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November 30, 2008

Fin NaBloPoMo.

Siah didn't help, but I did it.Today is the last day of November, and with the help of some handy memes and the ability to post from my KerriBerry, National Blog Posting Month is over. Congrats to everyone that finished, and thanks for tolerating my silly posts.  (And thanks to Siah for helping me make the "I Did It!" banner.)

For now, I need to find a good cookie recipe for this coming weekend's cookie party at my mother-in-law's house.  Any winning recipes out there?  Forget carb counting and diabetes-friendly - I need one that travels easily and tastes awesome.

I'm off to search.  See you tomorrow!! 

November 29, 2008

Sweaters (and HA!)

My sister-in-law and I were talking about deoderant last weekend, and I told her that there's this crazy strong kind called Certain Dri.

"It will totally fry out your armpits.  But it works!"

We laughed.  And then I promptly forgot about the conversation.  But when she went to the store that week and saw Certain Dri on the shelves, she emailed me, saying, "I saw it today [Certain Dri] - sweaters of the world UNITE against wetness!" 

My response:  "All I can picture are a bunch of mohair turtlenecks uniting against wetness."

Then she emailed me this picture, and it struck me as so funny that I had to share it.  Notice how cheery they look, "holding hands" up there and uniting against wetness.  I'm starting to laugh all over again.

Sweaters!  United against wetness!
 
The message she sent with it said it all:  "Dude, I have way too much time on my hands."

November 28, 2008

Le Food Meme.

Oh, the food meme.  And what better day to post this than the day after Thanksgiving, when we're all recovering from the non-stop indulgences?  (Also, what NabloPoMo is complete without a few memes tossed in for good measure?)  Stolen from Lee Ann, here are my answers:

1. Can you cook? If yes, do you like to cook?
I can barely cook, but there are moments when I make attempts.  And I halfway enjoy these moments, when the food doesn't burn.

2. When do you eat with your whole family?
Chris and I eat together all the time.  But my whole family?  Like the whole mess of them?  Big holidays only, unfortunately.  We live far away.

3. What do you eat for breakfast?
Greek yogurt, a protein bar, or oatmeal.  But always, always coffee.

4. When, where and how do you eat on weekdays?
I eat predictably on weekdays, usually having breakfast at work (at my desk), lunch at home (sometimes joined by a cat), and dinner either home with my husband or out.  How do I eat?  I eat with my face.  what kind of question is that?

5. How often do you eat out (in a restaurant)?
We love to dine out - it's tops on list of fun things to do.  We used to go out four or five days a week, but with the economy tanking, we're down to only about two times - including our Sunday breakfast ritual when we're in CT for the weekend.  :)

6. How often do you order delivery/take-out?
Very rarely - maybe once a month, if that?

7. Regarding no. 5 and 6: Say there weren’t financial reasons would you do this more often?
Like I mentioned before, we love, love dining out.  If we were rich, we'd do it every night.

8. Are there any “standard dishes” you serve regularly?
The green ones.  I like the green dishes best.  ;)

Unfortunately, I am not a talented cook so I do not have a standard dish.  I can make chicken salad, excellent minestrone and lentil soup, and eggs any way you like 'em, but that's about it.  Above and beyond that, we dine out.  

9. Have you ever cooked for more than 6 persons?
Yes, I hosted Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago with my then-boyfriend.  He was a good cook.  I ... I encouraged him.

10. Do you cook every day?
No.  But I eat every day.  I'm still trying to figure out how I accomplish one without the other.

11. Have you ever tried recipes from blogs?
Yes.  The internet saves me on a regular basis.

12. Who cooks more frequently at your home?

My husband, because he is actually good at it.

13. And who cooks better?
See above.  But I'd also venture to guess that Siah is a better cook than me.

14. Do you cook totally different compared to your mother/parents?
Yes.  My mother cooked.  I do not.  

15. If yes, do you nevertheless eat at your parents?
I like my mom's cooking.  And my dad is a good restaurant date.  And I like hanging out with them, so sure.

16. Are you a vegetarian or could you imagine being one?

I'm not a vegetarian, but I believe I could give it a whirl for a few weeks.  I know I would miss chicken, though.  But I like a good veggie burger now and again, so maybe.

17. What would you like to cook which you haven’t dared to make yet?
I'd like to make a meal that doesn't taste bland.  And I've dared to do it, but I just haven't really accomplished that goal yet, persay.  :)

18. Do you prefer cooking or baking?
I can't cook, but I can bake.  I can make awesome flourless chocolate cake, banana bread, cheesecake, popovers, brownies, cookies, cakes ... basically, anything I "shouldn't" eat, I can make with precision and prowess.  Cruel irony.

19. What is your greatest misery in the kitchen?
That the dishes are never really done.

20. What do you dislike?
I don't like seafood (except New England clam chowdah).  And I don't like eating anything gamey.  I also despise curry.  And I also dislike war, economic crisis, and anything with more than four legs.

Need a meme to help round out your NaBloPoMo?  Grab this one!

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving hand tracing 2008

In keeping with tradition, here is the Thanksgiving Day hand tracing, 2008 edition. (For turkeys from Thanksgiving past, check out the 2005 and 2006 editions.  I skipped 2007 for some reason.) 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

November 26, 2008

Popover (Popovah?).

Over the summer, Chris and I spent a weekend in Acadia National Park in Maine.  While we were there, we had tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond tea house.  Chris was very emotional about these popovers - "These are awesome!  Awesome!" - and hell-bent on bringing them to our families for Thanksgiving.

Well guess what?  We didn't remember in time to order the batter.  So we had to make them at home from scratch.

Oh how I love a baking challenge.  They're the only ones I can attempt! 

Following these instructions on the King Arthur Flour site, I made a few dozen popovers using just a few ingredients:  eggs, salt, flour, butter, and milk.  The result was a basketful of fluffy, light popovers that steamed when we opened them.  Awesome.

POPOVERS!

Here's the full recipe I used, from the King Arthur site (popovers from the Round Table, it seems).  The directions are mine, which means they are a bit tanged:

    * 4 large eggs
    * 1 1/2 cups milk (skim, low-fat, or full-fat)
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    * 3 tablespoons melted butter

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  The heat of the oven is apparently KEY to making sure the popovers do their popover thing.  Put the oven rack on the lowest shelf so the popovers have room to expand.

