Bored Now. Less than Ten years in Three Acts.

PRELUDE:

Last week, I got picked for Jury Duty.  This morning, we all gathered, and nothing happened.  Apparently there was an issue which the judge will (or will not) tell us about later (sometime after 2:00).  Right now, it’s 12:42 and I’m sitting in a cafe on Orange Street.

So I need something to write about.

What presents itself is a weird theme in three parts.  A memory–a set of memories-that flashed by me early today.

PART I:  Summer Camp

When I was around 10 or 11, my parents shipped my brother and me off to summer camp.  It was a camp run by the YMCA about 40 miles from my folks’ house, and it was fairly typical.

There were sing-alongs, arts and crafts, and the piece de resistance, an overnight camping trip.

It’s the last that sticks in my mind.  We were equipped with large canvas backpacks with leather straps (this was the ’60s, remember), loaded with gear, and we hiked about ten miles.  The ten miles is what I remember being told, anyway.

We camped in a little clearing among trees and bushes, not terribly far from any road, but it was nice, except for the mosquitoes.  For dinner, I think we ate hotdogs and had smores.  The next morning, we cooked up some kind of farina (I think it was actually Malt-O-Meal) and put a can of pie filling into it, creating in me forever a fondness for improvised cuisine.

Then we packed up and hiked back to camp.  Along the way, we paused at an A&W and the counselor bought us a gallon jug of root beer.  Now, I had never had Root Beer in my life.  Like “eggplant,” it was something that sounded just too awful for words.  But when the jug reached me, I sipped, and then gulped.  I had never tasted anything so good!  Our little gang lay on a hillside and drank that gallon down, and then continued on our way.

When we got back, there was a ceremony, and a little plaque was affixed to the camp’s history board.  It was a little shield, and it had the names of each of the cabin’s residents on it.

PART II:  Diabetic Camp

When I was 13, I was diagnosed with diabetes.  So my parents did the best they could for me, and that included making me self-sufficient, something for which I will always owe them.  When I was 14 they shipped me off to–surprise!–the same camp.  I remember visiting the history board, and seeing that same shield.

However, my parents had not counted on what was going to happen.  I did not spend the week learning about diabetes care.  Instead, early the second morning we were all chased down to the camp’s main square (we had been cabined on the far outskirts) and told to get on the bus.  We were off for a week-long canoe trip.

It was wild.  The river was higher (and faster) than usual, due to a heavy rainfall in the area that spring.  On the first day, we actually broke the keel of one aluminum canoe going through a rapids, which flexed like a waterborne banana for the rest of the trip.  I think all of the canoes got overturned, and all of our food and sleeping bags were soaked.

That first night, we broke into an abandoned house, made a fire in the fireplace, and tried to dry things out.  I think we had Vienna sausages and crackers for dinner; the spaghetti that the counselor had packed had gotten wet, and turned into a solid brick.  We were not the first visitors, we learned from certain scatological evidence, so we didn’t feel too guilty.

The trip continued, with rapids, dunking, and rain–lots of rain–for the rest of the week.  I remember two more things.  The last night, it was once again pouring rain, so we slept on picnic tables, in our ponchos–some of which had been burned or melted in various campfires–under sheet metal picnic shelter roofs.  It was horrid.  We were all dirty and disheveled and it was just awful.

So the bus picked us up and took us back to camp and we were fed.  And nobody cared that we were diabetics–there was SO MUCH FOOD.  I think there was a moon landing on the TV in cafeteria.  All I remember clearly is food, including strawberry shortcake.

Then our parents picked us up, and I learned that I had received my ham radio license–WN0IKW–from the FCC while I was gone.

PART III–A Fine Romance

When I was 17, I was on the same grounds again, and saw the same shield plaque again.  As an honor student, I had been nominated to go to something like “Boy’s State,” but I took second place, and so was routed to this thing, run by some group like the Kiwanis club.

