In general I don’t like to complain about having Type 1 Diabetes. I am still grateful that of all chronic illnesses I could have been burdened with, this is the one I got. Sure, my vision swims sometimes, I get tired after I eat, I have sugar lows often unpredictably and at inconvenient times, it can be problematic regularly*, and so on, but to me, it’s still preferable to say, chronic migraines, or colitis (Colitis – talk about a disease designed by Satan).
On Saturday I had to work. Boston was hosting its own March for Science event. I would meet the BU Today writer at the BU campus just after noon, and we would join the Boston University science contingency as they walked the 2 miles to Boston Common to join the main event. It was drizzly out so I put on a rain coat and then my gear in the form of a belt pack over that before leaving my car and heading to the meeting spot on campus. When I arrived at Metcalf Science Center I remembered that I was bound to be cold. I have a window of about seven degrees in which I am comfortable. One of these days I will learn that I always lean in the direction of cold. So, I went back to my car to get my fleece and added that to my overall weight for the day.
I was exhausted and my work day really hadn’t even begun. As I walked to Metcalf from my car the second time, I thought to myself that I would just need to bull through this exhaustion that was overtaking me.
Having Type 1 makes long days tricky; I knew this shoot was starting around lunch time, and when that happens, I’m sort of stumped by the timing of it all; Do I eat an early lunch even though I had a late breakfast? Do I just bring a snack and hope my sugars stay within a good range until I’m done at 4PM? You might respond with “pack a meal!” and that’s a great idea, except I am already weighed down with gear and every pocket is occupied with things inedible.
Sometimes, as was the case Saturday, it’s hard to differentiate between a sugar low and general fatigue. (As I write this in fact, I am ready for a nap, but my sigars are right where they need to be). As we began to walk from BU to Boston Common, trying to figure out whether I was low or just tired became harder. When you’re weighed down with camera gear, multiple layers of clothes, are physically moving and also being rained on, it’s surprising how hard it is to pinpoint the sensations coming from your body.
Are my sugars low? Am I coming down with something? Is that weird lump I found in my shoulder cancer that’s progressing? Am I just exhausted? Or maybe just grouchy in general?
I had my glucometer with me, but digging that badboy out and putting it to work is hardly easy or convenient when you’re physically moving and surrounded by strangers. It’s these situations, which I deal with on a daily basis, that I will be fighting like hell to get my CGM when I’m eligible in November. I ate my snack bar which did nothing to change how I felt. As we got closer to the Common, I ate some glucose tablets – a wonderful marriage of sickening, sharp sweetness and chalk which, while unpleasant, does help correct the problem. This time, oddly, it did little to help me feel better. I began to think that maybe it wasn’t my sugars. That I was in fact, just tired (or that growth on my shoulder is poisoning me or something).
As we entered the common I saw a woman selling pretzels. I looked at the massive crowd around me, and at the other vendors with long lines and thought, I can’t go into that crowd without eating something or having access to some kind of food beyond the snack bar which did nothing (presumably because we were walking quit a bit), and I don’t want to have to stand in line once I’m both hangry and slightly out of my mind with low sugar.
I downed a pretzel, and all became right with the world. Yay! Still grumpy, but slightly less so and feeling far more energy. This is why I couldn’t in a million years do any crazy strict diets. I’ve been trying to buy more organic foods and be more aware of what I’m putting into my body, but when the sugars go down, all plans are off.
In addition to this stress, the lens I borrowed from a colleague because mine was sent out for repair, was broken. Looking through a lens which causes only parts of what you see through the eyepiece to be in focus is a great way to go insane (there were quite a few things that led me to consider the possibility that I was losing my mind on Saturday).
As I trudged limply the two miles back to my car after having taken the photos that were needed to tell the story, I couldn’t help but reflect on the irony (or whatever the right word is for this scenario) of my personal experience that day. The March for Science was standing up for all the things that science has made possible. An endless list of advancements, discoveries, and things made possible, including me being alive.
No science = no insulin = no living diabetics.
And now, sign pictures!
*Many years ago I was having a severe sugar drop when my boss came over to my desk to talk to me. I was downing some juice when she started to talk. I consentrated hard (low sugars can make you loopy and irritable which comes off super rude if I’m not careful), and let her know that I was sorry, but I would need about ten minutes before I could talk to her because my sugars were low and my brain really won’t retain any of the info I’m pretending to understand she’s sharing with me. She nodded…then kept talking at me and asking questions, and I was like No, seriously, I really can’t construct sentences right now