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March 31, 2008

Cartoons Are Based on my Life.

One of my co-workers once told me, after I had relayed my most recent bit of idiocy, "Cartoons are based on your life."

Apparently, there's now truth to that statement.  

Cartoons are based on my diabetes life.
 
For the full cartoon, skip over to HealthCentral to view!

Thanks, HealthCentral, for completely making my day.  (And for providing another visual of Siah stuffed into a banana ... that makes me laugh every time.)

March 28, 2008

The Friday Six: Weekend Prep.

The Friday Six:  March 28, 2008 editionShannon tells me it's snowing like 8 inches up in her neck of the woods.  My mother reports rain in Providence.  And it's chilly with a side of potential frogs raining down here in Connecticut - what the heck is up with this weather?  Here's the Friday Six for this bizarre-weathered Friday.

As I stated in my earlier post today, Children With Diabetes is now a part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.  See it ... look closer - it's diabetes, right there on the map.  Nice.  I'm excited to see how this will affect the diabetes community on the whole.  Big news!

In other diabetes-related news, April 14th is Raise Your Voice: Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Day!  There's a Facebook event if you haven't seen it already (and it's not hard to "attend," seeing as how this is a virtual event.)  Now that the troops are rallied, all we need is a logo ... and here's where you come in.  Bill over at EatSmart has offered one of his nutrition scales as a prize for our logo contest - that's a $75 value!   Here are the rules:

  1. Design a logo (the size cap is 200 x 300 pixels). 
  2. Include the event name:  "Raise Your Voice!" 
  3. Have fun designing it.
  4. Maybe have a snack while you're designing - apples are tasty.   
  5. Email it to me as an attachment to kerri [at] sixuntilme [dot] com with the subject line "LOGO CONTEST" no later than 3 pm on Thursday, April 3rd
  6. Grin because it's done and submitted.

That's it.  The winner will be decided on Friday morning and Bill (thank you, Bill!) will send you an EatSmart nutrition scale of your very own.

And one last thing on the scale:  After I posted my review of the EatSmart nutrition scale yesterday, Bill over at EatSmart gave me a call and told me that if you guys want to order your own scale, enter "KerriSentMe" into the coupon field during checkout on the EatSmart site and receive 10% off your order.  I thought that was right-kind of him - so if you're thinking about ordering a scale, score your 10% off, damnit!

I know many of you have seen the Gaping Void cartoons (this one is my favorite today), but did you know you can get business cards with these quippy little suckers on them?  I was unaware.  Now I am intrigued.  I like my business cards, but it would be kicking to have something so bizarre.  Food for thought.  And just as a sidenote:  I love these cartoons. 

Tomorrow is my wedding shower.  (Yes, I know I'm not supposed to know, but since I live out of state, I needed to know what day to come home.  So I know it's tomorrow.)  I know I need to be there at noon-thirty.  And I know it will be fun, because with my mother and my terrific bridesmaids at the helm, it's sure to be an awesome time.  Everything is happening very quickly now:  the bridal shower, then bachelorette party, then the last meetings with our vendors, then the rehearsal dinner, then the wedding ... I'm afraid if I blink, I'll find myself on the plane bound for our honeymoon.  I wish I could slow this time down so I could actually enjoy it!  Instead, I will blog it.  (This may be the mark of a blogging addiction.)

And six.  Ahhh, the final moment for me today before the weekend cracks wide open and swallows me.  This morning, at about 3 am, I woke to the sound of scritch scritching, coming from the bedroom floor.  I ignored it at first, thinking that it was just one of the cats lolling around.  But it came again, louder this time:  scritch scritch.  So I leaned up, looked to the floor, and saw Siah completely wrapped up in toilet paper.  She had completely unraveled the roll from the master bathroom, dragged the bulk to the middle of my bedroom, and made a nest in it.  Like an enormous hamster. 

I do not need a dog.  I have a Sausage cat who laughs at me.

Breaking News: CWD and Johnson & Johnson

Big news for Children With Diabetes.  As of the announcement at 10:30 this morning, CWD is becoming part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.  According to his open letter to the CWD community, Jeff Hitchcock says "I'm pleased to tell you we have found a new home within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, a global health care organization also dedicated to families and children, and a home that will enable us to expand in ways that we are just beginning to imagine." 

Congrats to the Children With Diabetes community!

March 27, 2008

Precision Carb Counting.

Diagnosed in 1986 with type 1 diabetes (Kerri, you're diabetic?  I had no idea...), my first diabetes meal plan involved that dreaded exchange system.  Two starches, a protein, a fat, a fruit ... a headache with each meal.  Since my insulin at the time was Regular and NPH, I was matching food to insulin and constantly chasing that bell curve.  Meal times were a constant hassle, with my poor mother whipping out measuring cups and teeny food scales at restaurants, referring to the Big Red Joslin Handbook for exchange values, and swearing under her breath with savvy and discretion.

As a result of this willy-nilly (ooh, fun phrase) mash-up of insulin and food, it was tough to hold my numbers steady.  We could only predict somewhat how my numbers would react to my mealplan.  It wasn't until fast-acting insulin, the precision of insulin pumping, and the frustrating miracle of carbohydrate counting that I was able to eat with more pleasure and better predict the blood sugar outcome.

However.

I am not good at "eye-balling" food portions.  Without second-guessing, I can convince myself that a cup and a half of pasta is only a cup.  What looks like fifteen green grapes captured in a plastic bag ends up actually being 26.  And please don't even ask me what a tablespoon of ketchup is, because I have no clue. 

