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Call Me Irrepressible

Jan Chait

February 12, 2008

It seems I’ve acquired a couple of new names lately: Jan the Baby-Whisperer and Jan the Barometer.

“The Baby-Whisperer” came from the day I met my toddler friend Ryan, his mother, and his grandmother for lunch. Ryan had not had his nap, with resulting consequences, so I took him from his mother and did what I do when he goes ballistic at my house: put him over my shoulder, rubbed his back, and sang the Barney song to him. (I figured the other diners could put up with a fussy toddler or Barney, and Barney was the lesser of the two evils.)

“The Barometer” was from the day I was barely creaking along and, sure enough, we got some right nasty weather the next day. Well, it really came from the next time I was barely creaking along and a friend from another state said she’d best be getting along home because The Barometer’s knees had her concerned about road conditions later on.

I have other nicknames, too. Mama Chait is one that some of my friends call me. Another friend was laughing at my dismay when I learned I would be a grandmother at the tender age of 40-something and dubbed me Granny Janny. (He got his payback when he became a first-time father—of twins—at age 52.)

“Silver-head!” my granddaughter shot back the other day when I called her Blondie.

There are names I’d like to be called: Jan the Svelte. Jan the Amazingly Physically Fit. Independently Wealthy. Nondiabetic…

At least, I think I’d like to be called nondiabetic. As in not having diabetes, that is.

On the other hand, what would I do without it? I mean, what would I do with all that time I spend on diabetes? I might have to clean the closets or mop under the refrigerator. I might even have to let the cleaning lady go. Right now, I have excuses: “I have to check my glucose.” “Oh, look! It’s time to change my infusion set!” “Golly, look at that line on my CGMS going down. I can’t exert myself now!”

As someone who once discovered corn growing out of the drain on the kitchen sink, I take my lackadaisical attitude toward housework seriously, and need all the excuses I can find. (If you must know, it was popcorn, watered by the steady drip of water from an ever-present rack of air-drying dishes.)

What would I do with the extra money? And it would be a lot of extra money! I got my first SymlinPens Monday. It cost $100 (and change) for a one-month supply. That’s not the total cost: That’s my copay. Now add in insulin, strips, insulin pump supplies, CGMS sensors, meds for blood pressure, cholesterol, and depression…

But I digress. Would I have to take an extra trip or two? Buy new clothes? Clothes without bloodstains, even? Turn the basement from a children’s playroom to a teenage hangout—or maybe even a retreat for me? Get the dining room table refinished from where a cat knocked a vase over and the water raised the grain…about 10 or 15 years ago? Have my car detailed? Really dote on the grandchildren? Oh, the possibilities…

Aggravation. What would I do for aggravation? OK, I have the teenage grandchildren for now, but they’ll grow up and at least one of them is already displaying some signs of developing a frontal lobe (the part of the brain associated with impulse control, reasoning, problem-solving, and stuff like that). What if I didn’t go hypoglycemic on deadline? Or waiting for the seder meal to begin at Passover? What would I curse at if I didn’t have to dig through the yogurt and pickles to find the insulin or Symlin in the refrigerator? Why, I’d actually be able to find things if I had to keep files in my file drawer instead of diabetes supplies.

If I didn’t have diabetes, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of packing that extra bag for trips or the joy of lugging it through airports. I’d get to nag my husband with impunity (”What was your sugar this morning?” “Should you be eating that?”) because I wouldn’t know what it was like to have that done to me.

Seriously, whether I want to have diabetes or not, I recognize that it has been positive in some ways. Perhaps not medically, physically, or emotionally, but professionally and socially it’s been kind of good.

If not for diabetes, I’d probably still be writing about business. Not that there’s anything wrong with business, but writing about diabetes and other health issues is actually kind of fun. A big plus: Writing about topics that could help somebody makes me feel kind of good about myself.

On the social side, what would I do without Liz, Sara, John, George, Roger, Carolyn, Randall and a host of other friends I’ve met? I have places to stay, people to laugh with and cry with, people to cook with, and people to just plain ol’ enjoy life-despite-diabetes with. Oh, the memories I have—such as the time George met Sara and me at 5 AM at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. We brought the rolls from San Francisco where we’d been visiting with Liz, and he brought the coffee. Instead of sitting and staring at nothing between flights, we got to enjoy an hour or so of each other’s company.

And the memories yet to come? I can’t wait! We all have to have something to sustain us in our old(er) age.

If I were to add up the pluses and minuses of having diabetes, the minus column would probably stretch a lot farther than the plus side. But the benefits of the plus side far outweigh the downside.

Just call me Satisfied.



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