2.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and the salt until everything is smoothly combined and you can't see the egg yolk streaks.

3.  Dump in all the flour at once and whisk just enough to have it combined, but not smooth.  Lumps help lift the popovers.  :)  Don't beat the batter or whisk it until it's completely combined - just mix it up.

4.  Stir in the butter, and then set the batter aside for 15 minutes.

5.  While you wait, grease up a standard 12 cup muffin tin and make sure the oven is preheated. 

6.  After the 15 minutes has passed and the oven is ready to go, give the batter a quick stir to recombine it and then fill the muffin cups to about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way full.  Put the pan on the lowest oven shelf and shut the oven door.

7.  Bake those suckers for 20 minutes, and resist the urge to open the door and ogle them.   After 20 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes.  You want to make sure the popovers are swollen and are a nice golden brown.

(A tip from the website - to help the popovers hold their shape and refrain from collapsing, bake them for an extra five minutes if you can, without burning them.  This will cement them into shape.)

8.  Once they're done, take them out of the oven and eat one.  Seriously.  Throw some butter and strawberry preserves on them, or add some salt, or just chow one as is.  They're delicious.

I have no idea what the carb content is on these, but I know they're totally SWAG-worthy.  Try them out for your Thanksgiving feast!!  Or at midnight on a Tuesday.  Whatever.  :)

November 25, 2008

Dexcom Sensor Video - Sort Of.

I've had several emails about how to apply the Dexcom sensor (watch the video), how big is it (like two quarters side-by-side), does it hurt (not usually), does it automatically give insulin (no - that would mean it's a pancreas), does it need to be fed or watered (no), can it fly (yes - when I throw it), do I like it (yes).

I wanted to do an akward little instructional about how to apply a new Dexcom sensor to my lower back, and with Chris's help, I think we captured most of it.  It gets a little shaky in there when we're clipping in the transmitter to the sensor housing, but you get the gist.  Hopefully.  :)

As far as placement goes, I've worn it on the back of my arm, on my abdomen, and on my lower back.  My main issue is keeping that sucker STUCK to me for the full duration.  For those of you wearing a Dexcom, where are you sticking your sensors?  Any tips on new places?  

(Please forgive me for talking so damn fast on that video.  I forget that not everyone communicates at the same foolish warp speed as me.  I need to take a breath!) 

November 24, 2008

Old School Insulin Storage.

Diabetes supplies used to be pretty damn tough.  And insulin storage was downright badass.

When I was in college, I was on injection therapy, taking Regular insulin and UltraLente.  Instead of my current insulin pump, I used orange capped syringes and old school insulin pens.  The insulin pens were awesome and made out of metal, making them almost bulletproof.  One afternoon, I was heading out with one of my roommates to go to class and I back up the car along the gravel driveway.  To feel a little bit of a buckle and a crunch.

"Oh for crying out loud," I muttered, wondering what I just ran over.  I opened thThe blue case.  e door, popped my head out, and rolled the car forward to reveal my insulin pen, crushed underneath the back wheel.

"Shit!  I killed the pen!"  I unbuckled and retrieved the pen from the driveway, expecting to pick up shards.

But the thing was perfectly intact, only a few scratches on from the gravel.  I was impressed.

Then there was "the blue case."  From the time I was a kid, I stored my insulin in this blue cool pack that was virtually indestructable.  It was a blue zipper case with a heavy cool pack in the middle that I'd store in the freezer at night and then stick in the bag for the duration of the following day.  This pack was dragged everywhere from the beach to school to sleep overs to the car for long road trips to airplanes to my first apartment.  And it withstood the test of time, refusing to succumb heat, cold, jostling, and being slammed in the trunk door by accident.  (I am an abusive insulin keeper, it seems.) 

Even though I've switched from injections to insulin pumping, I still have these diabetes relics from ancient times.  The blue case is under the bed somewhere, and that metal insulin pen is in the pen cup on my desk at home.  Saving these bits of diabetes memorabilia isn't just unique to my dLife - apparently, Jim Turner does it, too.

When he came to visit the office a few weeks back, he brought in this little pellet of a thing that stored his insulin vial.  "Protects it from being cracked if it falls or something." It was worn from several decades of use, but it still did its job.

Jim Turner's "insulin bullet" 

I thought it was awesome.  It was like a beer cozy for insulin.  (Cozy?  Koozi?  Kangaroo?  I have no idea.)  I have only broken a bottle of insulin once, but of course it was the last one in my stash, thus creating chaos.  Anything that protects supplies, I am a fan of.

What kinds of tools from years gone by are you still hanging on to?    

November 23, 2008

Birdhouse In My Soul.

It's a huge challenge for me to post on weekends (as you saw from my desperate Kerriberry post from last night), but I'd do anything for NaBloPoMo.    

Today, I was uploading pictures from the weekend and found this one on my camera from two weeks ago when Chris and I were in NYC.  While we were in Madison Square Park, Chris noticed these random giant birdhouses (or tree forts) up in the trees.

I thought they were wicked cool.  And extremely random.

Birdhouse in my soul.

Sometimes you find beauty where you least expect it.

Sometimes, you also find birdhouses.  ;)

November 22, 2008

Birthday Party.

Here's a random post, but we're partying at my friend's surprise birthday party. She was surprised. Success!!!

November 21, 2008

Insulin Pumps In Wedding Dresses!

Six months ago, Chris and I got married.  (Holy crap, six months already?  I can't believe it's been that long!)  When I picked my gown, I spoke with the seamstress about creating a pocket for my insulin pump to hide in all day long.  And on my big day, my pump was safe and secure, and so was I.

Over the past few weeks, I received emails from other women who had just tied the knot.  These two different, wonderful, recently-married women also had their insulin pumps worked into their wedding day, like I did.  And they agreed to let me share their stories - and their gorgeous photos - here on SUM! 

Here is Lindsay:

Lindsay
Lindsay on her wedding day.

"I've been a reader of your blog since this spring when I Googled 'insulin pump' and 'wedding dress' in the same thread.  Your site popped up and I was hooked.
 
I wanted to thank you for showing your readers pictures of the insulin pump pocket that your seamstress made for your wedding dress.  I, too, was wondering how I'd manage a pump in that corset-back dress with a very full skirt (and no way to access a thigh holster!)  Attached is what my seamstress came up with.
 
