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August 31, 2010

Something's Missing.

That little cat?  Not a helper.We're packing and hauling and moving this week, and there is so much getting lost in the shuffle.  Like cats.  And epically-important diaper bags.  Car keys.  And iced coffees that I just put down for a second but then disappear into the cardboard ether. 

Yesterday, I had to run a errand on the fly, so I showered off the grime, dressed quickly, and left.  (Thankfully, BSparl was in the care of her aunt for the day, so Chris and I could focus on packing.)  I was gone about two hours, but it wasn't until I got back close to the house that I realized something was missing.

My pump.

I had taken it off before showering and totally spaced on putting it back on.

Realizing my mistake, I felt that warm rush of panic spread over me as I foraged in my purse for my meter. 

Which was also missing.  Left right on the bathroom counter, next to it's pumpy pal.

I pulled into a parking space and called Chris to have him help me bring up the boxes.  

"What's missing from my outfit?"  I asked him, disgusted with myself.  (And also not realizing that a question about a woman's outfit - especially a woman who is dealing with post-pregnancy body image issues - is so loaded that if I were Chris, I would have turned and run.)

"From your outfit?  I don't know ..." He scanned me.  I gestured towards my hip.

"Oh no, your pump?"

"Yup.  On the bathroom counter.  Since my shower.  Awesome."

"Are you high now?"

"Didn't test.  My meter?  Also on the damn counter."

And now I have to check all the boxes we've packed to see what one I mistakenly stuck my mind in. 

August 30, 2010

Guest Post: Walking the Type 1 Tightrope.

Thanks to the move we have on tap for tomorrow and the fact that we're up to our eyeballs in packing tape and cardboard boxes (and also that we've accidentally packed Siah into three boxes now ... that cat had better be careful or she'll end up in the moving van), now is a great time for a guest post from a fellow diabetes blogger. 

This morning's post comes from Jacquie of Typical Type 1, and I'm very honored to be sharing her writing talent here on SUM!

*   *   *

JacquieI swear I wasn't trying to get out of jury duty.

See, I was in the juror pool, answering questions about my job, my home ownership status and the last parking ticket I'd received, when the judge asked one question of all of us: "Is there anything we should know about that may impede your ability to serve as a juror in this trial?"

Sheepishly, I raised my hand. "I have Type 1 diabetes," I admitted. "It's not a huge deal, but there may be a few minutes when I'm not able to pay complete attention. I may have to eat something in the middle of the trial."

For a second, no one said anything. Then the judge spoke up: "Hundreds of thousands of Americans have diabetes, and they're able to perform everyday tasks like jury duty. If you need to eat, just let us know, and we'll take a recess."

I nodded, and accepted my fate as a diabetic juror. (Also, I felt like kind of a dumb ass for even saying anything.) While I sat there and listened to the details of the trial and the life stories of my fellow jurors, the weird familiarity of the situation started to sink in. Of course I know that hundreds of thousands of Americans live with diabetes, Your Honor. Of course we're all able to perform everyday tasks with relative ease. Of course I'm a normal person – except for the times when I'm not. Sometimes I have to excuse myself from a meeting or a bridal shower to shotgun a juice box. Sometimes I wear a mechanical pancreas in my cleavage. Sometimes I say things on the phone with insurance company customer service representatives that I would never say to a person in real life. But I'd be darned if some innocent citizen was going to go to jail because I'd miscalculated my breakfast bolus and spaced out on the defense's arguments.

This was a perfect example of the proverbial tightrope we all walk as people with diabetes. Lean too far to one side, and you're Sick. Fragile. Old before your time. Wilford Brimley's biggest fan, with a collection of pill organizers and sad story to tell anyone who asks you how your day is going. Teeter too far to the other side, and your friends, family members and co-workers begin to believe that your diabetes is no big deal, after all. They'll become convinced that your insulin pump does all the work for you, that diabetes is no more of an inconvenience than the task of flossing, that maybe if you just exercised more or laid off the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, your health problems would effectively disappear.

Before I started wearing my pump – and way before I started connecting with others in the diabetes online community – I treated my disease as an accessory. I wasn't embarrassed about it, but I wasn't exactly forthcoming, either. I gave myself injections in cars and at dinner tables the way other people apply lipstick. I kept up with everything, but I didn't obsess over it. Every once in a while, a roommate would complain about my trail of test strips, or someone would shoot me a look while I tested in public, and I would retreat into a more secretive or jocular mode, shrugging off diabetes like it was a case of the sniffles or pesky rash.
Now that I'm in my thirties, I feel like it's a tougher performance than ever. I don't want anyone to assume that I need to eat lunch just because it's noon, but I also want people to know that when I need to take a break from normal life to treat a low, I'm not screwing around. I really do feel like crap, and I really am in a potentially scary situation. Forty-five minutes later, however, I feel as average as they come. (Assuming I haven't overtreated, of course, but that's an entirely different kettle of Swedish Fish.)

I suppose the balance between "sick” and "normal" is just as difficult to achieve as a consistent blood sugar level that's not too high or too low. The story of Type 1 diabetes – and how any person lives with a chronic illness – is a complicated and nuanced one, and it takes decades to tell.

Am I a healthy person who happens to have diabetes, or a diabetic person who happens to have a pretty healthy life? For this girl, the jury's still out.

*   *   *

Thanks, Jacquie!  And for you guys, what's your take on that last bit?  Are you a healthy person who has diabetes, or a diabetic person who has their health?  

August 27, 2010

VIDEO: Talking About Diabetes and Pregnancy.

The team at Johnson and Johnson visited my home when BSparl was about 2 1/2 months old, filming a short segment on pregnancy, pre-existing diabetes, and the impact of the diabetes community on emotional health management.  (Phew - sounds heavier than it actually is.)  I am proud that JnJ decided to make my story part of their video series, and I hope BSparl enjoyed having the camera turned towards her round little dome.

August 26, 2010

My Hat Was Kicked.

