All things change (and I’m ok with that)

A year ago I had been out of the hospital for two months; I was newly diagnosed as diabetic; and I had just made some decisions… I was dropping the pretense of looking for some other job and embracing the fact that I am by nature a writer. I decided I really needed to get going on publishing. I also decided to get serious about attempting a NANOWRIMO project; writing an entire 50,000+ word novel in one month. It was a turbulent, scary time and I didn’t know what was to come.

Today, this year, I stopped at my local mega-mart to pick up a prescription… I actually know the pharmacist personally at this point. I have finished that NANOWRIMO project. I have ‘beat’ diabetes in that I no longer need insulin. I am struggling to adjust to the fact that I’m 30lbs lighter than when I went to the doctor six months ago (a full 100lbs) below my high point. And, I have a book out.

It really is a different year from last year.

I took a look around the mega-mart because they’re doing one of those “open while we’re remodeling” numbers and I wanted to see what’s new. I realized things are actually kind of new for me too. People are starting to accept that I’m actually self-employed (having books on Amazon helps). My wife is proposing her doctoral dissertation this week (I once thought I would be the one to have a doctorate). This year my ‘big question’ for NANOWRIMO is: can I actually write a 50,000+ word sequel in one month?

Things have changed a lot. Not all of the changes have been what I wanted or planned, but things are actually coming out for the better. The secret is I have chosen, and do choose, to do what I believe is right; to the best of my ability. That includes accepting the fact that I don’t do everything right; learning to do better; and actually doing (even when it isn’t easy). The other secret is the desire to be more than you are; to learn what you are and what you have the potential to be; and then honestly, actively striving to become.

Nietzsche wrote that if God didn’t exist it would have been necessary to invent him. I believe that he does exist (we can save the God is a she debate for another day). I believe he does understand us and has a plan for us. I also believe that coming to know who and what we are, and what we can do (and need to do), is a personal journey. It is not something anyone can, or should, compel anyone else to do. It doesn’t work that way.

So, yeah, my wife is getting the PHD I thought I would be getting; the bakery is inexplicably where the meat counter used to be; and I’m about to start the sequel to a book that wasn’t supposed to have a sequel. I’m ok with that. I am more than I was. I am growing and becoming what I can be.

With all the noise and strife in our world dear reader, with all the change and ‘stuff’ thrown at us every day, don’t forget the real human rights and the real opportunities to make good choices and become more than what we are.

Until next time…

Um, where did they put the magazine rack? …and my notebook? …and…

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Crashing Through

As I said in my last post there was no post last week do to (among other things) going to a memorial service for my mother…

In one week we had Tax Day, a finished draft to go to the publisher (which had to be done before I left), my mother’s memorial, dealing with in-laws, medical issues on that side of the family, and a surprise party (not a big fan of surprise parties). You would think that somewhere in all that, all the stress, there would be the thing that gets me wouldn’t you… You would be (and I was) wrong!

I’ve talked about some of my adventures with diabetes in this blog and this was another. and not in the way I expected…

Often the problems and damage from diabetes are from really high blood sugar. Stress is a known high blood sugar trigger. As are over eating and eating off schedule. This week I was guilty as charged for all of the above.

Travel and family quickly killed the schedule. Stress was through the roof. And, I had actually given myself permission to be a little looser on my diet while on the trip (and that was before the family and well wishers got into the act). By all rights my blood sugar should have been through the roof.

I was ready for it to be through the roof. I was ready for the stress. The thing that got me was the one that I didn’t see coming.

After all that, on the last day (supposedly) of the trip home; after I was restoring normalcy to my stress,  diet and life; my blood sugar levels dropped through the floor.

Lows are a real and significant problem.

I’m off insulin and my meds don’t cause lows. I hadn’t considered my ability to adapt to stress and ask/think about what happens when  it goes away. It never occurred to me to think about the after because I was focused on the during.

I talk (and think) a lot about plans and choices and the things we learn. The thing I learned from this one is we have to think about the whole thing. Not just how we achieve X, but what happens after we do it.

Survival has consequences. Success has consequences. The choices we make lead to things that happen. And, in this world, “happily ever after” isn’t really a thing.

So, I’ve mourned. I’ve grown. I’ve learned.

You can achieve dear reader. You can get through it. So, you might as well think at least a little about what happens when you succeed (so you can survive that!). You might not expect everything, dear reader, and that’s OK. That’s OK, as long as you learn and are better prepared the next time.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Learn from your failures, and your successes.