I don’t remember much about it other than that it was a weekend long, and that it had one major advantage (from my perspective) over Boy’s State:  it was co-ed.  At some point during the day, I fell in with a girl name Kathy from another city.  She thought I was creative and funny, and I thought she was cute.  And smart–she had to be, to appreciate me.  Right.

We had a great time; there was a dance that night in the rec hall, and we were exclusive.  She was impressed when I sang out the words to Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm”–not great dance music, but that’s what we had.

Later that night we slipped away from the dance and made out on the steps below the rec hall.  I walked her back to her cabin in a daze.  We hung out the next day, too.  It was a Sunday and there was a priest giving communion and since Kathy was Catholic I got in line with her and took the wafer.  No big deal.

And then on Monday we all went to the state capitol for a tour and then it was all over and I never heard from or spoke to Kathy again.  Ironic, because the first thing I did when I got back was to break up with my then-girlfriend because of Kathy.  Ouch.  And so it goes.

EPILOGUE:

I don’t know why Camp ___ popped into my head this morning, but it did.  It’s also funny that although all of the events I’ve described here took place within a period of less than ten years, I can’t make the chronology fit.  I have always thought that I was 13 when I went to diabetic camp, but that doesn’t work because there was no late-summer moon landing the year I was 13; I also thought I got my first ham license in 1971, but that would make me 13, and that doesn’t fit the moon landing.  I also remember talking politics involving McGovern and Eagleton, which makes 1971 hard to fit.  I guess things tend to blur over time.  I wonder if that plaque is still there.  I wonder if Kathy ever thought of me again.  I wonder about all the other campers.  I wonder if anyone else flashes on old memories the way I do…

Some questions, even the internet can’t answer.

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Here We Are, In The Calm Before The Storm


There was a time when we had an idea
whose time hadn’t come
They kept changing its name, so we could still pretend
it was not really gone
We heard our screams turn into song
and back into screams again and here we are again
Here we are in the calm before the storm, oh

–Lou Reed/Ruben Blades

(I will be returning to my promised discussion of good and evil fairly soon.  But (besides the need to repair my keyboard, now accomplished) other things have intervened.  One of them is the realization that however much things have changed, things haven’t really changed.)

This morning on the radio, there was (yet another) a discussion of the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  This rings especially powerfully for me because I was there.  Honestly don’t think the idea of nuclear weapons resonates for a lot of people.  It has been almost a quarter of a century since the collapse of the USSR, the state against which the US built a nearly unbelievable arsenal of nuclear and thermonuclear weaponry.  Most of the people who browse the internet, I suspect, were either not yet born or not yet conscious of the implications.

I was perhaps fifteen when I realized that we weren’t having tornado drills, but bombing drills.  I’ve discussed my fondness for apocalyptic stories before, so  it should come as no surprise that I was constantly cognizant of the possibility of immolation on 20 minutes’ notice.  And I started to try to do something about it.

I wrote letters.  I marched.  I participated in meetings and conferences.

And then, the teetering balance between the US and the USSR

stopped teetering.

When the USSR dissolved in 1991, we heaved a sign of relief; it was as if the world had changed, and it had, in many important ways.  Two years earlier, Nelson Mandela had been released, and South Africa was changing.  The Gulf War came–and went–without nuclear exchanges, and indeed, with the then-tottering USSR trying to calm the situation and restrain Baghdad.

We heard our screams turn into songs

The world felt like a much safer place; for about a decade, it was possible to believe that we were going to escape the WWIII of fiction, the “Flame Deluge” of Walter Miller.

Then came 9/11.

And back into screams again

But this time, we had been attacked, we had a noble cause.  And we went and destroyed the “enemy.”  Or did we?  Mission accomplished.

But far more important, we gave our military-industrial complex a new lease on life.  And I suspect that that may have played a role (though it really doesn’t matter) over the past decade and a half of the increasing bellicosity of the “Former Soviet Union,” i.e., Russia.

