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The Dragon and the Cliff

When people ask me about living with diabetes one question that always comes up is, "what number should you blood sugar be?" I usually tell them 70-110 is considered normal but explain that with diabetes it can fluctuate a lot.

The next set of questions always seem to be, "What is too low?" What is too high?" What happens when you go too low or too high?"

This is the story I tell to explain it and my DSMA Live co-hosts have encouraged me to share it today.

The Dragon and the Cliff

Imagine there is a cliff, a very scary cliff and when you look down over the edge you see a steep slope that suddenly drops off into a pit of total darkness. 

Now imagine far off in the distance, on a firey mountaintop lives a dragon. A fire breathing evil dragon.

Pit = Low    Dragon = High   ::moving on::

The climb up the mountain to the dragon is a constant gradual slope after only a few yards from the cliff. It's a long way up that mountain but the walk is easy. You can even run it no problem, not that you would want to. The problem is, every step closer to that dragon and his firey mountain means you are inhaling terrible fumes that are so slight you may not even notice them at first. But each breath is bad for you. Each breath is causing harm to your body. You may not know it but it is happening and it gets worse the closer you get!

The cliff is no better. In fact it is tricky too because you can walk down the beginning of the slope for a little ways but soon it gets steeper and eventually drops off to certain death! The lower you are on the slope the thinner the air gets which makes it hard to think straight. And not being able to think straight makes it hard to remember what to do to get back up the slope! 

The best place to live are those few yards between the cliff and the beginning of that giant mountain. In that space grows all the best food, the air is perfect, the grass is green, and there is even a clear stream of water running through it! It is perfect and where you want to be.

So how do you get to stay in the most perfect place in this imaginary world and avoid the pit or dragon? Well this is the tricky part. You blood glucose level determines where you are between the dragon and the cliff.

When my sugar gets high I start up the mountain and although I can walk for quite some distance before I notice all the damage being done by the toxic air I am breathing. A lot of people think since they cannot feel the burn in their lungs that it's okay, but it's not! Sneaky dragon indeed.

When my sugar gets low I start down the mountain towards that cliff. Sometimes I can be running down that mountain so fast I keep going all way to the cliff and start to slide down into the darkness. So scary and so very steep!

So that is the challenge of diabetes. With every meal, every dose of medicine, every activity, every sickness, everything that can change your blood sugar can move you up or down that mountain. And sure there may be a long way to get to that dragon, but along the way you are already being hurt. And even though that cliff is nearby and you are probably familiar with how close you are to it, something could happen to make you take a spill down it quickly which is why you have to have lots of tools with you all the time just in case!

The thing to remember is, you can do this. You can live a few feet from a scary cliff and a few yards from the beginning of a dangerous mountain. It takes having the right tools, the right information, the right support, and the right frame of mind. 

The End.

Does this make any sense to you? I find people get it and especially get how scary a low is. Also how invisible and sneaky the damage from highs can be. I tell people I lived with an A1C of 12.5 which is like 325 average for a long time and I didn't feel anything. When you are young I guess you can breath those toxic dragon mountain fumes without knowing it but all the while it was doing damage to my body. 

I feel like this needs a picture. I cannot draw so if someone can come up with something cool please email it to me and I will post them all next week. george@ninjabetic.com


"Back to D Future" - You Tube Tuesday

It's been a long time since there has been a Ninjabetic TV video. In fact, it's been over a year! YIKES! This clip was the brainchild of Brad "Meter Boy" who also stars in it with me. Filming this was a blast but not nearly as cool as just getting to hang out with my friend Brad for the day. 





Diabetes Art Day - Too Many Dots

After 23 years of diabetes there are way too many dots on my fingers, stomach, thighs, and arms. 


Spare a Rose - Save a Child

So here's the deal.

Valentine's Day is coming up and you are probably going to buy roses for someone or hope to get some from someone. Cool. I totally get it.

What if I told you that the price for just ONE of those roses could get a child with diabetes the medicine and supplies he needs to live for a whole month? 1 rose = 1 month of life.

