A Whole New Level of Self-Obsession

Okay, I admit it: I’m self-obsessed. I would say that I’m narcissistic to boot, but I certainly do not have an inflated sense of self-worth, and I’d also like to think that I’m pretty empathetic.

And yet, even though I know I’m not the bee’s knees, I still think and talk about myself ALL. THE. TIME.

So what’s the deal?

Well, I’d wager that anyone with Type 1 Diabetes has to be at least a little self-obsessed. We’re taught from the day of our diagnosis how important it is to constantly check in on ourselves. Especially for those of us diagnosed before insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors were acting almost like artificial pancreata, it was hammered into us how to identify symptoms of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. You have to constantly think about when you last ate, if you’re about to do any physical activity, is it time to change your infusion set, did you bring extra batteries in case the pump battery dies, do you have enough test strips and lancets to check your blood sugar, is it time to renew your prescriptions, blah, blah, blah.

We are taught how to check our feet for cuts and open wounds, since we often lose sensation in our limbs and therefore can’t always tell if we’ve been injured. Since we usually take longer to heal from any kind of wound, we’re also more prone to have the wound become infected, which is why you always see the grandma with diabetes in the movie or TV show getting her foot cut off “from the ‘beetus.”

We’re taught to be mindful of any changes in our vision (i.e., floaters, flashes of light, blurriness, etc.), since diabetics are likely to develop diabetic retinopathy, which is when the blood vessels in your eyes start to leak. If left undiagnosed or untreated, you can go blind from it.

Anyway, you can see how diabetes is a full-time job in terms of self-awareness.

Now, you add onto that all of my health problems, and you are checking in on yourself quite nearly every single minute of every waking moment of your life.

That’s why, at any given time on any given day, I am likely asking myself one of the following questions:

  1. What’s your pain level, on a scale of 1 to 10? (Medical staff’s #1 favorite question to ask patients like me)
  2. Is the pain in your back better or worse than yesterday? If it’s worse, does there seem to be a reason for that? If you think of one, note it for your next doctor’s appointment.
  3. Is the nerve pain in your arms, legs, hands and/or feet better or worse than yesterday? If it’s worse, does there seem to be a reason for that? If you think of one, note it for your next doctor’s appointment.
  4. What’s your blood sugar? Does it feel like it’s rising or dropping at the moment? Do you need sugar, insulin, or to chill the fuck out for a second?
  5. Is the dizziness you’re feeling at the moment (since you’re feeling dizzy every waking moment) from a low blood sugar or all the meds you’re taking?
  6. Did you take your last dose of meds yet?
  7. When’s the last time you peed? If it’s been more than three hours, time to go!
  8. When’s the last time you pooped? If it’s been more than a few days, note it for your next visit to the gastroenterologist.
  9. What’s your blood sugar? Does it feel like it’s rising or dropping at the moment? Do you need sugar, insulin, or to chill the fuck out for a second?
  10. When’s the last time you did your PT exercises?
  11. Have you checked your feet yet today?
  12. Do any of the open cuts or wounds on your body (there’s always at least one at any given time) look infected?
  13. What’s your blood sugar? Does it feel like it’s rising or dropping at the moment? Do you need sugar, insulin, or to chill the fuck out for a second?
  14. How much range of motion do you have in your hands today? Is it time for your next round of trigger finger release surgery yet?
  15. How’s your heart rate doing? If it’s too high, make sure you’re not walking around, especially if you’re by yourself.
  16. Any new flashers or floaters in your eyes?
  17. Is your vision blurry? If so, what’s your blood sugar?
  18. When’s your next doctor’s appointment? PT appointment? Medical procedure, test, or surgery? If you’re meeting with a new doctor, did you print out an updated list of your prescriptions, surgeries, and medical conditions for their files?
  19. Which prescriptions are ready for refill?
  20. Are there any outstanding medical bills to pay today?
  21. When did you last eat?
  22. If you’re eating, how many carbs are in the food? What’s your blood sugar? How many units do you need to bolus to get your blood sugar to the desired range?
  23. Is it time to change your pump site yet?
  24. If you’re leaving the house, do you have extra batteries, candy for low blood sugars, your medic alert bracelet, your mobile medical alert device, your blood sugar meter with enough supplies? Do you need to bring your cane? Does at least one person know where you’re going?
  25. Have you reminded yourself lately to be grateful for the health that you do have, the support you have in your family, friends, and doctors, and the quality of life you are lucky enough to still enjoy?

