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April 30, 2010

BSparl's Birthday: Part Two.

The door opened and Chris was escorted in by one of the nurses.  He was wearing a bright blue jumpsuit over his clothes, and a face mask to prevent germs from entering the operating room.  My hands, which had been held by one of the nurses (because I asked her to hold my hand because I was scared, I'll admit it), fluttered animatedly and reached for Chris.  

"She's on her way," I said to him as he took his seat up by my shoulder.  He and I were both above the sterile field, listening to the sounds of the procedure as the anesthesiologist gave us the play-by-play as she peeked over the curtain towards my belly.

"Your daughter is almost here.  Just a few more minutes now," she reported.  I could hear her smiling underneath her mask, despite the fact that I couldn't see her face. 

My body was completely numb, but I could still feel the pressure of what was taking place down there.  It was like having dental work done, where you can't feel the pain but you feel the pressure.  I felt them shifting things about inside of me, but it wasn't uncomfortable.  

My obstetrician's voice rang out from below the sheet.  "Ready, Mom and Dad?  She's just about here!"

Chris held my hand, and I felt this enormous shifting inside of me.  And then the sweetest sound I have ever heard broke through the din of the operating room.  The sound reached into my heart and my mind and wrapped around the most vulnerable parts of me and closed tightly, making me feel safe and terrified and excited and … ready.  All at once.  

It was the sound of my baby's first cry.  The child I had been hoping to have for as long as I can remember.

My daughter.

Chris said I burst into tears instantly upon hearing her cry.  I don't really remember all of the details - everything became somewhat of a blur at this point, as the anesthesia worked in combination with the euphoria I was feeling.  A nurse came and asked Chris if he wanted to help wash the baby off.  He took pictures of her while she was being cleaned and weighed and swaddled.  The nurses working on me kept asking if I was okay, and finally let me take off my oxygen mask.  The surgical team worked to put me back together down there. 

So much was going on, but the only soundtrack I could focus on was the sound of my daughter, crying with all her might and proving that her lungs were strong and healthy.  

Suddenly, this little creature was brought to me, wrapped tightly in a white and pink striped blanket, a yellow hat on her head.  She was pouting with her full, little lips, her chin quivering just a little bit as my husband put her in my arms.  

My child.

"Oh, my baby.  It's you.  I'm your mommy.  I love you."  I remember murmuring the same sentences to her, over and over again, marveling at the fact that this tiny baby was just tucked inside of my body, and now she was breathing the same air as me, nestled between her mother and father for the first time in all of our lives.

Even though it took about 40 minutes for the surgical team to close me up and finish the surgery, I was completely absorbed by my child.  Her long eyelashes and her tiny nose.  I thought about how hard I had worked in efforts to make my baby healthy and strong.  How hard I would continue to work to ensure that she and I, and her daddy, would have a long, healthy life together.  Diabetes wasn't part of these moments.  My heart didn't have room for anything that hurt.  I couldn't focus on anything but this incredible moment.

I looked at Chris, who was staring at his baby with wide, tear-filled eyes. 

"This is our baby, Chris.  She's ours.  We did it."

He kissed my forehead, then kissed his daughter's forehead.  

"We did." 

BSparl's Birthday: Part One.

(I've tried to write her birth story with more precision, but I'm a bit of a rambler, so this is a two part post.  Had to be.  I couldn't edit myself down enough.)

The evening before my c-section, I was a complete wreck.  I'd never had any kind of surgery before (except when I was four years old - I had accidentally stepped on a sewing needle and half of it broke off in my heel, so I was put under to have it removed.  Ew.).  I'd never even had an I.V.  You'd think that, after living with type 1 diabetes for over 23 years, that I'd have had my share of hospitalizations and needly bits, but I was relatively green when it came to anything other than insulin and pump sites.  

So I was freaking about the surgery.  In addition to feeling really nervous about becoming a mom.  

But technical stuff first:  Thanks to a wicked allergic reaction that I had to the heparin injections (oh itchy rash that cropped up everywhere that I had injected the heparin - scratchy town!), I was taken off the blood thinner the Monday before surgery.  As a result, I was safely able to plan on the spinal block only, instead of being put under fully.  I was hooked up to an I.V. line for fluids at about 10 pm on Wednesday evening, which also served as an emergency glucose drip if I happened to go low overnight.  (Likely risk, since I was unable to eat or drink anything after midnight.  I was in Gremlin mode.)  

I went to bed on Wednesday night connected to the I.V. pole, with a blood sugar of 109 mg/dl and my baby kicking away inside of me.

And at 5:30 am on Thursday morning, I woke up to take my last shower as a mom-to-be.  The surgical team at Beth Israel requested that I shower using a special antiseptic soap to prepare my skin for the procedure, and after my shower, the nurses came in to connect the insulin drip and disconnect my insulin pump and Dexcom sensor.  (The Dexcom was on my right thigh, and since everything from the breastbone down was part of my "sterile surgical environment," I was asked to remove the 15 day old sensor in efforts to keep things pristine.)  

At about 6:30 am, Chris and I went up to the labor and delivery floor of BIDMC.  I was told to dress in the stylish hospital gowns and lose all of my undergarments (though I petitioned for - and won rights to wear - my socks, damnit).  The nurses wheeled me into the triage room, where Chris and I waited for my OB/GYN.  While we waited, the nurses carefully monitored my blood sugars with my personal meter, and I watched as my nerves caused the numbers to rise.  Actually, my climbing blood sugars delayed the surgery a little bit, because my medical team wanted me between 80 - 110 mg/dl for the surgery, and I was cresting up towards 160 mg/dl.  But once I was holding steady, my OB (Dr. A) came in and said we were ready to administer the spinal block.

I went into the operating room alone, because Chris wasn't allowed to be present for the epidural (in efforts to keep the environment sterile.  Not that he's dirty or anything, but still …).  The epidural was one of the things I was most nervous about.  A needle going into my spine that would cause me to lose all feeling below the waist?  The thought made my stomach lurch.  

My wonderful OB knew I was bordering on a panic attack.  She stood in front of me and held my shoulders steady as the anesthesiologist prepared my back for the spinal block.  

"I'm really nervous," I said.  My legs were shaking uncontrollably.  There were about 12 people in the room, and I had only met five minutes earlier, and I was feeling exposed, in just about every way.  The room was almost completely silent as the medical team prepared to operate.  On me. 

"Can someone say something?  I'm starting to freak the hell out here.  How about some jokes?"  I couldn't stand the silence.  I needed someone to fill the air with nonsense, and I couldn't provide that noise myself.

The doctor leading the surgery piped up in his British accent.  "I've got one.  What has more spots than a leopard?"

"What?"  I wanted to focus on the punchline, not the needle easing into my back.  "More spots than a leopard?  I don't know … a thirteen year old boy?"

The surgeon laughed.  "That's not too bad.  But it's not the answer.  What has more spots than a leopard?"  He paused for dramatic effect.  "Two leopards."

The needle went in.  I felt the numbing solution spreading through my legs, making them feel warm and slippery and fading.  

"That's what you fill this awkward silence with?  That's almost horrible," I said through staggered breaths, still completely afraid of the surgery to come.  The surgeon laughed at me again.  "It's true, though.  Two leopards definitely have more spots than the one."

The epidural was starting to take effect, and the team helped me lay on my back and relax my legs.  Unfortunately for everyone, the c-section required me to be naked from the sternum down, so basically everyone in the room had a bird's eye view of parts of me I personally hadn't seen in several weeks.  A catheter was set up, a drape was established to block my view of my belly and to keep the lower half of my body sterile, and I was ready for surgery.  Ready for my baby to arrive.

"Where's Chris? Will he be here soon?"

"He's coming in now.  And your daughter will be out in just a few minutes.  Are you ready?"

(To be continued in Part Two.  :) )

April 29, 2010

Guest Post: A D-Mom Tweet-Up.

Nan from My Pump Gear is today's guest poster, and she does such a great job of introducing her post that I'm going to just hand it over to her.  :)  Take it away, Nan!

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Okay … I am thrilled to be a guest here @sixuntilme!!  Kerri’s is the first diabetes blog I started reading.  I remember searching for answers to my questions like  “How in the world does a 3 year old wear an insulin pump?”  And there she was!...talking about diabetes and fashion!  Well, I scoured her sight and archived posts until my eyes were bloodshot.  It was the starting point in discovering that my daughter, Claire, can actually live a full and happy life with, yes … diabetes.

