Three Cheers for Acarbose!

I went to see the endocrinologist about a month ago.  I had been to see him in 2010 when I started having issues with my low blood sugar.  It was a bad situation.  I’d be out and about and without warning, down it would go to where I couldn’t even see.  I had no idea how low it really was until 2011 when I had a seizure the first night of Hanukkah in Jerusalem on the 4A bus.

In Israel I was tested and finally given the drug acarbose.  I really felt it changed my life.  No more of those wild lows where I felt like I was on some weird psychadelic trip with my vision cutting out on me.  No more seizures.  No more worries of being alone out in public.

But then I came back to the US.  And I had to get new doctors and scripts for my meds and this proved to be a huge problem.

I ran into a nurse practioner who refused to give me the meds I needed even though I had all of my prescription boxes with the labels attached.  Instead she turned me into the Department of Transportation for 1) having seizures, 2) having hypoglycaemia and 3) taking medication that could impair my ability to drive  (that also doubles for someone who is addicted to drugs).  If she had just listened to me, maybe I’d still be driving.  In the meantime I was back to the wild psychadelic trips and became very agoraphobic because I am always afraid I’ll have a low and a subsequent seizure when I am away from the safety of home.

Well, anyway, nearly a year and a half later, I am on anti seizure medication (number 1 taken care of) and on Friday afternoon my endocrinologist called and told me all my tests indicated that yes, I had hypoglycaemia (you don’t say…)

I had two choices.  I could go to a more specialized endo and get more specialized tests done which probably would result in some extensive surgery (read: remove part or all of my pancreas) OR I could try prescription medication to see if that would bring the condition under control.

I chose the medication option since I already have a Frankentummy and I don’t really want to Frankenize anything further at this point.  My endo said that would be his choice as well and then called in a script for the acarbose I had been taking in Israel, had asked for a year and a half ago from the nurse practitioner (until I could get an endocrinologist appointment) and had even asked the endocrinologist for at my first appointment.

I started taking it right away.

He told me to check my blood sugar 4 times a day and then bring my meter in and if it remains steady, they’ll sign the form for the DOT so I can get that much closer to driving again.  YAY!

In the meantime, I am happy.  I take the acarbose tablet when I start to eat.  I eat normally.  I don’t feel like I am going to die.  I don’t feel ravenously hungry in between meals.  I don’t have the fear anymore…I feel calm like I know that this is what I know will work…after all it Has worked so why wouldn’t it work now?

This is definitely a good thing!

Taking Back My Name

Everyone always tells me that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet when I get sad about losing my Israeli name – Eli.

For 2 years I was Elianah or Eli and I loved it.  Elianah-Sharon.  I still say it the Israeli way – Sha-RON – in my head.  Of course once my plane touched down back in the US, I was Sharon again.  It just never felt right after that.  Not Israeli Sharon – a foreigner even to myself.

I wish there was some way I could just retake the name I took when I immigrated, the name on my Israeli papers.  But I can’t without changing it legally here.  There’s a little hope that MAYBE when I marry again I can change it, making Sharon my middle name and Elianah my first name.

With my luck though….

Tonight though I did change it a little.  I changed it on Facebook and while that seems insignificant and petty and really, it is….it meant a lot.

I am socially phobic.  The only people I regularly interact with ARE on Facebook so while it was a trivial step, it was an important one to me.  I changed it here as well.  This is my home on the web so I should be myself here.  I should be who I am inside and that person will always be Elianah-Sharon.

Yeah, I get that a rose by any other name…and that’s true.  But I also get that we have to feel comfortable in our own skins and this makes me feel comfortable in mine.  I’m kind of letting a flag fly and that’s kind of scary because whereas I have been hidden for so long, this kind of puts me right out there for everyone to see.  And maybe hurt.

It’s scary.

But being me is more important and we shall see what kind of a risk this really is won’t we?

