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October 31, 2008

Red Riding Hood.

For those of you who have been with me from the beginning here at SUM, you've seen the Red Riding Hood costume before.  But due to the fact that I had no time to prepare a costume for work and I was in charge of wrangling things in for the dLife Halloween Party (my coworkers' costumes were FANTASTIC, by the way), I had to recycle.  Just call it a green Halloween.  ;)

Kerri "Red Riding Hood" Sparling

Happy Halloween, everyone!  And if you have a photo of your costume from today, post it in the comments section.  I want to see what everyone else dressed up as!!!  I'm off to my brother's house for the spooky festivities - pictures to come! 

Stay safe, and for crying out loud, eat at least one Snicker's bar, would you?  :)

October 30, 2008

Guilty Pleasure Time.

Today has been a day of awkwardness already.  To wit:Mrs. Kerri Clumsy

  • I tried to get into the wrong car this morning because I forgot that I don't drive the Jetta anymore.  Whoops.  But I'm trying to blame that on a lack of coffee in my system.
  • I walked into work with my skirt tangled in pump tubing, because I forgot to adequately tuck it all in before I got out of the car.  Argh.
  • Made coffee in my fancy pants SUM mug this morning without realizing that the remnants of yesterday's coffee were still floating around in there.  Yuck.  Had to rinse and renew.
  • Went to sit down in my chair while talking to someone and almost missed, nearly landing my arse on the floor.
  • (Mind you, it's only about 9:30 in the morning at this point.)
  • Fired up iTunes and blasted ... Yanni.  Yes, Yanni is sometimes the soundtrack of my editorial days.  I love him.  I want to put him on the cover of the romance novel of my life.  Yanni ...  (Awk. Ward.  But I love him.)
  • Laughed out loud at something when the office was completely silent.  Nothing like waking everyone up with my mega-decibel giggle.
  • Went for coffee downstairs and gave the lady a one instead of a five, causing me to stand there cluelessly while she neglected to ring up my purchase.  "You gave me a one instead of a five."  I returned from the mental moon.  "Oh, shoot, sorry about that."
  • And walking back up the stairs to the office, the thigh holster I was wearing to hold my pump started to slide, causing me to grab for my leg and hold the strap in place while trying to waddle to my desk, where I could hitch the holster back up.  Nothing like having the people in the board room thinking my underpants are falling down as I walk up the stairs.  Fantastic.
Grace:  Im doin it wrong.

October 29, 2008

Hannah Montana Does Diabetes?

Old school TigerBeat.  Ahhh!  Luke Perry!Here I am again, stepping waaaay outside of my comfort zone and admitting that I've seen that ridiculous TV show "Hannah Montana."  My niece M (formerly "Chris's niece M," but now that he and I are married, she's my niece, too!) has made me watch Hannah Montana many times, and it makes her giggle, so I tolerate it.

Now we all know that Hanna Montana is played by Miley Cirus.  Miley Cirus used to date Nick Jonas.  (Gag - I can't believe I'm writing this, but there's a point.  Bear with me being all TigerBeat.)  Nick Jonas was diagnosed with diabetes in November 2005.  And in an episode airing on November 2nd, diabetes makes an appearance on Disney's Hannah Montana show.

I've come full circle.  Finally.  ;)

This upcoming Hannah Montana show was brought to my attention by one of the wonderful CWD parents (full disclosure:  I love the CWD parents.  They remind me of my own mom and dad, and they rock!), and she wanted to know if I could help get the word out about this upcoming episode.  I watched the bootlegged show on YouTube several times, and I can see why the parents are up in arms about this.

Parents are protectors.  That is their job, and the parents of kids with diabetes are the ultimate protectors, acting as external pancreases while maintaining a normal life for their child.  So when a show that kids are rabid for, like Hannah Montana, highlights diabetes, there's this sense of hope.   Like, "Hey, Disney is involved with Nick Jonas.  They are tuned into kids.  They won't screw this up."

But did they?

If you watch the episode, you'll see plenty of references to diabetes, some accurate and some completely eye-rolling.  Calling the character with diabetes "sugar boy"?  Pointless.  (I'm not the most PC person you'll ever meet, and if someone called me "sugar girl," I wouldn't care.  But if it were my kid receiving that moniker, I'd rip heads off.  Yet I've digressed.)

However, the thing that struck me as completely off-base was the constant theme that Oliver couldn't have any sugar.  He spends most of the episode drooling after sweets, fantasizing about cotton candy, and even diving into a trash can to retrieve a tossed out candy bar.   The other kids in the show kept talking about how they need to keep sugar away from Oliver, at all costs.  This is what made me think, "Uh oh."  I get that the show is trying to talk about diabetes in ways that kids can understand, but this theme was dangerous. 

So what if Oliver gets low at school?  And needs sugar?  Is the lesson here that diabetics can't ever have sugar?  Holy food police training video.  This message sets a dangerous precedent, one that could leave a low diabetic child being denied sugar, if all their peers have to base their knowledge on is Hannah Montana.  And yes, I know that education comes in more forms than Hannah Montana, but lots of kid watch this foolish show, and I don't want their impressionable heads filled with misinformation.

I'm not blowing the whistle on this episode, not entirely.  I'm glad that diabetes is making its way into mainstream media, and I'm also glad that the end of this show had Hannah Montana and her friends reassuring Oliver that he was still the same guy and still their friend.   That's pretty damn important.  I just want to see this positive message of acceptance accompanied by accuracy. 

Watch the video (there are three parts) and let me know what you think.  Do you feel like this episode presented factual diabetes information?  Were there parts you liked?  Didn't like?  Wanted changed?  Are you of the mindset that all exposure is good exposure?  That intentions were good with this episode?  Or do you expect more from Disney?  Are you inclined to write a letter?  Plain don't care?  Are you sick of my questions?  Who the hell is Hannah Montana, anyway? 

Phew!  I'm off to read the newest issue of TigerBeat.

October 28, 2008

Prepping For Halloween.

