I’m having a difficult time trying to give this post a title, so I’m just going to jump in and start typing. One of those stream-of-consciousness type things. First of all, Big Scary Adult Decision 2 complete! I’m in Toronto. My husband isn’t…yet, but he will be. We’re trying to make it less scary and more adult and he’s staying in Vancouver until June while I stay with my parents (that’s a whole other post, friends) and find work and a place to live. I’ve only been here three weeks and nothing yet, but it’s only been three weeks.

But that’s not what I want to write about tonight. No, tonight I want to rant, rave and be generally annoyed. More than annoyed. Don’t let it scare you off. You might be able to relate. I sure hope someone can, because right now I’m feeling very alone in this.

We made the decision to procreate. I knew, I’ve always known, that things wouldn’t be easy what with my slew of medical issues. My family doctor decided that the biggest hurdle, or at least the one we needed to jump over first, was my diabetes. My A1C wasn’t great. Sure, it improved since I became a cyborg and got my pump, but at 8.9% it needed to improve before we’d get the all-clear to try for a baby. Ideally, they wanted it below 7%. Thankfully, in Vancouver there’s a great program at Women’s Hospital for women with pre-existing type 1 and 2 diabetes as well as those diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy. I was referred to the program and started seeing them in September. The plan was simple: adjust my basal and bolus insulin as required, monitor my blood sugar more often and follow a more strict meal plan in order to get my A1C down to that magic 7%.

The first few months were exciting. I was able to contact the nurses whenever I needed to for advice on dose adjustments and was seeing the team (doctor, nurses, dietician) once every one or two weeks. There was a slight improvement in my A1C as it dropped to 8.5%, but I wasn’t very happy with that.

Still, I was happy to get an appointment to see an Obstetrician who deals in high risk births and maternal-fetal medicine. Based on my prior experience with an OB/GYN who scared the living crap out of me, I had steeled myself to be presented with the worst. Instead, I found a doctor who assessed my knowledge quickly and was able to present me with the reality of what to expect if you’re trying to expect. She told me that when I became pregnant I’d have a busy pregnancy. (My love for this woman started when she used that word. When. Not if. When.) I asked about statistics. How likely would it be that my baby wouldn’t develop properly, wouldn’t be viable, would risk my life? She reassured me when she told me two things. One, that the biggest complication that she sees in pregnancies of women with type 1 diabetes is the baby not being full term. Second, that the biggest risk factor comes from the fact that I have T1D. Having a better or worse controlled A1C definitely plays into it and increases the risks, but my having T1D to begin with had already increased the risk the most. I left that appointment feeling informed and confident that, no matter what, we’d be ready to really start trying by the end of 2012.  Regardless of my A1C.

The weeks wore on and, just before Christmas, I started to get really discouraged. It didn’t seem that any amount of work I did garnered positive results for my blood sugars. And even though I had decided to accept the fact that at some point we were going to have to decide to TTC, A1C be damned, it didn’t feel like the right time still. Not with my blood sugars the way they were. If anything, things were worse. It was frustrating to say the least and that, combined with other outside factors, left me feeling very stressed. Not exactly the mindset a 35-year old woman with T1D and known fertility issues should be in when attempting to get pregnant.

It was about that time that we finally settled on moving away from Vancouver. Work was less-than-stellar for both of us, my husband was just finishing up his degree and I was missing Toronto something fierce. It seemed like the right thing to do. But, it also meant putting the brakes on the baby-making plan. Part of that is logistics. He’s in Vancouver, I’m here. Obviously, there’s no baby-making happening at the moment. But it’s also a psychological thing. Even though we haven’t “officially” been trying, we’ve not been not trying for two years. And nothing. Maybe it’s stress? Maybe I just needed to get back here. To be “home”. Or maybe the PCOS and Endometriosis and who-knows-what else has rendered my baby-making ability useless. Maybe my body is a useless thing that I have to drag around with me day in and day out. I’m not sure at this point. I do know that, as much as I love the women around me and their baby-making ways, I’m tired of everyone else getting pregnant while I sit here like an infertile lump. So many of my friends have tried, conceived, given birth and are struggling through the first year of parenthood while I’ve tried to get my physiological shit together. I’ve even joked that I wouldn’t be surprised if my almost-67-year old mother were to tell me that she’s pregnant. Yes, that’s how fertile the women around me are. Even if they’ve struggled to get pregnant, they haven’t struggled the way I have. I’m sure of it. So, even though I’d never, ever say it to their faces, let me just for once, just for one little moment say this. IT’S NOT FAIR!

