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  • Writer's pictureErin Spineto

Thank God for Sick Days

I think paid sick days from work should be handed out on a sliding scale. Most jobs will come up with some arbitrary number of days that you can miss a year and still get paid. Maybe they should work on tightening up that formula.

The standard person gets ten. Oh You're a diabetic, that's four extra days a year. So you have hyperthyroidism, that's worth three extra. You haven't seen a doctor in fifteen years and you haven't been sick a day in your life, you get two. I have been teaching now for thirteen years. Each year we are given ten fully paid sick days a year. If we don't use them all they are carried over for the next school year. People who have been teaching as long as me usually have around fifty days stocked up by now.

I have zero.

I have not had a year yet in which I did not use each and every sick day I was allowed and a few extra, sometimes quite a few extra. There were the two high risk pregnancies which took me out for five and seven months. Then there was the year before I got meds for the hyperthyroidism that took me out for four months.

But even on a good year, I have not been able to keep it under ten days. I suppose I should be grateful for the ten paid days, some jobs don't even offer that. But after a night like last night, I just want to whine and complain and ask for more days off.


I went to bed at 9:30 with a blood sugar of 329 which I promptly corrected for. I should have been back to normal two hours later. So when Eli woke me at 12:30 after having a nightmare, I was surprised to have that high feeling. And not just a moderate high feeling, but the one where your whole body seems to be filled with that metallic taste.

I tested and knew it would be bad. 404. Into the bathroom, shut the door and replace my infusion site. I've gave up on using my thigh anymore, the last fifteen tries there have been met by speedy failure. So again it is a shot in the butt to insert the infusion set and off to bed. One- thirty comes and I am woken up by the sound of Eli walking down the hall. We have an old house and the upstairs creaks with every step. I can hear my kids the second their little feet hit the floor. So I wait for his entrance, but it never comes.

If he's not the one who's walking around my house at O-dark-thirty in the morning, who exactly is it? I jumped out of bed to look for the prowler that Eli has been worried about the last few days, only to find a raccoon digging through the trash. I didn't even have the energy to scare him off, I just fell back into bed. At two thirty, Nick woke me to tell me my blood suaras were still high, 273. By now, with all this insulin on board he should only have dared wake me to tell me I had overshot the good zone and entered Low Land. But no, new site be dammed, I still was not good.

More insulin. Nick has a two hour sleep button so he left me alone for a while, but right at four-thirty, he was on my case again. Still high. Damn, really? 240. More insulin, but not too much. There's nothing worse than spending a whole night at 400 and then waking up at forty. Six a.m. comes way too soon. I curse the sun's punctuality and hop in the shower hoping to wash away the fogginess now firmly entrenched in my brain. I get out, dry off and get dressed and attempt to put on some make-up, but a whole night without insulin has done some damage on my body. My cells have not been able to get any sugar to perform any function and they are screaming about it now.

I look at my makeup bag and cannot decide what to take out, so I grab the first thing I see, my eyeliner and for a moment or two I cannot figure out what to do with it. I just look at it like some sort of NASA space tool that I have never seen before.

After a minute or two my mind has finished processing and brings up the right use for it and I proceed. I sometimes feel like my brain on mornings like these is working like a five year old PC that has never been cleaned out and is so crowded with programs and data that it takes ten minutes to boot up and fifteen to open any program you ask. And if you decide to open too many programs at once it will simply crash. This morning I was on my way to that very crash.

I made my way down the stairs and into the kitchen to make breakfast very slowly, dragging from the achy-ness that feels like the moment your flu aches actually become painful, when Tony comes in and gives me a big hug and asks what's wrong. It's great being married to him for so long because I have very little explaining to do for him to understand exactly what's going on.

"I was high all night" I say.

He holds off his teasing when it's this bad and is always the right amount of sympathetic. I go back to trying to make breakfast for myself and the kids so we can all get to school on time, when Tony says, "Do you need to take a day?" I usually will push through a morning like this one. I have to or I would never make it to work. I had been toying with the idea of taking the day off to recover. I usually try to get ready for the morning before I make my decision to see if just getting up and moving around will shake the cobwebs out of my brain and body, but there are two things that make that decision very easy to make.

The first is when I have to consider if I should go hang my head over the toilet because the high has now made me very nauseous and expelling the contents of my stomach has become eminent. The other is when I can't control the tears that begin streaming at the thought of having to move my body enough to get the kids to school and then go teach 150 seventh graders all day. When Tony asked if I needed a day, and the tears threatened to expose themselves, the decision was made, chalk one more up on that board. And everything gets easier.

I can now drop the kids off and crawl back into bed by eight and sleep until ten. I can get up and eat the only meal that will do on a day like this, one that I am sure of its effects on my blood sugars, fish tacos.

I can now try to find some Anti-fatigue caps from Hammer Nutrition, which are amazing at removing all the nasty metabolic by-products made by my body during a night like last night, at my local supplement store, The Nutrition Zone, and run into another active diabetic who is isolated from the diabetic community and share what Insulindependence has done for me in my diabetic life. And I can now write and try to find some amount of catharsis from this damned disease.

If only I had more days like this...

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