I was almost killed on the highway this week

Skid marks

I was almost killed on the highway this week.

I was driving in the right-hand lane of I-40/I-85 doing the speed limit in attempt to avoid the crazy, madcap maneuvers that transpire constantly on this four-lane highway. Suddenly the driver of a white sedan two lanes over seemed to realize he was about to miss his exit, so he swerved across several lanes of traffic on a direct collision course for me. Why go to the next exit and turn around when you could endanger the lives of everyone on the road instead, right? I jerked the steering wheel to the right, slammed on my brakes, and somehow managed to barely end up on the exit ramp he’d been aiming for, though I’d traveled way outside the painted lines. I didn’t check, but I’m fairly certain I left skid marks on the road.

How did we avoid a collision? I do not know. If I’d been fiddling with my MP3 player at the time, we probably would have crashed. Thankfully I was paying attention to the road and my body reacted without much thinking. The only two thoughts I remember having while I swerved were “Don’t overcorrect!” because people in accidents often swerve too far to avoid a crash and end up causing another one, and “Dear God, I hope there’s not a concrete divider at the corner of this exit ramp.” Thankfully there was not.

As I continued down the ramp I could see the white sedan in my rearview mirror. I seriously considered giving him the finger as I drove on, but didn’t because I was so shaken up. If I had it to do over again I would definitely give this asshole the finger. He’d nearly ended the story of me and I am not ready for the credits to start rolling yet.

The funniest part? This all transpired at the Efland exit. Effing Efland indeed!

The second funniest part? I was on my way to a biofeedback appointment where I was supposed to learn how to control my breath and heart rate so I can be zen and chill out. As you might have guessed, nearly dying on the expressway is not good for your resting heart rate.

This incident was the second scariest thing to ever happen to me on the highway. The only thing scarier was the time I was driving in the snow and someone sped past on my left, throwing so much snow on my windshield that I could see absolutely nothing as I was travelling 60 mph around a curve. The second it took for my intermittent windshield wipers to clear the windshield was probably the longest second of my life. At least during my most recent incident I could see what was happening and had the chance to determine my fate.

I don’t know how the physics would have played out if we’d collided, so I don’t know if I would have been killed or seriously injured or just left with a case of whiplash. I’m really glad I did not find out. But the whole incident made me realize how ridiculous it is that we drive around in metal projectiles at inhumanly fast speeds and like to pretend that we’re assured we’ll get where we’re going without getting dead. In this case I did absolutely nothing wrong. I wasn’t even going 5-10 over the speed limit like I normally do when I drive in town! My life could have come to an end because some asshole couldn’t be bothered to check his blind spot.

After the near accident I started to wonder what would have happened if I had been killed. Who would tell my family? Would someone feed the cat in a timely manner? How long would it take for my clients to find out? Would they ask my family for their deposits back since the dead girl obviously wouldn’t be able to finish their web sites? What was the last thing I blogged about? The last thing I tweeted? Would anyone be able to get into my various online accounts to close up matters? Where would the funeral be? How many people would come? Would I be buried or cremated? Did I leave anything embarrassing in my apartment? On my hard drive?

They say the most dangerous part of flying is driving to the airport, and when you’re driving on I-40 I believe this is especially true. I have heard more stories about crazy shit happening on I-40 than I have about any other highway in any town I’ve lived in. Granted, this might be because we have social media now and I’m much more likely to hear about other people’s horror stories on Facebook than I was when I lived elsewhere.

The ironic thing is that I used to be much more aggressive on the expressway than I am now, mostly because I used to drive on the expressway all the time to get to work. I knew exactly what lane to be in to avoid the slower traffic and when I should start moving toward the right lane. When I was in college I would sometimes drive 80 mph down I-64 as I traveled between Lexington and Louisville, feeling like I was flying when I soared down the bridge across the Kentucky river. If I could talk to my college-aged self I would say, “SLOW THE HELL DOWN!!!!” Good God, girl, don’t you know you’re driving a missile? I am a much more cautious driver now that I only travel on the highway once or twice a month, and when I do it’s usually only for 3-5 miles each way.

On the way back from my appointment I saw a set of black skid marks at another exit and it made me wonder like I never had before about what had happened to cause those skid marks and if the driver had been as terrified as I had been. Every skid mark tells a story. If you ever visit Efland you’ll drive past mine.

