Pollyanna Faces Diabetes

Laddie_Head SquareI have been accused of being “Pollyanna” when it comes to diabetes. I rarely complain about my dysfunctional pancreas and I am a firm believer that I only get one chance at life and I am not going to waste my time complaining. But sometimes I have to admit that DIABETES IS HARD.

I golf once or twice a week during my summers in Minnesota. Most of the time I play right after breakfast in the relative coolness of the morning. My home course is hilly and I am always tired when I finish my 18-hole walk with my clubs on a pushcart. Because I am in a rut and usually play the same course at the same time of day, I have for the most part figured out how to manage diabetes. Does that mean I never have lows or highs? Absolutely not. If my blood sugar is within a reasonable range before beginning play, does this mean I can get through a round without eating a couple of glucose tabs and maybe having a small snack? Nope, can’t do that either. But by planning my breakfast food and bolus insulin, using temporary basals, relying on my Dexcom CGM and an occasional fingerstick, I can play 18 holes with only minor blood sugar annoyances.

My standards for “diabetes success” on the golf course are low. Success means finishing the round without keeling over, needing paramedics, or getting so low that I can’t read the scorecard. Success means that my errant shots are the result of bad swings not the inability to control arms and legs wobbly from a hypo. Success means racking up lots of steps for the current Fitbit challenge. Success means that I enjoy my round and my playing partners don’t have to ask me if I am okay. Success means occasionally forgetting about diabetes.

On Labor Day my son invited my husband and me to join him for 18 holes of golf at his home course. He plays at Hazeltine National Golf Club which is near his home in a western suburb of Minneapolis. Hazeltine is a championship venue which has hosted events such as the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship and will be the site of the Ryder Cup in 2016. The first question you should ask is  “Why in the world is a hacker like me playing a course like that?” The answer is “Because I can and because my son invited me!” I play from the ladies tees which are a mile ahead of the championship tees and amazingly I don’t score that much higher than on my home course. I also decided a long time ago that I should have fun playing golf whether I shoot a good round or not. For the most part I succeed at that.

What I have never mastered at this course is diabetes. Hazeltine is a long and hard course for me to walk. I’ve played there twice and both times have played after lunch which is not my “normal” golf time. I’ve never needed paramedics there, so why am I complaining? When I walked up the 9th hole on Monday feeling incredibly low and having already finished one 10-count roll of glucose tabs, I had a flashback to last year when at the same point on the course I was exhausted and desperately low. (I’ve only played Hazeltine twice. I am not like my husband who can remember every round of golf he has played in the last 50 years. But I am someone with diabetes who can remember every severe low BG since 1976.)

Neither this year nor last did I complain to anyone. Both times I was able to keep playing using the reserve glucose tabs and snacks that I keep in my golf bag. I know that I should tell my husband when I am low, but I’m too stupid tough for that.

But this year was very different from last year. As I walked up the 9th fairway, I was mentally devastated with how sad I was and how lonely my diabetes is. What would it be like to play golf or hike or do anything and not experience low blood sugar? Why is my life a constant math equation with seemingly no reliable solution? Why do I have to deal with this and no one else does? Why can’t I figure it out? Why does it have to be so hard?

Why? Because it is hard. TYPE 1 DIABETES IS HARD. I know that and so do you.

There I’ve said it and I’ll say it again. TYPE 1 DIABETES IS HARD. Now I will quit whining and return to the previously scheduled program of Pollyanna….


On Tuesday of this week Riva Greenberg of The Huffington Post shared her experiences with the hidden difficulties and loneliness of living with Type 1 diabetes. If you haven’t read this article, please check it out: The Invisibility of Type 1 Diabetes. Riva and I are close in age and she has had Type 1 for 43 years compared to my 39 years. Riva is usually upbeat about living with diabetes and her post is an insightful peek at what goes through Pollyanna’s mind when the “Glad Game” just isn’t enough to keep her smiling amidst the highs and lows of diabetes.


Laddie_Head SquareToday’s post is a bullet point view of a few things that are relevant to my life these days.



  • I seem to be able to relate almost everything in my life to diabetes. A few weeks ago I was playing golf and needed to know the distance to the pin so that I could select the proper club. I used my laser range finder which measures the exact distance to the hole by zeroing in on a crystal receptor on the flagstick. Someone asked me what the distance was and I confidently answered 161 yards. One of my playing companions had also taken a measurement and indicated that her device read 125 yards. I took another reading and also measured in the 120’s. Had I use the erroneous reading and hit a good shot, my golf ball would have gone into the desert past the green and resulted in a double or triple bogey. My immediate thought was that this was just like a blood test with diabetes. If my meter gives an erroneous reading, I over- or under-dose my insulin and end up with an unexpected and undeserved high or low BG reading.Golf Desert
  • I write most of my blogposts on my iPad and find that I make the same typing mistakes and get the same crazy autocorrects over and over again.  My pinkie finger must not reach far enough for the “a”, so my most common mistake is to type “disbetes” instead of “diabetes”. Although I get a red line under disbetes, it does not autocorrect to diabetes. Some people would love to change the name of Type 1 diabetes, but I don’t think “disbetes” will have many supporters. A second mistake I often make with diabetes-centric writing is to write “lower card eating” instead of “lower carb eating”. One would think that I have an Ace of Spades on my plate instead of a piece of turkey. An email to Sue from New York after her sleep consultation ended up with two mentions of her “creep” consultation.  Good thing I corrected those mistakes before sending the email although Sue did think the sleep study was somewhat creepy.                                                                             Plate Turkey
  • Autocorrects also sabotage my writing.  “Bolusing” is often rejected by my iPad which insists on  a substitution of “blousing”. The statement that I bloused 3 units of Novolog with my lunch is somewhat nonsensical. This is the third blogpost in a row where I have mentioned the podiatrist/author Neil Scheffler. The rejection of “Scheffler” for “Scheduler” brings to mind James Bond and Batman villains.  Holy Guacamole, Batman, stay away from the The Scheduler!                                            The Scheduler
  • Olympics Trivia.  Late in January Abby the Black Lab’s sister was on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams in a feature about the threat of terrorism at the Sochi Olympics. Because black labs don’t have an aggressive bone in their bodies, that statement warrants an explanation. Abby’s littermate, Jackie, belongs to a Minnesota friend who is going to Sochi to watch her daughter compete in one of the skiing events. My friend was interviewed at her home about whether the terrorism threat was waylaying her family’s plans (it’s not) and the beginning of the clip showed Jackie bouncing and jumping up. “Not very good behavior” thought Abby who is jealous of her sister’s celebrity status.                                                                                                  Abby and Jackie Sister2                                                 
  • Super Bowl Trivia. Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, lived down the street from us when he was a Defensive Backs Coach for the Minnesota Vikings in the late 80’s. His two oldest children are the same age as my boys and they went to school together. Extremely nice family and congratulations to Pete and the Seahawks for a job well done.                                                                                    Seahawks
  • My Arizona podiatrist is now my new best friend because the cortisone shot on Tuesday has returned my heel to A+ status. Hopefully this injury will not return.                                                                                                                                         Call the Podiatrist_2

That’s it for today, my friends.