Which is why, when the guy at Eat Smart contacted me about his nutrition scale, I was all about giving it a go.  He offered to send me a sample scale to review, at no cost and no payment to me.  So FYI - this is not a paid review. 

The Eat Smart scale

The scale arrived in the mail yesterday and it has a jazzy, streamlined look to it, which I like. Figuring out  how to turn the thing on and make sense of all the buttons was not intimidating to me (as I've mentioned before, I have serious techno-joy) but I could see it being a little overwhelming for someone not as tech-savvy.  However, the instruction manual was very straight-forward and within a few seconds, I was weighing in my mid-morning apple. 

According to the Calorie King website, my apple should have contained roughly 19.1 grams of carbohydrate.  This is an estimation based on the size of the apple and my perception of that size.  According to the nutrition scale, my apple contained 15.3 grams of carbohydrate.  At first glance, it looks like a "tomato, to-mah-toe" issue, but when I'm aiming to keep my numbers as steady and eliminate as many variables as possible, even 5 grams makes a difference. 

In addition to weighing random items with precision, the scale also offered up plenty o' nutritional info like calories, carbohydrates, fiber, fat content, sodium ... and on and on and on.  At this stage in my life, I'm mostly focused on carbohydrate content and occasionally sodium or fat values, but I can see how this data would be really helpful for other health conditions.  There's a list of 999 foods that are pre-programmed into the device, with an option to manually calculate using the food label on an item - like a dollop of cottage cheese or similar.  This feature was very helpful for me because I tend to eat a lot of fruits, fresh vegetables, and protein, so I don't have the benefit of an FDA nutrition label on everything I'm chowing.

So the data is helpful.  The scale is a little on the bulky side (see the picture for comparison against your average, garden variety office pen - grown fresh here in the dLife garden) and it's also on the pricey side ($75 bucks for this sucker!) but the return on this investment could be worth it.  I haven't tooled around with it enough to make a long-term assessment, but my initial feel is "Hey Scale, You're damn useful!"

Do you guys use scales to measure the "unpackaged" food?  Or are you more apt to wing it?  I'll admit - I wing it more often than I'd like, even though I'm eating a very healthy diet for the most part.  Hopefully a scale like this, a more focused determination to carefully account for my carb intake, and more coffee (yay!) will help me fine-tune this chaos.

Now let's see if this booklet has a value for "cheesecake" ... yum...

(Also, Hannah wrote a great post on the old exchange system from ADA - check it out!) 

UPDATE:  If you want to order your own scale, enter "KerriSentMe" into the coupon field during checkout on the EatSmart website and receive 10% off your order.  How's that for cool?

March 26, 2008

Wagon? What Wagon?

Addicted:  Coffee Recently, I discussed my desire to kick the caffeine habit.  I waxed on for way too many words about how I was going to leave the chaos of caffeine behind and start this new, clean life of staying awake and alert without the assistance of my favorite coffee or tea indulgence.  And I sighed this big, self-righteous sigh and picked up a box of decaffeinated tea from Whole Foods, convinced I was going to heal thyself.

What a frickin' liar I am. 

Instead of sticking to my well-intentioned guns, I'm so far off the "no caffeine" wagon that it's ridiculous.  The wagon is waaaay ahead of me, leaving me here in the dust, coffee cup clutched in my little bride-to-be hands.  Over the past two weeks, I've reinstituted coffee into my daily diet.  Granted, I'm sticking to the meal plan I had established (minus a few moments of weakness, which included a piece of chocolate Guinness Cake on St. Patrick's Day, a few beers, and three Almond Hershey Kisses from my co-worker's stash), but I couldn't hold steady on my mission for no caffeine. 

I can't even say that I'm trying.  Today alone has been a jittery nightmare:  a small coffee right when I got to work, a large Earl Gray tea from the diner downstairs at mid-morning, and a large iced coffee after lunch.  Yesterday was only slightly more acceptable.  I love the ritual of coffee, chatting with co-workers around the machine in the morning.  I love the social jaunts down to the diner with my office mates, talking with the waitress downstairs as we get our respective caffeine fixes.  I love my stupid coffee mug and the cheap mug warmer that I bought at the dollar store. 

But I am addicted not only to the routine - no, that would be too easy.  I'm also hooked on the actual coffee buzz.  I love that feeling of controlled pandemonium that a good cup of coffee brings to my busy work day.  It's totally sadistic, but I like the edge of panic a java boost gives to my to do list.  With the list of crap to do being ridiculously overwhelming lately (thank you, wedding and worky bits), I feel like I want need the helping hand of coffee. 

I know my weaknesses:  Chris.  My foolish cat critters.  The need to laugh at fart jokes.  Anything related to writing.  And coffee.  Hey, I'm woman enough to admit my weaknesses.  I can't stop drinking this crap, not at this tender stage in the game. It's part of the fabric, and I'm all woven up in it. 

I know I'm not the only one who is addicted.  But I know people have cut caffeine out of their lives completely, too.  After the wedding, I'll give it another go.  For now, I need a refill.   

March 25, 2008

Sound the Alarm: Diabetes Alert Day

Today, March 25th, is Diabetes Alert Day.  This awareness campaign is aimed at people becoming more aware of type 2 diabetes and taking a few minutes to assess their own diagnosis potential.  dLife has a whole section dedicated to Diabetes Alert Day and a quick quiz to help you assess your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Now this is all well and good for raising awareness for the type 2 community.  All awareness is good.  And as Amy noted, there are ways to get involved to benefit the type 1 community, too.  But I would love to have a day dedicated to raising awareness for type 1 diabetes.  Often, type 1 is pooled together with type 2 diabetes, causing society to look at me and wonder if my diabetes is "bad" or "uncontrolled" because I'm using an insulin pump or testing every hour or meticulously counting carbohydrates.  I want people to know that my diabetes is not manageable with a pill or with exercise and diet alone - people need to understand that type 1 requires a whole different cure than its type 2 counterpart.  This is not to point a finger of blame at anyone with type 2 (because I HATE the blame game), but more to highlight the fact that education does not prevent type 1 diabetes, as it can help to prevent type 2 diabetes. 

