Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A few days into type 1

Today my loving mother talked to a diabetes nutritionist and then told me about the insulin pump, which will allow me to avoid shooting myself up with needles, and more importantly will allow me to eat a lot more like normal. Too bad it doesn't keep you from being a mediocre Major League pitcher, or Jason Johnson might still be throwing for the Tigers. Also it holds 0 mp'3's which is a serious disadvantage. Word has it the 25th Gen iPod will pump insulin, but by then McDonalds will have gallon fountain drinks and America will be so fat that they will have to pump insulin between the Sprite and Mountain Dew.

Currently I'm shooting up insulin the junkie way five times a day. I also prick my finger twice a day and run my blood through a little cell phone sized device to test my blood glucose.

There are certainly disadvantages to being in 'Nam as a new diabetic. I won't be able to get that pump here. There are no nutrition labels on the foods here. In the grocery store there isn't an entire row of low carb, sugar free foods here that I could close my eyes and almost pretend are Oreo's. I have seen nothing sugar-free besides gum and milk (I'm going to bring sugared milk back to the states with me for those that just don't get enough breakfast sugar in their Lucky Charms).

However, there are certain advantages to being on the Mekong with a sugar processing disfunctional pancreas as well. If I were uninsured in America all the medical stuff would cost me more. Also the price of produce is very low.

I'm lucky to have found a decent doctor who can I can communicate with easily.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Diabetes: Not Just For Fatties

Yesterday I went to the doctor because my penis (That's right I said penis. Penis, penis, penis. Grow up!) hurt. The good news is I don't have syphilis.

I called my mom from the doctors office. And she got all nosy like mother's do. Get this: she asked me 'How are you?' Geez, what's with the 9th degree (what the hell does this phrase mean anyway?), Ma? What's next mom?Are you going to ask me if my penis hurts?

Anyway this is how it went.

Mom: How are you?
Ryan: Diabetic

And I wasn't joking. The Doctor found ketones in my pee.

^Me: Ketones!? So Tom Cruise isn't full of crap!

Vietnamese Doctor with excellent English: You're thinking of 'thetans,' and yes Tom Cruise is full of crap. Have you seen 'Top Gun,' that movie's lame even by Vietnamese film standards.

Me: So I won't have to go to Venus for re-implantation?

Doctor: Ehh... no.
^the conversation may not have gone exactly like this, however the first conversation is word for word

After the ketone discovery the doctor took my blood and found a lot of sugar in it. (Here I was thinking about making a 'because I'm so sweet' joke here, but decided it was too lame.) It had little to do with how nice I am to everyone, but much more to do with the diabetes I have.

I asked about ten different ways if the results co
uld be an anomaly, caused by something else, or if the doctor was reading them upside down, but at the end of all the follow-up tests I had diabetes. Full on.

I have type 1 diabetes, most likely. So I'm going to have to prick my finger to test blood sugar and shoot up insulin several times a day. Today I shot up for the first time, and I gotta say I believe injecting yourself is easier than having it administered. The anticipation factor isn't there.

Good bye (I'm tearing up):

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Saigon Traffic: More Details

I know they say pictures are worth 1,000 words. I don't know what moving pictures count for, but I did make a grainy video of the traffic here. Anyway, I know that 1,000 words is worth at least roughly 1,000 words as well, but with the dollar in crisis and fluctuating exchange rates... I thought I would write about the traffic problems I face here every day (in no particular order).

General Info:

People often wonder what side of the road any given country drives on. In Vietnam, people may wonder, do they drive on the right or the left? The answer is yes. And on the sidewalk. On any given street there are one or two official lanes going this way and the opposite, and an unofficial lane going every conceivable direction but vertical.

A couple terms, or rather moves:
The Human Shield: When making a left-hand turn across a busy lane of traffic, wait for some other motorbike to start venturing through it and drive safely through his temporary, small traffic dam.
Piggy-Backing: People do stupid things in big long single-file lines, usually traveling in an unofficial lane. If the particular thing is convenient at any given time, you just add yourself to the line.

The Horns!!!:

Dear Lord in Heaven (I am not blaspheming or breaking any commandments here, this is a sincere prayer from my heart) the horns in Vietnam are overwhelming, and turning my nerves into 100% pure cancer (yes it's a possibility in the realm of physics--a note for the reader, not for God).

It is like early afternoon on December 25th and everyone in Vietnam got a horn this Christmas morning. If six people are already honking at a red light that will soon turn green, is it necessary to add your horn to the cacophony? I have started driving with headphones, which admittedly does not make this obscenely dangerous traffic any safer, but it does keep the bile from rising to my mouth.

Turn Signals:

You turn on your indicator and people continue to pass you on the side that you are clearly expressing your intentions to turn. I almost died a number of times before I caught onto this. If you think there isn't enough space between you and the curb for someone to disrupt your right-hand turn you are sorely mistaken. Of course they will honk their horn 18 times to make you aware of their presence, but because everyone else is also honking, this noxious noise gets lost in the ambiguity of the horrible horn noise pollution.

Laziest, Highest/Lowest Angle, Blindest Turning:

If you're pulling up to an intersection to turn right as true to the corner as possible, you are quite likely to run into someone turning left onto the road that you are on.


People everywhere like to talk while they drive. It reduces boredom. If traffic sucks, it gets your mind off the slow progress you are making. It makes a chore a social activity. But when people are talking while driving on two different motorbikes on the narrow roads of Vietnam it can be quite troublesome. You want to get by them, but because they are looking at each other and not at the road the gap between them and to either side fluctuates so that's a bit like Indiana Jones diving under the lowering wall. So of course you honk at them, but they can't hear you over their own honks, which they are applying to make people aware of their dreadfully slow moving moto-conference.

Plenty more to come at a later date.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Duck/Fork Warning

Today's lesson included the vocabulary 'duck' and 'fork.' I'll be honest, I didn't see the danger in this until the first Vietnamese 6-year-old got a little mixed up and swore at me viciously (and I'm not talking about the word 'dork,' which I didn't hear). I tried my best not to respond at all, but it was funny to hear the f-bomb dropped by such innocent aggressors.
One of my students showed up with this cupcake necklace (double-click on the picture for a better view). I think it's the coolest thing ever. Can you blame me for trying to steal it? I may have 20 years and 3 feet on her, but she played her ace card early, started crying, and is still the owner of the legendary jewelry. Can you believe that somehow I turned out to be the bad guy? Pfft!

Eating in Vietnam is usually pretty good. I do like eating Vietnamese food, but going to the non-touristy restaurants can be very challenging. Even when the menus are translated, the translations can be a little ambiguous. Last night I was pretty sure that I knew what the 'Pig's Anas' was, and that I was not interested. I even had guesses for what the 'Fried Shrimps in Rolling' might be all about. But I was baffled by the 'Sauteed Pork in Dog Pretending.' I didn't go for that. I felt like fish, and with the help of my cute waitress and some bizarre gesticulations, I got a really nice dish for the price of small fries at McDonalds.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

American Gladiators Returns!

So politicians and media won't shut up about steroid use 5 years ago in my beloved Major League Baseball, and meanwhile NBC is bringing back American Gladiators. Let me tell you one thing; nothing made me want to do steroids more as an 8-year-old than watching the jousting, hand-biking, tennis ball cannon-firing of the original American Gladiators.

I wouldn't let this new guy 'Titan' (above, left) wash the original Nitro's homoerotic unitard. Old names like 'Laser' and 'Tank' (nos. 1 and 2) have been replaced by 'Wolf' and 'Tor.' At least linking the generations and the 'roids is Hulk Hogan.