I woke up yesterday morning at a blood sugar of 158 mg/dl.  A little on the spikey side, but no worries - after I breastfeed BSparl, I usually drop about 40 points, so I figured I'd use her feeding as my "bolus."  By 8:45 am, I was down to 129 mg/dl.  And then things hit a downward slide that I couldn't control.  

Over the course of the next five hours, I tested several times and saw the numbers tumbling all over the place.  At one point, I had to leave the baby fussing in her crib because I was attending to a 38 mg/dl.  The next blood sugar I saw was 29 mg/dl.  And then 61 mg/dl.  And then 55 mg/dl.  Hours were going by, and carbs were being consumed, but they weren't making a dent on the determined low blood sugar. 

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

Dexcom wailing to let me know I was, once again, under 50 mg/dl.

Shunk.

Another blood sugar test confirmed yet another low.

Hours kept ticking by but I wasn't coming up. It took until 4 pm to see a blood sugar over 100 mg/dl, and then all hell broke loose on the other side.  After over eight hours wrestling with a low blood sugar, my body decided to flip upside down and let all the hourglass sands go to the other side, sending my numbers up into the 400's.  Why on Earth was I low for so long?  And why did I rebound so hard after treating the multiple lows modestly?  

(I keep picturing the carbs, hiding out behind my lungs, waiting to actually enter my blood stream and then all screaming in at once.  "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" waging war, holding pixie sticks over their heads as they come charging in, full force, for the freaking rebound.)

Which, of course, happened in full force with a gorgeous 405 mg/dl around 9:30 pm.  Yes, I lost track of time between 6 - 9 pm, when apparently the Dexcom graph shows a sharp spike upward.  But still - low all day?  ALL day?  

You know it's been a rough diabetes day when your total dose from 7 am - 6 pm is only 8u, yet your 6 pm - midnight dose is 29u. Diabetes kicked my hat.  Kicked it right-proper.

(We're definitely installing this emergency box.  If nothing else, at least lows will be delicious.)

Yes, this is a reused image.  No, I don't have any guilt.

August 25, 2010

WEGO ChronicBabe Rebel-Rousing.

(The subject line makes sense ... sort of.)  This morning I have a few bits and pieces from the ol' inbox to share, so it's sort of like a Friday Six. Only it's on a Wednesday.  And I only have three.

ONE! If it's for Barton, I'm all over it.  Over the summer, I visited Clara Barton Camp and met Melissa "Rebel" Kauffman.  She's awesome.  She's also running the NYC Marathon to raise money for Barton, and she's looking for support from anyone who has a little to give.  Here's the deal, in her words:

"Five people with diabetes representing The Barton Center for Diabetes Education are running in the NYC Marathon this November as a fund raiser for Barton day camps.  I am a 3rd generation type 1 diabetic myself and run XC and Track for Oregon State University.  This past summer, I worked on the health care team for The Barton Center's Camp Clara Barton and Camp Joslin. I believe that this charity event is a great way to show the over 2,00 children with diabetes who participate in The Barton Center programs every year that you can do anything if you have diabetes - even run a marathon!

My goal is to raise $3200.00 by November 7th the money raised will go to the Barton Day Camps that reach out to hundreds of kids in the northeast every year.  Please help by donating to:

Melissa "Rebel" Kauffman NYC Marathon
The Barton Center For Diabetes Education
30 Enis Rd.
Oxford Ma. 01537
or by calling 508-987-2056"

If you can lend a hand to this rebel-rouser, please do!  

Dos.Secondly on this truncated Six is some information from the team at WEGO Health.  Their Community Director passed on some information about a type 2-centric focus group that they're putting together, so I wanted to spread the word to you guys.  Here WEGO with the info:

"Join WEGO Health’s new Online Panel for Diabetes Health Activists
In their ongoing work to empower Health Activists, WEGO Health is hosting an Online Panel of Diabetes Health Activists.  The panel will “meet” monthly (meetings are held virtually – on the phone and online) to share their feedback and experiences with Type 2 Diabetes communities online.  Panelists will get a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate for each meeting they’re able to attend, and WEGO Health will also make a $200 donation on behalf of each panelist to the diabetes non-profit of their choice.  Please note that this panel is being held on behalf of one of WEGO Health’s sponsors.
 
Interested in joining the Online Panel of Diabetes Health Activists?
  Get started by taking the Diabetes Community Insight Survey from WEGO Health: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FT5NM93
 
Questions about the Panel? Contact WEGO Health at: community@wegohealth.com"

Tres!And last but not least:  my conference wife Jenni Prokopy (editrix of ChronicBabe) needs our help getting her panel chosen for SXSW 2011.  She sent out some details on how to vote, if you're looking to help, so here are the details from Jenni herself:

"Just a couple more days remain to vote for my SXSW interactive panel. Health Communities: Superheroes Who Need a Justice League will aim to help people build better sites that truly help each other - and this is the FIRST year sxsw has held a health track, so it's extra important to be included. i can't get there without your help! please take just one minute today to register and vote up my panel, and please spread the word." 

Click here to vote for Jenni's panel!

So there you have it.  Some link love well worth the click.  Thanks for helping out any and all of these people who are making a difference!

August 24, 2010

What is the Best Motivator?

I've heard that fear is a pretty good motivator.  Over my two plus decades with diabetes, I've heard the "fear tactic" from many medical professionals.  Actual statements:  "Make sure you test or your eyes will become diseased and you'll go blind." And "If you don't take care of yourself, you'll lose a leg when you're older."  And of course, "If you eat that, you'll end up with complications and then you'll have to live with that."  (see also:  ugh)

Fear has never been a good motivator for me.  When I'm scared, I have a tendency to hole up and hide.  When I think about the future of my diabetes, I know there is a good chance I will have some kind of complication. I have sat in the endocrinologist's office far too many times to tune out the threat of "what might happen."  I know what could be brewing.  Like it or not, I understand the effects of unmanaged diabetes.  I work hard to manage diabetes.  But I'm not so hot with managing the fear.