We're working on getting in the spirit for Halloween here in Sparling Country, and to help prep, we checked out a very cool jack o'lantern exhibit here in Fairfield County.  The layout was impressive - there were a few hundred jack o'lanterns on display, and they ranged from simple to simply amazing. 

The impressive pumpkin patch

There were dinosaurs etched into the sides of these massive pumpkins.  Political pumpkins.  A little Beatles action.  And each new pumpkin patch was accompanied by a specially selected musical track. 

Taking pictures was tough because it was so dark and I don't have a tripod, but we were able to catch a few pumpkins with clarity.  This one, with King Neptune on it, was very, very cool.

King Neptune, the PumpKing?

And other jack o'lanterns were just plain neat to look at.

We thought this one was cool.

The experience was amazing, and definitely has us ready for Friday.  Full photo set on Flickr, but be prepared - some of them are wicked blurry.  I'm getting ready for my Snickers bar - ahem, Bennet - are you?!

October 27, 2008

Do Something!

Mollie Singer is a sweet girl, a talented singer, and a fellow type 1 diabetic.  And like me, Mollie has the benefit of a really terrific support network that helps her better manage her diabetes.  In particular, Mollie has her twin sister, Jackie, who rises above all others to support her.

I'm happy to share that Jackie has been selected as one of the winners of the Do Something awards, and as part of a partnership between Do Something and Doritos, Ms. Jackie herself will be featured on the back of a nacho cheese Doritos bag.  Jackie is highlighting diabetes awareness and their organization, the Diabetic Angels

Mollie and Jackie Singer

Congratulations to Jackie, and thanks to her for her hard work in raising awareness for diabetes!!  And be on the lookout for these snack-tastic heroes in grocery stores today!

Diabetes Radar Blips.

We made it to the church just before the wedding started on Saturday afternoon, and the bride looked beautiful.  It was like a mini-roommate reunion, with all of my roommates in attendence and ready to celebrate.  But as we sat in pew and watched her say "I do," I noticed a run in my stocking. 

"Oh man!  A run.  In my stocking."  (I kept thinking about that lady in Lost In Translation, who encourages Bill Murray to "lip her stocking, Mr. Bob Harris.")

We had some time to kill between the service and the reception, so we stopped by CVS to grab another pair of stockings.  Being the awkward human being that I am, I managed to remove the torn stockings most ungracefully, ripping loose the infusion set that was (at one time) adhered to my left thigh.

"Damn it!"  Blood spurted out from the manged site, which was now fully torn out.  "Shit - I tore out the site."

"Do you have an extra one?"

"Yeah, back here somewhere." 

Thankfully, on our weekends in RI, we live out of our car.  My travel bag was in the backseat, where I had a backup infusion set and the Quick-Serter handy.  I prepped the site with an IV wipe and mutted to myself as I reprimed the pump.

"Thank God we had the travel bag with us, or I'd be screwed." 

"You have syringes with you, though, right?"  Chris asked.

"Yeah, but no Lantus.  I'd be dosing little weeny bits of Humalog every hour or so just to keep up.  Forget sleep - it would be a nightmare.  And even if we got a bottle of Lantus, things would be all mucked up on Sunday and Monday."

I popped the new infusion set in my leg and pulled on a pair of nylons.  New stockings, new infusion set - both "rips" were just blips on my radar. 

But it struck me how much I take this technology for granted sometimes.  I'm used to the pump being attached and everything just plain working.  A tugged out infusion set can throw my whole weekend into a tailspin.  I try and plan for unforeseen issues, but you can't plan for everything.  There's a lot of crap to remember!  Extra infusion sets, enough test strips, glucose tabs for a low, an insulin pen in case of a high ... and back ups of these back ups.  Diabetes pack-muling.

People have asked me why I bring so much stuff everywhere.  Why I'm always toting a bag that makes me shoulders ache after a few hours of carrying it on my shoulder.  Why when someone says, "Oh, do you have a pen?" or "Anyone have some gum?" or "Hey, would anyone happen to have grape flavored glucose tabs?" - I'm their go-to girl.  It's tough to pack light when you're trying to prepare for all the diabetes variables.

"Okay, so you're set now?"

"Set.  Literally."  (Oh, diabetes humor.)  "Want to stop by Second Beach before the reception?"

Second beach in Newport, RI

Diabetes can be a huge pain in the arse.  And sometimes it can just be a blip on the radar.  I'm thankful for the blippers.  :)

October 24, 2008

Le Pals at Les Halles.

I like when worlds collide. 

Christel and I originally met through our diabetes connection, about three years ago.  Conversations quickly stemmed from pumps and blood sugars to laughing our asses off at jokes and talking about our lives.  Nicole is a former co-worker who has had to deal with my ridiculousness at work and outside of work.  Two different parts of my life - work and the internet community.

Yet last night, they were both forced to hang out with me together.  Pals at Les Halles.  ;)  (Crappy pun, but when you mispronounce the name of the restaurant, as I often do, it rhymes at least a little bit.)

We dined at Les Halles (which is where Christel and I went last time she was up north) and the food was fantastic.  Steaks and frites and some wine and creme brulee (holy 273 mg/dl, Kerri) ... good stuff.  It was very cool to sit there with my "diabetes friend" and my "coworker" and realize that these two have stepped far outside of their labels and are true friends. 

Kerri, Christel, and Nicole at Les Halles.

Diabetes talk?  Sure, there was some of that.  Work talk?  Of course, some of that, too.  Plenty of silliness, as well.  Good food, good conversation with good friends. Worlds colliding, in all the right ways.  Thanks for the great night, ladies!

*          *          * 

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the DRI sessions on Saturday in NYC as yet another college roommate of mine is gettin' hitched in Newport this weekend, but I hope you guys have a great time!  And on Sunday, Team SUM will be representing at the JDRF Walk in RI, so if you are going to be at that walk, please stop by and say hello!

Have a great weekend!

October 23, 2008

Halloweenin' Diabetes.

Folks who commented on the last vlog post gave me some stuff to talk about, and this round I've tackled diabetes management and Halloween.  I was diagnosed in 1986 and have spent almost all of my Halloweens as a diabetic, so I've been trick-or-treating around the block for decades now.  (Hmmm ... that sounds a bit ... odd.  Yet I've digressed again.)

