My Day “Away”

I was lucky this year. For Hanukkah, my mom decided to cash in a certificate for a Day at the Spa she’d been holding onto since Mother’s Day, and I was to be her chosen companion. Haha! A day of aromatherapy, foot massages, facial treatments, hot mineral baths and herbal teas. What could be better? Weeelll… leaving the diabetes at home for once would have been nice.

Here’s how it went:

We left just before 11am and sailed into the City without a lick of traffic. We coughed up the exorbitant downtown parking fees happily, knowing where we were headed. Up, up, up a half-dozen separate curving escalators past sparkling holiday mall decorations, piano music wafting over the din. But wait, it’s almost lunch time. I’m not all that hungry yet, but I’m only at 82 and we’re gonna be pampering in there for several hours at least. So we stop for lunch, a quick salad plate, which contains garbanzo beans and some mysterious sweet-tasting dressing that surely is sugar-based. So I dose for 25g carb.

Soon enough, we’re wrapped in our plush white terrycloth robes, and each being escorted into a “treatment room” by a “technician” in a little beige frock. My “tech” has a heavy Russian accent, and asks me a lot of questions about my health before we get started.

“How is you’s health?” she starts.

“Um, good, generally,” I stammer.

“You taking medications now?”

“Well, yes, mostly insulin though…”

“Insol? Affect your skin? You take antibiotics?”

“Mainly just a lot of insulin, and a few other …” (I cut myself off; do I really need to explain the half-tablet of thyroid medicine I take every morning? Can’t I just get my facial now?)

She lets it go and begins by dipping my hands in hot paraffin, which first startles and then soothes. Next the hands are wrapped in plastic, covered with big, soft protective mitts, tied up at the wrists with ribbons. Snuggled in the massage “bed” as I am, I feel like an infant wearing giant anti-scratch mitts.

Suddenly she seems to remember something urgent:

“You take off your jewelry?”

“I just stuck most of it in the robe pocket.”

“Oh no! You forget it there. Or somebody take your robe by accident… no good.”

We compromise by placing my more valuable pieces in a paper cup (which looks a lot iffier to me than the robe pocket, but mittened as I am, I’m in no position to argue).

Cold cucumber rounds on the eyes. Aaaah, the pumpkin face mask, followed by a neck massage.

And then, just as Spa Nirvana should be setting in, the Old Ticker starts up:

Do I detect a slight dizziness? Could my blood glucose be dropping? I WAS only at 82 before the salad, after all…

Oh NO!! Not now… Not with the pumpkin face mask on and the mitts. God, the mitts!! And the robe… which I am NOT wearing… is hanging on the door over there somewhere with my raisins in the pocket… What if someone DOES take my robe by accident?

And WHERE have I left my combo glucose meter/insulin pump? In the flipping locker room! Down the hall to the… right, was it? Oh God, I’m naked on some strange bed with hands and face bound, and no hypo treatments in reach. What HAVE I done…?

Hmm-dmm, ding, ting… the soothing sounds of New Age massage music enter my consciousness. And we’ve moved on to the foot massage, which feels heavenly — even if I’m still wondering about how quickly I could reach sugar if needed.

After an hour of this sort of tainted bliss, we are out in the open again headed to the steaming spa pools. Then it dawns on me: with my OmniPod attached to my belly this week, I can’t dunk in the jacuzzi. Oh well. I opt for the sauna and “mister” and steam room, where only one co-patron is curious enough to gesture at my pod and ask, What happened?


Later, on the way home, I do feel incredibly refreshed — a little glowing even. My body certainly enjoyed this precious day away, even if I can’t ever turn off the damn mental Diabetes Detection System. Maybe by Hanukkah next year, somebody will be offering a Mental Day at the Spa scenario for us PWDs, ay? Fat chance.


