« April 2011 | Main | June 2011 »

May 31, 2011

Exercising My Right to Loiter.

The Dexcom said 177 mg/dl and dropping, but after a full 60 minutes of cardio, I expected the graph to show a lower trend. 

"Whatever," I said, a little confused because my pre-workout blood sugar was 143 mg/dl.  Felt foggy, but I was a little dehydrated so I figured I needed to get home and relax.  Ignoring the cotton-ball haze I felt encased by, I grabbed my keys and gym back from the locker room and walked out into the parking lot.  After trying to get into someone else's black Honda Civic (forgetting, in my fog, that we replaced my old car for the Mom Car), I put the key in my car's ignition and sat there for a few seconds.

And then a few seconds more.

It wasn't until I was out there for about two full minutes that I thought "Hey, might want to double-check that Dexcom reading" with my meter.  The receiver was now showing some double-down arrows.  And my glucose meter confirmed with a bright, shiny 35 mg/dl.

"Oh, you suck," I said directly to my diabetes.  And like a fast, hot breeze, all the symptoms of the low hit in full force, as though seeing the number made it actually real.

Now that the weather is warmer, glucose tabs are all I keep on tap in my car for lows, but since I felt like a pile of crumbs, I thought it would be safer to go back into the gym and let someone kHi!  I'm Victor the Velociraptor.  And I have "low face."now I was having some trouble.  Because if I passed out, for the first time, in my car, it would take a long time for someone to find me.

On autopilot, I went back into the gym.  The guy at the counter was checking in some new members, but he looked twice at me as I grabbed a bottle of orange juice from the cooler and leaned heavily on the counter, downing the majority of the bottle in a few sips.  

"You okay?" he asked.

"Not really.  I'm having a very low blood sugar moment right now and I didn't want to sit in my car alone, in case there was a problem."  I tried to smile, but I was so jerky and unsteady that I resembled a hungry velociraptor more than a woman.  All teeth, stretched smile, and my eyes were trying to find something that was roughly 1,000 yards away.

"Okay.  We'll wait until you're up again."  He finished signing in the new members and I tried to convince myself I was at a bar instead of the gym.  ("How you doin'?  Sure, you can buy me a ... a bottle of juice.")

For about fifteen minutes, the gym guy chatted with me about how diabetes - both type 1 and type 2 - has infiltrated his family.  Grandmothers on both sides, aunts, cousins, his sister, his father and his mom ... the list of affected family went on for the duration of my low blood sugar.  So many members of his family were dealing with some version of this disease.  He knew exactly how diabetes could ruin your day.  And he could see how it was ruining mine.

"I am sorry for taking up so much of your time.  I feel much better now.  Thanks for keeping an eye on me, and I h" I said sheepishly, back up to 98 mg/dl and feeling more human and less dinosaur-y.

"Any time.  You were exercising your right to loiter," he said.  "It's a good way to cool down after a workout, right?"

"Sometimes it's the only exercise I get these days."

May 26, 2011

Looking Back: Whine.

Last night at the gym, I needed to grab a swig of juice before my cardio workout, so I reached into my gym bag and fished out the questionably-old bottle of juice from its depths.  Thankfully, this potentially ancient bottle of juice tasted fine, but I was reminded of a post from a few years ago, when the juice went all wine trail on me.

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

Juice doesn't normally hiss, does it? 

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

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

Diabetes Rockstars.

People within the diabetes community are strong, resilient ... and apparently pretty creative on the lyrical tip.  This video was sent to me by a reader, and even though the visuals on it are just the lyrics, it did crack me up (and she's quite the songbird)!  Created by Denise, who blogs at My Sweet Bean and her Pod, this song is now part of the diabetes-themed song library.

"We can rock a SWAG for any popsicle." and "Pancreas stand-ins, now put your hands up" may be among the best diabetes-lyrics I've heard since ShugaSheen's debut.

May 25, 2011

Thirteen.

Dear Birdy,

Is it okay if I call you thirteen months old?  Because just saying "one year" doesn't do you justice at this point (and it also freaks me out because seriously? a year already?). 

I'm not sure when personality hits in full for little kids, but yours is up and running.  Birdy, you are a ridiculous goofball.  Whenever I take you out and you get to see new people, you turn into this friendly monster, grinning and waving and making smush faces at them.  (What's smush face, you ask?  Here:)

Smush face'd BSparl

You "get" things now.  You understand that the little plastic tea pot is for filling little plastic tea cups (and anything else that has a space where tea can hide, including hats).  You have figured out that the cat will let you pet her if you approach her quietly.  You know how the tv remote works.  You have mastered the concept of "extreme splashing" in the bathtub (soaking me to the core). And you've finally figured out that the insulin pump is attached to mama, and you can't take off with it too quickly or I yelp.

This month, you and I spent our longest time apart so far, when Daddy and I went on vacation.  We missed you so much and we loved Skyping with you every night, so we could see you playing and smiling even thousands of miles away.  (Modern technology is amazing.  And by the time you read these letters, I'm sure we'll be able to send our words to one another through fiber optic thoughts or minute radioactive hamburgers or something.)  While it was nice to spend time with your Daddy, we were both so happy to see your face and give you snuggles when we came home.

