When everything feels like it’s falling apart

October 2013 – We trash the car and decide to rely on public transportation and the kindness of coworkers to get around while we save for a new car – avoid debt and earn environmentalist brownie points at the same time.  I also get seated on a 6 month long jury duty which takes me away from work 2 days a week.

New Year’s Eve – M’s immigration paperwork has problems – looks like we’ll have to move to Germany where Insulin pumps are not considered necessary, CSMs are nearly never prescribed, and I barely have an elementary grasp of the language.

January 2 – Dex transmitter battery is out of juice (I should be glad it lasted this long – it’s only supposed to last 6 mo and I’ve had it over a year).  And now no Dex (!)  I’ve ordered a new one, and my insurance will pay, but I’m still waiting on a signature from my Endo.

January 4 – We’ve been noticing that the Hedgehog isn’t using his hind legs as well as usual and one of his eyes is looking red and bulgy. We take him to the vet (goodbye $150 and the cost of a Zipcar rental) and receive a prognosis akin to “there’s nothing we can do that doesn’t cost a fortune and cause him more pain that he’s in now.”  We bring him home with some eye drops and a phone number to call if he takes a turn for the worse.

January 6 – While at jury duty, I receive a goodbye email from my favorite coworker.  Then I receive 2 more.  By the end of the day a third of Company X has been laid off.  Not me, thankfully, but I have to take a 20% pay cut until things turn around (and, frankly, that doesn’t look likely).  To top it off, my carpool was part of the lay-off and now my commute to work is now 1.5 hr each way rather than 25 min (because of the lovely decision we made regarding the car back in October).  We went through something similar about 6 mo ago but it felt less dire that time. Oh, the joys of working for a start-up company.

January 8 – We notice that the apartment is a bit cold and start to question when the last time we felt the radiators kick on.

January 9 – There’s a letter taped to the door of the apartment saying that the boiler is broken and they don’t anticipate heat being restored before Wed – Fri of next week.  Our options are to be cold as we attempt to heat the apartment by oven or fork out money we don’t have to stay in a hotel (see Jan 6, above).  Our lovely landlord isn’t helping at all (and we’ve neglected to buy renters insurance to cover these sorts of costs).

If the last two weeks were intended to set the tone for the coming year, I vote we skip 2014 altogether and embark on 2015 instead.  Who’s in?

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Chatty Cathy

When my BG dips below a certain threshold, and someone asks me a question, I begin spewing fourth every bit of knowledge, gossip, and opinion that I have on the subject.  Typically this happens at home; M brings up a friend from grad school or the current Republican primary and I can’t shut up.  I’m told that this can be rather entertaining.  It’s also a huge cue for M and I that I may be low and we treat it accordingly.

But now take this situation into the lab where I work.  I wear a lab coat and purple nitrile gloves for most of the day to protect me from the many hazardous things in lab.  They also stop me from easily accessing my pump and Dex (all it takes is a quick glove change but I still find this rather annoying) and prevent me from being able to do a finger stick or eat a quick 15g at a moment’s notice.

Scene: I am in lab wearing my labcoat and gloves with Dex yelling loudly at me every 5 minutes.  I fumble at my pocket in an attempt to quiet the obnoxious wailing (although no one can hear it but me through the constant hum of our spectroscopic equipment) and eventually manage to press the button without having to de-glove.  I look at the clock. 4:45pm.  Almost time to go home! I look at the computer screen at the 5 open spots om my excel sheet and calculate that I have about 20 minutes left of work before I cal fill in those blanks and go home.  I make a decision.  The low can wait.

In walks BossMan, my supervisor.

BossMan: “Hey Melanie, how’s the experiment going?”

Me: “Very well, I should be done in a few minutes and I think I’m seeing a pretty interesting trend in the data.”

BossMan: “Excellent, let’s take a look…”

20 minutes later (and no cloer to being done). Me: Well, I’ll just finish this up, and head out.”

BossMan: “Great!  So, tell me what you think about WonderBoy.”

Side note: WonderBoy is the new hire whom I have strong feelings about.  He is ironically named.

Me: “Well. ..” and I proceed to tell BossMan about every little thing the guy does wrong that has annoyed me over the last 2 months. BossMan has noticed many of these things too but I can see he is beginning to see WB in a new light.  As I’m talking, I will myself to stop.  WonderBoy will likely be fine in time, although he is certainly not meeting anyone’s expectations up to this point and I am not doing him any favors right now.

While we talk, I can feel my hands shaking as I try to clean my glassware and scrape a label off of a jar with a blade.  Dex begins to wail again.  This time I stop myself, deglove, and look at Dex. “Low.”

Me: “I shouldn’t be doing this.”

