Category Archives: science

Hypoglycemia-Caused Panic

In which we complain about bloodsugar induced panic attacks …

I doubt this is terribly important, but I want to at least reach out to those other people with type one diabetes and see if they, too, feel  panicky when their blood sugars are low.  Yesterday I had about fifteen of them.  This is a problem.

Granted, I have been feeling a lot of lows for the last few weeks.  Sometimes I do the wrong thing, and manufacture higher glucose (like in the 200s) reads in order to not have to deal with the lows, to not have to drink another juice (which I am growing to hate).  I’ve also been experiencing a lot of high energy and optimism which is causally pointable-outable to several factors.  Life is going well for me; I’m alive and hungry for more of it.

Yesterday morning I woke at 6:00 a.m., bouncing out of my skin as usual these days.  By about 8:00 I was ready to use the energy in a health-preserving way.  I checked my sugar and it was in the 180s (it was in the 90s when I woke up).  Not trusting it to stay stable simply by wishing it to be so,  I ate a half sandwich, lowered the basal rate on my insulin pump (to 25% for 2 hours) and headed out for a 3 mile walk at 9:00.   A half hour into the hike it was 146.  I drank a juice.  45 minutes into the hike it was, again 146ish (really close).  I considered another juice, but I was hoping that the half sandwich, the original 180 BG, the lowered basal, and the current juice would hold me through the rest of the hike.  It did.

But, despite my munching and no-schedule day, I had sugars in the 80s an 90s all day.  At one point it was in the 200s so I gave a correction bolus … which later resulted in another low.  Very uncomfortable.  Throughout the day I ate fruit, salads, cheese, nuts, french fries, and chips and salsa.  Granted, I didn’t eat as much as I should have, and i just snacked rather than having a proper breakfast, lunch an dinner (befitting of a single woman without children).  The exercise and the general high-energy status quo of my body-mind kept me in need of all of the sugar I could take, but I seldom have such constant need for juice.   I also find that I don’t necessarily need that much food, on days when I am working, at least*.  Stress seems to add about 50-100 to my glucose levels, but I haven’t tracked this exactly. Yet.

By evening I was fighting.  My heartrate was up and I could not get to sleep.  I cried several times and felt the kind of fear one feels in a panic attack.  I could barely control the worry thoughts relating not only to diabetes but also more social aspects of my life.  I checked my sugars two more times and drank more juice and lowered my basal to 15%, hoping to get the blood glucose level a little higher so I could actually sleep through the night.  When I woke the next morning it was 78.

More juice.

The funny part of this to me is that while on my bouncy-wonderful walk in the morning, I was drafting a letter  (in my head) to the CEO and President of the medical organization which employs my family doctor, my endocrinologist and my ophthalmologist  in order to express the gratitude I feel toward these people working so hard to help me get diabetes to a level of control I need and want.  I had a somewhat disappointing appointment with the endocrinologist recently. I  presented him with a handwritten account of day-to-day happenings with my glucose for about a week in the hope of understanding patterns better, but it didn’t seem to impact his thinking much (though I don’t really know).  Still, we’ve agreed to have me wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) for a week later in August to track the numbers more closely and go from there.  I also had a stunning annual physical with my family doctor and it looks like I am doing really well in all other health categories besides the one which concerns us all the most.  That morning, ironically, the nurse for that doctor had to fetch me a juice before the physical because I was low.


So, more science is needed.  In a way, I am grateful that I am feeling lower rather than higher.  I am happy that I have high energy rather than low.  I probably wouldn’t be publicly sharing about a day of high glucose, and there have certainly been those before too.  Those don’t seem as life-threatening in the moment, though, as any person with type one diabetes will agree.

As I was laying there in the night watching my mind run away with my heartbeat eating the little sugar I kept giving it, I couldn’t help feeling so alone.  I thought about texting a couple of friends, but didn’t want to make it their problem.  Plus, it doesn’t matter how much I try to explain myself when I am suffering in this way, it gets so confused because of the complexity.  Doctors like to look at the numbers, and derive conclusions from those.  I provided numbers to my Endo in narrative form, and when I expressed frustration with the phrase, “I feel like … ” he replied, of himself, “I don’t go off of feelings (presumably referring to his preference for numbers).”  So I picked up my sheets of paper and, once again, to show him the map of my daily experience.  But it’s just too exhausting … trying to explain to an outsider what I can only feel on the inside.  My friends and family would do their best, I know, and offer questions and support, but why burden them with an unending mystery I will be attempting to answer all of my life.  They risk my frustration at them, for not understanding —  but really, really wanting to — which causes me to not reach out to them. If I turn my inner experiences into a social enterprise, much is lost in the translation.  Especially regarding what it all means to the experiencer …

Phenomenology. Next chapter.