So I'm proposing that Monday, April 14th be a day of diabetes awareness focusing on the type 1 community.  Blog about it.  Contact your local JDRF chapters and see what you can do to raise awareness.  Help your friends and family understand how living with type 1 diabetes has affected your life and what they can do to help the progress towards a cure.  Find out more about the progressive research of such pioneers as Dr. Denise Faustman.  See what you can do to make a difference.

We may be a smaller group, but I have this sneaking suspicion we can be loud.  The more people who hear us, the more impact we will have.

Brevity: The Six Word Memoir

The challenge:  write a six word memoir.  Six words?  How can I cram my life into just six words?  How the heck do I do that?  I do love a challenge, though.  (Hey, that's six words.)  Here it is, my six word memoir, summing up everything I know about life and my attempts to have a healthy, successful existance despite all challenges.  Can I do it?:

I don't know, but I'll try.

Here's the rules to this crafy little meme: 

  1. Write your own six word memoir;
  2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like;
  3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere;
  4. Tag at least five more blogs with links; and
  5. Don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!
I was tagged by Amylia.  In return, I'm tagging:  Nicole, Carey, Bennet, Allison, and my soon-to-be married bloggy pal Melissa.

March 24, 2008

NoBunny Should Laugh At This.

I laughed so hard at this that it's clear how necessary a vacation has become.

March 21, 2008

The Friday Six: Spring Edition

Friday Six!Yay for Spring!  Despite the chilly temperatures outside, I've switched over to my spring coat.  Granted, I froze my ass off walking into work today, but yay!  It's spring!  I'm beyond ready for winter to be ovah (thank you, RI accent that I wish I had) and I can't wait to hit the beach this summer.

Okay, on to The Six.

1.  This is wicked cute, just in time for spring, and courtesy of a fellow AisledasherClick anywhere on the screen and watch the flowers bloom.  It absorbed my attention for at least ten minutes.  And now it's absorbing it all over again.  Mmmmm flowers ... I mean, doughnuts ...

2.  And in keeping with the complete nonsense theme, it's been a walk down the proverbial memory lane here at work lately.  Between a co-worker bringing in her son's copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon and discussions about whether or not Lady Elaine was an alcoholic (look at that nose and tell me she's not drinking daily in the Land of Make Believe), it's been random.  This randomness led neatly into the rediscovery of this memory:  Meow Meow Telephone.  I've watched this clip so many times that it's permanently stuck in my head.  If I could make it my ring tone, I would.  If I could get it out of my head, I would do that, too.

3.  In diabetes news, there's a new site for young people with diabetes.  (Aren't there always new sites?  The Internet - it dizzies me.)  According to Daniel, the developer of the site, "Young Diabetics started with a few college students trying to make a difference for their diabetic friends, family, and acquaintances."  Check it out!

4.  Chris and I are heading home to RI (again) for Easter weekend.  I'm hoping that, between our nieces and nephews and younger cousins, we'll score some colored eggs to take home.  I loved coloring eggs as a kid.  The Paas tablets in my mother's tea cups, all lined up on the kitchen counter, are the concrete memory of Easter that I have as a kid.  However, since we've all grown up and are out of the house, so many of those traditions have been lost.  Traveling for the holidays has become an unfortunate trend in so many families, my own included.  How do you keep hold of those family traditions when so much time is spent flitting from house to house? 

5.  Busy, busy.  That's the trend, or at least it has been for several months now.  But a co-worker recently sent me a link that could help make sense of the mess I muck around in all day long - Sandy!  Sandy is touted as "your personal email assistant."  Looks like it works along the same model as Twitter (with the @todo sending messages directly toThe Friday Six:  March 21,, 200 edition "Sandy") and by cc'ing Sandy on emails with sentences starting "Remind me to ... ", this service keeps a running tally of crap you need to do.  I haven't really explored this, nor do I have the time today to teach myself how to make sense of a new service, but it's an interesting idea.  Having my own intern would also be interesting, but do interns clean litter boxes?  Hmmm...

6.  And lastly, today is Chris's birthday.  Happy birthday to my supportive fiance, my best friend, and my hero. 

Have a great weekend! 

March 20, 2008

One Year.

We hiked up the trail to Ram Head, on the southernmost portion of St. John.  We had an intimate dinner on the porch of our eco-cabin

And after dinner, Chris asked me to marry him.

Today marks one year since Chris and I got engaged.  Our wedding is in 59 days (thank you, Facebook countdown that pings me every morning) and we're wrapping up so many of the final details now.  The invitations are being FedEx'd to my office tomorrow morning and we're sending them out on Saturday.  The wedding shower has been planned.  The bachelorette party is ... well, that's in full swing, too.  We've booked our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic.  My dress is having the finishing touches put on the pump pocket next week and I'm choosing my veil this weekend.  We're ordering our wedding rings on Saturday. 

(And I finished my March Madness bracket this morning, just in time for the 11 am deadline.  Priorities, no?)

