Monday, March 31, 2014

I once threw a dinner party

Way back in the day, I became ambitious. And I decided to throw a dinner party. Okay, it wasn't that long ago. It was at the beginning of March. It feels like ages ago though. 

I decided to throw a dinner party because I had a recipe I really, really wanted to try but knew I wouldn't be able to consume the entire dish. And I thought about my cookbook challenge. It seemed like a good idea. I could make the one recipe I really wanted to try, I could make things from cookbooks I had yet to use and I could be proactive and actually invite friends to hang out for a fun evening. And so, I had a dinner party. 

My menu!
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The recipe I had really wanted to make was the rosemary chicken lasagna. Three of the items, I had made before -- the warm blue cheese dip, Mom's garlic bread and the tiramisu

I invited quite a few friends and ultimately it ended up being a small gathering of three of us. It worked considering my dining table only seats four. The fact that anyone showed up, well, that is a win for me. Out of fear of rejection and feeling like I'm imposing or being a burden, I never actually initiate plans to hang out with friends. It is a major flaw and I'm trying to challenge myself to conquer it. I'll sometimes mention to people there is an event going on or wouldn't it be fun to eat here or see a specific movie but I never say "Hey, let's go see movie X this weekend." Nope. I do not do that. It terrifies me. I can't explain why. It just does. So this dinner party -- huge deal. 

The food turned out delicious! 

Most of the dinner food -- I forgot to take pictures of the mixed nuts and garlic bread. Oops!

A lot was pretty simple to make. The lasagna was time intensive but not that bad. Two of the recipes are diabetic friendly (tiramisu and the green beans). Wasn't a huge fan of the mixed nuts but they weren't horrible. My friends (non-diabetics) even said the tiramisu was restaurant worthy. To manage the menu, I prepared some items (applesauce and tiramisu) the day before. I prepped the dip in the morning and then made the lasagna around lunch. The dip finished baking when everyone showed up and then the lasagna reheated while the green beans roasted. While all of that cooled a little bit, I grilled the garlic bread under the broiler for a minute and then -- ta da -- we ate!

Since I'm known for always making cookies and treats I sent home treat boxes with my friends. 
Treat boxes!

Those were all really delicious treats. And at the last minute the night before my dinner party, I made chocolate chip cookies, so they were all sent home with those cookies too. My favorite of the treats were the iced oatmeal cookies but the peanut butter marshmallow bars were a dream come true. The other item I made were rolo pretzel brownies -- all from scratch. 

So, that was my first dinner party. Most importantly, I had a blast. Not just in making everything but more importantly spending quality time with friends. Considering the theme I had given my dinner party (Goodbye winter, hello spring!), I'm toying with the idea of throwing a dinner party four times a year -- each time the seasons change. We shall see. Overall, it challenged me out of my comfort zone and that is a good thing. A bonus? All of the food turned out to be delicious!

 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pharrell and I ... we both be happy

Have you ever read the lyrics to Pharrell William's song "Happy"? It is worth the read. Here. I'll wait while you read them. 

"Can't nothing bring me down. My levels too high." Well said, well said Pharrell. 

It was a completely random decision to look up and read the lyrics to the song. It was streaming online and I was sitting down to write this post and for some reason, I thought I'd look up the lyrics. 

The plan was to post about the significance of today — give or take a day. I don't remember the exact date unfortunately but I remember the day clear as can be. It was 24 years ago. 

Twenty-four years ago. 

Twenty-four years ago my pancreas was officially declared dead. Twenty-four years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As an eight-year-old, hearing the first syllable, I was convinced I would die. 

Neener, neener. I'm still alive and kicking — even with a few scary episodes — diabetes hasn't killed me off yet. And with each day, I'm getting better and better at controlling it, not hating it and not being ashamed of it. If you asked my eight-year-old self if I'd be where I am today, I'm sure she'd give you an attitude filled answer of "doubtful." 

