scared. 

February 5th, 2015. That was the last time I felt as awful and as helpless as I do now. It was the day before I landed in the hospital and finally had a diagnosis for how I’d been feeling – I was so, so scared. I couldn’t get out of bed without almost passing out from the effort. I couldn’t do much more than cry, with the occasional break to throw up into the sink. It was hell. 

I’m in that hell again. It’s day five after starting new medication to deal with my blood sugar, and the day the dosage doubled. I’m nauseous all the time. I have no energy. I had to go downstairs to get the mail today, and the effort made me throw up. Ed keeps imploring me to eat and I’m *trying*, but I can barely choke things down (and usually throw them up again shortly afterward). I know there’s an adjustment period to lifestyle changes, but this. fucking. sucks. It feels like I’m dying all over again, and that isn’t hyperbole – I know what almost dying feels like. It feels like this. 

My blood sugar is down almost 11 points, though – instead of the danger zone, I’m high normal. Yippee. Totally worth feeling like death for a week. Can’t wait for this to be my entire life: feeling awful, sobbing and vomiting (sometimes at the same time!), and no potatoes. Or rice. I’m fucking Asian and Irish. This is so racist. 

I just want to feel like I did a week ago, before I made all these changes for the “better”. 

for the horde

I cleaned out the pantry tonight. This was actually scheduled before I learned that all food will kill me dead, but because of that the cleaning had extra gravity. I filled three large garbage bags with expired food, partially eaten snacks, and sauces of questionable quality. Any food that was still good but unopened will be donated.

I’m slowly but surely making my way around the house, purging as much as I can in preparation for the move. The condo will go on the market when we return from Ireland, and I’m a little concerned about how the hell we’re going to stage it when everything I own is chaos. Part of my summer plans will be to clean out my storage locker, then start packing away some of the items that scream “unspeakable horrors happened here” as opposed to “raise your babies in my Lady Cave!”. I’m still trying to figure out how to hold a garage sale – Ed suggested I post everything I have for sale, then hold an open house for anyone who might be interested in stuff. I could do that. Remember when I gave away all those bags? Yeah, there’s a lot more where that came from.

I’ve posted before about my tendency to hoard food. I’m still doing it, and my brain still works the same way – if there are no snacks in the house, all I want to do is stuff my face with them. If they’re everywhere, I don’t need them. They just have to be available. It was surprisingly easy to empty out the pantry of 90% of the bad food (the only pang of regret I felt was for the unopened bag of sea salt caramels but even then I’ve had the bag for over a year and never ate them), but I kept a few things to ward off my cravings. They’ll likely get tossed out untouched when it’s time to clean the pantry again, but that’s okay. They’re there, and that’s all I need.

Before I became some sort of hunched, pantless hermit, I worked in an office with other people. I used to frequently ply them with candy: I’d buy a bag of something I wanted, eat one or two, then give the rest away. I brought home my stash of candy when I left the office, and put everything into a drawer and forgot about it other than to add to the stash every now and again. Part of the pantry purge included bagging up all the candy hidden around the house to give to my friends, because someone might as well enjoy the stuff I can’t. Even with my hoarding habit, I was a little shocked at the final almost final roundup:

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one cat + one cat butt + a metric shit ton of candy

The loose, wrapped candy filled 3/4 of the bag Dilly is sitting in and is heavy as hell. What the fuck. The people who visit my house have failed me: why did you not eat all this? You’re going to sit there until you clean your plate, young lady. Diabetes for everyone!

I found two more small stashes after I took this picture. They’ve been added to the bag. Is this normal behaviour? I can’t tell.

it’s the end of the world as we know it

.. and I’m really quite upset about it, thank you very much.

What started as a purely vanity-driven inquiry has turned into the actualization of my biggest fear. It sucks, for so many complicated, irrational, deep-seeded reasons. Let’s explore them!

I saw Dr. Online about some weird symptoms I’ve been having: thirst, a craving for salt, thinning hair, a second head growing out of my left knee. Nothing I found online told me exactly what kind of cancers I had, so it was time to ask an expert .. who didn’t have any answers, so she requested I have some blood work done.

The results came in the next day, and showed that I had too many blood – but nothing drastically alarming, or anything that would account for my symptoms. I was asked to follow up with Dr. Online (who was a man this time), who didn’t see anything unusual in my results .. so he requested a second blood test to see if my levels changed. He also requested a urine test, because peeing in a plastic cup is the most dignified thing you can do in a public washroom. Off I went.