But now the wedding is so close.  Just a few weeks away.  We've been engaged for a long time.  But if I think back to that night in St. John, I can clearly remember the shock of seeing him on one knee with that red box in his hands.  I remember seeing how happy he looked and how shaky my hands were when he put the ring on my finger.  My stomach still jumps a bit remembering these moments. 

Our wedding day will come and go (and hopefully I'll remember the majority of it).  But I'm looking forward to a long and happy marriage with Chris, one where we will celebrate successes together, comfort each other during moments of challenge, and laugh our heads off at all of life's silliness. 

Cheers to you, my future husband.  And to our long and happy life ahead. I love you dearly.

The beach in RI that I went to as a kid.  :)

March 19, 2008

Dear Medtronic.

These are the sneakers I have.  Just as a sidenote.Dear Medtronic,

How are you?  It's been a few weeks since we've touched base, but I wanted to let you know that my new insulin pump is chugging along just fine at the moment.  It's finally a bit scuffed and I have all my new carb ratios and basal patterns plugged in there - just like the old one.  So thanks for making such a great pump and for having a commendable level of customer service.

Why am I sucking up a bit?  Well, this is a little awkward.  I'm really disappointed in something I've read today.  I've always liked you as a company and I've always been proud to be a part of your user base.  But I received an email from Marcus last night that upset me. 

He sent me a link to the Medtronic Global Heroes campaign, aimed at highlighting the achievements of runners with diabetes.  According to your website:  "A Global Hero is a runner. An inspiration. A person whose life has been improved by medical technology."  Aside from earning some recognition and plenty of product benefits, the Global Heroes will also have this option:  "Medtronic Foundation will donate $1,000 on behalf of each Global Hero to a non-profit patient organization that educates and supports individuals who live with the runner’s condition."

What an awesome opportunity!  I know plenty of strong, talented runners from the blogosphere.  Like Marcus Grimm.  And Anne.  And Ed.  People who are conquering their condition and pushing themselves to higher levels of physical fitness and health.  But only if they fit the specific criteria.

Because you have added a stipulation this year that states: "Runners 40 years or older with insulin pumps and who have had diabetes for more than 15 years are ineligible."

Medtronic, would you care to explain to us how you justify leaving them behind?  Your Global Heroes program is inspiring and can really show people with diabetes how limitless their lives can be.  I understand the need for a CYA caveat, but to forbid them to even participate?  Taking away their option to earn funding for their chosen charity?  That's shameful.

Medtronic, you make a great pump.  But you've made better impressions. 

-- Kerri. 

March 18, 2008

Glucose Goblins.

Remove the old infusion set after my workout at the gym (most often).  My blood sugar is usually excellent at this point - in the low 100's. 

Okay, that's easy.  It pulls right out and I give the area a once-over for any signs of infection or irritation.  Then I take a look at the old cannula and check for any curious kinks or bends.

Then I shower.  (I love "free shower," without any infusion sets to catch on my shower pouf or carefully avoid while I shave my legs.) 

Ready the new set - prime the thing, and shunk into my other thigh, away from any recent sites.  Test again, see something very similar to the result I saw before the shower.  No problems.  The site feels fine - devoid of any sharp pains or aches - and the first bolus doesn't feel like slices of lemon being pushed into my nerves.  Everything appears to be aces. 

Commence evening activities, either going out with Chris, doing a little writing, (gasp) housework, watching a movie, or piddling around on the Internet.  About an hour and a half passes.  I run my tongue over my teeth and notice the fibrous sweaters.  Test (another shunk, but this one in my finger) and see a result hovering near the 300 mg/dl range.

What.

The.

Hell.

This happens all too often.  I don't know if there is a delayed absorption after placing a new site or if I'm just waiting too long to "reinstall" after pulling the old one out, but I feel like I'm being followed around by these blasted glucose goblins.  It's like they're lacing the air with sugar, sending my numbers into orbit.  It's veryHoly sugar jar that is apparently attached to my face after a site change. frustrating to spend so much time monitoring and carefully calculating, only to have a site change send my averages over the moon. 

I almost always change my sites in the evening, barring any unforseen circumstances like scraping the site off by accident with the grocery bags (last month) or bonking against my desk drawer at work and knocking it loose (last year).  This timing is intentional because I can go longer without eating in the evening hours.  But regardless of whether or not I'm snacking, it seems to take HOURS for the infusion set to settle in.  And the highs every three or four days are making me go bananas.

Damn glucose goblins.  I need to find their kryptonite.

March 17, 2008

Don We Now Our Green Apparel.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Blogosphere!   It's the day when my first name (like County Kerry in Ireland) resonates and I actually debate putting green food coloring in just about everything. It's also the birthday of both my father and my editor-in-chief, so there's plenty of celebrating going on.

I spent the weekend in Newport, RI with NurseBestFriend and some local pals.  We partied from the early morning hours straight into the early morning hours of the next day.  Check out the Flickr highlights.

Highlights included:

Irish eyes are shrining.

This excellently deadpan Shriner with his puppet.  This guy never broke into a smile, never actually acknowledged the puppet, but it danced and waved and puppeted about.

Strange. 

There were some fantastic leprechauns.

Kerri and Jess.

And some big grins with my best friend.  And then with Elmo.

Kerri and Elmo

There once was a green-themed parade
Where Elmo's red fur was displayed.
Kerri sought out his hug,
For the camera they mugged,
And complete was St. Patty's Day made!

Today we're having a party at work and tonight (after the gym, of course), Chris and I are off to celebrate in town.  What are your plans for the holiday?

March 14, 2008

St. Patty's Six.

