On the eve of my half marathon I return to the inspiring essay by Joyce Carol Oates, “Running and Writing.” I will re-read it tonight and think of it during the 2.5 hours that I will be running along the streets of Kiawah Island tomorrow, hopefully free from pain.
She writes, “Both running and writing are highly addictive activities; both are, for me, inextricably bound up with consciousness. I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t running, and I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing.”
Oates grew up in Upstate New York and writes of exploring the woods and how that time developed her storytelling. I grew up in the deep woods of Vermont and spent my afternoons after the school bus dropped me off walking up the dirt road toward home. To entertain myself I told stories in my head. Oates writes “of running or hiking in our pear and apple orchards, through fields of wind-rustling corn towering over my head, along farmers’ lanes and on bluffs above the Tonawanda Creek. Through childhood I hiked, roamed, tirelessly explored the countryside: neighboring farms, a treasure trove of old barns, abandoned houses and forbidden properties of all kinds, some of them presumably dangerous, like cisterns and wells covered with loose boards.” and says that these activities are intimately bound up with storytelling and I wholeheartedly agree.
I will not be alone on those 13.1 miles tomorrow, I will be filled with the stories in my head because like Oates says, “Running is a meditation.”
Pinboard. Create a pinterest board for your health focus. Pin 3 things. What did you pin? Share the images in a post and explain why you chose them.
Here are a few images from my “Living Well With Diabetes” board on Pinterest:
First, thanks Kim Vlasnik, because there is something beautiful about illness.
Next, this is meant to remind me not to beat myself up over a bad number. Take a deep breath and keep going.
Finally, this image reminds me that a life in balance = happiness. I am a much better mom, wife, friend, daughter, runner, writer and diabetic when my life is in balance.
I recently interviewed Jessica Floeh, designer and founder of Hanky Pancreas about her cute and fashionable “wearable diabetes technologies.” Interested in the social and psychological issues of living with chronic illness, she describes her product line as:
“a series of fashionable products for wearable diabetes technologies. Current products consist of scarves, neck pieces, and decorative elements that envelop these devices. The goal is to ignite positive conversations and holistically improve health for those living with diabetes.”
Jessica and I had a great conversation about what it means for women to wear a piece of ‘durable medical equipment’ on our bodies every single day. She and I both wear the omnipod and she is working to create a design that will be omnipod appropriate. (Can’t wait!) Her current designs work on wired insulin pumps such as Medtronic. Jessica said she often feels conflicted when clients tell her they love her products because they are “a great way to hide the pump.” That’s not what she’s after. Jessica says she wants to address the current shame that comes with wearing a pump, and the desire to hide, rather than display, this life saving device.
This got me to thinking about my own love/hate with the omnipod. I love what it does for me, but I hate that I have to wear it.
It’s ugly. It’s plastic. It hurts sometimes. It sticks out under my clothes. It’s always there.
So I do my best to hide it. (Sorry Jessica!) and sometimes, I go without the omnipod in the summer when I’m wearing sleeveless dresses, tank tops and bathingsuits. I’m vain, pure and simple. But maybe not….maybe, instead of hiding and feeling embarrassed of my omnipod, I could make it look cool. I could make it pretty?
So I asked my son to tattoo my pod and here’s the result. I have to say I think it looks pretty cool. I even felt like showing it off this morning on my run, while I wore a sleeveless shirt because of this freaky warm weather, and it made me feel cool. Thanks Jessica for the idea, and thanks Will for the great art!
I like to think that I have pretty good coping skills. I’m lucky for so many reasons and when I’m having a bad day, I can always call my mom who makes me feel better. I’ve got all those things that matter: a loving and supportive husband, great kids, and my writing. I’d like to say that I’ve got my health too, because a lot of the time I feel pretty strong and healthy (when I’m running), but I won’t because I have a chronic illness, and on days like today, when my blood sugar won’t get below 250, I feel sick. I feel tired. I am short with my kids. I am stressed out about finances and don’t know if my blood sugar is high because I’m stressed, or I’m stressed because my blood sugar is high. On days like today it feels like a lose/lose, and there are no coping skills strong enough (exercise, red wine, coffee, reading, writing, fresh air, extra insulin….) to pull me through.
I hate to complain. I hate to feel sorry for myself. “There is always someone worse off than you,” my grandmother used to say, and I know she meant to make me feel better, but it didn’t. I want to curl up in bed and escape into a book, but I’ve got my boys who need dinner and baths and books before their day is done. I want a day off from Diabetes. I want to be able to eat without thinking, to run without worrying about being low, to wake up without worrying about being high, to run my hands over my skin and not feel a pump. One day off would be nice. Either that or some improved coping skills, because mine aren’t cutting it….