But now, Russia is only one of a number of nuclear states, and countries like North Korea and Iran would, if they are not already, very much like to be.

And back into screams again

How did we get here?

Well, neither of those states was on particularly good terms with the US to begin with.  But when the US reached out and smashed another country–or what was left of another country–I suspect that things changed.

Because nuclear weapons, since the time that the Soviet Union developed them, are not weapons of offense.  They are, ultimately, weapons of suicide.  Suppose that Iran developed nuclear weapons.  Suppose that it then used nuclear weapons on, let’s say, Israel.  Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Israel would retaliate with nuclear weapons?  Or that, assuming that literally nothing was left of Israel, that the United States would so respond?

And back into screams again

Do you honestly think that the leadership of Iran–or for that matter, anyone in Iran–is that insane?  Or better, that we are any less insane?

Once the nuclear monopoly ended, nuclear weapons were useful only insofar as they were not used.  They became guarantors of non-aggression.  A state with a nuclear arsenal, however small it may be, is like a Fugu Fish.  Nature says “don’t touch.”  Iran wants nuclear weapons–I think–not so as to be in a position to threaten their use against Israel or the United States, but so as to be secure against invasion.  North Korea, for all of its sword-waving, is likely operating in much the same way.

And back into screams again

Nuclear weapons are not going away.  Not until we change the world in such a way that states need no longer fear invasion.   There is a related point:  nuclear weapons are far less useful against internal revolt or revolution.  They can be used to end a revolution only at the risk of ending everything.

Maybe these are the ramblings of an old man who never thought he’d see thirty.  Or maybe they’re not.

But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in the calm before the storm.

It may look like I’m exploiting fear here.  But I’m not telling you to live in fear–and certainly not to avoid change because of fear.  I’m telling you there might be something better.

Let’s go find out what it is.

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y blog entry about a proble with y coputer

This blog is brought to you by the letter “” and the  nuber $45.

Today was Saturday, one of the rare Saturdays when I don’t have to be anywhere else. So I started the day by sleeping in, then went downstairs to work on a blog entry.

Except.

I opened up y notebook, and a key fell out into y lap. The “” key.

I figured I ight be able to re-ount it, but that proved frustrating. It looks like the underlying switch is soehow broken.

Next, I looked up inforation on how to replace the keyboard. It looks easy-peasy (and thanks, Lenovo, for aking a achine that’s easy to work on). Then I went and looked at possible sources of keyboards (I did uch of this by grabbing the issing “” fro a web page and pasting it in whenever I needed to type that character, but couldn’t.

I ended up paying ore than I ought to because I wanted to speed things along, so a refurbished keyboard should be arriving on onday, just in tie for y birthday (!).

y son, who is also a geek, will be coing down fro Boston with his spouse, and so part of y birthday is going to be putting in the new keyboard.

So that’s really all I’ve got to say. So reeber, as Annie (so far as I know, in all versions of the usical) was wont to say:

“The sun’ll coe out—Toorrow!”

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Living in the Past

A few months ago, I mentioned a guy named Richard Thompson.  I was first introduced to Mr. Thompson through the purchase of an album called Fairport Chronicles, which chronicled (appropriately) the work of the band Fairport Convention.

So I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a terrifically important part of Fairport Convention–Sandy Denny:

Sandy Denny was a remarkable singer and songwriter, and Fairport Convention’s best-known vocalist.

The more I learn about her the more I compare her to Janis Joplin, and the more I think she was a forerunner of people like Stevie Nicks,

Oh yeah–and she performed with Led Zepplin.

She died in 1978.

I write about Sandy now because a very well-written biography of her has just been published:  I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn by Mick Houghton.

I’m not going to link to videos or music here, because I think she’s worth hunting out.  It’s not difficult.  So take the trouble.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?

All:

I’d like to invite you to take a look at my other blog while you’re here.

