Category: Other

Reflection on Graduating

I graduated from the University of Michigan in biomedical engineering this last weekend.

I am overwhelmed with the idea that I not only graduated despite all health odds against me, but did it in the typical 4 year time period–and excelled in one of the hardest programs at UM.

As I think back over the last 4 years, it’s easy for me to make a long list of the reasons why I didn’t think I’d receive my diploma eight semesters after I left my home in Chicago. And not only to have graduated, but to additionally have a myriad of experience under my belt and a stellar GPA.

Let’s face it, college away from home with a grocery list of chronic illnesses and medications doesn’t really scream simple success.

But despite all the chronic illness struggles (e.g. BG rollercoasters mid-finals weeks, Zipcar trips on the ice at night to get groceries for the 12 meals that week, and more), normal people sick struggles (e.g. mono, sinus infections, random thanks-diabetes-for-making-me-infection-prone illnesses, and more), a broken foot in the depths of winter, a tonsillectomy, burdens of homework and exams, sagas of relationships past, and more–I am here. I did it.

I started ADSG about 3 years ago and connected myself to a thriving community I never knew existed. I am endlessly grateful for the support of the diabetes communities, celiac communities, food allergy communities, and others, who have not only read my blog, but also helped me through the darker days (whether with a blog post comment, direct message on Twitter, or a little heart on Instagram to share love of my quick, safe meals in my studio apartment).

I would not have made it through without the love of all of you.

This weekend I graduated on behalf of the entire chronic illness community. For all those who were able to reach a milestone in their lifetimes (however small) and for those who may not have been able to–my diploma will be framed and hung in honor of all of you, as well as in honor of my achieving this point.

We’re a community on the good days and the bad, and as I am celebrating my graduation, I am celebrating each and every one of you–and the impact you’ve had on my life thus far, and the moments we’ll celebrate together in the future (both virtually and hopefully in real life).

Take it easy, but take it.

Brianna

Priming My Tubing

If it is not grossly apparent, I tend to avoid specific blog posts about living with type 1 diabetes. There is an incredible community of bloggers that write about the physical and emotional highs and lows of living with T1D specifically (that have helped me through a lot of difficult times), but I prefer to write about it in a less direct manner–mostly because I personally balance a lot of chronic illness, and like to show you how it is woven into my daily experience (and because sometimes, T1D needs to give me a break, even if it means simply not showing up as every blog post topic). 

Anyhow, here we are. I’m diving in a bit here with a post about life and a bit of T1D this week. 

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My entrepreneurship business basics class meets in one of our business school buildings on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30am-10am. While I could write endlessly about my deep-seated disagreements with the self-centered and sexist nature of the professor (which could be a 100 post-long series), when we were discussing start-up marketing yesterday, the professor casually said the following (to the best of my memory):

“When you head to market with a new product, a new service, a new solution that has true value for each of your future adopters, you better prime your tubing. Because once you’re out there, there’s really no turning back.”

Prime my tubing, you say? Well, dang. Isn’t that just perfectly worded.

For those who may not know, I’ve been working on a new entrepreneurial venture for the last six-or-so months that promises to create big change in chronic medical condition management [unfortunately, due to legal concerns, can’t reveal the details or specifics yet, but stay with me!] I have the fortune (though I wouldn’t phrase it as such very often) of being a member of our target market and I can promise you, your voices have been and will continue to be heard throughout our development and roll-out.

Anyhow, it led me to take the class with the man who told me to prime my tubing. Here I am, two days away from my first big pitch where we have a chance at a $10,000 grant to continue developing our solution. My life with chronic illness is central to the pitch–and has been extraordinarily well-received in practice pitch sessions. The practice judges expect that we’ll be pushed through to the finals at the end of the afternoon.

Tonight, I’ll prime my tubing. The insulin will flow slowly through, I’ll check for air bubbles, I’ll pierce my skin, and hope my extremely allergic skin is effectively guarded by the Skin Tac I placed under the site.