Learning More, Becoming Better

The other day I was pondering what to do with this blog. I felt like I was going to loose one of the things that I like to talk about here. One of the ones I’ve gotten a lot of reactions to.

For a moment I thought I was going to give up on writing about diabetes stuff here. I felt like I was a victim of my own success. I’m not really having a lot of side effects or trials, so what’s to write about?

I realized having things to talk about diabetes wasn’t the problem. I needed to reorganize the way I think about, and write on, the blog!  There are really four main themes/subjects that I want to be the focus of this blog: Writing, Creativity/creating, Independence/ability, and choice.

My fight about whether I had anything to say about diabetes was flawed. If I wanted to sit around groaning about symptoms, then I don’t have a lot to say here. But, if I look at it in terms of my four subjects/themes there is a lot to say. I can talk about the choices one makes in living with diabetes. I can talk about being independent while dealing with diabetes. I can talk about creative solutions when dealing with diabetes. I can write about what I’m writing about diabetes. That’s a lot of good options.

Using this system I can (and will) talk about a lot of things I’m interested in. They’re all fair game as long as I can fit them into one or more of the themes. I will probably keep writing about diabetes fairly often (I hope to have at least one if not two books on it out in the next year or so). I will also be talking about psychology, history/mythology, family experiences and other things I run into. I’m just going to make sure that they are talked about in the context of the four themes.

This way I get to talk about the things I want to. And you, the reader, have a more solid base to know what to expect on the blog. The blog will be both free to vary, and consistent in content. This change is really going to help me, and hopefully the better focused content helps you too.

That’s it for today dear reader. Until next time…

remember focusing and limiting aren’t the same thing!

The highs and lows while coping with the highs and lows…

Ok, last week I talked about my wife being gone this week and the start of NANOWRIMO..And I said I would update today…

That said it will probably be a short update… I have been doing a lot or writing.

I think missing my wife has actually shown up in my behavior and blood sugar readings. The combination of writing, a lot, and her being gone has definitely had an affect. In the early part of the week I actually hit a couple of lows that were much lower than expected. Apparently the brain does need a lot of energy to run full tilt!

The book is really coming along nicely. I’m one of those weird ‘write it out on paper then transcribe it’ writers, so my official word count is a little behind my actual word count (about a days worth at the moment). I’m guessing the official count is behind by about 2500 words. My official word count is at 10062 by the way!

At the moment the word count actually doesn’t matter to me. I’ve found a cool story, an engaging story. And, I get to be the first person to read it! I think that’s one of the things I like about being a fiction writer. If you’re doing it right you get to discover new stories. Even if you’re the most linear out-liner in the world there should still be something that’s unexpected, something that hooks you about your story. If it doesn’t hook you, why would it hook anyone else?

Of course I’d love to have a best seller. I’d love to be like Masters and Johnson and have a book sell out on the first day! But, really when I’m writing this story, the story is the important part. It’s what I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about. It’s the thing I worry about. How’s it going to work? Even though I ‘know’ where it’s going how is it going to get there?

One of my favorite points, which I get to sooner because of my write/transcribe style, is the “Wait! Did I really put that in there?” point. It’s that point where you see things fit together that you never consciously thought out. And, it’s happened at least twice on this one already!

This one is a story I want to share, but it’s also one I want to get right. Unofficially I’m about a quarter of the way through my NANOWRIMO goal but there’s still a long road to go.

Well, that’s it for this one dear reader.

Until next time…

Trust the story, it will get you through!

New month, ‘new’ project, new adventure

As this goes up (October 30th 2015) I’m gearing up for one of the more interesting weeks of this year; Probably second only to the week I spent in the hospital last may; possibly more interesting.

Tomorrow, October 31, Halloween, my wife is leaving for a double conference trip. On Monday November 2, I’m doing my first official days writing on my NANOWRIMO project (the first being a Sunday and I have no official writing goals on Sundays…). This will be the starting week of a power project (almost 2000 words a day on this project alone in addition to blog posts/responsibilities, managing the end of my Kickstarter and my ongoing beasty known as research…). It will also be 1) the longest time that my wife and I have been apart since we were married and 2) the first time we’ve been apart since I was diagnosed with diabetes.

I guess it’s really time to put my money where my mouth is in terms of being able to handle my diagnosis solo…

NANOWRIMO…

The project I’ll be writing on is something that’s been on my mind for eight years, I have a one page write-up that I created eight years ago and that’s it to start from. I have an idea for a beginning and a remembered dream for a middle and an end. the usual big question is there… How do I get from the beginning to the end. This time there is also a new question, can I really do this in thirty days? I hope so!