This is why you should read the description carefully

Beer stein on ebay

After I wrote about the Fuldamobil a few months ago, I ended up searching for “Fulda” on ebay because of some chatter in the comments. That’s where I discovered this Fulda beer stein for sale. Although I’m not much of a beer drinker, I thought it was too cool to pass up. The week after I entered my winning bid, a small package appeared in my mailbox. I opened it to discover this:

Beer Stein, actual size

Yes, dear readers, my Fulda beer stein was approximately two and a half inches tall (which I would have realized if I’d read the description more carefully). I suppose I should have realized something was up when the seller offered free shipping. I couldn’t help laughing at myself over this, particularly because I’d listened to a story on This American Life less than two months earlier where the exact same thing happened. A couple who were shopping for furniture for their new house were ecstatic to win a bid on a dining room table, only to realize when it arrived that they’d bought a piece of dollhouse furniture. You can listen to the story here. You’d think that I would have looked at the listing more carefully after hearing that story, but the thought never entered my mind that a beer stein would be anything but normal size.

That said, I actually like this mini-stein. It’s rather cute. I’ve put it on the bookshelf next to my desk and get a kick out of seeing it every day. If the stein had been actual size I probably would have shoved it in my kitchen cabinet and only pulled it out once or twice a year. I think I’ll actually get more enjoyment out of it this way. Or perhaps I’m just rationalizing and telling myself things worked out for the best as all humans are prone to do no matter what stupid things happen to them.

The stein does go well with the other Fulda memorabilia I’ve collected over the years like:

Fulda cathedral
A wax rendering of the cathedral in Fulda, Germany, which also features the city’s coat of arms.

Fulda pin
A pin featuring the logo of the Fulda tire company.

I also had a patch with the Fulda tire logo on it that I attached to my carry-on suitcase, but unfortunately it fell off somewhere in transit. I still miss that patch :( If anyone ever sees an ebay listing for that, let me know. I would buy it again even if it’s a strange size.

Reasons for Regain #3: I mastered the 5K to Couch plan

Couch

Many of you are probably familiar with the Couch to 5K plan. It’s a workout plan that helps you go from spending most of your time on the couch to completing a 5K, usually within 8 weeks. I instead mastered the 5K to Couch plan in which you start out being able to run a 5K and slowly become less and less active until you’re spending most of your time on the couch.

When completing the 5K to Couch plan it’s important that you drop off your activity gradually over a long period of time. If you’ve gained momentum by exercising regularly, stopping all at once is like slamming on the brakes and being thrown full force against your seat belt. It’s pretty hard to ignore. There were a few times during my weight-loss years when I’d have to take several days off from exercising because of an injury or illness, and it drove me nuts. I really wanted to get out there and continue my successful routine, but my body was not having it. Once I recovered, I would get back on the trail or the treadmill as soon as I could. If you’re going to stop exercising regularly it’s much more effective to press the brake slowly so you ease to a stop without hardly realizing it.

Obviously I never intended to undertake the 5K to Couch plan. So what set me on that path? A few things:

Overdoing it

In 2008 I ran a half-marathon, and although I am incredibly proud to have run those 13.1 miles (ok, I might have walked 1 or 2 of them), it was WAY TOO MUCH RUNNING. Near the end of the program I had to run 45 minutes straight in the evening. I had to run 10 miles at 8am on a Saturday morning with my running group. It was kind of awful. I learned that I am not a long-distance runner. The longest race I would consider running after that experience is a 10K, which is about 6 miles.

Once the half-marathon was over my running dropped off because I was so sick of it. Something I’d previously enjoyed for its meditative properties became work I wanted to avoid. I love chocolate cake, but if I had to eat an entire chocolate cake everyday it would become sickening after awhile. The same goes with running.

Using injury as an excuse

A few years ago I developed tendonitis in my right foot. It took awhile for me to get it diagnosed as tendonitis because I kept waiting for it to heal on its own, and then it took me awhile to get a doctor’s appointment because I’d moved and wasn’t established at any medical practice. The tendonitis made it painful to walk, so I stopped walking unless I had to.

What I should have done was to find some activity to supplement walking, which had now become painful. What I actually did was nothing. I do recall riding my bike a few times, but it was a pain to carry it down from my second-floor apartment, which is a completely lame excuse, but evidently not lame enough for me to use on myself! It’s important that you find exercise you enjoy, otherwise you’re less likely to do it. Walking and running have always been my favorite thing, and I never managed to find anything I liked as much as that.

Comparing my current self to my past self

Once the tendonitis healed I did start walking again, but I was frustrated by the fact that I got exhausted sooner and could not go as far as I could previously. When you’ve previously been able to run 3 miles without breaks it seems pretty pathetic when you’re breathing heavily after walking just a mile. It’s like you’re a bird with a broken wing, frustrated that you have to walk when you used to be able to fly. I kept comparing my current self to my past self, which made me feel discouraged. I should have just gotten over it and focused on the positive aspects of the experience. I was out there! I was walking again! I could become more fit even if I never became as fit as I once was. Instead I was just hard on myself for the fact that I couldn’t have run a 5K anymore if I tried.