The Friday Six:  March 14, 2008 editionWhat a week.  And even though Monday is actually Saint Patrick's Day, I'm observing the holiday this weekend.  So here be the St. Patty's Six. 

HUGE news from Abbott yesterday regarding their version of the continuous glucose monitoring system: The Navigator.  I am itching to try this system out, too.  I am looking forward to the day when CGM models all but replace traditional glucose meters.  The power of real-time results is unparalleled, but we just need a company to make it work.  I'm curious to see how The Navigator compares against what we've already seen from Medtronic and Dexcom.

Also, the JDRF website is featuring a Blogger Roundtable discussion this week - and there are plenty of people from the diabetes community that have been highlighted.  Read the insights and perspectives offered up by Bernard, Scott J, Sandra, Amy, Gina, Scott S, Allie, Manny, and me!  Thanks to Allison for compiling these profiles. 

And thanks to a tip from Bernard, the first human trials towards a cure for established type 1 diabetes are on the verge of starting.  According to the release, "The first step in the human study, which is currently enrolling volunteers, is to determine whether the same strategy using BCG vaccination can be used to modify the abnormal autoimmune cells that are present in type 1 diabetes, sometimes called 'juvenile-onset' diabetes."  This is tremendous news, and I'm already checking to see if I could be a possible volunteer.  Exciting times, but I'm reserving my hope for once the trials produce some results.  Still ... pretty darn exciting.

On a knitting note (stretching for the segue), I came across these neat little knitted ... bodily organs thanks to this week's Grand Rounds.   The blogger over at FreshMD is the source for these images and highlights the creators of these crafts.  I'm impressed, and personally, I like the little corn-on-the-cob looking pancreas in a pretty butter yellow.

And with the last of the invitation list sent out to the printer and our invitations en route, I'm taking the weekend off from thinking about anything wedding or diabetes-related. I'm off to Newport, RI to celebrate St. Patrick's Day starting with the big parade and ending up ... who knows where. :)  My maid of honor is in charge.  I'm just happily following her lead and will do my best to not stress out about a damn thing.

Have a great (and safe) weekend and I'll see you Monday!!  (Editor's Note:  I just realized there are only five items here.  Whoops.  As a quick sixth, check out this wonderful tribute by SuperG about his father.  His post brought tears to my eyes, and made me want to drive home to RI and give my dad a hug.)

March 13, 2008

Beyond Insulin.

Moving away from home has been tough. 

Almost two years ago now, Chris and I moved from our respective hometowns in Rhode Island and ventured out here to western CT.  Work for both of us has been productive and has advanced our careers, but socially it's been a little lacking.  We do have each other (and he is my best friend and fiance, so we can actually hang out and have fun), and Chris and I have explored so much of our new town and surrounding areas.  We've dined at great restaurants, found some fun new places, and created bits of comfort in this strange new place. I still really love my job and my co-workers have gone from "office mates" to people I feel are my friends. 

But at least twice a month, we go home to RI and hang out with our friends, visiting Boston or Providence or teeny seaside towns like Watch Hill or Narragansett.  Even though CT has great job opportunities and the excitement of NYC just a quick train ride away, Rhode Island and its sandy beaches will always be home.  And my friends will always be my friends, whether I live in the same town as them or I live thousands of miles away. 

I realize that RI is only about three hours away from our home in CT, but sometimes it feels like we're living out on the moon.  It gets a little lonely at times, and I've missed my friends and family tremendously over the past few months in particular.  As the wedding draws nearer, my bridesmaids call often and my mother and I talk several times a week, but I miss having these conversations in person.  Truth be told, I'm homesick these days and I miss my friends to the point where I'm starting to whiiiiiine about it.

Blogging, and the internet in general, does provide a certain social outlet.  I really enjoy writing and am grateful for all of the people I've "met" in the last few years.  But there's something sterile and a bit detached about the internet.  I feel very lucky to have met people like Nicole, Shannon, Julia, and Christel who have really stepped past blogging buddies and into the parts of my life that are beyond diabetes.  For me, it's about building relationships that actually mean something, not just collecting "friends" like they're baseball cards.  And so much of that real connection is possible within this community.

Last night, I had dinner with two women who I connected with through the Fairfield County chapter of the JDRF.  One I've met before and the other is actually the sister of a guy I work with here at dLife.  (Everyone here has some connection to the disease.)  It was terrific to hang out with new people - in person! - and realize there was way more than diabetes to talk about.  The three of us tossed around the idea of a Fairfield County monthly dinner or something, and I'm totally game.  So ... long blog post short, if you're living in the Fairfield County area and would like to join us for a monthly "It's More Than Diabetes" (or something like that) dinner, drop me a line at kerri [at] sixuntilme [dot] com.

In the meantime, I'll be analyzing how much time I spend online and how I want to reposition the internet as it relates to my life.  Life is short -- too short to spend more time face-to-face with a computer instead of ... a face. 

Too linked in?

March 12, 2008

Infusion Sets.

I've made it pretty clear that I'm an advocate for using my thigh to host my insulin pump infusion sets.  I like having it placed lower on my body, keeping it a bit incognito, even from me.  It doesn't rub against the waistband of my pants, it doesn't press against Chris when I hug him, and it doesn't get in the way when I'm at the gym.  Overall, the thigh placement keeps my blood sugars stable and my pump tucked away most easily. 

I'm a fan. 

But there are times when it's a little tricky, too.  Take this weekend:  I spent the majority of the day lolling around the house and traipsing around town in jeans, vs. the dress pants or skirts I wear at work.  The jeans aren't baggy or loose, so the denim fabric is pressed pretty snugly against my legs.  Over the course of the last few months, I've noticed that wearing jeans while wearing a thigh site leaves my infusion sets a little battered.  The white edging gets frayed and stained with blue fibers.  Eventually, if I wear jeans for a few days in a row, the site gauze starts to peel back a little, threatening to dislocate the site entirely.  