I’ve been growing as a writer and this is a fitting test. I feel like a winner either way.

Diagnosis, dear wife and distance…

This will really be the longest we’ve been apart since we got married and the first time we’ve been apart since my diagnosis. It’s actually kind of scary. But, there are things we can do, and things we can put in place, that will make it work (or at least make it survivable).

Communication is key in a relationship, and knowing is half the battle. I know that the times I will be most worried are when my wife is traveling between conferences and home to conference… Answer, she calls or texts between planes/shuttles and when she gets to her hotels. I do the same when it’s my turn.

I think she will be most worried about me at night (and she’s confirmed the thinking). Will my sugar go low with no one around? Will I get to sleep without her beside me? The solution (at least partly) is that we will keep the good habits in place. I will stay conscientious about my meds and tests and I will call her to say good night and to wake her up in the morning.

I will make a point to talk to her about what I’m doing to take care of myself, the house and the projects I’m working on. We have not missed a single night talking/praying together since we got engaged and we won’t miss one now.

Knowing is better than worrying; our imaginations are pretty good at creating worst case scenarios.

Then there’s actually doing it…

Doing the writing… taking care of myself without burning down the house… it all has to get done. I suspect some friends will check on me from time to time (the minefield flags wouldn’t keep them out of the yard so why would Halloween decorations?).

In reality I think having the big project start the week my wife is gone is a good thing. It lets me get a good start on things, get a good roll going, and gives me something to report on when talking to her at night. It also keeps me busy and relatively out of trouble (Yes Idaho, for once you don’t have to worry about me burning the city down while my wife’s gone (well not on purpose at least 😉 ).

In general I think this is going to be fun. To find out what it’s really like tune in next week!

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Take care of your loved ones and yourselves.

They didn’t tell me about the weather…

I’ve been doing the diabetes thing for about four months now and it seem like I’ve gotten a handle on a lot of stuff. It especially seems like I’ve gotten a handle on the day to day stuff like testing blood sugar. And then, a day like today happens. I go to test my sugar. I prick my finger (one of the good, always bleeds enough fingers) and… nothing… Now I check through the usual stuff am I dehydrated? Nope… Is that finger “adjusting” to frequent pokes? Ok, I’ll try the other hand… Poke and… a little blood but not enough. The it hits me, it’s cold. The blood is closer to the core of my body because my body is trying to insulate it’s self from the cold!

Most of the testing I have done is in the summer… day temps most of this time have been in the 80’s and 90’s today the expected high is 63 and it hasn’t made it out of the 50’s at 1:00 in the afternoon and It was still in the 40’s when I tested (and being the half German half polar bear that I am I had the windows open…) yes… a thirty degree shift in temperature just might affect doing a simple sugar test. I’d never thought of that before.

Straddling the line between both sides of life…

I’m working on starting a Kickstarter campaign to get a diabetes log book published. It’s one of those projects that most publishers aren’t interested in but I think it is worth while. My version includes a few things I wish the others hand had. So, I’m looking over stuff on doing a campaign and I find a graph that’s showing how social media posts and interactions affect Kickstarter contributions… There’s that old sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach… Yes, I knew there was a link and that I will eventually need to talk about the campaign on social media, but I’d never seen how strong the link really is. In spite of my blog and the quest for publication I’m actually kind of a private guy…  Am I really ready to be blasting my ideas all over the social media world. Will anybody listen?

Putting it all together…

Yeah, I think people will listen. And, yeah I figured the cold thing out and know to warm up my hands before I test. The thing here is no matter how much we think we’ve learned, there will probably be something new out there that surprises us; something where real life doesn’t meet our theory; something we’ve never encountered; something that’s just plain weird. This actually isn’t a bad thing!

When we encounter something we didn’t know we have an opportunity to learn and grow. We have the opportunity to know more and do more than we could before. As you learn more there is a chance for these opportunities to get rarer, so it’s a real gift when one happens.

If you decide to stop and not touch the edges of what you know the chance to learn becomes even smaller. That is really sad, because learning is a key part in how we become more than we are. Whether it is learning a new quirk or trick of your diagnosis, learning a new way of doing dialog or story structure, or learning something not even attached to what you usually do, learning makes you more able to be and do as you will.

So, don’t let these little moments of scary or weird get to you. Cherish them! Use them! Grow and be strong!

And, if these learning moments don’t come to you… go out and find them!

