Glucometer

I have no idea sometimes why I picked the keywords that I did. But I am going to stay true to them and see what comes up. Perhaps it will be good for me as a writer, because it makes me write about challenging topics. Not just challenging in their complexity, but challenging in their narrowness. How often does one write 500 words about their glucometer?

For those that don’t know [and before I became diabetic I certainly didn’t know] a glucometer is a little device that allows you to test your blood. You prick your finger with a lancet and then put the blood up against a little piece of hard paper called a test strip. Then you get a number. One website [dexcom] states: “A glucometer, also known as a glucose meter or blood glucose monitoring device, is a home measurement system you can use to test the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood.”

Many people want to know if it hurts. It doesn’t hurt too bad once you get used to it. It is a little pin prick and doesn’t bother me much. I generally take it from the same finger because it seems to be one that can get pricked again and again and be no worse for the wear for it. The injections of insulin can sometimes hurt more than the finger prick to be honest. It depends but sometimes it hurts and can even cause a small amount of blood to be emitted. All things being said, I’d rather have the finger prick test than the injections of insulin in my belly.

The number pops up incredibly quickly. I barely have time to take out the lancet and dispose of it before it pops up on the glucometer. It is so, so easy to feel like a complete and total failure when that number pops up. I may have had low blood sugar once or twice in my life. The vast majority has been high to very high.

For people with diabetes, your fasting number should be 80–130 mg/dl. 2 hours after meals a person with diabetes should be less than 180 mg/dl. The official A1C recommendation for someone with diabetes is less than 7.0%. My fasting number this morning was 173. That’s pretty bad. However, I am grateful for any time that my number does not go above 200. I have had numbers in the 300s and even a few in the 400s.

I generally test my fasting number each morning first thing [fun!]. But recently my diabetes regimen has changed. In addition to my long-acting insulin taken each morning in 2 shots I will be doing three short acting injections before each meal. My endocrinologist wants me to test before each injection with meals as well as at night before bed. So this increases my number of injections from 2 to 5 and my number of finger-prick texts from 1 to 5. So that means I will be doing 5 injections and 5 finger-prick tests per day. This is a huge increase and basically means my glucometer and supplies needs to be with me at all times.

As I said in a previous entry, I hate diabetes and I hate having diabetes. But it is a challenge to take care of it well and get your numbers in better control. I hope to do just that and will keep you informed. Also, I just wrote over 500 words about a glucometer. Go me!

Capitalism

This is a hard entry to write simply because I am far from an economic theorist. I find economics very challenging and can’t even balance my own check book, much less truly understand huge economic paradigms. What I can say, without any trepidation, is that I hate capitalism.

I have long believed capitalism to be a wicked, nefarious, rotten system. I have long seen it as a system based upon brutality. I have long seen it as a system based on greed and callousness.

Capitalism is defined as “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.” “Private owners for profit” is the key phrase there. And it could not be more obvious that this profit is not equally shared by the masses. It is owned by the 1% and other economic elites.

Like so many others I come from a working-class/lower-class family. My parents have struggled their whole lives economically. I give them all the credit in the world for raising three kids on such a small amount of money and holding on to jobs for decades in order to keep the family going. Despite gaining four degrees, I have not been able to surpass my parents in terms of economics. In fact, I am in worse shape because at least they were able to own their own home. My brother and sister also struggle economically and have not surpassed our parents in terms of income.

This is not a rarity. This is the norm. People, with few exceptions, do not surpass the economic class of their parents. Part of the American mythos is the rags to riches lie, that you can start off with nothing and earn your way into the 1%. This does not happen. Period. This ties in with the other lie called “the American dream.” This states that if you work hard enough you can rise up the economic ladder. The “myth of meritocracy” is a good phrase for describing the reality here. It is a myth that merit will carry you up the economic ladder. As we know, we live in a racist, sexist, heterosexist country [among many others isms]. So being a white, cis, straight male is in itself a kind of currency. Fairness or hard work is not the way it works in the USA. Capitalism is at the base of virtually all forms of oppression. That is not to say it is more important, but that cash play into racism, sexism, etc. in vitally important ways.

