- I'm a glass-half-full type of girl. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, grave's disease and celiac disease in 2010 and life-altering allergies in 2013. I believe having a positive attitude is the only way to live with dis-ease. I also believe that life doesn't have to be PERFECT for it to be WONDERFUL. Dis-ease is expensive, so I live a frugal yet healthy lifestyle. This is just my blog; my day-to-day story.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Did you have a nice Christmas? Mine was pretty good. I am proud to say that aside from a few gifts I purchased, I didn't buy anything new for Christmas this year. No new decorations, ornaments, wrapping paper, candles, etc. I have some pretty rigid financial goals for 2012 that I'm trying to get a jump on now (paying off medical bills from 2010), so this was a very frugal Christmas. Being frugal is actually quite fun. It challenges my creative side and me feel really proud of what I am able to accomplish on a small budget.
This year, I asked for gift cards to TJ Maxx. I've been diligently saving gift cards over the course of almost a year. With the gift cards I received at Christmas, I was finally able to buy my dream pan set; pans I've been wanting for a long time. These beauties carry a hefty price, even at TJ Maxx, but cost close to double that if I were to get them at Macy's or another department store. As you can see from one of the price stickers, these pans are re-DEE-culously expensive. Which is why I've been saving my gift cards. I don't have a lot of extra dough laying around to spend on pans.
Since becoming both a T1 diabetic and a celiac in 2010, cooking has become a BIG part of my life. I cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day. There's little to no eating out for this girl.
So why Le Creuset pans? Well, all the bad press that nonstick pans are getting really creeps me out; the chemicals they give off and make people/pets sick if cooked at a high temperatures. I decided I wanted better-quality pans. I tried my hand at a cast iron pan, and haven't given up on it exactly, but still have issues with everything sticking like crazy to it (sorry Diabetic Camper; I tried, I swear). And not to mention, I still swear that my nonstick pan usage is what killed my two birds, Mozart and Mona, in 2005. I guess there is no way to prove it, but I highly suspect it. I have an old dog now; she's got health issues; lots. And so do I. So, since I sometimes feel I have little control over many other factors in my life, choosing which pans I want to cook out of is one that I DO.
Maybe this is TMI, but I don't socialize as much as I used to. Maybe it's the feeling self-conscious about my illnesses, specifically the dietary restrictions that make eating outside of the house more of a chore than an enjoyment. And also the fact that instead of being asked how my job is going or how other important things in my life are going, I'm usually only asked about how my diseases are doing. It's like nobody sees anything else about me anymore; not my accomplishments, my talents, my personality, my quirks. Not even the traits that I used to be known for. So I find a lot of enjoyment in staying home and cooking awesome meals. Even if I am the only one who ever tastes it.
Who knows, maybe my new pans will give me some incentive to cook up some good chow and invite people over to eat with me. I'd say that's a good possibility.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
'Tis the season! I've been baking a lot and experimenting with different gluten free recipes. Good thing my A1c won't get checked for 2 more months :) Last night, I made chocolate truffle brownies, white chicken chili and turkey wild rice loaf. Tonight, I'm in the process of baking Mexican Wedding Cakes. That's the picture you see, fresh out the oven. I'd show you a picture of the brownies, but, um, well...
It sure would be nice to have someone to share all my holiday food with. Not sure why God blessed me with mad cooking skills but no hubby. You want to come over for dinner??? Cooking for one is not much fun. My co-workers will get to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I love cooking, so the extras just go into the freezer.
Learning to cook gluten free has been both fun and challenging. Things bake differently, and sometimes taste differently (texture-wise). But I have begun to suspect that God gave me this particular illness (Celiac Disease)to serve as help and inspiration to others. I can't tell you how many people at the food co-op I've approached when I realized they were buying all gluten free foods. I've met so many newly-diagnosed celiacs that need encouragement, and I've made new friends. One even had a daughter that was just like me- a T1 and a Celiac.
There's a certain comraderie that comes with finding another T1 or another Celiac, and an even stronger bond if they have both. It's like an unspoken fist-bump when you see someone wearing a pump and they see yours, too. Or you see a gluten free frozen pizza in someone's cart, and know no one else would be paying $10 for a personal pan sized pizza unless they had no other choice. It makes me feel happy to develop these bonds with others, even if they are strangers I'll never see again.
This is a time of year when you can feel really lonely, for many reasons, but this year I don't. I feel encouraged, empowered, and hopeful.
Friday, December 9, 2011
It's not easy being poor when you're a t1 diabetic with celiac disease. Sadly, I wouldn't be poor if I was healthy. I make a decent salary, enough where I should be able to afford nice things. I have no credit card debt. I should have a healthy amount of disposable income. But I don't. Why? Because being a person with diabetes or a person with celiac is damn expensive. When I was eventually diagnosed with both diseases? I actually heard my checkbook explode.
