Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

To my loser pancreas!

It has been a full year of diagnosis and I survived! All toes and limbs are accounted for!

It's actually amazing to think how far I have come in just one year. Thinking back to those first few months, I would cry at the thought of injecting myself, flinch when I had to test my blood sugar, and beat myself up for not being "a good diabetic" (though, truth be told, I still sometimes do that).

In this year, "Wow, I'm really high!" has taken on a whole new meaning in my life. I have brought the beeper (aka insulin pump) back into fashion. I have eaten my weight in baby carrots (b/c they won't raise my blood sugar). And I learned what awesome friends and family I have. I couldn't have gotten through this year without all their love and support.

Thanks guys!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

End of Summer....

One of my favorite things about summer is the tomatoes! I love fresh, ripe garden tomatoes! Sometimes, I'll just slice them up and eat with a little bit of salt. So good! I'm always sad at the end of the summer, not only because I won't see the sun again until May, but because I know tomato season is soon tapped out. 

When it's the season for it, I like making fresh plum tomato sauce, using actual real tomatoes! It's a little more time consuming then using canned tomatoes, but oh so good. I have fantasies of eventually jarring some up and giving them as gifts for the holidays. If it wasn't for the overwhelming fear of giving my friends and families a wicked case of Botulism.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

2 lbs ripe plum tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 handful fresh basil
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, cut a small "x" on the bottoms of each tomato.
2. When water is at a boil, drop a few tomatoes at a time into the pot. Let the tomatoes boil for 1 - 2 minutes depending on the size of the tomato. Then drop boiled tomato into a cold water bath. This is help you peel the tomatoes' skins. If you don't mind the skins, then you can skip this step and just diced the tomatoes with their skins on. You will also diced the skinned tomatoes.
3. Heat up onions, garlic, and oregano in olive oil. When onions and garlic start to brown, add your diced tomatoes. Salt and pepper.
4. Bring your tomatoes to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer for an hour to an hour and half. Add the fresh basil.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lessons Learned

I learn new things from my clients every day. Some of these lessons aren't things I ever necessarily felt the need to know, like how many species of lemurs there are in the world or the exact number of tiles there are in the office's bathroom...but things...every day.

There also times when my clients remind me of important life lessons once learned and easily overlooked.

In session the other day, my client talked about feeling stuck between two worlds, one for disabled people and one for everyone else. He has a significant medical condition and a mild developmental disability. We were talking about things that make him feel better when he is feeling down.Christmas is on the top of his list! But he also asked, "Ever see the movie Shawshank Redempetion?"
A little incredulously, I say "Yes, but that wasn't necessarily a feel good movie that would make me feel happy."
"You don't think so?" he asks.
"Well, I'm not sure. How do you see it?"
"Well, at the end, when Tim Robbin's character leaves the letter for Morgan Freeman's character, it says 'Hope is a good thing. Good things always survive.' I watch that movie and remember that there is always hope and feel better."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Under the Great Big Sea: Scuba Diving and Diabetes

I am now typing this as a certified Open Water Scuba Diver!! What what?!?!?!

When we first started talking about going scuba diving, I was a little nervous. I had the typical fears of anyone who was first trying it out. I won't be able to breath. I'm going to freak out and die. A SHARK IS GOING TO EAT ME!!! You know. Your run-of-the-mill, totally normal anxieties. However, there was one fear that was somewhat reality-based. I'm diabetic and could potentially have a low blood sugar 70 feet down in the great big sea. It was a scary thought.

When I went to good ol' Google for some help and advice, I couldn't really find anything. I came across one woman's blog post, which really was quite helpful and realized that I definitely wanted to do a post on scuba diving and diabetes in case anyone, like me, was out there looking.

I'll probably do this in a two-part post. One to actually give the details of what I did to prepare for diving as a diabetic and another on my actual experience on getting my certification. Here's a nice little step by step plan, that probably only diabetics would be interested in. But, hey, it is a diabetic's blog afterall!

STEP ONE - Get Endocronologist Approval (get approved medical form here)

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) recommends that you be on insulin treatment for one full year before diving, but really it's just to ensure that you have good blood sugar control, which I do, for the most part. I had my endo fill out this form and brought it with me to the dive shop. I've heard/read that other places, like Australia have a lot more stringent protocols with diabetics and their medicals.