So for the price of a dozen roses you could help save the life of a child with diabetes for an entire year!

The Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign was created to raise awareness and donations for the Life of a Child program.

Now if you're saying, "George! I have to buy my special someone roses because my special someone is super special!" Relax! I get it. No problem.

Send them one less then a dozen and donate the money for that one rose to Life of a Child. That way your special someone gets flowers but also gets to help save a child's life!


This is like a total no brainer. Click on the banner, donate a little cash, order your roses for that awesome person in your life, find a mirror so you can look at the awesome person you are, and know that a few clicks of your mouse just changed the life of a child. 

Thank you.


Life is too long

Last week I had a doctors appointment. It ended with blood being drawn, urine being collected, and an exam that was one step away from a T&C (turn and cough).

The last time I came in to see the doctor was over 6 months ago. I went in a couple of times for moments of sickness but I have not had a diabetes check up style appointment until now.

When I got a call the last Monday afternoon saying my doctor wanted me to come in at 9AM the next day to go over the draw results I was worried. I knew something was wrong since my doctor would not normally call me in.

When I got into the room my doctor came right out with it.

“Your A1C is 9.8 and that is not okay. I don’t blame you, I blame myself because I should have spotted this sooner. You are insulin resistant besides having type 1 so we need to do something different to get your numbers down.”

Stinging guilt poured over me regardless of the fact that there was no blame on my doctors face. That self-inflicted sting which stems from years of being on the wrong side of an index.

“You also have leaky kidneys, nerve damage, and heart disease. There is no time to mess around with this Georgie. I am going to change things and it’s gonna work so please be patient with me and we will get you where you need to be.”

Leaky kidneys? I know I have nerve damage since my feet are rattling all the time. The heart disease I never tied to diabetes but my doctor does and he is the one with the while coat so I believe him. But kidneys?

Here is an explanation:

Diabetic kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) is a complication that occurs in some people with diabetes. In this condition the filters of the kidneys, the glomeruli, become damaged. Because of this the kidneys 'leak' abnormal amounts of protein from the blood into the urine. The main protein that leaks out from the damaged kidneys is called albumin. In normal healthy kidneys only a tiny amount of albumin is found in the urine. A raised level of albumin in the urine is the typical first sign that the kidneys have become damaged by diabetes.

My doctor assures me that as long as we act now I will be okay. I trust him so I felt better.

"Since you are using so much insulin everyday and it is not working for you I am going to switch you to U-500. Are you familiar with that?"

I wasn't and he broke it down for me. 

"It is basically concentrated insulin. All other insulins are U-100 and so this is 5 times more concentrated. You take 20 units of U-500 and its like taking 100 units of R. This is serious stuff Georgie and it takes a smart person to be able to take it. So you should take it as a compliment because I know you are no dummy and can handle this!" 

The problems? Weight gain. The possibility of some scary lows. Having to bolus 30-45 minutes before I eat. 

The real problem is that my high BG is damaging my body so I will deal with whatever else comes along with this. I will do what I have to do.

On the drive home and all night kept thinking about all of this stuff. What my life was like 10 years ago. What I wanted to do and who I thought I would be. I started thinking what life would be like if I was on dialysis. What if I lost my vision? Or a limb? Or had an actual heart attack? What would my life be like? What would my family do?

People always say that life is too short. "Life is short so live like tomorrow is your last." And I believe that. Life is too short and I need to live life to the fullest.


Life is too long.

Life is too long to live it being crippled by complications. Life is too long for me to not do something now to make my life as well as I can make it. Life is too long to not spend time and energy keeping my body healthy. Life is too long to not care about today so tomorrow and all the tomorrows that come will be the best they can be.

You can enjoy each day and not get caught up in all the stuff that bogs us down but at the same time do things that, to the best of your ability, make tomorrow as enjoyable as it can be!

Live like today is your last but plan for tomorrow to come. 

Life is too long not to.