It’s not that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks… It’s that the old dog knows most of the available tricks, so you have to find something new before you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Nope, wasn’t kidding

Not kidding at all, teachable moments and learning experiences are how we become and grow stronger. Sometimes you need to go out and look for them.

I was also serious in that I have an idea for an improved blood sugar log book that I’m setting up a Kickstarter for. I’ll tell you a bit more about that in the next couple of weeks as I get closer to the launch.

In the mean time,

that’s it for today dear reader.

Until next time: find the new in everything and use it for good.

Assumptions and other bad ideas…

Interesting thing happened to me shortly before I wrote this…

The hospital I ended up in a few months back (when I was diagnosed with diabetes) just tried to send me an inappropriate and uncalled for demand letter…

Problem 1: Someone over there made a decision without bothering to check their own records…

Problem 2: Someone over there made the assumption that a letter would scare me…

Problem 3: Someone over there made the assumption that I was less than intelligent and didn’t keep and check records…

Problem 4: Someone over there failed to realize this wasn’t their first mistake…

Now, I am not an overly vengeful person (some of my friends will say that I’m deliberately cranky… but they admit that that is just to amuse myself…). I do take offense when someone tries to breach a contract and punish me for their mistakes. This was all sorted out (for the moment at least) with a couple of phone calls; however, the whole thing could have been avoided if people bothered to get good information and think in the first place.

This was something that could not have been positively corrected, once it happened, if I hadn’t held up my end; kept good records; and knew what was going on. Believe me… after they learned that I had full documentation from both my side and theirs about what was going on, and that I was aware my state is a triple damages state, they straightened themselves out very quickly.

The moral(s) of this story… Educate yourself. Keep good records. Know what is going on around you. Be patient and polite where appropriate, but stand up for yourself too.

As Sun Tsu said…

If you know your enemy and yourself you need not fear the outcome of a hundred battles.

If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.

If you know neither your enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.

In my own words…

And succumbing in battle can cost you.

That’s it for today dear reader.

Hope you’ve been having a better one than I have…

Two diagnoses + Two Careers = One Good Life

Ok, this may sound nuts, but today I’m actually glad I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. It’s actually made me think about my diet and exercise. And, it’s resulting in my being healthier.

It also gives me a ‘trump card’ to play when random people try to play with my schedule.That Schedule thing is actually kind of important for me. First off I’m a child of German ancestry and a military family (you figure it out). Second… I deal with attention deficits (which is sometimes different from what people think it is).

The second diagnosis

Last I checked the formal diagnosis is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) but the American Psychological Association is driven by economic, political and ego factors (in addition to science) so they may have changed it (while I wasn’t paying attention…). ADHD is a fairly common diagnosis and one that can be difficult to pin down a cause for. I’ve heard metabolic explanations (which make sense); neurological explanations (which make sense); behavioral explanations (which make sense); and “I don’t want to parent my child” explanations (which make me mad, but… make sense!).

In my case the best explanation is one that I ran into in grad school. My ADD (ADHD but people hesitate to call a fat guy hyper active…) is kind of like being at the opposite end of the bell curve from the autistic folks. They are over stimulated and I crave stimulation… this has potential for good and the potential to get me in trouble (note for others diagnosed with ADHD and those who love them: it’s a personal experience thing. Your experience (and mileage) may vary).

Over the years I have developed skills to modulate my environment and situation to help control for my stimulation needs. Believe it or not diabetes has helped with this. Not only does it give me a reason to stick to my schedule, but treating diabetes gives me tools to control my ADD behavior internally. Now that I’ve gotten my blood sugar under control I can really tell how fluctuations in my blood sugar affect my ability to focus, attend, and get stuff done. I like to go  get stuff done.

Career the first.

It’s no secret that I’m a writer. I write fiction, non fiction, blog posts, and poetry (as much as I hate to admit that!). Writing is how I express myself best (unlike many prophets of scripture I am more mighty in writing that speaking). Writing is a way to support myself (financially and as therapy). Writing is just what I do. I tell stories. I figure things out and tell people about them.

Writing is therapeutic for me. I’ve been monitoring my blood sugar levels when I’m stressed and unstressed; writing and not writing (for you research people that makes four categories in the complete model). The reality is that when I am under stress writing helps me keep my blood sugar low. And, keeping my blood sugar under control helps me write.

Some days cyclical is good, but one can not live by text (or bread) alone.

Career the second.