I received a phone call from Dr. Online’s office the day after my tests. No big deal, they said, but you need to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW OR YOU WILL DEFINITELY DIE. Okay then. Turns out one of my bloods was so off the chart I was in immediate danger of falling over all dead. That would seriously put a crimp in my day-to-day schedule, so I packed up a bunch of phone chargers and had Ed drive me to the Emergency Room, one of my least favourite places on earth.

There was a lot of waiting. Someone came around and took more blood (which I am running low on at this point). I peed in another cup – I am not getting any better at it, so I mostly just peed all over myself – and waited some more. Wait, wait, wait. Lots of waiting. Good times.

Eventually, a flesh doctor came in and delivered the news: I have diabetes. Not pre-diabetes or diabetes of the butt or kawaii diabetes, but full-on here’s-your-moustache Wilford Brimley diabeetus.

the internet is an interesting place. i didn’t have to search hard for this image.

So. That was the emergency, then: my blood sugar was in the Danger Zone. They kept asking me if I noticed myself peeing more than usual, which is entirely unhelpful – not only am I on medication that’s SUPPOSED to make me pee all the goddamn time, I have a tiny, tiny bladder. Pee frequency (peequency) is not something that would ever cause me any alarm. The other symptoms I’ve been having are so vague – headaches, grumpiness, lack of sleep, exhaustion – that they can be explained away by anything. I have headaches because I always forget to wear my glasses in front of the computer. I’m grumpy because I’m hormonal and people are jerks. I can’t sleep because I stay up way too late every night playing games on my phone, and I’m exhausted because I’m not getting enough sleep. I’m fiiiiine.

Except I’m not fine, and now I have to go on even more medication and change my lifestyle and not eat delicious things. Also, I kind of hate myself and can’t get past the blame stage: this is all my fault because I am fat and gross and stupid.

Logically, I know better. There are other factors at risk: my age. My mother, who is the Canadian Diabetic. I’m an Aboriginal Hispanic South Asian Asian of African descent. I got them big ol’ depression, and that tiiiny little heart issue. I’m a fatty who really likes garlic bread. The only box left unchecked in the entire “you’re gonna die” list is giving birth to a big ass baby, and frankly I don’t remember what I do every single year – there could have been a big ass baby in there somewhere.

So, yeah. I was always at risk of diabetes, but it was still one of my biggest fears. I’m not so much worried about my health as I am deeply ashamed of myself and wanting to hide in the closet until everything goes away. That’ll work, right?

I’ve never been a big fan of myself, but this is .. something else. But why?

A Tragic Backstory

It’s been drilled into me since the age of 7 that the very worst thing I could ever be was fat. Then, as if to spite my mother, I was a fat child who was fat on purpose, just to make my mother look bad. You can’t love a fat child! No one would blame her if she gave me away. It didn’t matter what else I was – serial killer, bed wetter, space cowboy – as long as I was thin. But because I wasn’t thin, my other qualities didn’t matter. I haven’t been 7 for a very long time, but my mother’s words echo in the darkest corner of my mind and get louder every time I have a bad day. I’m fat, so nothing else about me amounts to a hill of beans. On my good days, I can acknowledge the positive – I can be cute, sometimes I am smart, I have a funny – but even then, underneath all of that, I am a disappointment because I am fat.

I have diabetes because I am a big fat lump who brought this on herself by sucking so hard as a person. The shame is clinging to me like plastic wrap. It’s suffocating. I can’t free myself, can’t see past the behemoth I’ve become. I’ve thrown my life away to be a statistic in US-Fucking-A Today. I deserve this.

I know better, I really do. If someone else shared this news, it would be met with sympathy and encouragement. Those don’t apply to me, though, because this is my fault.

What Comes Next?

I have a prescription to fill, and an appointment with my heart doctor tomorrow. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and need to stock the house with food I can actually eat. I had planned to clean out the pantry this weekend anyway, so I’ll toss out the snacks and carbs while I’m in there and replace them with .. I don’t know yet. Kale, I guess. Can’t wait.

I need to figure out my head and try to shake off the shame and guilt I feel. I won’t be telling my mom the news – I’m not really in the mood for an “I told you so” lecture. Keeping things from my mother is my standard MO; she doesn’t know about the heart failure (also my fault, obviously). I’m mostly really good at hiding my demons, but this particular one is not something I’ve faced before. This post is basically step one: admitting to myself (and, uh, the internet at large) that I have diabetes. The thought of sharing that – confessing it – to the world sort of makes me want to throw up and die, so I guess I’m on the right path.