I’m reasonably pleased with the current entry.

-LawSchoolIsSoOver…

 

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LIVE IN FEAR

Gentle ladies, gentle men
Waiting till the dance begin
Carefully we come to speak the word for all to hear
If you listen, if you should
We won’t be misunderstood
But don’t expect the words to ring too sweetly on the ear
Live in fear, live in fear, live in fear
In the gutter, in the street
Off his head or off his feet
Listen to the scratchy voices eating at your nerves
Pencil ready, paper dry
Shoot the girls and make them cry
Run for cover, things are bad but now they’re getting worse
Live in fear, live in fear, live in fear, live in fear
Is it painful, is it right?
Does it keep you warm at night?
Fool your friends and fool yourself, the choice is crystal clear
If you break it on your knee
Better men might disagree
Do you laugh or do you stick your finger in your ear?
Live in fear, live in fear, live in fear, live in fear

–Richard Thompson, “Roll Over Vaughan Williams”
For some days now, I have been mulling over writing a post about good and evil. The impetus came to a point recently, but it’s been brewing for some time because of my scarf* and some things I’ve been reading. And we’ll get to that later—probably next post. Because this post is going to be about something else: fear.

Not long ago, I was sitting in church. It was a Fast Sunday (or “Fast and Testimony”) meeting.** One of the speakers was a woman who described watching a video with her children that involved birds, who were wary of the cats below them in the yard, but insufficiently wary of snakes creeping along near-by branches. I couldn’t find the visual version, but I’m 99% certain it derived from this talk.

Such talks are common. Here’s another example:

What these talks have in common, and what they have in common with many other videos, not only those from the LDS church, is that they teach us to live in fear. But this is not only a matter of religion; political figures, similarly, trade on fear. So do manufacturers of commercial goods.

Fear is powerful–I well remember the sheer paranoia that struck us all following 9/11. The day of the attack, the president of the software company where I then worked sent us all home to be with our families, and I remember riding my bike homeward, noticing on an isolated bridge an uncapped plastic milk bottle full of some pale yellow liquid (it could have been urine, but this was Wisconsin, so it was more likely beer or lemonade). I remember mulling over the possibility that the bottle might contain some nerve agent or toxin or disease, ready to be casually knocked over and dispersed through the Western Wisconsin area. Yeah, right.

When the Anthrax letters appeared, even my eminently sensible spouse seriously contemplated microwaving all envelopes to destroy any biological agents.

Fear is powerful.

FDR wasn’t kidding when he said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

As a kid, I was constantly afraid. Bad things could happen to my parents; I could get beaten up at school; planes would crash, towers would fall. In junior high, I started to read books like Alas, Babylon. The charismatic end-times religion in which I invested myself in high school told me that the end of the world was imminent. I told my parents that I didn’t think I was likely to live to see 30. I was psychologically ready for disaster. I vividly remember a dream in which I was shot for my beliefs. Indeed, I was ready to die.

What I wasn’t prepared to do was to live.

Perhaps that’s why Frank Herbert’s Dune and the Bene Gesserit “Litany Against Fear” struck such a powerful chord in me as, after high school, I moved increasingly toward skepticism:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

The Litany was the start for me of transcending fear, and while I am still a fearful person, I am much less worried about the future than I once was. And so I turn to analyzing the nature of fear. And we begin at the beginning: What is it that we fear?

I would argue that what we fear is precisely what we don’t know. Some examples may be illustrative:

Consider the famous Reagan/Bush “Bear in the Woods” campaign ad:

The subtext, is that since you don’t know, you have to “prepared.”   Ironically, it was the the bear that would come to the US with a realistic proposal that would have led to complete nuclear disarmament. And it would be the US insistence on a not yet developed antimissile technology (“Star Wars”) that would derail that proposal.