Tonight, I’ll prime my tubing. I’ll run through my pitch slide deck for, what must be, the hundredth time to ensure I’ve proven our solution and our venture to the judges. I’ll try to heed the practice judges requests not to “over-practice my story, because the simple, unrehearsed presentation is what makes it.” I’ll try to keep it all together when I point out all my diabetes technology to a huge auditorium so people can begin to understand life with chronic illness.

I’ll always prime my tubing. As a celiac, I’m constantly preparing for the next meal. As a diabetic, well, you get it. As a future entrepreneur, I’ll always prepare myself for the next great opportunity to prove myself and my solution. As a young woman who just faced sexism in the hiring process for an engineering position (which, indeed, I did not get), I’ll continue to prime my personal tubing with all of my strengths and know that someday, women will not face this archaic problem.

For now, I look forward to sharing more of my venture with all of you.  I know I’ll feel your virtual support and presence Thursday night at 5PM EST when my chronic illness life takes the spotlight, with my tube fully primed.

Take it easy, but TAKE IT.

Brianna

Channeling My Inner Child in the Kitchen

I happened to run into Tiffany Hinton, author of many beautiful gluten free (+many other allergen-free!) cookbooks, at the Bountiful Eatery (gluten free, healthy quick food restaurant in Chicago) anniversary party a few weeks ago. She graciously offered to send me an electronic edition of her recent publication, Kid Approved: Mom Certified,  as long as I promised to hit the kitchen with it! Here’s my review of a recipe I made (with some adjustments to make it more diabetes-friendly): Apple Crisp!

To lay out my alterations up front, I used about half of the recommended amount of sugar, half of the brown sugar, extra cinnamon (yum) and Chex Instant Oats! I noted the recipe called for 1/2 cup of GF rolled oats, but (first) I didn’t have oats sitting around and (second) the only bag at my local grocery store was enormous and almost 20 dollars! I eat the Chex oatmeal packages often before I hit the gym, so I made the substitution for convenience and cost-sake.

A few things I learned from my creation experience–while the cook book is made to be kid-friendly, many of the recipes (including the crisp) definitely need adult help for things like peeling and cutting apples. I also made note to cut the apples thinner next time, rather than just the width that comes from an apple slicer. The instructions weren’t specific, so it was a learning experience. Lastly, the recipe needs to bake much longer to have the delightful gooey apple consistency. I left the glass dish in the oven for 70 minutes, but I believe it could have used at least 20-30 minutes longer.

Overall, the cookbook let me channel my inner kid, as the recipes were simple yet enticing with many ‘kid-food’ ideas,  and I look forward to exploring Tiffany’s publications that are more geared toward someone who is a more experienced cook/baker!

See below for some pre- and post- pictures of my baking! Don’t forget, serve a la mode (I used Lactaid Vanilla 🙂 )

Take it easy, but take it.

Brianna

Pre-Cooked Top View
Pre-Cooked Top View
Pre-Cooked Side View--look at those layers!
Pre-Cooked Side View–look at those layers!
Browned and ready to eat!
Browned and ready to eat!
Love baked apples! (ps- they really don't need a lot of addition sugar, regardless of recipe!)
Love baked apples! (ps- they really don’t need a lot of addition sugar, regardless of recipe!)

Midterm Madness Meals

Never have I agreed with a random tweet more: “Meals during midterms are whatever can end up in your bag in under 60 seconds.” As the fall semester of my junior year in biomedical engineering and pre-medicine pushes on, I’m coming to learn the glory that is creating a quick meal at the end of a hectic day full of circuits, thermodynamics, biochemistry, quantitative physiology, and MCAT class.

It’s mid-term season. Days run from 9am-11pm, engineers are falling asleep on the busses to the engineering campus, and the cold air is not helping. But, a diabetic-celiac always has to have a plan A. And a plan B. And a plan C.

Plan A: Wake up early to save time to pack a nice lunch and take out food from the freezer for dinner. Well, losing sleep for making a sandwich was not going to happen this week.

Plan B: Take food out before going to sleep, including preparing most of lunch and something simple for next day dinner. Well, after 7 hours of class, 4 hours of office hours, 2 busses, last minute homework, and running a load of laundry so I have something to wear for the next marathon-esque day, a hot shower and crashing on my three [yes, three] fluffy pillows happened before I could think about food.

