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August 31, 2007

Sam Talbot, US News, and a Senseless Purchase

Pearls from the blogosphere?  Don't mind if I do.

A pearl from the Blogosphere.Chris's mom originally pointed me in the direction of Sam Talbot.  "He's from Bravo's Top Chef.  He's been diabetic since he was a kid, like you!"  Of course I checked him out.  And, after a few family leads and some emails from Faithful Readers, I also noticed that Sam is up for "Glad's Steamiest Chef" competition.  According to the website, "For Sam's participation in the Steamiest Chef Contest, Glad is making a $5,000 donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, the leading charitable funder and advocate of type 1 diabetes research worldwide... If Sam receives the most votes in the contest, Glad will donate an additional $25,000 to help further the foundation's work."  If you haven't already, cast your vote for Sam!

A pearl from the Blogosphere.In other diabetes celebrity news, have you taken the dLifestyles of the Rich and Famous quiz?  I was stumped on a few of these - test your celebrity savvy and see how you fare.  Also, on the Halle Berry tip, the discussion about her diabetes has been rekindled over at LOL Diabetes.  (Thanks for starting the buzz up, Hannah!)

A pearl from the Blogosphere.Also, I've had the honor and the pleasure of being interviewed by a SUM on US News and World Reporthealth reporter from U.S. News and World Report.  Their "Profile:  Living with Type 1 Diabetes" is a look at the daily management tasks of diabetes.  I'd love for you to check it out.  :)

A pearl from the Blogosphere.Chris and I are off for the weekend - nice, long holiday weekend.  No laptops.  Cell phones will remain in the car, just for an emergency.  No blogging.  No email.  No roads to race.  No schedule to adhere to.  NOTHING but the quiet bed and breakfast we've booked, some nice dinners, and each other.  Not to sound completely unromantic, but I can't frigging wait.

A pearl from the Blogosphere.And in Senseless Purchase news, I now own this:Silly little electronic cat.  Oh why did I feel the urge to own you?

I have no good reason for owning an iCat.  However, I can plug my iPod into it and it dances, it meows when it's bored, and I'm guessing it will eat batteries faster than my pump.   It was $10 at Kohl's and I bought it and I'm a small bit ashamed, but it made me laugh.  (It's also a smidge annoying and if you grab its tail, it yowls.  My co-workers may kill me within the hour.)  I showed it to Siah last night and she puffed up like a blowfish.  It was worth the $10 just to watch that scene.

Onward to the weekend!  Have a good one, and I'll see you all on Tuesday! 

August 30, 2007

You Know You're Hungry When ...

You know you're hungry when:

1.  You're inserted html break tags into web documents and instead of "<br>" you're typing "<brie>".

2.  The Bacons newswire is making you salivate and wish you had some scrambled eggs to go with it.

3.  You test your blood sugar twice to confirm that you're not low - you're just feeling ravenous, even though you could have sworn you were 40 mg/dl.

4.  The packet of Banana Bread oatmeal that's been tucked away in my desk drawer since, oh, when I started working here in June of 2006, is starting to seem like a delicious idea.

5.  For some odd reason, the exhaust from the buses outside the office this morning This makes me laugh every time I see it.smelled a little bit like a breakfast diner.

6.  You want to chomp around your office like PacMan and eat everything you can find.

When I was on shots, I ate more regularly.  Pumping allows me to go waaaaay too long without eating.  A few times, I've actually thought my hunger was a disasterous low

I can't wait to go away this weekend and regain a normal, human schedule.

August 29, 2007

Smooshed.

Yesterday afternoon was crummy - I had a low that lasted for over three hours and I felt like that truck, chock-full o' penguins, had made another run through my body.  I managed a workout and trudged through two bottles of juice, holding steady at 74 mg/dl but feeling like I was teasing the edges of a low for hours.  (Yes, I should have skipped the workout, but I was feeling determined and, well, stupid.)

Later that night, exhausted and full of grape juice, I was finishing up some work in our home office.  I was feeling melancholy.  Moody, even. 

Then I saw her.

As though she had fallen asleep sitting up and had tumbled over, like a chubby man on a park bench. 

Mushed and asleep Sausage.

It struck me as so damn funny.  A laugh, louder than I expected, burst out of me.  I grabbed my ever-present camera and took a picture of my silly sleep Siah Sausage.

Funny how quickly that moodiness passed.  Thanks, Siah, for being a constant source of LOL.  (But don't think for a second that you can continue to torment Chris and I while we're sleeping.  You jumping all over our heads at 5:00 am is unacceptable.)

August 28, 2007

Little Hands.

"What is that?"

Her little face breaks my heart on a regular basis.  She is funny and warm, always dancing and singing, and she is free with her hugs.  Her pretty face breaks out in a smile when she sees her Uncle Chris.  She's just recently started calling me "Auntie Kerri" and every time she does, my whole soul smiles.

"That's my medicine."

She's just five years old, Chris's niece MP.  Her eyebrows furrow and she pokes at the white gauzy infusion set with her finger tip as it peeks out from under the hem of my shorts. 

"Medicine?"

"Yes.  You know when I use that little machine for my fingers?"

Nods. 

"That's my medicine.  This is part of my medicine, too."  I pull the insulin pump from out of my pocket and show it to her.   "You've seen this before, right?  My medicine is in here and it goes into my body through that looo-ooong tube."

I'm never quite sure what to say when they're that small.  I don't want to overwhelm her with a bunch of medical jargon, and I don't want her to think of me as "sick."  She's only five.  I think about Emma.  And Charlie.  I think of my own self, as a little kid, living with diabetes.  I wonder if I ever looked that small.   

"Uncle B has that little machine, too.  But he doesn't have that."  She gestures towards the infusion set again.  "He takes shots."