I'm not sure why Pharrell is happy but I know why I am happy. I'm happy because I can celebrate another year of battling this disease and for the first time in a long, long time, I'm on the winning side. This is a darn good happy feeling. Nice try diabetes, but as Pharrell said, can't nothing bring me down. Not even you. Here is to another 20+ years.

I wrote a guest blog about "dia-versaries" and when it is posted, I'll share a link to it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March vs. Kristin

Well, look at that, March is halfway over and so far, in the battle of March vs. Kristin, I'm winning. When I wrote my last post, I was reminded that in 2012, March was not a very enjoyable month for me. I promised I'd share more, so here it is. 

March that year was crazy. I interviewed, was offered and accepted my current position. All great things. Then as I began to pack my apartment to move to yet another city and state, I had the ULTIMATE nightmare. No need to go into great detail but basically I saw death. Coming for me. My heart still races thinking about it. Of course, I yelled at it it go away because I had things to do, a new job to kick butt in, a new city to explore, etc. 

I obviously scared death away because I'm here blogging. But apparently death wanted to give me a warning. Because then, a few days later, Sunday happened. And I have no recollection of Sunday through I think Wednesday or Friday, so this is all second-hand knowledge of what has been told to me.

That Sunday, I called my parents and apparently was talking all sorts of gibberish, potentially not even English. My parents may worry too much about my sisters and I but it isn't always a bad thing. Because of that phone call, they called 911 to send help to my apartment. (They are in Nebraska. At the time, I was in Wisconsin. Not close enough for them to just swing by and check on me.) When the paramedics arrived, I let them into my apartment. And they took me away. 

I was having seizures. Lots of seizures. 

I lived from 1981 until 2012 without ever having a seizure and then had a bunch all in one day. 

They drove me the ER and I continued to have seizures in the ambulance. The paramedics or someone in the hospital let my parents know what was going on and they hit the road to take care of me.

The medical team couldn't determine with certainty what caused the day of seizures. They strongly suspect it was my out-of-control, high blood sugars. 

I was able to leave the hospital, we finished packing my apartment and prepared to move me to my next city and state. When I was released from the hospital, I was informed I would not get to drive for three months. So, Mom and Dad made the decision -- Mom would move to my new city and state with me and live with me until I could drive. Awesome. Just what every 30 year old wants. I was placed on some medicine, which we'll discuss in July when I celebrate, knock on wood, two years without being admitted into a hospital. (Really, it is the small things.) 

March obviously likes to attempt to kick my butt when you think about it. I was diagnosed with diabetes in March of 1990 (I'll post next week about that) and a crazy day of seizures happened in March of 2012. Other things have happened in past Marches but those are two of the big ones. I'd like to point out that despite its many attempts, March isn't winning. So, take that March! (Yes, I'm absolutely sticking my tongue out at it.)  

And, if you'd like to know, I have yet to have a seizure since that day! 

I'd like to add a footnote about the amazing paramedics who rescued me. Despite destroying my favorite Chicago Nebraska alumni t-shirt, they were amazing for not only saving my life, but going back to my apartment and taking care of my dog until my parents could take him to be boarded.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Invincible

Invincible. If I had to choose only one word to describe my mother, I would choose invincible. Hopefully I'll never have to choose just one because there are so many more words that also fit for describing her. 

The reason I would choose invincible? Because she is a fighter. Not once now, but twice (!!), she has laid the smack down on cancer and kicked it to the curb.

In 2003, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. I was away at college about to start my last semester of undergrad. I'm not sure what treatment she went through, but she evicted the colon cancer from her body. Every checkup she has had since has come back clean as can be. 

In 2013, Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Considering she had spent several months living here with me when I wasn't allowed to drive due to a day filled with seizures (another post for the near future because I just realized as of today, I've been seizure free for two years!), I just wanted to quit my job and move back home to take care of her. As anyone will say in regards to cancer, it isn't fair. 