Insulin pump infusion set, post-jeans.
The infusion set, hanging out on my right thigh. 

Aside from the times I've almost ripped the site out while getting dressed, this jeans thing is the biggest problem.  To help keep the site from bailing before its time, I will stick a few pieces of medical tape around the edge of the gauze.  The tape ends up frayed and blue, but the site remains intact.

I've been thinking about doing some site rotations again - maybe trying out the arm site again or perhaps making an attempt at the (gasp) rear end location.  I'm such a creature of habit, though, a little shy to try something away from my regular routine.  Are you guys using some creative locations for your infusion sets?  (Aside from the breasts - I cannot bring myself to try that one.) 

(Also, THANK YOU for all of the great music selections yesterday.  I have been at Amazon all morning long, picking out CDs and previewing stuff on Seeqpod.  I feel like I've been completely revitalized.)

What the ...?

I can't let this slip by unnoticed.  Have you seen the evil side-stepping gnome from South America?  The UK Sun says this is true, so it must be.

March 11, 2008

A Good Tune.

I even own some Yanni.  I know...For as far back as I can remember, music has been such a crucial part of my little world.  When I was a little kid (we're talking like six or seven years old), I can distinctly remember listening to my mom's Elton John tapes on my Fisher Price tape player.  I also remember buying my first tape cassette when I was 10 - Beethoven's 9th Symphony.  I played that tape over and over until it wore out and the actual cassette tape warped.

In my mind, my life has a constant soundtrack.  If I trip and fall over my own feet while walking downtown (often right in front of a coffee shop window where people are sitting and, of course, looking out), I hear the sounds of a stumbling tuba, a la Droopy Dog.  When Chris proposed on the balcony in St. John, I heard the swells of some wildly romantic Italian aria.  Even as I sit at work and watch the emails file in first thing in the morning, "Flight of the Bumblebee" runs frantically through my head.

I LOVE live music and have seen plenty of awesome bands in person - The Frames, U2, Muse, 311, Jewel, Radiohead, Gomez, Damien Rice, Stereolab, and The Beastie Boys.  There's something so intense about hearing these musicians perform their songs LIVE, in front of my face, streaming right into my ears and dipping directly into my soul.  Gets me fired up, makes me feel alive.

There are definitive genres of music that are called into play when I'm trying to write, as well.  Regardless of whether or not I'm writing something upbeat or emotionally evocative, I always head to the same kinds of tunes:  moody sorts of music that is someone was going to guess my personality type by listening to my iTunes, they'd think I'm itching to off myself.  Radiohead, Damien Rice, The Frames (especially the new stuff from the "Once" soundtrack and tracks from "The Swell Season"), Nick Drake, Tori Amos ... and soundtracks.  Like "Schindler's List" and "Braveheart" and "Last of the Mohicans." 

I know - pretty damn moody for someone who spend the majority of her day laughing.  Looking at my iTunes library makes me look all emo and crap.  ;)

I spend the majority of my day plugged in to headphones or listening through the speakers, doing my job, and enjoying tunes.  Over the last few months, I've been listening to the same music, but I rec'd a mix cd from Carey a few bit ago that introduced a whole new cache of bands into my playlist.  Now I'm itching for some new songs and new bands - it's like I need a musical spring cleaning, shuffling out the old stuff I don't really listen to anymore (sorry, Snow Patrol) and bringing in the new blood. 

So, O Wise Internet - what are you listening to these days?  Anything worth sharing?  Can I usher in the Spring with your playlist?   

March 10, 2008

A Little Fitness Info.

The folks at Fitness4Diabetics contacted me with information about their upcoming webinar - with Hope Warshaw, who was at Divabetic last week!  Here's the scoop from the release:

"On Thursday, March 13th,at 7pm EST, Fit4D will be hosting Hope Warshaw, author of multiple books on healthy eating, including Eat Out, Eat Right, along with Fit4D Director of Nutrition Services, Susan Meeke, MS, RD, LD,CDE, for a very special presentation for nutrition month. This promises to be a lively and interactive discussion about healthy eating and increased activity levels as a means to long-term lifestyle change.

In honor of Fit4D's two year anniversary providing diabetes coaching services, Fit4D will contribute $5 to JDRF for the first 100 hundred people who register and attend the March 13th webinar.   We want to thank you for your help in promoting our monthly webinars. 

Participants can register at http://www.fit4d.com/newsletter.php?a=signup  or sign up for our newsletter and updates on future seminars including Mom, Can I Have Cookies? Diabetes in Childhood and Committing to Your Health.  For more information, please visit www.fit4d.com or call 866 411 0254."

Things I Found.

Gold stars -- they're all over my purse at the moment.Things I found in my purse yesterday:  Three loose Mentos candies, fourteen (!) dead test strips, one key to the dLife office that I keep forgetting to put back on my keyring, a dollar bill, and a package of gold star stickers. 

Things I found underneath the bed:  A CluckCoo cuckoo clock (which lead to the box being opened, which lead to a battle between two cats), a strand of white Christmas lights, my old notary public embosser, a dust bunny the size of a toaster oven, and a pair of expensive black high heels that I have never worn because I totally forgot they were there. 

Things I found in our fridge:  A huge jar of minced garlic, eleven bottles of Humalog insulin,  one lone sharon fruit, two bottles of dessert wine, a jar of eye cream, and one of my birthday cards - cannot explain that last one.

