When the Stars are Aligned and the Zombies are at Bay

I brushed my teeth for a full two minutes this morning. I sorted my vitamins, my beta blockers, my ACE inhibitors and my other pills into a 7-day organizer — and I’m 3 days into it. I remembered to use my special face goop before I went to bed last night. I just refilled my test strip supply, and I’ve got a fresh sensor taped to my butt.

I’m fortunate to find myself in one those zones that my best friend refers to as “having your stars aligned.”

“I used my Water Pik today,” she’ll say. “And I slept for 8 hours. My stars are aligned.”

The reason all of these seemingly mundane accomplishments are remarkable is that my stars are so often unaligned. In fact, as a person with diabetes, I feel like I spend a lot of extra time trying desperately to smack said stars into alignment. I’ll have a great week as far as blood sugars go, but I’ll be behind at work. I’ll remember to take my assortment of daily pills, but I’ll go six or so straight days without eating a single vegetable. I’ll have plenty of alcohol swabs and infusion sets, but I’ll put off putting a new sensor in.

A few days ago, as I was immersed in the game Plants vs. Zombies, a new metaphor struck me. When all is well, not only are the stars aligned, The Zombies Are at Bay.

Allow me to explain: in Plants vs. Zombies, a ridiculously entertaining time-waster that goes for a few bucks at the iPhone App Store, you’re guarding your home from an onslaught of cartoon-y zombies. To keep them from reaching your house, you must plant a garden of zombie-fighting flora. Cherry plants blow the zombies up; corn stalks launch pats of butter at undead heads; walnuts stand in the zombies’ way. There are 50-something plots, and it’s necessary to keep most of them full of defensive plants in order to keep the zombies away. If you slack, or if the zombies come on too strong, they eat all your plants and barge into your home and eat your brains. And then, of course, you’re dead.

The consequences might not be as severe, but when it comes to successfully fighting back all of life’s stuff, my day-to-day existence strikes me as quite similar to a game of Plants vs. Zombies. In normal life, the zombies are things like cavities and high blood sugars, weird stress test results and pants that suddenly get too tight. The zombies are stinky food in the fridge and overdue phone calls to the insurance company. And the scariest zombie of all? The other D: Depression.

There’s a familiar sense of panic and dread when you know you’re in over your head, when the zombies start chomping the crap out of your carefully planted corn stalks and pea shooters and you realize there’s no way to keep up. Yes, you realize, the zombies are indeed coming into your house to eat your brains, and you’ll have to start again from scratch — fighting them off one more time.

So while right now I can take comfort in the fact that the zombies are far off and the stars are in perfect order, I don’t feel like I can stop planting cabbages or watching the sky. I realize that it’s just part of life, and that it all ebbs and flows, and that billions of people the world over have a much harder time keeping real-life terrible things out of their lives. I just wish it was all as amusingly addictive as an iPhone game, and I wish I could turn it off when it starts to look like I’m losing.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to floss my teeth and brush the dog and take a vitamin. My stars are aligned, and I’m going to keep them that way for as long as I can.

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8 comments on “When the Stars are Aligned and the Zombies are at Bay

  1. jackie says:

    I love the analogy! and i love that game! Why is it that you can’t plant enough plants, in real life and the game, to keep those darn zombies in away!

  2. Caroline says:

    HA! I love the analogy too! Perhaps that’ll help motivate me to floss……”Noooo, must ward off zombies!”

    • I never considered flossing to be a big part of my zombie-fighting strategy, but I went to the dentist a few weeks ago and got 3 cavities filled — and a very stern talking-to.

      The hygienist was all, “Since you’re diabetic, you have to pay even more attention to your teeth and gums than other people.”

      Great! I’ll just add that to the other 472 things I’m supposed to pay extra attention to, right after eyes, feet, kidneys and cholesterol. Jerk.

  3. I love this post – because I too have wasted too much time with that damn game. When you’re not actively blowing zombies up, you’re collecting sun-bursts and planting double-headed sunflowers in order to defeat them.

    And you know what, it fits the exercise of life with diabetes perfectly.

  4. Andrea Wrape says:

    Well said! I have lost some serious brains in that game. I understand the analogy especially when trying to ward off the D (depression) I refer to it as juggling, how many balls can I keep in the air before I drop one or all.

  5. Kerry says:

    Good for you! That game is way too addictive and the computer version has an annoying song that get’s stuck in your head…”There’s a zombie on my lawn….”

  6. Kerri. says:

    I love this analogy, and I also have to admit that I was downright ADDICTED to Plants vs. Zombies when I was hospitalized before BSparl was born. Something about that game really fed my OCD tendencies, and also I like making acorns explode and knock the domes off of zombies. Call me macabre. Or call me bored. Either way, game on. 🙂

  7. Sara says:

    You always seem to hit on the right topic at the right time! Flossing sucks 😦 and I am actually hard on myself for forgetting my vitamin d for a day… you put these things in perspective, Thanks for all of your posts!

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