Does See Jen Dance Still Dance?

So the question you might be asking is did I ever return to dance post-baby?

Short answer: Yes-ish.

The pattern that plagues our studio since it has a huge student base from nearby colleges is that once a major life event occurs, be it graduation, grad or medical school, marriage, or baby, a very involved student can suddenly drop off the face of the earth.

This problem probably isn’t unique to just our studio, however, given that a good portion of the student base is younger, a considerable drop off occurs during certain parts of the year.

I was once a very involved student. Classes 6 days a week. Multiple partners for competition. Practice groups. Teams. Multiple lessons with my instructor to take on multiple routines for Showcases.

Nowadays, I change into my black dance/yoga pants in the evenings… and sit on the couch. Because parenting is exhausting. Or, if I find a class I’m interested in, I realize I will miss 2/3s of the month due to work travel. So I skip it.

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We even moved about 10 minutes away from the dance studio… and I still can’t find motivation to go on a regular basis. (Though, starting off the new year with an epic cough isn’t helping.)

I do social dance every couple weeks which helps with the whole “need to exercise” thing. But since I’m not actively working on anything super specific, like competing or a looming Showcase, it’s difficult to find a reason to go in. (Though, I do miss the people I dance with so I’m thankful for social dancing.)

So have I joined the ranks of the dance-enthusiast retirees? No.

I did participate in this last Showcase in December, which was exciting. It took twice as long to prep for the routine than usual, but I knew that would happen given my broken schedule. I never found the time or energy to practice like I used to, though. It was a running joke with my instructor leading up to the Showcase. In the end, I had something that I was happy with and that Bean cried all the way through because she couldn’t be on stage with momma. It was one of those routines that I could just perform the shit out of and keep the dancing basic. That instructor I have is pretty smart.

Coming into the new year, I have plenty of options, including fading into the background if I so choose. My instructor, who I’ve been working with for just over five years now, is going to be leaving in the fall to pursue higher education elsewhere. I hate that I have to end yet another dance relationship, but appreciate that he’s giving me more than a two week warning before up and leaving the country. (Yeah, that happened.) I now have the daunting decision to pick one final solo dance routine to do. And actually practice it.

I’ve been invited to participate in about three different dance troupes. One ballroom; two not. All sound exciting, are on weekends, and would allow me to be a free-range student for a while. I definitely can’t do all three. But whichever one coordinates best with Bean’s naptime will win.

The studio also offers Baby Ballroom classes for children under three, so I suspect I’ll be spending several Saturday mornings at the studio with Bean watching her grow and love dance. At least I hope so.

Okay there. That should fulfill my Ballroom Village blog quota for the month. 😛

Friday Five: “There aren’t enough hours in the day” Edition

1) The new owner at the studio gave me admin rights to the studio Facebook page. I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Getting paid to Facebook all day? Yes! Too bad I don’t like all the other aspects of PR and Marketing. I don’t know many companies that have full time positions available for just social media coordinators. But, I swear, it’s like the perfect fit in PR for introverts.

2) The hammer finally dropped at my 9-5 job. But – maybe only temporary. I can’t believe how disorganized and repetitive and inefficient the system for committee selection has been. I’m also getting emails from my boss asking “well, you did THIS right?” No – because there is no documentation indicating that I had to and had no idea to ask. <sigh> I have some design work coming my way for our big annual meeting. And I mean… all of it.

3) I had a moment last weekend where the blood sugars dropped so fast that my CGM actually said I was normal and only slowly declining into hypo-ville. By the end of my lesson with my swing coach, I was 49 mg/dl. My CGM said I was 114. But I felt weird during the last 10 minutes of the lesson. Swing coach asked – “are you dying? Do you need something to eat?” No, no… CGM says okay and it’s been fairly accurate thus far. I’m just tired and hungry. I don’t really remember the last 10 minutes of my lesson. Swing coach asked in closing “hey, what’s your favorite color today?” I couldn’t respond right away. (Wait – what did he just ask?) Yeah – it was kind of like that the entire weekend.

4) Ballroom coach was told the story in #3 and has given himself permission to order me to get food if he feels it’s necessary. I’m apparently not allowed to pass out on his watch. 😛

5) [Contains female rant… guys, feel free to skip this one.] Okay seriously… the whole monthly cycle thing is hell for a PWD. Especially for one who is trying to conceive a child. It also doesn’t help that my symptoms and blood sugar reactions have been completely different for the last 4 cycles so I never know if this month is lucky… until it’s not. I’ve had two cycles start during a dance comp weekend now, so the hypos vs. insulin resistance vs. lack of sleep vs. increase in activity has been really hard to manage. Let’s not forget about the whole “am I or am I not?” questions that plague my psyche when I’m supposed to be competing at my best. <bangs head against a wall>

Have a great weekend! I promise to get back into the swing of things (ha ha) next week.

