On defence and diabetes

Diabetes, Thornless roses

When I was out walking over the weekend, in my ongoing attempt to get safe blood sugar control back, I came across a beautiful array of thornless or near thornless roses. They were covering the back fence of a house that backs onto the reserve where I go walking.

Zepherine  Drouhin and Lady Bank'sRose

Zepherine Drouhin and Lady Bank’sRose

Kathleen Harrop

Kathleen Harrop

Unidentified white climber, Watson

Unidentified white climber, Watson

I began to think about thorns and their purpose. A thornless rose is not exactly an evolutionary dead end, but lacking thorns makes survival more difficult. Without a good set of thorns, what’s to stop a wandering quadruped grazing on the shoots that will become flowers, then seeds? A thornless rose has the most advantage to bipeds like ourselves, with back fences and footpaths and a tendency towards litigation and/or tendencies towards pruning.

It’s only humans that truly appreciate a thornless rose, especially while pruning. And, it’s only through humans that they prosper, as we propagate them. An example of what Pollan might call co-evolution. In his view, it was the apple that seduced Eve. Sweetness sells to humans.

Which brings me to diabetes. I recall reading somewhere that insulin resistance was an evolutionary advantage in the ace age. Prioritise sending sugar to your brain, as that extra bit of mental alertness might just save your palaeolithic life. I wish I could remember where I read this so I could check the references and follow up. It seemed reasonable when I read first. Not entirely sure now. Wouldn’t the ability to shunt sugar to your brain be a handy defence no matter what the environmental circumstances?

Am I the equivalent of a thornless rose?

More to ponder, clearly.

Tortoises and hares

Diabetes, employment, Stress

I was at the bus stop earlier than the rubbish trucks on their weekly rounds, which should give you an idea as to my level of out-of-whackedness.  No one has ever accused me of being a morning person, until now.

It’s clear and cloudless, and in between passing cars, I can hear all the birds. Lovely.  I’d rather be staying here by the side of the road and listening to the birds.  Instead I am on my way to work early to face up to the repercussions of my unexpected resignation yesterday.

i had been quietly weeping at breakfast for the last week, but yesterday, after a broken night (how do new mothers do it????), it became more like a 1 in 100 year flood.  Like a real flood, this left me in need of major reconstruction.

People break at the worst times, and I am no exception.  It’s  14 days to the deadline.  I am not going to be flavour of the month when I show my face today. But am I supposed to sacrifice my health for a poorly planned project? My blood sugars have been consistently above safe and its entirely due to the unrelenting expectations of performance.  They don’t need a human, they need a machine to meet this deadline at the level of quality they want.  Or at the very least a hare.

I’ve always been a tortoise.  I can do sustained intense levels of analytical work at a slower pace.  But this is not a world for tortoises anymore.  Especially not a diabetic tortoise.

So if you happen know of of a nice, slowish pond somewhere in Canberra that’s looking for a new tortoise, drop me line.  I’d love to know.

The confused diabetic

Diabetes, emotions, food choices

I didn’t have a very good day yesterday.

It was my best friend’s birthday but she died a few years ago.  Then, the glucose reading.  Enough to set me off on a day long bender, starting with crepes for breakfast around 10.

Around 3 I started drinking, and I shall not reveal exactly how much but suffice to say my hangover is extremely well deserved.  I accompanied this with most of a wheel of Brie, and biscuits, and for dinner I ate a whole pizza.  Yes.  All of it.  I did no exercise, unless you count lying on the sofa laughing hysterically as I watched The World’s End for therapy.

This does nothing for one’s beauty sleep.  I’m up earlier than usual, and steeled myself for the reading.  Here’s the irony.  After all that, it was only 0.3 over yesterday.  I was expecting much, much worse.

So now I’m really confused.  Does anything I do in relation to this damn disease matter?

Golden vision


I am having what could be called a crisis of meaninglessness. Those who have actually had the intestinal fortitude to read philosophy books might term it an ‘existential’ crisis. I prefer crisis of meaninglessness. Truth be told, I’ve been having it for a long time. Growing since my birth, it burst into full flower in early May 2006 when a dear friend died from the cure for her cancer at the premature age of 30. (I miss you Bec).

Hence my choice of rose. This rose is called Golden Vision. She comes from the Alister Clark stable, released in 1922. She is a hybrid gigantea, and like many of his roses, she does a brilliant job of adorning the tennis court fence at Old Parliament House.



Alister Clark had a clear vision for his rose breeding program. He wanted to breed roses that would thrive in the Australian climate, which is so much more extreme and unpredictable that England and Europe. In this, he was completely out of sync with his times, an odd environmental visionary. At this point in Australian history, we were still in love with the myth of conquering nature. Don’t adapt to where you are, make where you are adapt to you. His roses were an outstanding success, although generations after his death forgot them for a while. Fortunately most of them have been found and are well represented in a number of gardens around the country.

At the moment I am content with contemplating Golden Vision’s loveliness and using her name as a meditative inquiry. There is no doubt though that only the power of a truly robust and adaptable golden vision is going to sustain me in the near and distant future. I can only hope it emerges soon.

Love, Kylie

Inconvenient thoughts


I was lying in bed the other morning having a fantasy about an alternative…career.  I’ve had this dream before.  It basically consists of me being the inspirational teacher to people who have trouble with literacy.  I’m currently a volunteer TESOL teacher so this fantasy is grounded in a wee bit of reality. The point of the story is not so much about the warm and uplifting scene that I was concocting in my head, as about the puncture that happened shortly after.

In my head I tell them that the only reason why they might overcome the problems they’ve had to date, and the storehouse of bad memories about reading and writing ingrained into their cells, was finding a very unique and personal to them goal for getting through the class. Because simply by being in an adult literacy class they had stepped into what I like to call the baggage hold. I suggested that they needed to find a vision of the future that was bigger, more compelling and down right alluring as way to get past this nasty interim bit.

Time ticked on. The work day launched and my gentle heartwarming fantasy was washed away under the shower. A few hours later I was at work and deeper down the depression hole. The subject matter of my work is quite depressing at times, and as I’m not coping too well myself at the moment following my diagnosis of diabetes, the subject matter is really affecting me. I gazed out of the trees at the top of my screen and sulked. (I’m good at sulking).

One of those thoughts hit me. You know, the thought that sneaks in before the thought that you think you should have. In my experience these thoughts are always inconvenient, and always true. This was what it was. I was at advocating for my imaginary students something that I cannot achieve for myself currently. In short I am an unconscious hypocrite. See what I mean about inconvenient?

Fantasy is a powerful thing and it needs to be used with care and discernment. Fantasies say far more about their generators than they do about anything else. They are also a little like a spotlight, illuminating only some things. They shouldn’t be taken at face value. If I had taken my fantasy at face value I would’ve completed the scholarship application to retrain as a literacy teacher.

What I now think is going on is that my subconscious/higher self/call it what you will was using this fantasy to get my attention. It’s another attempt to get me to deal with my own baggage, to not project onto others, and not to make the mistake (again) of an unconscious career choice.

I could still end up as a literacy teacher. If i did, I would probably still say to my students exactly what I imagined myself saying to them. And if that is the case then at least then I would be able to say to them that I have done as I advocate. Dreaming a bigger, compelling and more alluring future for myself seems to the first order task.

Love, Kylie