Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'll Tell You a Story

There was an incident on Twitter the today that got me thinking about words (again). Specifically, I was thinking about what word I'd choose to describe my role in the Diabetes Online Community, at least as I perceive it.

What happened with this: a Twitter user who's been aggressively trying to make connections within the community was asked by the diabetesalicious Kelly Kunik to explain her repeated statement that she's working to "cure diabetes". (Kelly's account of the story, as part of a moving post, is here.) The resulting exchange - in which other DOC members participated as well - revealed that this person means "manage" rather than "cure", arguing that doctors see "effectively managed" as the same as "cured", and that the low-carb/high protein meal plan she's pushing will produce fabulous management. Part of me wanted to participate, with my opinion that "effective management" and "cure" are miles apart, and that any doctor that really used the terms as synonymous was dangerously out of touch with the patients. But, I didn't participate - partly due to a failure of nerve.

Later in the day, I sent Kelly a tweet of thanks. In that tweet I described myself as a "lousy advocate" for not taking up the cudgels. I regret saying that, though I got a couple of heartening responses. But, my discomfort with describing myself as an "advocate" or an "activist" remains. I don't disparage the role I see developing for me, but I don't think either of those words quite describes it.

I thought for a while, as I did my data entry, about the word I would choose to describe my role, particularly in reference to my blogs. After a while, the word that fits came to me.

I'm a storyteller. I'm proud to be a storyteller: a storyteller can make a tremendous difference.

I'm telling the story of a disease that I didn't ask for any more than anybody else did, and the impact it has on me, and my struggle to respond to it more effectively. I'm not really comfortable providing much information ABOUT diabetes, though I've felt I needed to do so more often than I'd like. I'm a long way from an expert, and health information shouldn't be guesswork.

So, I tell my story. Sure, I describe my thoughts and feelings more often than I do incidents from my life, but my thoughts and feelings are a big part of my story, too.

I hope you find, from time to time, that in telling my story I'm telling part of yours, too. And I hope that just a little more understanding, a little more sense of connection and of community, a little dispersal of isolation, will result.

Friday, September 24, 2010

D-Feast Friday: Curry Cauliflower Soup

This soup grew out of what I had on hand one evening.

Cooking oil of your choice
1 head cauliflower, cut into smallish florets
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
A few stalks green onion, shopped or shredded
1 tomato, chopped
Curry powder
Cinnamon powder
2-3 cups cooked short- or medium-grain brown rice

1. This is probably optional, but this was going to be a stir-fry when I started, so I sauteed the cauliflower and green onions for a few minutes.
2 Add chicken stock.
3 Add curry powder to taste, then add some more. I think I used like 2 tsps. This much was an accident, but it worked. Trust me on this.
4. Add some cinnamon powder, maybe 1/2 to 1 tsp. It may just be me, but I find that cinnamon takes some of the heat out of curry while not taking away from what I call it's 'warmth'. I'm not Emeril and don't know how to describe this stuff.
5. Add tomato and salt to taste.
6. When the cauliflower is about tender, add the rice and cook for a few more minutes. Serve hot.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Diabetes Limericks

I wrote the below as relief from having written several rather earnest posts. I hope none of the below crosses the line from funny to offensive for you, and hope that you'll forgive me if they do.

My doctor had offered me kudos
On maintaining an excellent glucose
But I blew it away
On the way home that day
That sweet shop was entirely too close!

A 'betic in old Narragansett
Who hated to swap out her lancet,
Said, "I know that it's strange,
But it's annoying to change,
So I guess that I'll just have to chance it!"

My pharmacist showed an example
Of a test strip that took a small sample
"You don't need a quart,
I'm pleased to report,
A teensy bit ought to be ample!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Breakfast With My Meter

This an experiment. Please let me know what you think.

In a dream....

I was sitting in a molded plastic booth at a fast food restaurant, finishing my breakfast, when a woman slipped into the seat across the table from me. "We have to talk", she said.

I was startled - by the interruption, by the woman's loveliness, and most especially by such words coming from someone I didn't think I knew at all. A case of mistaken identity? I wondered in a moment of anxiety. Was I about to be drawn into some drama I had no part in?

"Um, okay, but who are you?" I asked, trying to recover my sense of calm.

"I'm your blood glucose meter."

In the logic of dreams, this simple statement seemed quite sensible, and I felt reassured. "I don't remember my meter looking like you!" The woman was sleek, handsome rather than beautiful, and dressed stylishly in silver and black.

She grinned at me. "I can take human form once in a while. It's a new feature."

I grinned back. "I don't remember seeing THAT in the manual!"

"Yeah. Like you actually read the manual."

I was stung by the shot - and its absolute truth - and made an ungentlemanly response. "Oh? And is the manual more accurate than YOU are?"

Her eyes narrowed, and she seemed about to answer my insult with one of her own. But she bit off her words, took a breath, and relaxed. "Bob, I know the accuracy issue is a real problem for diabetics that use insulin. But, honestly, is it really that big an issue for you?"