Memories – Tic Tacs, Velveeta and Baseball

I spent every summer with my grandmother to the point that a lot of my childhood memories revolve around the things that we did together and the memories I have of her.

I remember the blankets on the beds – blue flowery bankets edged in teal satin.  Her perfume – that dark brown, “grandmother” perfum from Estee Lauder called (interestingly) Youth Dew.  Her Adorn hairspray.  The aluminum gliders on the porch.  Fireflies in the twilight.  The tree in the back yard.  The peonies in the front yard.  How she would sneak a cigarette on the back porch while my grandfather was working in his study.  Laundry day and the laundry chute.  Sewing with her in the basement.  The way the books in the basement smelled and being scared of what really was behind THAT wooden door down there!

She, my grandfather and I would sit on their bed and watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball on KDKA every night they were on.  If they weren’t on we would listen to them on the radio and if it was a really special night, we would go INTO Pittsburgh to see the game at Three Rivers Stadium!  I loved each of those nights and love the Buccos to this day!  I can still hear her kvell about her favourite players.  When I was an exchange student in New Zealand the Pirates made it to the World Series and not only did my grandmother send me Heinz ketchup that year but she also send me all kinds of Pirate memorabilia that was in all of the stores so I wouldn’t miss out.

She was a home ec teacher and taught school for 30 years before she retired.  My dad decided to take bartending school in Pittsburgh so while he would be in school, my grandmother would teach me to sew.  I made a really geeky polyester outfit but the time we spent together making it remains priceless. I wish I had a sewing machine even now because I love sewing that much.  When I was little and lived with her before my mom married my dad, my grandmother not only dyed her own shoes…she also made all of her own clothes.  That’s some serious respect you’re seeing from over here!

I still have her teaching cookbook which I use a lot.  Her favorite recipes are marked in it.

One thing though she couldn’t stand were vegetables and the way she choked them down was copious quantities of Velveeta melted on them.  I was basically starved at home since my parents were never there and school lunch was our only meal most of the time so this delicacy of Velveeta and broccoli or french cut green beans was like nectar!

And as far as I was concerned, her only really bad habit was her smoking.  I think because of it I can jokingly say she became addicted to Tic Tacs.  I know now that when I pop one in my mouth, that sweet vanilla mint outer coating makes me think immediately of her.  The smell of Youth Dew wafts around me and my grandmother is right there again.

I hope she knows how many memories she gave me and how very much I miss her.  She is so much a part of who I am and tehe person I have become…more so I think than even my mother.

Tic tacs, velveeta, baseball and everything.

 

 

I Have a Goal – Please Sponsor Me for The Pittsburgh Marathon Miracle League Team

My new goal is to walk a 5k.  I am not the fastest walker althogh I admit I am proud that I can walk faster than I ever did while on a treadmill.  But…I CAN walk 5k every day so why not enter a walk, get a number and do it “professionally”?

It’s hard for me to anticipate and schedule simply because I am not “master of my own domain” because I can’t drive but it is a goal of mine and one that motivates me every morning to get out of bed and get moving.

The biggest one on my horizon is the Pittsburgh Marathon.  Evan’s Miracle League baseball league, Caseys Clubhouse,  has formed a team to walk/run which will raise money for the facilities that the league uses and believe me, they are stellar.  How could I not support a league that is inclusive to all kids with challenges and gives them a chance to be baseball stars for a season or two every year?  So yeah, I’m walking.

If you’d like to sponsor me for a buck or two, go here to donate  –  I’d really appreciate it!  I have to raise $150 (or donate it myself) to participate and I figured yeah, I could raise that, so I signed up.  So…please spread the word if you can.  There are lots of kids who depend on the Miracle Leage to bring baseball into their lives, and I know, for me at least, as I watch them play, I sit there and think, what if?  What if they could play with such joy with typical kids on school teams?  What if typical kids could experience this joy when THEY play baseball or other sports?  Just…what if?  What if we all could experience this abandonment and this joy in everything we do?