When this opportunity arose to be a guest poster here, of course I thought of the exposure for our little business, My Pump Gear.  And, then I thought well maybe I just need to share our 8 year old daughter’s diagnosis story.  But, I’ve done that in several different ways online already.  So, if you’re interested, you can find our business here:  My Pump Gear and our diagnosis story here

What I really want to share is a story of connection for me, a mom of 3, whose youngest happens to have type 1 diabetes.

A D Mom Tweet-Up

“Twitter? Who has time for that?”

“A tweet?  What in the world?”

“What can possibly be written in 140 characters that’s worthwhile?”

I remember having those exact thoughts as I set up an account.  I thought it would be good for business, although I had no idea how or why.  I went through the motions and began “following” people in relation to diabetes.  And then I noticed someone whose location was the Monterey Bay area.  This intrigued me.  That location is like my second home, so I “tweeted” @notsostilllifes.  I don’t remember exactly what I wrote.  But it started a conversation.

That was nearly a year ago.

Since that time, twitter has become my go-to source for encouragement, inspiration and answers.  It has connected me to a virtual support system.  Parenting a kid with diabetes can be lonely.  And, though family and friends offer their love and support, no one can truly relate to the constant of diabetes except those who live with it too.   This diabetes online community, via Twitter, Facebook and countless blogs fills a void.   
My Pump Gear
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to meet Melinda (aka @notsostilllifes) and her husband, Scott…live and in person!  It was a D Mom Tweet-Up, as we called it.  We got to visit for a couple hours. It was wonderful!  We talked diabetes, of course.  But we also talked about all of our kids, sports, school, our lives.  

If you’ve ever communicated with Melinda at all, you will agree that she is a wealth of information when it comes to parenting a type 1 kid (and sea glass hunting too…but that’s an entirely different post!)  Her son, Michael, will soon be off to college next year.  He has had type 1 diabetes since the age of five.  Michael was to join us that day and meet with all of us too.  But other demands prevented him from traveling around the bay that day.  We look forward to meeting Michael (aka Captain Insulin) on a future visit!  He has the perspective on diabetes that we all should have.

It was interesting … while visiting, Melinda would begin explaining something and I would think, Yes, I know that about you or I remember that story.  You see, even though we had never seen each other in person, I felt as though I was meeting an old friend for the first time.  There was a bond between us already, even before our meeting that day!

Connecting with others in similar life situations is so important.  I felt pretty isolated when it came to diabetes … for years after Claire’s diagnosis.  The type 1 families we knew were very few.  We craved interaction with people who really could understand what this disease means to our family.  Who knew that support was literally just a mouse click away?

I look forward to our next D Mom Tweet-Up!  Oh and, now, when people roll their eyes at the mention of Twitter … I just smile and nod.  : )

April 28, 2010

Guest Post: A Family Affair.

I wish I had the chance to meet up with Traci when Chris and I were out at Sundance in January, but our schedules never synced up.  But thankfully, she's offered up her words as a guest post today, and I'm grateful to have her filling in with her perspectives on being the wife of a person with type 1 diabetes.

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Traci and her husband,  ScottI remember sitting on that hard plastic chair in the doctor's office. The list of things we had to do before the wedding just running through my head. And you, so calm, but running your thumb softly over my knuckles. You knew what he was going to say. You had been living with this disease for so many years. I only thought I knew. I had worked with patients on the floor of the hospital who had diabetes. I got this. I understood this. A quick glance from you reassured me that we were going to be okay.
The doctor came in and sat down in front of us, paused for a minute and then looked at the chart sitting on his desk. He cleared his throat and then said, "First off, let me give you two my congratulations. However, I wanted to meet with you both, but most especially you Traci because there are some things that you need to know--that you will want to know as your marriage progresses. Diabetes will largely be your husband's responsibility, but you will find that it will become a family affair and you will have a large part in it as your marriage progresses."
And then came the lecture. The fact that Scott had had diabetes for over 20 years and had no long term effects at the time. The fact that I had to look forward to thyroid problems, kidney problems, amputations, and impotence?? (Is that word even in a soon to be newlywed's vocabulary??) I left armed with a dictionary sized amount of carb counting materials, diabetes booklets, and the smiley and sad faced chart that showed what signs and symptoms of hypo and hyperglycemia were.

The starry filled eyes of early marriage began to wane into the look of silent long term understanding, disappointment, and joy we came to recognize when we would look at each other.
The silent look we gave each other when we couldn't get health or life insurance because Scott chose to pursue his dream of owning his own business.  

The look we gave each other when we found out how much an insulin pump would cost out of our meager newlywed pocketbook wages.
The glance when we were told we couldn't get pregnant for years.
The surprised look when we saw those two dotted lines--a few short months after going off birth control.

Our first baby girl, and a few years later our first baby boy.

Our first house.

Saying good bye to our first house.
And signing for the second.

The comforting look of relief when you wake up and realize that I'm sitting next to you on a bed surrounded by tubing, IV pumps and bright lights after having an insulin reaction.

The tired looks we give each other as we grab not the alarm, but the meter at 3:00 am in the morning.

The weary glances we give each other when another and another and yet another medical bill come in the mail.

The look of pain depending on who got the pleasure of sleeping on the insulin pump most of the previous night.

9 years. Two kids. Two dogs.

Also two hospital admissions, two trips in an ambulance that you don't remember (but for some reason wish you did), and two different career moves. Looking back to 9 years ago when we sat in that same chair that sits in the doctors office today, I wouldn't change any of it. I'm actually grateful for it. And most especially, learning that your doctor was right. Diabetes is something you deal with and manage day to day, but it is a family affair. You are the one that shows me by example everyday that diabetes isn't something that your going to allow to take over your life. You live with it, and you learn from it. And you don't let it define who you are. Our kids have learned lessons on compassion and love that no book, no authority could ever teach them. And I have learned that love isn't just some word you throw around each day. It's much, much deeper than that.
Has it really become a family affair? In small ways I guess. I count the carbs for my dinner or dessert creations that you either happily or willingly try to consume to be nice. I order the insurance supplies and call to question the bills that arrive in the mail. You report about your doctors appointments, manage your day to day care, pump site changes, and invite me to wake you up at 3:00 in the morning to poke you in the event that you forget (which you quite often do, even when your son turns on that bright bathroom light in the middle of the night that you don't seem to notice). I entertain the kids when you have a sick day, hold them while you are taken away by ambulance, and check your blood sugar hourly for two days because you, yourself aren't able to do it. But while the doctor missed a lot of what our life would be like, he missed the most important thing. He never said how much your diabetes would bring us closer together. And I thank diabetes for forcing us to tackle the hard issues we may not have wanted to face, or may have put off. For sitting us down together at a computer each day to write about how we feel. For talking about the trivial and the serious parts of diabetes. And most especially, thank you, diabetes, for making us stronger through the hard times.

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Scott and Traci are owners of the site DiabeticParents.org and write from their separate and combined perspectives on what life with diabetes is like on their blog http://blog.diabeticparents.org. Scott has had Type 1 diabetes since the age of 4 and was diagnosed with Addison's disease at age 19. He works as a sales manager and loves that it allows him to pursue his favorite sport of golf. Traci works with Utah Diabetes and the Faces of Diabetes and owns the site www.BurntApple.com. She teaches cooking classes and does regular appearances on her local television morning shows. They have two kids and two dogs who have this weird belief that they are kids in the family too. And are treated like it.

April 27, 2010

Guest Post: Thingy, Normal, and Me.

Today's guest post is from Amy, aka "collectingblues" on Twitter, who writes about her "thoughts on sewing, knitting, life, and that whole diabetes thing."  Take it away, Amy!

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Sunday, January 10, was the first and the last time I said the phrase “the new normal.” I was three or four days into my transition to Cyborg Pancreas, and stood in the shower, sobbing at the looks of an infusion site and the Dexcom sensor on my stomach. As I got out and toweled off, I looked down, and said to myself, “Well, this is the new normal.”

I didn’t like the sound of that phrase then, and I don’t like it now.

What is normal? I’ve been type 1 since I was 3 years old. Quite literally, being diabetic is all I know and remember. I’ve seen the transition from the Autoclix (and still shudder at the thought of using it again, to the point of preferring to stick a syringe into my finger in the absence of lancet availability) and wipe-off test strips to shiny new “clickers” and the Dexcom (often referred to as Thingy). So for me, diabetes is normal. It’s not different, or special, or another pithy cliché. It just… is.