Ugh. I really fucking hate kale.

change of plans

We’re supposed to be in Edmonton right now, but we canceled our road trip at the last minute. The interior of BC (and much of our driving route) is under severe landslide warnings and we would both prefer not to be washed away in mud. That, coupled with the fire alarm testing going on at Sparta today, caused us to postpone – we’ll go later next month. Safety eventually and all, but I’m kind of bummed to be missing out on the Astronautalis show in Edmonton this Friday. It was a conveniently-timed coincidence, but then mud. Boo.

I’m sort of glad we’re home for the fire alarms, though. Poor Hobbes goes catatonic with fear when they go off, so at least we’re here to keep the cats company. When the alarms start, I’ll hide in my bathroom with them for a few hours. In fact, last night I deep-cleaned my bathroom so we’d have a nice place to hang out while loud noises are happening. I am so considerate! Plus, I have to work in there all morning. Might as well be comfortable.

So, instead of leisurely driving through the mountains looking for elk this upcoming long weekend, I will be at home, cleaning out our pantry. I look forward to taking inventory of all my creamed corn and disposing of expired sauces. Yes, I lead an enviable life. I totally wish I was me.

eels

seriously, this weather sucks.

takayama

One of my favourite parts of our trip was the time we spent in Takayama. It’s a small city smack in the middle of Japan, about 4.5 hours by train from Tokyo. It gets a lot of snow, some of which was still visible when we arrived at the beginning of April.

Getting to Takayama was a bit of an ordeal. We misread our train tickets and got to the station late, then got separated from our group. Ed and I were able to exchange our tickets for a later train, but it meant we got into the station almost two hours after everyone else. We were originally only scheduled to be in Takayama for 18 or so hours, so losing some of that time was sad (we fixed it later, though). Still, it gave us time to collect our thoughts and also food before we boarded the train, so we were able to enjoy the ride with delicious treats and destressing, which was really needed after the morning trials.

The train took us along the coast and through the mountains. The ride was beautiful – Japan’s rail system is amazing – and the quick stop to change trains in Nagoya was painless. It was raining when we landed in Takayama, but our hotel was a short walk away.

The main reason we were in Takayama was to stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. We stayed at Ryokan Asunaro, which was incredible. The staff were amazing, the building was old and cozy and furnished with beautiful things (I fell in love with a lamp. I love lamp.), and our room was as advertised: tatami mats, shikibuton beds, and buckwheat pillows (which my spoiled western head found uncomfortable as hell – I am the worst samurai), and gorgeous yukata for us to wear. Our room didn’t have a bath or shower, which is part of the experience: the inn had an onsen for bathing.

Okay, so, onsens. A traditional Japanese public bath sort of like a hot tub: get publicly naked, wash yourself publicly with soap/shampoo/assorted bathing accoutrements in a public shower, then get into a glorious hot public bath to soak and relax and be quiet. Publicly. Super mega traditional onsens might have co-ed bathing, but that fell out of style years ago. Nowadays, onsens will have separate bathing areas for men and women, or specific “women only” times. Like many things traditional and Japanese, there are a lot of rules associated with public bathing: no phones, no clothes, wash yourself with soap separately beforehand, don’t wash your underwear in the onsen (this is apparently a big problem, because there were signs EVERYWHERE and on every website specifically telling people not to wash their underthings in the springs), and – sadly – no tattoos. Tattoos have a much different meaning in Japan, where they are seen as signs of gang activity. In North America, my “persist/resist” tattoos mean less that I am yakuza and more that I am sick of patriarchal bullshit, but many places in Japan still frown upon them. That being said, Japan enjoys the western dollar. Some places are okay with tattoos in their baths, and others will have relaxed rules and/or be okay with them if they’re covered up. If you’re going to Japan and plan to visit an onsen, I HIGHLY recommend you check the rules before you go.

I hadn’t bothered checking the rules for Ryokan Asunaro, because I assumed I would not bother with the public baths because public nudity.  However, getting there was *really* stressful. In addition to missing our train, we found out that a) I had accidentally booked my room at the ryokan for being for one person only, which is a problem when they’re busy and have you booked into a room with a twin bed, and b) our accommodations in Kyoto (our next stop and home for 5 days) had been cancelled less than 24 hours before our arrival, leaving us with nowhere to stay in the middle of cherry blossom season in the business tourist spot in Japan. Our group of 4 were screwed, bigly: the “replacement” accommodations HomeAway offered us had half the amenities we needed, and room for only three people. Nothing else was available in the entire city: two people searching non-stop came up with exactly three available hotels looking for $450+ per couple per night, and one sketchy-looking AirBnB that was even more expensive. Desperate, I started looking outside of Kyoto, and found us some decent (and decently priced) rooms in Osaka, instead. A slight change of plans – we were supposed to be in Kyoto for 5 nights, then Osaka for one night before heading back to Tokyo, and now we would be in Osaka for 6 nights – but we had a place to sleep and shower (and our hotel turned out to be super central and awesome), which that was the important thing.