So I cry now, thinking of this particular breed of loneliness, and how it reminds me of other ways I feel alone.  I know I am not though.  I’m still optimistic.  Life is better than it was this time last year and the year before.  I am winning at health.  For today, at least.


(*Still trying to map out my needs based on day-off and working day phenomena.  A lot more consistency is what the doc orders, which is difficult in my line of work, but I’ll try.  Also, I can’t easily obtain the exact numbers written here, so these are pretty fair recollections instead.)


I Reckon

In which Carrie reflects on the matter ….


Explosion of earthly


I wonder why

I am born a reckoner

And would I be

without our

Milky Way.


Orion points me true

I see you in the

spattered galaxy.


From Sisters

I stop and think

Of ways I might

have been


Less beautifully.



Hidden Flowers

In which Carrie recognizes terror management theory and its relevance to everyday living . . .

I confronted issues of mortality and morality at a school the other day.  The previous night I went to the local university’s psychology club film and lecture event centering around Terror Management Theory (TMT). The film was Flight From Death (2005).  We discussed conscious ways to confront fear of death., instead of unconsciously acting against it.  The film suggests most people suppress this natural fear but are prone to fighting evil with evil in the form of hurting those who are not like ourselves, Others.  When we dehumanize someone out of fear of mortality, TMT supposes this is an individual’s (or nation’s) way of immortalizing themselves.  To erase or damage another’s dignity, or a culture’s worth (think of Nazi Germany or the 911 terrorist attacks), we build a temporary, but unsustainable, sense of being right while making the others somehow wrong. This unconscious suppression of the knowledge that we are all going to die causes war, and impresses on the “winners” that they are somehow more worthy of others.


I live where I do not have “death reminders” everyday, which is not the case for countries presently at war (on their home soil).  I do not live with explicit violence everywhere, and do not see humans being shot down on a weekly basis.  I know nobody who owns a firearm except for hunters.   Death reminders are scarce, and passing subliminal, in my sheltered world, but I see things like it which remind me I need to protect myself, and others from harm.


The other day a little boy comes up to me at the last period of my day after I had already been through much which reinforced my (mistaken) beliefs in an incompetency of my worth as a teacher.  The day had been hard, and with each new challenge my will to work at my best potential became weaker and weaker.  I found it hard to do my job as well as I usually do.  But there are always wonderful things which happen on the hardest days.  They keep me coming back.


This boy approached me with two hand-lenses held up to his eyes like out-of-fashion  nerd glasses, showing me his humor, his geekiness.  I believe now that while I intuit he is not popular and is consistently the recipient of micro-aggressions from his peers, he rose above that sadness and showed me the strength of his creativity and humor.  He also asked me later if he could use one of the high-powered microscopes to examine the parts of his flower, being only the second student who wanted an in-depth view of their specimen instead of using just the hand-lenses (which are just easier to distribute).  In this case, he demonstrated—beyond the motivations of his peers—an inherent interest in the learning for the day.  He had probably been looking forward to this all week, since they planted the flowers.


The “greenhouse” was in the corner of the room.  Each of the lab plants was under lights to help them photosynthesize (there are no windows in the room).  By the time I got there to fill in for the teacher, most of the flowers had dropped off.  As a result, I had the supply management issue of making sure every student got one flower to observe and dissect for the lab.  This rationing was another level to my worry on top of jumping from other classrooms, a back-t0-back schedule and spring fever among students, and as the last period rolled around I skeptically gazed at my supply of specimens and back at the number of students, wondering if there would be enough.  I passed the tender flowers out, carefully.  Some students accidentally blew theirs off the table or had little success extracting the petals, sepals, pistals and stamens resulting in some smushed bug likenesses.  Somehow, there were just enough which I could find under those mock-sun lights.


But this boy might have hidden his own plant away from the others.   I don’t know. He approached me with a reasonably healthy plant filled with about ten blooms.  I wondered how my eyes had missed them, a sudden surplus.  Everyone by that time had one so I didn’t bother asking to use his.  It was his plant, with his name written in sharpy on the styrofoam container.  Originally each student was going to dissect their own, but they all became a collective resource by that time.  Good for him keeping his away from view, like it was a rare wildflower one finds in the most remote wilderness.


