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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!

Comments

that is great that you can connect with a woman like fran . I wish I had someone like her whom I could connect with . kuddos for a great blog as always.

Kerri,
I just visited Fran's blog. I posted a comment there and I now feel compelled to do the same here. I've been reading your blog for about a month now. I am not a diabetic, however I do eat, sleep and breathe the disease. My six year old daughter was diagnosed at the age of two. As I told Fran, my daughter has a wonderful spirit and an amazing attitude. She also is wise beyond her years and has really amazed her doctors, teachers, caretakers with how much she can do. She was doing her own finger pokes in the first few months and was giving her own injections by age three (after we filled the syringe). She can now bolus over the phone when I am not with her. We have not, obviously, told her of the possible complications of the disease due to her young age. However, I can't say that it hasn't been gnawing away at me over these years. Thus my desire to search the web for women like you and Fran. I love your blog, not only because of the raw honesty, but also because of your incredible sense of humor. My daughter is already one of the funniest people I know. I like to think she will be a lot like you WHEN she grows up... healthy, happy, a true survivor/warrior, and helping others along the way. Thank you so much for what I see as a little glimpse into our future!

Sounds like fun, wish I could have been there! (Trying to come up with a witty comment about 3 pumps in bras...) Sounds like a great person to meet, I'm always inspired by people I can relate to who've been safely in the trenches longer than myself! Maybe she wants to make a guest appearance at a Fairfield dinner?

Thanks for another great post, Kerri. And to Emily, I really relate to you. I too eat, sleep (when I can) and breath diabetes. My two year old was diagnosed earlier this summer. I find her to be made of some pretty special survivor material and just full of life! She has an amazing wit for her age that I can see will help her through a great deal in her life. She is my little hero. I too have read Kerri's blog with hopes that my daughter will find her way down a similar path. One where she takes exceptional care of herself and recognizes the therapeutic benefits of helping others too. Kerri, you are an outstanding role-model for our daughters. Thank you so much.

Fran is freakin' awesome I know her in person she is good friends one of my friends. Such a great person we are actually trying to make a lunch date. Loveeeeee her

She sounds like a very inspiring lady, and it sounds like you had a great time together! I can't wait to check out her blog - sounds like it's another one to add to my FeedReader.

Great tribute --

FYI, you might suggest to her that Parade offer an RSS feed for her blog, there isn't one, which makes it really hard to follow.

I wanted to comment there but HATE it when registration is required to comment!

I am so glad I found this blog. I have two children who have type 1 diabetes and a husband who has type 2. I also live and breathe the disease.

I just got through writing a blog about being with my daughter at the hospital due to a bout of ketoacidosis. The doctors said it was caused by her having a respiratory infection we didn't know she had and because her blood sugars are too high.

My daughter and son have both had diabetes since they reached the age of 8. My son tries very hard to count carbs and make sure that he is doing what he can to stay healthy. Yes, he's been in the hospital twice with ketoacidosis. Once because they changed his medicines and he misunderstood the doctor on how to take it. The second time he had had a nasty virus and had thrown up so much he was dehydrated. He is now 22 years old and a nurse told me that he was "lucky" since she saw many other diabetics in the hospital several times with this.

My daughter, on the other hand, has been in the hospital with ketoacidosis twice in 6 months. She is a good child who has gone wild, she is also very stubborn. If I try to get her to take her insulin she refuses to just because I asked her to and it becomes a war. If I try to stand back and see if she'll take it, sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't.

My biggest worry is that while she usually takes her Lantus, she doesn't take her Novolog when she eats or drinks something with carbs. It is so frustrating as a mother to sit there and watch her slowly killing herself because that is what she is doing.

Her father is worried about her too, but he has never been a role model for diabetes. He always said, "I know if I'm high or low. I don't need to check my blood sugar to find out." I proved to him several times that he was wrong but that didn't change him. Then, when he started complaining of having burning and tingling in his feet, I told him he had neuropathy. Nope, that wasn't it he said. So to prove me wrong, the man who never goes to a doctor went to 3 different doctors to try and prove me wrong. Unfortunately, he couldn't. Last year, he had to have a toe amputated.

I thought that my daughter seeing what happens when you don't take care of your blood sugar like you should, i.e. her father losing his toe, would make her change and it did for like 2 weeks. She always bragged that she never had ketones even when her blood sugar was high but then one night while she was out with friends, she got sick. The doctors said if she had been a half hour later getting to the hospital she would have died. If that wouldn't scare her nothing would, I thought. Two days out of the hospital and she wanted to start running again.

My son is totally pissed at her and they hardly talk anymore. He says that she is throwing away her life when there are other people out there that have worse diseases than they have. He admits that it's hard to keep up with and deal with and I know it is. Although I don't have it myself, as a mother, I've seen the fear on my children's faces growing up when their blood sugars dipped too low or ketones set in. I've drove to school like a bat out of hell because they've called to tell me my daughter passed out at school. I don't know the physical pain but I know the fear factor.

My son has tried to talk to my daughter, since he's a diabetic as well but it goes in one ear and out the other. As you can tell by my rant, so sorry about that, I'm at the end of my rope. I don't know what to do or say or how to get my daughter to understand just how serious this is. Do you have any ideas? If so, I would love to hear from you.

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