Lemonade Life

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Case of the Broken Printer

It was just like any other summer afternoon.

I'm sitting at my cluttered desk covered with diabetes magazines and newsletters, little notes to myself and not one, not two, but three cans of diet soda.

I'm preparing to print out some Walk to Cure Diabetes for my family and friends. Just a few to keep the ball rolling with the gathering of 100 supporters (if you haven't donated, you should!).

My letters are all nice and proofread and I hit the print button.

Eeeeek-raaaaank grinds the printer as it prepares a slice of crisp, white paper.

The printers teeth grab the paper and begins sliding it.

But oh no!

What's this?

The paper is going in sideways!

I quickly grab the paper, but it's too late. A quarter of my letter has already been printed, a smudged Hello! falling outside the margins.

Sigh. Throw the paper in the recycling.

Straighten up the paper. Hit print. Again, the paper grinds and shrieks as it grabs yet another paper, sliding it in at an angle.

And again. And again. And again.

About half a dozen pages later and my letter is printed in a way that if your head was permanently fixed at a 45 degree angle to the left it would look perfectly normal!

I try taking out the stack of blank pages and go at it one at a time. Occasionally I am able to carefully slide the page just right between the teeth so that the printer grabs it straight on, but it eventually loses its angle and the page comes out with a thin line of ink down the bottom left hand side.

I cannot send this to Grandma Lois.

Another half a dozen pages later and the entirety of my patience, I am fed up with Mr. Printer.

Something must be broken.

Perhaps it is the teeth? I think, and unplug the printer from the computer and surge protector and place it in my lap. I turn it around so I can get a clearer look at where each page is being pulled in.

It looks normal, but then I notice the edge of something slightly orange, slightly pink. At first I think something must have broken and what I'm seeing is broken, chipped paint. But as I tilt the printer to one side, the mystery object moves!

I reach in and touch it. It's soft and... a bit chalky.

I tilt the printer backwards all the way, shaking hard until the mystery object has been completely dislodged!

A glucose tablet!

One tiny, orange-flavored glucose tablet killed half a tree!

Irritated, but slightly bemused, I throw the clearly contaminated glucose tablet in the garbage and I plug the printer back in. I print off ten nice, clean letters without a hitch.

My only question now that I have solved the mystery of the broken printer is... exactly how did that glucose tablet get inside the printer?

Maybe the printer is a diabetic and was having a hypoglycemic reaction?

I sure hope it tested...

Friday, August 25, 2006

This Is For Joseph

Sandra's post on Friday reminded me of something I have wanted to share for awhile. I think this is the perfect opportunity.

Dear Joseph,

This is why I have hope.


"It could always be worse."

This seems to be the general mantra of people coping with diabetes. This is the soothing phrase they use to calm down the rattled nerves after another outragous high or frightening low, or another playtime put on pause, or simply an interrupted life.

This is how people, at their very wits end, convince themselves that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.

I know someone who has it worse. Her name is Emily. She is 22 years old and she has cystic fibrosis. Alright, I don't actually know her, but I have been reading her blog for the past several months and she is quite the remarkable woman.

Cystic fibrosis, if you've never heard of it, is a chronic incurable disease that causes an excessive amount of mucous to build up in the lungs. It makes it very hard for people to breathe, and to do a lot of the things that we like to do, like walk or play outside or go to the movies. Patients must take several dozen pills and sometimes wear a vibrating chest pack that loosens up the mucous. Some, like Emily, have such poor lung function they must carry around an oxygen tank in order to breath. Simple activities like putting on shoes or walking across a room leave her breathless.

She is 22 and has the lung function of a 90-year-old woman.

Emily needs a lung transplant. She doesn't need a lung transplant like we need a pancreas transplant. She needs a lung transplant like we need insulin.

Early last year, her doctors gave her one year to live. That was 18 months ago. But for the past month, Emily lungs have started to collapse and she spent a month in the hospital.

She was released and is at home again.

Emily has one of the most cheerful dispositions I have ever encountered. She is honest to a fault about her condition, but manages to tell each "adventure" with a humorous afterglow. She is smart, optimistic and bright, just like you. Her disease has not changed who she is, just what she does.

