Monday, April 30, 2007

Things are looking up

The sun is shining and it's warm out, and with the clearing of Lafayette's clouds comes the clearing of my head, heart, and soul. I am thankful that the blood sugar gods have been kind to me this last month, because it has been a hard one in other terms. That crazy cycle of "is the writer's block and weather causing depression" or is "depression causing the writer's block (and the weather!?") manifested itself throughout April. I did not post because, honestly, all was fine on the diabetes front and everything else was a mess. Well, not everything. I am so blessed with a wonderful husband and a supportive family, as well as a network of academic and Christian friends. But depression and writing are, ultimately, just-me things, and both depend on how I see myself at any given moment. And though I try not to see myself, believing that God would prefer that I see Him and the needs of other people, it was a miserable month, not least because my dissertation in its entirety is due on June 18th. And throughout April, I kept thinking "I have X days to X days..." and I'd stare at my screen and...cry...because I didn't know what or how to write, and with no productivity there was no progress and with no progress there were only X days remaining...

Thankfully, God has allowed encouragement in my life. My advisor read portions of the chapter I am working on and muttered the glorious words "fine" and "good"--enough to make me think that maybe my work isn't so fruitless after all. There is the opportunity of employment in the fall, a possibility that has done wonders for this dissertationless, job-less self-image of mine. My students have expressed gratitude for my teaching and one emailed me to say that mine was the first class in which she thought that learning--as opposed to grades--was the true objective. My husband continually tells me how proud he is of me, and encourages me verbally and through his deeds (he cooked tonight and it was good!).

And today, although the body-impacting anxiety has visited me a few times, with the shortness of breath and utter panic that comes with deadlines and wavering confidence, it is much less, much less frightening, and much less powerful than it was one week ago. I am so thankful. Things are looking up.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Generally I don't dig Easter. I treasure it for what it celebrates--the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior and Lord--but the whole trappings don't do much for me. Maybe because I was diagnosed with diabetes over the Easter weeken of 1989, and I remember being given a toned-down Easter basket with strict warnings to make those sweets last. Easter in the hospital stunk, but worse was the pity that accompanied my diagnosis. I itch just to think about it.

But this Easter I will treasure as one of the best and most meaningful I've experienced. Each year my church produces and performs a Passion Play for our community, and for the last seven years I've declined to participate because...well, it's a time drainer, it comes near the end of the semester, yada yada yada. But I realized this year that this might be my last chance, and that to not even try it, just once, might be something I would regret. So I signed up for the choir. Now, I love to sing, but this was a bit risky since...well, I can't harmonize. I sing what I hear. And I am, I like to say, "An alto masquerading as a soprano."

Last Monday through Wednesday was spent at the theatre rehearsing--songs, "stage pictures," entrances and exits. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights we performed. And this was so wonderful. While the performance itself was exhilerating, what was so cool was the way the cast and crew came together. I didn't socialize a lot "below stage," but I loved observing how believers co-exist in a close environment...offering encouragement, joking, praying. How when we were told we'd have to do a second run-through on the night of dress rehearsal, after little to eat and a long day already, nobody argued or complained but just did it and did it well. Most heart-warming, though, was seeing a group of 15 year-olds praying together in a corner doing their down time. I was so humbled, for I was in the corner breezing through a very good, but certainly not very edifying, book. Also humbling (and edifying) was the thanks that people gave--people who've been coming to the show for years, and others who had never seen it before, hugged us, shook our hands, and thanked us for this ministry. It is hard to begrudge a week and a few weekend rehersals with that kind of response.

I also learned some things about diabetes and diabetics this week.
1) Never rely on food. I ate full meals on Monday and Tuesday even though each night people are slated to bring food for supper. You never know what will be provided, and on the nights I ate the pickings were good. So I ate twice. Wednesday, then, I didn't eat beforehand...and I discovered that a meal of cookies is not such a good thing. There were lots of sweets and no savories, certainly nothing substantial. Not ideal for a diabetic!
2) Never rely on others for your diabetes supplies! I didn't intend to do that...but I walked off with my meter lying on the kitchen table, and my CGMS needed to be calibrated. So I did what anyone else would do, and asked Diabetic #1 if he had his meter with him. He shook his head in a guilty "no." So I asked Diabetic #2 if he had his meter with him...and he, too, had left his at home. We laughed pretty hard at the fact that none of us 3 diabetics were "responsible."
3) Stage fright screws up those blood sugars! Before each performance I would start to climb, climb, climb. I ranged from 250-350 each performance, beginning about an hour before curtain. Saturday I got smart and cranked my basal to 200%--and it made absolutely no difference. So I was cranking in the boluses each night, to no avail...until it all caught up with me on Saturday!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

This is my brain off Paxil

I've been quiet this last month. And anyone reading should be glad. You see, I get a little stubborn about going to the pharmacy and dealing with prescriptions. And so, when my prescription for Paxil ran out, I dragged my feet on refilling it. I not only had to call the doctor to have her refill, I had to switch pharmacies. And so I just didn't refill...and didn't refill...

And soon each day was cloudy. I'd open my computer and start crying. To get anything done was impossible. And I would watch myself, knowing full well that something was wrong. I would say, "Nic, you're not thinking logically. The glass is half full," and although my brain knew the glass was half full, my heart was telling me that the glass was shattered, broken in thousands of pieces. I was a broken beaded necklace and I could not get the beads restrung in the proper order.

And I was angry. I had some reasons to be angry, I think. I am not making progress on my chapter. I got my last official rejection from my interviews. My husband was unemployed. I was angry that those who interviewed me strung me along for months beyond their promise. I was angry that I've been on the job market for 8 months and that it has consumed my life. But the degree of my anger did not match the circumstances. And it did not help that people were telling me that. I knew that. I just couldn't fix it. And it's terrible to blame people for your (non-existent) problems and know that it's wrong but do it anyway. I hated myself. The river (flooded) seemed appealing. And I hated that, too.

I love Paxil. I hate Paxil. I need Paxil. I hate that I need it. But now I am back on it...clearly it's not all about Seasonal Defective Disorder. Clearly there is something fundamentally wrong with my system. I hate that, too.

Amidst all of the ridiculous emotional turmoil there have been many good things. My husband has a job. He's on week three. He likes it and is thinking of it as a possible career. We have insurance. We are getting a tax return that will help us pay down our credit card. My students are wonderful. My blood sugars have been fairly good. I know that we will not be moving to CA, OK, NY, or WV this year. My friends have been so encouraging. And God is always here.