I was able to have my cake (and champagne) and eat it too, all while maintaining a 121 mg/dl throughout the wedding."

(The best part of this is that her best friend, Jenn, emailed me months ago about how her best friend is diabetic and is getting married.  She and I corresponded for a bit ... then Lindsay emailed me a few months later!  Small online world!)

And this Suzanne: 

Suzanne
Suzanne on her big day - with her big smile!

"I only bolused once during the whole reception.  It was one of those rare 'perfect diabetes days' - hovered between 85-110 mgdL all day!  I didn't have the cake & danced like crazy, so that probably had something to do with it.  :) 

Anyway, it was a grand day, but my husband and I marvel at how great every day since then has been.  We love being married!"

I love their pictures.  I love the look on their faces - gives me goosebumps!  Thank you so much, Linsday and Suzanne (and hi, Jenn!) for letting me share your stories and photos here.  There's no better way to end the week than by celebrating love and showing that diabetes doesn't stop anything - not even a beautiful bride on her big day.

November 20, 2008

Just Another Morning.

Wake up with a start as the alarm begins to blare,
Groggily come to and push aside my mussed-up hair.
Reach out to the nightstand and retrieve the zipper case,
Fumble with a strip and finally get the thing in place.
Lance my finger, squeeze a bit, and for five seconds wait,
Hear the beep, watch the screen, and see the "108."

Disconnect the pump with a quick and easy snap,
Grab that little plastic thing that I call a "pump cap."
Bring the Dexcom with me and connect it to the door
So I can shower, get all clean, and data will still store.

Towel dry - so careful, watching for the set and sensor,
Grab my robe and reconnect to the insulin dispenser.
Blow dry hair, drag a comb, and make attempts to dress,
Aim for outfits that conceal my pump with learned finesse.

Make my lunch and grab some snacks, minding carb-y grams -
Greek yogurt, green beans, protein bars - my morning snack grand slam.
Throw it all into my bag - I just have one more thing to add!
Toss in a tube of glucose tabs for all the lows this week I've had.

Snake the pump tube down my leg, tuck the pump inside
The trouser socks I love to wear - perfect for pump to hide.
Check the Dexcom to see for sure that I'm okay to drive,
Pet the cats, throw on my coat, and I'm out the door in five.

So much is diabetes, but it isn't my whole life.
I'm a daughter with type 1; I'm a diabetic wife.
It's in the fabric of my day, in the subconcious of my mind.
It explains so much of what I do, but I am not defined.

November 19, 2008

Need Some Adjustments.

The last few days have been nothing short of annoying - and I have the blood sugar logs to prove it.  In this past week alone, I've had six low blood sugar episodes ringing in under 50 mg/dl.  The lows are intense, sneaky, and have me fumbling with my meter, my hands, my words. 

Hypoglycemic unawareness is very, very scary to me.  It's this weird mix of being proud that I can still function at a blood sugar of 31 mg/dl, but also frightening because I'm not feeling the symptoms of a low until my body has almost crashed.  Last night, as I was getting dressed to go to Chris's film event in the city, I felt the teeniest twinge of a headache, but nothing that stopped me from doing my hair or brushing my teeth.  It wasn't until Chris asked me, nicely, if I was able to pull up HopStop on my Blackberry from the train.

My snippy response:  "Yeah.  I can, okay?"  Pause, realizing I was being enormously bitchy.  "I'm going to test.  I think I'm low."

A few seconds later, I'm looking at that officially scary number of 31 mg/dl staring back at me.  Still, no real symptoms.  I drank some juice, finished getting ready, and put on my coat and scarf.  It wasn't until I was all buttoned up and ready to go that my legs gave out and my brain went on hiatus.  It took about 30 minutes to fully recover.

Later on, during the screening, I tested at random and saw a blood sugar of 48 mg/dl.  More juice.  More nervousness, because that one came without any warning whatsoever.

I'm not sure what's been going on these past few days, but the lows have been unpredictable, yet daily.  I can't explain them with an "Oh, I over-bolused," or "I did a more intense workout than usual," or "Whoops, I forgot to eat!"  I even (TMI) took a pregnancy test to rule out any possible biscuit building.  Negative - no biscuit.  So now what?

Thank goodness for Dexcom.

My Dexcom sensors arrived via FedEx yesterday and I put one on this morning (after charging the receiver - I always forget to do that in advance).  Actually, Chris put it on for me because the sensor is on the back of my right arm today.

"I'm glad this is back on," he said, expertly pulling out the needle and attaching the black sensor to the housing on my arm.  Since I wear my sensors mostly on my arm or my lower back, Chris is the one who knows how to put them on best.  His hands move quickly and surely, talking to me as he attaches this device to my body.

"Me, too.  Yesterday sort of sucked.  The gym on Monday sucked, too."  The sensor clicked into place and he kissed me on the cheek.

"All set."

Now that I can watch the numbers trend and burn, I'm going to run a basal test for the next few afternoons, so I can see what the hell is going on with my body.  Am I suddenly more sensitive in the afternoons?  Is there something going on in the morning that is affecting my afternoon numbers?  Are the glucose gremlins on vacation?  I'm counting on my meter, the Dexcom, and a little old-fashioned freaking vigilance to help me find the source of these lows.

Either way, I'm still on this diabetes trapeze.  But at least I have a bit of a safety net now.

November 18, 2008

No More Larry Bird.

Dexcom - I need  you back!They left me alone for several months, but now the lows have returned, and they brought friends. Last night, before we left the house to go to the gym, I tested at 137 mg/dl. Knowing I'd be doing at least 30 minutes of cardio and some weights, I figured I should eat something. Grabbed a bar from the cupboard and chomped on it.

"Will that do it?"  Chris asked as he mixed up his protein shake.

"Yeah.  It has like 18 grams of carbs.  If I disconnect and eat this, I should be good."

Munch, munch.  Feeling good.  We drive off to the gym and go our separate ways - Chris to the weight room downstairs and me to the women's cardio section.  I hit the treadmill and dial up a 30 minute workout.

Music is loud - a little Muse.  My legs feel strong and my sneakers pound against the treadmill.  Strong, healthy, strong, healthy ... the words jostle around in my brain with each step.

But I start feeling a little funny at the 20 minute mark.  The music is too loud.  My headphones feel tight against my ears and my hands are numb at the very edges.  I scan the far wall of the room and the walls look a little wobbly.  My legs are a little wobbly. 