STEP TWO - Decide Method of Injection

Having recently gone on the pump, I was inclined to stay on it during my dives; however, it generally wasn't recommended. I decided I was going to just use pens on our trip, but once I got down there, I did a combination of the two. This probably wouldn't work for all diabetics. My insulin needs are still relatively low at this point that a couple of hours without insulin didn't send my blood sugar out of control. Also, because our first few dives were from the beach, I didn't think my clutzy self could fuck it up and drop the pump in the water. 

Another thing to consider in using the pump instead of the pens when scuba-ing is that you do risk ruining the infusion set you are currently wearing as it will be saturated for an extended period of time. With pens, you won't have to worry about that.

STEP THREE - Checking Your Blood Sugar

This is two fold. You need to check your blood sugar getting into and out of the water. The woman in the blog I referenced before checked her blood sugar three times before entering the water, once at 30 minutes, again at 15 minutes, and once more before entering the water. This was to ensure that her blood sugar wasn't dropping going in. I wasn't so diligent but I did ensure that my blood sugar was high, like 190's - 200's high. This was actually a perfect range since my blood sugar dropped with each dive.

I was diligent in checking getting out of the water as well. I should have done a better job in tracking blood sugar drop in reference to depth and amount of time in the water, but I was on vacation! Overall, my blood sugar dropped anywhere from 50 - 100 points.

STEP FOUR - Snacks

This was actually the first step on the list, but thought it might come off as a little irresponsbile. :) It is important to have some kind of gel/snack with you that can be used to raise your blood sugar, even under the water. I opted for honey packets. They would be something I could easily suck out of the package if I need to do so under the water.

Usually, on the boat, they served fruit and cake after each dive. Not exactly diabetic snacks. I won't lie though. I had me some cake! Remember that whole vacation thing! But, if I had had better self-control, I also brought familiar snacks with me. Familiar in that I know usually by how much they might raise my blood sugar, like my favorite Kashi granola bar.

STEP FIVE - Letting Others Know

When first talking about getting scuba certified, I was concerned about what role diabetes would play in shops allowing me to dive. It, technically, hasn't been a year since starting insulin. I had a few people suggest to me that I just not share my disease. While it is compelling to skip the disclosure altogether, I thought better of it for many reasons. My personal safety, the safety of the other divers, and the unfair responsibility I would place on my buddy (Jerry) in the event anything went wrong were the top three.

It was important for the dive shop (Scuba Gamma), the instructors, and dive masters to know. They didn't necessarily know what to do with that information, but at least they were aware.

Overall, besides the blood sugar testing and pounding granola bars before entering the water, diabetes didn't really impact on my scuba experience. However, I am really glad I took these precautions so that I could focus on my real concern about scuba, that grumpy Great White known as JAWS!!!! Haven't you seen Jaws 2, 3, and 4?! He comes back, people!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Me Gusta La Comida!

Have I mentioned Jerry's enthusiasm for Cozumel? Have I told you about his lists? Have I been clear enough about his "Come On Down!" excitement?

One of the things Jerry most looked forward to, besides scuba diving, was the food. Spending a whole week with just me probably came further down on the list. :) And me, being the fat kid I am, was pretty excited about it too. 

The food in Mexico is different then most other Carribean countries I have been too. Primarily in that you can find much lighter fare then the usual stewed meats and deep fried meals. The food seemed fresher (as is the case with the infamous avocado tree). On this trip,  a lot of tacos were consumed, which is actually where our food adventures began.

On the first night, Jerry had to initiate me to the island by suggesting we go, of course, for tacos de cabeza or "head tacos." Insert dirty joke here. Basically, these are tacos made from the different parts of the head. Imagine Jerry's disappointment when he found out that they didn't have brain or spinal cord tacos. Oh, darn!

Instead, we had tacos de lengua (tongue tacos), tacos de ojos (eye socket tacos), and I can't remember the name of the last one, but they were beef cheek tacos. In addition to our Fear Factor fare, we also order tacos al pastor, which is seasoned pork served with grilled pineapple. My favorite was definitely the tacos de lengua followed by the tacos de ojos! It can be described like tender brisket. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for you), I wasn't able to get good pictures. 