"Right.  I use this instead of shots.  It's a different way to take the same medicine."Little hands.

She's so little but she's so wise.  Pats my hand as she's thinking, looking at the tubing snaking up from my thigh and hidden in the folds of my clothes.  The rest of the room is strangely quiet. 

"Okay.  Hey, let's go play in the parlor?"

Now it's part of her normal, too. 

August 27, 2007

Having a Few.

My favorite white wine.Diabetes makes drinking a bit of a tricky topic.  I take very good care of my health and my diabetes - I'm vigilant in monitoring my many numbers, eating well, seeing my doctor, and hitting the gym.  I work hard.  I am determined to be healthy!

But I also am determined to have a life.  And for me, part of "real life" includes having some drinks with my friends. 

This summer has had some fun times, and some of those times included alcohol.  The enGAGment party, a weekend at the beach with my college roommates, wine tastings, this past weekend out with the girls, etc.  No, I don't need to drink to have a good time.  But yes, sometimes my good times include having a few drinks. 

It's weird, though, because not a lot of diabetics talk about their drinking habits, if they have any.  I am not much of a drinker, but I do like to have a drink once in a while.  Not too often because I have such a low threshold for alcohol. (Please - ask any of my friends.  Two drinks and I'm completely silly.  Three drinks and I'll dance.  Four and I'm ... well, four is too many.) 

I'm very careful when I drink.  My meter makes frequent appearances on nights out at the bars.  This past weekend, I was out at a beautiful wedding shower for one of my college roommates, M, and there was an open bar.  So I had a glass of wine.  Blood sugar at 132 mg/dl. 

The night progressed to a group of us getting a case of Coronas, having some beers while we hung out, and then heading out to the bar.  Along the way, I was steady at anywhere between 130 - 160 mg/dl and that's where I'm most comfortable when drinking.  Once I started to edge towards 80 mg/dl, I hit a quick swig of juice from my purse to ward off any lows.  Rest of the night?  170, 143, 130, ended up at 180 mg/dl before bed.  Works for me.

For me, I can't pretend not to be diabetic.  That's less about what other people see but more about how I react to certain situations.  I don't care if anyone sees me test or spies my insulin pump, but I need to make sure that I'm always taking diabetes into consideration.  Does it seem irresponsible to be having some drinks with my friends?  Maybe to some people, yes.  Maybe it makes my mother a little uncomfortable to think that I'm deliberately putting myself into a situation that could become uncontrolled.  But I can't lie and say that I live my life in a big diabetes-bubble - I go out.  I party.  I drink.  (And I know I'm not the only one.)

I do my very best to remain as safe as possible - this includes educating my friends, carrying things like my meter and a bottle of juice with me at all times, and not being afraid to say "No," when it's not the best time for me to be drinking.  Case in point:  at the enGAGment party, I was having a great time and yes, enjoying some drinks.  I tested all the live-long day and once I started cresting up into the 240 mg/dl range, I stopped.  I calculated out an insulin bolus, waited for my blood sugar to come down, and actually decided not to drink anymore once I was back in range.  I know when my body's had enough.  Reaching the high 200's means it's time for me to sober up and regain control.  I'm all about a good time but I hate having my blood sugar that high.  Ruins all my fun.

Thankfully, there's always the other drunk people.  Sometimes they pass out, wasted, in the middle of the street.  And what's better than posing near the wasted guy?  Not much.

Note:  No drunk messes were harmed while taking this picture.  He did this to himself.
(Yes, we made sure he was okay before we posed.)

August 24, 2007

Six Quick Friday Linky Bits.

Better late than never, right?

1.  Life has been spinning so quickly that I haven't had much time for blogging this week.  The result of all this work will be worth it, but now, in the throes of it all, I'm realizing how much money I spend on iced coffee each week.  Holy crap. 

2.  I followed a link on Julia's blogClick to view my Personality Profile page and took the Briggs-Myers personality test, online of course.  My results?  Apparently I'm in appropriate company:  Robin Williams, Dr. Seuss, and Balki from Perfect Strangers.  Of course.  And in the recommended career paths, I see "writer" and "massage therapist."  Of course again.  Take it - what's your result?

3.  Ever the walky-type, I've decided to do both the RI and the Fairfield County JDRF walks.  Team dLife will make an appearance on September 30th in CT, and Team Six Until Me will be making it a hat trick on October 21st in RI.  (Hi Nicole!  Would love to have you join us!)  Should be a rockin' time!

4.  Siah has requested that I let everyone know there's a new LOL Diabetes Facebook group.  Yes, Sausage, I told them.  No, you can't type.  No, Siah, leave the keyboard alone.  Siah ... stop messing around on the  oij 34tqg 24lkjmr wq olij WV .  That cat is a menace.

5.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  This is easily the most ridiculous site of all time:  KittenWar!  You visit, are presented with two competing kitten pictures, and you click on which one is the cutest.  Completely foolish.  I spent about an hour doing it.  I'm ashamed.  But it was fun.  (By the by, there are other cats named "Sausage."  I was shocked.)

6.  I've recently been outed (at the enGAGment party, but prior to that at the Sting conceStephanie!rt) that I have a serious musical guilty pleasure:  Beyonce.  I can't help it - her music gets stuck in my head and next thing I know, I'm priming my insulin pump and humming "Crazy in Love."  I re-discovered another guilty pleasure today - El DeBarge.  "Who's Johnny?" makes me sing along and also makes me long for Johnny 5.  (More input!)  Man, I loved Short Circuit.

Off to RI early in the morning for the bridal shower of one of my (six!) college roommates.  Ah, wedding season.  Maybe I should think about planning mine sometime soon. 

Have a great weekend!  See you Monday!

August 23, 2007

Work It Out.