Mom has handled this battle with grace, bravery, dignity, courage and everything else. I am in awe of her inner strength. She has been amazing. My father has been just as amazing in his support. I already knew he loves my mother will all of his heart and would do anything for her, but watching them take this on together, is too adorable for words. They together are just one big warm fuzzy of happiness. 

Last week, despite all the craziness and turmoil in my life, Mom got the results from her mammogram. All clear. That's right. All clear. My first thought was "Suck it cancer, suck it." I fully admit I cried tears of happiness. She has her last chemo appointment on Wednesday of this week. Although cancer can always come back, it feels like we, as a family, can breathe and relax a little bit. It seems like we're leaving cancer in the dust. 

Against her, cancer doesn't stand a chance and needs to just keep on moving. Cancer would be crazy to even toy with the idea of returning to Mom's body because I think she has, yet again, proven to be invincible.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The pain of pretending to laugh

Sometimes you land in a situation and the only option you have is to pretend to laugh. Of course, as you laugh you have to force out a smile. Once removed from the situation, you're able to reflect on what occurred and that is when the pain begins to hit you. The pain of what you laughed at, the pain of pretending to laugh. 

On Monday afternoon, I was asked what I was giving up for Lent. I responded I wasn't sure yet but I'd figure it out. The person, who obviously thinks they are the next George Carlin, made a suggestion. 

"You should give up insulin."

Hahahahaha! Oh my God. That is hilarious! My sides ache from laughing so much. (Please note, that line is dripping in sarcasm).

They laughed real laughs. I chuckled awkward pretend chuckles. I tried to pretend it was funny and said "funny" things in return but really, it wasn't funny. I also thanked the person for wishing I was dead. Because, you know, insulin is somewhat vital to me staying alive. But yes, dude was right, I should give up insulin for Lent because hey, what would be a bigger sacrifice for the Lord than my life? I have a hunch the Lord does not approve of me giving up insulin for Lent, thankfully. 

After we parted ways, it started to sink in what they were joking about. I truly wanted to cry because when you think about it, it isn't funny. I didn't ask for my pancreas to stop working. I didn't ask for my diabetes. It. Just. Happened. The statement "You should give up insulin," is highly offensive, hurtful and inappropriate for the setting it was made in. By the time I got home that evening I was fighting back tears. I refuse to cry over someone acting like a twat, a douche, an a-hole, etc. Not worth my tears but a few tears unfortunately did sneak out. 

Their statement left me feeling as if I had no value. That I'm insignificant. That I'm not worthy of insulin. That hurts. What hurts more was having to pretend to laugh about it.

When I pointed out that if I gave up insulin I would die, they continue to laugh and pretend they were George Carlin (Sorry...stumbled upon some of his recordings on my iPod the other night). It wasn't until I pointed out if I was dead they'd probably have to pick up the slack and do my work that they stopped laughing. That just added to the hurt. 

I struggled to sleep last night because I was still bothered and hurt and nearly 24 hours later, I'm still fuming. Sure, I make jokes about my diabetes quite a bit but if I don't find things to laugh at, this disease can become overwhelming and depressing. However, none of my jokes trivialize my diabetes. And never do I joke about it in regards to death. 

And for the record, I hate, truly HATE the joke always floating around social media about John has 24 candy bars. John ate 22. What does John have? John has diabetes. I'm not one for violence but if I ever met the person who got that going, I wouldn't hesitate to slap them upside the back of of their head. I just do not find anything funny about that "joke." 

I apologize for the whining, negative tone to this post. I try really hard to focus on the good things but I just couldn't sit on this. I'm hoping if I put it in writing it might help my fumes disappear. 

I'm still unsure which is worse -- having such an offensive statement said to me or being in the awkward situation of having to pretend to laugh at it as if it was funny. 

For the record -- I'm not giving up anything for Lent. I want to focus on good things so I'm going to find something to be grateful/appreciative for each day and write it down. It is something I often forget to do and it should help overall.