With the treadmill still running, I jump off quickly to the side and grab my meter from my gym bag.  Jump back on to the treadmill with the meter in hand, slowing down the pace so I can unzip the bag and lance my finger.

33 mg/dl.

"That sucks."  I press "Stop" on the treadmill interface and open my bottle of juice, taking eight long slugs from the plastic bottle.   My legs, which just a few minutes ago were holding me up just fine, feel like they're made of yarn.  Leaning against the railing of the treadmill, I finish the bottle.

This low feels particularly rotten.  Waves of nausea and a feeling of extreme light-headedness are coming up from my knees and cresting over my eyes.  I know I need to get downstairs and find Chris, just in case.  My legs work on autopilot, bringing me downstairs and into the weight room, where Chris is working out.

One look is all he needs.

"How low?"

"Thirty-three."

"Hmm.  Larry Bird."   He guides me by the elbow over to where I can sit down.  "Did you drink juice?"

"Yeah. I'm frustrated.  I only got 20 minutes into my workout.  And I feel like I'm all ..." Words aren't processing properly in my head.  "Mushy.  I feel mushy."

"You just need a few minutes.  You'll be okay.  Right?"

"Right."  The affirmation makes sense.  "Baby, I'm sort of tired of Larry Bird."

He smiled and we waited for the numbers to climb.

I don't know where these lows are coming from, but they are sneaky, intense little suckers that buckle me at the knees and steal the words from my mouth.  I'm waiting on my next order of Dexcom sensors to be shipped, but last night was one of those moments where I missed the Dex.  I would have at least seen the low creeping up on me a little bit.

But the wildest part is how strong I feel when I'm in that range, that 90 mg/dl range.  It's my magic number.  I feel strong, capable, almost borderline athletic.  (For those of you who know me in real life, you know how remarkable that statement really is!)  It's crazy how much just a little fluctuation in these numbers can really change how our bodies respond. 

Dex, I need you back, buddy. 

November 17, 2008

He Said "Cure."

I don't believe everything I hear, and I'm very, very skeptical when it comes to news sources touting the new "cure" for diabetes.  

But Brian Williams said there was a breakthrough in a cure for type 1 diabetes.  He specified type 1.  He said it was an autoimmune disease.  He said developments could be made within a year.

He said "cure."

I watched the video.  My thoughts started running absolutely wild, with hope boiling up in me like the soup on the stove.  It's already been over two decades, but there's still so much of my life left.  Will I spend any of my future without diabetes?

I got up quietly and went into the bathroom.  I shut the door and turned on the fan and ran the faucet and cried, hard.  I didn't want anyone to hear me.  I just wanted to be by myself and just take a minute to feel.  

The newswire article stated, "Two popular leukemia drugs, Gleevec and Sutent, kept lab mice from developing type 1 diabetes and put 80 percent of diabetic mice in remission, an international team said on Monday."  For those of you who are working with these two cancer drugs that can help us, Gleevec (made my Novartis) and Sutent (made by Pfizer), please keep working on this research.  To Dr. Arthur Weiss of University of California, San Francisco, we need you to help find a cure for this disease. 

He said "cure." 

I said it, too, just to see what it would be like.  And it tasted so beautiful, so bitter, so foreign in my mouth.

I feel hope.

World Diabetes Day in NYC.

Last Friday, on World Diabetes Day, I had the pleasure of spending the day with Fran Carpentier at the Young Voices event in NYC.   Discovery Health showcased the video submissions from people with diabetes and they had a talented panel of guest speakers and ambassadors, including Lee Fine from FiveHumans, the adorable Charlie Kimball of racing fame, and Miss Black USA Kalilah Allen-Harris

I had some great interviews with these folks that I'll be posting over the next few weeks, but in meantime, I wanted to share some photos from the event.

World Diabetes Day in NYC 

Former Mets player Todd Zeile, Fran Carpentier, Kerri Sparling, ESPN report Brian Kenny, and country star Steve Wariner 

Fran, Kerri, and Kalilah. 

Fran, me, and Kalilah Harris

Charlie Kimball and Kerri Sparling 

Charlie Kimball and me.  :) 

A big part of what was discussed at this event was the DAWN Youth Initiative, which is dedicated to improving the level and conditions of psychological support for kids and young adults with diabetes.  The DAWN Youth WebTalk survey was conducted in partnership with Novo Nordisk, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD).  I had a chance to speak with Dr. Barbara Anderson, DAWN Youth Advisor (and a former part of my own personal diabetes care team at Joslin!) about diabetes, depression, and how we deal with diabetes.  "It's important to be in touch with other young people with diabetes," she said, and I thought of all of us here in the diabetes blogosphere.  Our interactions with one another are crucial to our diabetes management.  We keep one another sane!

World Diabetes Day was recognized across the world and the outpouring of support was tremendous.  Over 1,000 landmarks were lit in blue.  Those of us in the blogosphere wrote about our diabetes lives, created videos, and even expressed ourselves in song.  But there is still a lot of work to be done (check out the comments on my YouTube video for examples of miseducation and ignorance).  And every day, we all help to raise awareness in our own ways.

How did you celebrate World Diabetes Day?  Feel free to post your link in the comments section.  And with almost two weeks left in Diabetes Awareness Month, how will you close it out?  (Should I dye Siah blue?  Somehow, I think she'd find a way to thwart me.) 

(And, for the record, I wore a bright blue scarf on Friday to show my support.  But it was muggy as hell in the city, so the scarf ended up crumpled up in my purse instead of around my neck.  I tried, I swear!)

(One more post script:  Today is my brother's birthday, so wish him a happy one!) 

November 16, 2008

JCVD.

JCVDOver the weekend, Chris and I were in NYC and had a few hours to kill.  So we went to the AMC theater in Times Square and caught a movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.  JCVD, to be specific.

What?  I don't strike you as the type to watch the Muscles from Brussels?  Really?  ;)

Chris was all hopped up to see this movie and, basically, I was just along as the patient, dutiful wife.   