I've been in a bit of a funk lately

Could be the work stress, could be the wedding chaos, could be the fact that Ms. Sausage won't stop putting her nose in my ear while I sleep.  (Thankfully, we've started sleeping with the bedroom door closed to keep her meddling paws out.  But every morning, when I open the door to go out into the living room, she's smushed against the bedroom door, eyes startled from the door being jerked open and puffy with the excitement of being able to follow me around.  Blasted cat.)

Holy digression.  Anyway, I needed to reclaim my glee last night.

My mission began at the gym. 

Nothing makes me feel more in control than a hard workout.  With my new iPod shuffle (thank you, AADE conference) blasting out some Beastie Boys, I forced myself to pop the treadmill to an incline of 12.5 and forced the thoughts of stress out of my mind.  I banished blogging to the back burner.  I tossed my article list for dLife out of my brain.  Wedding budget?  Deal with it later.

Solid cardio workout sent my stress packing - Bird woulda been proud.  Another 20 minutes of resistance training in the weight room again forced me to concentrate on my muscle movements (a challenge, as I'm not terribly coordinated) and didn't allow any room for chaotic thoughts.

As I walked out of the gym, I felt sweaty.  And strong.  My blood sugars held steady throughout the workout, starting at 102 mg/dl. popping up to 168 mg/dl (thanks to the swig of juice before I started cardio), and landing softly at 128 mg/dl. 

I'll be hitting the gym harder, to let off steam and try to be fitter for my wedding gown.  Physical exertion helps me.  I think I found a tap dancing studio near my house, so I plan on signing up for classes there, too.  (Have I mentioned that I was a tap dancer for over 15 years?  It was the only athletic thing I was ever good at.  Have I mentioned scoring a goal for the wrong team during a round-robin soccer tournament?  Case in Reaching for relaxation.point.) 

Chris and I are heading away for a relaxing, romantic weekend at the beginning of September, during which we will leave cell phones in the car and laptops at home.  Maybe I'll stop working on projects every night and start taking some time to relax. 

A little fun goes a long way.

One of my biggest obstacles in diabetes management - life management, I guess - is stress.  I let the littlest things make me nuts, and the even bigger problems send me into the stratosphere.  My EOS (End Of Summer) Resolution?  Better manage the stress in my life. 

How do you guys handle stress?  What's your EOS Resolution?

August 22, 2007

Seem Less.

It may be the gray clouds today.  That could be it.  Maybe that's why I'm moody.

My blood sugars have been excellent today.  106 mg/dl.  89 mg/dl.  78 mg/dl.  141 mg/dl.  132 mg/dl.  112 mg/dl.  99 mg/dl.  113 mg/dl.  Nothing too out of the ordinary. 

My insulin pump is safely stowed in the pocket of my black capri pants.  You can't really see it at all and it's barely noticeable as I sit here.  Even the tubing is behaving itself, remaining coiled and concealed in the waistband of my pants.

My meter is stashed in my purse.  No rogue test strips litter my desk.  The diabetic white noise is at a minimum today.  My desk looks just like everyone elses.

Work has been so busy lately that I haven't had time to over-think anything.  Emails keep cropping up in my inbox, assignments keep crossing my desk, and the constant din of work noise rolls in and out like midnight ocean waves. 

Life is crashing forward at an incredible pace.  My wedding date comes closer every time I blink.  I've been at dLife for over a year now.  I'll be marking my twenty-first year with diabetes in three weeks.

Lately, maybe compared to all the chaos, diabetes seems less.  Less in my face.  Less cumbersome.  Less intrusive. 

This morning, as a low blood sugar whispered in my ear and woke me up at 5 in the morning, as I looked in the medicine cabinet and saw my Quick-Serter next to my bottle of Lovespell, as I clipped my pump to my bra while I dressed, it still seemed less. 

I'm reminded of the video I watched on Julia's site.  This is our "normal."  Normal means tough little pads of scar tissue on my fingertips.  Normal means quashing down that bit of guilt if I decide to have a Hershey Kiss at the office.  Normal means reaching down to my thigh and quietly disconnecting the pump while he kisses me.  Normal means juice by the bed.  Normal means tired rings of red skin left behind by sensor patches. 

I can't imagine what it's like to be diagnosed as an adult.  I can't imagine what it's like to be the parent of a diabetic child.  I can't imagine what type 2 feels like, or gestational, or what it's like to take care of someone with diabetes. 

This is the only normal I know.  I actually feel surprised sometimes when I notice that people's mp3 players aren't, in fact, insulin pumps.  Doesn't everyone have an insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio?  Am I the only one at the gym who is testing blood glucose levels in the locker room? 

It's become such a part of what I do that it's seamless.  I don't even notice anymore.

And for some reason, that's making me strangely sad today.

Gray Day = Crumbs Morrone.

August 21, 2007

Not a Good Sign.

Work has been INSANE.  Insane in that way that keeps you busy all day long, all night long, and has you dreaming about things that you need to do the next day.  Or even dreaming that you're accomplishing certain work tasks, making you startled when you arrive to work the next day and realize that you didn't actually write the column, but instead just dreamt about writing it.

Ahhhhhhhhh!

And this level of Ahhhhhhh! warrants a chocolate fix. 

So I wandered over to the dLife chocolate stash (usually cleaned out by interns, but since they are all back to college, there are finally some tasty morsels for the rest of us).  I reached into the bag and pulled out a Hershey Kiss. 

Walked back to my desk.  Poked my head into my boss's office to touch base on something briefly.  Back at my desk, I was about to unwrap the Kiss.  No, I wasn't low.  I just wanted some damn chocolate.  I didn't feel guilty or anything. 

Until I noticed:

See more at LOL Diabetes!

Sigh. 