So, those are the big reasons I ended up doing the 5K to Couch plan. There might have been others, but those are the ones I’ve been able to identify upon self-reflection. So where do I go from here? Well, I suppose I could do the Couch to 5K plan, but a doctor told me I should not run because of problems with my knees. So if I were to do that it would be the walking version, not the jogging version. I’m considering doing the Up and Moving program that my friend Shauna recently launched on her Up and Running web site that runs online running courses for women.

I think the key is to do it slowly, just like it started, but to be consistent. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Guest post: Help my cousin Allison cure type 1 diabetes (and get a link in my sidebar)

Cousin Allison and family

I don’t normally allow guest posts on my blog. Ok, that’s the nice way of putting it. I’ve been known to send less-than-friendly emails to people who’ve queried me two times or more about guest posts although it’s clearly stated on my contact page that I don’t accept them and even if I did, your post about cures for baldness probably wouldn’t appeal to my audience. However there is always a time for an exception, so today I wanted to hand my blog over to my cousin Allison who is raising money to find a cure for type 1 diabetes (not baldness).

Allison developed type 1 diabetes during her senior year of college and has been coping with it for almost a decade now. Although I don’t have diabetes, I’ve had a chronic headache of unknown origin for over six years now, so I do relate to what it’s like to be struck with an incurable illness that loves to make your life miserable. Fortunately my headache can’t kill me (I hope), whereas if Allison doesn’t manage her diabetes properly she could become very sick or die.

I’ve basically given up on finding a cure for my headache but I feel like diabetes is a disease that has a good chance of being cured someday, so if I can help speed up that process in some way I’m happy to help. Allison is participating in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk in Louisville, Kentucky on August 23 which takes place at Churchill Downs, the racetrack that’s home to the Kentucky Derby. You can donate to Team Allison here, as well as learn more about the walk and her personal story.

As an added bonus, if you donate to the cause and forward your email receipt to me at jenful@jenful.com I will add a link to your blog or personal web site to my blog’s sidebar through September 23, 2014 which is one month after the walk happens. I won’t post any spam-y links for quick weight-loss sites or baldness cures or the like. Just personal blogs/websites please. I can’t issue refunds for any donations, so if in doubt, contact me with the link first.

Ok, Allison, take it away!


There are three things that make up my life: type 1 diabetes, family and work. Type 1 diabetes is listed first because it influences nearly every decision I make all day long, every day.

The Physical Toll…

My body cannot produce its own insulin (plus a couple of other hormones). Because of this, I have to use artificial insulin to manually regulate the quantity of sugar that is present in my bloodstream. I have to ensure that there is not too much sugar present (that leads to nerve damage, eye damage, kidney damage, loss of limbs, gastroparesis, comas, etc), but I also have to make sure that there isn’t too little sugar present (that leads to confusion, seizures and death). My margin of error in controlling all of this is equivalent to two teaspoons of sugar. In other words, two teaspoons of sugar without taking insulin is enough to throw my blood sugar level out of the acceptable range.

It’s More than Counting Carbohydrates…

Daily life with type 1 diabetes is a struggle. The easy part is counting carbohydrates and using my insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio to figure out my mealtime insulin dose. The hard part is accounting for every other daily factor that influences my body’s blood sugar level. Aerobic exercise, estrogen, and analytical thinking (your brain uses 60% of your daily carbohydrates for fuel) drive my blood sugar low. Cold weather, emotional stress, progesterone, caffeine, anaerobic exercise, sedentariness, and high-fat meals are just some of the unquantifiable factors that drive my blood sugar through the roof. I have to plan every part of my day well ahead of time to try to match my insulin doses to my life…counting carbohydrates is not enough.