But it turns out I was on the edge of my seat and very into it.  Which was as shocking to me as making a meal that didn't taste like ... burnt stuff.   The trailer site touts the movie as, "When the life of Jean-Claude Van Damme collides with the reality of a hold-up in Brussels, Belgium, suddenly the huge movie star turns into an ordinary guy, filled with fears, contradictions and hopes. How can he be up to the legend he has built? What can a film hero do when the gun pointed to his temple isn’t charged with blanks? JCVD finds himself at the turning point of his 'hero' life."  Watch the trailer for yourself - it's not what you think.

The press has been raving about this movie, and the critics seem to be pretty aligned in favor for it.  I expected to hate it and I thought it was awesome.  (See also:  300.)  Has anyone else seen - or heard of - this movie?  Am I losing my mind or was it actually good? 

November 15, 2008

NaBloPoMo Meme.

It's November.  It's NaBloPoMo.  And while I have a lot I want to write about, there isn't time today.

So I've tapped the Dorkabetic archives (thanks, Hannah!) for this one-word-answer meme that went around a few weeks ago.  I love a good NaBloPoMo meme.  They bail me out of the jam every time.  ;)

1. Where is your cell phone?  Table.
2. Your significant other? Dashing. (Not "dashing" like "running fast."  Dashing like cute.)
3. Your Hair? Ponytail.
4. Your Skin?  Moisturized.
5. Your mother? Adorable.
6. Your favorite thing? Hugs.
7. Your dream last night? Terrifying.
8. Your favorite drink? Chai.
9. Your dream/goal? Author.
10. The room you’re in? Living.
11. Your ex? Kind.
12. Your fear? Flying.
13.Where do you want to be in 6 years? Motherhood.
14.Where were you last night? NYC.
15.What you’re not? Patient.
16.Muffins? Blueberry!
17.One of your wish list items? MacBook.
18.Where you grew up? RI.
19.The last thing you did? Typed.
20.What are you wearing? T-shirt.
21.Your TV? Off.
22.Your pets? Plentiful.
23. Your computer? Laptop.
24. Your life? Fun.
25. Your mood? Busy.
26. Missing someone? Grammie.
27. Your car? Honda.
28. Something you’re not wearing? Make-up.
29. Favorite Store? AnnTaylor (mushed it into one word to fit with the rules.)
30. Your summer?  Tan.
31. Like someone? Many.
32. Your favorite color? Blue.
33. When is the last time you laughed? Seconds.
34. Last time you cried? Thursday.
35. Who will respond to this? I think I'm last to do it.  (Whoops.  Couldn't stick with the one wordiness.)
36. Whose answers are you anxious to see?  Yours!

If you need to grab a meme for this rainy Saturday, go for it.  :)

November 14, 2008

World Diabetes Day (SUM Style)

Happy World Diabetes Day, everyone!  To mark this year's WDD, I've created a little video about what a day in my life is like.  People know what diabetes is, but they don't know how much management is part of our daily routine. (And, because I watched Pee Wee's Big Adventure the other night, it's a bit inspired by the breakfast machine.)

What's a day in your life like?  Blog it! Vlog it!  Or even just tell someone who may not know.  Today is the day to educate people and let them know that diabetes isn't an invisible disease - it affects every single one of us.

Be sure to check all around the medical blogosphere today for diabetes awareness efforts.  Special thanks to Dr. Val for taking the time to do a podcast with me for Getting Better, and to my friend Buzz Bishop in Vancouver for all of his efforts diabetes.  Here's an interview he did about diabetes - and hula hooping!) 

Happy WDD, you guys. And thanks for everything you do.

November 13, 2008

Involved in World Diabetes Day!

Tomorrow is World Diabetes Day, and it's time for the diabetes community - and society as a whole! - to get involved.  There are a ton of people who are doing their part to raise awareness, and the efforts of this crew on the whole are remarkable.  Here are some of the highlights so far:

  • Have you seen SuperG's list of Things NOT To Do On WDD?  His number one answer was enough to make me laugh so hard I cried.
  • The JDRF has launched their own social networking space at Juvenation.org.   I've joined the beta community this morning, and while the JDRF team is still making tweaks and adjustments as they move towards a hard launch, it's a solid space and could be fun.  You can find me here, and you can also find their community leader, our own Gina Capone, here!
  • Online video is all the rage, right?  Looks like the Omnipod team is working their own video angle, with a contest that's starting tomorrow.  They're looking for people to share how Omnipod has affected their life, and the winner will score a MacBook Pro.  Pretty sweet.  If you're an Omni-vore, check out the contest details.
  • There's a new Generation D up on dLife, and it's about getting involved in Diabetes Awareness Month. 
  • I'm not sure how you'll feel about this diabetes rap, but I heard it and it was stuck in my head.  For days.  On end.  A reader sent me the link and it made me laugh, so I thought I'd share it with you guys.  What do you think?  My favorite line, "Used to make it from cows, now from fake DNA."
  • Manny at TuDiabetes has some suggestions on getting involved with World Diabetes Day - his Charlie Chaplin-inspired video is cute, and inspiring! 
  • Buzz Bishop, the afternoon host at 95Crave in Vancouver, is doing his part to educate people about diabetes, and he's raising plenty of awareness through his multiple media outlets.  He recently wrote an article featuring me, Manny, and Scott Johnson about building online communities for diabetes
  • Lee Ann at The Butter Compartment is creating a remarkable artistic representation of real life diabetes for her local World Diabetes Day event - if you are in the Philadelphia area tomorrow, be on the lookout for this talented artist!

So what are you going to do to mark the day?  Whether you are going to be working in your office all day long, attending an advocacy event, or just doing your regular thing, don we know our blue apparel.  Wear blue tomorrow to show that we, as a community, are united by diabetes and raising awareness across the globe.  Let the world know we're out there, and that we aren't giving up until there's a cure!

November 12, 2008

How To Pitch To Bloggers.

Dear PR WonderKids, Don't make a bad pitch.

It's National Diabetes Month, and I know it's part of your job to comb through social media outlets and find places for your clients to be showcased.  I admire your tenacity and your understanding of the impact that blogs and social networking sites possess. 

BUT.

(You had to see the "but" coming, right?  Anticipating the market response?)

The pitches I've seen lately have been atrocious.   One started out with "dear blogger," as part of a mass email with undisclosed recipients.  Another had "Hey, Kerri!" as the opener, with my name in a different font than the rest of the email - cut and paste much?  Or the email that contained the phrase, "Type 2 diabetes, which is your main concern, can be helped by [product name]."  Or the one that ended with, "I suggest writing about 300 words on this product would be sufficient." 