What kind of sadistic bastards are working at the Hershey factory?  And why are they taunting me?

(Also, there's a new Generation D up over at dLife.  It's all about whittling it down to a more manageable size.)

August 20, 2007

The EnGAGment Party.

It was the perfect weather.

It was the hula hoop contest that Chris and I lost instantly (we were simply horrible) but my Aunt Dana won hands down. 

It was the delicious food and the chocolate fountain.

It was the bartender, who made the most delicious cosmo I have ever had, and also made non-alcoholic strawberry shakes for the kids who were belly-up to the bar. 

It was my mother and Chris's mother, wearing flowered leis and big straw hats, circling the tables on the lawn and coercing people to join their conga line.

It was my nephew C and my niece-to-be MP playing with little plastic army men while they sat at a teeny table for two.

It was my mother and father at the same table, laughing, after almost a decade of divorce.

It was my Baby Niece A, dancing (with her father's help) to YMCA.

It was my sister in VA, calling in to say hi to everyone.  (We missed you, Court!!) 

The beautiful Batman, my silly self, and NBF.

It was my two best friends, together once again, to celebrate with me.

It was the tireless work of Chris's mom and her significant other, making all the arrangements for our families to be together and celebrate.  (Diane and L, an endless thank you.)

It was a string of decent blood sugars, despite the cake, the cosmos, and the chaos.

Kerri, NBF, and Future Sister-In-Law

It was watching my friends getting to know my future sister-in-law, and leaning in to me and whispering, "Your new family is wicked cool!"

It was having my whole family together in one place.

It was Chris's speech, as he thanked everyone for coming to celebrate our engagement.  He stopped, mid-sentence, and almost confessed, "You know?  I'm really looking forward to getting married." 

You know what, baby? 

I am, too.

August 17, 2007

Coming Up For Air.

No cohesive thoughts this Friday morning.  Everything is completely tangled.  Life has been insane Unravelling, one thread at a time.lately (but fun!).  In efforts to unravel the threads:

Working remotely this morning.  I first tried to get online at my mother's office, but the Internet Nazis who set up her office's wireless wouldn't let me access anything resembling a social networking site.  Or my dLife email.  Or IM.  Or the goodies being worked through at Blogabetes.  So now I'm holed up in a Starbucks in Providence, drinking iced coffee and trying not to spill it on my laptop.  (So far, the "ctrl' key only has some crumbs from my Blueberry Nutrigrain bar.)

Tomorrow is our enGAGment party.  My mother, in charge of the cake, confided in me that she wanted to have a big cake with Cinderella and Prince Charming on it.  After seeing my face turn white with panic, she told me that she hadn't done that.  After seeing the flash of disappointment, she told me she still could, if I wanted.  (Note to self: Kerri, you are 28 years old.  Start acting your age.)  The enGAGment party will mark the first time that ALL of our family members will be at the same place.  I'm excited, and definitely charging my camera battery to make sure I don't miss a minute.  (Is it tacky to liveblog from your own enGAGment party?)

Siah's little paws are raw from typing, but she's doing a great job maintaining the LOL Diabetes site.  She's also building her own staff team - with the help of Kahlua from Rachel's crew.  Siah tells me that she's received many excellent LOL submissions, and she's readying hers for next week.  Damn silly cat.  Have you submitted something to Siah?  Email her and send her your LOL Diabetes moments.

After my grammie passed away, my mother and her husband ended up with Grammie's car.  My mom was driving it today.  When she was putting some tables for the enGAGment party in my car, I noticed a big wooden table leg in the trunk.

"Ma, what is that?"

"Oh, that's the beating stick."  She continued to load things into my car while I stopped and stared at her for a minute.

"I'm sorry - what?  The beating stick?"

She went over to the trunk and picked up the table leg. 

"This was under the front seat of Grammie's car.  She drove with it there all the time, in case she ended up on the side of the road somewhere and needed to defend herself,"

"By beating someone with a table leg."  I finished for her.

"Right."  She brandished it with a flourish, and then a grin.  She looked just like her mother - my grammie - for a moment.

I thought about my grandmother, silly and laughing and following through whenever anyone dared her to do something, like a handstand in the mud.  She once accidentally cooked a bandaid into an apple pie. She once was the star of a short movie my brother made called "Grambo," where she pretended to storm a military base (which was nothing more than a fort in our backyard.)  She hugged us a lot.  She was sweet and loving. 

And weird.

The mental picture of her, standing on a deserted roadside if her car had broken down, brandishing a wooden table leg for protection made me smile. 

It's true, that they're always with us.  I saw her today, reflected in my mother's smile.

August 15, 2007

LOL Diabetes!

When you think “chronic disease,” you don’t exactly think slap-stick humor. More like ketone-stick horrors. There is nothing funny about kidney disease or diabetic retinopathy. Testing blood glucose levels, counting carbohydrates, and keeping track of medications – all the daily tasks of diabetes care can become overwhelming, making it tough to find the humor in diabetes.

Which is exactly why we need to find the humor in diabetes.

This disease takes up so much of our time. There are very few moments in the day when I’m not at least considering my diabetes. And while I am not ruled by my condition, in order to survive and live a wonderful life, I need to focus on the details of diabetes to maintain good health. I need to maintain good mental health, too.

My grandmother used to tell me that laughter is food for the soul. My endocrinologist used to tell me that laughter is the waTake two and call me in the morning.y to achieve balance. Even Readers’ Digest told me that “Laughter was the Best Medicine.” This is true for people with diabetes, as well as people with other chronic illnesses.