"Not that big an issue, no," I admitted. "The numbers are good enough to show a trend in the fasting levels, and that's probably the most important for me. But when I do pre/post testing on a particular food, I really can't learn much unless I do the testing the same way a number of times. And, since I don't really do that, it's not much more use than not testing at all."

"I understand that," she said, "I wish I could do a better job. But do YOU understand that you could be helping more?"

"What do you mean?" Suddenly, I knew perfectly well what she meant.

"Several things. First, while you do your fasting test fairly often, and that's good, it's nothing like every day. Daily would give you much more meaningful numbers. And you know how you could round out the daily variations to show trends a little better - you've just never done it."

"Guilty as charged", I said.

"Next, this pre- and post-meal testing you mentioned. You need to do more of it, both to learn about specific foods and also to compare the pre-meal number. Sure, you'd probably have to buy some strips beyond what the insurance will be happy about. But you spend money on less important things than that."


"Finally, you're pretty casual about how you test. Often, you don't wash your hands, you just suck on the finger you're going to use and dry it on whatever's handy. That introduces a lot more room for variation than you'd have with better practices."

She fell silent. I was silent, too: she was right, but I didn't want to admit it.

In the silence, she looked at the tray with my interrupted breakfast. "You're not gonna eat those hash browns, are you? Since you're also having an English muffin?"

"What are you, the diabetes police?"

She laughed out loud. "Yes! Isn't that my job?" She grinned at me, then grew very serious. "Look. You do a good job with a lot of diabetes stuff. But I want you to be healthy for a very long time. And you could be doing more to help yourself."

She stood. "Give me a quick hug, and I'll let you finish your breakfast." As I rose, I thought I saw that her eyes were a little misty. "Take care of yourself", I heard her whisper, "and let me help."

Barely had my mind begun to register the hug when it was suddenly gone, completely. As I tried to puzzle this out, I noticed something in my hand. My meter.

And then I awoke.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Games Pedersens Play

I spend a fair amount of time playing computer games. Whether you would consider me a "gamer" or not depends on your definition of that term. If you're passionate about that definition, I probably don't fit.

The games I choose are based on the following things I've learned about myself:
* I play for entertainment. I enjoy a challenge, but too much challenge means frustration. When I want a huge challenge, I do one of my cranium-crushing crosswords.
* I have very little manual dexterity and a lousy reaction time. So I have no realistic chance of being successful enough at an action game to enjoy it. So, while I've never TRIED "Modern Warfare", I just can't imagine having the fun others do.

(This would be me playing a combat game: *start* *SPLAT* *restart* *SPLAT* *restart* *SPLAT!* "Gee, I wonder what I've got on my DVR?")

Taken together, these factors put me at home with what are called "casual" games. These games are designed to be easy to learn, so that you don't need an hour with an instruction manual to get started. They're typically limited in length as well - I can finish most of the games I play in an evening.

The games I enjoy most are "hidden object" and casual adventure games. In a hidden object game, the player is presented with a cluttered scene and given a list of objects to be found in that scene. In the older games of this genre, that's pretty much the whole gameplay, and the stuff you looked for was often silly, like hotdogs. In the last few years, however, this genre has been sort of morphing into adventure games of sorts: some of the objects you find are used to solve problems that move you towards some objective. If the plot isn't TOO absurd, that's enough for me.

So, I'm not up to taking on dragons or virtually defending our nation from zombies, or terrorists, or even zombie terrorists. But I have a great time with what I do play!

D-Feast Friday: Garlic-Feta-Olive pasta topping

I was taught this bit of yumminess as a pasta topping, but I imagine there's all sorts of things you can do with it. Green beans come to mind, though I've never tried it.

* olive oil (a couple of tbsps per serving)
* fresh garlic, diced or sliced (a clove or two per serving)
* black olives, sliced or diced (I think other olives would also be tasty; use a tbsp or so per serving, or to taste)
* feta cheese (use a tbsp or so per serving, or to taste)

1. Put the garlic into the olive oil over very low heat. You're not sauteeing the garlic, you're creating an infusion. If the garlic starts to fry, move it off the heat for a bit while you turn down the heat. I'm guessing step takes three to four minutes.
2. Once the oil tastes nice and garlicky, strain the oil and dispose of the garlic.
3. Resist the urge to call off dinner and disappear into the basement with the garlicky oil and a loaf of crusty bread.
4. Toss the oil, the feta, and the olives into whatever you're serving it with.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Very Bloggy Announcement

I've been honored with an invitation to become a "featured blogger" over at Diabetes Daily, which was my first diabetes "home" on the Internet. You can find my entries there at I hope you stop by!

But those of you who've read me here won't get rid of me that easily. I'm still going to post here as I write stuff that may not quite fit the decor in my new digs. While I'm not clear on just how I'll draw the line, I do address some topics that clearly aren't related to diabetes. My eyebrows, for example. (If you do visit the new site, you may notice that my picture there clearly shows the expansionist tendencies of my eyebrows.)

I want to express thanks to the folks who encouraged me to start blogging and the folks who've supported me as I've worked at finding my "voice". It's only quite recently that I've felt confident thinking of myself as a "real" blogger, rather than just someone getting a few things off his chest. Thank you for reading.
Creative Commons License
T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.