PR ladies and gentlemen, you need to take a breath.  I receive several dozens of pitches from companies a week, and for the most part, they are disappointing.  However, there are a few PR mavens who I have actually developed a good working relationship with, because they have taken the time to get to know me and my blog, and they let me know that I'm not just another outreach effort.  

Looking to tap the blogosphere for your next PR adventure?  Please take these suggestions into account:

  1. Know my name.  Seriously.  Know it, use it, make me think you care about it.  Addressing me as "blogger" or making it obvious that you pasted my name in to a boilerplate (see also:  keep your fonts matchy-matchy) shows me that you don't care enough.
  2. Read me.  I write about type 1 diabetes.  Don't pitch to me about the latest in gastric bypass surgeries.  Don't sell me on the benefit of losing weight to come off of insulin injections.  Make me believe that you know what my blog's focus is and that you care about the audience I'm reaching, not that you're just trying to get the word out to "anyone." 
  3. Tailor your email.  One of the best pitches I ever received came with the introduction of "Hi Kerri.  I know you got married two weeks ago and I wanted to give you a little time to sift through your emails and catch up on things.  Congratulations on your marriage, and my best to you and Chris!"  Then she went on with her pitch.  But she let me know she reads me, knows about my life, and appears to care about my commitments.  It sounds trite and slightly arrogant, but if you take the time to know me, I'll take the time to respond to you.
  4. Be patient.  If I don't respond to your email right away, sending another one that says "PLEASE RESPOND" isn't cool.  Your time is valuable, but my time is valuable, too.  Appreciate the fact that my job is not to spread the word about your client.
  5. Follow up.  If I write about your pitch, follow up with a "thank you" email to me.  Let me know that you appreciate my efforts.  That can help establish a good working relationship and potentially future promotional efforts.

If you aren't able to follow these five simple rules, then maybe you should steer clear of pitching to my blog. 

Best,
Kerri Morrone Sparling. 

(Not "Hey."  Not "Esteemed Member of the Diabetes Community."  Not "Diabetes Writer."  And definitely not "Blogger."  Kerri.)

November 11, 2008

When You Aren't Looking.

When you aren't looking ...The clock stared back at me.  5:22 am.  I stared at the green, digital numbers for a few minutes.  They stared back.  5:24 am now.

I reached over to the bedside table and pressed the spacebar on my phone - it told me the time was 5:28 am.

"That's not right.  My clock was set against my phone.  How are they different now?"  I thought about this for a few more minutes.  Chris was asleep on my right, his chest rising and falling with his even breaths.  The little gray cat was curled up at the foot of the bed, but her ears were starting to tilt towards me.

Exhausted.  I could just roll over and go back to sleep, but my hands reach out automatically towards the black zipper case on the bedside table.  I unzip the case and my hands fumble to retrieve a strip from the bottle, then clumsily shoved it into the top of my meter.

"Meow."  Abby called from the floor.  A statement, from the cat who always seems to know when I'm tumbling down the well.

"I'm testing."  I said to her.  To the cat.  I'm talking to the cat at 5:29 in the morning while I test my blood sugar.  Even as the result came back at 44 mg/dl, I had to laugh at the ridiculousness.

But something about seeing that number made the symptoms of the low show themselves.  Seeing that 44 made me notice the dampness on my forehead.   I felt like I was about to burst into tears and into a fit of laughter at the same time.  Chris was still asleep - shouldn't I wake him up and tell him I am so low?  

No.  Instead, I threw back the covers and made my legs move me towards the door.  One step, two steps, a few more steps, get to the fridge, open the juice bottle, drink, close the fridge, skate back towards the bed, collapse back into bed, stare at the clock which is blinking 5:32 now.

"Hey.  You okay?"  Chris stirs towards me.

"Yup."  Just lying on my back, waiting for the feeling of sinking through the mattresses to stop.

"Did you have juice?"

"I did.  A lot.  Grape juice."  Details he doesn't need to know, but I just want to hear my voice and confirm I still have some control over what's going on.

Clock is now at 5:34 am.  The sky outside the picture window is just starting to turn the dark blue-gray of the witching hour, and my lips are stained with grape juice.

Low blood sugars haven't been a part of my routine for several months now, and I credit the end of wedding stress, less aggressive bolusing, and the power of Dexcom.  But last night, my last sensor came loose and I haven't received my new sensors yet.  I had a 230 mg/dl before bed and I took a correction bolus.  And for some reason, the bottom dropped out in the wee hours of the morning.

You can be prepared.  You can plan.  You can have a medical team and an emotionally supportive team and a basket full of technology that can help you manage your diabetes, but a high or a low can still come and grab you when you aren't looking.

Tricky little suckers. 

November 10, 2008

Waldorf'ing It.

This past Saturday, Chris and I had the absolute honor of being Fran Carpentier's guests at the JDRF Promise Ball in NYC.  At the Waldorf=Astoria hotel, where I felt waaaay out of my league but thrilled to be there. 

We don't have the opportunity to rock the black tie very often, so it was a fun treat to get all dressed up again.  

Kerri and Chris, black tie and all!

Chris and I at the gala, feeling rather spiffy.

Fran, Kerri (me), and Gina

Fran Carpentier, me, and Gina Capone with our big grins.

Gina, Tom, and Kerri (me)

A D-Blogger sandwich, with Mr. Tom Karlya at the center.

The night was beautiful, with friends and wine and many laughs.  With Mary Tyler Moore speaking to the crowd from years of experience with type 1 diabetes, and with Elaine Stritch backing her up in style, the crowd was impassioned, inspiring, and ready to spend. 

And oh how they spend.  I have never before seen 2.5 million dollars raised in the matter of an hour.  One quick lift of a sign gifted the JDRF with tens of thousands of dollars.  I sat there in awe, trying to keep the tears out of my eyes as people gave so much.

I don't know how many people in that room were living with diabetes themselves, but I know that at my table alone, Fran, Gina, and I tested our blood sugar before eating.  I know that there were others in the room who were also living with this disease, like my friend Jon who I worked with at dLifeTV, and Allison, and several children who would grow up, just like we did, with type 1 diabetes.

The JDRF is a remarkable organization, but there's still so much left to do.  I've been diabetic for 22 years and I have not yet seen a cure.  Fran has been diabetic for 40 years, and has not yet seen a cure.  Isn't it time?  Time to tell people that diabetes doesn't go away, that it can't be ignored, and that it deserves the attention of the nation?