I often find amusement in the places I find discarded test strips. Multiple daily finger sticks are a part of my daily duties, and the strips are expensive, so that’s not particularly funny. But finding a test strip in my shoe or seeing my little kitten trot by with one in mouth does make me smile. Priming my insulin pump is sometimes an arduous task, but my fiance walking by and saying I look like a mad scientist as I tap out the air bubbles from the cartridge makes me smile. It may not be funny to some, but it’s funny to me and it makes my diabetes burden far less heavy.

There are also phrases that other people aren’t able to toss around so lightly. The phrase, “I feel so high,” has a definitive meaning to a person with diabetes, but may raise the eyebrows of those who aren’t “in the know.” Or “Excuse me, I have to go shoot up.” Out of the context of diabetes, those words aren’t normally thrown around at dinner parties.

There are also the moments that you laugh because, if you don’t, you may burst into tears. I have experienced severe low blood sugar reactions where I’ve come to my senses and noticed juice staining my shirt, my hair stuck to my forehead with sweat, and my meter in a thousand pieces on the floor after having thrown it at the wall. Moments like these are enough to break you in two. But sometimes a laugh bubbles up from deep inside you, where you are the most scared and the most vulnerable, and it escapes. It gives you strength. It helps chase the fear away for a few minutes.

When diabetes gets a little tough, it’s hard to find that silver lining.

Laughter has a way of illuminating it.

LOL Diabetes

Therefore:  LOL Diabetes!

If those LOL Cats can make their home on the internet, why can't our diabetes humor?  Time to feed our diabetic souls with more than just insulin.  Siah, who has made it quite clear that she doesn't plan on paying rent any time soon, has chosen to earn her keep by playing Host at LOL Diabetes

Send your submissions to loldiabetes@yahoo.com.  Send anything funny:  Pictures, YouTube clips, essays, cartoons, one-liners, Overheard in the Endo's office-style comments - anything!  Anything that sends you into a giggle-fit and helps ease the burden of diabetes.

Please, keep Siah busy.  Otherwise she becomes very annoying and ends up dancing with the shower curtain at four in the morning.  Which rustly and loud.  And makes me crazy.  Make her earn her keep!

August 14, 2007

Rocco Returns.

I should have packed more food.  What was I thinking, bringing lunch only?  Oh man, am I hungry.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Kerri, Kerri.  You have a delicious spread of portabella chicken and spinach for lunch, complete with a drizzled bit of balsamic dressing.  Can't you just have your lunch early?

Stomach:  Give it up, Speaker.  It's snack time.  Snack time never includes healthy.  Snack time is ravenous.  Kerri, go downstairs and get a peppermint patty from the diner.

But I don't even like peppermint patties.  I want a Nutrigrain bar.

Stomach:  I don't care if you like it or not.  It's almost ten-thirty.  You've given me nothing but coffee.  Rocco doesn't like coffee, Kerri.

Growling from the pits of my stomach.  The chain rattles and I can hear him breathing heavily, scraping his paws along the floor. 

Internal Motivational Speaker:  (panicked squeal) Oh, hi Rocco!  I see you have a new chain.  That's a lovely new chain.  (nervous laugh)  Have you done something different with your fur? 

Rocco growls and leans against his chain, the links straining against one another.

Stomach:  Easy there, Rock.  It's cool, buddy.  Kerri is going to go downstairs and grab you a blueberry Nutrigrain bar.  You like those, don'tcha? 

Rocco puffs out his bear breath and plunks down on his haunches, waiting.  My stomach lurches a bit.  I need something to eat.  I get up from my desk chair and grab a dollar from my wallet.  Rocco starts to purr, as much as a bear can.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Oh no.  No, no Miss Kerri.  Nutrigrain bars have high fructose corn syrup in them.  Not to mention almost 25 grams of carbohydrates.  You have that package of almonds in your drawer.  Why not snack on those?  Do you really need a high-carb indulgence right now?  I mean ...

Stomach:  Lady, do you ever take a breath?  Let the girl have her Nutrigrain bar.  It's not like she's going to have a side of soft-serve ice cream with it.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  I am sick and tired of you bossing me around!  I don't care that you have your fancy pepsinogen and that Pyloric sphincter.  (her voice crescendos to a vehement peak)  You aren't the boss of me.  I have every right to my opinions! 

Stomach:  All you do is nag!  Eat this, don't eat this.  Spend all that money on organic foods.  Don't drink too much caffiene.  Make sure you test.  Make sure you bolus.  Christ, can't she have a break? Rocco likes Nutrigrain bars.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  No!  This is full time!  Twenty-four hours a day.  I work long hours, you know, Stomach.  Some of us don't have the luxury of taking our time to digest! 

Rocco looks at me with pleading eyes.  "Growl, growl."  I know, Rocco.  I'm starving.  Let's go downstairs and get a snack while they're arguing. 

Stomach:  Do you ever stop?

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Does your mom ever stop?

Stomach:  Don't you be bringing my mom into this!

Dollar clutched in my hand and leading Rocco by his chain, we sneak out.  A few minutes later, I'm bolusing for the 25 grams of carbohydrate and Rocco is licking blueberry Nutrigrain crumbs off his paws. 

August 13, 2007

Muse.

I like concerts.

Live music just does it for me.  The sound of the band, the pulse of the crowd, and the fact that no one cares that you don't know the words as you sing at the top of your lungs. 

Over the weekend, after a stint at the RIFF where Chris's short film Balance was very well-received, we joined Batman and Friends in Boston for the Muse show. 

Despite the fact that locks can be picked with lead singer Matt Bellamy's skinny frame, his voice filled the whole damn arena at BU.  They hit picks from every album, ranging from the dancing piano of Newborn to the throbbing chords of Hysteria.  (I'm a huge Absolution fan, so anything from that album makes me very happy.) 

Muse on stage at the BU arena in Boston.

And, of course, they let loose with the balloons.  The crowd went berserk.  (And so did I.  I can't control myself - they're so good!)