If you have any tips on managing diabetes during trick-or-treat season, feel free to toss 'em in the comments section! And share what your costume idea is for this Halloween! Chris and I are dressing up as ... well, you'll hear at the end of the video. ;)

October 22, 2008

Diabetes Goodie Bag.

Le Goodie Bag.  Le French.  Fronch?  Fronch fries.Over the past few weeks, I've received some terrific diabetes-related products and information from people out there who are aiming to make a difference.  Ranging from support groups to bracelets, it's time to help spread the word.  (Note:  I received all of these products as samples and have not paid for these items, nor have I been paid to talk about these items.)

This is a green dot.First off, some bracelets from Lauren's Hope came in the mail.  I had a bit of an addiction to beaded medical alert bracelets a few years ago, and this care package seems to have reignited my love for something diabetes-related and delicate.  The beaded samples were beautiful (pictures coming on Flickr later today) and there was also a very cool waterproof/adjustable/washable bracelet that would be great for active little kids ... or active grown ups.  :)  If you are looking for some medical alert jewelry options that are a little different and fun, check out Lauren's Hope.

This is a green dot.I also received a sample from Stephanie Cion at WellAlarm, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about their unique service (interview will be posted later next week).  The charm itself is sleek and classy looking, and has a sophisticated look, considering it's intended for medical use.  There is a PIN on the back of the charm that, if someone called the number and punched in the code, they'd have access to my medical information. I think this is a unique service and has some potentially life-saving benefits, but I have to admit - the idea that dropping this charm on the ground leaves my information potentially vulnerable.   (Important note:  "regular medical information" can also be engraved on the charm, so it's not just a PIN code.)  WellAlarm has received some good press this morning already, being featured in this morning's HARO newsletter.  I'm curious to see where this product lines goes.

This is a green dot.Bob Hawkins sent me a copy of his terrific book, The Joy Of Diabetes.  I'm a huge fan of anything that helps to raise awareness for diabetes in a way that's easy for people to understand and identify with.  Bob writes about his 45+ years with type 1 diabetes in a way that isn't intimidating.  His little cartoon avatar explores everything from alcohol to exercise to aiming for the joy in life.  I definitely recommend his book, and you can order a copy from his website.

This is a green dot.And I heard from Katie, one of my readers in NYC, that she's starting a support group which is meeting fro the first time on November 18th at the Friendman Diabetes Institute.  According to the flyer, "This group is open to members of the public who are young women living with diabetes. There is no cost for participation. The group will be self-led however there will always be a staff member from Friedman Diabetes Institute available during the meetings. We are creating a place to talk with others about living with diabetes, particularly as young adult women. If you think this group is for you, it probably is. Please get in touch and let us know that you are interested and if you can make it to the first meeting."  For more details, check out this flyer and email Katie at DiabetesNYC [at] gmail [dot] com.

This is a green dot.One other thing, for all your vloggers out there: The JDRF, Discovery Health, and Novo Nordisk are calling for video submissions for their Young Voices: Life With Diabetes program. Videos are being accepted until November 1st, so get cracking!  The videos should be "highlighting your attitudes, wishes, and needs for how the next U.S. president can help defeat this disease."  Okay, easy enough.  The website states:  "For video submissions, Novo Nordisk will donate $10 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to help fund research leading to a cure for type 1 diabetes. For teams, group entries, or multiple videos submitted by an individual, a single donation of $10 will be made. Novo Nordisk will make a total donation of up to $25,000."  For more information, visit the Young Voices website and raise your voice!  :)

That's all for the goodie bag today, aside from piles of tissue paper that Siah is already dancing around in.  

Oh, one last thing:  I bet I'm the last person on the whole damn internet to see this video clip, but have you caught the drunken Orsen Wells commercial?  The moment at 0:51 made me laugh so hard that I watched it several times over.  "MmWaaaHaaa ... the Frensh!"

October 21, 2008

Shoes Never Sleeps.

Shoes, you need a pair of these.My Darling Shoes,

Hey girl.  I know you had a tumultuous summer.  Seems like your old roommate and DogShoes have moved out, and it's you and RoomieShoes.  I was mistaken in thinking BoyfriendShoes moved in - no, he's just coming by every day and adding his clompy shoes to the cacophonous noise. 

So this weekend was a wild one for you, eh?  We heard you guys come home at 1:40 am.  No problem there.  It's a Saturday night and going out for a few drinks and having some fun?  Go for it.  Been there.  Still there, actually.  

But.

At 4:48 am, I woke up with a start at the sound of Faith Hill being blasted through the ceiling.  It was like the speakers were up to eleven and directed at my face.  Shoes, this is not cool.  First of all, you are blasting music at my bedroom at 4:48 in the morning.  I was asleep, did you know that?  Secondly, you and RoomieShoes and BoyfriendShoes and Other Pals were apparently dropping blocks of ice against the floor, judging by the deafening noise.  Was this really necessary?  Were you out of ice cubes and absolutely needed to have cold drinks?  And thirdly - come on, Faith Hill?  This is what you choose to blast?  

Chris and I sat in bed for a bit, staring at the ceiling and wondering what exactly was up with you. I brought my hand up to my eyes and rubbed them, then shook a sleepy fist at the ceiling.  "Shooooooooes!"  You responded by tap dancing inside your bathtub while wearing coffee cans on your feet.

Shoes, we moved out to the living room and set up our blankets there.  We could still hear your stereo (now booming some obscure rap song from the 80's), but at least it wasn't throbbing over our heads.  "Maybe we can fall back asleep out here," I said to Chris, just as you and RoomieShoes decided to run giggling from one side of the apartment to the other, throwing rocks at the floor.  Mind you, it's now almost 5:45 in the morning.  And I'm sleepy. 