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and we need to remind our country - our world - that we are still waiting for our cure.  Raise your voices this month and let people know what life with diabetes is all about.

November 09, 2008

SUM Diabetes Blogging.

Today is the fourth D-Blog Day, and I'm proudly raising my voice with you guys, the diabetes community.  Three years ago, I wrote about why my blog is called "Six Until Me."  Two years ago, I wrote about my heroes.  And last year, I wrote about what matters.

This year, I wanted to thank you guys for being such a crucial part of my health.  You are all heroes, and I appreciate every one of you.

November 08, 2008

Do You Disclose?

Do you tell people about your diabetes? How do you handle disclosure when it comes to employers, casual acquaintances, friends, and romantic relationships? Are you the type to slide it in there - "Hi, I'm Kerri. I'm recently married and I work in health media. I have a couple of cats and... hey, what's that over there? Ihavediabetes. Anyway, I also love Italian food." - or do you have in-depth conversations with people about your disease?

Disclosure is one of those tricky parts of diabetes management that doctors and certified diabetes educators don't often bring up, and it's this month's SUM Musings column over at diaTribe.  Check it out, if you have a minute, and enjoy this rainy and chilly fall Saturday!

November 07, 2008

Listen to the diaBeat.

The Friday Six:  November 7, 2008 editionWell that title gets the prize for Worst Pun on the Planet.  It's Friday, I was up way too late last night trying to find a stupid purse, and I woke up this morning with Siah trying to faceplant into my collar bone.  Foolish Sausage ... but at least there's a Friday Six.

1.  ReliOn has issued a recall on some of their insulin syringes.  (Thanks to all of the readers who sent me a head's up on this one.)  According to the press release, ReliOn is "recalling one lot of ReliOn sterile, single-use, disposable, hypodermic syringes with permanently affixed hypodermic needles due to possible mislabeling. The use of these syringes may lead to patients receiving an overdose of as much as 2.5 times the intended dose, which may lead to hypoglycemia, serious health consequences, and even death."  Check the release to see if this development affects you.

2.  Last week, I wrote about the Hannah Montana and diabetes episode that the parents at CWD, and other folks as well, were fighting to have pulled by Disney.  And holy power of the diabetes community - it was pulled off the air!  Parents are pleased, some fans are disgruntled, and Miley Cyrus is now encouraging people to ... Drink Water, Not Sugar?  Not sure where she's going with this, but I'm curious to see.

3.  And because I haven't had a chance to mention it yet, I wanted to thank everyone who came out for the JDRF walk in RI on October 26th.  The day was absolutely gorgeous, and there were about 6,000 people at this year's walk in Roger Williams Park.  My mom, stepfather, brother, nephew, niece, sister- and brother-in-law, Chris's best friend, and my ever-supportive husband walked as part of Team Six Until Me.  I had a chance to meet a few RI readers, chat up some parents, and enjoy a nice lunch out joined by Chris's mother and grandmother.  Diabetes awareness has become a family affair, and I'm so honored and proud to have their support.

4.  This Sunday, November 9, marks the fourth annual D-Blogger Day.  The details are on Gina's Talkfest blog, but the general gist is this:  If you are a diabetes blogger, November 9th is the day we collectively come together and post about diabetes.  Sure, there are other things going on in our lives, and who wants to blog on a Sunday?  But D-Blogger day has been a tradition in this here blogosphere and I've been a proud participant for three years, so be sure to raise your voice on Sunday.

5.  And next Friday is World Diabetes Day - are you ready to mark the occasion?  There are events taking place all over the blogosphere and in the "real world," as well.  Will you dress in blue to show your spirit?  Will you blog about diabetes and educate others?  Are you helping to light a building in blue?  I'll be in NYC marking the day - where will you be?  Do you love questions?  Does it sound like I have upspeak?

6.  Wow, five very diabetes-centric things.  I think I need a little levity.  So I'll consult Le Sausweege.  I went to grab my work bag this morning and it turns out that Siah wanted to visit dLife.  She was sitting patiently in my bag, her little paws pressing the buttons on my cell phone.

Bring Siah to Work Day

Thanks, Sausage.  You aren't annoying at all.

Have a great weekend, and since it's NaBloPoMo all month long (ahhhhh!), I'll see you tomorrow.  And Sunday.  And all next week.  :)

November 06, 2008

Petal By Petal.

I'm picking my priorities, petal by petal.

I'm choosing to wear this Dexcom and adhere another site to my body.  I'm choosing to have the beeps ring out and scrape against the walls of my office, letting everyone know I'm out of range somehow.  Sometimes the site doesn't bother me, sometimes it itches a little bit.  Depending on where it is resting, either on my arm or on my lower back, I sometimes see it in the mirror and am reminded of what I'm trying to accomplish.

I'm choosing to test my blood sugars and log the results regularly these days, even though keeping a log book goes against what appears to be my internal wiring.  I've always been challenged by keeping track of blood sugar numbers, even though just looking at a few days' worth of numbers really does help me isolate patterns.  I'm building a binder, and it's a pain in the arse, but I'm hopeful that tighter numbers will be the result.

I'm choosing to laugh at the things that hurt me.  When the infusion set hits a nerve as it goes in or when my CGM site bangs against the doorjam, I try to embrace my inner Yosemite Sam instead of letting the pain get to me.  Making this choice makes me hop around like a rabid bunny sometimes, and eventually gets me giggling, but it's better than feeling angry.

I'm choosing to go to the gym after work every weeknight.  I do not like the impact this has on my free time, and I don't always like the actual sweating part (oh how I hate to sweat), but I need to keep my heart healthy and my body strong ... and it helps clear my head a little bit, too.  So even though this hour and a half is something I want back at times, I know this choice is worth it.

I've chosen to limit my commitments these days, because over-extending myself leads to stress patterns that make my brain melt.  I'm stoked to do NaBloPoMo, but I've ducked out of doing NaNoWriMo this year.  I'm working at dLife and freelancing, but I'm being careful not to plan to be in fourteen different places at once.  I've decided to stay home in CT some weekends instead of making the long drive back to Rhode Island.  Peace of mind goes a very long way for me, and I'm making the choice to stay a bit more stable. 