The Scary Moments…

Type 1 diabetes comes with countless terrifying moments. A lot of times I’m playing “Beat the Clock” just praying that I can consume enough carbohydrates to raise my blood sugar before I go lights out during a low. My lowest recorded blood sugar was 23 mg/dL which is 25% of what it should be. This occurred during my third trimester with my son Eric and I hadn’t done anything “wrong” to cause it. It just happened. It took place in the middle of the night when I was asleep. I woke up feeling like I was trapped in a dark hole and I was drenched in sweat. I drank two juice boxes (these are always on my nightstand – every night blood sugar lows are a possibility), then I tested my blood sugar and it registered at 23 mg/dL, and then I drank another juice box. Eric must have been feeling the hypoglycemia because it felt like his little body was going to kick out of my stomach by the time he started to get the sugar, too. I’m extremely fortunate that (1) I didn’t start seizing, because a lot of people start seizing in the 30’s range, and (2) that I woke up at all. Dead-in-Bed Syndrome is the name given to the scenario in which a type 1 diabetic went to bed in good health and is found dead the next morning. It is impossible to determine their blood sugar level at the time of death post-mortem, but it is generally understood that a long-lasting, untreated low blood sugar will cause the brain to shut down and then the person dies because of it. These tragic cases happen every year and I am so grateful that I haven’t become part of that statistic yet.

Fundraising…

I don’t plan on fundraising every year for JDRF but I am excited to try to do my part this year. The research that JDRF has funded to date has directly impacted and improved my daily and long-term care. But this is a disease that impacts every moment of my day and every part of my life. I want to help advance the cause so that one day this ax stops hanging over my head as well as my family’s head. Eric knows how to talk to me about testing my blood sugar and treating lows. I wish he didn’t know that much already.

JDRF is the largest nongovernmental funder of T1D research and the only global organization with a strategic research plan to fight T1D. This science is complex and costly, and every dollar JDRF is able to direct toward research comes from donors like you.

You can donate to Team Allison here. Forward your email receipt to jenful@jenful.com if you also want a link in the JenFul sidebar through September 23, 2014. See full terms above.

The fault in my location

Google Maps Indianapolis

I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green this weekend because I kept hearing about how highly anticipated the movie is. I was afraid the book might not live up to the hype, but it did, being equal parts funny and sad, exploring light-hearted topics like life and death and the fear of oblivion. Would you believe me if I told you it’s also a teen romance?

What I didn’t know is that the story is set in Indianapolis, the city I lived in for 10+ years of my life. I can’t recall ever reading a book set in a city I know intimately. The closest experience I can think of is when I watched the movie Stripes and recognized many of the locations in Louisville that Bill Murphy was driving through. There was also the time I watched the movie Eagle Eye and cracked up laughing when Shia LaBeouf’s character is supposedly running around 56th street in Indianapolis which is populated by skyscrapers in the film, but is actually a suburban neighborhood in real life.

I have mixed feelings about the affect the location had on me. On one hand, it was cool to read a book and recognize many of the landmarks or streets the author mentions. On the other hand, every single time a landmark or street was mentioned that I was only somewhat familiar with, I stopped reading the book and pulled up Google maps to confirm I was thinking of the right spot. Of great help was this photo tour site where someone went to every location in the book and took photographs. Evidently I’m not the only one a bit obsessed with this. Even though using real locations added realism to the book, it also pulled me out of the story momentarily.

It was also initially confusing when the author mentioned Memorial Hospital, a hospital that I do not believe exists in Indy. There used to be a hospital called Wishard Memorial, but it was recently renamed, and even when it was still Wishard Memorial I don’t recall it being the location of cancer research like Memorial hospital is in the book. (I could be wrong though.) The book also refers to Children’s Hospital, which could be the Riley Hospital for Children, but most people call that Riley, not Children’s, as far as I know. I’d guess the author used imaginary hospital names to avoid any libel issues, which is understandable. I did the same thing whenever I mentioned a hospital or a doctor in my headache memoir. However, when it happened in a book that also included lots of real locations it was jarring.

The only readers having this experience are the ones who’ve lived in Indy, which is probably a small percentage of the global readership of the book. But it was interesting to see how my personal geography history could affect the way I related to a book. Sometimes I felt like I was in on a secret because I figured out where the characters were going on a picnic just by a few hints about where they were driving, or when I learned one character went to North Central High School which is where I voted early in 2008. Other times I felt like the book would have been more enjoyable if I didn’t feel compelled to pause for a minute and try to figure out if the Speedway gas station at 86th Street and Ditch Road was close to the Staples store I remembered in that area or if it was farther past that.

Has anyone else had a similar experience reading a book set in a location you’re really familiar with? Did it add to or take away from the story?

Keep reading: 

Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

 
 
Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

My latest tweets

My latest tweets

Twitter: jennettefulda

  • I'm going to stop working now and go collapse in the corner, thanks. (Freelancing: So glamorous.)
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  • Sort of sad but also sort of sweet that 5 of the "Popular on Netflix" movies are Robin Williams films.
  • Just watched the weirdest, most combative, chaotic press conference I've ever seen in my life.

Thanks!

Thank you to the following donors for helping Team Allison find a cure for type 1 diabetes. If you'd like to help, learn how here.

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