And if, for even a second, I forgot what diabetes complications may be waiting in the wings, I have many things to remind me.  Like the pamphlets at doctor's offices.  And the commercials on TV.  And videos about how diabetes can cost you a leg.  

That video makes me so frustrated because if I had seen it before the diabetes online community had bloomed, I would have been so distressed.  The images in that video would have haunted me, but not in a way that would impact my diabetes favorably.  That kind of video makes me want to stick my head in the sand and pretend it's not happening, instead of taking charge and control of my own disease and realizing I have the ability to impact my future health TODAY.

Give me hope any day.

I think it's more important to remember that there is a good chance I WON'T have some kind of diabetes-related complication. That some combination of good care and good support and good luck (yes, I think some of it is just plain luck) will usher me into my later years without a scary complication. Fear is not the best motivator for me - hope is far more effective.  I hope to be healthy for a long time.  And it's hope that keeps me testing my blood sugar every morning, working with my doctor to best-manage diabetes, and monitoring this monster closely. I don't want images of amputation flashing in front of my eyes every time I go to grab my meter.  I'd rather think about blowing out the candles on my 75th birthday party, a strong and healthy old bird.

Fear?  No thanks.  Give me hope any day.

August 23, 2010

Things I Wish I Made.

Sometimes, I watch an online video that makes me so happy I wish it was something I created.  This - Marcel the Shell with Shoes On - is one of those videos.

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON from Dean Fleischer-Camp on Vimeo.

(Favorite line:  "Toenails from a man.")

August 20, 2010

Precision Carb Guessing.

I keep measuring cups in my purse so that I can measure out my dinners out to be exact.  I keep a small food scale in the glove compartment of my car so I am never guessing how many ounces a certain item might be.  And I have the Calorie King booklet in my pocket at all times, so that I'm never left guessing.  I even sewed pockets into all my clothes, just to bring the booklet around.

(The previous paragraA  diabetes-friendly Happy Meal.  :: rimshot ::ph is filled with lies.  Big, fat ones.)

I wish I was a precision carb counter.  I wish I had the patience for it, always either eating pre-packaged and factory-analyzed foods or spending my time carefully measuring and weighing any home cooked adventures.  But I am not a precision carb counter.  

I'm a precision carb ... guesser.

During the nine months of baby-building, I became pretty good at guesstimating carb content based on the size of the food serving.  You know, like a "deck of cards" is the size of a meat serving, or an oatmeal serving the size of my fist.  (When I was at dLife, the food and nutrition editor did this article on serving size visualizations, which I thought was really good.)  But while pregnant, I tested a LOT and wore the Dexcom every damn day, so there wasn't much of a chance for my blood sugars to dance around due to controllable variables.  (Hormones?  That was a whole different story - they made my numbers nutty.)

But now, with baby out and my level of diabetes management slacking a good amount, I'm losing my attention to those foodie details.  I'm back to eyeballing things without a reference point ("That bathtub of pasta?  That's about 25 grams of carbs.") and doing some seriously wild guessing.

I'm okay with being a guesser.  It fits with my lifestyle (my purse isn't big enough for a scale, thank you very much) and I'm reasonably good at it.  For me, the key to keeping meals from spiking me all over the place is to do the following:

  1. Bolus well in advance for meals.  Not the 15 minutes I was told when I first started on Humalog.  I'm talking like 35 minutes before I take a bite.
  2. Asking about rogue sauces in meals.  When we're dining out, I always ask if the meat comes with a sauce or if the salad comes drenched in dressing.  I've found that "on the side" helps me keep from devouring hidden carbs.
  3. Refresh my visual memory.  I need to remind myself, at least once a month, what "one serving of pasta" looks like.  I need to measure it out at home and actually look at it before I chow on it.  Because without that reminder, portion sizes get all distorted in my head and suddenly I think one "small apple" is akin to this
Small tricks go a long way in making guessing more effective.  I'm at peace with being a precision carb guesser.  Do you guys have any tricks that you use to help count carbs?  Or to just keep track of what's happening on your plate in general?

August 19, 2010

Artsy Fartsy.

Crayons.  Markers.  Colored pencils.  My childhood was spent coloring and drawing on papers, walls, books, and the occasional cat.  (When you have a calico, everything blends beautifully.)  Artistic expression for me, as kiddo, was so important to my mental health, even though I'm sure it came at the cost of my mother's mental health.  (She had to clean off the walls now and again.) 

Get your art on!There's something so therapeutic about art, whether you color in the lines or all over the place.  It feels good to express yourself artistically.  I have some friends whose paintings look like photographs, and ones whose photos look like beautiful watercolors.  Their talent amazes me, and I envy it.

Because I am not artsy fartsy.  I wish I was.  I can't draw or paint of sculpt up anything remotely recognizable.  But thankfully, being "artsy fartsy" isn't limited to the classically talented.  You can let you art out by means of crayons, or sticking googly eyes on mustard jars, or creating a log cabin out of old glucose vials.

Which brings me to the point of this post:  Diabetes Art Day.  September 1st has been deemed Diabetes Art Day by the diabetes online community's resident art therapist, Lee Ann Thill.  Here are the details, courtesy of Lee Ann's blog post:

"I’m asking you to break out of your linguistic comfort zone, bust out some art materials, and make a piece of artwork – painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, an installation piece, a mixed media something or other, or whatever you can imagine. I’m sure most of you don’t consider yourselves artists, but I think that you are, and just haven’t discovered it yet. Then, once your masterpiece is complete, post it on September 1st. If you want to get your family involved, maybe each of you can create something, or you can even do a group art project. The possibilities are endless if you use your imagination!"

Even though my talent is limited, I'm very excited to participate in this advocacy effort.  And I can't wait to see what everyone submits for September 1st!

(For more details, please visit Lee Ann's post on Diabetes Art Day.)

August 18, 2010

Debating Symlin.