I'm kind of starting to hate you, Shoes.  I see your car and I want to peek in and see if it's crammed with boxes of stilettos and coupons for the ice factory.  I don't care if you're partying.  Seriously.  Don't care at all.  But 6 am?  You still haven't taken off your heels?   Don't your feet hurt, dear Shoes?  Maybe you need a pair of bunny slippers to help ease your tired feet.  I know I would be happy to pick you up a pair.  Would you prefer pink or white?  Just let me know.

And you know what?  I almost miss DogShoes.  At least he slept from time to time.

Kisses,
Kerri.

October 20, 2008

Crumbs Sparling. (Different from Crumbs Morrone)

The weekend weather was so excellent that we had to take advantage of it.  On Saturday, we took the quick train ride into NYC with a Chris-driven agenda:  hop on a row boat in Central Park and then devour cupcakes at Crumbs Bakery on Amsterdam.  (He saw the idea written up in InFlight magazine last week, and tore out the page.  We're easily persuaded, as a couple.  The mere mention of cupcakes is enough to send us on a cross country adventure.)

Kerri at the Bethesda Fountain in NYC

We stopped by the Bethesda Fountain (near the Boathouse), which I recognized from photos I've seen online but hadn't ever scoped out in person.  The park was busy, thanks to the beautiful weather, but we managed to grab a few photos.

View from the boat

I did not know you could rent rowboats in Central Park and tool around the Pond.  Chris rowed, rowed, rowed our boat and I did my best not to tip the boat over.  And after all that work rowing (and trying not to fall in), we had worked up quite an appetite.  It was time to bring on the cupcakes!  Trying to guesstimate the carbohydrate content in this sucker was an adventure in and of itself.  

Holy cupcake

"Maybe sixty?"

"Dude, a bagel has eighty-five.  I'm going to guess at least sixty-five."  I cranked up the pump to six and a half units, knowing that the frosting alone was more than my daily carb allowance.  (But it was DELICIOUS.  Easily the tastiest cupcake I've ever had, and almost worth the $4.00 price tag.) 

Dosing for high carb, high sugar dessert treats is always tricky, and I usually over compensate in efforts to avoid the spike.  I bolused and also requested that we walk back to Grand Central (I hate the subway, and I avoid it at every opportunity), which had me chomping on glucose tabs around 56th.

"Thwarted by that cupcake.  I guess I'll have to have another one sometime and see if I can fine tune the bolus."  I'll do my part, even if it means consuming another cupcake or two.  It's for science.

(Crumbs bakery + Kerri Sparling = Crumbs Sparling.  Very different from Crumbs Morrone.)

October 17, 2008

Insomnia.

In need of a cat nap.Back in high school, I used to have wicked insomnia.  I would lay there in bed for hours, unable to fall asleep.  Then I'd get stressed out because I couldn't fall asleep, which kept me awake longer.  Reading a book didn't help.  Watching tv didn't help.  Warm milk is gross, so I didn't even try that.  And some mornings, I would fall asleep during anatomy.

But my insomnia spells were limited to my senior year of high school, and in college, I fell into a more predictable, comfortable pattern of work-class-party-sleep.  I thought this insomnia crap was behind me.

Last night, though, it came back with a vengeance.

Part of what keeps me up at night is the spin-cycle of my mind.  (The Internet doesn't help.)  I'll start thinking about something I'm writing, or something I want to talk to coworkers about the next day, or how I forgot to call NBF back, or how I need to pick up my prescription from CVS, or the emails I keep meaning to answer ... and then I'm cycling and spinning and afraid to look in the mirror for fear of seeing smoke wisping from my ear.  Add in the viewing of a few SNL political clips and checking the Election feed on Twitter, and I'm officially Sleepless in Western CT.

Chris was away on a shoot, so I was by myself in the apartment.  Silent night.  Holy cats splayed out everywhere,, with Siah purring from the pillow next to me, Abby on the floor underneath the window, and Prussia standing guard at the bedroom door.  The sheets were crisp and clean, the bedroom was that perfect "sightly chilly with a chance of sleepy," and it was one in the morning - so I should have fallen right asleep. 

Instead, I relaxed against the pillow and closed my eyes ... only to have them spring open like window shades.  I could not sleep.  One thirty came and went ... two o'clock ... and I was still awake.  My blood sugars were solid (and holding - the Dexcom confirmed a flatline), my stomach was full (yum, lentil soup), yet my brain was wide awake and refusing to let me sleep.

Facing a sleep deficit is something that's always taken a huge toll on my body.  I don't require a ton of sleep - six and a half hours is comfortable for me - but anything less than that has me dragging myself around the next day.  Sleepiness doesn't seem to affect my blood sugars (woke up at 100 mg/dl this morning), but it definitely affects my overall ability to manage diabetes.  Like this morning - I showered, dressed, and was making breakfast before I realized I hadn't reconnected my pump.  I also went all the way out to my car and started it before realizing the Dexcom receiver was on the kitchen counter.  I forgot to bolus for my snack this morning.

Being sleepy = being absentminded.

Being absentminded = dodgy diabetes control for the day.

Does a crummy night's sleep cause your day to get all mixed up?  Does your diabetes suffer?  Is there any way we can Zzzz ... zzzzz ....

October 16, 2008

Lentil Soup.

I've said it before and I'll shamefully admit it again:  Kerri ... she cannot cook.  No Thanksgiving meal will ever be hosted at my house without a garbage full of take out containers in the bin.  I can make eggs.  And Jell-O.  Ice cubes.  And ... tea.  (The complicated tea, where you use loose tea and have to utilize that tea ball thing ... stop laughing!) But real meals?  Cannot.

However, the one, single thing I'm able to make every time is soup.  I make delicious soups, from recipes I've found online or in cookbooks, and even some original concoctions from my own head! 

Last week, Chris mentioned that he wanted to have lentil soup for dinner.  Determined to actually create a decent meal for my (patient and understanding) husband, I Googled "lentil soup" and found a recipe on Allrecipes that looked easy enough. 

Lentil Soup that didn't suck.