Later during that class, I had some time to think and watch.  The one thing about labs is they usually draw students in, being so close to art and equally messy.  Only the students with the highest of spring fever relinquished their curiosity of botany to forego the assignment altogether, but most did their jobs.


There, in my exhausted observation, I listened to a few students arguing quietly, quietly enough for me not to be able to hear the content, but I could clearly see distress in their bickering.  Small faces turning like machetes in the angle of enemies, tossing glints of anger at each other, their perceived immortality at risk.  I noticed this boy was still trying to concentrate on his work but his neighbors were taking stabs.  He defended himself with some degree of assurance but it was making his life miserable.


I called him up and asked him what was going on.  He started talking, his eyes dropping water.  His demeanor of expressing his frustrations about another student were not filled with large tones or expansive gestures, but coherent explanation through the drip, drip, drip.  The water stained his shirt.  He told me his object of frustration, another girl with low social standing, wasn’t really liked by anybody.  I saw he felt sad and invited him to take a break—go out and get a drink of water, walk around a little.


I then called the girl over who was the object of his present frustration.  She narrated her story and I heard that it, too, was understandable  Her backstory—from what I have gleaned through my brief interactions with her—would make every adult in this community want to pause their momentary pleasures and obligations to help her out.  But with our limited vision reaching not far behind our American identity, I would doubt that anyone would—leave it to those who deal with that sort of thing.  I suggested that her classmate was sad and that she might meet him out in the hallway to give him an apology.  I told her that he might not accept it, but that it would be a good thing to do anyway.  She smiled and walked off.


As I reflect on this—it all happened so fast—I realize now that I don’t know if either of them finished the lab, to the chagrin of their teacher and tazpayers.  I don’t know how the apology went, or if any harms were undone.  If I see them again I might ask, given the appropriate time to do so.  It is important to follow up on these things.


This minor episode, including the nerdy glasses sported by the boy,  was the highlight of my day.  The situation I found myself in for the entire work day was one of high stress, as is the usual nature of substitute teaching, only disastrously more than usual.  I don’t feel like I came close to doing a good job. But I took some lessons in terror management from this particular boy who confronted who-knows-how-much-bullying day-to-day with humor, interest in inquiry learning, and self-directed motivation to get what he could from a lesson in botany.


I still wonder if he had the plant hidden away, knowing in advance that in order for his project to succeed he needed to take it upon himself to create the right conditions, including asking to use the high-powered microscope, unlike his peers.  I also noticed that he let me know, after I asked, a frustration—not the first in his young career as an object of dehumanizing attacks.  This open door to talk is something I believe most students would welcome if a concerned person invited them to speak, and cry if need be.


Where the village ceased to be the raiser-of children, I don’t know, but it is for these hidden students that I work to protect.







Theory and Fact

Our facts convince us but do they convince ultimate reality?

There has been some discussion here recently about what a fact is and what it really depends on to get a hold on the world (i.e. our minds understanding it as “fact”).  The problem is our species believes all of these facts–which are abundant–stand on their own.  A person can state something–their belief–and name it “just a fact about the world” and assume his interlocutor (s) will buy into his worldview.  But that’s just it.  There is a worldview there, from which the so-called fact depends upon for its existence.

I’m not trying to use the highly abstracted hand of skepticism to wave reality away from knowing creatures like yourself.  I’ll leave that to Descartes or Berkeley or Putnam.  But my aim is to remind you that “facts” are highly theory-dependent.  There are theoretical presuppositions behind every fact a person can name, and the truth of the fact depends upon the robustness of the theory.  Else it falls into the category of opinion.

We understand that objects fall because of our theory, or mental concepts making sense of patters, of gravity.  Or if you have never had the privilege of studying gravity in a formal way (school), you were (in fact) born with the fear of falling, as experiments on children show given controlled circumstances.  So, biologically, you will understand gravityness as true, that falling objects will not suddenly start misbehaving.  You will not test this embodied truth on yourself by throwing it (your body!) over a cliff.  This is a positive example of a fact which holds some mass in our worldviews.  My assertions utilizing biology and observation of physical objects and common assumptions about instinct or cognition back these asserted “facts.”