It’s occurred to me over the past many years that what’s normal for me isn’t normal for others. While I wouldn’t say that I have a cavalier approach to the Care and Feeding of a Type 1 Diabetic, I do have a different perception of Normal than your average “normal” 30-something. Stick a sensor into your stomach? No problem. Laser surgery for retinopathy? A pain, but better than kidney failure. Poke myself with a lancet eight times a day? OK, whatever — let’s get on with it. It hit me that others don’t have this fun when a colleague was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. “Amy,” she said, “I can’t imagine always having to do this.”

Sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to not have to think so much about diabetes. What would I do with my time if I weren’t looking at CGM data, or trying to figure out a combo bolus in my head to combat a high? Would I suddenly become a five-star chef, or turn out quilted bags like Vera Bradley? Probably not. Knowing me, I’d just sit around knitting until 1:30 a.m. … just like I do now.  

A few weeks before I got my Dexcom, I was at my parents’ home for a few days off at Christmas. My parents knew I wanted Thingy, and that it was a long-time coming. I had first commented to them when I got my Ping, that at a football game I had really felt “normal” when I bloused for beer. I suppose my father thought that the Dexcom was the next step. As we worked to load my car before I drove back to Pittsburgh, he leaned over, hugged me, and said, “I hope this will help make you more normal.”

“Well, Dad,” I responded with a wry grin, “I’m not sure if I would have been normal even if I weren’t diabetic.”

I’m just me.

April 26, 2010

My Baby Girl.

With a lot of stories, it's best to start at the beginning.  But I'm still recovering from surgery and adjusting to a sleep regimen that … well, doesn't include much sleep.  So I figured I'd start at the end and work my way backwards.  

We've gone from "It's on!" to "She's here!"  

Mommy and baby
My daughter and me.  I've been waiting a long time to write that phrase.

Our little baby BSparl was born, healthy and strong and at 6 lbs 15 oz, on April 15th at 9:09 am.  "She's coming!  She's almost here," the doctors all started speaking in unison, and seconds later, the sound of my baby girl crying pierced the operating room. 

And at that moment, Chris and I became her parents, and our whole world changed with her first breath. 

Baby girl snuggling with her daddy
BSparl and her daddy

We were a family before our baby girl arrived, but now our hearts are swollen with love for this new little creature.  (And she's very tolerant of her goofy parents as we negotiate this incredible learning curve.  She didn't even mind when I couldn't figure out how to snap up her first baby outfit without making it into adorable, yet useless, clothing origami.  Why on Earth are there so many blasted snappy things?)

I'm slowly making my way through emails and cards, but I want you guys to know that Chris and I (and BSparl!) really appreciate all of your emails, cards, gifts, prayers, well-wishes, and support.  Thanks to the wonderful people who offered to guest post, I'll be hosting the words of others on and off for a few more weeks, but I'll be popping in with updates and the full birth story.  There's so much to tell. 

In the meantime, THANK YOU so much for everything.  Our baby is healthy and that is in part to the support I've received from you all  You guys mean a lot to us, as a family, and I can't thank you enough.

She has thoughts.  Many of 'em.  Mostly about poop, I think.
She thinks deep thoughts.  Mostly about poop, I believe, but deep nonetheless.

More later, but for now, much love!

April 23, 2010

Guest Blog: Patient Perspectives.

Bethany Rose is a new diabetes blogger on the block (you can check out her blog at Me with the D) and today she's offered to guest blog here on SUM while BSparl and I are hanging out (and most likely cleaning up spit up).  Thanks for blogging, Bethany, and I hope you guys enjoy her words!

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BethanyLet’s be honest.  Dealing with doctors isn’t always as pleasant as we’d like.  It’s difficult when we really do need them for help with something so pervasive in our lives.
Nobody knows our diabetes better than we do – we live with it every single day!  Still, we so often emerge from appointments with doctors feeling scolded, undermined, and/or unheard.  Why?
To be fair, there are some really good doctors out there (I should know – I see some of them!) and there are some pretty scary complications associated with poor control over this disease.  Perhaps our doctors are just doing what they think is best to help us avoid these complications.
Maybe our doctors just need a little help understanding the full picture of what we need from them.
A few months ago I had a unique opportunity to speak with a group of medical students about what it’s like to have diabetes and to deal with doctors in that context.  As part of this discussion I was able to communicate to these doctors-to-be some of the points that I feel medical professionals really need to understand when dealing with people with diabetes.  Following are some of the issues I raised:

1.  Every person with diabetes is unique.  A textbook might be a good starting point, but realistically, nobody has “textbook diabetes”.   We want to be viewed as individual patients with individual problems requiring individual diabetes management techniques.  Clearly there will be similarities between us, and certain generalizations can be made, but just because one strategy works for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it will work well for everyone with diabetes.
2. Some of us have spent a lot of time educating ourselves about diabetes.  We don’t want to be lumped into the same category as patients who aren’t interested in understanding this disease or how to manage it.  We know what we’re talking about and we appreciate it when that fact is acknowledged.
3.  Diabetes sometimes requires thinking outside of the box.  Since we deal with our disease on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute basis, we might have ideas that our doctors may not have considered or seen before, or that don’t initially seem to make sense.  But even when our suggestions seem unusual, we want to be heard and we want our ideas to be given a chance.  They might actually work!
4.  Sometimes poor control isn’t an indication of a lack of effort on our part.  Sometimes it just means we haven’t found what works for us yet.  Sometimes we need help finding a solution.
5.  People with diabetes deal with a lot of guilt.  (I know Kerri’s touched on this one in the past.) We don’t appreciate feeling blamed for our diabetes, for our diabetes management problems that we work so hard to fix, or for our diabetes complications that we’ve worked so hard to avoid.  Encouragement and motivation are helpful – blame isn’t.      

I don’t know how much of what I said stuck with the students that day, and I don’t know how much will continue to stick with them as they go on to get their degrees - perhaps even specializing in endocrinology.  I’m sure I only touched on the tip of the iceberg in terms of improving the doctor/patient partnership, but hopefully I was able to plant some seeds that will benefit their patients who are living with diabetes in the future!

April 22, 2010

Guest Post: Testing the Target Range.

I am honored to have Riva Greenberg guest blogging today, and she has some great insight on what might be happening in the bodies of those who don't have diabetes.  Check out her post about testing the target range below, and thanks to Riva for filling in today!

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Riva GreenbergThirty-eight years ago, when I was diagnosed, I remember very clearly lying in my hospital bed being told by my insensitive young male doctor that having a baby was out of the question. Oh, baby, how times have changed. Happy to fill in Kerri as you put up your tootsies.

If I asked you right now where you think non-diabetics’ blood sugar hovers what would you say? I would have guessed around 100 mg/dl and here’s why:

1)    Pre-diabetes is considered anything over 100 mg/dl up to 125 mg/dl
2)    126 mg/dl and up is considered diabetes
3)    The target range prescribed for diabetics is between 80 mg/dl and 130 mg/dl
4)    I must have watched every video on videojug of Dr. Anne Peters, diabetologist and Professor of medicine and director of the USC Clinical Diabetes Programs, whom I respect and admire say we should shoot for 100 mg/dl most of the time.

But based on an unexpected family experiment the anecdotal evidence I gathered is rather different. In fact it seems non-diabetics’ blood sugar rises even above our prescribed target range some of the time. Call me crazy but this was news to me.

My evidence gathering all began a few months ago when my mother told me my 84-year old father had diabetes. I was shocked. Yes, a surprising reaction for someone who blogs and lectures about diabetes, but the thought that one of my parents would actually get diabetes was, frankly, shocking. Maybe I was just being a little possessive? After all, diabetes is my illness.

A few weeks later my mother told me my father no longer had diabetes. The doctor said his blood sugar was O.K. This seemed just a tad fishy to me. My mother was confused as well. “Would you bring your meter with you next time you visit?” she asked. “We’ll test his blood sugar.”

I returned two weeks later with a spare meter, 100 strips and 100 lancets, a lancing device and my intense curiosity. I had my husband in tow and my brother, sister-in-law and niece were there as well to join for a family lunch. Seeing my testing supply-haul, my mother said, “Oh, no, I just thought we’d test one time.” I obviously took this a bit more seriously than she did.