The other week, I had lunch with a woman who was interviewing me for a position with a non-profit (my preferred kind of work, but work in which I’m so far inexperienced). We met at a convenient spot—Ikea’s cafeteria—to talk about the position over meatballs. What struck me was that as we were getting lunch, she carefully put her utensils on top of a napkin, and mentioned that she always did that because she didn’t know how well they cleaned the trays.

Fear.

Interviewing for a type of position I’d never had before, I felt a different kind of fear.

Job changes, moves, roller coasters, the possibility of disease—all of these things hold fear, but it is not because they in themselves are threatening. Indeed, waiting for a diagnosis of disease is, in my experience, far more unsettling than a knowledge that you have it.

What all of these have in common is that they present us with black boxes. We go in without knowing what we will find and we assume the worst.

But why should the unknown fill us with fear? Why not exhilaration? Imagine if the crew of the NCC-1701 had been like most of us—the Enterprise would have huddled in near-Earth orbit for five years.

To boldy go where no one has gone before!

In spite of the split infinitive, it suggests something. It suggests that what we do not know might not be worse than what we do know, but perhaps only different or—maybe—even better!

So let’s look briefly at why organizations—I’m looking at you, churches, at you politicians, and at you, advertisers—tend to use fear. I think the answer I’m contemplating should be pretty obvious from the last paragraph:

Organizations train us in fear so that we do not contemplate other possibilities. Because other possibilities might be better. Don’t like your church? You might find the one down the street more to your liking or—zounds!—maybe you’re more inclined to be an atheist! But you’d better not try. The folks down the street are Catholics; and if you’re an atheist, you’ll burn in hell. Different is bad. Indeed, Apple Computer, which once told us to:

ThinkDifferentreally meant, “Buy our stuff.”

Organizations use fear of the different to keep people in line.

I’m not saying that all fears are unreasonable. It’s unlikely that a world blasted by nuclear war would be better—or even simply different—from the world in which we live now. But I am saying that it’s fear of difference that tends to keep us where we are, chained to the present instead of contemplating the future.

In Ray Bradbury’s short story, “The Toynbee Convector,” a man travels into the future, records it, and shows it to people so that they can see that the future will be better than the present. Stripped of fear of the future, they eagerly turn their hands toward building that future. It is only at the end of the story that the time traveler reveals that it was all a sham: he built the future out of papier-mâché and cardboard (this was before Photoshop) because he knew that his contemporaries feared the future. Shown that it was not to be feared, they built it.

How many of us struggle with the same problem? The devil we know is better (we think) than the devil we don’t. We live in fear.

We are encouraged to fear. We encourage ourselves to fear. And, as we shall see in my (hopefully) next blog entry, much of that fear has to do with notions arising out of the way we divide up the world. We believe that good implies evil; that because Gryffindor exists, so must implies Slytherin. That the Shire implies Mordor.

But does good (always) imply evil?

——

*It’s a University of Minnesota striped scarf, which gets mistaken for something that a Harry Potter fan might wear. I’m serious. I was visiting my old stomping ground a few years ago when I heard a guide telling prospective students that one of the cool things about the U of M was that you got to wear a “Harry Potter” scarf. Magical herbs, anyone?

**I’m a Mormon. For the benefit of non-Mormons, Fast Sunday, ordinarily the first Sunday in a given month, is an opportunity for members to spontaneously speak (briefly) about their faith in the Church or on whatever other topic upon which they feel moved to discuss. It’s also a day on which members are supposed to fast for two meals and donate the money not spent to help the needy.

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We Are Not All Heroes.

RTRLogo Click on the image to help me ROCK Rock to Rock this year!

We Are Not All Heroes.

(Quick edit:  I forgot to add the video!)

tl;dr: living with something does not a hero make.

I have so many things I want to write about, but I’m starting here because I haven’t finished a blog post in some time and I need to. Also, because I saw the video above and it moved me to think about something.