However, one must be wary because moral kinds of “facts” (or any using good/bad, better/worse, etc.) masked under the sacrosanct markers of True or False, ought to be realized as idiosyncratic preferences of individuals often arguing for thier opinions of how they would prefer others to see the world.  This can often be self-serving, selfish, and potentially destructive (the opposite might make up the consequence as well, as a matter of opinion). Beliefs also comes from biases, prejudices, and that ilk.  They are not justified until proven so.  It takes a maturer mind to question its own beliefs and opinions, and test them against alternative beliefs–even unpleasant ones– judiciously.

There is a wonderful game to examine the theoryladenness of factual claims, and how much we rely upon them,  often taking them for granted.  We have rich worlds within ourselves coming from our unique experiences, real or imagined. Below are a list of “facts” all linked to a common theory.  It is a puzzle to figure out.  See if you can guess the correct “theory” which links the list of facts below.  Feel free to comment on this blog.  The answer (guiding theory) will be in the categories at the end of this post.  Good luck!

  • Newspapers are better than magazines.
  • The seashore is better than the street.
  • At first it is better to run than to walk.
  • It takes some skill but is easy to learn, even for young children.
  • It’s true that it needs lots of room.
  • Beware of rain; it ruins everything.
  • A rock will serve as an anchor.
  • If things break loose, you won’t get a second chance.

Exquisite Corpse

In which Carrie, Steven and Kariessa play a game of Exquisite Corpse … 


Seed: It was a dark and stormy night at

















It was a dark and stormy night at

the circus and the clowns were restless. It had

neva occurred to Smithey that for once

he had gone a whole month without drinking water.

But that wasn’t important now, because the

water was there, in his four-tentacled hand.

He took a deep drink of the salty brine, savoring the

burn of it as it went down his esophagus. “Oh how

much better this would taste with a twinkie!”

So, he made a twinkie out of rotting wood and slime.

But somehow it lacked that je nais sai qua, like

the way dust motes dulled vision in wind.

He sighed and realized that he was forever

restless, forever a clown, and it would always be dark and raining.
















Bella’s Addiction, Edward’s Reform

It was a dark and stormy night at

the end of a pencil when Bella snorted when

she was taking drugs. Then, Edward came

and pointed out that sugar wasn’t really a drug.

She looked up at him with dulled visage

as he hadn’t fed in weeks. His eyes gleamed

in a satisfied, easygoing sort of way, as he contemplated

the slimy snot running down her lips and

the gaping rents in his face, from which pus

had dripped. “You look good tonight,” he said with

Victorian charm. “Your earlobes look pale

and your scent…” He lunged forwards, crosses bared

and then changed his mind. There was a better way-which

involved vegetarians, and their little dogs, too.



























Conquest of the Eyeballs: A History of Their Victories and Pulsating Ways

It was a dark and stormy night

at the haunted restaurant. Eyeballs floated

nervously, unsure of themselves, but confident

of their ultimate design. Dawkins appeared

and the zombers wondered who he was. Then,

he pointed out how clever he really was, so much more than

the evil scientist so many had thought

was going to be the first to make ants dance.

But the eyeballs had a new though, that perhaps

they could evolve, or devolve from high rank.

So, their floating changed. Each started to pulsate

and stared intently, daring Dawkins and the zombers

to do what they might, but knowing how

they would eventually pulsate their way into victory!


Seed: She was a bad cat, really, if you

How Kitty’s Heart Turned to Ice: A Cautionary Tail

She was a bad cat, really, if you

weren’t paying close attention. “Once,” I said,

“She walked all the way across the field, carrying a

mountain on her back (dwarves included).

And the next day, she lounged around all day,

weary and sore, but tender in her affections.” Then,

everyone realized that the last sentence didn’t

follow from the first. But a cat has its tail

tucked underneath, and like the every flexible feline

she could produce round droplets of slime from her

ears or her… But wait! She has some

other things she cared about besides slime and genes.

She also loved to eat slime, which was totally

divine to cat kind, the Opiate of Meow.

So she became content. No more mountains, no

more affections. Her heart became cold and desolate forever.

Bad Cat I

She was a bad cat, really, if you

looked at it from the bird’s point of view. But

who cared about the bird, anyway? He was just

“endangered.” All those hippies need to come to

realize that there was an easy solution. Penguins

just needed to be genetically modified so that

they stopped the tux act and blend in.

