Raiding with Diabetes

Putting on my serious hat for a little bit (the one with all the ruffles) so I can talk about something important to me.

I have type 1 diabetes--it seems to run in the family. I've made no secret of this to the folks I play with, though it's not the greatest conversation starter. "So, hey, I like to stab myself with needles." Yeah... nope. But because I like to raid, it's important for me to get the information out there. Why?

Most people know about the needles thing (or about insulin pumps), but they know a bit less about diabetes in general, including the effects of an overly high or low blood sugar. It can be a little tricky to manage at the best of times, and since many guilds raid right around dinner time, that's a less than ideal situation. I need to be sure that I will have the support I need if I encounter something I didn't expect in my blood sugar levels, so that I can get up and deal with it immediately.

Raid Times:
Raid time overlapping with dinnertime is the least serious of my concerns, but can still be a problem. I take two kinds of insulin--one that lasts 24 hours and keeps my between-meals blood sugar steady, and one that kicks in very quickly after I eat. If I'm snacking during a raid, it's hard to keep track of how much short-term insulin I need to take, and if I get really distracted, I've been know to forget altogether. Not good! On the other hand, taking half an hour out to cook and eat a full meal isn't really an option, either.

My raid-night solution is to make dinner something that pretty much cooks itself, or takes very little time. I'm not much of a sandwich eater, but bagels and cream cheese with some carrot sticks are always good, as are basic nachos. My favorite is tossing some pasta in to cook with a can of soup--mmm! I also make an effort to estimate how much I'm going to be eating, and take my insulin before I get started. This lets me eat a set amount while I raid (unlike snacking where I don't keep track at all), and helps cut down on the chance of my blood sugar being too high or too low later on in the evening.

High Blood Sugar:
High blood sugar is my second worry. While in the short term it's not too dangerous, it can have long-term consequences as the high sugar levels can be very damaging over time. The solution is easy--take more insulin--but noticing the problem is a bit trickier. Things that I watch out for include headaches, irritability, and drowsiness... if I feel like crap and I know it's not low blood sugar (which has its own set of symptoms), I check my blood sugar. If it's from 150-200, I may wait a few minutes and test again to see if it's going down--if it's over 200, I make an effort to bring my sugar down to normal as quickly as possibly. It's no fun to raid with a crabby Hunter, after all. ;)

Low Blood Sugar:
Low blood sugar is the most immediately dangerous situation, and definitely the least pleasant. I've heard different levels for determining a "low"--anywhere from 70-60 and below--but for me, symptoms start if my blood sugar drops below 80, so that's when I start to treat it as a low. When my blood sugar is low, I may get grumpy and confused. My fingers just don't work right, and I shake all over. Sometimes my speech is slurred or I don't make any sense. I've never passed out, but that's also a risk of low blood sugar.

If my blood sugar drops below normal levels in a raid, there's a chance I may not notice right away--the excitement of downing a boss can cover up the shaking, and playing a Hunter doesn't require too much concentration (just kidding!) While I'm always the best person to catch myself acting odd and check my blood sugar, I also rely somewhat on the other folks on vent to tell me if I'm being a bit weirder than usual. I'd rather waste a test strip than put myself in danger, and chances are that if I'm acting "drunk" it's because my blood sugar is low. (I don't drink at all, both for religious reasons and because I'm a year too young anyway.)

Once I know my blood sugar is low, I have to bring it back up quickly. Glucose tablets (think giant Smarties of the American variety) are the best immediate solution as they are processed extremely quickly. I try to keep a roll of them by my computer, but if they've been moved (like if I had a low blood sugar incident during the night and Jon brought them to me in the bedroom) or if I've run out, I need to be able to get up from the raid and deal with the problem immediately. Letting my guildies and the raid leader know ahead of time that I am diabetic is what makes this possible--I still try not to go AFK without a fair amount of warning, but knowing that there won't be negative consequences when I need to deal with an emergency is a huge boost to my confidence.

Raid Leaders:
There are several major things that raid leaders have done to make raiding easier for me, especially as a diabetic:
  • Trust. I trust my raid leaders enough to let them know I have a problem that might come up during raids, and they trust me to deal with it and not be a disruption. They know that I don't like messing up a raid any more than they do, and that this isn't something I do for fun or attention.
  • Concern. A lot of guild and raid leaders get to know their guildies very well over vent, which means that if someone is acting odd or out of character, they notice. I've had people tell me I was acting weird before I felt a thing--and sure enough, my blood sugar was not where it was supposed to be.
  • Pacing. A raid where we get no breaks at all is one where I'm most likely to have trouble. Just a five-minute break after every other wing of Naxx can make a difference by giving me time to check my blood sugar and grab some food if it seems it might be getting low--not to mention that giving the raid a bathroom break definitely improves focus.
  • Understanding. The best raid leader is the one that knows his or her group well enough to recognize their unique needs. He understands that the Warlock is in school right now and shouldn't raid past 9 PM, that the pregnant Priest is going to be making frequent trips to the ladies' room, and that a certain Hunter is completely worn out and just glad to be alive, and should probably take the rest of the night off (whether she wants to or not).
I owe many hugs, thanks, and (imaginary) cookies to the raid leaders who've put up with me for the past year. Just one grump could have put the word out that I was a sloppy Hunter who liked to go AFK during boss fights, and there would have been just enough truth in it to make sure I never raided again. Instead, they were supportive and understanding, put up with the frustration I caused, and have made raiding one of my favorite things to do in WoW. To any of my past raid leaders reading this: You guys rock! Well, except for whoever thought it would be funny to have me pull The Beast in UBRS...that was kind of mean. xD



For more information on diabetes, this website is pretty much my favorite--if you're interested in what exactly happens with low blood sugar, their hypoglycemia page is great.

