Monday, April 20, 2015

Our Trip to Agloe

In the midst of final papers, final process recordings, and of course, diabetes management, my friends and I decided to take a long overdue trip to the (paper) town of Agloe, NY. For those of you who aren't die hard John Green fans, Agloe is central to the plot of his novel Paper Towns, which has been turned into a movie that's debuting July 24th. If you haven't yet read it, I would highly recommend it. Although it is classified as a young adult novel which typically is associated with a younger crowd, in true John Green fashion you easily find yourself emotionally attached to each character and completely enmeshed in the plot that unfolds. It is an excellent book if you are looking for an adventure.

So, what exactly is a "paper town"?
"Fictitious entries on maps may be called phantom settlements, trap streets, paper towns, cartographer's follies, or other names. They are intended to serve as traps for identifying copyright infringements."
That's right folks. A paper town is a town that, in fact, does not exist. Agloe, however, eventually was deemed a real town and even had a general store erected. It is essentially an intersection in the Catskills off Route 17, in New York State.  Which happens to be not so far from me.  So off my friends and I went, in search of the run-down Agloe General Store and the intersection we had so long wondered about.

Spoiler Alert: the general store is no longer there.

After about an hour and a half of driving through New York State--which is beautiful, by the way--and about a half hour of wrong turns, dirty looks, no service, and possible trespassing, we came across this tiny sign:

"Come back soon." What did this mean?! Where was the general store?! There was quite a bit of shouting and confusion and harassing of strangers who happily told us that the general store was no longer there, it has been torn down. Oh well. At least we got to take pictures at the tiny scenic intersection that is Agloe, NY.

We also discovered a large, home-styled building that had "Hodges" printed across the side in huge letters adjacent to a giant silhouette sign that looked like Peter Pan, a worn down shed that stood as a gravel supply, a river, a frightening castle crumbling down in the woods, and a mysterious house at the bottom of a valley that we could barely see through the thick shield of trees.

After taking extremely touristy pictures, we went into the main street of Roscoe to empty our bladders and get a soda. We also found a tiny shop where they sold fudge (which I OF COURSE did not buy...) and little trinkets. It was a true adventure.

After which I returned home to cry into my syllabi while I finished my final projects, still smelling like the great outdoors and mountains of New York.
Ta da! Agloe, NY (we hope)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Autoimmune Diseases: Definition of RUDE

"Love yourself." It's what we're taught in school, what we're taught at home, what we're told (hopefully) by our parents. But how are you supposed to love yourself when your own body is attacking you? It turns the millions of people suffering from autoimmune disorders into moving, breathing paradoxes. We try every day to love ourselves the way we are; meanwhile on the inside our bodies have wreaked havoc on our healthy, helpful cells that were just trying to do their job. How rude.

Let's start with diabetes. There I was, a little chunky happy baby with parents who cared for me and a big brother to look after me. And then my insulin-producing beta cells started to get picked on by my other cells. My other cells, who are supposed to be keeping me happy and healthy, were killing my happy healthy beta cells until none were left to make any insulin. If you ask me, these cells sound like big fat bullies.

As if these cells hadn't had enough, more of them kept bullying my healthy cells--this time in my thyroid. Until, you guessed it, my poor thyroid cells couldn't produce enough hormones either. I am not even two years old yet and my body has already decided that for some reason it does not like itself.

But, what can we do? As much as our cells might be hating on us and our bodily systems inflecting little insults here and there (an overactive HPA axis, an underactive production of growth hormone) we can still dwell on who we are as people. We can try to "love ourselves." Even though our innards are rude and self-deprecating.

**Disclaimer: If you could not tell from this post, I am not a medical doctor and my allusions and references should not be taken as scientific evidence**