A few luft balloons.

Excellent show!  Almost as good as Radiohead at the Field Day Festival (fiasco?) a few years ago.  (I have a hard time deciding what my favorite concert is - U2 and Radiohead compete for attention in my heart.  Your favorite?)

Closed out Sunday on the beach with NurseBestFriend and by wishing a Happy Birthday to another friend (pursuant to the post-it on the visor of my Volkswagen).  Next weekend is the enGAGment party - I'm already charging my camera battery for that.  And my Speak n' Spell.

August 10, 2007

Another Round as the Dexcom Warrior.

After a whirlwind week of travel, eating sloppily, and missing a few crucial workouts, my blood sugars were in a tailspin of chaos and I needed to reign things in.

I grabbed my flashlight and sent out the Dexcom Signal. 

Sending out the Dexcom signal.

Help me, Dexcom!

Dexcom responded with a shrill cry and leapt from the box.  Within a few minutes, the sensor was making its first appearance on my outer thigh and I started the two hour calibration waiting game.  (And why do I always start this thing at ten o'clock at night, forcing me to be fussing around with diabetes toys at the stroke of midnight?)

As I prepared for Round Two as the Dexcom Warrior, I noticed that I was very particular about where I chose to pop in the sensor.  Last time, I wore the site on my abdomen and while it was accessible and easy to put in, it bumped up against every piece of clothing I wore and was visible underneath both my gym clothes and my work attire.  As someone who prefers to keep all diabetes hardware relatively quiet, I opted for a thigh site this time.

I inserted the sensor, which pinched a bit but not to the point where I clenched my teeth, and pulled out the needle, leaving the hub attached and the wire inserted.  (Yes, this sucker has a wire in there instead of a plastic cannula.  If I think about it too much, it makes my stomach feel a bit queasy, but I couldn't feel it at all when it was in there.)

With my pump infusion set on my right thigh and my Dexcom sensor on my left, I felt like some kind of diabetic pack mule.  My hips felt vulnerable, as though banging into any door jamb would send me into a robotic meltdown. 

My euphoria wasn't as intense for this second round of testing.  No Techno-Joy.  (Cannot access printer?  But it's here.) I wasn't obsessed with the new gadget, but instead treated it like it was "just another meter."  I traveled with the receiver in my purse and kept it on my desk while I worked, instead of forcing myself to keep it clipped to my clothes.  Not wearing the receiver felt liberating. 

I noticed it physically, though, while I was at the gym.  Lying on my side for an ab exercise, I felt my pump infusion set mashing against the floor.  When I flipped to work out the other side, the Dexcom sensor was pressed hard on the floor.  I remember back to when I had the sensor on my abdomen and I felt it pressing then for sit-ups.  While I appreciate the technology of this device, I would appreciate it even more if it were smaller and less intrusive.

For anyone who thinks the Dexcom results are supposed to perfectly match the glucose meter results, that's not going to happen.  While I had some very closely matching results, the Dexcom remained a bit higher, on the whole.  Like here:

Overnight readings

This reading of 146 mg/dl was countered by my meter as 101 mg/dl.  Bit of a difference there.  But the trending I saw was spot on.  That 101 mg/dl (or 146 mg/dl according to Dexcom) was the upswing of a 72 mg/dl I had earlier in the morning. 

More Dexcom readings.

And then I watched as the correction for the 146 mg/dl brought me back town towards 120 mg/dl.  I like that positive reinforcement that my insulin is working and that my body is able to hold steady for a spell, despite the fact that I'm trying to compensate for a busted pancreas.

I gained a good feel for what times of the day I needed to pay more attention.  (Can anyone say "late afternoon snacking tendency"?)  I also noticed that wearing the site on my thigh instead of my abdomen made me less aware that I was sporting the site in the first place. 

Dexcom and I have parted ways once again, as I need to order more sensors.  Onward towards the weekend, where the Rhode Island Film Festival and a concert in Boston await!  See you Monday!

August 09, 2007

What Counts.

"This is our new normal, our new way of dealing with life."Team dLife - JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes

"Diabetes is a burden we didn't bargain for..."

"These moments are beautiful because we're not alone..."

"A cure."

Snippets of conversations stuck to the wallpaper in the dining room of the country club.  Adults spoke into the microphone about the diagnosis of their loved ones, shuffling the papers in their hands to keep the tears from falling out onto them. 

It's tough to sit in a room filled with the parents of diabetic children, as a "diabetic child" myself.  I feel so close, yet so oddly removed from their lives.  We were all gathered there as part of the JDRF Walk Team Captain kick-off luncheon, bringing together our teams and banding together in efforts to raise awareness of diabetes and to soldier on towards a cure.

Parents held back tears that they seem to have forgotten they were capable of.  There was a video presentation that told the story of one mother, answering her daughter's question of "Will I have this forever?"  I wondered if I had ever asked my mother that question.

I'm captaining a JDRF walk team for dLife this fall, walking to raise awareness and money towards research for a cure.  I'm excited and honored to be leading this event for my company, proud to be a part of something so positive.

At the table next to me, two small children sat with their mom, coloring and paying scattered attention to the speakers.  I wondered which one was diabetic - the little one with the flouncy pink dress or the older girl with eyes wise beyond her years and pigtails?

I pulled my meter out of my purse and absently tested my blood sugar underneath the lip of the table, pressing my fingertip to my mouth without thinking - 152 mg/dl.  Pump retrieved from my pocket, I bolused a quick unit to correct me back down and slipped the pump back into my skirt.

I caught her looking at me, her wise eyes wide as she realized I was diabetic,  just like her. 

I smiled and gave her a quick wave.

She waved back, pigtails bouncing and smile bright.