Lentil Soup (Remix)

1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry lentils
8 cups water
1/2 cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vinegar
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

The instructions told me to heat things in a certain order and follow a specific path, but I didn't have the patience to sit there and wait for all these things to heat up at different times.  (This is most of my problem with cooking - maybe with life in general -  no patience!)  I tossed the oil, onions, and celery into a massive stock pot and let the onions get a little mushy.  Then I added the water, lentils, and crushed tomatoes.  Then I realized I forgot to add the garlic and other spices first, so I tossed those in right quick and hoped it would be okay.  

Because we're animals in my house - food is considered "vintage" if it's lasted more than three days - I doubled the lentil recipe so we could feast for the week.  This meant that all of the carefully measured spice requirements were thrown out the window, leaving me to add spices as needed and keep taste testing.

"More vinegar!"  I cackled from my cauldron of lentils.  

I added way more stuff than the recipe called for, including a few extra capfulls of vinegar, some parmesean cheese, several chicken boullion cubes, and two pieces of bacon.  After 15 minutes of boiling and an hour of simmering, the soup was ready to eat.  (Except I added the spinach after we were already eating it - "Oooh!  Forgot spinach!  Hang on...")

And it was delicious.  (Deliciousness confirmed by Chris and by one Ms. Siah Sausage, who sniffed out a rogue lentil from the sink and chewed on it.)   So now I can make eggs, Jell-O, ice cubes, and lentils.  Hooray for progress!

October 15, 2008

Dexcom In Le Honda.

Vlogging - still haven't qute figured out the format yet.  But this time, I'm vlogging from my new car and hooked back up to the Dexcom - with a little Weezer in the background because they are just cool.

I am, however, running out of ideas to vlog about, and would really appreciate any suggestions.  SuperG answered some questions from his comments section a few weeks back - anyone have anything they want to ask?  How to build a rocket ship?  (No idea.)  What's the best way to control blood sugars?  (I don't have any answer to this, but I'd love to hear your suggestions.)  What's it like, living with that weird little gray Sausage cat?  (Oy - I could vlog for days about that.)

Oh, and a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my little sister, Courtney!

October 14, 2008

Fran's Diabetes Parade.

A cup of coffee with a fellow diabetic.  :)There's that instant connection between people who have diabetes, because we really know.  We know what it's like to test blood sugars, count carbs, wrangle in pump tubing, battle numbers, fear complications, and live life with this disease every single day.  We get it, physically and emotionally.

And then there are the people with diabetes who you connect with, regardless of the disease bond.  When I heard Fran Carpentier take the microphone at the Women's Empowerment, Diabetes, and Development event (sponsored by Novo Nordisk, World Diabetes Foundation, the MDG3 Global Call to Action, and the Global Alliance for Women's Health), I knew this lady was on my wavelength.

"I didn't cry when I was diagnosed because my mother was too busy fainting," she said with a loud laugh, filling the room with her warmth and charismatic spirit.  Type 1 for over 39 years and a Senior Editor at Parade.com, Fran looks healthy, sounds healthy, and has a seemingly unbreakable spirit.  And she's passionate about diabetes.  Diagnosed in 1969 and "Patient No. 2" of the landmark DCCT trial, Fran stated confidently, "You not only survive, but you also prevail!"

After the speakers finished their presentations, I made my way over to Fran to introduce myself.  Instant connection - we started comparing diagnosis dates, insulin pumps (we're both Medtronic users these days), questions about CGMs, and talking about those moments that only another diabetic woman can understand. 

"So my pump is here," she reached into her shirt and pulled out her insulin pump.  

I laughed.  "Mine, too.  In the bra is the best place to hide it in a dress!"  

We sat at one of the tables in the conference room and chatted without effort.  Life as a diabetic, life as an editor, growing up in RI versus growing up in NYC, insurance battles (at that time, I was mid-stream in my war with Oxford for the CGM), and diabetes blogs.

"I've been a diabetes blogger since May 2005.  It's a fantastic way to connect with other diabetics, and to help me feel like I'm not the only one out there who is dealing with this."  I grinned at her.  "It's what connected me to dLife in the first place." 

"I know!  I've read your stuff!  I'm starting my own diabetes blog next month at Parade.com."

The conference ended, yet we found ourselves at a diner down the street, sharing stories over many cups of coffee (don't worry - we switched to decaf to prevent off-the-wallishness).  Diabetes brought us together and gave us "war stories" to share, and we spent several hours chatting each other up.  It was like connecting with an old friend, even though we'd never met before.  

I sat across from Fran, a powerful career woman with a laugh that caused heads to turn at the diner and with her pump casually hanging out of the front of her dress, and I saw what I hoped would be my future.  Thank you, Fran, for being someone I can relate to, respect, and hope to be just like.

Editor's Note (read:  more from Kerri):  Fran's blog is live!  Check out Diabetes, Day-By-Day over at Parade.com!

October 13, 2008

BlogHer Boston.

The weekend was a good one.  I gave up my old car ("gave up" makes it sound like it was a struggle to part with ... I "tossed out" my old car) and picked up my new Honda Civic, which I love, love, love and it is such an upgrade from my fickle Jetta GLS.

Oh holy YAY new car!

After nabbing the new ride, I went to Boston and attended the BlogHer Out Reach conference, along with several hundred other bloggers.  This was my first adventure at a BlogHer conference, and I definitely learned a ton.  It was an interesting experience, having "What's your blog about?" as a socially acceptable "getting to know you" query.  Even more interesting was breaking outside of my normal comfort zone, as a patient blogger.   I met women who wrote food blogs.  Marketing blogs.  Book blogs.  Political blogs.  Mommy blogs.  Blogs about the environment.  And blogs about ... well, blogging.

The first session I attended was about how Social Media Can Save Media.  Moderated by Lisa Stone, the panel of Lisa Williams, Sarah Corbitt, Theresa Hanafin, and Colleen Kaman hit on hot topics like online communities, using social media to distribute knowledge, and the power of connecting through networks like HARO and Twitter.  The main reiteration was "content is queen" (it was BlogHer, after all), and how the best blogs are those with original and engaging content.  I agree - nothing stinks more than a recycled idea. 