Meanwhile, socialism is defined as “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” As it stands right now, the community has no power under capitalism. The rich, powerful and elite, including government officials, have all the power. We would have to overthrow capitalism to move into a system of socialism. I wish it could happen tomorrow. But it is going to take a very long time to do so. I do see the beginnings of revolutionary thought through some of the movements that have come forth in the past several years since the beginning of the Occupy movement. I am a socialist and I believe that the means of production should be regulated by the community as a whole. In the personal realm, I know for sure that I am never going to get ahead given the ratio of my debt and my income. Capitalism is a wicked system and it needs to be dismantled so that people can experience true security and true freedom.

 

 

 

White Supremacy

bell hooks frequently uses the phrase “white-supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.” I think it is a handy way to name the systems of oppression we live under, even if some identities are not included in it. In the last entry I talked about patriarchy and today I am going to talk about white supremacy.

The first thing that I want to say about this entry is that I am white. Therefore it colors what I have to say about the subject. Many white leftists like to talk about racism as if they are the experts on it. We are not and never will be. So take what I have to say here with a grain of salt given my white privilege.

White supremacy is a system of domestic terrorism. It has been going on for centuries. It started with the genocide of Native people and then proceeded to slavery with the arrival of the first African person in 1619. African Americans have suffered 400 years of horrific oppression. When slavery ended, the attacks continued via lynching. Then came Jim Crow segregation and now we have the prison industrial complex. Slavery has not really died; it has only been redesigned.

In recent years we have seen case after case of mostly African American men and some women be assassinated by the police. While this has been going on much longer, the availability of cell phones makes documenting the cases easier. In some cases police body cameras also show the event. But what is remarkable is that in most cases it doesn’t matter. In case after case we see officers exonerated even when there is video proof that they murdered someone. The fight for justice against police is an uphill battle. Police are seen as being in the right, and armed or unarmed Black men are targeted as the enemy who deserves to be killed. When we hold police accountable for their crimes?

When you think of genocide, forced relocation, boarding schools, slavery, Japanese internment in concentration camps, Jim Crow segregation, lynching, the prison industrial complex, police brutality against POC, you get a good sense of what the system of racial terrorism looks like in the U.S. POC can never really catch a breath when their lives are always on the line. The recent extreme presence of xenophobia and immigrant bashing is another facet of white supremacy. The fact that a president as blatantly racist as DJT could be elected president is proof positive of the continuing power of white supremacy.

White supremacy can also be used to refer to colorism, the system that assigns superior value to light or lighter skinned POC within POC communities. It can also be used to refer to POC collusion with dominant systems of race ideology. bell hooks has termed this the colonized mind. Internalized oppression is a huge problem in all oppressed groups. We must work to make members of our oppressed groups “woke.” This involves education and the willingness to stick your neck out in service to a larger cause.

Sometimes I am amazed that POC even talk to white people given the way we have treated them for centuries. To me, it would only be natural for POCs to have animosity for white people. At any rate, as white people we need to take responsibility for white racism and own up to our white privilege. We have created this problem and we have a duty to correct it.

 

Patriarchy

Patriarchy is a nightmare. It is a system of terrorism. I don’t care about hyperbole. It is a system that has destroyed many lives. It is a system that has brought many of us to the brink of death. And it is a system that needs to be completely obliterated.

Patriarchy is a system based on cis-het-male supremacy. When I was born, I was assigned male. I quickly learned as soon as I left my parents clutches to attend first grade at age 6 that I did not fit the cultural definition of a boy. It was not until Women’s Studies in college years later that I learned that I was a victim of patriarchy. Patriarchy hates women, queers and trans people. It is a system that delights in dude bros, the most toxic variety of masculinity you can imagine.

Patriarchy is a theoretical concept. It names the system of male supremacy we live under. It is not only a word of Women’s Studies or feminism, but it is heavily featured in both. There are some who may see the word patriarchy as second wave or as dated but I believe it is timeless. As long as there is sexism and misogyny there will be patriarchy. I actually look forward to the time when there is no need for the word patriarchy because it will finally be destroyed.