Bringing out the meter the requisite two hours after lunch my father looked at it suspiciously, so my husband volunteered to test his own blood sugar. Then everyone wanted in. My father tested, my brother, my sister-in-law and my 12 year-old niece. The testing results of this group of non-diabetics respectively were: 155, 158 (that’s dad), 131, 130, 102.

Now for the side-story. My husband’s 155 mg/dl made him concerned about his own blood sugar. So he decided to test his blood sugar pre and post meals for three consecutive days. His first day out, his pre-breakfast reading was: 92, two hours after breakfast: 94, before lunch: 83, after lunch: 128. That 128, we guessed was from his French baguette at lunch. We also reflected that his 155 at my parent's house was the result of a lot of bread at lunch. Both numbers seemed to confirm that no one lives at or near 100 mg/dl steadily and that a refined carb meal tips the scales upward even for non-diabetics.

Mind you this is all anecdotal evidence, but it does suggest that non–diabetics’ blood sugar, just like ours, goes up after eating and much higher at times than I would have guessed. It also makes me feel that these limits, bands and ranges we’re all trying to squeeze into throughout the day should come with a clause: “Sometimes no matter what you do your blood sugar will be out of range. Keep breathing and just fix it.”

This experiment may give you some piece of mind, it did me. I know that after struggling and striving to be hovering, like a space-craft, in target range all the time, that even my best efforts won’t always produce blood sugars that sit demurely where they should, and it’s O.K.

Two side notes: 1) My prince among men, my husband, toppled the second day into his blood sugar testing. “Boy, my finger still hurts from this morning! I don’t think I’m going to do this anymore,” he said. Frankly, I think it was the dribble of blood on his keyboard that pushed him over the edge.

And 2) my father does not have diabetes, but pre-diabetes would be a safe bet. As various doctors have told me, if we live long enough most people will develop type 2 diabetes over time as the typical American diet and lifestyle wears out our insulin-producing beta-cells. Good thing I left a meter and 95 test strips at my parent’s house.

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Riva is the author of “50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life: And the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It” and “The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.” Riva presents educational/motivational presentations to fellow patients as a peer-mentor, blogs on the Huffington Post and her web site diabetes stories, and helps others live an exceptional life, not despite having diabetes but because of it, using diabetes as a catalyst to create a healthier, happier, more meaningful life.

April 21, 2010

Guest Blog: The Pharmacy Hoedown.

Nick has a the most adorable little girl I have ever seen, and both he and his little one have type 1 diabetes.  He has offered to guest blog here today about some of the challenges he faces at the pharmacy, and I'm happy to host his words here on SUM today.  :)

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There are a lot of things that are not funny about being diabetic, but there are some that are. Thrush is not Nick provided this image.  I sort of love this.  :)funny, but pretending to use your pump as a phaser on everyone that asks if you’re “brittle” is. Lows in the middle of the night are not funny. Looking incredulously at strangers and yelling “WHAT DID YOU DO” when your kid’s CGMS alarms is funny. Well, it’s funny to me anyway.

I never in my life thought that a trip to the pharmacy would be fun, let alone funny. However the perspective of a type 1 diabetic is nothing if not unique. The pharmacy is not a foreign land for us. Most of the non-pancreatically challenged among us wander in for the occasional anti-depressant and a pink “Snuggie.” We, however, are the business-travelers of the pharmacy world. I can pick up a bag of dog food and a 12-pack of juice boxes in no time flat, and I can do it in any pharmacy at any time. Mom is so proud.

Being in the pharmacy so often means we are keenly aware of when a pharmacy is well-run, and when one appears as though it is run by drunken space-monkeys. I had the supreme pleasure of visiting a well-run pharmacy in my hometown. The pharmacists and staff knew us by name, and they were partners in our health care. That’s really how it should be shouldn’t it? Frankly, I didn’t know any differently. And then we moved away…

I witnessed my first pharmacy hoedown within a month of moving to this fair city. My first thought was “so THIS is what a drunken space monkey looks like!” Since that time I have re-considered my position and decided I wasn’t really being fair to the pharmacy or to drunken space monkeys. What I was actually witnessing was a pharmacy hoedown.

In all likelihood, you have all seen a pharmacy hoedown; you just didn’t know the name for it. Luckily for you all, most of Kerri’s brain cells are being consumed by BSparl and mysterious writings found in jars of peanut butter, so I am here to enlighten you.

First, the pharmacy hoedown begins with you, the customer, walking up to the counter and automatically regurgitating your last name. This is where the dance begins. The pharmacy tech leans over toward you and says “Holmes you say?” And I say yes, and then I spell it. At the conclusion of this opening set, the fiddle launches in the background and the tech walks first over to the dizzying array of white bags arranged like a child’s playroom. Unable to spot the name, they spin in a circle and look through the bin of recently completed bags. Typically this stage of the dance is highlighted by a deep sigh followed by a customary deep bow to search under the counter, just in case my prescription magically ended up with her warm can of Amp. Is this dance sounding familiar yet?

At this point the tech joins their partner, the pharmacist, where a brief bow and conversation takes place along with them both tracing the same route, only in reverse. What a treat! Pairs! Following the crowd-pleasing synchronized 720 degree spin, the pairs portion of the dance ends…the fiddle slows to a deep and haunting rhythm…and the crowd behind you takes in a deep breath in anticipation of the move you’ve all been anticipating…

“What was your name again?”

*   *   *

Nick offers up his "Obligatory Blogger Info" ... in his own words:

"I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about 2 months after my first endo tried to kill me by diagnosing me with type 2. My daughter, Emma, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 9 months old; she is now a beautiful and happy 5 year old. My only randomly-updated blog can be found at Diabetes 360."

April 20, 2010

Guest Post: Getting Back on Track.

Today's guest post is from talented photographer Amy Free, and she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a year ago, at 27 years old.  She tells the story of the fog of falling out of control and the hard climb back.

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Amy Free and her husband
I hung up the phone and just wandered around our quiet empty house bawling my eyes out. Bristol, our great dane, followed me shamelessly as I ended up in a crumpled pile at the foot of our bed. The obvious concern in the nurse’s voice as she gave me my blood work results was enough to shame me. My blood sugar numbers along with my A1C were off the charts, and on top of that my cholesterol was also high enough to be of concern. I could not hide from reality any more. The numbers were there to prove me wrong.

About a year ago, at 27 years old, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It was a jilting reality that I didn’t really fully understand, but it scared me enough to kick me into a reactive mode where all I wanted to do was fix it. My nature as a "people-pleaser" took over and I wanted to show everyone that I was smart and able enough to manage this strange new disease that had entered my life. So that is what I did... for the first few months. I successfully dropped my A1C from a hideously high 14, all the way down to below 7 within 3 months. I religiously monitored, charted, tested, gave myself shots, and dutifully counted carbs. But after a while all the shots and pricks and “managing” got to be quite bothersome. No one around me really seemed to understand what I was going through. Friends and family were supportive, but no one really seemed to fully comprehend this disease and the constant (and emotional) the management that I was all the sudden responsible for 24/7.

Once I realized that no one else really understood what was going on with my body, I decided to start ignoring it myself. I fell to the allure of eating whatever I wanted and still managing to lose weight (extreme weight loss was one of my symptoms before being diagnosed). I stopped checking my numbers and taking insulin as frequently, so when I did happen to check, my blood sugar was usually well over 300. It was not pretty. When people asked how my diabetes was doing, I just said... oh its fine. Most people didn’t even know what to ask to call my bluff. I somehow managed to get through my days in a haze of exhaustion by chugging water and Diet Dr. Pepper. Looking back it’s actually pretty amazing that I could put on such a good front (and that I never suffered from DKA), when in reality I was doing such serious damage to my body.

Thank goodness for that phone call from the nurse that snapped me back into reality. The reality that if I ever wanted to even try to start a family I needed to start making my body a safe place for a baby to exist and grow. I needed to start making my body healthy again for me, for my husband, and for all the people who love me. I needed to get back on track with my relationship with food and insulin, respectively.