Lunch was brought to BlogHers by Shine, Yahoo's new community, and the session focused on building web traffic, optimizing search engine queries, building a loyal community base, and CONTENT.  Again, content being the most important aspect of blogging was the focus of this discussion.  On my Flickr site, I have shots of all the powerpoint slides, if you want to poke through and get some tips.

The first afternoon session I attended was about how Social Media Can Save Your Business.  Susan Getgood, Laura Fitton, and Laura Tomasetti anchored this panel and the hot topic was definitely Twitter.  Everyone in the damn room was Twittering, from the girl behind me to the woman on my left.  Lisa Stone, who was in attendance at this session, was tweeting updates as we went along.  We talked about the usual suspects - Facebook, Twitter, blogs - and how businesses can make use of these new media outlets.  Bottom line appeared to be that good content goes the farthest.  Theme of the day for sure.  "Be genuine.  Post frequently.  Be original!"

The last session was about (this title made me laugh) How Social Media Can Save Dinner.  This lively discussion was hosted by foodbloggers Sarah Caron, Kalyn Denny, Nika Boyce, and Lydia Walshin.  As the only diabetes blogger in the room, I made sure I asked about where people can find nutritional information for online recipes - Lydia recommended SparkRecipes.  (dLife also has a database with full nutritional information, FYI.)  We also talked about food photography, which I thought was awesome.  Those foodbloggers work hard - they cook, photograph, consume, and then blog it.  One blog post can be a four or five hour adventure! 

Lisa Stone and Kerri Sparling at BlogHer

Closing keynote was with Elisa Camahort Page and included Dana Rudolph, Beth Kanter, and Isabel Walcott Hillborn.  They talked about blogging success stories and unique experiences, and I offered up my story of how blogging brought me from a crappy job to a great job in new media marketing.  After the keynote, there was an open bar (brave, brave BlogHer), where I had a chance to talk with Lisa at length about medical bloggers and our special place in the blogging community. 

Blogging - it's the great uniter.  (Hondas also appear to be a great uniter, but that's another digression I don't have time to make.)  If you haven't attended a BlogHer event, see if there's one coming your way soon!

October 10, 2008

Vroooom!

The Friday Six:  October 10, 2008 editionToday has been condensed into just a few little hours of productivity.  But I had a few things I wanted to share.  (Six things, to be precise.)

1.  Is anyone out there going to the BlogHer Reach Out conference in Boston tomorrow?  I will be there, proudly attending my first BlogHer event and helping raise the visibility of patient bloggers.  If you're in Boston for the conference, please email me and let me know - I'd love to say hello in person.

2.  Speaking of blogger ladies, my friend Dr. Val (formerly of Revolution Health) has launched her new site:  Getting Better with Dr. Val.  The site has an accessible tone, a great look, and is definitely going to be one of my regular Internet stops.  Val also offers up some seriously funny medical-themed cartoons, which I'm so happy to see because I feel that humor is a HUGE part of disease management.  A little laughter goes a long way.  Be sure to check out Dr. Val's new site!

3.  Dates and times for another Fairfield County Dinner are being tossed around - any new takers?  Looking to do something in the first or second week of November.  Meet-ups are happening more and more around the blogosphere (check out Scott's Second Annual one!) and it's a great way to put a face and a voice with the blogger's we're reading.  Email me if you are available, and interested!

4.  Just a reminder:  Have you signed your name to the Google Doodle petition?  As of this morning, we have 3,097 signatures.  Let's see if we can crack 4,000 by the end of the day!  So coworkers, friends, family members, random people reading this blog, and cats across the world (use those paws and claws for good), sign it and raise your voice!

5.  In completely unrelated-to-diabetes stuff, this link (found on Twitter - imagine my shock) made me giggle.  Actually, it made me laugh out loud, so loud that I think I startled co-workers.  Nothing like the relationship battles between what appear to be overgrown Dots candies

6.  And in just a few hours, I'll be making the worst financial decision of the year and heading off to RI to pick up my new car.  (THANK GOD - the Jetta and I have not even been speaking for the last month.)  I'm excited and terrified, all at once.  And I know I'm going to be a lunatic about keeping it pristine because, well, it's part of my OCD charm.

Have a good weekend!!! 

October 09, 2008

Political Chortle.

Twitter is a bizarre micro-blog networking phenomenon that is actually worth it.  It's not another profile you have to maintain.  It's something you can update hourly, or just update weekly, and you can still be involved.  It's like a constant stream of 140 characters or less that hits upon political hotpoints, social networking advice, medical advice, and some excellently random links.

SuperG (aka "Ninjabetic" on Twitter) offered up a true winner today.  It's a candid video peek at our current political options, offered up by some very verbose little kindergarteners.

"He has my favorite letter."
"Maybe he'll be a lot more ... good."
"Because he has the hair."
"My family is a Demo-crab."

Awesome. 

October 08, 2008

My Parents.

I saw a mother and her eight year old daughter at the train station this morning.  It was kind of chilly out, so most of the conversations on the platform were visible, with little puffs of cold above the speaker's mouths.  The mom leaned over to her child and touches her finger tip to what looked like a cell phone.  The child drew back her hand and stuck her finger in her mouth.  The mom looked at the machine, furrowed her eyebrow, and  said something to her daughter.  Her daughter reached into her coat, pulled out another machine, then tucked it back into her jacket. 

Untrained eyes wouldn't see this action as anything of note.  Commuters weren't staring.  Everyone was going about their business - a regular Wednesday morning.  But I saw this mother's daily business - keeping her child alive.  I'm watching this from the sidewalk, not able to hear what's being said.  I can only imagine the words, but they sound so familiar.

I read a lot of diabetes blogs (I know - me?!) and some of the blogs written by my fellow diabetics really touch my heart.  Even though we're all working at different jobs, driving different cars, maintaining different values, and living in different families and skins, every last one of us is dealing with the same vulnerability.  We're all trying to pinch hit for our pancreases, and it can be a tough road at times.

Reading the blogs from the parents of children with diabetes ... they touch my heart, too.  But some times they break it.  