So. After we checked in (the staff was wonderful and managed to accommodate us even though I had booked our room incorrectly), outfitted ourselves in yukata, huddled with M&S to figure out out housing problem, solving said housing problem, then getting re-dressed, we went out to wander the town. It was eerily quiet and crazy peaceful, and we enjoyed our First Dinner (ramen) and Second Dinner (sushi) and the company. When we returned to the hotel, Ed wanted to turn in for the night but I was still TENSE AS FUCK due to all the things that had happened that day – so I went exploring, and checked out the onsen.

Which was completely, totally, utterly empty.

I stripped down to my nothings, lathered up under the shower, then had myself an amazing non-life-threatening solo soak in the onsen, tattoos and all (Ryokan Asunaro has no rules against tattoos; another reason I highly recommend a visit). It was EXACTLY what I needed after my stressy-fuck day, and probably one of my favourite memories from our entire trip. I would never had dared go into the onsen if there were other people around – nobody wants to see my gross self naked – but being all alone gave me the push I needed to get my ass in that water. And it didn’t kill me! Which was a real concern of mine! See, the last time I was in a hot tub was several months after those pesky Heart Issues, and .. well, those signs that say “don’t get in a hot tub if you have a heart condition” apparently aren’t just for show. I almost passed out and got all ded and also felt super, super horrible for several days afterward. I’ve been extremely leery of hot water since then, but was feeling brave and naked and what’s the worst that could happen when you’re utterly alone on stone tiles and some 7.664 kilometres from home.

A SUPER RELAXING GLORY BATH, that’s what.

I’m glad I got SOME relaxing time in Takayama, because Ed snored all night long and I couldn’t get comfortable on a pillow made of cement so I ended up with very little sleep that night. I skipped breakfast (and apparently missed out on a delightful meal) to get some more zeds, then geared up for exploring. Originally, we were supposed to be on a train to Kyoto at 930 the following morning, but after seeing how awesome Takayama was the night before, we changed our train tickets to give us the day to explore. We bought souvenirs, had amazing honey yogurt, posed for selfies near roaring rivers, found some delicious lunch, and just generally had an excellent time – just what we needed before heading to Osaka.

more japan

By this time, we’d settled into a novel routine in Tokyo: wake up between 6 and 7 am to utter chaos (complete with people falling down the stairs – the record was three different falls on one morning), shower, raid the food supply for energy, then get out of the house by 9am. We had big, big plans for our third day in Tokyo, so after a quick stop at 7Eleven for strawberry sandwiches we were on the subway and heading towards the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Ali is a planning wizard and had arranged for us to have lunch at Sky Restaurant 634, the ultra-fancy restaurant some 345 metres from the ground. Our reservation was at 11:30, so we basically ran from the station to the lobby of the Sky Tree. This was difficult, because the Sky Tree is attached to an AMAZING mall, complete with Pokémon Centre. I confess to being utterly distracted by the Pokemon store gashapon machines, and had to be dragged out to make our lunch reservation on time (complete with promises that I could come back after lunch and spend money – yes, I am a petulant 7 year old cosplaying as an adult woman). We met up with our group, and before long we were seated by a window in the middle of the sky:

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dang, that’s dense

The view was pretty cool. The food wasn’t too bad, either:

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appetizer trio: in-house bacon, sea urchin stuff, seared tuna

I’m damning with faint praise, here – the meal we had at the Sky Tree was phenomenal, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area. Everything we had was ridiculously good, including the scallops that made me cry tears of deliciousness. The entire experience was a total treat, from the crazy view to the amazing food and service and the excellent company. We’re not foodies by any stretch of the imagination – we’d happily eat strawberry sandwiches all day long – so we (okay, me – I’m the only one in our group who hasn’t experienced dining like this, mostly because Ed won’t take me to Art of the Table in Seattle) almost never get to have Fancy Eatings. I totally loved it. Ali is a genius with excellent ideas.

After we ate, it was time to see the rest of the city from 350 metres up. We explored the observation deck, which is something I will be doing again for Reasons:

  1. We rushed our way through window-looking because it was hella crowded and I was getting mall rage
  2. We had to be clear across town by 4:45pm, and we (not just me) really wanted to go shopping in the mall downstairs
  3. There’s actually another observation deck a little higher up that you can go to, and normally I would – I love city views from High – but see #2
  4. I neeeeeeeeeed to see Tokyo at night, from super high up

The views were absolutely incredible, but I didn’t get enough time with them. Definitely doing the Sky Tree again, as soon as I can.