Plan C: The “Oh man, I have no idea what I’m doing about food and I’m starved” plan. The “I just walked in my apartment and realized I haven’t planned a single thing for dinner” plan. The “I only managed to pack an apple, a few cheese sticks, an Enjoy Life bar, and a packet of oatmeal, which I didn’t even have time to find hot water for, was my lunch today and now it’s already time to eat again” plan. Well, that’s definitely happened a few times this week. But, I figured I’d share my glorious plan for dinner after my MCAT class tonight and before I finish that darn circuits homework due tomorrow. Yay for plan C.

So, most often, I just have a bunch of packages of frozen veggies in my fridge by this far out since my last grocery run, but today I realized I still had a few asparagus spears left from the other night, a bell pepper, and some onion. Plus, I’ve always got Tyson Grilled and Ready Diced Chicken on hand–which has been a life saver when beautiful protein is ready from freezer to plate in 1.5 minutes. So, what better than a southwestern-style pizza on an Udi’s crust?!

This is what’s going to end up in the oven at 9 pm, leaving me about 25 minutes to get work done ’til the timer goes off:

-Udi’s Crust

-BBQ sauce [not pizza sauce!]

-Mexican Shredded Cheese Blend

-Diced Onion and Bell Pepper

-Cut up leftover asparagus

-Tyson Grilled and Ready Diced Frozen Chicken

And, like I mentioned, about 25 minutes in the oven [be sure you spray the baking sheet or it sticks!] and I’ll have an ideal Plan C.

Please let me know if you have similar crazy schedule quick meal ideas! I’d love to repost them.

As always, take it easy but take it.

Brianna

“A Gluten Nightmare.”

I think there’s a moment when you truly know that a non-Celiac, or non-diabetic,  just *gets it*.

Maybe it’s when he/she decides to order gluten free at a restaurant because you are, but that already happened with this person, and for some reason, it didn’t have that *gets it* moment.

Maybe it’s when he/she spots gluten free menus at restaurants even when you’re not around, but again, didn’t have that  *gets it* moment with this one either.

Maybe it’s when he/she recognizes three buzzes as dropping and two buzzes as rising when your Dex is sitting in the other room and heads for the juice or reaches for your pouch with syringes and insulin–well, that was the non-diabetic *got it* moment.

Today, was the non-celiac *gets it* moment.

 

I went to a Chicago Cubs game with my father today, as my birthday gift for him, and sat in the boiling hot, but ultra-fun bleacher seats. As we endured the high heat, a short drizzle, and then some more high heat, we had some Redbridge Gluten Free Beer, some pistachios, and a Cubs loss. However, not without *bum, bum, bum* a “gluten nightmare.”

I asked the *gets it* guy what I should blog about today, after he’d told me I need to be more on top of blog writing, to keep up with my followers, and I know he’s entirely right, and I recognize I’ve been overly MIA, but accelerated organic chemistry does tend to have that affect on life–a total sucker. But, in the simple words of the *get it* guy, this should be my post topic:

 

“Went to the ball game and got beer splashed all over me. Gluten nightmare.”

 

 

Now, when I told him this happened, I just complained about the drunken idiot who managed to spill two full beers all over my legs and feet [luckily not my head], but never gave a gluten-anger anecdote. He not only picked up on it, but provided me with a fantastic blog topic, and also a way to sneak in a bit of thought on another topic.

For all of the ignorant people you may meet in your life, and I guarantee many will be in your college existence as I am finding out, there will be at least one out there who *gets it*. I’m fortunate to have found a few of these, most of whom make it into my blog in some way or another, but my point is not to abandon ship on finding friends, and important people, in your lives that *get it* despite being totally unaffected by whatever your *it* or *them* may be.

 

I realize my writing has left this ominous presence of some male in my life who is finding his way to *getting it* [and not in that way!]  and that you don’t know much else about this person. But on a diabetic-celiac blog about my college life, I think that’s all you really need.

 

Take it easy, but take it.

 

Brianna