I forget that while I'm testing my blood sugar, wearing the pump, and doing my diabetes thing every day, my mother and father are still worrying.  My parents had to step in when I was diagnosed because I was a little kid who has more interest in climbing trees than climbing blood sugars. And I can't imagine what it's like to have a child with diabetes - I've only been a child with diabetes, and now an adult with diabetes.  Sometimes it hurts a bit to prick my finger or do an injection, but I can control and manage that pain.  I can't imagine what it must have been like for my mom to have me crying and hiding behind the dining room curtains while she drew up my shot when I was a kid.  It wasn't like that all the time, but I'd imagine that once was enough to leave a mark on my mother.

They are always our mothers.This mother this morning reminded me of my own mom.  Made me think about the other parents of kids with diabetes, and what they do every day to keep us safe, healthy, and able to be kids.  Just regular kids, even if we have to take a break from playing every now and again to test or shoot or eat.  Some of the blogger moms and dads write about their child's diabetes, and I have to really concentrate to find the bits of diabetes memories from my childhood.  And I prefer it that way - my childhood wasn't "childhood with diabetes" but instead just "childhood."  Our parents, they protect us and keep us safe from feeling scared and unsure.  They absorb those feelings for us and try to make our lives as normal as possible.  And I am so thankful for everything my parents did for me.

The train rumbled to a stop and the mother and daughter climbed on board.  And I went into my office and called my mom.  

October 07, 2008

Doodle For Google.

A Doodle For Diabetes!You know those cool little drawings on the Google homepage?  The moaning man on Edvard Munch's birthday?  Or the one of the turkeys sitting around the dining room table to mark last year's Thanksgiving holiday?  (That one was pleasantly ironic.)  These doodles are done up by the Google crew to raise awareness for specific events and holidays.

And this year, the diabetes community is aiming to have a diabetes doodle for World Diabetes Day on November 14th.  

"How can I help?  I can't even draw a straight line!"

Yes, there is something you can do.  The advocacy crews at Diabetes Daily and TuDiabetes have teamed up to get Google's attention by providing a petition with 20,000 signatures by November 1st.  That means we only have the month of October (which is whizzing by) to get names added to the petition. 

Sign the petition by clicking here.  Add your name, then share it with your coworkers.  Send it to friends.  Family members.  Buddies from Facebook.  Your Twitter pals.  Ask your brother (Hey Darrell) or your sister (Hi Court) or husband (Hi Chris!) or your mom or dad to sign.  Maybe even send it to the nice man at the Honda dealership who is working to get you a new car at a reasonable finance rate.  (Hi, Bill!)  Either way, 20,000 signatures isn't going to be easy, but if there's any community that can pull it off, it's us.

I think it would be pretty damn cool to have our own Google doodle.  Let's make it happen!!

October 06, 2008

Working For The Weekend.

Work used to be confined with the hours of 9 and 5, Monday through Friday.   The idea of conferencing with my boss after work hours or on the weekend was laughable, back when I was working in my crappy insurance job.  But now, working at an internet/new media company and running SUM, work spills into the weekend almost effortlessly.

Which, if you ask me, is crap.

So I made some attempts at disconnecting this weekend.  My KerriBerry was still fired up and I occasionally checked in with Twitter, but I spent Saturday going on a hike with my husband and enjoying a nice dinner out, then Sunday at The Bruce Museum in Greenwich and then cooking steaks and drinking champagne on the beach with a friend.  We spent more time enjoying each other's company, instead of getting lost in the abyss of the internet.

And we saw some odd things, for certain. 

While we were hanging out on the beach, we spied on some people taking photographs nearby.  Just a couple high school kids, most likely in need of new Facebook profile pics.  Fine.  But then we saw a guy in what looked like Confederate solider gear, standing on top of a cannon.  Not exactly normal, but could have been a photo shoot of some kind.  

Soldiers on the wall.  Right?

Looking closer, however, we noticed that his buddy had something slightly anachronistic.

Vacuum man.

One guy in his solider gear, the other holding a vacuum cleaner. With the hose pointing towards the ocean.  Bold.  Poignant.  Contemporary art?  Either way, I almost laughed myself off the picnic table. 

October 03, 2008

Approved!!!

I have been approved!!!!!!!

YAY!!!!!!

They're covering my sensors.  I cannot believe it.  And from what I've been told, I'm one of the first on Connecticut's Oxford Health Plans to be approved for CGM use. 

Also from what I've been told, it takes an external appeal to make it happen.  So if you are fighting for CGM coverage, DO NOT GIVE UP.  Keep fighting!  Appeal every denial.  Make sure you don't miss any appeal deadlines!  It seems like insurance companies deny everything at first and only approve once you battle back.  So keep fighting, and do not give up!  (And use exclamation points!  Ahhh!  I'm so excited!!)

The tools to live well with diabetes should not just be for the people who can afford them.  Fight for your right for coverage.

Whine.

Wine, whine?I woke up high this morning, thanks to a late-night snack of quinoa that didn't get into my system fully until well after I'd gone to bed.  Pre-bedtime test was 94 mg/dl, but I woke up at 7:30 am with a full bladder, sweaters on the ol' teeth, a backache, small ketones, and a blood sugar of 298 mg/dl.  I cranked in a correction bolus and went about getting ready for work.

I don't usually fall fast after highs.  It takes me about two hours to really settle back into a steadier range, and sometimes longer to even start the blood sugar tumble.  So I showered, reconnected the pump, got dressed in a hurry, and shuffled my almost-always-late ass out the door.   Mind you, only 38 minutes had passed from the time I bolused.

Got to work, turned on my computer, and started picking through my work emails.  But I had that feeling of foggy distraction - the sound of a coworker tapping her fingers against the keys were resonating in my brain too loudly.  And I clicked on "new" about three times before realizing that I was trying to "reply" to an email instead.  Brain was malfunctioning.  So I tested, knowing something was up.

Or down, since the result was 53 mg/dl and falling fast.  

I reached into my small, compact work bag (lie: the bag is enormous and I'll end up deformed from carrying around so much unnecessary crap) and pulled out a bottle of juice I'd had stashed for a few weeks.  It was a bottle I used at the gym once before and just refilled for an emergency.  I twisted off the cap and heard a distinct hiss, like I woke up an angry grape juice rattle snake.

