Vegas, New Years Eve, and Diabetes

Fireworks bedazzled the sky over the Las Vegas strip as I watched with over 350,000 people. Standing shoulder to shoulder with those around me, I saw “12:00 am” run across the top of my glucose meter. Below that, a larger number reading “55.” I quickly stuffed my mouth with several glucose tabs, as I watched the hands holding numerous cell phones in front of me taking photos, snapchats, and insta-stories of the glorious display. It was a new year, and I was still very much a person with diabetes.

This was not exactly the way I was hoping to start 2018. It was like my Type 1 diabetes was lamenting back to me, “Don’t forget me, don’t write me off!” Standing in my velvet Vegas dress with champagne splashing me from the bottles the elderly couple in front of me had opened, blood sugar was far from my mind. I had eaten dinner late, forgetting that my pump settings for insulin to carb ratios increased after 8 pm. I had not factored the walking we were doing up and around the strip that night either.

A few days before, I had my first experience with ketones, and it felt like diabetes was really sending me a wake-up call. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been pretty lucky with my diabetes care. I have been privileged with access to insulin, supplies, and medical care. I can detect my lows, and I can typically treat them in a timely fashion. I get high blood sugars, but they will correct to a normal blood sugar even if it takes a few hours.

My goal for 2018 is to challenge my assumptions and to ask more questions of my care team. To be an advocate for myself, and to stop assuming I will be fine. To prepare and be more vocal about my needs.

For example, I’ve struggled with autoimmune hypothyroidism, anemia, and low Vitamin D on top my diabetes. My energy levels generally feel low, and I notice this more when I slow down. I tend to stay busy to keep myself going. But I often forget to take my iron and Vitamin D supplements. In 2018, I want to take my supplements more consistently and avoid running on little energy, instead exploring restorative habits that reinvigorate me.

I rechecked my blood sugar as the fireworks continued to blast, and I was relieved to see a “98” cross the screen. I ate a granola bar that was in my bag, much relieved that my blood sugar was normal and I would not have to keep guzzling the glucose tabs. I went on to enjoy the rest of the night walking around, taking in the sights, and people watching, which comes so easily in Vegas. My small diabetes voice was there too. It’s the voice that I can choose to listen to or ignore. In 2018, I hope to curate my ear to hear that voice more and more.

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Kirsten Myers is an intern with Insulin Nation. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in Health & Societies with a Public Health concentration. She is currently taking pre-medical, post-baccalaureate courses at Portland State University, where she is President of the College Diabetes Network. She has been living with T1D for seven years.

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