Think about it too.  What if.

 

Aftermath of Elul

During Elul, we prepare ourselves for the holiday of Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur. We are commanded to look within ourselves and to prepare by apologizing to those we have wronged throughout the year.

I don’t know about others but for me, I know this year was the first when I was able for a long time to even consider taking baby steps in this direction. There was one friend in particular that I wanted to apologize to. I wasn’t exactly sure why she had stopped speaking to me but I had an idea and since she wasn’t speaking to me and I have a mindnumbing fear of confrontation, I wrote a letter to her apologizing for all of the things I could imagine I may have done that could have caused the rip in our friendship. I invited her to write back and gave her my email address. I even explained a lot of what happened to me the last few years medically so maybe she’d have some understanding of where I was coming from as well.

And for some reason I had an expectation she’d understand and this apology, while not totally healing the rift between us, may be a little bridge to hopefully gaining a foothold and hopefully opening a little crack in the door that had closed between us.

And today I am having to accept that I was wrong. That rift is unhealable. I don’t even know if she forgave me. The answer to my letter of apology was a big, fat sound of crickets.

Oh I could rationalize it and tell myself she didn’t get it but I think she did. Maybe a letter was wrong but I didn’t really have any other way. I’ve sent emails in the past and the reaction was the same.

Silence.

I sent another Rosh Hashanah greeting and the response was the same.

Silence.

This only serves to drive me deeper into myself and to cause me even more self blame and depression. I know I deserve it and I know I cannot force anyone to forgive me. That’s their choice. I can’t force anyone to respond to me. Again, their choice.

But I do know how it makes me feel and I know it makes me take up residence even further inside of myself and trust venturing out even less. These people were friends and they don’t want me. What would make me think anyone else would.

I know it’s a bummer of a message to receive as the joyous holiday of Sukkot starts but it is the aftermath of Elul for me. I want to add that it doesn’t really change anything for me except for piling just a little more Jewish guilt on my plate,

I am who I am. I have disappointed and hurt whom I have have. They will forgive or they won’t. I am further convinced that the leprosy of my neshama (Jewish soul) lives forever and will never be cured.

The aftermath of my Elul probably will also never go away.

Introduction to Judaism

Tonight Scott and I start our Introduction to Judaism classes.  I have been through them before but this is his first time through.  They’ll go weekly through March and I am excited to see what he’ll think about them.

Mine were 12 years ago and I remember how they lit the fire of learning and the love of Judaism within me.  I really hope they will do the same for him but then I also have to remember that despite how much I want this, I also have to let this happen as it will happen and let Scott follow his own path.

What will happen for him will be between him and HasShem basically.

I had never considered how important it was for me for Scott to be Jewish until Rabbi Symons asked me the question and then I realized that yeah, it IS important.  I didn’t have the choice before and there were issues.  I converted halfway through and while during the conversion I didn’t think it was an issue I can tell you…it became one even though he did eventually convert.  There were many times it was a HUGE issue.

I am not saying it WON’T be an issue but I do know that it IS important to me that I marry a Jew and it means a lot to me that Scott is willing to explore that possibility for me and make that commitment.  It says a lot about how he feels about me and the respect he has for my values and my commitment to my own life and faith.

And that just makes me respect and love him more.

Being Jewish Makes Me So Happy

I love being Jewish….

There, I’ve put it out there.

But really it’s true.  And it’s so true that I really feel deep inside that I have to embrace my Jewish life ever closer to me.  I hate that I fell away, that I am so far away from it.  I want to be closer and while I still feel so embraced by Gd, I still feel that my foot is still on those first few rungs of the ladder.  My very own Jacob’s ladder.

But it’s still on there.  And I know I’ll climb up it again simply because of sheer will and determination.  I just feel that fire inside and as I grow ever closer to my return.

I really don’t even know that my return will ever be complete but I know that it’s a road I never want to stop following.

And Baruch HaShem, it’s one I never have to STOP following.