I've been reading a lot about people's experiences with Symlin.  I know Super G and Kelly have given it a ago, along with a lot of other fellow d-bloggers.  I gave some thought to trying it a while back, but Chris and I were, at that time, close to trying for a baby, and then I was pregnant, and now I'm breastfeeding - activities that are all a big "NO!" to the question "Can I use Symlin?"

But the kidlet is four months old, and I've begun the weaning process from breast to bottle.  I'm still feeding her in the morning and once or twice throughout the day, but my days of full-time breastfeeding are in the past.  Within the next two or three months or so, she'll be fully weaned and my body will be mine to mess around with again.  (Thinking about adding an extra set of hands - would be useful additions when it comes to changing a diaper while shooing the cat away.)

More realistically, I'm thinking about Symlin.  Once BSparl isn't directly receiving the drugs I am taking, there will be some medical changes to my regimen.  My endocrinologist has already told me that once the baby is weaned, I'll be moving from my blood pressure medication Labetalol to the previous drug I was taking - Altace 2.5 mg.  And I'm already wondering what tools might be at my disposal for blood sugar management, other than insulin.  Like maybe that Symlin character.

IWould you do it? have mixed feelings on the whole "additional drug" thing.  Over the last year or so, I've become sort of hyper-aware of what's safe for a pregnant woman, from deli meat to drugs.   "If it's bad for a growing baby, how can it be good for me?" is the question rolling around in my head almost at all times.  I understand that sometimes it's a risk/benefit situation, like with deli meats (the nitrates aren't great for me, but they could be really crummy for a budding fetus).  Or the Labetalol, which isn't a drug you want to be on during pregnancy, but if I had ditched blood pressure meds entirely, my experience with pre-eclampsia could have started in the second trimester, instead of the third.  Symlin is something that can help tremendously with post-prandial spiking (and additionally, with weight management), according to the claims on their website.  And I like the idea of that extra assistance all the way around.

But I'm a little sketchy on the idea of taking a drug that has some known nausea side-effects.  (I HATE puking.  Hate.)  And then there's the "Hey, you're on an insulin pump so you don't have to worry about injections ... oh wait, here's another injection."  I feel all uppity and self-righteous about adding in another drug, because in my opinion, less is truly more.  One thing about Symlin, though, is that the decision to try it doesn't mean I have to stay on it.  I could opt in for a few weeks and then return to life without it.

So much to think about in anticipation of my November visit to Joslin.  Has anyone used Symlin and survived the icky first few adjustment weeks?  Could Symlin, in addition to exercise, help me toss the last ten pounds of baby weight?  Is this drug worth shooting up?

Inquiring minds:  I haz one.

August 17, 2010

Egg White ... Ice Cream?

Ice cream.  It's awesome.  All creamy and milky and TastyTown.  But it's fatty and carby and kind of a diabetes disaster, depending on how your body tolerates the fat/carb ratio that day. 

Which is why, when Chris told me he was making a batch of egg white ice cream, I was all "Whaaat?" and then "Bring it on."

Chris stumbled upon this recipe in a fitness magazine (can't remember which one) and he busted out the mixer the other night in efforts to give it a go.  I scoffed, because I thought it was a little nasty making ice cream out of egg whites, but then he explained that the egg whites are pasteurized, so they're safe to eat uncooked.  And then he explained that the whey protein makes the egg whites taste like chocolate.  And then he handed me a spoonful, and by golly, he was correct on all counts.  

So I wanted to share this tricky little recipe with you guys, because I was impressed that something so "Rocky" could taste so "Rocky Road."


First, you need some egg whites, chocolate whey protein, and a little sugar substitute.  And a mixer.  Definitely need a mixer, because beating the egg whites is a length process.

Pour approximately 1 1/2 cups of egg whites into a glass or metal bowl (plastic bowls keep the eggs from whipping themselves into a frenzy properly) and beat them senseless for several minutes, until the egg whites are forming soft peaks.  

Once you have those peaks going on, add approximately 2 1/2 scoops of whey protein (preferably chocolate).  The egg white will deflate considerably, so don't worry.  Just be sure to have the eggs beaten to a texture of your preference.  After the protein is thoroughly mixed with the egg whites, add your sweetener of choice.  (We used two packets of Splenda in ours.)  Put the bowl into the freezer and watch Stephen Colbert (NATION!) while you wait for the "ice cream" to freeze. 

Amazingly enough, this crazy concoction DOES become something resembling ice cream.  And it tastes good, too.  (Point: Chris.  Turns out these weigh lifting magazines have useful information in them, and not just photo shoots of this guy.)

August 16, 2010

Month Four.

Dear Little Banana Pancake,

Dude, you are four months old.  (And yes, I'm calling you dude now, too.  Daddy is 'dude' and you are 'little dude.'  I sound like I'm about one President short of Point Break.)  Four months!!  

When I look at pictures of you from your birthday week and then ones from this past week, the differences are astounding.  You are developing a little personality now, and it's amazing to watch you come into your own.  You love being toted around in the Baby Bjorn.  You like to chow on the edges of your bibs and dresses and the little linky things that hang from your play mat.  Basically, you'll chew on anything that sits near you long enough.  (Watch out, Siah.)

In the last few weeks, you've made some big advancements.  I'm convinced that you say "Hi" now, because every morning we lean into your crib and greet you for about ten minutes straight.  "Hi!  Hi!  Hi!"  We sound like lunatics, but you laugh and kick your legs like you're Mini Pele, so it's worth every moment.  You also rolled over for the first time yesterday while we were at your Mema's house, rolling your chubby legs over and shifting your hips until you went from your back to your front.  And then, at home that night, you did the same thing, and then went from front to back.  Was this an epic moment in the span of humanity?  Nah, but it was a big moment in the life o' BSparl, because now you're on your way to becoming a mobile little biscuit.  (And NBF is excited, because once BSparl is crawling, we can race our kids.)  