This walk means so many different things- raising awareness and doing our best to fund research towards a cure.  Corporate sponsorships, walk t-shirts, keynote speakers, and fundraising ideas.  Walking together on a fall day with the same hope.

Next month marks 21 years with diabetes, and while technology has drastically improved how I treat my disease, it has not cured any of us.  I become more pragmatic with each test strip, each A1c result, each milestone.  I forget how to think of a future without this disease.  I forget how my parents feel sometimes. 

I forget what it's like to want a cure.

But I still remember how to hope

August 08, 2007

Bits and Pieces

BlogrollHousekeeping!  And other assorted oddities.

The New Blogroll.  I've built a new blogroll here, with a text-only version and an alphabetical breakdown including screenshots and descriptions.  If your blog is on there and you'd like to add a short description, please email me.  If your blog is missing entirely - oh crap!  Send me an email so I can add you! 

Reviews.  I receive a lot of emails from diabetes product development teams regarding reviews.  If you have a product that you would like to have reviewed, please check out the SUM Reviews page and drop me a line.   I'm proud to be a part of this community and if we can help spread the word about a product that makes our lives a little better, I'm all for it. 

Subservient Chicken.  Oh how I remember finding this a few years ago and being completely astounded.  You can tell this chicken what to do.  It's all tied back to Burger King advertising, but visiting the site is worth the marketing subtleties.

Your Story.  There is a new Your Story up every Monday - have you submitted yours yet?  Email your story and any pictures you'd like to include to story@sixuntilme.com.  I'd love to heard from you!Was "Worried Walrus" on the Sweet Pickles bus?

Sweet Pickles.  Chris and I were talking about Sweet Pickles - that book series from the early 80's with the theme song - "Sweet Pickles is great!" - and the bus filled with weird animals that supposedly delivered the books to your home.  Personally, if a bus with furry creatures showed up at my house bearing books, I would be terrified.  Did anyone ever order these books?  And was there a frog in that bus?  I can't remember and can't find any video confirmation on YouTube. 

Tomorrow - a chance meeting at the JDRF walk kick-off luncheon.  :)

August 07, 2007

AADE: Chaos Theory

While my pancreas is woefully unemployed, I did find one at the AADE conference that had a job.

Pancreas, me, N, and Muscle

Only at a diabetes conference would there be a Pancreas and Muscle Tissue wandering around for photo opportunities as though they were Mickey and Minnie Mouse. 

Freestyle Butterflies were working at the booth across from dLife's - I sincerely hope they were paid handsomely for their time. 

"So can I have my picture taken with you guys?"

ButterflyOne adjusted her wings and tucked her ponytail back into her hood.

"Of course."

Freestyle Butterflies.  And me.

That night, a few of my co-workers and I shuttled down to a St. Louis jazz bar and saw Kim Massie - quite possibly one of the most talented singers I have ever stumbled upon.  Her voice grabbed my sternum and reverberated in my soul.  (Yes, she was that good.)  The bar was perfect, in that in the middle of nowhere, picnic table sort of way.  Empty beer bottles stuffed with white Christmas lights offered ambiance.

Beer Lights.

And the plane home.  This was my only messy moment.

We ended up switching flights to grab an earlier plane, so our dLife team was scattered all over the plane.  I was more towards the back, sitting in a row completely by myself.  Conveniently enough, my anxiety and nervousness threw me into a neat little low blood sugar, leaving me alone in my seat at 52 mg/dl and stuffing glucose tabs into my mouth.  Tears of panic caught at the corner of my eye.

A young stewardess, recognizing my symptoms, leaned in and handed me an orange juice.  I thanked her wordlessly.

Drinking my juice and waiting for the plane to take off, I wiped my low-induced tears from my eyes and clenched my hands nervously in my lap.  The xanax pills started taking their effect, making me a little looped.

"Excuse me?"  A man sat in the outermost seat of the trio as I remained nervously mushed against the window.  "You seem a little nervous.  It's going to be just fine.  I'm a pilot."

My brain couldn't register.

"You're the pilot?  You need to be flying the plane!"  (Thank you, Xanax, for making my brain melt at the most inopportune moment.)

He laughed.  "It's going to be fine.  You don't like to fly?"

"Not particularly."  Sniffle.  (My goodness, I'm a baby.)

"Well this is a short flight to NYC, so we'll be there in no time."

The plane and my blood sugar rose in unison.  My panic subsided once we were in the air and I caught this view from my window. 

Beautiful view from the plane.
Maybe flying isn't so bad afterall.

August 06, 2007

AADE Goodies - The Info Version

The AADE conference was pretty damn interesting, if I do say so myself.  (And I believe I just did.)  Between having my picture taken with a pancreas, meeting some of the most influential members of the diabetes community (i.e. Kelly Close, Jeff Hitchcock, James Hirsch, and others), and drinks at a jazz bar in St. Louis, my camera is now crammed with photos.

There was plenty to see in terms of diabetes developments.  Today's post is the "Info Version" of the trip.  (Tomorrow will be the "Chaos Theory.")

The conference itself was like a petri dish of the newest treatment and technology for diabetics and those who are caring for diabetics.  I saw every company from Dexcom and Agamatrix to Groovy Patches and Murray's.  It was almost overwhelming to see how many products there are for diabetics.

The Jazz by Agamatrix.

The team over at Agamatrix continues to impress with their Wavesense-powered Keynote meter.  (Read my review here.)  I had a chance to speak with some of the team about their next generation meter, the Jazz.  The Jazz is smaller, sleeker, and looks less like it was ripped from the guts of my old TRS-80 computer.  The accuracy of the Agamatrix meters is solid and the software is among the best I've seen.  And they were giving away iPod shuffles to the educators.  Accurate meters and tunes?  Good deal, that.