There is a tendency these days to describe anyone who faces conditions different from ours (i.e., that look more difficult) as “heroic.” And perhaps it is disingenuous of me to write this, because I’m not different from Julie. I have been diabetic for almost 44 years (I was diagnosed at 13). But I am different from Julie in that I am not “battling” diabetes. I am living with it.

It’s true that when I was diagnosed, back in 1971, the life expectancy of diabetics after diagnosis generally was given as about 25 years. I discovered this in 1976 when I read it in a brochure at a fund-raising concert for diabetes. But it’s also a hell of a lot longer than it used to be (before Canadian doctors Banting, Macleod, and Best isolated insulin in 1921). It’s true that my prospective father-in-law told my prospective (at the time) spouse that she would be a young widow because I was diabetic.

Let’s be clear about something. There are heroes in my story. My parents in particular, J and M, who recognized that my thirst and fogginess might indicate something. My pediatrician, Dr. L, who agreed with them and had me tested as soon my parents explained what was going on. Another doctor, Dr. DE, who was partially responsible for the creation of modern diabetes education, and in whose education center I spent a week when I was 13, learning what it meant to be diabetic.

When I was diagnosed, there were no continuous glucose monitors (“CGM”s). The scary-looking needle you see in the video is a disposable device that uses a needle to insert a fine sensor wire under the skin. You snap in a little transmitter (also shown) into that and it transmits a glucose reading every five minutes to a device that looks like a tiny iPod, on which you can read your approximate blood sugar. While not ultra-accurate, it does allow for trend analysis. You calibrate it by testing your blood glucose every 12 hours or so, and it’s worth testing blood glucose more often, since it’s often more accurate than the CGM.

When I was diagnosed there was no way to test for blood glucose outside of a lab. These days, you put a test strip into a shirt-pocket-sized (or smaller) device, poke yourself, and squeeze a tiny drop of blood onto the end of the strip. Five seconds later, you find out your current blood sugar.

I first saw crude blood testing strips in the early ‘90s. You put a big drop of blood onto these and waited 60 seconds (IIRC). Then you wiped off the blood with a cotton ball and waited another 30 second (again, IIRC) and compared the results to a color chart.

Before there was blood testing, there was urine testing. Because if you’re diabetic, your blood sugar is often so high that the kidneys can’t filter it, so it spills out in urine. In the ‘80s, when I had given up on testing for the most part, I used something called Diastix. Hold one of these in your urine stream, then time it for 30 seconds, and it gave you a read on how much sugar you were spilling. Ideally, the strip turned blue, indicating no spill (but then you had to watch for hypoglycemia, when your blood sugar drops too low) and if you weren’t lucky, the strip would go dark green or brown, indicating a lot of sugar in the urine.

Before that, there was TesTape, which came in a roll and which you could use the same way as Diastix for a quick sugar/no sugar in the urine test.

And before that, there was the little chemistry set that I carried around my junior high school. I can’t even find a photo of online. There was a gray plastic base and a gray plastic cover. In the base was a rack that held a glass test tube, a glass eyedropper, a glass bottle of reagent tablets (which may have been foil wrapped—I don’t recall clearly) and a color chart. The test worked this way: You put three drops of water into the test tube with the dropper, then stuck the dropper into the urine stream and added three drops of urine. Then, looking at your watch, you carefully unwrapped one of the reagent tablets and dropped it in. An extremely exothermic reaction followed—the tube got so hot it would burn you—and in sixty seconds you compared the color of the fluid in the tube to the chart to get a rough idea of how much you were spilling. Once again, if you were lucky, the color was blue.

You then washed out the tube, the dropper, dried everything, and put it away in the box. I used to do this all between classes.

Before these tests? Doctors—and, I imagine, caregivers generally—had to taste the urine of diabetic patients to tell whether there was sugar present. Wonderful.

And syringes. My great-grandmother (who I never met) was diabetic, and she had reusable glass syringes that had to be boiled, and the needles were reused as well, and were heavy, thick things.