BossMan: “huh?”

Me: “Sorry.  I mean scraping off this label – I’m a but unfocused from having sat in the analytical room all day and playing with a blade is probably not a good idea.” I lie.  I set down the blade and tell BossMan that I’ll finish cleaning in the morning.

I walk out of lab and head straight to my cube to chug a couple juiceboxes.  As my BG slowly returns to normal-person levels, I feel terrible about throwing Wonderboy under the bus.  Now, I wonder if I owe BossMan, and possible WonderBoy an explanation. After all, I do have to work with him for the indefinite future (although possibly less definite after I ran my mouth yesterday).

UPDATE:  I explained to BossMan in the morning that I felt I had crossed a line the previous evening, apologized, and asked that he please disregard the things I said about WB.  I explained about the low BG and now we have glucose stored in all of the first aide kits. I suppose that means all is good?

Taking Diabetes to Work

I started my new job at Company X last week. I have my very own cubical equipped with my very own computer, phone, and stapler; my very own fume hood equipped with a fancy new Schlenk line, vacuum pump, and shiny stir plates and lab jacks (I am a R&D chemist, btw); a slew of friendly and helpful coworkers; and a comfortable paycheck and benefits package (can you say “Yay! for dental insurance!”). Needless to say I am happy.

However, with a new job comes the need to introduce my diabetes to a new environment and new people. Something that I’m never sure exactly how to approach. Do I let people find out organically and not tell anyone unless it “comes up” or do I “disclose” my diabetes to my boss and few select coworkers as I get to know people? And how will my diabetes react to my new schedule?

The latter has turned out to be the easy part. Relatively speaking. During my first 3 days of work I was low constantly so I reduced just about every rate and ratio by about 10%. Sine then D has been behaving and I think that over time I will have to stepwise adjust my rates back to pseudo pre-job numbers as I develop a routine and begin to settle in.

The tricky part is figuring out how to introduce D to new people. In the past I have tended toward the organic option, making more effort to keep my diabetes under wraps than developing an at-work D-support system. But, I also have never been as conscientious about my diabetes as I am now. But I still don’t feel completely comfortable beginning the disclosure conversation.

My immediate supervisor, JK, already knows – it came out as we were heading off to lunch on Day 1 and he was telling me about his recent vegan conversion (since D is also a bit a bout food choices, it fit right in). His response was typical. “Oh, that’s interesting. My [insert distant relative here] died just last week from diabetes. She didn’t even know she had it before she was rushed to the hospital with a blood sugar of 900.” Yeah, mine isn’t like that. I explained to him that I have type one, had it since I was six. I wear an insulin pump and am otherwise completely healthy. That his distant relative is the exception, not the rule.

Then he stepped into the role of supervisor and asked me if there was anything he needed to know. I told him that I keep my diabetes well monitored but I could let him know the signs of low blood sugars and the appropriate emergency response, but really all I need is that he’s aware so that in case of an unrelated emergency he can make inform anyone else who needs to know. There. D-introduction done. Right?

The next day, the was training me on some piece of equipment when my BG began to trend low and Dex felt the need to inform me. Loudly. So I pulle doff my glove, reached into my pocket to silence Dex and put on a new glove. When I looked up, JK looked concerned and asked if everything is ok. I blushed and simply said “yep – everything’s fine” and the training continued.

Now I think that maybe I need to sit him down and give a breif tutorial about my different bionic parts, the noises they make, and the implications of those noises. The last thing I want is to be sitting in a meeting, have Dex go off, and have everyone think that I’m reaching in my pocket to return a text or something. I’d rather the explanation be preemptive.

But I don’t know how to begin that conversation. Despite my new found comfort with D, I’m still uncomfortable talking about it with people unfamiliar with D.

Then there’s the conversation I had with another coworker who was interested in seeing pictures of my hedgehog, which I have on my phone. She pointed to my pocket and said, “Do you have your phone with you?” As if she thought that even though I said I left my phone at my desk, I had something clearly cell-phone like in my pocket so I must’ve been mistaken. I told her that I did not in fact have my phone with me but would definitely show her later. I could have said a million other things. I could have told her what was in my pocket, showed her even. I could have brought her into the loop but I choked. And D remains under wraps.

I’m thinking of being really bold and beginning to wear my pump and Dex outside of my pockets at work. The idea behind this is two-fold. First, it would make life in the lab a bit easier. I would have better access to these devices and would be less likely to accidentally contaminate something by having to reach into my pocket to see them. Second, although people still wouldn’t necessarily know what they are, it would be more obvious what they aren’t and maybe these conversations would come more organically.

I’d be very interested in hearing how other people have approached introducing D at work. Please comment if you have any stories or insight.