Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Letter to Isabella's Pancreas

This is a post I wrote on the Feline Diabetes Message Board a few months ago. Since I'm in a creative drought I'm re-posting it here - with a nod to Kerri at Six Until Me, whom I stole the idea from in the first place.

To Isabella’s Pancreas:

I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m the person who’s taken over for you since you decided to put your feet up and take a break. Now, I realize that a pancreas is busy. You have lots to do – what with secreting digestive enzymes, producing insulin, and heaven knows what else. And I have to thank you for keeping up that digestive work. Good going! But you’ve completely quit the insulin business, and this has caused both me and Isabella quite a lot of distress.

I know you’re not completely to blame. I admit my role in this. I took you for granted. I abused you. All I gave you to work with for the better part of 11 years was high carbohydrate dry food. I apologize – I really do. I didn’t know any better and I’m sure you got exhausted trying to keep up. I didn’t mean to wear you out and I promise – promise! – you will never again see more carbs than you can handle. I’ve learned my lesson. From now on I’ll treat you with the respect you deserve.

Because I know you’re in there. I see signs from time to time that you’re putting out a little insulin on your own. Do you do it to toy with me? Is it payback for all those years of kibble? Or are you really trying to get back on the job, but still need a little help? If you just need a boost, I'm here for you! (You have to admit I’ve done your job quite handily for the last year. And just look how perky Isabella feels.) I'm willing to work with you on this and I think we can get back to how things were. But better! All low carb, no kibble. And I’ll never take you for granted again.

Please, just tell me it’s not over.

Your Stand-In

PS: as a side note, since when is it OK to quit part of your job? Do you think I can go to work one day and just announce to my boss that I’ll no longer be responsible for half my duties so she should hire outside help? I’m thinking no. If I did that, well, we could all just kiss that expensive PZI goodbye and then you’d be out of your whole job, my friend. Give that some thought

Saturday, October 20, 2007


My father asked me to drive him to the airport earlier this week. No problem, I assured him, what time?? He hemmed and hawed. Well, the flight leaves at 8:30 … how about 6:15? In the morning? Yep, 6:15 am. No problem, I still assured him, knowing that my cat demands her breakfast at six sharp. I’ll be up already.

So we agreed, he would come to my place at 6:15 (I live closer to the airport), leave his car there, and I’d drive him to catch is flight. No problem.

Travel day arrives and I’m awakened, not by the alarm (which I’d forgotten to set), not by Isabella, who for the first time in her gluttonish existence, was content to wait for me to wake up to get her meal, but by my poor Dad, knocking loudly and ringing my doorbell. Oops.

In my defense, he arrived early – it was only 6:03. But still, I swear Isabella was sitting on the bed laughing at me. That’ll teach me to depend on a cat as a backup alarm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I say Glucose, You say Glucosa

I spent the past weekend on a 3-night cruise to Ensendada, Mexico. My cousin organized the trip in honor of her youngest son’s 21st birthday, and my sister and I basically invited ourselves along. (The birthday boy and I do share the same birthday though, so I figure that lent some legitimacy to horning in on his celebration.)

I lined up the pet sitter, packed way too many clothes for three days, and set off for the pier, leaving feline diabetes behind for a few days.

Well, almost…

You see, one feature of Ensenada is pharmacies. Farmacia. They are everywhere, as prevalent as ABC stores in Hawaii or Duane-Reade in New York. Big signs proclaim ready access to antibiotics, geriatrics, and Viagra. No prescription necessary, just some dollars. If somehow you manage to miss the signs, there are helpful young men outside promising that you can find “everything” in their particular farmacia. Just step inside!

Since my sister, her husband, and I had some time to kill after an ATV tour of Ensenada’s dusty outskirts we wandered the main drag in town where it dawned on me: Maybe those pricey test strips would be cheaper south of the border. We stepped into the first farmacia.

Now, I don’t speak much Spanish (full disclosure: I don’t speak any Spanish) but here in Ensenada, where cruise ships full of Americans arrive on a daily basis, the locals make a point of speaking English. So, in this farmacia I asked for blood glucose test strips. In return I got a blank look, along with a pen and paper, where I wrote

Blood glucose test strips “Freestyle”

Ah! Glucosa!

Si, I replied.

“No, no.” said the pharmacy clerk, “Go to Farmacia del Sol, across the street.”

“Muchas gracias”

My sister spotted Farmacia del Sol on the far side of the busy boulevard, but we were headed to the shopping district, populated with dozens of other pharmacies, so we turned in the opposite direction.

Two or three pharmacies later, I was convinced that Mexican diabetics must somehow manage without testing, because none of the pharmacies carried test strips. One man assured me it would be very difficult to find them. In the fifth pharmacy (yes, my sister and her husband are very patient with me) I asked “But, what do diabetics do??” And I was told to go to Farmacia del Sol. They were guaranteed to have what I wanted. In the meantime, did I need any antibiotics?

Since it was on the way back to the ship, we did, in fact, stop in Farmacia del Sol. And there, in a glass case, was a display of One Touch Ultra meters and test strips, along with one box of Ascensia Contour strips. No Freestyle – but if you recall, my horde of meters includes several One Touch Ultra Minis. For the right price, I’d ditch the Freestyle in a heartbeat.

When it was finally my turn (after a fellow cruise passenger got her hands on some discount birth control pills) I found they had no Freestyle strips. The price of the OneTouch strips?? About $55 for 50. Yikes! The meter companies obviously have no problem using their greedy tactics beyond the US borders. No Mexican test strips for me.

But I didn’t come home empty-handed: I veered from my test strip quest long enough to bargain a street vendor down to $15 for two pairs of silver earrings.