Also, you've discovered your thumb.  First, you found your hands and spent many minutes staring at them as though you were tripping.  (Hey maaaaan ... fingers!)  But once the shock of realizing these little starfish were attached to your arms was past, you set upon eating them.  Entirely.  We'd find you trying to shove your whole hand into your mouth at any given moment, chomping on your little fingers with your tiny, toothless mouth.  After a week or so of trying to consume your hands whole, you gave up and decided to focus on that delicious little stem at the end.  And just like that, you became a little thumbsucker.  Daddy and I are already saving for the orthodontic work you may need in the future, but for now, we just get a kick out of watching you learn and grow.

BSparl, chomping away on that thumb.
Chompies on the thumb.

Your eyes are beginning to change a little, and they appear gray one day, hazel the next.  Will you be a brown eyed girl?  Only time will tell.  But your red hair is giving way to light brown, and it's falling out and growing back at such a rapid rate that I can't keep up.  (For the record, you looked adorable with male pattern baldness.)

This past month, you had your first overnight at Grampa's house, your first trip to the beach, and your first side-by-side car ride with your best friend (NBF's daughter).  You had your first run-in with my insulin pump (kicked it when you were flailing while burping - didn't like it very much, did you?) and your first wide-eyed response to the Dexcom wail. 

You are growing up so fast, little dude.  When I send photos off to be printed, you don't look like that anymore when they return.  As much as I'm excited to walk hand-in-hand with you and watch you run and hear your first words, sometimes I snuggle you close when no one is looking and whisper "Please, slow down."

Love you so much, pancake,
Mommy.

August 13, 2010

Looking Back: Rocco Takes Charge.

My imagination gets away from me at times.  Here's an example of that issue in play, as we revisit a post from June 2007. (Because I'm off to an endo appointment today and don't have time to put my thoughts to fake paper at the moment.  But here's hoping for an A1C that will make me not want to hide under my couch!)

*   *   *

The wheels on the grocery cart clatter against the store's tile floor as my Internal Motivational Speaker and My Stomach wage war inside my head.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Oh Kerri, don't those organic cucumbers look delicious!  You can slice them up and eat them as a snack in the morning.  Grab two of those.

My hands extend out and grab two cucumbers.

Stomach:  Seriously, dude, if you don't get me something to eat I am going to make Total weakness  for these things.that noise you hate.  You know the one.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  And raspberries!  They are filled with flavonoids.  Get those, too.

The raspberries make their way into my cart.  I shuffle through the grocery store on autopilot.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Yes, yes.  Baby spinach.  Some sliced turkey and cheese for sandwiches for lunch.  Good idea.  Baby carrots ...

Stomach:  Baby spinach, baby carrots.  You eat babies.  Heh heh.  FEED ME.  I'm running out of patience. 

I turn right and make my way down the granola bar and cereal aisle.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  You liked those organic granola bars we bought last week.  Grab another box of those.  Keep walking past that cereal, too high in carbs for you.  You know if makes you spike.  How about some banana bread oatmeal?  That worked out nicely.

The area just below my belly button lets loose with a low growl, like I'm hiding a ravenous bear underneath my workout shirt.

Stomach:  See?  Told you.  You can't go to the gym and then come straight here without feeding me.  I've let the bear loose now.  That guy over there just looked at you because it sounds like you are about to throw up.  Ha ha ha.  Because you eat babies.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Stomach, stop being so crude!  We'll be home soon.  Just be patient.

Stomach:  I am being patient.  You don't know what I've been through, lady.  She did abs tonight.  Do you know what that means?  She spent way too much time crunching and now I'm all tense.  Hey Kerri, grab those frosted mini-wheats.  I've earned them.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  No no!  Frosting on the outside means high blood sugars on the inside, you silly prat! 

Stomach:  They say whole-grain.  Do you see that, Kerri?  Whole-grain.  Grab 'em.

Whispering "Whole-grains are in these," to myself, I add the mini-wheats to my cart.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  I can't believe this!  You just went to the gym and now you're adding "frosted mini-wheats" to the cart?  I mean really, Kerri, you need to get your priorities straight.  Now come on and put them back.

Stomach:  Kerri, you have your priorities in fine order.  You are eating well and exercising and torturing the hell out of me.  Add those mini-wheats to your rabbit food carriage and let's get on with this.  I need a snack. 

The bear growls again.

Stomach:  Rocco's getting upset.  Better move on.Rocco has the wheats.

I move the mini-wheats underneath the bags of fresh vegetables.  My Internal Motivational Speaker sighs deeply.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  I can still see them, you know. 

Stomach:  Oh would you just shut up?

Internal Motivational Speaker:  I will not.  And another thing ...

I hear the sound of a heavy chain snapping and the ravenous roar of a hungry bear. 

Stomach:  Sick 'em, Rocco!

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Noooo!!  Oh God, I can feel his breath on my motivational neck!  Help! 

Her voice trails off.  And the mini-wheats stay in the cart.

August 12, 2010

People Who Need People.

I first started blogging because I felt alone and wanted to find more than diabetes misery in my "diabetes" search returns on Google.  That was five years ago.  The blogosphere was shiny and new(ish, at least), and the diabetes blogosphere was in its infancy, with very few "real" voices carrying over the snake oil spammers and the WebMD sites.  Even though I had buddies from Clara Barton Camp and even though I knew of one or two other diabetics through friends of friends, I didn't have a network of people who really "got it."

But the Internet grew, and the diabetes community grew with it.  Today we have hundreds of diabetes blogs and dozens of diabetes chat discussions on Twitter and Facebook groups and forums and Flickr groups and entire social networks and on and on and … well, on.  

Last night, during the #dsma (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy) discussion on Twitter, I realized that the shift is happening again.  The discussion was turning towards how to help connect with other diabetics who weren't online and who didn't have access to the online community.  Before blogging, I was searching for online diabetes connections because there were very few people with diabetes in my offline life.  I liked connecting with others online because I was sort of cloaked in the then-anonymity of the internet.  I could talk about the feelings stirred up by that nasty 242 mg/dl blood sugar the other morning, or the shame in skipping my workout so I could go out to dinner.  But after blogging about these experiences, I would log off and return to "real life," where no one knew much about what life was really like with diabetes. 