I won't link to the American Diabetes Association (they've harassed me asking for donations in the past) but for something a little less information-dense their website might be good as well.


Work complete!

Turned in the final quest at 3:04 AM server time. Woot!

Blizzcon is over, and what I saw during the stream has me very excited indeed...I can't wait to be able to use Minloth again, so hopefully they'll decide they don't mind hunters choosing their pets' talent trees like they said they might. Hunter mana change is exciting as well--I wish I knew more about how they plan to make focus regen work, though!

Jon starts his new work schedule this Tuesday. Will we raid again? We'll have to wait and see...

For now, we just get to relax. :)


There's Some Lint In My Bellybutton

Warning! Long, navel-gazing post to follow. tl;dr version: Kate loves roleplaying, roleplaying on a Normal server is not fun, planning to transfer to an RP server.

I had my first introduction to organized roleplaying while visiting my grandparents in Utah. Sure, I'd done the usual "playing house" before, and my friends and I loved to get together to act out scenes from Star Wars (I was always Chewbacca), but this was Dungeons and Dragons. This was real.

The game was run by my cousin Danny, and players included his brothers, his fiancee, and me. We tried to get one of my brothers to play as well, but it ended in him being turned into a chicken and forbidden to play with us anymore. My character was an Elven thief named Kestrel. She had silver hair, hazel eyes, and the amazing Dexterity score of 15. I had no idea how to play (I think we might have been playing a very early edition going by what I remember of the setup) but I loved every minute of it, and I squealed loud enough to wake the dead when Michelle drew a picture of my little elf for me. This roleplaying thing was so cool!

Eventually we had to go home, and I promptly forgot all about it. I would occasionally rediscover my character sheet and picture, folded up and lovingly tucked away in a free AOL tin---I'd unfold it, sigh happily, then put it away again after promising myself to try that again someday.

That day came when I discovered D.A.B., a roleplaying site based around one of my favorite book series. It was linked to from the official Redwall website, and I was immediately intrigued. Earning points and competing with other people from other places, on the computer? And making up my favorite kind of stories? I begged my parents to let me join, and eventually they agreed. My first character, Daffnee, almost immediately managed to get on the wrong side of one of the site's leaders, so I scrapped that idea and went for another: Amber Merida, a Good Wildcat. When I grew tired of roleplaying her as a child, I switched over to the more grown-up Lancepaw's Fort, and kept on going.

Realizing instinctively that going for one of the least common villain races in the books and making it a good character to boot could easily lead to Bad Roleplaying, I made an effort to give her various flaws--she was a skilled fighter, with a speshul non-magical sword from her parents, but she hated battle and would always take the peaceful way out because she had horrible wracking guilt from the one time she charged in without asking questions first. Eventually she evolved into more of a healer type, though still with heroic aspirations, and became a much less annoying character. She fell in love, adopted a baby rat, and then faded away as I focused on other interests: Specifically, adoptable dragons and RedVenture 2. I played a major role in RV2 as Anora the stoat, returned for RV3 as Elana, and won entry into and then flaked out on RV4 as an insane feline cook. By that point, I was pretty much through with the whole Redwall thing; most of my friends were long gone from the community (including Hawkeye Bigmouth Longears, my "bestest friend ever"), and even the books weren't good enough to keep me around any longer.

Luckily, I'd fallen in with a very nerdy crowd in real life, and in between beating each other with pool noodles and falling asleep in Sunday school, we played Dungeons and Dragons. Edition 3.5 was very different from what I remembered, and my new Dungeon Master was much more strict about setting enemies on fire, but I still loved it. I didn't revive Kestrel for this game--I'd learned upon purchasing the Player's Handbook that all sixes and sevens with one score of 15 was not a good array of stats--but instead created a half-elf paladin and proceeded to badger the DM into giving me the following as rewards for battles won:

-A cape that turned into wings so I could fly.
-A fiery, shocking sword. Zzzzzap crackle pop!
-A dark bay pegasus named Whuffles.

That character lasted until the group fell apart, shortly before I left for BYU. (Our DM had headed out the year before, but we'd still played together when he was home for winter and summer breaks.) Suddenly alone in a strange new place, I did the only thing I could: I joined another D&D group.