Juice doesn't normally hiss, does it? 

I gave the contents a quick sniff and realized that the grape juice had fermented and was now spoiled and closer to "wine" than "reaction treater."  Thankfully, I had a can of juice in the fridge at work, so a quick pull helped elevate my blood sugar.

Kerri, take note (from yourself in third person):  Juice becomes wine when you have it go from hot to cold a million times.  No juice when you're low becomes whine.  Though the pun is delightful, stick with glucose tabs, okay?  They're less apt to spoil.

October 02, 2008

A Unified Front.

United by diabetesTmana wrote a post on TuDiabetes today that hit home and hit hard. An excerpt:

"I am concerned that these different outlooks and interests could, rather than unite us in the common cause of improved quality of life and life expectancy for people with diabetes, cause public conflicts that could rob all of our communities of the resources needed to assist diabetics, both within our online communities and outside of them."

I agree with this whole-heartedly.  While I'm an in-house editor at dLife, a member of several online communities like TuDiabetes, Diabetes Daily, a diabetes blogger here at SUM, and an active supporter of organizations like the JDRF, ADA, CWD, and DRI, these things all come second to why I'm doing this in the first place:  I am a person with diabetes, a diabetic, a type 1, pancreatically-challenged ... whatever you want to call me, I have diabetes, first and foremost.

What I care about is improving my life, and our collective lives, as we live with diabetes.  I want to see support communities do just that - SUPPORT.  The very concept of different online groups pitting against one another is ridiculous.  Aren't we all working towards the same common goal?  To live long, healthy, and well-supported lives with diabetes?  To see technological improvements?  To see a cure, maybe in our lifetimes? 

Everyone has different agendas and different goals - I understand that.  But I also understand that diabetes is not a business to me.  It's my life - our lives.  And anything that can improve that life should be supported and encouraged, despite whether or not I'm a member or if I participate in a fundraising walk. 

And while I understand the business aspect of different companies and organizations, I don't like the idea of division.  I don't like the idea that three different places are working their tails off to cure this disease, but not sharing the data.  I am not sure who crosses what communication lines, but I want to know that the JDRF, DRI, and other research hubs are sharing their theories on curing this disease.  That is happening, right?  We're all working together to cure this, right?  There are so many different diabetes organizations, but where is our unified front? 

In her post, tmana said that she didn't want different communities to assimilate in efforts to "merely to present a united front to the high-priced resources and partners," and I agree with that completely.  This disease is unique to each diabetic and their loved ones, and the various communities and organizations reflect that.  But I want the diabetes communities to mature and embrace one another instead of ostracizing and battling.  It sounds altruistic, but we're not talking about t-shirts here.  This is about a disease, a serious one, that we live with every day.  And while we rally behind all these different organizations, we need to remember - never, ever forget this - that we are really rallying behind one another as a community of diabetics, regardless of whose newsletter we receive or whose network we have a username in.

The "industry" of diabetes continues to grow, especially as more and more people are diagnosed every day.  But we can't lose sight of the most important aspect of these communities and organizations:  Support.   And I value the support I get from you guys here on the blog, outside in your blogs, in-person at dinners and events, and all over the internet and the Real World as a whole.

We are all living with diabetes.  Standing together does far more than walking alone. 

October 01, 2008

Who Can Ignore The Economy?

Photo credit:  Fiction, apparently.Anyone who hasn't been storing their brain in a shoebox underneath the bed has probably realized that the economy is tanking.  People are being laid off and positions are being eliminated at companies.  Grocery money doesn't seem to buy as much now as it did even six months ago.  Gas prices, despite the fact that they've fallen a bit in the past few weeks, are still just under $4.00 a gallon. 

But these are issues that are affecting all families across the nation.  For us, diabetes care can also be affected by the crumbling economy.  My brain tends to go into panicked little pockets when I think about the economic situation.  For me, a job means more than just money - it's medical insurance.  Even now, in good health and without any outstanding medical bills, my monthly medical expenses add up.  From co-pays on items like blood pressure medication and birth control pills to the non-prescription items like prenatal vitamins and healthy food, it can get expensive. 

I was thinking about money in my budget that I consider well-spent, like my monthly membership to the gym and our grocery bill.  For some, spending $30 a month to workout and spending an inordinate amount of money on foods like fresh produce, organic products, and other fancy crap that they sell at Whole Foods and Trader Joes may seem like money that could be saved.  But when it comes to diabetes management, "control" is more than just the pump I'm using and the insulin I'm taking - it's about all these other variables, too. 

I remember (let's step into the Wayback Machine again, shall we?) test strips that could be cut in half, or into thirds, and at least the gist of a blood sugar level could be grabbed by comparing the color of the strip pad against the guide on the side of the bottle.  Granted, today's strips are more accurate, but are they really costing manufacturers $0.85 apiece to make?  (Because that's about what they charge us, as consumers.)  Diabetes supplies used to be able to go further.  Now they are indeed more accurate, but they don't go very far at all.  And keeping up with the costs of this maintenance, in addition to making attempts at important, preventative care like a CGM, is starting to make me a little nervous.  I'm finding my mind going back to the desire to wear infusion sets past their three-day shelf life and refilling reservoirs, to help extend the life of my supplies.  Ridiculous?  Yes.  But when I'm thinking about other life expenses - car payment, rent, utility bills, gas prices, and the occasional movie or night out - I find myself cutting corners where I can.

What are you guys doing to get the most bang from your diabetes buck?  Are you streeeeeetching out the life of insulin pump supplies?  Are you trying to gain insurance approval for a CGM as a way of conserving test strips?  Do you find yourself debating between paying for gas or renewing your gym membership?  The decisions are tough now, and I fear that they may be getting tougher in the future.  (And have you seen the Twitter election feed?  Regardless of who you're supporting in this election, this constant streaming commentary is pretty fascinating.)

The price of good diabetes control is high, and the cost of not trying to stay healthy is even higher.  How are you managing the cost of care?

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