Then we shopped. It was fun. Things were purchased.

We hopped the train around 4pm to make our way to Shinjuku – we had a date with some robots:

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the calmest, most serene part of our trip

So, here’s the thing about the Robot Restaurant: I could write a million words about it, but it wouldn’t do a lick of good. You need to see the show for itself. This was another Ali idea, and it was a great one – yes, the show is a total tourist thing, but it’s hilarious and so bizarre and just generally a really good time. And you can drink sake or beer while watching it, which I can only assume makes things even better. A word of caution: calling it a “restaurant” is being extremely generous with the definition of the word. Go for the show, bring money for booze, but skip the food. Trust me. Plus, the area the restaurant is in is wonderful for exploring. Go find Godzilla Road! Look for the guy who grabbed Ed’s crotch! Find the game centre with the sympathetic attendant who rigged a claw machine so I would win a stuffed fox after trying a half dozen times and failing miserably! Shinjuku is awesome.

The following day was Wednesday, and our group diverged a little. Those with kids went to Tokyo Disneyland, but I had a list of things that I needed to see so we split up and tackled different things. First on my list was Shibuya, for the station, Dogenzaka Hill (because of Jet Set Radio Future), Hachikō, and the Scramble (because of The World Ends With You) – I didn’t have enough time to really explore Dogenzaka and the myriad of love hotels, but I definitely recognized it and that made me go eeeeeeeeee. The scramble and all of Shibuya Station was also great, and I could have easily spent an entire afternoon just people watching. It was really fucking hot outside though, so we ducked into the famous 109 for air conditioning, a bathroom, and Sailor Moon-esq socks. We walked around the area for a bit, visiting a Japanese McDonald’s (teriyaki burgers were great. cantaloupe milkshakes were weird as hell.), and just generally enjoyed life and sunshine and the thrill of being on vacation times. From Shibuya we went to Meiji Shrine (which was going through renovations, so most of it was inaccessible – the forest was beautiful though), then into Harajuku for some more exploring. It was an exhausting day, but a great one. I really like Japan. Have I mentioned that? If only they had Diet Coke.

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shiny boys and robot girls

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a good dog, bront

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wall! of! sake!

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harajuku puppy man

tokyo day two (i should probably go faster)

I could have happily spent our entire trip in Tokyo and still not seen everything there is to see. We did a ton of things in the 5 days we had available, and the things we didn’t get to will be waiting for us when we return. We know better now, too: book in advance. Always book in advance.

One of the top items on my list was to visit the National Art Centre in Tokyo, specifically to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibit. The museum was close to our Tokyo base, so we enjoyed a ridiculously beautiful walk through Aoyama Cemetery on a gorgeous spring day to get there. The museum and exhibit were amazing, and I’m so glad we managed to fit it into our schedule. The Infinity Room was hands down my favourite piece, but there was so much to see! Ed and I took so long in the Kasuma exhibit that we didn’t get a chance to check out any of the other exhibits going on, and apparently we missed some equally great ones. There was no time in our trip for a return visit to NAC, so that’s another reason we need to go back.

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imma live here now.

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giant hall, giant art, dapper man

After the museum, we hopped on a train and headed .. somewhere. We desperately needed to find food, but it was more difficult than anticipated – many restaurants in Japan are open for lunch, then close at 1430 to prepare for dinner. We arrived after 1500, and finding a) a place that was open and b) could accommodate 14 people was nigh impossible. We eventually managed to find an open place, but had to split up into three groups. One lost child and some really good curry later, it was time to explore the Sakura Festival going on a block to our right:

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stupid beautiful tokyo!

I bought Pink Zima, because I was in Japan goddamnit. Sabrina had some sakura champagne, and we roamed the canal gaping like tourists at the pretty pretty pink trees. We saw hot dog bros, strawberry everything, sexy time girls, pretty little mochi on sticks, and thousands of people. I think it was a Monday, but it was packed with bodies – can’t imagine what it would have been like on a weekend (but I’ll go find out and report back).

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Like all places everywhere, there was a huge line so we didn’t stick around to see what they had

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siiiiiigh

That evening, there was an epic thunderstorm over our house. It was incredible, and so cozy. We ate experimental Japanese snacks and candy while listening to the pouring rain and thunder. It was pretty fucking magical.

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like a boss.