The rest of our meals weren't nearly that adventurous, but were definitely awesome. Here's a pictorial adventure of some of our eats in Mexico!

Tacos de Ojos - Terrible picture!
These next set of pictures are from our favorite restaurant, Sabores, the one with the infamous avocado tree! They have the best mole I have ever had! I would drink bottles of it if they had let me. I'm not someone who likes to eat at the same place over and over again when on vacation. We ate lunch at Sabores three times! It was that good!

Jerry reading the menu.
Not sure why, but I love this picture. 
Menu Options
The infamous avocado!

The avocados have a different color as you can see in this guacamole. 
Mmmmmm.....Enchiladas Mole!
Albondigas!! Got this for two reasons.
One, it reminded me of my sister.
Two, it is fun to say!
These photos are from Kondesa, a new restaurant that recently opened in Cozumel that was really good!

Three different types of guacamole: strawberry-apple-bacon,
roasted tomatillo and cactus,and regular old-fashion
Flautas de Pollo with black bean sauce and cilantro cream
Corn Tamale with sauteed shrimp
These are pictures of Night Tacos, which were really tacos that we ate faster then it took for us to get night!

Some kind of organ-meat tacos. We weren't sure what they were,
but they were good. 
Quesadilla al Pastor
Tacos al Pastor

From here, you just have random pictures of the different things we ate.
Avocado Pie. Sounds weird, but was surprisingly good!
Chilaquiles - Breakfast Food
Tortillas soaked in red sauce and served with shredded chicken
Huevos Motulenos
Two fried eggs served on toasted tortillas with ham, peas, and queso fresco
Conch Ceviche
Me, after spilling my strawberry margarita all over myself.
Jerry thought this was hilarious!
Some of the places we ate included:
The Money Pit
La Choza
Le Chef Restuarant

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lucky Girl.

Enjoying this view....

with this over-sized child....

while eating these plates of deliciousness....

My plate, sans meat

Jerry's plate with fresh chorizo

Low-Carb Huevos Rancheros - Low carb because it's missing the usual re-fried beans

2 fresh eggs
2 fresh tortillas
1/4 c oaxaca cheese, diced into smaller pieces
1/2 - 2 tsp your favorite hot sauce (Jerry made this from scratch)
1/2 chorizo sausage, removed from its casing (optional)

1. Heat your frying pan and crack each egg once pan gets to medium heat. Cook for sunny-side up eggs. 
2. Place tortillas on very low in toaster oven. Just enough to keep them warm until you build your plate. 
3. Layer your avocado and tomato salsa onto the tortilla. Place eggs on top of salsa. Top with cheese and chorizo, if using. 
4. Place tortillas back into toaster oven and heat until cheese begins to melt. Not too long or you'll over cook your pretty egg yolk! Add your favorite hot sauce. 

Maybe if you're nice to him, Jerry will be so kind as to give you his kick-ass hot sauce recipe. On the other hand, I'm trying to convince him that our millions lay in wait for us to start bottling our homemade sauces for sale. I wouldn't want you move in on our millions. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

I Will Buy You an Avocado Tree.

Jerry's excitement to be in Mexico was similar to that of a contestant on The Price is Right. It was unrelenting and mildly contagious. He might as well have high-fived and chest bumped his way out of the airplane once we landed.  For the several weeks prior to our trip, Jerry listed for me all the many things he loves about coming to Cozumel, which includes the very first place we ate lunch when we arrived, Sabores.

This "restaurant" is literally someone's house. You walk through their living room and kitchen to get to the backyard dining area. The cook is someone's abuela who is probably making the recipes of her mother, who made them from her mother who made them from her mother. The meal usually comes with soup and your choice of entree. We had mole enchiladas, which were one of the most amazing things I ever tasted! The food was excellent!

As we sat outside, waiting for our first course of guacamole, Jerry noticed an avocado tree in the yard. "I wonder if they made our guacamole from the avocados on that tree."
"Yeah, probably, " I replied. "That's pretty fucking awesome." I do have a way with words.