That was almost 6 months ago now and I can safely say that I’m in the healthiest place - mentally and physically - in living life with Type 1 diabetes that I’ve been in quite some time. I have accepted that diabetes is a part of my day... all day, every day. It’s not something that I can just take a break from or ignore without serious long term consequences. Sure there are ups and downs, highs and lows along the way, but I’m learning accepting and learning from those things is a part of the healthy management process. The learning curve is a steep one, but I’m on the climb and I love to connect with others who are in their own various stages of the process.
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Amy Free is a lifestyle photographer who lives in NC – and whose heart lives wherever adventure can be found.  She makes a home with her husband, Ross and their lovable Great Dane, Bristol. She has been living with Type 1 diabetes since August 2008. You can visit her photography website at AmyFree.com.

April 19, 2010

Guest Post: Firsts.

I'm off figuring out how to change diapers and all that fun stuff, but while I'm out, I've had some very generous offers to guest post in my absence.  Today's post is from Sherry Roberts, who writes the diabetes blog Jenna's Pet Monkey, where she talks about her life with her two daughters, one with type 1 diabetes.

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Sherry Roberts and her daughters

As parents our aim is to teach our children how to be independent of us.  It is a painstaking, bittersweet process spanning many years and encompassing countless achievements along the way—the first time a baby reaches for a toy, holds a spoon or takes a first step.   The first time a child sleeps over at a friend’s house, rides a two-wheeler, drives a car—each first represents a step closer to the goal of independence and is celebrated accordingly.  Having a child with Type 1 Diabetes adds considerably more to this list of firsts.

My daughter, Jenna, will be four years old in a few weeks and her two year diagnosis anniversary will follow nine weeks after that.  I haven’t pushed her to learn to perform any of the routine tasks related to the management of her diabetes.  She’s still quite young and lacking in some fine motor skills to accomplish the tasks involved with ease.  It takes a steady hand to zero-in on that bead of blood with a test strip then allow enough time for the strip to slurp it up until an adequate sample is obtained.  Besides, she faces a lifetime performing the never-ending, daily litany of blood sugar checks, boluses, site changes and corrections.  There’s no hurry.  Like other aspects of raising a child this will be a process requiring time, patience and a relaxed, supportive approach—the pace of which will be set by Jenna and her cues signaling readiness.

Last year on a few occasions, I tested the waters and offered Jenna the opportunity to do her own blood sugar check.  Each time she refused I would do the check myself without further discussion.  Then one day during a family camping trip I offered her the lancing device expecting her to refuse as usual.  This time, however, she surprised me when she quickly took it from my hand with such confidence—more than she was prepared to commit to.  Jenna’s expression when she pressed the device to her finger and triggered the lancet was that of shock, bordering on panic.   It was then that I knew she hadn’t really intended to perform her own check.    But when she saw the drop of blood and realized what she had done her panicked expression changed to one of proud amazement, like when a child snaps her fingers for the first time or blows her first chewing gum bubble.  

We congratulated her on this achievement being careful not to overdo it.  Jenna isn’t one for a lot of fanfare.  She is uncomfortable in the spotlight and becomes annoyed by too much ado, perhaps feeling patronized.  I thought this would signify a turning point whereby Jenna would feel empowered and take more of an active role in her diabetes management.  But this was an isolated event.  Jenna refused to do any more checks after that.

Then one day this past January, five months after the unintentional lancing incident, Jenna was just about to enjoy a mid-morning snack.  She had washed her hands and was pulling out the kitchen stool to sit and enjoy her cheese, crackers and half an apple.  I asked her to get the checker ready which entails getting a strip out (she has finally mastered uncapping the container without flinging strips everywhere, for which I am truly grateful) and inserting it into the meter.  Jenna said “Sure Mom. “ After a brief moment she said something I wasn’t expecting; “...actually, I’ll do my own check today.”  Then without hesitation she proceeded to do just that, as if she had done it a hundred times before.

When she was finished and the number appeared I kissed her on the top of her head and with as much restraint and composure as I could muster I quietly said “Good job, honey!”  But inside I was bursting.   I realized that this was the way it was meant to happen.  On her own terms Jenna had done her blood sugar check and had taken one more step closer to her independence—a step I wish with all my heart she didn’t have to take.  But the fact of the matter is it’s just one in a long line of firsts necessary for her to become independent in life and in the management of her diabetes.

It’s also just another reason for me to be proudly in awe of Jenna—my beautiful, brave, strong girl.

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Thank you so much, Jenna, for sharing your words!

April 16, 2010

Looking Back: Between Dinner and a Movie.

I didn't appreciate everything my parents did for me as I grew up with diabetes, but hindsight being 20/20, I definitely have an appreciation now for their hard work and dedication to not only my health, but keeping the family's routine as "normal" as possible.  And now that I have a child of my own, that appreciation is deeper than I thought possible. 

This post ran here last summer, and I still mean every word.  (Including the bit about the alligators in the carpet.  I know my brother and sister and I weren't the only ones who avoided them!) 

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Saturday nights when we were very small were the best. 

We made blanket forts and used every damn cushion in the couch.  Laying pillows on the floor, we'd jump from down-filled island to island, pretending that the carpet was infested with alligators and only by balancing on the pillows would we be safe.

The babysitter always promised to make healthy dinner, but usually we ate popcorn, chicken fingers, and drank diet soda by the bottle, filling the glasses to the very brim and frantically slurping the carbonated foam awayI loved this doll.  I even pretended she had diabetes.  Which is a  bit odd. before it could spill over.

My favorite babysitters were the ones who played with us, not just sat there and talked with their boyfriends on the phone.  Carolyn was my favorite one of all and I named my Cabbage Patch doll after her that year.  She was pretty and smart and the characters she pretended to be were so clever.  She was the perfect example, to me at seven years old, of what a 'hero' really was.

My parents had a standing Saturday night "date night," and they would go out to dinner either alone or with some friends, then maybe to a movie.  Usually they left when it was still light out, while we were still outside playing in the yard or just coming in to have a snack.  My brother and sister and I played and fought and made messes and told stories and generally destroyed the house, like little kids do.

Only now, when my memory is jogged, do I remember the headlights pulling back in the driveway, between when dinner ended and the movie began. 

Dad would wait in the car while Mom ran in quickly to test me and give me my bedtime insulin injection.  Then she'd say goodnight to all of us and run back out to the car to continue "date night."

Only now do I remember those moments and wish I'd named "Carolyn" after my mother, instead.

April 15, 2010

Dear Baby Girl.

Dear Baby,
I love my baby girl.
I've been thinking about your face.  Your hands.  Your little feet and the chubby cheeks I've seen countless times on the ultrasound monitor.  I've been thinking about the round swell of your baby belly, and the teeny nails on your little hands.  Your petite ears.  The little rosebud of a mouth.  

Growing up, I didn't have fantasies about the wedding with the white dress and the table seating charts and the guest list.  I just knew I would end up with a man who loved me and treated me both like a best friend and a partner for life.  And I found that man.  Your daddy is one of the kindest, most special people I've ever known, and you and I are lucky girls to have him in our life.  He's taken such good care of me for the last few years, and he'll continue to take care of both of us as our family grows.

But while I didn't dream about my wedding, I've always dreamt about you.  For as long as I can remember, I've wanted you in my life.  It's different than the dreams I had of being a writer and a race car driver and the owner of a breakfast restaurant with a cat that hangs out in the kitchen.  My dreams of you were always a little cloudy, veiled in the insecurity of what a pregnancy with diabetes would be like.  Doctors told me for years that women with diabetes, particularly those diagnosed when they were really young, like me, would have a tougher time getting pregnant and seeing the pregnancy through.  I pretended not to hear them, but their words settled in my head and I was always hopeful, but never sure, that you would become part of my life.

And then your daddy and I prepared for you, working so hard to control diabetes so that it would be as minuscule a factor in your creation as possible.  We got married.  We celebrated a year as husband and wife.  And then we took the leap to make you ours.  We traveled overseas without you, but returned home with you as our secret.

Time has gone by quickly, little girl, and over the last eight months, we've watched my belly grow as you've grown, too.  Ultrasounds and blood tests and fetal monitors confirmed that you were inside of me, strong and healthy and preparing for your debut.  The first few months of pregnancy were comfortable, the last few a bit tougher, but all the while we continued to work hard and pray and wait for you.

And now we're here, baby.  Today is your birthday.  You are my greatest achievement, my proudest moment, and my whole heart.

Your daddy and I couldn't be luckier than we are today. We can't wait to meet you.

All my love,


April 14, 2010

Almost There.