She recently wrote this about her positive outlook:

"A number of people have mentioned to me how they find reading my blog a strange experience, as I have a tendency to write about sometimes quite horrific and/or sad things but then will drop in a touch of humour. This has never really struck me as weird before, but on thinking about it I think we (society) often feel that things are either bad therefore sad, or good therefore happy etc. I was talking about this with Abby the other night – I cannot think of a single time in life when you will get a simple stream of matching emotions. For example, at the most joyous of occasions, such as a wedding (now that I have weddings on the brain due to a dear friend of mine getting married in a weeks time!) there will be moments of tears, and touches of sadness amongst all elation and celebration. At a funeral, there will be a moment of laughter as someone recalls a funny memory or story, perhaps shared through tears of heartache.

Life is varied and complex, and for me that brings part of its great beauty. You can be crying with laughter one minute, and laughing through your tears the next, but I think what is important is allowing that and accepting that as part of life. Also viewing it in this way makes it harder for life to knock you down, when you see it as a collection of tiny fragments rather than one great solid slab, so even with huge black clouds everywhere a sliver of sunshine is bound to creep in somewhere. I try to think like that as it makes it easier to face the whole torrent of emotions which sometimes flood at me on an evening such as this, as it seems more natural that whilst I am elated and content to be at this stage compared to a week ago, I also feel a small ache of sadness at what the events represent as far as my health is concerned. Time is running out. And I have said it many times for the sake of media interviews and awareness raising, but of course sadly it isn’t just for effect, it is true. But I have every single chance of being called tonight as I did last night and the night before¸ and will look forward, take one day at a time, and keep concentrating on small goals, such as getting myself better and of course getting across that finish line!

All we can ever do surely is to keep on keep on, and live it and love it to the best of our ability?"

It's chance, Joseph. Chance is what gives me hope.

The only chance Emily has to find that holy grail, that "normal" life we all keep talking about, is to have a lung transplant. That's it. There is nothing else that will help her.

But us? We are the lucky ones. We wake up every morning with another chance to live the best life that we can. We wake up with a new opportunity to take advantage of every opportunity we have to be strong and happy. We have been given the tools to do the things we want, amazing tools I sometimes feel we wish to discredit because it's not as "perfect" as what we wish we had.

Waking up every morning, new opportunities and chances lay before you. As long as you are alive and breathing, you have the chance for Life, one filled with excitement and fear, courage and confusion. It is our responsibility to take that chance, which makes it all the more exciting and frightening.

Joseph, some people will tell you that there is no hope for a cure. And some people will tell you that there is hope for a cure because the cure is coming in five years.

They are both wrong. Because unfortunately the world has not been given a crystal ball to tell us what is going to happen next. I don't know when there is going to be a cure. Neither does your mom. Neither does your doctor. Neither do the counselors at camp or the people at the ADA and JDRF. No one can tell you when there will be a cure, but they also can't tell you there won't be a cure. Which means there is always hope.

We wake up every morning with another chance for hope, just like Emily. Every day, Emily has the same chance as the day before to get a phone call saying she has new lungs waiting for her.

Everyday, we have the same chance as the day before that a doctor will find the cure. I don't know which day it will be. Maybe it will be tomorrow. Maybe it will be the summer before you start high school. Maybe it will be while you're away at college. Maybe it will happen while you're planning your wedding or playing baseball with your son. Maybe it won't happen until long after we have left this earth, and the cure will be for our grandchildren's families and friends to enjoy a life without diabetes.

There will be a cure, Joseph, I promise. But we don't know when.

It means being patient. It means staying strong.

It means taking the chance, to hope, to believe, to try, to be.

Take the chance.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday Night Secrets

I am a crier.

But I'm not your typical crier. I don't cry very often in movies or while watching a Hallmark commerical. I can probably count on my hand how many times I've cried while reading a blog post. I don't believe I have ever shed a tear for a literary character.

I cry while lying in my bed, late at night, reflecting on all the pain and joy I have witnessed and hear recounted throughout the day. While I remember the people who have come and gone. Curled up in ball, squeezing my stuffed bear Pierre, letting my tears soak his fur.

I cry when I'm driving in my car, listening to a song that reminds me of him, or her, or them, or everyone, and I can't help but miss the time when I wasn't so aware of everything.

I cry when I'm sitting at my desk, reading and re-reading another story of fears and hopes, of challenges and perseverance. It's not just one particular story on a blog, but the whole idea of it.

The whole idea of a community of otherwise complete strangers bound together by this single event with effects that ripple through every other event that comes after it.