Then the lines started to blur, and I wanted to remove that cloak.  I wanted to know more than just the diabetes sides of these people's personalities.  In person meet ups were scheduled, and dinners started to become regular monthly events, and I started removing the caveat of "blogger" when I was referring to my new friends.  Blog life and real life weren't as separate as they once were, and while diabetes was more of a discussion point than it had ever been before, it felt like a smaller part of my life.  Love, marriage, friends, traveling, hobbies ... those things seems to take precedence over diabetes.  While I still managed my condition closely, I felt like I could breathe easier, knowing there were all these people who really understood how I felt.  And the more I got to know these people, the better I felt about my diabetes.

Which is why it makes perfect sense that people went online to find people they could hang out with in person.  Full circle.  We're just a pile of people who need people.

I realized that even though the Internet provides so much support and information for people living with diabetes, there isn't anything quite like talking face-to-face with another person with diabetes.  The words you speak out loud may be the very same ones you'd write in a blog post or comment, but there is something so cool about seeing the actual arched eyebrow or tugging grin or wild hand gesture.  And as the diabetes community grows online, I see it budding and blooming in "real life," in meet ups and dinner dates and conferences.  (We're like the anti-Vegas - what happens online meets in a coffee shop eventually.)

Diabetes on your own can be a very heavy burden.  Lots to manage, lots to juggle, and lots of emotions to muddle through at any given time.  But with the kind of support that we, as members of this community have access to, it's like a helium injection. 

And it all gets lighter, and easier to carry.

You guys are the balloons that hold up my house o' diabetes.

August 11, 2010

I Couldn't Wait.

I found out I was pregnant and I couldn't wait to know
If 'it's a boy' or 'it's a girl' I would spend nine months to grow.
I couldn't wait for her to show us that she was our little she.
I couldn't wait to see her dancing on the ultrasound TV.

I couldn't wait to touch her tiny hands or kiss her little nose.
I couldn't wait to count her fingers and to tickle little toes.
I couldn't wait for weeks to pass and my body to look round.
I couldn't wait to hear her heartbeat.  (I still love to hear that sound.)

I couldn't wait for docs to tell me it was time to meet our girl.
I couldn't wait for her to cry and let us know she's in the world.
I couldn't wait to dress her up in little socks and little dresses.
I couldn't wait to sing her songs and make her laugh and stroke her tresses.

I found out I was pregnant and I couldn't wait to meet
The little girl I worked so hard to build, from ears to arms to feet.
I couldn't wait to see her smile, to hear "Mama," to watch her crawl,
To go on trips, to see the world, to watch her grow, to Do It All.

But then this morning, as I fed her, I noticed that her little legs
Were stretching out in small pajamas that no longer were "too big."
And I noticed she was eating more than she had done before,
And that clothes all marked "newborn" were packed in boxes on the floor.

I found out I was pregnant and I couldn't wait to see
The daughter I was meant to have and hold her close to me.

And weeks, they pass in minutes, and she grows so very fast
That I can't wait to hold her close and hold these moments while they last.

August 10, 2010

Another Breastfeeding and Diabetes Update.

It's been almost 17 weeks since BSparl's birthday (yet it's not quite her four month mark yet - weirdness of weeks vs. months).  And even though I was planning to only breastfeed until she was about three months old, we're still going. 

Part of what's made the decision to continue breastfeeding easier is that I work from our home office.  There's no need for me to change out of my comfortable clothes (read: shorts and a t-shirt), I don't need to duck into a side room to use the breast pump, and I'm able to whip it out and feed her whenever I need to.  I am very grateful that I'm able to work from home at this point in BSparl's life.  I know this would have been a real challenge if I was working in-house at a company right now.

Another reason I want to continue is that the physical pain of breastfeeding is all but gone.  I'm not dreading the moment when she latches on (she's learned to be gentle), and since my milk production has leveled off to what's "needed" versus "here's EVERYTHING," I'm not experiencing that wicked pain of being really "full."  Also, on a diabetes tip, I'm not experiencing the same caliber of lows I was before.  Since I'm making less, my body isn't constantly processing and therefore isn't robbing me of my glucose stores. 

The third reason is that I am a huge fan of the convenience.  Every morning, I wake up and test my blood sugar first thing (yes, I've been sticking with it!) while Chris gets BSparl out of bed and changes her diaper.  And then I feed her.  She's total HappyTown in the morning (kicking her legs and grinning wildly) and I love the feeling of closeness in addition to the fact that we don't have to fumble around in the morning with a bottle.  (I also hate, hate cleaning out the bottles, so breastfeeding eliminates the need for doing more dishes.)

But it's not all rainbows and unicorns.  Breastfeeding does make it harder to have a more mobile schedule (i.e. having BSparl sleep over at her grandparents' houses, or letting me travel for work), so Chris and I, under the advisement of our pediatrician, have been supplementing with formula since just after the twelve week mark.  At first, I didn't have a lot of guilt about supplementing because it was only a bottle of formula here and there, but now I'm having sporadic feelings of guilt.

There are a LOT of mixed opinions about baby formula, diabetes notwithstanding.  But adding diabetes into the mix?  Whole new ballgame.  For instance, I've heard that you shouldn't give your infant milk-based formula.  That soy is the way to roll if you are a parent with type 1 diabetes.  Okay, but then I read many articles about the BSparl is chowing down on this stuff. potential dangers of soy formula, saying that it could harm the baby.  Ooooohkay ... and then I asked my doctors (mine and BSparl's) for their opinion, and they couldn't confirm or deny either theory.  

Leaving us to wonder what's best.  

"Breast is best," gloats the lactation specialist at the hospital.

Sure, breast is best and we did our ... best breast for as long as we could.  But now baby girl is almost four months old and due to missing feedings (thanks to low blood sugars, etc), traveling for work (when baby is with a grandparent overnight), and other Life Things, my milk production has slowed down.  BSparl needs more and more as she gets bigger and bigger, and I just can't physically keep up.  So while "breast may be best," we are continuing to explore different formulas.  