There. I’m done.

I will attempt to push that thought to the very back of my mind. I will love their babies and do what I can to help relieve the stress of the first few months for them. I will listen to delivery horror stories and how they’re not sure they want another one now that they’ve had to go through all of that. I will not be angry that they could so easily toss away the opportunity to have another one when some of us sit around desperate for one. Because it’s not fair for them either. They didn’t choose to have an infertile friend. And no one should punish them for being able to procreate. No, I will not be angry anymore. I will stop contemplating the fairness of it all. Because someone has to bear the infertility cross. Why not me?


100 Books to Read

On March 18, 2006 I decided I needed to get through a “top 100” list of books. I searched through many lists. Some didn’t seem to contain terribly challenging books, others were too high-brow. I settled on this, the Radcliffe Publishing Course’s Top 100 Novels. It may have changed since then, but it’s still my goal to complete this list.

Bold indicates books I’ve read; * indicates books I own; ~ indicates books I’ve asked for as gifts for Birthdays/Special Occasions/Christmas

Radcliffe Publishing Course’s List of 100 Top Novels:

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald *
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger *
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck *
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee *
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell *
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov *
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck ~
13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce *
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller *
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley *
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
23. Their Eyes are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey *
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut *
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac *
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien *
41. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess *
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
52. Howards End by E.M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger *
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
68. Light in August by William Faulkner
69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs *
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
85. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
87. The Bostonians by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame *
91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
93. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
100. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

The Chase

I woke up high this morning,12.4. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I have a feeling I must’ve gone low overnight and not woken up because at 2am I was 6.2. I was groggy when I woke up and had a bit of a headache, telltale signs that I could’ve been low and not woken up. I had my usual breakfast and bolused accordingly, but by lunch I was 10. Not great. I corrected, bolused for lunch and ended up at 17.8 where I have remained for the last 5 hours. I’ve replaced my cannula, bolused aplenty, but here I sit in the 17s all but confirming my suspicion that I was low last night. You see, the liver is a great little organ which wants to help out when your blood sugar is low. For a person with a functioning pancreas, your liver helps out quite effectively. For me, not so much. If my suspicions are correct, my liver has released sugar to help out with the low I experienced in the middle of the night, only it’s done so way too late. So here I sit with a fuzzy tongue, a grumpy demeanour and wanting to have dinner but refraining, all the while chasing that 17. With any luck I’ll be okay before bed and not have to go through the cycle again!


From the time I was diagnosed with T1D almost 25 years ago there was a lot of talk about control. The need to control everything: blood sugars, insulin, food, exercise, stress. Life quickly became a balancing act, adding a bit of food here, some insulin there, an attempt to reduce stress here and a hint of luck there. More than a hint of luck, it turns out, because even as I try to micromanage the variables I inevitably end up with a blood sugar above 10 almost every single day. 

It’s the desire need to control that has affected my life with diabetes more than anything else. I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder in my early 20s, having suffered a series of panic attacks that left me afraid to leave my home. I tend not to panic with such urgency anymore as to deem it an attack but rather have a constant low level fear almost constantly. Will my blood sugar go low during a meeting and I won’t be able to excuse myself? Will I be able to achieve a good A1C and try to have a baby? Will I be dead in bed one morning? The anxiety ebbs and flows, just like my blood sugar. Stress typically raises my blood sugar. It can also lower it. Stress and diabetes are great that way. 

When I moved to Vancouver 6 years ago the anxiety was with me constantly and I thought there was something horribly wrong with me – my heart raced almost all the time, my head felt like it was detached from my body, my fingers tingled, I couldn’t breathe in deeply enough. All tests pointed to one thing: nothing. My doctor suggested anxiety each time I’d see her and each time I thought there must be something else. I didn’t feel particularly stressed except for the fact that I was feeling awful all the time. Finally, after living here for almost two years, the symptoms started to subside. It was such a relief to be able to get through a day without feeling like I was going to fall over from the strange lightheaded sensations I had experienced up until that point. It was good to be able to live again.

In retrospect, I think it all came from the loss of control. I didn’t know anyone that well when I moved here and didn’t know what would happen if I got really sick. My boyfriend (now husband) was supportive, but he didn’t know my diabetes that well back then. Would he know what to do if I had a seizure? Did he understand the seriousness of ketones? I had worked so hard in Toronto to build up a great group of friends who I educated about my disease and now I was without them. 