Men are the primary agents of patriarchy. They benefit from it and they revel in the privilege they receive from it. They hurl their hatred at women, queers and trans people every hour of every day. It is difficult to list all the ways that men foment patriarchy because the list is endless: through violence, rape, battering, exploitation, gas-lighting, LGBTQ bashing, economic domination, emotional abuse, employment discrimination and hyper-normative gender roles. Women, queers and trans people face a lot of time having to heal from the violence: physical, mental and financial that men commit against them.

Are women agents of patriarchy? I am not sure I would use the word agents. But women are very much affected by patriarchy. There are some women whose minds are colonized by patriarchal ideology. There are some women who have severe internalized oppression. So they act in collusion with patriarchy. Even though it goes against their own personal interests, they have internalized dominant ideology and hope to curry favor with the oppressor. The same goes for LGBT people who collude with heterosexism and cissexism. It is sad when women and LGBT people don’t realize how they are aiding and abetting patriarchy.

Patriarchy is world-wide. It plays out differently in different cultures, but the persistence of gender inequality is stunning. I don’t see an end to patriarchy in my lifetime. But I do see people rising up and fighting back against patriarchy. These are people called women. These are people called feminists. These are people called radical queers and radical trans folks. The Time’s Up movement and the #MeToo movement are encouraging signs. Women are stepping up and speaking out. Feminism hasn’t gone anywhere, but it has been strengthened. We may not end patriarchy, but we will commit a full-frontal assault on it.

 

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis

Even writing about Pancreatitis brings back bad memories. Pancreatitis was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. And I had it twice!

Web MD states:

“The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and next to the small intestine. The pancreas does two main things:

  1. It releases powerful digestive enzymes into the small intestine to aid the digestion of food.
  2. It releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body control how it uses food for energy.

Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. Pancreatic damage happens when the digestive enzymes are activated before they are released into the small intestine and begin attacking the pancreas.”

I first got pancreatitis in August of 2016. I woke up in the morning and was experiencing abdominal pain. Rather than getting better, it quickly got worse. I tried to lie down and it did not help. I tried to eat something and promptly vomited it up. I went for a brief walk and still no change. I then called my mother, told her my symptoms, and off to the local hospital we went. I was in the hospital for 7 days. For much of that I could not eat or drink. People with acute pancreatitis like I had are treated with IV fluids to flush your system out and let your pancreas rest. You also are given pain medication to control the pain and boy did I need it. The medication that ended up helping the most is called Dilaudid. I believe this was the first time I had been in the hospital and I absolutely hated it. It felt like I was in prison. And not being to eat or drink made it all the worse. At best, I was given some ice chips by ones of the nurses. It took days for the pain to subside and then several days of monitoring me to make sure I was back on track. They believe the cause of the pancreatitis was a drug I was taking for diabetes called Januvia.

Once I left the hospital it was not a done-deal by any stretch. I had awful GI side effects that took weeks or months to go away. My GI system was in bad shape and it really took a long time to truly recover.

Unfortunately, I was back in hospital in November 2017 for the same condition. Once again I woke up with strong abdominal pain. It wasn’t quite as bad as before so I thought I had indigestion or something. I went to school and it got worse and I was trying to just power through because I was scheduled to be in a play about body image that night. Unfortunately by 5 PM I couldn’t take the pain anymore and went to the emergency room. In another entry I will talk about the transphobia I experienced there, but the doctor was good and she got me in and out of the hospital in around 3 days. They think it was another medication that caused it. I can tell you one thing, if I get it again, I am going to be pissed. This condition could be fatal or result in removal of the pancreas in serious cases. It is pain I would not wish on my worst enemy and I hope I am totally done with pancreatitis.

Dinner

We have arrived at my favorite meal of the day; dinner. Din din or supper as it is sometimes called is my favorite because there are so many choices and it is so hearty.

The name of the games is carbs, carbs and more carbs. I shouldn’t be saying this as a diabetic. In fact, it may get me arrested by the glucose police. But too damn bad. Because all my favorite dinner food are carb heavy: pasta, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and bread, among others.

The classic American dinner is a protein, a carb and a vegetable. I think this is a pretty good combination and love chicken breast or salmon, mashed or baked potatoes and peas or green beans. This is a very basic American dinner but one that is delicious to me.