Right now, we are finishing up a can of Enfamil "Gentlease" formula, which was recommended by BSparl's pediatrician to help combat the wicked acid reflux our daughter had for a few weeks.  But my preference has been to go the organic route, if I can, so we're now switching over to the Earth's Best Organic formula.  Yes, the cow's milk one, not the soy one (even though we have both cow's milk and soy versions in the house right now).  While avoiding cow's milk has been suggested as best to help avoid type 1 diabetes, I am having a hard time giving my daughter soy formula when the jury appears to be out on the effects of that.  There is no definitive answer on what to do, and there's no guarantee that you're going to safely dodge the diabetes bullet.  I've mentioned it before, but I was breastfed and my brother and sister were not.  Yet I have type 1, and they are fine.  Genetics are a crap shoot.

So while we're still breastfeeding for the most part, the bottles are creeping in there.  And I'm okay with that.  It's about what works best for the family, and so far, this system is working out for us.

August 09, 2010

Invisible Bicycle.

There are very few times when I want to make sure my insulin pump is completely concealed.  I don't have a shred of shame about having diabetes, and I'm proud that I manage my disease using the technology available to me, but I'm not out to advocate at all times.  Sometimes, I want diabetes to be off the discussion table.  Like at my wedding (hid the pump perfectly in a secret pocket in my dress).  While I'm always ready to advocate for diabetes, sometimes I'd rather just hang out.

This past weekend, Chris and I were invited to attend a 40th birthday party for M. Night Shyamalan.  (Chris is working with Night on a project.)  The party was at Night's house, with his family.  And I had never met Night before.  The very last thing I wanted to grapple with was pump tube sticking out of the top of my dress.  I didn't want to be shuffling through the whole, "I have type 1 diabetes and ..." explanation while I'm trying to enjoy a party. So, for the first time in my seven years of pumping, I gave a go at the "bike shorts trick." 

'Tis invisible!
I still love this one the most.

Bit strange, sporting the spandex bicycle-style underwear underneath my dress, but they were perfect for concealing the pump.  I just felt goofy not having a bike.  ("I can haz invisible bike?")    Wearing the shorts, I could tuck the pump into the waistband near my hip, with the face of the pump turned in towards my skin and the clip on the outside.  Because the dress was sort of flowy in the front, the pump wasn't visible at all.  Using the meter as my remote, I was able to bolus during the course of the night without drawing attention to the pump.  (Almost wrote "to the bulge in my pants," but while that's kind of what I meant, it's totally not what I meant.  /digression)  And busting out the Ping meter looked more like I was texting instead of bolusing. 

"You can't see it at all?"  I asked Chris, turning to the side to see if the pump was visible in my profile.

"Not at all.  You look great."

"Not cyborgy?"

"Nope."

The party was awesome and Chris and I didn't get back to our hotel until almost three in the morning (never, ever admit to this party full of people that you haven't really had a drink since the baby was born - all of a sudden, you'll find yourself doing shots of Patron with the Shyamalan family).  Blood sugars were suspiciously well-behaved, holding completely steady in the low 100s, despite drinks and dancing and these really delicious little dessert things that tasted so much like a blend of creme brulee and cheesecake - making it the ultimate taste combination.  We had a blast - the house was amazing, our host was so gracious, and their family made it easy to feel comfortable and have fun. 

And the bike shorts kept me from having to jump rope over tubing while partying.  Thank you, invisible bicycle!

[Animas disclosure]

August 06, 2010

The Friday Six: Writer's Block.

The Friday Six:  August 6, 2010 edition.I felt it circling, like a shark (ooh, Shark Week!).  Writer's block.  It sucks.  I have it, big time.  But thankfully I'm alone in my blockiness, because there have been some seriously awesome posts rolling around the diabetes blogosphere of late.  This week's Friday Six is all about sending some link love the posts I've really enjoyed in the last few weeks:

1.  George at Ninjabetic writes so earnestly that I always find myself actually leaning in towards the computer.  His writing draws me in, that literally.  And his post, Just Love, made me want to hug my baby and my husband (and even the cats) all at once together.  

2.  This post, from Karmel Allison at A Sweet Life, is one that I read over and over again, letting the words wash over me as I remembered the expectation of expecting, all muddled with excitement and fear and intense love.  Powerful poem, Karmel.  Thanks for sharing it with us all.

3.  And Scott made me laugh out loud when I read his post, See Other Arm.  I love reading about diabetes meet-ups (love attending them, too!) and the pictures from his latest one gave me a grin that wouldn't quit.  Click through to see what I mean!

4.  Another post I really enjoyed was Chris's post about the pure evil of Pop-Tarts.  Personally, I don't think Pop-Tarts are discussed enough on the diabetes blogosphere (I think we're all afraid to admit we've eaten this crap - even though we all have at one time or another), and now I'd like to see what a cookie dough Pop-Tart is all about.  Though, after reading the nutritional information, I should wait until my pump is fully stocked. ;)

5.  I'd be hampering efforts for feline world domination if I neglected to link out to this post on Tales of Rachel, including guest ... meows? from the homonym pair of Casey and K.C., hosted by the always-hungry Perl.  Since Siah enjoys a good guest post here on SUM now and again, I have a high appreciation for other cats who are willing to tap out a few words on the ol' laptop.

6.  This one, admittedly, is my favorite of the bunch.  This post, from Jacquie at Typical Type 1, is called Beauty and the 'Betes, and it's a diabetes fairy tale.  And I love it.  Love, love, love and if you haven't read it already, you are seriously missing out on something that seems ripped from the Brothers Grimm but instead came from the Islets of Jacquie.  (What a horrible pun, but I already warned you - I have writer's block.)  Definite must-read.

Enjoy these posts from the talented writers of the diabetes blogosphere, and have a great weekend!!