8 Responses

  1. Joey
    Joey December 13, 2007 at 7:15 am | | Reply

    Pump in the sauna, Didn’t that cook your Insulin?
    Happy Hanukkah (belated)

  2. Allison Blass
    Allison Blass December 13, 2007 at 8:13 am | | Reply

    Sounds like you had a pretty great day, despite the blood sugars. I probably would have skipped bolus, or at least did just a little. A moderate high is less intrusive than a low. And as for the sauna/jacuzzi part, that is one of many reasons why I like the wires… because it means I can disconnect and leave the pump safely out of harms way while I enjoy myself for a few minutes. But it still sounds like you had a great time. I suppose it always comes down to personal preference. Of course, this is coming from the girl who’s had her pump set ripped out twice this week. Oy. You can’t win. You really can’t.

  3. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth December 13, 2007 at 8:57 am | | Reply

    What a great treat for Hanukkah! Whenever I go to the spa, I make sure to have an apple or whatever they have out to munch on so I don’t drop too low. Funny story, once I was getting a massage and I had my pump on. The massage guy asked me to remove my iPod. Obviously, you know where this is going… but why I would have an iPod attached to me in the first place in a massage is beyond me. Glad to hear you enjoyed your day at the spa.

  4. Sarah
    Sarah December 13, 2007 at 9:37 am | | Reply

    As an avid spa goer, I can TOTALLY relate! I usually let myself run a *little* high when I go to the spa. Nothing worse than being wrapped up like a mummy with what looks like cake batter slapped on your face and having a low. Uh-oh…if you get up, will your “face” end up on the floor? With the wrap, CAN you get up at all? Will I get “busted” for being diabetic?

    I usually avoid telling any techs I have Type 1 diabetes if I can avoid it. Most are ignorant and may even not do certain treatments like waxing on you because of your “poor circulation” or “poor healing”. And those would be the treatments I want! They know nothing about tight control, or realize that not everyone automatically has complications (especially someone my age with good control). Unfortunately, young and “healthy” T1′s get lumped in with older Type 2′s.

    Thanks for the story! Hope you enjoyed the spa..despite T1.

  5. Kelsey
    Kelsey December 13, 2007 at 10:23 am | | Reply

    I relate too! My hubby and I went to the spa for our anniversary in early November. I had a pregnancy facial. It was lovely, but about 15 minutes before it ended I started second guessing my blood sugar.

    Those, “Am I low?” feelings are the worst. Usually you’re not, it’s just something about not have the power to check that makes me uncomfortable.

    I’m glad you had a nice time anyway!

  6. Lauren
    Lauren December 14, 2007 at 1:45 am | | Reply

    Sarah, you are totally right — most people equate “diabetic” with “sick.” I think there’s a lack of understanding that the condition of diabetes itself is not synonymous with its potential complications. Lack of endogenous insulin doesn’t equal poor circulation, etc. (Sorry for the rant, but that comment struck a chord with me.)

  7. dm
    dm December 14, 2007 at 6:14 am | | Reply

    I wear the podd in the jacuzzi and the super hot steam room all the time- never have had a problem with it.

  8. CALpumper
    CALpumper December 14, 2007 at 9:36 am | | Reply

    Amy, I love how you describe your day. You can be anywhere and a PWD can relate to what you write.

    I found myself smiling and cringing when I read the “Am I dizzy? My bt was only….I ate. Where is my….I need….I thought…”.

    I can SO relate. When I start getting low, the DDS goes off immediately. What is funny to me after 22 years is I still do and think the same things. First, food food food. Then everything else. And I mean everything!!! It is the feeling of “I am losing control” that triggers my brain to find anything to hang onto, any thought or action to control while I eat.

    It is amazing how the body and mind connect but that panic feeling can be so consuming.

    Although it happens so quickly, it feels like forever, everything slows down and you just don’t have a clue what to do next but somehow you do and you do it…am I rambling? I think so…. ;-)

    Either way, through it all we can still enjoy a “day away” even if it will never be from our DDS.

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