My mother told me when I was a child I used to be very sensitive to other people's feelings. When some girls in my Girl Scount troop would fight, I would get upset about it. My friends in high school called me an empath because the pain someone else felt would also be as strong in me as in them.

I started turning it off my senior year in high school, because it got too hard to handle. It got too hard to handle the emotions of other people, in addition to my own.

Sometimes I wonder if I have sprung a leak.

I scrolled down Kerri's blogroll tonight, and a tear fell for each one of them.

I wish there was something I could do to make things easier. I try to tell myself that what I'm doing is helping, that it's making a difference, but it's so hard sometimes. I wish there was something I could to make things better for people, to make it not hurt so much.

I wish there was something I could to make me not hurt so much.

I cry while I write a story about how I wish I didn't cry. I cry while I tell everyone to not be scared. I cry while I tell everyone that it will be okay and to just smile and be brave.

I wish I was braver.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bloglines Feed

I've had a few people mention to me that I no longer show up on their Bloglines feed.

Make sure you have your blogroll/bloglines linked to the right blog.

This is the Feed link: lemonlemonade.com/atom.xml.

If you aren't linked to this, you probably aren't receiving notices that I've updated. If you search for Lemonade Life on Bloglines, my blog will show up and you can subscribe to it there.

Please make sure you are linking to the right blog. I would hate to think you are missing out on getting the updates!

If you have any questions, leave a comment or email me at amblass@gmail.com and I will try to explain it to you better. Thanks!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Walk Season!! Yaaay!!

Total Supporters: 19

Supporters Needed: 81

Hi everyone! It's that time of year again... leaves change colors, sweaters come out of hiding, and I ask you to support the Walk to Cure Diabetes.

The reasons are fairly simple: diabetes is the 5th leading cause of death, complications include kidney failure and heart disease, and we have dozens of bright, hard-working researchers all over the world who need more funding. I have had Type 1 diabetes for 12 years, I have been a volunteer with JDRF for over five years and I believe that the money JDRF raises will fund the researcher(s) that will find the cure for diabetes.

This year, my fundraising goal is a bit different than usual. Instead of raising a certain amount of money, I want to raise a certain amount of people. How does that work? Usually the average walker raises $100. Instead of raising $100, I want to raise the support of 100 of my closest, dearest friends. Like you. :-)

Even if you are struggling to pay off tuition or are fundraising for your own Walk, you can still help. Since I am raising support instead of money, anything you can do to say "I want a cure!" will help. Whether it's $50, $25, $10 or $1, you get counted as one of my 100 supporters. I will be keeping track of all my supporters here on my website Lemonade Life. The thermometer over to the side shows how much money I have received, and I put $100 since that is the minimum for a T-shirt. Since I am raising supporters, I have another counter at the top of this message.

Being a supporter means a lot to JDRF, but it means even more to me.

Please donate to the 2006 Walk to Cure Diabetes. Donating is as easy as tying your shoes. There are two options:

1) Donate online at my Walk page. (Just click on Donate Now!)

2) Send me cash or check (made out to JDRF, of course) but first email me at amblass@gmail.com so I can give you my mailing address.

Email me at amblass@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!

peace, love & hope for a cure,


Allison's 2006 Walk to Cure Diabetes Supporters!

1) Johnboy
2) Bob Williams
3) Felix Kasza
4) Ardy Johnson
5) Rachel
6) Laura Cackowski
7) Lori Rodewald
8) George Simmons
9) Jenni Prokopy
10) Pratt Rather
11) Megan
12) Renee Bernett
13) Donna Longenecker
14) Dana Turell
15) Linda Baker
16) Heather Chambers
18) Kendall Cook
17) Sandra Miller
19) Kayce Spear

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I wish the reasons to smile always overpowered the reasons to cry.

I wish I could always know what my blood sugar is. I wish I didn’t have to know what my blood sugar is.

I wish the world were safe for our babies. I wish there was a vaccine for anger. I wish more people had faith in God. I wish the people who have faith in God would actually listen to Him.

I wish people didn’t gossip. I wish people didn’t lie. I wish people didn’t say mean things to make them feel better. I wish technology never broke. I wish I always had cell phone service.

I wish I kept in better contact with my friends. I wish I could tell all my friends individually how much I love them (I love you). I wish I could love more freely. I wish I had an easier time trusting people. I wish people didn’t break my trust.

I wish dreams always came true. I wish people that mean the most to me didn’t leave this world so early. I wish I knew what they were going to teach me. I wish I could say good-bye. I wish I didn’t have to say good-bye.