Frankly, I’m sick of me. I’m sick of thinking about me, I’m sick of monitoring myself, I’m sick of reporting on my self-monitoring to the team of medical personnel who help keep me alive and halfway sane.

Clearly, I’m not sick of writing about myself, but alas, I need an outlet for my frustrations, and it’s a helluva lot easier to vent through writing than to bore myself and others with more me talk.

So, after all this venting, and all of this writing about myself, what’s to be done? The honest answer is nothing, not if I want to keep myself as healthy as possible. I suppose I could go back to counseling, but then, of course, I’d have to do what? Talk about myself more!

If nothing else, I’m most definitely suffering from decision fatigue. My fantasy is to live in a world in which I’d never have to make another decision for or about myself, ever again. But of course, we live in the real world, and I want to make the most out of this defunct body, so I will be asking and answering these incessant questions, self-monitoring, self-reporting, and providing as high a level of self-care as I’m physically and mentally able to, for as long as I’m physically and mentally able to.

For a period of years, I was so sick of these incessant questions and decisions that I flat-out ignored them. Unfortunately, that just led to my diabetes taking a sharp, steep decline, and my body quickly shutting down.

Nope. There’s no vacation from me to be had. In fact, my self-obsession will likely only strengthen over time.

Maybe that’s part of the reason why I want to help others? So I can get even a momentary break from myself?

At any rate, I’m hoping that if you and I interact in any way in the future, you can do me a favor—please, talk to me about anything else in the world but myself! (And let me just bring it all full-circle and reiterate that I’m not narcissistic enough to believe that you were dying to talk about me in the first place!)

To all my fellow exhausted self-obsessers out there, at least know that I’m out here, thinking of you, too!

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As I’ve mentioned previously, publication of my memoir, Relentless: From National Champion to Physically Disabled Activist, is forthcoming.

Keep tuning in to this website or one of my countless social media accounts (i.e., my Instagram pageTumblr pageTwitter page, Facebook page, and LinkedIn profile) in order to learn more about me, and about when the memoir will be available for purchase!

Any questions or concerns, feedback or suggestions for future blog posts or articles, you can always email me directly at contactkate@katherineitacy.com.

How Much Talent is Enough for Us to Overlook Someone’s Demons?

By: Katherine Itacy, Esq.

Dated: January 7, 2018 

 

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I just finished watching the mini-series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” and the first thought that comes to my mind is:

Woof.

I’m all about the criminal justice system. I’m all about proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and not passing judgment until one is proven guilty.

Hell, I’ve represented a few hundred suspected sex offenders myself, and there were really only one or two who seemed irredeemably evil. For everyone else, while I wasn’t overlooking their wrongdoing (or alleged wrongdoing), I was still able to see and acknowledge their humanity.

Many of my clients were abused when they were young. Several explained to me that their victimization led them to have blurred boundary lines regarding what’s appropriate between an adult and a minor. While it’s not an affirmative defense or excuse, it does help explain why some adult males sexually assault minors.

All of that being said, the allegations made on “Surviving R. Kelly” weren’t just about sexual assault. They also involved allegations of physical and mental abuse, as well as essential kidnapping, brainwashing, and intentional starvation of his alleged victims.

The documentary was excellently done, and from the legal disclaimers made at the beginning and end of each episode, it appears as if the filmmakers attempted to get comments from R. Kelly’s team as to the accusations. So it’s not as if it’s completely lopsided in terms of telling the “full” story.

Each episode was heartbreaking and disturbing. The claims made by multiple women as to the very particular M.O. (modus operandi) Mr. Kelly appears to have had with his alleged victims (including immediately calling him nothing but “Daddy,” (Yuck.), restricting their movements throughout the home, studio, or hotel, cutting off contact with the outside world, starving them or slapping them when they broke one of his “rules,” etc.) are compelling. They sound strikingly similar to claims made by other victims (or alleged victims) of sexual assault, sex trafficking, and/or domestic violence. Indeed, preying on impressionable, sometimes ‘damaged’ children, is a very common tactic among those who commit child molestation.