II AM A BUSY BEE, DAMNIT!'m a tangled web of emotions today.  

I'm nervous about tomorrow.  The surgery itself scares me.  I've never had surgery before, and the last time I was hospitalized was when I was diagnosed with diabetes, so this experience has really broadened my perspective on what some people have to go through with their health conditions.  I'm afraid of the epidural, of the actual incision, and of how the recovery will feel.  Despite other people's experiences and the "quick and easy" adjectives that seem to come up when people talk about c-sections, I'm still unnerved.  But I'm sure you guys figured I'd be tweaking out, because I tweak out about everything.  ;)

I'm a little overwhelmed.  This is only the second time I've ever been in the hospital in my entire life ... the first was 23 years ago when I was diagnosed with diabetes.  So spending almost three weeks here has been physically draining (all muscle definition I once had is now completely gone - I'm like spaghetti girl) and emotionally insane (no sleep at all, too much focus on "what's coming down the pike," and barely any social interaction with anyone other than nurses who want my blood pressure readings).  I'm pretty sure that on Monday, I'll run screaming from this  place. 

I'm homesick.   I haven't slept in my own bed for weeks.  I haven't showered in the comfort of my own bathroom.  I miss the comfy couch, the sunshine coming in through the giant windows, the closet where my shoes are strewn all over the place.  I miss those stupid cats.  And I miss my husband and being alone with him.  Even when he's here at the hospital overnight, we can't be close to one another because when nurses come in the room and we're sitting together, we feel like high school kids who were caught with the door closed after being told "DO NOT shut the door."  I really can't wait to be home.

I'm absolutely shocked at how quickly this has all happened.  I feel like it was literally last month that I was talking about lowering my A1C and thinking about taking the leap of faith to make a baby.  Spain seems like a very long time ago. All those Joslin appointments when I wasn't pregnant, and then the dozens that followed after we found out that we were expecting ... seems like a very long time ago.  But it's almost over - and tomorrow is her birthday.  

I'm thankful, too.  So thankful for all the support and well-wishes from you guys.  The comments, emails, packages that have arrived at the house ... everyone has just been so overwhelmingly supportive and kind.  Chris and I really appreciate all of the love you guys have been sending our way, and we are excited to share our daughter with you all.  Posting here will be light, from me at least, over the next few weeks, but there are some really generous people who have offered to guest post while I'm learning to change diapers, and once I'm recovered a bit from the surgery, I'll post an update and hopefully a picture of the BSparl.  Time online will be very hard to come by in these first few days of parenthood, especially since I'll still be at the hospital for a few more days, but as soon as I can update you all, I will

I'm worried.  What kind of a parent will I be?  I'm completely goofy and ridiculous ... will she think I'm too bizarre to be friends with?  Will she listen when I tell her "no?"  Will she think I'm mean when I let her cry it out?  Will she and I be able to handle breastfeeding?  Will she like me?  Will I have the patience to be a good parent?  How on earth do people do this and seem to be so centered and confident?  

I'm excited, too.  Despite all these fears and worries about the actual surgery and what kind of a parent I will be, I can't wait. I can't wait to finally see her face, and hold her little hands, and give her a big hug.  She's done such a good job in there, and now she joins my husband as the other hero in my life.  

Tomorrow morning will hold one of the most life-changing moments for me, and while my body is literally shaking with anticipation and nerves and excitement, I am so excited to meet my little girl.

Baby, you're almost here!!!  

April 13, 2010

Diabetes During the C-Section: Here's the Plan.

Preparing for the diabetes part of BSparl's birthI've received a lot of emails about the how diabetes will be handled during the actual "birth" of Ms. Bsparl, and while I won't have all the details until it's all over with, I do have a few answers for now.  I talked with my OB (who will be performing the c-section) and my team at Joslin about some of the details.  This might be a detailed, kind of boring post, but I wanted to make sure I'm answering all the questions possible! 

Here's what I know so far:

On Wednesday night, an IV will be "installed" in preparation for the insulin drip.  I'll still have my insulin pump on, though.  As of midnight on Wednesday, I won't be able to eat anything from that point until post-surgery, so the IV will be at the ready in case I go low during the course of the night.  In the event of a low blood sugar, my team will do one of the following:  suspend my insulin pump, administer glucose through the IV, or potentially allow me to drink apple juice, depending on the circumstances. 

The c-section will be first thing in the morning (8 am), so the night before will be spent checking my blood sugar with the glucose meter every 30 - 45 minutes to ensure the tightest, steadiest control possible.  In my circumstances, I plan to keep the Dexcom connected throughout the night, too, to help with that goal.

The morning of the c-section, I'll get up wicked (pissah) early (5:30 am, I think) and I'll rip out my insulin pump and remove the Dexcom sensor.  The nurses will hook me up to the insulin drip and my blood sugar will be monitored - wait, strike that.  Stalked.  :)  I'll be hooked up with the drip, etc by 6:30 am and up to the delivery room.

We'll move into the operating room and my blood sugar will be monitored stalked by the Joslin team while the OB/GYN team prepares to deliver my baby girl.  Chris will be in the waiting room while they administer a spinal epidural (Do not Google this, because it will make you cringe.  I made the mistake once of Googling it.  Never again.  It made me want to give birth orally.) and then they will ensure that my lower half is numb and ready for surgery.  Chris will scrub in and be brought in to the room, where he'll be situated up near my head and the surgery will begin.  My team said that Chris is welcomed to hold my meter and test my blood sugar at our discretion, and the Joslin team will be doing the same using their meter or mine, depending on our preference.  But if I feel nervous about going low, etc, I am able to keep tabs on my own numbers. 

During the course of the surgery, I'll have a regular IV in for fluids, etc, and then the insulin drip will be combined with a glucose drip, the contents of which can be adjusted based on my blood sugar needs.  So if I start to spike, they can increase the insulin titration.  If I start to drop, the glucose can be turned up.  All of this is handled by the Joslin team, so my OB team can concentrate on BSparl's escape.

According to my doctors, the whole c-section will take about an hour, from start to finish.  Bsparl should be in Chris's arms by 8:30, and I should have all my pieces back together again by 9:00 am.  I'll be brought to the recovery room and Chris and BSparl will join me soon thereafter, barring any issues.  The insulin/glucose drip will remain in until I'm able to eat something, at which time the pump will be reconnected (by me), and after an approximate 30 minute overlap, the insulin drip will be removed. 

The Joslin crew told me that my postpartum insulin settings on the pump will be a whisper of what they were during the pregnancy, and about a third of what they were pre-pregnancy.  At this stage, they're assuming that I'll jump down to a midnight to midnight basal rate of 0.3u, an insulin-to-carb ratio of 1:20, and a sensitivity factor of 1:80.  (My pre-pregnancy basals were more around the 0.4 - 0.6u range, an I:C of 1:10, and a sensitivity factor of 1:55.)   And once I'm breastfeeding, all bets are off as to how that activity could affect my blood sugars.  Only time will tell. 

So that's the low-down on how the diabetes, at least, will be handled during delivery.  I don't want to think too much about the surgery itself, because it freaks me out.  But handing over all of my diabetes control also has me a little tweaked.  After over 20 years of doing it myself, it's hard to grasp the concept of "let someone else handle it entirely."  But I know I'm in capable hands with Joslin, and I know that my focus needs to be on the baby. 

She's worth every hurdle that we, as a family, have overcome to make it to this point.

Because at some time during the whole ordeal, her little teeny cry will cut through all the noise, and in that moment, I'll become a mom. 

April 12, 2010

They Are Bad Cats.

All of our baby stuff has been stashed in our bedroom, in the corner, waiting to be assembled in time for BSparl.  And then this hospitalization issue came up, and now Chris is left at home to build the nursery in my absence. He's been putting things together one at a time - the pack and play, the stroller, the bouncy chair, the swing, the changing table - and keeping them all carefully stored in our bedroom, waiting for the baby and I to come home and figure out where all the stuff should go.

"We just need to find a way to keep the cats off this stuff."  I said.

"Absolutely.  I don't want them going anywhere near the baby's bed or anything.  We need to train them to stay away, but for now, I'll just keep everything in the bedroom with the door closed."  He responded.

We shared a mental fistbump over this plan, firm in our resolve to keep those pesky furballs away from our daughter's new toys.   But a mere few hours later, he sent me this photo: 

Prussia nestled happily into the bouncy chair, and Siah napping in the pack and play.