#WW: Diabetes Everywhere

I ordered some photos from last weekend’s comp. Two in particular stood out for D-reasons.

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I left my med alert bracelet on during the competition and solo performance. Mostly because I was surrounded by a limited amount of people that know about all of my technology. Granted I trust all of them with my life if it came down to it, (two are nurses and one was pre-med at some point) but it was just good to have that piece of mind.

On to the comp dress…

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Somewhere in the sparkly mesh, you can see my CGM receiver, which was probably sending distress signals for 10 minutes while I danced without my pump. (It was really inaccurate that morning anyway.) I just like the photo in general, but the cameos of my d-life make them more interesting.

During awards, I put my pump back on and had it hooked on the back of my dress. One of the local pros noticed and asked me, in a very heavy Russian accent, “What iz dat?” I explained that it was my insulin pump. “Oh, does it hurt?” No. Not usually. “Oh, I thought it was battery pack.” My instructor quipped, “Well she is battery powered.” Not too far off of a guess.

On Treadmills and Fancy Dress

From Wikipedia

I posted to my friends on Facebook today that I wondered if Viennese Waltz could be done on a treadmill because that’s kind of the sensation I was feeling today at work. Others describe this as “spinning your wheels” or “running nowhere fast.” I felt I needed something more dramatic, so I added in the challenge of a really fast, rotating dance, where you sometimes just have to shut up and hold on for 3 minutes. It was determined that this could be done as long as I had a “double wide” treadmill or maybe at an airport with empty people movers. I joked to my teacher that I had come up with a fantastic new showcase idea.

With the stress at work rising, I’m finding little time to actually take care of myself. The only reason I remembered to eat lunch today was because I started a dinner-time basal test and my phone’s alarms are set for every two hours starting at 12:20 pm. (I failed the test by dropping to 63 mg/dl at around 6:00 pm.) And unless those alarms go off, I just don’t really pay attention to how fast time is going by and how quickly my sugars are rising or falling. Control? What control? Thus, my blood sugars also feel like v. waltzing on a treadmill and they get ignored until someone falls off the end.

Rise and Fall

Rise and fall is a characteristic of Smooth and Standard Waltz, a ballroom dance set to music in 3/4 time. Here is a recognizable example of waltz from pop culture:

(And hell, Pasha is just fun to drool over… even in a full suit.)

Rise and fall has also been a characteristic of my blood sugars as of late. Granted, I’m barely tipping over the 200 mark on upswings, which is kind of nice for a change, but my new pump settings seem to be working overtime. I tried lowering my target range because that’s what the pregnancy police expect. (An ideal range between 80 and 105.) This range will add a correction based on your sensitivity if your current blood sugar is above that before a meal, in the middle of the night, or when the wind blows differently, etc.

I’ve also been experimenting with a much different diet. Protein shakes, quinoa, fresh meals, higher protein, carbs from fruit, etc.

So for the past two mornings, I’ve woke up around 150ish. I administer a correction. I eat my quinoa bars from two days ago. And hour later, I’m at the 120 mark and most likely falling. Fabulous. I try to stop my impending low with some milk or something similar. By hour two, I’m in the 50s. Eat and raise blood sugar. Two hours later I’ve rebounded. Correct. Eat lunch. Repeat vicious cycle.

Apparently I miss my multi grain english muffins with almond butter a LOT.

So I tweaked my settings again, making my target range 85-110 and upping my sensitivity to 45 points, rather than 40.

I have no idea. Can I get my old pump back? At least it was predictable.

Stroke of Midnight (Almost)

Daily Prompt: Where were you last night when 2012 turned into 2013? Is that where you’d wanted to be?

Last night was an exercise in the trials you face when your life depends on a battery powered device.

To preface, my insulin pump failed at about 11 pm last night. Not just a bubble in the tubing or a bent cannula. But a full on mechanical, this shit ain’t working no more, failure. I’m lucky that my micromanaging of my blood sugars caught the issue early and I was able to get home and back to my party with 15 minutes to spare.

Let’s start at the beginning. (And this isn’t a story for the faint of heart.)

I bought a super cheap, but awesome, tight dress from Forever 21 last week. It’s was spandex, sparkly, and age appropriate. Perfect for dancing in all night. The problem pump users have with tight clothing is where to stick the insulin pump in something that showcases all bumps, lines and imperfections. I decided to try hiding the pump with “the girls” for the first time ever. (Hey – other female PWDs do it all the time, why not?) Surprisingly, not that bad considering I’m petite everywhere.

The hubs and I leave for the studio and stop off at our friends’ house for some “real” NYE drinks. Pump is working fine so I have a little bit of dessert to counterbalance the champagne.