I also spent some time talking with Scott Dunton, world class surfer guy and a friend of Medtronic Minimed.  We hung out and I caught a glimpse of the soon-to-be released Medtronic "Seal."  It's a waterproof case for Minimed pumps, perfect for surfing or white-water rafting.  More details coming soon on this, but here's what the proto-type looks like:

"The Seal" from Medtronic.

Over at the dLife booth, we were talking about our MyDiabetesEducator sites and signing up the educators with their personal websites.  We also had a one-armed bandit machine and were giving away prizes all conference long - we handed out a spa vacation on Friday!   

dLife booth

I also had the honor and pleasure of meeting Cathy Feste, author of "Tips & Tales from 50 Years with Diabetes," and my new personal hero.  She has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 50 years and when I told her that I had been diabetic for almost 21 years, she grabbed my hands and said, "You're going to be just fine, my friend."  Her smile is vibrant and inspiring.  I'll admit it - I teared up when she hugged me.

Over at Patton Medical, I saw the i-Port injection port.  After chatting with Rick Wittenbraker, COO of Patton Medical, I took at look at the device itself.  It is essentially a pump infusion site that you inject a syringe into instead of hooking up a pump.  This product seems to be a good gateway to pumping, letting a diabetic get used to a "port" on their body without the added hardware.   I haven't had a chance to try one yet, but I'm interested in hearing other people's experiences.

Oh yeah, and then there were the incredible vocal stylings of jazz singer Kim Massie.  And the adventure at White Castle.  And my photo shoot with a pancreas and a few bugs.  More tomorrow for the Chaos Theory Edition!

August 02, 2007

Plane Jane.

Of course we were running late. 

Literally.  We were running as gracefully as possible with our laptops banging against our thighs and other assorted luggage bags flapping all over the place.  And of course I was pulled aside by security to have my insulin pump checked out.  I was wearing khaki capri pants and the pump was safely tucked into my pocket.  The security guard woman beeping me over with her wand told me her cousin wore an insulin pump.

"Girl, why aren't you wearing it on that clip thing?  That makes things much easier."The plane!  The plane!

"Yeah, but I don't want it just hanging out there.  I'm a quiet-pumper."

The beeper wand let loose with a loud "BEEP" every time it passed over my pocket with the pump.

"Not today, you're not."  She grinned, told me to put my damn shoes back on, and have a safe flight. 

My poor Editor-in-Chief (EIC).  She was my travel partner to the AADE today and had the pleasure of watching me go from (quasi?) normal human being to a jittery, nervous-to-fly girl. 

"Is it the taking off?  The landing?"  She asked, trying to pin-point my panic.

"It's the taking off.  The landing.  The flying.  The airport."  I grinned nervously.  "It's sort of everything."

Next to us, a little girl about 4 years old was standing on one of the chairs, pressing her face against the terminal window and pointing to the plane we were about to board.

"Hey daddy.  Daddy, that plane is dirty.  How did it get so dirty?"

Her father held her around the waist to keep her from tipping backwards.  "I'm not sure, honey."

She scrinched up her nose.  "I know!  That plane went up in the sky?  And then it flew upsidedown?  And then it crashed down into a puddle of mud and then it came here."

My face became ash-white.  My EIC giggled as I looked over at the little girl.  Her father laughed and leaned in to her. 

"No, honey.  I'm sure that didn't happen."

"Birds," I offered from my seat, scared of the imagination of a four-year-old and waiting desperately for the xanax to kick in.  "If it's dirty, it's from the birds."

Her father caught my drift.  "Yes, birds!  The birds think the plane is a really big bird and they come up and give it a kiss.  That's why it's dirty!"  He gave me a thumbs up while his daughter contemplated this fact.

"Covered in bird lipstick."  I offered, smirking.   The father nodded his head. 

"Completely."  The little girl gave me a wave as they moved to the boarding line.

Thankfully, the ol' xanax kicked in before I could say "Sky Mall," and I was out cold for the entire flight from NYC to St. Louis.   Also thankfully, I didn't end up drooling in my drug-induced sleep on my boss.  (Blood sugars, though stress was a big elevated today, held remarkably steady at 90, 134, 143, and then 91 mg/dl.  I was pleased.) 

Tomorrow marks the official beginning of the AADE conference.  If you are attending, come swing by the dLife booth (no. 1726) and say hello - I'd love to meet you in person!

More updates tomorrow night, including some photos of that gorgeous St. Louis arch, and of the St. Louis ballpark, where I can see homeplate from my hotel window. 

August 01, 2007

Every Move You Make ...

Last night, Chris and I took a little jaunt to see a band I never thought I would see live - The Police.  Despite the parking nightmare (thousands upon thousands of cars parked on a field with no marker posts or anything even remotely indicative of where we were standing), the concert was completely awesome.

A view from our seats.

I had seen Sting play once (which I made the verbal typo of calling him "String" to Chris and now that's how we refer to him - "Oh hey, going to see String tonight?") in Providence but not with The Police.  This was one of those huge shows from bands that toured when we were little kids and broke up before we were "of concert age."  We figured our chances of seeing them were sunk.

Until they reunited.  And oh man, were they awesome.

"String" and his pals.

There was a lady sitting a few rows down from us who was rocking so hard I thought her arms were going to fly off.  They started playing "Every Breath You Take" and she just went berserk, flailing around, screaming incomprehensible words, and tossing her short-cropped curls as she gyrated in her "I Love My Grandkids" t-shirt.  She made me almost as happy as The Police themselves.  (We took a video of her, and of a few songs, that I'll load up later.  She may be my new hero.)

And now I'm off to pack for St. Louis and get ready for the AADE.  If you're going to be at the conference, stop by the dLife booth and say hello!  I'll be the one ... most likely talking incessantly.  :)

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