So, the mini-series got me thinking about something Dax Shepard has said on his podcast, “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard.” During one of his episodes, Dax questions whether we, as a society, should ignore a person’s wrongdoings if that person contributes significantly to the world.

That question really resonated with me during the mini-series, because you have many journalists and radio personalities on the program pointing out how we, as music consumers, seemed to have completely separated R. Kelly’s personal life from his singing career. For decades!

And it’s so true. Amidst public allegations of child molestation and the production of child pornography, he sang at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics. And who can forget when he secretly married a fifteen-year-old Aaliyah after his team procured fraudulent documents to claim she was eighteen?

Sadly, he’s not the only talented person who’s been able to remain successful amidst disturbing sexual allegations. Think about Michael Jackson. Think about Elvis!

The mini-series did a great job of highlighting our society’s willingness to ignore the bad in order to consume the good.

I can’t deny my love for R. Kelly’s music. “I Believe I Can Fly” was the first song I sang along to that made me cry. “Step in the Name of Love” (I always preferred the remix, myself)? “Happy People”? His collaboration with The Isley Brothers on “What Would You Do?” I mean, come on!

I’m a R&B super fan. How could I not love his music? His voice?

But why? Why, as an independent, educated, strong woman, have I continued to overlook the damage he’s allegedly done to so many women, just because I love his powerful voice??

Why wasn’t I disgusted? Concerned about his female victims? Demanding more from society?

Why did it take me until this mini-series to really consider Dax Shepard’s question in a very real, personal way?

I’m educated on the devastating impact that sexual, physical, and emotional abuse has on a person, and especially on children. Why isn’t that the very first thing I think of when one of his songs comes on?

Obviously, humans have an incredible ability to compartmentalize. We can even compartmentalize trauma in our own lives in order to continue functioning on a day-to-day basis. The need to do that is completely understandable.

But we don’t need R. Kelly. And don’t hate me for saying this, but we didn’t need Michael Jackson. We don’t really need any artist.

Sure, they can make our lives so joyful. They can inspire us, pick us up when we’re down, set the mood. They can be part of the soundtracks to our lives. Music in particular can bring back ridiculously vivid memories of such wonderful events (weddings, family reunions, etc.). And one artist can completely change the course of a certain genre of music. I, as a music lover and student of the art form, can attest to that!

But if their talent is eclipsed by their personal wrongdoings, shouldn’t we do better to make it clear to the artist that those acts make them unemployable as a musician?

I learned that John Legend was the only other musician asked to speak who would agree to appear on the documentary. There were multiple persons who refused, despite their personal connection to R. Kelly.

Doesn’t that say something about the industry? About people being concerned about taking sides or standing out (and potentially upsetting their fans, thereby losing money by doing so)?

Thankfully, there have since been a lot of other musicians and actors who’ve come out publicly to denounce R. Kelly’s alleged behavior. But quite honestly, even with the #MeToo movement, there still hasn’t been enough in terms of famous/rich/influential public figures denouncing their colleagues and supporting the victims.

We owe it to the betterment of our society to do a better job letting musicians and athletes (and even sitting presidents) know that physical, mental, and sexual abuse will not be tolerated or ignored, no matter how talented or influential the wrongdoers are.

I’m really making an effort to look within myself and figure out why I’ve compartmentalized the actions of my idols. Why I’m not holding famous people to the same standard I’d hold any other citizen.

I’d strongly suggest that you all do the same.

While doing so, you can consider looking into the #MuteRKelly movement. We need to consider doing the same for other famous people whose actions aren’t deserving of our financial support.

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To read more about my thoughts on sexual assault and how we, as a society, can potentially help prevent certain assaults from happening, keep an eye out for my upcoming memoir, From National Champion To Physically Disabled Activist: My Lifelong Struggles With A Diseased Body, And The Lessons It Has Taught Me Along The Way.

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