I adore pasta. I like penne, linguini and angel hair. I like lasagna, baked ziti and chicken parmesan. I also like fettucine alfredo and pasta carbonara. I like fine dining Italian restaurants as well as Olive Garden. Salad and breadsticks and soup really bring the main dish home.

Pad thai, drunken noodle and pad garlic are also three of my fave dinner choices. We have a wonderful Thai restaurant in this area and I am a regular there. If I ever chose to cook [which is unlikely] I would want to learn Thai food.

I think dinner is a nice meal because it is usually after work. The work day can be very stressful and one is happy when it is over and done with. Eating a good meal in the early evening is relaxing, enjoyable and diverts the attention away from work stress. Whether done alone or with people, it is a time for hearty food and culinary enjoyment.

I love going out to dinner. There is something about eating when it is dark outside that is very special, especially if there is a warm ambiance with candlelight inside the restaurant and some kind of fancy drink, alcohol or otherwise. Admittedly these times are generally more fun with company, whether an individual or a group. The absolute best dinner is when the food is amazing and the people you are with are truly enjoying it. I am also incredibly grateful when people pick up the tab given my difficult financial situation. I wish I could do it more often for others.

Dinner is magical. Breakfast and lunch often seem more perfunctory. But a nice dinner is a luxury and nourishes the spirit as much as the body. I look forward to dinner every day and think about what I am going to eat. While I like more “fancy” foods I do not consider myself a foodie as I identify too strongly with my working-class roots and see that as something other people identify as. Sometimes, fried chicken, potato wedges and Cole slaw is my favorite meal in the world. If you were on Death Row and were granted your one final meal, what would it be and why? I know I would have a lotta stuff crammed on that plate. Hint: thanksgiving dinner items would figure prominently.

Lunch

Lunch is in the middle of breakfast and dinner and in the middle of my preferences. If breakfast is typically my least favorite meal and dinner is my favorite, lunch is right in the middle. In many ways, lunch feels like a necessary meal. Most workplaces have a lunch hour. And most people need some vittles as fortification to get through the remainder of the work day.

The first thing I think of when I think of lunch is the sandwich. It feels like there are few things more American than the sandwich. I have mixed feelings towards sandwiches. On the one hand I think they can be delicious, on the other hand I am SO sick of eating sandwiches. It is such an American staple that I think it is easy to get sick of sandwiches. It is no wonder that so many eateries and restaurant are trying to make sandwiches more unique and diverse to try to revitalize the public’s palette for a sandwich.

I don’t eat beef burgers but I do like veggie burgers and turkey burgers. One of the other staples for lunch is French fries. Words cannot express how much I love French fries. They are delicious, satisfying and fun to snack on. It’s great to dip a French fry in a sea of ketchup. Plus I like the many different kinds of French fries. If a sandwich is boring, there is always the French fries to look forward to. French fries should be indulged whenever possible. I think I could write a whole entry just on French fries. I may do just that.

In addition to burgers and fries, there are always salad and Cole slaw as well. Cole slaw with a great sandwich and fries makes the perfect trifecta. One thing I despise is dinner-sized salad plates. I only like a side salad, and think that is more than enough lettuce. Lettuce is not hearty and makes for a piss-poor meal. I suppose it is good for diets and know that some people really love salad, but for me it is not that way. I do like creative salads that are more than just the lettuce/tomato/cuke staple. Adding bacon or cheese or olives or peppers, etc. can really add a lot to a salad.

Soup is also a favorite for lunch. My favorite kind of soup, hands down, is clam chowder or seafood chowder. I also like tomato, chili, minestrone, vegetable and lentil. It’s great to eat these soups out when they are made in house. Barring that, I eat canned soup, some of which are quite tasty. And soup requires salt. I think reduced-salt soup is demonic. Salt makes the soup and it is required in a substantial amount. If it is not salty enough I will salt it until it is just right.

Lunch is an important meal. Falling in the middle of the day, it will help us get through the remainder of the day and build upon our breakfast meal. I generally enjoy lunch and often find myself eating it on the go as so many busy people do. I hope you enjoy your lunch. Bon Appétit!