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I’ve written a lot about diabetes. Most of the time I respond to forum posts. A forum post can serve many purposes. The member can be looking for help and advice, they might be ranting about a problem, or they may be giving advice. I think that probably covers the gammut: input, processing, and output to the old-school IT folks.

My responses usually involve a certain amount of information. I have experienced a lot with my disease — I am a type 1 diabetic in my 37th year of battle — and I think I have a fairly comprehensive view of management techniques. We commonly say “Knowledge is Power!” and I follow through with trying to provide knowledge to the ignorant. Being ignorant and being diabetic is not a good combination. This is not a disease you want to have if you are stupid. Too much can and will go wrong. I am also not afraid to try new things. I consider myself a willing lab rat, and I consider all possible advice.

When I reply to threads, I usually pick one of four formats:
– this is what I did and why
– this is what I think the issues really are and these are your choices
– that’s wrong and this is right (Ye olde debate)
– good luck with that!

One thing I try never to do is tell someone what they should do. I don’t know them, and I am not qualified to make such statements. In fact, anybody who says “you should … ” get’s a big red X put beside their name in my book regardless of subject. Life is not that simple, diabetes is not that simple, and writing is not that simple. Yes I’m writing about writing.

Here’s a post I wrote this morning.

Keep in mind your objectives. The needs of a child are different than the needs of an adult on a ketogenic diet. For a child running high blood sugars, accuracy and ability to get quick samples is important. You are making immediate decisions which impact your child’s life. When I show ketones, and I almost always do, I merely want to know what color purple it is. I know it won’t be dark since DKA doesn’t happen on a ketogenic diet, but too light means I’m cheating too many carbs. I just now tested between 40 and 80 (4 and 8) and last evening I was 40 (4). My BGs this morning were a bit high at 142 (7.9), but I had a late snack while watching hockey last night, and I bolus conservatively before bed.

Here I was informing someone about ketone testing. I did this because most diabetics and health care professionals have limited understanding of ketones. They typically see ketones as bad, and in my opinion, that’s a wrong approach. I didn’t tell this person that. I didn’t delve into all my opinions about doctors and diabetic educators and the evils they bring. I simple told it how it is. I left it open for those interested to research. “Ketogenic diet, what the hell is that? I’ll Google it.” I’m not writing a book here; I’m triggering peoples’ brains. I want them to think!

Later I responded to a dad questioning if it was okay to feel apathetic about his child’s high blood sugars.

I tell diabetics “great things are accomplished in small steps.” Of course the number is important and we don’t want them, but flushing out the reasons is not easy, and applying practical solutions is often harder. It took me over 30 years to figure it out and I still struggle daily

  • – current 5.6 A1C, very very few hypos, and no signs of retinopathy
  • – dx 1975
    – 911’d nine times 1995-2006
    – prolif retinopathy 1994
    – 4000 laser zaps 1994 – 2000
    – vitrectomy 2006

Keep the head up and feet moving forward.

This thread informs, but it’s primarily motivational. I start out telling them there is hope and that losing battles are expected in this war. I let them know it’s alright to feel defeated but victory is still possible, if not probable. I often “show” them my situation and my turnaround. I want them to visualize what I’ve been through and what I’ve accomplished. A diabetic reading those points will see fabulous facts in the first line. They should say “great!” Then the following five points will tell them I’ve been through a war. It should tell them that turnarounds are possible, that we do it every day. If your not a diabetic, you really can’t relate to what four thousand blasts of laser are like. These are not simply bright lights but are little bolts of flame burning the back of my eye. My retinas look worse than any burned and mangled body. If you don’t believe me, Google panretinal photocoagulation someday when you’re pretty sure you won’t throw up. If you can still stand after that, then try Googling Vitreous Hemorrhage  or Vitrecomy and watch the Youtubes.

I then end it with another motivating line. It’s nothing particularly moving; it’s just a  simple message of hope.

Writing like this is different from writing creatively, but I still try to use literary techniques such as showing vs. telling and using active verbs and sentences. For fun, I wondered if I could write a fictional piece about a diabetic child at school with high blood sugars. It rambles a bit, but enjoy anyway 🙂

Billy attempted to walk home from school instead of taking his usual bus. He knew exercise would lower his blood sugars, and it semed like the cure for the 450 his meter showed him. But brains soaked in high levels of blood sugar don’t function well. Before he knew it, he was looking for a bathroom to relieve himself in, but of course there aren’t any public restrooms in West Allis neighbourhoods. He settled on a row of big bushes running between two houses. He remembered thinking he was doing the bushes a service by watering them, and when the branches hit his face, he knew he should swipe them away, but his hands wouldn’t move. He couldn’t feel his hands or his legs or the large roots as his head hit them. Those bushes might have been his last resting place if old Marge hadn’t come home early from work. She opened the door of her big Mercury Marquis and saw the little body laying in her hedge. “Oh My” she thought, and immediately reached in to see if it was alive. Her cell phone was new to her, but she knew enough to dial the simple numbers – 9 1 1 .

Billy spent the night in the hospital and the next morning his parents grilled him about his day then drilled him on making good decisions. Billy looked at them with big eyes that knew his parents’ words did not match his day. That’s when doctor John entered the room. He slid in silently while Billy’s parents prattled on. The doctor stood and listened. Billy knew he was sneaking, that he was on his side, and he knew not to let on after doctor John winked at him. He knew he had a new friend, someone to tell these big mouths to shut up!