And the cat knew that – knew that in a way that

made the world make sense. So, her evil plot

started edging up the plot pyramid, vying

for Evil Plot Victory. The first step was to get rid of

the lesser plots. She did this by suffocating them with

furball clots. The penguins paled. They

knew they had just one chance. They had to get

the Dark Lord Voldemort to help them. So they did. The

Dark Lord gave free tux rentals & she was finished.

Bad Cat 2

She was a bad cat, really, if you

thought about how she had drunk dog vomit and

then vomited that up, and drank that, too.

But that wasn’t the worst thing. Not at all – for

she also loved to roll around in her scat, and

then cat skat at the local club where all

the kool cats sat, chewing the fat on the mat eating

their own flesh. After all, they could make

more! The gene-squencing cats at Washington

had found a way to power cats with nuclear energy,

turning them into warheads. Technically, it was the plutonium,

but, when used effectively, those suckers

really roll round ranking, rhyming, running, and

eating each other. What no one knew was that

Edward and Bella never kissed or ate

cats, after all. So she was finally able to sleep, purring contentedly to herself.

Reading Response Paper on Sheltered Instruction

In which Carrie comments on English Language Learners and one of their unique contributions to American education…

Sheltered instruction, like some pedagogy terms, was one I never really understood until last week when it was defined as “using different cueing systems and scaffolds like written directions, demonstrations, gestures, slower pace, and repetitions.” (Hill, 2013).  This particular writing prompt treats sheltered instruction as a rare and hard-to-come-by practice by asking to describe how it is different from “typical classroom instruction.”  At least, this is the assumption I make.  And in this assumption I cite the trend that says that teachers often teach how they were taught.

When I consider what the rest of the world assumes to be good teaching – and by rest of the world I mean those without formal training in education or presentation strategies – I think they mean the “stand and deliver” method where the teacher talks and the students listen.  This emphasis placed on the “sage on the stage” is what we may call traditional, or typical, classroom instruction.  This is what sheltered instruction is not.
Sheltered instruction, however can still embody the appearance of a teacher-centered modality, only any outside observer will see that the students would not be falling asleep.  While the ELLs are benefiting from repetition, gestures, and other methods serving as context clues, like realia, the general education students are benefiting from a supreme lack of boredom.  An outside observer might evaluate such a sage as charismatic, or connected with her students, but really what the observer would be noticing is student-centered practice masked as the teacher standing and delivering.
Additionally, once a teacher tires of being at the front of the classroom, she can engage her mainstream and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLDs) students in experiments using manipulatives in math or real artifacts for literature and social studies or chemicals as in science.  In fact, if we used a “typical” science classroom (and one hopes it is no longer without labs, though perhaps in science classrooms with pressed budgets), our outside observer would agree with author Holly Hanson-Thomas (2008) where she writes, “By virtue of its motivating, interactive, hands-on nature, science is a course in which ELLs are often successful.”  I know that my career highlight experience (so far) with a science education organization, Wolftree, Inc., gave me numerous models for integrating potentially motivating, interactive, and hands-on models and materials into my future English and ELL classrooms.  I teach how I taught with them.

So, thank goodness for ELL students.  Without the light they shine on our deficits we may have been stuck in the dark ages of traditional teaching forever.  It is a pity we have for so long, and that it wasn’t until ELLs have shown us we were not using our best possible practices that we were inspired to do so.  So if sheltered instruction is “just good teaching” what is the big deal?  It must be that it isn’t yet the “typical” which gives us reason to make it so.

Hanson-Thomas, H. (2008). “Sheltered Instruction: Best Practices for ELLs in the Mainstream.” Kappa Delta Pi record. Summer 2008. pp. 165-169.

Hill, C. (2013). Classroom lecture.  TCE – Instructional Approaches for P- 12 ELLs

The Art of Becoming a Cabbage

In which Carrie takes her prompt from Naomi Shihab Nye’s “The Art of Disappearing” to compose a poem…

The Art of Becoming  a Cabbage

Plato’s student pushed:
I care about you.
Let me care.
And I became sauerkraut.

A Japanese-Filipino buried:
I’m worried about you;
I still care about you.
So I became kim chee.

A neo-guru therapized:
Take this psychology test;
It will help me understand you.
I was stewed in fishoil, onions.

That is the summary of my life as


A reading by the original poet inspirer find Nye’s  The Art of Disappearing.