I find that my control issues spill into other areas of my life. I’m okay with saying I’m have OCD tendencies and that I try to be very good perfect in all I do. I think it’s because I’m always striving for perfection in my diabetes management that I push myself and others to be better, to do their best. But there needs to be balance. I need to accept that there will be days of blood sugars that reach the 20s. I need to be okay with our apartment not being sparkling clean every time a friend comes over. The fine tuning can be exhausting, so sometimes I should just let it go; be okay with being 9.4 for an hour knowing I’m not reducing my chances of a baby. Likewise, I need to give people around me a break. Know that their best today may be the equivalent of achieving an A1C of 8%.  

I’ve built up a little group of friends who are better educated about diabetes than even some of my Toronto friends now. They sit with me when I’m low, understand that I get grumpy when I’m high and accept me for my idiosyncrasies. They were cheerleaders for me to get an insulin pump and they listen when I talk about my fears. They most likely think my control freak ways were inherited from my parents or picked up from a boss along the way. I wonder if they know that it’s my first complication of diabetes? That diseases often have greater emotional effects than they do physical. I will work on cutting them some slack when they are not perfect and instead endeavour to accept them as perfectly flawed as they are – just like me and my pancreas.

Acquiring a Child

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. I had dolls galore as a child and even dressed up the family cat and forced him to ride in a stroller. (Sorry, Sunny). But then this little disease called diabetes came knocking at my door when I was 10. I don’t know if I heard this straight from the doctor or if it was only discussed with my parents, but I knew from the time of my diagnosis that I was told I’d never have kids. Not ones that were biologically mine anyway. 

Then, my best friend (who also has T1) got pregnant and had a healthy baby when she was 17. I became a bit hopeful then, feeling that there may still be a possibility for me. It’s sad, really, to think that I was worried about my reproductive abilities at that age. You know, the age when you’re supposed to concentrate on not getting pregnant? When I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome at 26 I knew my chances were reduced even further. Chicks with PCOS who do get pregnant tend to be those Americans you see with the super-families – think Kate Gosselin. And then, just to add a little cherry on my reproductive woes, I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 28. 

The trouble with all of these diagnoses and my wondering what it would mean about being someone’s mom was that I wasn’t really ready to even try to have a baby yet. In theory, I still haven’t even tried to have a baby. And that’s partly because of the scary OB/GYN I saw a couple of years ago who regaled me with tales of defective, fat babies with organs on their outsides and things that made me think of that scene in Steel Magnolias where Julia Roberts’ kid is crying on the verandah while she’s comatose from kidney failure. Annoying OB/GYN lady told me it would be stupid of me to even think about trying to conceive with my blood sugar levels. So I’ve worked for the last 2-3 years to get an insulin pump (got one! – story later) to try to get my A1C (average blood sugar) down to where it would be safe to try to get knocked up. I’ve had the pump since April and I’m feeling a lot better and my last A1C was down from 10.2 to 8.6. And finally – finally, I’m ready to say that I want to have a baby. And my husband wants one too. Because, let’s face it, I’ve mostly just been waiting for him to give the green light.

So now, my family doctor (whom I adore) is sending me off for tests and has hooked me up with an awesome diabetes/pregnancy clinic at Women’s Hospital. My first appointment is on Monday and, while I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, I won’t deny that I have had visions of presenting our parents with “Merry Christmas, Grandma & Grandpa!” cards on December 25 to announce a future grandbaby. I’m really scared, though. Not of the potential complications – for baby or me – but of failure. What if none of this works? What if I’ve waited too long? What if we can’t conceive? We don’t have the money to pay for IVF or surrogacy or adoption. How else do we get our baby? Short of asking my friends with teenagers to keep an eye out for any accident babies (and yes, I’ve done that), would there be a next step? 

I will try to force all of those questions to the back of my mind for now because I’ve heard stress can really eff things up in the land of fertility. I will keep diligently checking my blood sugar levels and eating oatmeal and running three times a week. I will treat my body like the baby-making machine I know it can be. I will get my glucose, TSH, ferritin, GGT and electrolytes checked and follow that up with an ECG. I will treat myself to a massage to relax my mind. I will not rely on positive, powerful statements to get me pregnant, but rather trust myself and my team of kick-ass medical practitioners to get me that cute, little ginger baby I know I deserve.