I wish I could take everyone to heaven. I wish life wasn’t so nasty, brutish and short. I wish I could say the things I want to say when I want to say them. I wish it didn’t take so much time to make a difference. I wish more people at least tried to make a difference. I wish more people realized the difference they do make, even when they aren’t trying.

I wish more people realized that they are beautiful and wonderful even with their flaws. I wish more people realized that their flaws are what make them beautiful and wonderful. I wish more people focused on the beautiful and wonderful things instead of the sad and lonely things.

I wish that sad and lonely things never happened.

But most of all I wish, that when sad and lonely things happen, you have someone you love and who loves you to hold onto.

And I wish that person’s smile overpowered your tears.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Slightly Hypocritical...

I'm not sure when it all started...

Maybe it was the plane ride, and the restaurant dinners, and the late nights in Orlando...

Maybe it was the three and a half day fever...

Maybe it was the umpteenth realization that this things lasts bloody forever...

I thought, in my usual optimistic manner, that diabetes during the summer would somehow be easier than diabetes during the school year. Dinners at home, more routinized schedule, a gym membership I would actually use (I was getting pretty good there towards the end of school, since I hurt my back I was practially forced to go to the gym).

But for the last month, nothing. No gym, no Symlin, infrequent dinners at home.

And now I have the bloody alcohol messing with my system.

This was supposed to be the summer of the Six.

As in a Six Point Something A1C.

But I see more 200s and 300s than anything else.

And I honestly don't want to fix anything because I'm tired. But there's also the guilt.

Guilt because despite the fact that it's perfectly normal to hate diabetes, perfectly normal to get burned out, perfectly normal to say "fuck you" to the glucose meter every once in awhile (or five times a day, depending on who you are), I have to/get to talk to people, everyday, about the importance of testing your blood sugar frequently, writing down your numbers, getting regular exercise, counting carbohydrates for healthy, well-balanced meals, and thinking positively because diabetes really isn't so bad once you get the hang of it.

I feel like a hypocrite. Like an overweight nutritionist.

I know it's a benefit to have the disease you are mentoring and educating about. I know the ins and outs, ups and downs and the tiny little crevices that endocrinologists and diabetes educators (excluding those with the disease, of course) completely miss during your usual diabetes boot camp.

I know being a messed-up diabetic (like everyone else) is a part of my charm, but goddammit, why can't there be someone out there who has this thing figured out? It's like the stupid "meaning of life" secret. It's this small kernal of truth hiding out there somewhere, perhaps in the heart of an undiagnosed diabetic, and we're just waiting for someone to figure this all out.

My mother found some old articles from when I was first diagnosed, twelve years ago, and the articles are exactly the same as the ones published today. No one has come up with any new ways of dealing with the disease. Yes, we have new and improved ways of doing it, but the premise is still the same: You take your medication, you eat right, you exercise, you think happy thoughts, and when you don't want to think happy thoughts, you can cry a bit, but you still have to take your medication, eat right and exercise. Sound familiar?

I want my secret "meaning of life" revealed. I want my kernal of truth. I want my out.

I want my cure. Now.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Several Reasons Why I Like Life

1) I'm finally 21. I'm only two days in, so it hasn't gotten old yet. In fact, I'm not sure it's even really sunk in. This picture was taken at The Cheesecake Factory at Washington Square. It was Brownie Sundae Cheesecake and it was huge and delicious and worth every single point above my target range.

2) Ashleigh, of my best friends, is coming to visit me in October! She lives in Georgia and we met online, so I have only met her one other time (in March 2005). And now she's coming to Oregon! YES!!!

3) My shiny new pink Razr phone. I hate to sound materialistic, but it really is a pretty awesome phone. I've always had the cheap phones that they practically give away when you sign up for a contract, so it's nice to finally have a cool phone.

4) Michael Burton from JDRF is my Favorite Person of the Day and has christened me the "twentyoneyearoldwhowritesaboutteenagerscollegekidsandyoung
adultsandwhateverelsesheorwecanthinkup." I laughed out loud when I read that. Could you imagine putting that on a business card?

5) I met Chris Dudley today! I went to the Chris Dudley Basketball Camp way out in Vernonia, Oregon (about an hour from my house). Toured around, talked with Chris and his wife, met the staff and saw some teens that I know.