Things I found out while arguing with my fiance:  The wedding is so close (69 days from today) that I'm starting to lose my mind and am tweaking out unnecessarily.  I also realized - yet again - that I hate arguing with the person I love the most.  I need to remember this more often.

Things I found will make me laugh instantly these days:  Any mental image of Siah tucked inside that banana, remembering Grape Ape and how he was driven around on the top of a van driven by a beagle, the fact that cats don't get wrinkles, and any pictures of old people in party hats.  For some reason, those items are putting me over the edge today.

Things I found in the pot of my plant at work:  The dismembered leg of an action figure I have here at work.  Leave those production guys alone in here for a split second and they make a creative mess of things.  

Things I found that effectively end a post:  . 

March 07, 2008

Early Weekend.

This morning I had the pleasure of sitting down for a great breakfast with Mollie Singer and her mom, Jackie.  (Yes, her sister is Jackie as well.)  Mollie blogs over at CureMoll and has been type 1 since she was four years old.

We sat down for coffee and eggs at Pershing Square (right near Grand Central) and gabbed about college, relationships, and our experiences growing up with diabetes.  There's something very unique about sitting down with another blogging diabetic and have that instant connection.  Mollie's mom reminded me so much of my own mother, talking candidly about how an upbeat attitude can make all the difference.  And Mollie, with her bright smile, was just as sweet and positive as I had anticipated.

To that end, we laughed, joked, and had a good time.  Maybe too good a time, because when Mollie's mother excused herself to the ladies' room, this guy came over to our table.

"Excuse me, but my friends and I have a bet that you aren't from around here."

Did I hear him right?  "What's that?"

"That you aren't from New York.  Are you?"

Mollie shook her head.  "I'm from Vegas."

"Me?  I'm from Rhode Island."

The guy laughed.  "So definitely not from New York.  I knew it!  You seemed to fresh-faced and happy to be from the city."

I couldn't help but laugh right back.  "You're telling me that we seem too happy to be from New York?  That we're too smiley?  Well sir, I take that as a high compliment then."

Kerri and Mollie - not locals!  :)

Cheers to you, Mollie, for being another happy face visiting NYC!! 

I'm off to get an early start on the weekend - have a good one!

March 06, 2008

Diabetes Undetected: Emma Douglas.

Sad news from The Times Online

"A female Royal Navy officer with a promising career before her was left to die on the floor of her cabin because colleagues thought she was drunk.

An inquest jury blamed a series of mistakes yesterday for the death of 29-year-old Lieutenant Emma Douglas in a diabetic coma when her life could easily have been saved."

Emma was found on the floor of her cabin, deep in the throes of DKA due to her undiagnosed type 1 diabetes.  According to the article, after losing weight and diagnosed with oral thrush, "The doctor advised her to rest and return if the symptoms persisted but failed to suggest a urine test for diabetes."  On the day she slipped into a coma, a midshipman who saw her on the floor assumed she was drunk and closed the door without checking on her.  She died soon thereafter. 

People desperately need to be educated about the symptoms of diabetes, and the symptoms of high and low blood sugar.  If the doctors and shipmates of Emma had been more aware, they could have saved her life. 

My thoughts and prayers are with Emma's family today. 

March 05, 2008

Like the Weather.

Last week, I was scraping snow off my car.  The heat was on in the apartment and we were huddled underneath piles of down comforters, often accompanied by a small and irritating gray mess.  This week, I've been carrying my wool coat into work instead of wearing it, and I'm window-shopping for kicky little skirts at Ann Taylor. 

The weather here in New England is about as predictable as my blood sugars some days.  And my moods.

As the wedding draws even closer (it's 75 days away as of today - holy crap), everything has started to seem like it's taking on some fast-forward zoom.  I blink and it's Friday again.  I fall asleep for what feels like an instant at night, only to realize it's been six hours.  It's not stress (I'm trying to leave that behind) and it's not the tasks that need to be completed, but more how quickly time is passing.  In a few weeks, it will be a full year since Chris asked me to marry him.  A week later is my wedding shower.  And barely six weeks after that is my wedding day. 

Life is a patchwork of loosely threaded fabrics with incongruous patterns and unanticipated frays.  I find my mind clutching to the most random thoughts - my imagination is on excessive overload.  I'm collapsing into fits of giggles constantly. I wonder if the people at work think I'm losing it a little bit.  Someone made a comment about how I must keep my cats in cages at home because they are so meddlesome.  I retorted with, "No, I usually peel a banana, remove the banana part, and stuff the cat inside the peel, then reseal it."  My co-worker laughed.  "The ol' cat-in-the-banana trick again."  (Oh how I'd love - LOVE - to see a Photoshop representation of this mental image.  Siah, all tucked into a banana.  I'm laughing all over again.)

They're humoring me, but I don't think they have any idea how oddly wired I've felt lately.  I'm having a hard time writing non-fiction bits at the moment but have been penning so much fiction that it's making my fingers cramp.  My imagination is roaming around unsupervised, waking me up in the middle of the night so I can scribble down the thoughts I'm hosting.  Blogging lately has been a little difficult - maybe because my brain is taking all these unapproved vacations?  Diabetes, for the most part, has been giving me little to worry about, other than the daily maintenance routine, and IBanana - courtesy of www.chidiet.com  :) like it in the background vs. in the foreground clammoring for attention.  Yes, I'll test.  And eat healthy foods.  And sport the ol' insulin pump.  And exercise.  But I'm feeling highly creative, pretty damn moody, and a bouncing blend of extroverted and introverted.  At any given moment, I could either blurt out a poem or burst into tears.

