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Fishing for Freedom from Harassment

Jan Chait

May 6, 2008

My entertainment these days comes in small batches. On January 29 ("Some Days Are for the Birds"), I wrote about two cats that had adopted us. In my post, I declared that they would never go outside. At least one of them said "Ha! Watch this!"

Not only did she go outside, she apparently engaged in some hanky-panky with one or more neighborhood feline reprobates. On or about April 7, she presented us with three little surprises: One is a smoky color, one is black and white, and one is white with some tiger markings. I’m thinking of calling them Velcro 1, 2, and 3 (you try to peel a kitten off your shirt!).

As entertaining as the kittens are, it’s Auntie Cat who provides the most entertainment. While Mama is pretty laid back (”Hmmm, the kittens are out of the box. Oh, you took them out to exercise their legs. Cool!”), Auntie is anything but.

“What are you doing out of the box? Get back. Get back now!” she warns as she grabs various parts of their bodies in an attempt to drag them back to where (she believes) they belong. We have an open-mouthed fish toy the cats can crawl into that crinkles when stepped on. Kind of like a paper bag, only more expensive. Auntie is afraid of it. The kittens are not. “Oh, no! Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” she seems to be screaming as she grabs their tails and tugs.

I’ve also found out why the kittens can climb into their box, but are unable to climb out: When one tries to go on the lam, Auntie positions herself in front of the low side and pulls them back in.

How many of us have “Auntie Cats” in our lives, whether be it family members or complete strangers?

You can’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t/better not:

  • Deviate from your meal plan
  • Let your blood glucose get out of optimal range
  • Go anywhere by yourself
  • Go to a sleepover
  • Play football/hockey/basketball/swim
  • Skate/ski/skydive/SCUBA dive/ride a bike
  • Work the evening/night shift

If you do, you’ll:

  • Go high
  • Go low
  • Lose your vision
  • Have kidney failure
  • Get something amputated
  • Have a heart attack

In other words, “Stay in the box! Don’t crawl inside the fish!”

Oh, why am I even mentioning these things? I’m sure we’ve all heard them at some point. They’re so ubiquitous that my friend Liz was taken aback when she recently turned down a piece of pizza and another person asked, “You can’t eat pizza?”

“Well, yes, I can,” Liz responded. “I’m just not hungry.”

Perhaps the underlying problem is that people don’t understand insulin. A CDE I know likes to stump her audiences by asking, “How many people in the United States use insulin?” You can see people mentally figuring up the number of people with diabetes, dividing the whole into Type 1 and Type 2, dividing the Type 2s by the approximate number of those who use insulin and adding that to the number of Type 1s.

Nobody ever gets the answer right. Not because their math is off, but because the answer is, of course, “everybody.”

Insulin is not a medication formulated specifically for people with diabetes. Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone that everybody (and every body) needs to move glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells where it is used for energy. The only difference between “them” and “us” is that we need to supplement what our bodies don’t make and can’t use.

When people without diabetes eat something (or are stressed or any of a myriad of other things that can raise blood glucose levels), their bodies automatically produce enough insulin to keep their blood glucose levels in range. People with diabetes manage their blood glucose levels in any number of ways:

  • With food choices and exercise or, in addition to that;
  • With oral medicines that stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin;
  • With oral medicines that increase the body’s sensitivity to the insulin it makes;
  • By injecting insulin; or
  • With any combination of oral medicines and/or insulin, plus that food choices and exercise thing.

Actually, many people with diabetes don’t understand how to manage their blood glucose because nobody tells them and they don’t think to ask. The doctor says, “take this” and you do. Heck, I did the same thing for years. I had no idea what those pills were doing. Maybe if I had known, I could have managed my blood glucose levels better. (That is, if anybody had told me to check my blood glucose.)

“Why?” would probably be a good question to ask about…oh, a lot of things. (”Check my feet daily? Why? What am I looking for? What do I do if I find it?”)

Find out what your oral medicines do if you don’t already know. Ask your health-care provider, or put the name of your medicine(s) into your computer’s search engine. (I know you have a computer.) You can also check out the article “Oral Medicines for Type 2 Diabetes.”

Educate yourself about how diabetes works and what affects blood glucose levels. Knowledge is our best defense against the Auntie Cats in our lives.

Then, if somebody asks you something along the lines of “Should you be eating that?” say with some amount of amazement: “Have you been in the fish? Did you get hurt?”

Er, I mean: “You have diabetes, too? How long have you had it?”

Betcha the person hasn’t been anywhere near the fish. But you’ll be prepared to tell them a bit about what it’s like to be in there.



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