Life gets busier and busier every time I blink, and I know it's not just me.  Everyone seems to have a side business they're cultivating, or organizations they're volunteering for, or events they're coordinating.  Life is blasting forward at a breakneck pace and we, as members of this community, have that added bonus of diabetes to manage in conjunction with everything else.  I'm trying hard not to get sucked into the stressful chaos of accomplishing everything, and instead giving a go at managing life petal by petal. 

Diabetes management, petal by petal.

November 05, 2008

More Sweet Irony.

Last Friday, we had a little Halloween party at dLife, complete with costume competition.  And there were treats - oh holy sugar rush, there were brownies and candy bars and cupcakes and other delicious, carb-laden tasty bits.

But somehow, willpower had settled into my brain on the overnight and took up residence there, keeping my hands steady when the sugary treats were passed around.  And while other moments of willpower are hard for me to maintain, this one was easy.  I've felt a little "off the wagon" lately with my eating, so I'm trying to revert back to pre-wedding mentality, with a focus on lower carbohydrate consumption and ramping up my workouts a little bit.

"No thanks, I'm all set," as the candy dish is passed around.
"I'm cool," while the brownies are being cut and served.
"I'll have coffee," when offered a delicious cupcake.

And it wasn't difficult.  I actually felt unaffected by this mysterious willpower.  It was kind of nice to just coast without feeling any pangs of "Man, I wish I wanted to take the leap and eat that ..."

So why, dear diabetes, did you decide to take a mini-hiatus for the afternoon?  My "good behavior" was rewarded by a series of low blood sugars that righteously kicked my ass.  As soon as I got to work, I started taking pictures of my co-workers' costumes and enjoying the festivities.  But after a few minutes, I realized there was a hollow tin to the way everything sounded, and my lightweight Red Riding Hood cape felt like it was about 33 (Larry Bird) lbs of fabric.  

I tested, and sure enough:  34 mg/dl.

Fantastic.  I had to borrow change from a coworker and grab a juice from the kitchen, chugging it in almost one gulp.  Thankfully, my body recovered fast and by the time my friend asked, "Hey, are you okay?", I already was.

Forty-five minutes goes by.  And I'm sitting at my desk, typing away in an email and realizing I've typed the word "diabetus" instead of "diabetes."  I hit the backspace and tried to retype it, but my fingertips skidded off the keyboard clumsily.  The headache behind my ears was a pounding one, and beads of sweat were on my forehead.  Oh for crying out loud - another one?  I reached back and grabbed my bottle of glucose tabs, popping two in my mouth at once as I fumbled with my meter.  

Well lookie here:  48 mg/dl.  How did that happen?!  I haven't eaten anything that required a big, potentially miscalculated bolus, so what gives?  Whatever - treated it and tried to move on.  (But I giggled again at "diabetus," and promptly had Liberty Medical commercials stuck in my head for the next three hours.  Digression?  Don't mind if I do!)

We had our Halloween costume contest, gave out the prizes, and work resumed again.  I was talking with my coworker when I felt the old, familiar symptoms creeping back up on me.  Her voice was too loud, the heating vents were too loud, the buzzing from the computer screen was creeping into my brain and gnawing on my nerves.  I felt testy.  Overly sensitive.  I wanted to tell her I felt low but the words coming out of my mouth weren't ones that had checked in with me, first.  

"I wanted to ... you know, I'm sorry.  I think I'm low again.  I need to test."  Shunk.  55 mg/dl.  I didn't know what to say.  Why won't this low just back off!?  Does it want brownies that badly?  I moved my chair back and reached for the glucose tabs again, my coworker pausing to look at my quizzically.  "Apparently, I'm cured," I said with a shrug.

I do not understand what causes these lows that hang around for hoooooours.  I didn't change my basals.  I didn't do anything bizarre, like run five miles before work or start doing crunches at my desk.  I hadn't eaten anything out of the ordinary, and I was eating snacks at very regular intervals.  But for some reason, this low blood sugar was hanging with me - we were buddies.

Dear diabetes, if you wanted a brownie, you could have just said so.  Seriously. 

Diabetes wanted a brownie.
  

November 04, 2008

He Made History.

History.

I have been glued to the television all night long, and I had the honor of watching history in the making. 

What a country we live in, where everything is possible.

Siah Wants You ...

 

Siah wants you ... to vote!

Election day - get out there and rock the vote!  Learn more about the candidate's position on healthcare at dLife, and you can also follow the rabid Twitter crew on the election feed.  Today is a crucial day - whatever your political leanings, VOTE!

(And also - happy birthday to my pretty little niece, A!) 

November 03, 2008

Diabetes Crush.

I have to admit it:  I have a diabetes crush.  He is funny, upbeat, realistic, and is easy to identify with.  I've watched all his dLife segments and I think I speak for the entire dLife editorial team when i say, "Jim Turner ... sigh ... he's the best!"

And he came into the office on Friday, just in time to see us all decked out in our Halloween finest.  (Note:  I managed to ditch the red riding hood cape for the picture, but others weren't as quickly uncostumed.  The coworker on my left doesn't usually have this fluffy hairdo, for example.) 

Jim Turner and the dLife Editorial Crew
Swoon. 

Jim Turner has been living with type 1 diabetes for several decades now, but you wouldn't know by looking at him.  He looks healthy, seems happy, and has a wicked sense of humor that makes you giggle at things you didn't even realize were potentially funny.  If laughter is the best medicine, then Jim might be the ultimate endocrinologist. 

And of course he comes in on a day when we're all dressed up like goof balls.  

Thanks for entertaining us for the afternoon, Jim.  We remain your loyal fans!!  

Swoon again. 

November 02, 2008

Patients and the Web.

(Sounds sort of like a children's book title, no?  "Once upon a time, there was the Internet...")

My friend Berci at ScienceRoll asked me to create a video to show his Medicine 2.0 class how the web can impact chronic disease management.  My take on the whole concept is that it's amazing how the web can bring a world of people together to share their common experiences, which for me makes diabetes less isolating.  I used to be one of the only diabetics I knew - now I know hundreds! 

Thanks, Berci, for letting me virtually address your class.  I hope they didn''t think I talked too fast.

November 01, 2008

Shoot.

Do not want ... yet I'm compelled.

This is going to be very, very hard.  I can already tell. 

Who else is in this mess?

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