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Diabetic White Noise

The house was completely quiet this morning when I woke up.  A sliver of sun cut through the bedroom shades and hit a patch on the floor that Fat Cat Abby was stretched out in.  Siah was White Noise.napping on the bed, tucked neatly against Chris as he slept.  No noise from outside.  I reached for my testing kit, which was sitting on the bedside table and the zzz-iiiip of the case broke the silence.

There’s a steady hum of diabetic white noise in my life at all times.

Even if I don’t notice as much anymore, there are signs of diabetes everywhere in my house.  My black zipper kit sits on the bedside table.  Cake gel is tucked in to the little drawer of the table, laying flat against the bottle of blood pressure medication I take every night. 

The master bedroom closet houses all of my clothes and shoes.  I am a complete clothes horse (another phrase that makes about as much sense as eating a horse) and there is barely enough room for my summer wardrobe, nevermind every item I own.  But there is also a large, white cabinet tucked within its doors, which holds all my back-up pump supplies, lancets, bottles of test strips, and some spare pump clips. 

Bathroom cabinet?  Moisturizer, eye makeup remover, toothpaste, a bottle of Clean Provence perfume, and the Quickserter for my infusion sets.  Cake gel is in there, too, just in case.

Refrigerator?  Aside from the stock of produce and milk, thirteen vials of insulin stand at ready attention in a compartment in the door, alongside my stock of Humalog “just-in-case” insulin pens.  And the juice.  Always juice.

Dead test strips: on the floor right by the bedside table, under the couch cushion in the living room, a shoe in my closet, one was on the bottom shelf of the fridge this morning, and scattered around the garbage can in the kitchen.  (It’s like they rebel against being thrown away.  I make the effort to toss them and they still don’t make it in.)

Even on my own body:  You wouldn’t know by looking at me that I was diabetic, but the spotty scars on my fingertips and the dots (and tan lines) of past infusion sets on my thighs tell a silent story.   My purse is never without my kit, some juice, and some kind of carbohydrate source.  My boyfriend checks my forehead for beads of sweat every time he wakes up in the middle of the night. 

All these little signs.  Tucked away into compartments and drawers but at every turn and in every room.   I noticed them all this morning.  Every last one. 

Always there, humming away like white noise in the background, like the air conditioner at your office or the fan in your computer.  You barely notice when it’s on, but imagine, just for a minute, how much you’d notice if it starting spinning out of control.  Or if it hiccupped and stalled. 

Or if it just stopped.  Creating silence, like my house this morning.

… and the silence is broken by the sound of Ms. Siah, who found a ping-pong ball underneath the couch and is chasing it frantically across the kitchen floor.  I just picked a test strip out of my computer keyboard. 

So begins another day.


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White noise describes that scenario perfectly. I've often looked around the house to see where diabetes has invaded and taken over. A cabinet, two whole shelves of a closet, the fridge, counter, every room contains dribs and drabs of tests and infusion set changes.

I even saw a test strip on the floor behind a chair where Brendon takes karate. I thought "Oh wow, who else has diabetes?" Then I realized, it was from when Jeff test Brendon when he was low during a belt test.

Diabetes supplies are like the Tribbles from Star Trek...they keep multiplying and invade every crevice of a room.

It's weird how it invades your life. I've felt a little jolt of recognition whenever we've been out somewhere and spotted someone with a pump or saw a used test strip on the ground.
It's like we're all in this big club - sometimes we come right out and declare ourselves and other times, we just leave little clues, signs that only other memebers will recognize.

Test strips are sneaky little things! One was jammed in my inserter for my infusion sets. Took me 15 mins to get it out (How did it ever get in there?!). Once removed, the inserter worked fine and I was able to get on with it!

Funny little things indeed.

The pop of the test strip container and the clicks of the lancet device are what comes to mind when I think about the sound of diabetes.

I also remember clearly recognizing the sound of someone delivering insulin with a pen behind the stall doors in a restroom when I was in college.

And: You keep 13 vials of insulin on hand?! Wow, that's being prepared.

It's the sound of the NPH bottle clacking as it rolls past my mother's rings as she mixed my doses when I was little ... that's definitely the sound of my childhood diabetes.

Now, it's the "boop beep boop" of my pump.

That is so true Kerri. The White noise is so apart of everything in my life.

If my wife hears the zipper to my machine open she sits up ready to act.

I cannot imagine , although I wish for, a world without that noise.

How could I forget the "boop beep boop"?!

I remember when I was growing up after I delivered insulin with my pen, my mother would turn to me and ask, "Did you take your insulin?" I was always stunned that she couldn't hear (let alone see) the fact I was doing it, but I guess it must have become white noise to her. Something she sees and hears so often she doesn't even realize it's there.

After reading Allison's comment, I realized how "white noise" diabetes is to Brendon.

I'll dose or test him and minutes later he'll tell me I need to do either one (which ever has to be done)...we'll argue about it because he's convinced I didn't do it yet even though I did.

I like the "spotty scars on fingertips" line. Not an audible noise, but a definite mark that I no longer pay attention to. A good friend noticed just this week. She was stunned by the calloused, sprinkled with black pepper look of my fingertips.

Ah, used test strips. I won't even start...

I too think about the NPH bottles clinking back and forth over the rings. These sounds that we have not heard for so many years, but yet are ingrained into us somewhere.

How true. I think if ever I walked into my house and there weren't all the telltale signs that only I can see, I would panic. White noise, and essential noise. For now, at least. Great post.

I bought a set of drawers the other week. They house most of my diabetic supplys and other medicines. One draw also has cat medicine in! I then got a book shelf to hold all the diabtic books I've gotten over the last 5 years.

Then my fridge has a shelf just for insulin etc....

I'd miss it all if it went.

Sometimes I find test strips in the parking lot at work or at my apartment complex. I know they are mine...but I wonder how they got there!
Make sure to check out pictures from the walk on my page. It was so much fun!

This is one of the nicest essays I've read on the realities of daily life with diabetes. Perfect.

I have a big drawer in the hallway for pump and meter supplies, a shelf in the fridge designed for butter but great for insulin instead, a travel pack I take on trips full of a second set of stuff, a purse full of gummy bears for emergencies and my sassy bag for testing supplies and daily meds. It's a cumbersome existance, this life with diabetes...

Lovely post!

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