I also make shiny things with metal, stone, glass and other materials. I am a sculpturist/smith/jewelry artist. It’s a different kind of thinking, very concrete and 3D (as well as symbolic). It is also a lot of fun (and a pain in the $#@#$@%#!@$@!!! some days). There is a lot of tactile sensation involved (which can be good for the whole ADD thing). There is also some good cardio (which can be good for the diabetes thing).

Like the writing, bending metal and grinding stone can be very therapeutic, and it’s another way to express myself.

Putting it all together.

So I have two diagnoses which force me to monitor myself, take care of myself and stick to my schedule (which I wanted to be on in the first place). They also encourage me to dig for answers (research) and try new and different things (experience).

These two diagnoses actually support my twin careers making things in word and deed. All though I am very aware of the stance and rulings put in place by the Americans With Disabilities Act, I don’t really consider myself disabled… on a good day my ‘disabilities’ help me do what I do better. On not so good days my experience with these ‘disabilities’ gives me a range of options and controls that I know work and I know will help me to move toward a better day and a happier life. I can always turn on the radio; turn off the radio; use a snack or other shift in my diet to change my blood sugar level; get some exercise to get my blood (and glucose) flowing, and a range of things that make me a better and happier me.

It feels like not having (or knowing…) my ‘disabilities’ would make me less able.

That’s it for this post dear reader.

Till next time: what ever happens in your life, turn it to good.

Minor Achievements While ‘Away’

For years (and years (and years (OK, lets face it, when it started the 1980s were in fashion for the first time))) when I’ve traveled I’ve always carried and played some sort of Role Playing Game (RPG).  Well, I didn’t do it this time. Just cloths, two novels (I read part of one of them), diabetes supplies, and five wire bound notebooks (blank).

On this trip I’ve managed to:

  1. Keep my blood sugar readings comparatively low. With one exception they have stayed under 125 without insulin, with my mother in the hospital, and with a hoard of in-laws floating around. I succeeded in this in-spite of most of the cooking and restaurant choices (not to mention times for eating, sleeping, exercise, etc.) being out of my control. The one higher number (a 143) was on a Sunday where I got no exercise and was faced with a family dinner with all of the assembled in-laws including my mother in-law’s mother in-law.
  2. I controlled my stress without RPGs entirely.
  3. I managed to get my diabetes supplies through the trip with a minimum of trouble (OK, I did have to point out that leaving insulin out in a black car in 102 degree weather was a bad idea). In spite of the stories I’ve heard, the TSA people weren’t a problem.
  4. Looking at it as an average, I actually exceed my 1000 words a day writing goal on the trip. Sure I only made about half of my goal the day I was flying, but I made it up on the next day and on Saturday I more than doubled my goal.

I honestly believe that the writing was the key, and not just with ending up with over a thousand words a day. Writing helped me cope where role play used to. Writing helped me keep my stress under control, which helped me keep my blood sugar under control and kept me from freaking out on TSA people, hospital people, in-laws, and all the other interesting denizens of Los Angels California.

Writing as therapy, I not only believe in it… I’ve proved it (on a personal level at least).

Until next post dear reader… write on!

Sometimes You Win…

In my little corner of the universe yesterday kind of started out in the ‘less than desirable’ vein. When I woke up my knee was screaming at me (old soccer injury); my wife was irritable (old “it’s morning” injury); and I really didn’t want to get up (bad sign for a morning person). Things did not improve as the toaster didn’t work right; traffic was… less than intelligent; and my schedule was rapidly sliding off track.

By the time I was working on the bike project I had run out of swear words and was inventing new ones just for the occasion. Then it happened… I figured out not only what the last owner had done to the breaks, but how to fix them. There were a few more oaths to the gods of war and research before I was done, but I did it. My bike was a bike again!

I lost a little ground when I discovered that I had forgotten to give my doctor a key piece of information. I chose to take positive action and sent him the information and rephrased my question a little better. He sent back the very best answer I could hope for. I could be done with insulin injections as early as next Tuesday. (Note… I’ve still got the diabetes diagnosis going. I’m just reaching a point that I can (hopefully) control it with diet, exercise and oral meds rather than stabbing myself repeatedly…)

By then it is after lunch and I’m sitting down to do some corrections and office work type writing stuff (Joy…). Actually, it really turned out to be a joy as: 1) I got the numbers/publishing end part of a book squared away, 2) found the answer to an annoying software problem, and 3) found I had a multi page section of new material that was actually error free after the first pass!

Today’s message is simply this: even if your day really sucks don’t give up. Keep working. Keep fighting. Stay in the game of life and stay alive. Because, sometimes you win.

That’s it for today dear reader. Till next time I’m wishing you all the best.