Thirty Five

I turned 35 in August. Thirty five. That’s halfway to seventy and 21 years removed from the beginning of high school. I’ve never been one to get upset about my age. When I was younger, all I wanted to do was grow up and be an adult. This birthday, though, was different. Tough. Not really welcomed. I know that 40 is supposed to be the new 30, whatever that means, but I’m not a fan of this aging thing. Not anymore. I suppose that isn’t correct either, because I’d rather be aging than the opposite. It’s just that all of a sudden I feel myself getting older. Like I can feel it in my bones or my soul. I think I’m a full-fledged adult now and needing to make some Big, Scary Adult Decisions (Whose acronym would be BSAD. Ironic?)

Big, Scary Adult Decision 1

In a perfect world, we’ll have a baby this year. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to talk about those things. Sometimes I’ll bring it up with friends and I’ll speak in hushed tones about my desire to have a child, like procreating is the worst thing a person could do. Maybe it’s because some of my friends are younger or the self-appointed stigma that comes along with having diseases that make motherhood uncertain, but it often sounds dirty when I talk about wanting to have a baby. But we’ve decided we’re going to try. (We meaning my husband and I along with a team of medical practitioners – this ain’t gonna be an easy thing). And that’s a really grown up thing to decide, isn’t it? I mean, yes, it’s literally been done since the beginning of time, but it’s a big deal! Maybe a bigger deal when you’re in your mid-thirties. You know, that age when you have to get the million dollar workup, even if you don’t have pre-existing medical conditions. I guess this Big, Scary Adult Decision has already been made, but since we’re not far along in the process yet, it’s still on the list.

Big, Scary Adult Decision 2

I moved to Vancouver six years ago – in part to explore a new city, but mostly to be with my then-boyfriend and now-husband. It was a good decision. Not a Big, Scary Adult Decision though – Big, Scary Adult Decisions don’t tend to involve picking up your life and moving across the country for some dude who read you poetry by candlelight once. When I moved here, I decided I’d make a go of it for two years. That would’ve taken me to the end of 2008. By the end of that year, I decided I really wanted to stay until after the Olympics in 2010 but that I’d definitely move home to Toronto after that – bringing my guy with me. You see, Vancouver and I have never fully gotten along. We like each other, yes, but we’ve never have the same torrid love affair that I have with Toronto. This pisses off the Vancouverites that I’m friends with. It probably pisses off Vancouverites I’m not friends with either. My mixed emotions about their city really irk them, like it’s a personal attack. And that’s okay, because if anyone had a hate on for my lovely city of Toronto, I’d be mad too. Actually, that explains the way a lot of Vancouverites view the T dot, but I’m cool with that. To each her own. Anyway, 2010 came and went and now it’s nearing the end of 2012 and I miss my family and Toronto friends more and more each day. I’ve just returned from an 8-day holiday in Ontario and it broke my heart to leave. The city is so vibrant – full of people and events and life! This old lady needs more of that. The challenge is that I have a great job here and my husband is part-way through school and reinvigorated to work here. This BSAD will be the most difficult to make. Should we stay or should we go? And you know how The Clash song goes.

Big, Scary Adult Decision 3

I always swore I’d live somewhere where owning a car wouldn’t be necessary. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been using car2go cars quite a lot. So much so that at one point I was one of their highest users. It’s a great way to get around car-loving Vancouver without having to own a car. Except that now we’re a bit addicted and finding ourselves wanting/needing to use a vehicle more and more. The $400 we spent on renting a car to visit my in-laws a couple of weeks ago for 4 days was crazy, but worth it to actually spend time with them. (Okay, we totally didn’t pay, they offered to since we are short on money at the moment). And if we are successful with the baby thing it would be a lot easier to get to appointments and activities by car, especially in Vancouver’s rainy winters. But here’s where I’m conflicted. One, we simply don’t have the money right now and a car seems like a silly thing to go into debt for. More significantly than that, though, is the idea of what a car does to the environment – both the world around us and the one we have at home. I love to walk, but I know if we had a car I’d get lazy. Would I really need to take a vehicle to the library? No. But would I if I had a three month old in tow? It’s more likely. I feel that I’m craving the convenience more than anything else and that’s what I’m struggling with. I wouldn’t want to use it as a crutch. But mama might need a car. I’ve changed my mind. THIS might be the biggest decision we’ll have to make.

I’m sure we’ll figure it all out. And that’s the great thing in all of this. I get to be part of a WE, thus not having to take the fall on my own when we inevitably screw up and make the wrong choice. And maybe that’s what aging does – makes you realize that you’re not on your own and that many before you have had to make the same decisions. You may feel more or less scared than those who made them before you, but they’ve all been made before, these decisions. You just have to pick.