August 05, 2010

BSparl and Her Mommy in Diabetes Forecast.

We both love purple.   Can you tell?Babies, babies, everywhere!  In particular, there are babies in this month's issue of Diabetes Forecast, with a focus on pre-existing diabetes and pregnancy.  I'm very proud that BSparl and I had the opportunity to share our story with the Forecast readers, and that the photographer who visited our home wasn't too bothered by the cat hair.

(One quick note after reading through the "Guide to Pregnancy" article in the magazine:  Diabetes is tough. We know that.  Diabetes and pregnancy is tough, amplified.  But don't let the long article about "what could happen" sway you if you are planning to pursue a pregnancy and you have diabetes.  The information in that article is important, accurate, but can admittedly be overwhelming.  Not all diabetic pregnancies encounter the same kinds of complications that mine did - everyone's experiences vary.  Just know that information overload comes with any pregnancy, and diabetic ones are no exception.  We may get some added bonus worries, but the end result of our pregnancies can be just the same as the pregnancies of non-diabetic women:  a healthy baby.  Take all of the information you read online in stride, including the stuff I've posted here.  It's a lot of hard work, but like they say, it's so, so worth it.)

And with that, I'm off to give the BSparl a snuggle.

August 04, 2010

Packing Light.

When diabetes was the only variable in play, I wasn't known for packing light.  My purse was always referred to as "cavernous," or "enormous," or just plain "holy crap, Kerri, why are you bringing such a big bag?"  At any given time, I had my meter, a jar of glucose tabs, a backup infusion set, an insulin pen, a rogue bottle of test strips, and some kind of granola bar on me at all times.  (Vlog about that here - and by the way, I just realized I was pregnant in this vlog but didn't know it yet.  :) ) This was in addition to all the other nonsense that I travel with (wallet, car keys, gum, lip gloss, etc etc etc for evah).  

But I never, ever anticipated how much STUFF would come with BSparl.  Aside from the epicness of her baby bag (vlog about that here), just heading out for a day at the beach becomes akin to packing for a sojourn across the desert.  And when you add me and BSparl to the dynamic duo of NBF and her seven month old daughter - holy antithesis of packing light!

I don't think we brought enough stuff.

Two strollers, a beach tent, buckets full of toys, bottles, diapers, wipes, plastic bags to discard the nasty diapers, an inflatable pool (do NOT ask), the magical Bumbo seat, countless towels, pacifiers, teething toys, and three vintage Volkswagen Carmengias.  (Fine - kidding about the cars, but we basically had everything we owned out there on the beach.  For two ladies to trek this stuff across the sand was like a crusade.)

If there were ever any hopes of me packing light, they're certainly dashed to bits now.

August 03, 2010

You Are What You Eat.

I have the attention span of a ... of a ... hey, something shiny!Bullet points are fun, especially when you have the attention span of a goldfish.
  • I really want one of these, but I'm afraid to ride it in public.
  • I haven't figured out why Siah is stalking the twisty tie from the loaf of bread, but she's having a righteous time trying to show it who's boss.  
  • If you are what you eat, then I am only a cup of coffee until about noon, when I become a rushed Yogurt.
  • From about the hours of 7 am to 5 pm, I am a feeding/diaper changing/singing songs about how fun it is to be your mommy/burping (her, not me) machine.  This routine is making the walls of my house close in around me and I'm beginning to wonder if this is some kind of Indiana Jones-themed Candid Camera.
  • This is a fun link that feeds a steady stream of marketing muckity muck about the power of social media.  Beware of the "fern word" that's nestled neatly into the URL.  I've been populating it with mental thoughts of my own while I'm trying to fall asleep at night.
  • If I'm supposed to make hay while the sun shines, does that mean I am not encouraged to fight at night?
  • I know BlogHer is taking place this weekend in NYC, and I wish I was able to attend this year (especially since it wouldn't require a flight and because I had such a great time last year).  But Chris and I have such random, unreschedulable plans for this weekend that I am happily planning for next year's BlogHer event instead.  But I am sad to be missing the conference.  A bunch of bloggers hanging out in one place is a sight to see, indeed. 
  • The newest diaTribe is out, including a shiny new SUM Musings article.  This may be the only bullet point that contains useful information.
  • Oh wait, this is useful, too.
  • The images on this link made me uncomfortable and unable to look my Nintendo in the eye.  And this one is completely and utterly random.  
  • I can't imagine how many brain cells I still have left, but I think the last few firing synapses are evacuating the premises as I type this.  
  • Time to log off and get out of this house.  I'm attempting my first visit to the beach this summer - here's hoping no one notices that I'm one pasty Irish-lookin' lady.
  • And if the early bird gets the worm, I'd rather be the late bird.  I heard the late bird gets a plate of pancakes and a saki bomb.

Glub, glub.

August 02, 2010

No-Sugar Added Poetry.

No-Sugar Added Poetry - great to read, and no carbs!!Diabetes isn't simply about blood sugar meters and doctor's visits - there's a decidedly emotional side to this disease, and to me, taking care of those emotions are just as important as maintaining a good A1C. And in the last few months, there's been a collective effort by the Diabetes Hands Foundation to create a book of poetry for people and by people with diabetes to help raise diabetes awareness ... and our spirits.

I'm proud to be part of the No-Sugar Added Poetry book, written by members of the TuDiabetes community and published by the Diabetes Hands Foundation with sponsorship from Roche.  There are a lot of familiar faces contributing to this book (Amylia Grace, Miriam Tucker, Heidi Shell, and Kerri Sparling [in third person], to name a few), and the power of this poetry is tremendous. 

If you are looking for a way to tap into the diabetes soul of your fellow writers, or if you are someone who loves a PWD and is looking to understand a slice of diabetes life, this book should be part of your collection.  

We all deal with this disease in different ways, but through the power of poetry, we're able to share - and heal - in ways that can't be bottled.  This book is proof that something truly beautiful can be born from adversity.

To order your copy, visit the No-Sugar Added Poetry page on TuDiabetes.  

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