Today almost all insulins are crystal clear products of recombinant DNA research. They are synthetic human insulins and are generally measured 100 “units” to the CC (hence, this is “U100” insulin.

When I was diagnosed, there was U40 (40 units to the CC) and U80 (twice as strong) and there were rumors of U500 for those who had built up resistance to the alien properties of insulin, which was then derived from the pancreas of cows and pigs slaughtered for food (there was a special beef-only insulin for observant Jews, but since pigs are more like people, pork-based insulin was generally held to be superior). Insulin came in two or three types (I’m sure there were more, some highly specialized, but these I remember). There was Regular, NPH, and Lente/Ultralente. Regular acted quickly, NPH was longer term, and Lente and Ultralente could last in the body for something like 24+ hours. The longer-term insulins were made from Regular by adding compounds to slow the absorption of the insulin. I remember swirling NPH insulin prior to taking a shot (with, thank god, disposable syringes, the needles of which seemed to get shorter and finer with each passing decade) to mix in the compound—you never shook it, because the compounds were fragile, and could be broken up by that shaking. Animal-derived insulin also lost potency if got warm (synthetic does also, but much more slowly and to a lesser extent) so you kept it in the fridge.

As testing techniques improved, I went from one U40 beef/pork injection each morning (a mix of Regular and NPH insulins) to two, switching to U100 when the standard changed, then three—with human synthetic Regular, and finally four, using a very short acting insulin called Humalog and a very long-acting insulin called Lantus. I went from testing my urine religiously in junior high to occasional tests with Diastix in high school to completely ignoring it in college and grad school. Only after my first child (who would in turn develop diabetes at 15) was born in 1989 did I begin blood testing occasionally, at my spouse’s behest. With human insulin and improved testing devices (not to mention improved insurance) I was eventually testing 10-12 times each day.

Six months ago, I started wearing a CGM, and back in November, I got an insulin pump. Julie’s wearing one of these in the video—you can see a white device on one of her upper arms. Mine’s a little different, but the idea is the same: You use a complicated little device to insert a soft plastic connector into your belly, then attach that to a cartridge of insulin that sits in a pump that pushes a little insulin our continuously (the “basal” dose). When you’re going to eat, or your tests tell you your blood sugar is too high, you can add a dose calculated on your current blood sugar or and/or what you’re eating to cover it. The pump is filled with Humalog, and a cartridge lasts two to four days.

There is hope that someday soon, pumps will be combined with CGMs to provide a true artificial pancreas—seamless blood glucose control. They’ve been promising me something like this since 1971, so I hope (for myself and my child) that it comes soon.

So I’ve faced incredible odds, right? I’ve been a hero, right? I’m an inspiration, right?

Bullshit.

I’m just like you. Maybe your nose gets clogged. Maybe you have asthma. Maybe you wear glasses. Whatever it is, you live with it.

Julie isn’t fighting diabetes, and neither am I. We’re living with it.

We are not heroes.

So who is?

Well, frankly, it’s not the companies that produced the pumps and CGMs and blood glucose meters. They’re making plenty of money (insulin pumps retail for around $7,000, but insurance covers that. The parts to make one? Generously, $100. The rest is to cover research and development certification, I suppose. But do the math. Capitalism works.

No, the heroes? Banting, Macleod, Best. The people who conceived of the idea of urine and glucose tests. The ones who invented, designed, and built the first CGMs and pumps. These are the people who fight diabetes. And especially the ones looking for a biological and genetic cure.  My parents, my pediatrician, Dr. L, and Dr. DE, who taught me how to live with diabetes.  My spouse, who loves me and prods me from time to time to make doctor’s appointment.

These are the people who let me simply live each day, just like wearing glasses or using a cane or a handkerchief. It is because of these people that I say that I am diabetic, but not a diabeticThese are the heroes.

To these people, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t say it enough.

Because not all of us are heroes.

But some of us are.

 

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