Happy Saturday, DiabetesMine Friends!
With this being the sixth day of Diabetes Blog Week 2015, we're excited to bring you a special edition of our weekly diabetes advice column, hosted by veteran type 1 and clinical educator Wil Dubois. This week, Wil reflects on his past writing, all wrapped up with diabetes, and the gifts it's given him over the years.
Also, don't forget to check out the Twitter hashtag #DBlogWeek2015 to follow all the other great stuff coming out of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) this week.
Got your own questions? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com.
DBlog Week Challenge: Diabetes Online Community, all types
from all across the globe:
If you have been blogging for a while, what is your favorite sentence or
blog post that you have ever written? Is it diabetes-related or just life-related?
Wil@Ask D’Mine thinks: Seriously? Are you crazy? Me, Bucket Fingers Dubois? Who is notorious for writing loooong posts? Who has written more words on diabetes than War and Peace? You want a guy who’s written four books, dozens of magazine articles, hundreds of columns, and over a decade's worth of blog posts—more than 600 total—to pick just one sentence?
I’ve written so much about diabetes that I can’t even remember a tenth of it anymore. In fact, about a year ago I was outraged to “learn” that the CDC was recommending all PWDs get vaccinated for hepatitis B. To find out more, I hit up Google and was much chagrined to learn that not only was it true, but that I’d actually written about the topic right here at Ask D’Mine. Both the facts, and that I’d written about the facts, had slipped right out of my over-full mind.
But really, the problem with picking a favorite sentence is that I love word play. Quoting from my intro to my book Beyond Fingersticks, “I love the English language, with all its faults. I love the flow of well-written text, like cool, clear water flowing over smooth stones in a high alpine steam.” I spend a lot of time trying to make each sentence the best it can be, and then stitching each sentence to others to craft strong, smooth paragraphs, and finally stringing the paragraphs together to make a well-crafted whole.
Choosing one sentence over all the others would be like trying to choose one beautiful woman from all the other ladies on the planet. You are all so wonderful, how could I single out just one?!
There’s no doubt that I’ve crafted the perfect sentence somewhere. Sheer volume dictates that, even if I wasn’t trying. Isn’t there something about if you take an infinite number of monkeys, each pounding away on a typewriter randomly, one will eventually churn out the complete works of Shakespeare?
Plus, you can have more than one favorite, depending on the parameters of the choice: The most smoothly constructed, the most memorable, or the most profound.
I can take credit for the popular positive spin on an elevated blood sugar reading: “Bad numbers are simply good information.” According to the Internet (which never lies), I was saying that as early as 2009 on my blog. I also coined the terms “caveman low” and “hurricane hypo,” among others.
But I guess if I had to choose one sentence to summarize how I feel about diabetes it would be: “Diabetes is trench warfare—dirty, gritty, hand-to-hand combat.”
Now, it might be easier for me to pick a personal favorite paragraph. I like the ones that are somewhat literary, using poetry, alliteration, and metaphor. A couple personal favorites come to mind:
- Intro from "Because God thinks diabetes isn’t enough for me to write about," is a good example: “Blue-grey, the smoke wafts upwards into the brightly lit concave mirror, a long thin snake twisting round and round, upwards—like a snake charmer’s cobra. No flute here, only the hissing, snapping, crackling noise of the surgical cauterizer. There is no pain, but the smell is awful. The smell of burning flesh. My flesh.”
- Or the lead to "Of Words and Deeds": “The color of diabetes. Deep red. Like blood. Moving, spinning, flowing. I swirl the glass in my left hand, gripping the stem lightly, watching the fluid rise and fall around the clear edge, slowly settling back into the bottom, not wanting to let go of the smooth surface.”
I won a Wego Health award once. Oh, wait, being a finalist isn’t really winning, is it? Anyway, the interesting thing about that was it was for Diabetes Blog Day in 2011, which was the grandfather of today’s event. I wrote about the genesis of what is now the Diabetes Online Community, and how this new thing called the internet was capable of providing support and building lasting friendships, “born on “1s” and “0s” flying across copper phone lines and resolving as words on a flickering computer monitor in the dark of the night, when the humans that live under my roof had long since retired.”
I was also once nominated for a Pulitzer Prize (no kidding, and no, I didn’t win). That was for a column at dLife called Crossing the Great Divide. It called on type 1s and type 2s to quit bickering and work together. But come to think of it here we are—years later—still acting like two communities, so maybe that wasn’t such a great piece of writing after all. It doesn’t seem like my eloquent non prize-winning words changed anything.
The favorite of my readers seems to be Living off the Land, the tale of a hypo on a hike in the wilderness that starts off, “Time presses down on my soul like a living thing. Each passing second brings me closer to disaster. Fear knots my stomach. Fear and guilt. I’m too old to really care what happens to me at this point, but I’m worried about Rio. I glace at my waist. Again. The Dex now shows me at 70 mg/dl and dropping. One arrow down. CGM being what it is, that means I’m already lower. I don’t want to take the time for a fingerstick to confirm. I know I’m almost out of time.”
But diabetes is far from all-grim for me. I have fun with it too, and probably the most fun I have is when I mix a bit of fiction into my message. I don’t do it too often, and sometimes it’s more obvious than others. I’m pretty sure no one really thought I was playing poker with Castro, but whether or not I was actually giving a commencement address, it kept readers guessing. For no particular reason, one of my personal favorites was using street violence to teach how DDP-4 inhibitors work; and I had a blast comparing the flu to Pirates of the Caribbean.
I’m nothing if not a creative free-thinker.
And being a bit of a bad boy, I also enjoy a sweet bit plagiarism now and then. I frequently twist the names of famous novels, quotes, and songs for my post and column headlines, and I’ve knocked off both the Ten Commandments and Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
Meanwhile, probably the most good I ever did as a human being was to write the now-famous “Uncle Wil” post telling teen type 1s how to drink safely, rather than just telling them not to drink.
As to the theme of my favorite words, we are asked if our faves are diabetes or life-related. Is there a difference? To me they are completely blended. There is no life without diabetes and no diabetes without life. They are one. Most of my writing mixes the events and daily activities of my world, be it travel, adventure, or dinner at the kitchen table, with diabetes.
But now that I think about it, I do have a favorite. My favorite sentence, my favorite paragraph, my favorite post—is the one pouring out of my fingertips right now. Yesterday my favorite was the one I was writing then. Tomorrow it will be the one I will craft with the sunrise. Because I just realized that for me, the joy is in the act of creation.
Being blessed with the talent to dance with words is my favorite thing, and my favorite sentence is the one that just this moment flowed from my mind to the written page.
Disclaimer: As mentioned way up above, this is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.