parking fees in order to secure a hot cup of Chai tea with steamed milk.
Sidebar: Labs were great and my A1C was 7.7, up from 7.4 - My Endo was thrilled - take that steroids!
The Starbucks line was long and stretched from the register, around the food cases/coffee displays, and curved around to the hallway where the restrooms were.
I took my place in line, looked around and immediately started a conversation with the man directly behind me, (and who from this moment forward, I will refer to as Coffee Dude,) because I realized that I’d inadvertently snagged his spot inline and didn’t realize it until after the fact. 
After some ribbing from him and me offering to switch places, which he declined,  
he asked me why I was smiling.
And for the record, I didn't realize I was smiling, but I sure was happy.
Me: Good Doctor’s appointment. 
Coffee Dude: Most Doctors are in sickness for the money - they don’t care about the patient.
Me: Ahhh, ok. Honestly, if you don’t like your Dr, find a new that you click with - one who treats you like an equal - My Endo and I work really well together and we make a great team. I love him!
Coffee Dude: Endo? Why do you need an Endo? 
Me: My pancreas doesn’t work.
He looked at my like I had 3 heads. 
Me: I have diabetes. 
Coffee Dude: You have diabetes? That’s for sure misdiagnoses - you look great!
Me: This is what diabetes looks like. 

Coffee Dude: Sorry, but you're not what I envision a person with diabetes looking like.
I could literally feel my ears turn red and I took a deep breath and said: 
So exactly what to you equate people with diabetes looking like? 
Sidebar: I knew exactly what he thought people with diabetes looked like.
Perpetuating diabetes myths, party of one, your table is ready!
Do you equate people with diabetes being lazy or ugly or out of shape - because that's not the case. Diabetes isn't a character flaw, living with diabetes means you either have metabolic disorder, like people with type 2 - which by the way, has a very strong genetic component, or an autoimmune disease and your body no longer makes insulin, like people with t1 - like me.
There’s also LADA 1.5 , which I’m not even going to go into, because we’ll run out of time - but Google it. As a matter of fact, google “diabetes facts verses diabetes myths,” and see what comes up. 

Coffee Dude: Are you sure you weren’t misdiagnosed?
Me: Positive - I’m going into my 38 year of living with t1 diabetes. 
Coffee Dude: OH, OK. So wait... you don't grow out of juvenile diabetes? 
AAARRRGGG!
And I wanted the conversation to end immediately and for several reasons.  
  1. I was afraid he’d start to say derogatory things about people with type 2  and I wasn’t going to stand for that - and it wouldn't have ended well for him
  2. I was afraid he was going to bring up some bullshit okra/cinnamon cure  - again, it would not have ended well for him
  3. Coffee Dude was seriously effing with my post Endo afterglow and I wanted to hold on to it as long as I could because I worked damn hard for it. 
Then as if by some magical forces created by both the diabetes gods and coffee gods deciding to work in tandem and for the good of everyone, the line moved and within 56 seconds I was standing in front of the register, paying for my Chai tea with steamed milk and moving to the end of the counter to wait for it. 
Once again, the magic of the diabetes and coffee gods merged together and my Chai with tea with steamed milk arrived at the end of the counter 60 seconds after I did.

I thanked the Barista, grabbed my drink and some napkins and exited the building without looking back. 

Could I have educated Coffee Dude and advocated more and torn him a new one in the name of diabetes advocacy?  
 Yes, but I'm glad I didn't tare him a new one - sometimes less really is more and keeping your sanity takes priority, as does extending your post Endo Afterglow as long as possible~