6) All my wonderful OC friends who wished me a Happy Birthday. Big thanks to: Johnboy, George, Felix, Rebecca, Rachel, Gina, Vivian, Minnesota Nice (I'm sorry I don't know your real name!), Caro and Jane.

7) The whopping grand total of 116 blogs listed on the Official Diabetes O.C. website. I swear, everytime I check my e-mail I have another Submission Form waiting for me. I'm excited by the growth and activity of the O.C., but I can barely keep up!

Oh, and yes, there will be a Second Annual Diabetes O.C. Blog Choice Awards. This is to honor those making a difference by sharing their lives with diabetes and, of course, a publicity stunt to garner attention for our little (ha!) community. Completely revamping the logistics of the Awards this year, so stay tuned. Details coming Fall 2006.

8) The fact that it's August 8th and I still have over a month and a half of summer vacation left.

9) Julia's baby is here!! Yay!! And Charlotte Jane was born on my birthday!! Double yay!! I love babies!! And exclamation marks!!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

As of 12:01 a.m....

The Countdown is officially over!

I am 21!

Here are a couple pics that my friend Justin took last night at Shari's (Shari's a local diner chain that we practically grew up at. We know most of the waiters. And the manager knows us by name- in a good way).

My friend Julia and me.

Me with my birthday sundae (and my friend Freddy).

While we were sitting at Shari's and talking, my friend Julia noticed my I.D. bracelet and starting looking at it, because she wasn't sure what it was. Then my friend Justin suggested that there should be a "diabetic symbol."

"Like the Jesus fish," he said.

And then Julia came up with the bright idea to have a secret handshake.

"A secret handshake?" I asked.

"Yeah, you know, like if you saw someone and you thought they were diabetic but you weren't sure you could go 'I wonder if they know the secret handshake' and then you'd know," she explained.

Because, of course, simply asking someone is so passe.

I told them I would bring the suggestions back to My People. So, there you go.

Or maybe since this is an "online community" we should simply have a secret password...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Thank God for the Internet

The Plague that started last Thursday as a 101.7 degree fever, followed by a "rock-swallowing" kind of sore throats has now morphed into laryngitis.

I sound like a squeaky, prepubescent teenage boy who smokes.

I just can't win, can I?

Thank God my role as O.C. Director and Diabetes Teen Queen doesn't require me to actually talk to anyone. Otherwise I'd never get anything done!

Though there is some good news it seems. My blood sugars are finally taking a turn away from the Stratosphere and coming back down into the range. I actually went low this morning and was excited about it. I don't think I had ever been so happy to be unable to walk straight.

I really hope I'm better by this weekend. I mean, honestly, to be sick on your 21st birthday has to be the world's cruelest joke. Lucky for me, I'm not having my birthday party on my birthday. The actual celebration is the following weekend, on the 12th. The plan (as of right now, though considering this last week, it may change...) is that my friends and I are going to the Bite of Oregon, which is a wine/beer/food/music festival on the Waterfront in Downtown Portland. Snow Patrol is going to be there! I'm so excited!

I should be healthy by the 12th, don't you think?

My blog has been awfully quiet lately, so I'll pose a question to get some activity. What did you do for your 21st birthday? (Please try to keep it somewhat appropriate, this is supposed to be a family-friendly blog :-).)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Almost There!

Just in case you haven't been paying attention....

5 MORE DAYS!!!!!!!

I'm excited, can you tell? Have you bought my cheesy, flashy and brightly colored 21st birthday card/e-card yet?

Everything is great except that I am *still* sick and it's starting to really piss me off. I haven't gotten my usual eight-hours of uninterrupted sleep since Friday night! I keep waking up at 5 a.m. with a pounding headache, unable to breathe properly, and searching my room for lozenges as I swallow what feels like tiny rocks that scrape the sides of my throat.

But Mumzie made a doctor's appointment for me, so hopefully they will give me some antibiotics and I can finally feel like a normal human being again (or at least as normal as I'll ever be).

I also feel like I'm losing my voice and I had to interview Pratt Rather from Team Type 1 this morning. The interview was great, but I sounded horrible! My blood sugars are also horrible. I have my basal rate set to 200%. 200%!!! And my blood sugar right now is 296. Oy. As if being sick wasn't bad enough.

At least this is the one time I can be high and not feel guilty about it. Because it's not my fault!

But being high for a week is bad. This is not going to help my A1C any. This sucks. I want to be better.

I hope I am better by Sunday. It would really suck to be sick on my 21st birthday.