With the caption:  "Unbelievable."  It appears that the baby shower was just a party to provide cat toys. (If I could find the photo of fat cat Abby sleeping in the car seat, I'd post that, too.  In it, she looks like she's ready to go to the Wendy's drive through for tasty chicken nuggets.)

These critters will be learning a hard lesson a week from today.  

April 09, 2010

The Friday Six: Bed Rest Edition.

It has been ages since I did a Friday Six ... December, I think was the last time.  So I'm well-overdue.  Here's the latest link-fest from the murky depths of my email inbox.  :)

The Friday Six:  April 9, 2010 edition

1.  There's a new issue of diaTribe out for March, which includes a great column by a nine year old boy with type 1 diabetes named Boaz.  Reading about diabetes through the words of a child really touches me, because I remember being that age and thinking so many of those thoughts.  Hell, I still think a lot of those thoughts now, as an adult.  "There have been some scary times, like the time I was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital because my sugar levels went so low that I became unconscious. But there have been a lot of great times too, when I don’t think about my diabetes at all," he writes.  You totally need to check this column out.

2.  Also, and sorry for the self-pimpage, but Six Until Me is up for a Dosie.  (Which, every time I say the word, makes me think of a dosie-do and a ho-down, of sorts.)  This blog has been nominated as Best Patient Blog, and if you are inclined to vote for SUM, thank you!  You can click this link, scroll down to "Best Patient Blog," and submit from there.  You'll also notice that there are a LOT of diabetes-related sites that have been nominated in different categories, so the d-community is totally representing.  (And representing!)

3.  In bed rest news, there's another bed rest fella out there, only he's been in captivity for over 102 days.  That is epic, and I can't even imagine.  To top it off, he's taken his stir-craziness to a level of creativity that blows my mind - Christiaan Van Vuuren IS the Fully Sick Rapper ... and he is something else.  Check out his YouTube videos and you'll see what I mean.

4.  Also, because YouTube is sometimes my only source of entertainment these days, I watched this video:  When Good Bananas Go Bad.  A reader sent it to me and I've now watched it at least four times.  Because a giant banana, waddling viciously after people as they run in terror from him at the mall, was enough to cheer me up considerably.   

5.  There are two new "Life, Uninterrupted" columns over at Animas, which I'd love for you to check out.  (Even though I'm feeling very interrupted these days ... interrupted every two hours by people checking in here and stealing my blood.  Six days to go, and I hope these days speed by like kitties with jetpacks.  What, you've never seen kitties with jetpacks before?  You're missing out.) 

6. And lastly, based on discussions on Twitter last night about the Rhode Island accent, I wanted to share a link to the Quahog Guide to Rhode Island Language Stuff.  Because it hits all the basics, including that whole "grinder" thing.  Study up, ya'll. 

Time for a scintillating weekend - my last before motherhood starts.  AHHHHHHHH!

April 08, 2010

Across the Universe.

Or at least across the street. 

My window here at the hospital faces a research building across the way.  This building is covered in shiny, reflective glass and looking into the reflection is my only way of telling what the weather is outside, because apparently their building is taller than mine and gets a slice of sunshine there at the top.

I asked one of the nurses if that was another hospital, wondering if there were other patients trapped in there, being all impatient.  

"No, that's a research building.  They're there at all hours of the day and night in their white lab coats," she said.

Sure enough, when I peeked out my window, I could see the research people scurrying around like lab rats (rimshot) and chatting with one another.

So, after careful consideration (and also after covering my fingertips in marker), I made a few signs:

Someone in that building HAS to be as bored as I am.

And stuck them to my window, in hopes that one of the researchers would maybe write back.

Anybody out there??

(And, of course, a makeshift cartoon version of Siah made it onto the sign.  Because I miss that fuzzy little piglet - don't tell her, though, because I don't want her getting all arrogant.)

This cat ends up EVERYWHERE.

So far, no response.  I may need to update the signs later today or tomorrow with a new message - any suggestions?  Because my brain is FRIED OUT at the very thought that, a week from today, I'll be holding my daughter in my arms.

(And, for the record, Across the Universe is a quality song.  No denying it.  The Beatles are on the top of my playlist as I wait for BSparl.)

April 07, 2010

Day Twelve in Captivity.

I've been in for twelve days, and we have eight to go before BSparl arrives.  And I can't do any rainbows and unicorns crap about this experience.  The first week or so that I was here, I was a miserable mess, very depressed and experiencing some huge emotional swings.  In short, I was completely wussed out.  I felt very alone, despite the fact that I was visited every two hours by nurses and doctors.  I felt alone, despite the many phone calls from family members and friends.  And I felt alone, even when Chris was sleeping in the cot next to my hospital bed. 

Granted, I'm pretty sure I'd be crying my face off even if I was comfortable at home, just being at this level of hormonal upheaval in my 35th week of pregnancy.  (Case in point was the other night, when I saw the Folger's commercial on the television - the one where the daughter came in late the night before?  And she's talking to her dad at the breakfast table?  And she shows him her brand new engagement ring?  Oh, I lost it.  All sobbing like I knew this girl and was going to be her maid of honor.  /digression)

There's something so isolating about being stuck in the hospital. 

I could really use one of these cards these days.
One of these would be great right about now.

This room, this little box of a room that I've been hanging out in for twelve days, started to feel like a jail cell.  The ceiling has 35 tiles.  The floor is hardwood, and I was on the verge of counting those slats, too.  I would go from the bed to the bathroom to the window back to the bed and then to the bathroom again, only to end up back on the bed.  Occasionally I would venture out into the hallway and grab some ice water, but I was trying to stay off my feet as much as possible because since being admitted, my swelling has reduced considerably.  (Considerably as in I've lost eight pounds in the last twelve days, and it's all water weight.  My hands and feet look more human every day.)  

Physically, yes my swelling is improving but the blood pressure is creeping up oh-so-slightly.  Every time the nurses come in (and sometimes they come in without knocking, which confirms that I have zero privacy while here, which goes against every fiber of my privacy-desiring being ... yes I understand the irony of a blogger who craves privacy.  /digression no. 2), they check my blood pressure and it's gone from my at home readings of 120/70 to 136/78 to 144/82 ... and last night it got as high as 155/90. 

"Whoa."  I said, trying not to freak out.  

"Not to worry.  We'll page the resident on call, and we'll keep checking your vitals every two hours or so.  Nothing will slip by us.  Promise," the nurse said.  I felt confident that they would stay on top of this.  And eventually, my blood pressure came back down to the 140/80 range.  Still high, but not nearly high enough to induce a quick delivery.

Despite the progression of my preeclampsia, in the last day or so, I've turned an emotional corner.  Maybe it was marking the halfway point of "being stuck here" and "BABY!!"  Once I was on my 10th day in captivity, I realized I was halfway there.  And that made it easier, seeing the light at the end of this lonely tunnel and knowing my baby was at the other end of this.

"Maybe it's because you're used to being here now," Chris said last night, as I told him I felt a little better about being trapped here.  "You wake up, you know what to expect, and you know when this whole thing is ending."

"Wow, that's sad.  I'm used to expecting a loooong, boring day of pokes, prodding, and fetal monitoring?"  I laughed.  "That's like the saddest thing ever."

"We're almost there.  She's going to be here so soon, and then we can all go home and ..."

"Freak out."  

We both grinned.

April 06, 2010

Burnt Out - Needed a Meme.

Memes - they sort of rule.I have a post I want to write, but today is shaping up to be too doctor visit heavy for me to put my thoughts together.  And what's the cure for rattled thoughts on a blog?  Oh hell yes, a meme.  I lifted this from Karen, who offered up her archive of memes for my perusal. 

"Can you fill this out without lying? You've been tagged, so now you need to answer all the questions HONESTLY."  (For the record, I don't like when memes threaten me.  Of course I can fill this out honestly.  And without the use of ALL CAPS.)

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
Cottage cheese.  Hospital cottage cheese.  Yeah, that sounds delicious, doesn't it?

2. Where was your profile picture taken?
With the iMac at my old job.

3. Can you play Guitar Hero?  Yes.  I suck at it, I get all nervous when I play because I just want to rock out, but I still play because I have no shame.

4. Name someone who made you laugh today?  Today, not too many.  But last night, my best friend had me in tears, I was laughing so hard at the story she was telling.