This time, I knew how to avoid most of the mistakes I'd made with previous characters. Hazel the human ranger was a grumpy, anti-social bounty hunter with a pair of very sharp knives, a huge mastiff as her companion, and a fun and detailed past: After her parents died, she started hunting criminals and highwaymen to earn enough money to allow her younger brother to keep the family farm. He grew up, got married, had a couple of kids that she adores, and never ever found out where all the money was coming from (though he definitely suspected something). The rest of the party, meanwhile, always wondered why she never seemed to have any gold to spare, and spent what she did have carefully. I had the extra challenge of having her get by on only about 20% of her share of the party's loot, and I got to make her favored enemy humans--convincing the DM was no easy task, but it was definitely worth it in combat.

She developed more of a personality as we played, gaining a slightly twisted sense of humor, and leaning away from her original True Neutral alignment towards Neutral Evil thanks to the efforts of a certain monk of Hextor. The players connected just as well as the characters in this case, and Jon and I got married the next summer--but not before he got me hooked on WoW.

World of Warcraft was a very different roleplaying experience for me. My first few characters had very little personality at all, though I enjoyed exploring the various actions and emotes built into the game, and would always /sleep on a bed in the inn before logging off for the night. My Orc Shaman was different. I didn't know who she was or where she'd been, but I knew there was a story there, and I wanted to find out. Even when I started leveling Izsera, my Night Elf Hunter, Tanakyll (named after the ratling Amber adopted years before) was still my main. I hit 70 on Izzy, raided, leveled up to 80, raided some more... eventually Tana became an alt, one that at times I forgot existed. I didn't roleplay.

Then I started leveling Hellen again. I'd created the Human Warrior a little before the Scourge invasion event marking the approach of WotLK, talked Jon into helping me get enough of the dropped items to trade in for an Argent Dawn tabard as a joke, and walked all the way to Light's Hope Chapel before learning that although I had the required currency, I was too low level to unlock the vendor and actually buy the item. The little teasing voices of roleplaying that I'd been ignoring for so long suggested that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't the only one who was annoyed here. Hellen was pretty upset, too. And, having been rejected by the Argent Dawn, perhaps she would turn to an alternative source of help in fighting off the undead menace. After all, there was a wearable Scarlet Crusade tabard in-game...

If WotLK hadn't come so soon after I got Hellen her tabard, I probably would have simply focused on her. I was loving the Warrior class (Charge is officially my most favorite ability ever), and I was finally roleplaying again, even if it was just by myself. But I needed to get to 80 so I wouldn't get left behind the rest of my guild, so I set my little warrior aside, and got back to work. I hit 80 easily enough, and then real life stepped in, limiting me to only a few minutes of play time a day. I left the guild I'd been with, joined several new ones but never really fit in, and in between getting a headache from TEH DRAMAZ!!1 I secretly worked on leveling Hellen. She was my escape, the character I logged onto when I just wanted to work on building up the story that was growing around her.

She stuck with the Crusade until she once more arrived at Light's Hope, this time following Scarlet Commander Marjhan. Despite her previous rejection, she chose to assist the Argent Dawn's efforts. Unfortunately, her argument of "Hey, we all just wanna kill some zombies, why can't I help them out?" was not persuasive enough to keep her from being treated as a traitor to the cause, and when she helped a dying Tauren Druid it was the last nail in the coffin for that part of her career. Following the battle at Light's Hope she headed to Outland, hoping to find some sort of purpose now that her original goals were out of reach...

Hellen is level 70 now, and just venturing into Northrend. (She has yet to learn that the Scarlet Crusade are there as well...that will be a fun series of quests to do!) While I've got Tanakyll up to 80 now after a week or so of frantic questing, I can't wait to have a "roleplaying character" on the Alliance side of things as well. Tanakyll is, and really always was, a healer and a background character. Hellen is ready to be a hero, and I can't wait.

I'm not sure that she'll get her chance to shine on Sen'jin, though. It's a Normal server of the sort where roleplaying is mocked whenever it comes up--when I did the Battle for Light's Hope Chapel on my DK and went so far as to *gasp, shock, horror* /kneel, I immediately got tells and /says from three or four different people all telling me to go and lolRP somewhere else. Meanwhile, even the ones who hadn't whispered me were bouncing up and down impatiently and one guy was spamming /train at Mograine (who looked kind of pissed about it, but then he always looks like that...)

I'd be taking a bit of a risk by transferring to an RP server. No one wants to walk in on a threesome, especially one consisting of two Gnomes and a Draenei, and I hear that sparkly vampires have become a bit of a problem in Silvermoon. The alternative is being forced to stop doing something I love, something that's been a major part of my life for nearly ten years, or be mocked publicly by people who think that MMORPG stands for "Massage Myself, Obliterate Rats, Purchase Gold". Which, really, isn't much of a choice at all.

Now I just need to decide on a server. :)


The best thing about 3.2... the new raptor minipets! :D

Here I am in Nexus with my Leaping Hatchling--he's my favorite of the four I've hunted down, and took me the longest to get, with two hours of camping. I also have the Deviate, Darting, and Razormaw Hatchlings--and I picked up a second Darting Hatchling this morning for Jon's Warlock. (He can be terribly cute when he wants something.)

My eventual goal is to get all eight of them, but it may take a while--the Ravasaur Matriarch is quite elusive.