I pay several hundred dollars a month for just two of my prescriptions (insulin and test strips). Let's not forget there are copays for lancets, ketostix, glucagon, insulin pump pods ($450 for a 3 month supply is my portion of the copay), and CGM sensors (another $450 for a 3 month supply is my portion of the copay). And I have two other auto-immune diseases I have to treat.
Celiac is not cheap, either. Ever purchased a loaf of gluten free bread? It's $5.50 a loaf and up. A loaf that is HALF the size of a normal loaf of bread. Gluten free pasta? Triple the cost of your average pasta. Gluten free pretzels? They are $7.99 a bag. Compare that to the 99 cents the normal ones cost on sale. My food bill easily tripled when I got sick.
So how does an average single chick manage such expenses on her one income? The simple answer is, I don't always get the medication or supplies that I need. Not on a regular basis. I have to go without. I can't afford it. As for affording a gluten free diet, I don't buy bread, snack food or other processed treats, because I can't afford them. Although this forced medical diet has definitely helped me to eat a better, cleaner diet (read: meat and veggies), I do miss just stopping by the bakery on a rough day and grabbing a 6-pk of cupcakes for $2.49. My gluten free ones are $5.99 for a 2-pk. Want to make a sandwich? Not in the budget.
It just doesn't seem fair that someone who has a good job, makes a decent wage and purposely avoided wracking up credit card debt, can't afford the basic medication and supplies she needs just to be alive and healthy everyday. It just doesn't seem right to me.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
It is a wonderful Saturday morning. I'm sitting at Caribou Coffee, drinking a skinny Ho Ho Mocha and reading a new book entitled My Sweet Life: Successful Women with Diabetes. What a great book to read. I bought it after seeing fellow blogger Alexis Pollack (www.irunoninsulin.com) post it on her blog. She actually has a chapter in it! I am also enjoying Riva Greenberg's chapter. I have essentially the entire book left to read, so I am really excited to learn more of these amazing women's stories.
But what I am hoping to find are some stories of women who were diagnosed with T1 when they were adults. So far all of the stories are of women who were diagnosed as children. I have a hard time finding stories in any book/magazine of people like me. As a person who was diagnosed as a single adult woman, the diagnosis impact, I think, is different than those diagnosed as children. Neither impact for either situation is good. But I think they are very different experiences.
I was a single adult when I was diagnosed with t1 in 2010. I live 700 miles away from the closest family member. I had a job. Bills. Responsibilities. Social calendars. Student loan payments. A chronically ill dog who I love(who's still with me). And I was taking care of it all on my own, I was a self-sufficient machine. And then I got t1 diabetes. And just like that, everything started to fall apart. As a newly diagnosed t1, (when providers are still playing with your insulin dosages to figure out what works for you), I was very ill with both extremely high and low blood sugars every day. I missed so much work that I eventually lost my job and sole source of income. There was no one there to help- as a single adult, you're on your own. There's no one to step in and pay your bills, do your grocery shopping (or buy your groceries for you), bring you chicken noodle soup, keep your house up and assure you that everything will be taken care of and you'll be okay. There were no parents to do that, no husband. It was just me, my dog and my diabetes. I drove myself to every doctor and hospital appointment (which totaled more than $169,000 in the first 11 months). I picked up my own prescriptions. I wrote my own appeal letters to the insurance to have my diabetic equipment and drugs covered. I drove myself to the ER and urgent care, when needed. I took my own notes during my appointments and asked all the questions. I had to argue with my insurance company when bills weren't paid correctly, then follow up with calls to clinics to let them know I'd called the insurance company. I set up my own payment arrangements in attempt to pay for all the medical expenses I now had, using my unemployment income to pay for all of my bills.
When you are a single adult, there might not be anyone else to help you manage things. Some of us are too old to move back in with our parents and don't have anyone else to support us (emotionally or financially). Friends can definitely help you out when you are sick, but in general, the help of friends may not be as consistent (you are not their responsibility in the long run).
And I'd love to start reading more about people's stories who are similar to mine- diagnosed as an adult, having to carry the entire burden on their own shoulders. And do it successfully.
I'm still a single adult managing my diabetes alone. Add to that Celiac Disease and Grave's Disease. And I'm doing it pretty successfully. I am once again working, supporting myself, running life's day to day responsibilities, and still trying to pay off 2010's medical bills. I've got my system down, have some friends who love me and have found additional support through my online diabetic and celiac friends and blogs. I've learned to treat and talk about my t1 and celiac confidently, because I'm not ashamed of it anymore. I want people to see 'hey, I'm a diabetic, and i also can't eat wheat/barley/rye/oats because I'm celiac, but I'm still a normal, happy person.'
My diseases are just two of the traits that define me. I'm also poetic, a great cook, advocate, a funny person, super compassionate, animal lover, 4.0 MBA student, a dedicated employee, Jesus follower, food lover, coffee-a-holic (decaf only, please!)and a loyal friend.
Anyways, I'm excited to read this book. I'm always looking for additional sources of inspiration, whether it's in a book, a new hobby or a new friendship. I'd love to hear what your source of inspiration (read: sanity) is. What do you do?