Are these the chaotic emotions of a woman on the verge of getting married?  Is this part of a woman's monthly emotional ritual?  All three?  None of the above?  Is this normal?

Oh shoot, the banana's meowing again.    

March 04, 2008

Cold Sting of Insulin.

Icy pinprick of an infusion set.I have had plenty of infusion sets that don't hurt.  I wipe the site with an IV prep wipe, load up my trusty Quick-Serter, and shunk in a new infusion set into my skin.  Pull back the needle, leave the cannula inserted, and hook up the tubing.  Prime, stash the pump somewhere on my body, and move on with the day.

But lately, I've had a few infusion sets that stung like snakebites.  I'll be sitting on the side of the bed, pull back the white plunger on the Quick-Serter, and then send that infusion needle hurtling into what must be a happy little nest of the most sensitive nerve endings in my body.  At this point, I usually hop up on one leg, tears stinging in my eyes, and I bring forth my best Yosemite Sam impression (reserved for moments like this and for when my car makes me fume). 

Sunday night, I put in a new set and the string was unbelievable.  Determined to soldier through until the pain passed, I gritted my teeth and laced in my dinner bolus.  I could feel the cold of the insulin spreading underneath my skin like snowflakes.  I ate my dinner (spinach salad with chicken, as previously discussed) and tested two hours later at 228 mg/dl. 

Sometimes it feels like it takes a few extra hours for a new infusion set to "stick," so I decided to correct the blood sugar, go to sleep, and see what the morning brought.  

7:30 am - 156 mg/dl.  Though higher than I normally run in the morning, I didn't worry about the site.

All day yesterday, my numbers were crunched - 189 mg/dl, 221 mg/dl, 192 mg/dl, 201 mg/dl, and then finally 102 mg/dl.  It's like it took all freaking day to come down.   And oh how that site smarted like holy hell all day long.  Just the brush of my pants against the edge of the thigh sent spirals of pain down to my knees.  This was so not normal.

When I came home from work, I ripped the site out as fast as I could.  While the cannula was perfectly unkinked and appeared to be normal, the site gushed pus (ew, sorry) and blood immediately.  Over the course of the night, I'd managed to riot up an infection in that site - no wonder it was on a 2 hour delay accepting all my boluses and no wonder it was swollen up like someone had shoved a Mento under my skin.  

(Note to self:  If it hurts and you're high, just suck it up and change out the set.  Stop being so darn stubborn!)  

Today's numbers:  78 mg/dl, 138 mg/dl, 158 mg/dl, 108 mg/dl ... and holding steady.   

March 03, 2008

Sleep - UR Doin It Wrong.

I've been trying to keep to a recognizable schedule for the past few weeks and my body has thanked me for it.  Just a handful of lows, no highs over 200 mg/dl, and the bags under my eyes have shrunk down to "clutch-sized" (vs. the "teacher tote bag" size they had achieved in prior weeks). 

I opted to stay in CT this past weekend and finish an enormous project that was looming over my head.  Chris headed off to RI by himself, so I had a weekend of quiet solitude and no distractions.  I worked all day on Saturday, taking short breaks to visit my local Borders and then the little coffee shop down the street to grab a cup of tea and read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.  (Remarkable book, remarkable writer, devastatingly sad story.  Now that I've read the book, I am allowing myself to see the movie.)   My weekend was an odd blend of relaxation and focused work, keeping me up until all hours of the night on Saturday.

So, at 2:30 am, when I decided it was time to break for the night and crawl into bed, I was ready to sleep.  The bed was empty, save for two down comforters and a cozy throw blanket.  (We like lots of blankets to hide under.)  I rested my head against the pillow and readied myself to sleep.

Then I heard it.

This steady wheezing sound coming from the corner of the room.   Faint at first, it steadily grew in volume. 

"Zzzzzzzzz ... zzzzzzz." 

I sat up in bed and stared into the corner of the bedroom.  There, on the floor, was a mess of chubby, muliticolored Abby cat, curled up against the floor board and snoring.  Real-deal snoring with every breath.  

"Zzzzzzzz ... zzzzzzzzz."

I hopped out of bed and grabbed her fluffy self, plunking her down on the edge of the bed.  From my past experiences with Abby's snoring problem, having her up on the bed stops her from making that baby buzzsaw noise.  I settled back in, anticipating that the problem was solved.

Until she took it upon herself to sidle up to the top of the bed, flop down on my pillow, and resume her snoring - but this time, with one paw on my face.

"Ridiculous.  This is ridiculous.  Abby, just because Chris is away doesn't mean you can slop all over the bed.  Stop snoring!"  Yes, I said this to her.  Yes, I talk to animals at 2:30 in the morning.  That's what you do.

Her response:  "Zzzzzzz ... zzzzzzzz ... meow."

Grumbling, I moved over to the other side of the bed.  She continued to snore.  I poked her in the belly.  She meowed, all grumpy, and stretched out.  Then continued to snore. 

"Abby, stop snoring!"  I picked her up and put her on the floor.  She toddled off (all 16 pounds of her) and hid under the bed.  Where she started snoring again, louder this time, and completely out of my reach.  Damn crafty cat - apparently she's the one teaching Siah all her tricks.  Good thing these critters are cute, or I'd have already sold them to any bidder.

Abby the Snoring Cat.

On Sunday morning, I slept in until almost 11 o'clock.  Weekends are just awesome, especially the ones spent at home, doing whatever I want in accordance with whatever schedule I wanted.  How was your weekend?

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