Jerry, hardly containing himself, asked Carmen, our waitress, in broken Spanish (points for even trying) if our guacamole was made from the avocados on the tree. Carmen confirmed that it was and it was as though Jerry had just been told to "Come on down!" (yes, another PIR reference).

"See, I love this place! It's awesome! Do you think they'll sell us one of the avocados? Do you think we can have one?" Huge grin from ear to ear.
"Ummm....I'm sure we can buy one at the supermarket that we're going to visit three more times today, sweetie." It's not often you go to a restaurant and ask to leave with a bag of produce, right?

Which we did. Which really wasn't nearly as exciting as picking it straight off the tree or the BIG MONEY wheel spin, but we all make concessions.

Avocado-Tomato Salsa

1 fresh, supermarket bought avocado
2 - 3 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 small onion, chopped
3 - 4 roasted garlic cloves
1 small handful cilantro
The juice of one small lime
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Chop up the avocado, tomatoes, onions, and garlic cloves. Toss together.
2. Add the juice from the lime and vinegar.
3. Chop up cilantro and add to salsa.
4. Generously salt and pepper. There is not much seasoning in this recipe because you want to ingredients to speak for themselves.
5. Stir well and enjoy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Supermarketing, Mexico-style!!!

Jerry was ridiculously excited for us to go to the supermarket here in Mexico. We're both fat kids who love to go food shopping. If only they would let us drink wine while we wandered the aisles, I'm sure many of our date nights would be spent at Whole Foods or Shop Rite.

However, truth be told, I was not expecting much of this Mexican supermarket. I am sure I have mentioned Jerry's love of divey places and enthusiasm for anything gritty.  It is, after all, what led us to eating bull penis.

To emphasize my point, let me tell you about the youth hostel where we stayed in New Orleans. Jerry acted like this hostel was the Taj Mahal!  The hostel where there wasn't a working light in our room, the bed was made out of 2x4's, and the bathrooms were communal? Yeah, that one. When the Jerry Garcia look-alike walked us through the main house out to the backyard where he showed us the hut we were staying in, I began to question our plan, wondered if we could scrap together enough cash for the HoJo. But not Jerry. He turned to me with a huge toothy grin and mouthed "This is awesome!"

Jerry's so excited about papaya!!!
Thinking of Jerry's definition of "awesome" applied to a third world country supermarket, you can understand my concern.  However, I should have known my boy wouldn't steer me wrong!

The supermarket is awesome! So awesome in fact, we've already gone there three times in the two days we've been here. All the locals must think we're crazy gringos, snapping pictures of their shopping carts and running around their supermarket like it's Disneyland. Now if only Jerry would stop trying to get me to push him around in a shopping cart....

Don't know what they are, but they're delicious!

Those little daisy looking flowers is actually fresh chamomile. 

These things were bigger than my head!

Diabetic's Vacation?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Soy Diabetica!

I have been practicing my Spanish for my trip with Jerry to Cozumel.

The first sentence I learned was "Soy diabetica, sin azucar por favor," which means "I am a diabetic, no sugar please." I figured it would come in handy. It's right up there with "Donde esta el bano?!" and "Puedo tener otra bebida alcoholica, por favor?" These sentences mean "Where's the bathroom?!" and "May I have another alcoholic beverage, please?"

That should give you a picture of the vacation I plan on having!

Oddly enough, despite the fact that I just started using the insulin pump, I an considering not using it while on vacation. Instead, I may go back to multiple daily injections with insulin pens while we are away. There were several reasons for this decision, but the biggest one was due to a new hobby Jerry is roping me into, scuba diving!

Because I would need to disconnect from the pump for several hours at a time (meaning there will be no insulin at all in my body), my blood sugar rise and probably making it pretty difficult to control. We'll probably go scuba diving several times throughout the week. I also run the risk of ruining the infusion set (the piece that's actually in my body that receives the insulin) because I'll be spending long amounts of time in the water/wet. The biggest reason in my mind, though, is that I'm pretty clumsy and I can see my foolish ass accidentally dropping that expensive piece of life saving equipment off the side of our vessel.

And then Jerry would have to kill me.

So my mother wouldn't be able to.