The studio opens a buffet of desserts at midnight to coordinate with the sparkling cider toast. Since I’d been dancing and had pizza for dinner, I went to check my sugars around 11 pm. 154 mg/dl. Fine. Nothing to smile about, but hey, it could be worse for a pizza night. So I check to see how much on board insulin is left and the buttons are frozen. The escape button, bolus button, light… nothing. Unresponsive. Fine. I ask the front desk for a coin to open my battery compartment to maybe reset the frozen pump. (They are computers and all.) Off. On. Nothing. I jump out of the bathroom to find my cell phone in the next room; my pump awkwardly stashed in my bra. On the phone with favorite company once again, Minimed.

I explain that my pump is being unresponsive and I need help resetting it. Then the alarm goes off indicating “Button Error.” Tech support says that the error is too complicated to reset so they have to send me a brand new pump, which, with the holiday, won’t be here until Thursday morning. Fuck! Apparently, my pump is also no longer working. Ugh! Really? So I’m advised to get on a backup method for the time being. Yes! Let me yank that out at a NYE party right this second. After frantically flagging down my hubs in the ballroom and listening to Minimed’s spiel about how I need to return the pump in a timely manner (Seriously!? Now? I need to go home NOW!), we dash home, alarms on my pump now sounding off every minute.

On 25 minute drive back, I manage to give myself a random dose of insulin (because that seemed logical at the time) and cut the battery from the pump because the alarms were stressing me out. Figuring my pump wasn’t doing me any favors attached, I decide to hike up my dress in the car and remove the cannula so I can ride home wireless.

Bad idea. About 2 seconds later, my abdomen is covered in blood. Guess the infusion set was also angry that the pump failed. I’m screaming at the hubs to give me light while he’s trying to drive as fast as it is legal. We have no kleenex, napkins, or anything. Hubs yanks out a clean handkerchief (I’ll never make fun of him again for carrying one of those) so I can stop the bleeding. I’m really thankful my dress wasn’t white, but my tights were ruined.

Finally home, I dig out the Lantus and shots I conveniently inventoried and organized this weekend, re-pack my supplies for the evening and head back to the party.

We arrive at the studio again as they are prepping the cider glasses. A couple people noticed we were gone. I spill the details to a friend of mine because she was the one that had to search for my hubs. My instructor overhears “blood everywhere” and ultimately gets intrigued. We gather our glasses, party hats and faulty noisemakers and ring in the new year about 30 seconds behind the rest of the world. 🙂 (Because our clocks are all off.)

I was a little worried about dragging my non dancing hubs to a dance party for a full evening. But at least I can say that it wasn’t a boring evening.

Happy 2013!

It’s Not a Toomah!

Yes – the famous line from Ah-nold’s quasi-action movie, Kindergarten Cop. And often what I say, in jest, when people question the insulin pump under all of my dance costumes.

Of course I love ballroom dance because it’s highly social, is goal oriented, and is a huge part of my exercise regiment. But let’s face it. Who wouldn’t want to prance around in all of those fancy, glittery ballgowns that you see on Dancing with the Stars? I have a number of “oooh… shiny” moments when it comes to selecting outfits for upcoming showcases and competitions. (West Coast Swing comps are much more laid back, but I still like to sparkle.)

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Hmm, I’ll just put my pump… no where? (Melissa and Tony from DWTS All Stars)

The problem with most, if not all, dance clothing is that everything is made of skin tight lycra or spandex, allowing all movement of the body to be showcased. As well as all of your bulges, flaws, and rectangular battery powered devices that keep you alive. Now for most performances, I generally disconnect for the times I’m on stage (10 minutes total max). But sometimes I have to plan where my site is because maybe my dress is backless. Or if I disconnect with a tight dress, I get this cool plastic nub under my costumes.

I’ve also taken nice little pump vacations and head back on lantus for a week; I’ve found this to be easier than connecting and reconnecting backstage and fighting the adrenaline and stress highs. But, then I’m on shots for a week. Ugh…

However, it’s a little more complicated for rehearsals and practices that I want to wear my costume and my pump. It’s not so much the awkward lines I suddenly create. It’s figuring out where to place the pump so that it doesn’t fall out during a lift that is a bigger problem. Even with all of the bands, garters, and clips out there, it’s generally best for me to just keep practicing in sweat pants with pockets until the very last minute. I’ve had my pump grabbed, my wire caught on my partner, had the pump leg band fall mid-run of a routine, had the pump fall out of my pocket, jab my partner in strange places… etc. Often, a ballroom dance costume is all one piece with built in leotards. So good luck with trying to hook the pump on anything isn’t at risk of ripping, shedding a few rhinestones, or whatever.

This is why I like competing in west coast swing so much these days. I can wear PANTS. With POCKETS. And I can hide my wire safely away from leaders with crazy octopus arms. It’s amazing.

But – again, I still love dancing, albeit the unique reflections I create in a mirror. And the shiny rhinestones. Lots and lots of rhinestones.