5. How late did you stay up last night and why? I stayed up until about 1:30 am, finally getting some work done now that the swelling in my hands has been alleviated a smidge.

6. If you could move somewhere else, would you?  This is the question of the moment.  I love Boston.  I love Rhode Island.  I'm curious about California.  But we're starting to look at buying a house, so this question is beyond relevant.

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks?  Yes. 

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you on your FaceBook list?
  Hmmm ... I think the Batman lives closest to my current home, but I'm not sure. 

9. Do you believe exes can be friends? 
I've had some wonderful past relationships with very nice guys, and some I am friends with.  But there are a few from the past who should just remain there.

10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper?  He's about the only doctor not pissing me off these days. 

11. When was the last time you cried really hard?  Saturday.  I was lonely here.  The hospital blows.  And I'm wicked pregnant, so emotions are all over the map.

12. Who took your profile picture?  I guess I did.  But technically, the computer did. 

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of?
  Not positive, actually.  I think the last person I snapped a photo of was my best friend's baby girl.  She's a lovely, photogenic kid.  It was either her or Chris.

14. Was yesterday better than today? 
Yes.  Chris was here with me at the hospital, which makes it better here.

15. Can you live a day without TV? Oh definitely.  I've never watched so much television in my life as I have over the last 10 days.  But a day without Internet access is troubling.

16. Are you upset about anything?  Little nervous when I think about the surgery scheduled for next week, but I'm more excited to meet the baby than anything else.

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?  Absolutely.  All relationships are worth it.  Even the ones that are difficult and acrimonious, because they teach me how to control my temper.  :)

18. Are you a bad influence? 
I think I might be. 

19. Night out or night in?  Depends.  Who am I with?

20. What items could you not go without during the day?
  Easy - Blackberry, glucose meter, and lip gloss. 

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?  My best friend, when she gave birth to her little girl.

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say?
  Ah, some things are just for me to know.  :)

23. How do you feel about your life right now?  I feel like I'm on the cusp of the biggest moment of my life.

24. Do you hate anyone? 
Absolutely not.  But there are a few people i could do without in my life. 

25. If we were to look in your Facebook inbox, what would we find?
  Oof, a bunch of messages I haven't had a chance to reply to yet.  And may never have a chance to reply to.  I am crap at Facebook inbox management.

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?  Yes.  I'd pass at any given moment.

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before?  HA!  Only people who don't know me. 

28. What song is stuck in your head? 
Imagine, by John Lennon.

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m., a secret lover or George Clooney?
It's most likely a lost monkey, looking for a banana and asking to use the phone. 

30.Wanna have grandkids before you’re 50?  Let's do that math ... I'm 31, my daughter is due in nine days, so that would mean she would be 18 and giving me grandchildren?  Oh hell no. 

31. Name something you have to do tomorrow?
  Sit in bed all day and hope my blood pressure stays stable.  Weeeeee!

32. Do you think too much or too little?  I'm, like, a total thinker.

33. Do you smile a lot?  Pretty liberally, yes.  I also have a tendency to furrow my eyebrows when I'm pissed off.

Bonus Round...

34. How many hours a day do you spend on the computer? 
i'm not going to answer that, out of fear of feeling like I never go outside.

35. If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be?  I think I'd like to be Siah.

36. Facebook or Twitter?  Depends on what I'm looking to share.

37. Chicken or Beef?
  Chicken! BAWK.

38. Mac or PC?  Both, though I'm currently on a Mac.  But I do love my old PC and my wee netbook.

39. Have you ever punched anyone in the face?  Never in real life, but in my mind?  CONSTANTLY.

40. Last music received or purchased? 
Lullabye by Billy Joel.  BSparl likes it.  :)

if you're a brainless blogger today and you need a blow-off-steam meme, grab this one and have at!

April 05, 2010

This Thing Scares Me.

Terrifying Easter plant

My well-meaning father brought me an Easter plant to cheer up my hospital room.  Happy little Easter plant, right? 

It scares the crap out of me.  There's something so eerie and unnerving about this little critter that I turn it to face the wall when I'm ready to go to bed at night.  A few of the floor nurses here agree with me, and they've taken pictures with their cell phones to send to their kids.  

"Call it 'creepy,'" I suggested.

Because it is. 

April 02, 2010

Day Seven in Captivity.

Little on the down side today, thanks to having just marked one week "in" and with still two to go.  What the hell is there to write about, from the mind-numbing confines of my hospital bed?

At the moment, BSparl and I are hooked up to the fetal monitoring system, and I can hear her heartbeat pumping along like a rhythmic Clydesdale and can see the movements of her little 5lb, 5oz body being tracked on the graph.  It looks almost seismic, like a BSparl earthquake.  

They haven't checked the protein levels in my urine in a day or two, but things appear to be holding steady.  Blood pressure is climbing ever-so-slightly, but monitored constantly, and there's room for titration in my Labetalol medication (read:  they can give me more of that crap).  Still rockin' the heparin injections twice a day (hate) and still not sleeping through the night thanks to the monitoring.  (Which I understand the necessity of, but it's not making for "relaxing bed rest."  Bed rest is a misnomer.  This is more like jail where the wardens grin and mean well.)

One of the hurdles I'm having a little trouble with is the diabetes management aspect of things.  The Joslin team comes by once a day to review blood sugars and make suggestions, and they are the experts in all-things diabetes.  However, I am the expert in all things specific to MY diabetes, so I've been working hard to achieve a tolerable blend there.

For example, one of the (very nice, very knowledgeable, mind you) endocrinologists had some commentary about a post-prandial blood sugar of 137 mg/dl that I had two days ago.  In my mind, 137 mg/dl an hour after eating is downright badass, and I'm very happy with it, especially considering that the pre-meal number was 84 mg/dl.  Good control, in my eyes.  

"Well, this is a little high.  We'd like to get this post down."

I don't mean to be rude.  I try to be a good patient, a "patient" patient, and to find that careful blend I had mentioned, the one of my non-medical knowledge and their medical knowledge of diabetes.  But it was 8 in the morning.  And it was the third time I had been woken up by a doctor who wanted to review my goods.  And I didn't agree that 137 mg/dl post-prandial was too high.

"Really?  Too high?  I don't see it that way.  I think that's a number to aim for, especially seeing as how I leveled out to 98 mg/dl at the two hour mark.  That's a respectable peak, don't you think?  Otherwise, I'd be treating a low at the two hour mark."

"Yes, but it should be lower than that."

And I sort of lost my cool.  

"Okay, well how about we all call the FDA and get them to tighten up their requirements for 'what's accurate' to something a little more precise than 20%, and then we can start griping about a 137.  Because for all we know, that 137 mg/dl could actually have been a 110 mg/dl, and then I'm right in the acceptable range, right?"

(I am Kerri's terrible, bedrest-fueled, pregnant rage.)

They agreed that 137 was okay.  And that revisiting my post-prandials after another day of review would be a good idea.  And then the fleet of them shuffled out the door.  I felt bad about blowing off steam, but really - I'm in no way a "perfect diabetic," but these days, I'm running really tight and carefully with my numbers.  Let's remember that the reason I'm having post-prandial peaks is because - oh yeah - I have diabetes?

It's challenging, that feeling of having people take my diabetes management control away from me.  Not that I have all the answers or have it all figured out, but I've been living with this a long time and my own instincts and experience should be as strongly considered as the vast medical knowledge of my new, trusted caregivers here.  I'm no diabetes expert, but I'm pretty well-versed when it comes to "Kerri."  ;)

Eventually, I'll find a way to balance my issues with control while "in captivity," but until then, I may need to vent here a bit.  Because I'm pretty sure they're not reading me. 

... Whoops.

April 01, 2010

Animas: Vlogs n' Columns.

I'm proud to be working with Animas on the Ping sponsorship, but I also wanted to share some of the editorial stuff I've been working on with the company as well.  I'm writing a few blog posts every month over at the Animas website in the "Life, Uninterrupted, with Kerri" section, and they've also convinced me to put my puffy, pregnant face in some vlogs, as well.

If you're not too busy, please pop on over and check out the features on Animas - and forgive me for including Siah in the photo montage.  (But come on ... that face?  Is one of the goofiest ones I've ever caught on camera and it makes me laugh every damn time.  ... Yes, I am always this highly professional, why do you ask? :D)

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