You're starting to expand your vocabulary, in weird little ways.  We know "kitty" and "duck."  And "bottle."  (You say "bot," but it's close enough.)  "What'sdat?"  And you looooove balloons, chasing after their strings as they float around the kitchen, shouting "Bra!! Braa!"  (Yes, you call balloons 'bra.'  This may be a source of confusion for you as you age, but for now, we're going with it.)

BSparl. 13 months old

Kid, you are a total trip, and my best friend. Your hugs are the softest. You have this mess of curly hair, the origin of which baffles me. You sniff the flowers and chase bugs and dig in the dirt, all while sporting a grin. And you laugh at your own toots. 

I love you, I love you, I love you.  You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, and the happy you make me knows no bounds.

Love,
Mommy

May 24, 2011

Time Travel.

I know there are a dozen different strategies for dealing with diabetes while traveling in different time zones, but I've never found one that goes off without a hitch.  If you're pumping insulin and rocking different basal rates throughout the course of the day, adjusting to a new time zone can be a total pain in the hey, look, something shiny!

Throughout our vacation, my blood sugars actually behaved themselves.  And I can't figure out how, since we were five hours off on our natural schedule, our meals were carb-filled traditional Irish breakfasts and chicken and champ, and we were in the land of Guinness.  It makes NO sense that my numbers were in range, better than they were the week before, when I was home and cruising around in my regularly scheduled chaos.  But I think part of it came down to dumb luck with the timing of my basal rate changes.  And the alignment of some planets. 

The flight from Boston to Ireland was just over five hours long, which also accounted for the time difference.  With Irish time five hours ahead of Rhode Island, I had to decide how to best manage the change.  Did I want to spend the first day adjusting the clock on my pump every few hours until it was synched up with the new timezone?  Did I want to change it right away when I landed?  Or did I want to keep it as is and hope that a week wasn't enough to muck with things?

I decided to change the time on my pump as soon as we took off, because I knew it was going to be a very tricky travel day.  Here's why: After boarding the plane in Boston at 6 pm and flying some awkward version of "overnight" (where we landed at midnight our time, but 5:30 am Ireland time), and by the time we arrived at our hotel in downtown Dublin, Chris and I were giddy from the lack of sleep.  Thanks to the luck of the Irish, we were able to get into our room well before check-in time, and we collapsed and slept for almost six and a half hours. 

This is precisely why I changed my pump right away.  My basal rate is 0.45u from 11 am - 11 pm, drops to 0.25u at 11 pm until 3 am, and then it goes all apeshit from 3 - 11 am.  At 3 am, it jumps up to 0.60u.  At 9 am, it jumps again to 0.9u, where it hangs out until the 11 am rate kicks in.  In those wee morning hours, that 0.6u is a lot of insulin for me.  Without it, my blood sugars creep up into the 180 - 240 mg/dl range.  With it, I'm solid.  But if it's delivered at the wrong time, I could end up with a really nasty low blood sugar.  So there's a lot to juggle when considering just that one thing.  (Never mind the addition of driving, new foods, BEER, and sheep.  And sheep drinking beer whilst playing paintball.)

Pretty pictures from Ireland never fail to make a post seem a little more ... I don't know ... friendly?

Too many variables, too much guesstimating, and too few hard and fast rules of diabetes make traveling through time zones tricky. But we've all done it, and we're all continuing to do it. What tips would you have for a PWD traveling through time zones?  Do you make one fast move, or are you a slow transitioner? 

May 23, 2011

Not Even a Little Green.

After spending a week exploring the Irish countryside (and basically being followed by the Queen all week long - that woman showed up in almost every city we visited!), my camera is about to explode.  We went from Dublin to Galway to Killarney to Cork and back again, driving on the "wrong" side of both the road and the car, and inspired and impressed by the sights we saw. While I mentally recap my vacation with Chris to the Emerald Isle, I have a few thousand visual words to share.

(And it's true what they say - there really are 40 shades of green.)

"We've actually got them here."
The best part about the castles and tower houses in Ireland is that they're just scattered all over the place.  We'd drive for a bit and then - whoops! - another castle in the distance to explore.  These massive stone structures were amazing, with their giant, twisting staircases and sprawling green grounds.  (And thankfully, despite the massive amounts of castle-strolling we did, I didn't have a single castle low.  Which is good, because I may have had to treat it with mutton, just to keep with the theme.)

The coastline off the Dingle Peninsula
A family friend of ours said that many tourists drive the Ring of Kerry on their trip, but he recommended that we skip that and check out the Dingle Peninsula.  Which we did, and the scenery was absolutely spectacular, like the above photo of the coastline.

This photo, to me, looks fake. But it's not.  This shit is for realz.
Or this one, taken on Inch Beach.

Green!!  They've got plenty of green here.

Or this one of the fields.  (Chris and I were talking about how a single picture doesn't do the landscape of Ireland any kind of justice.  It's hard to fully capture how this image just went on and on for as far as we could see.  Amazing.)

In my head, this is what I picture insulin looking like: an army of soliders, going in for battle.  And yes, sometimes useless, metal solidiers.  The metaphor totally works for me.
We randomly happened upon a toy solider factory (of course, there's a toy solider factory nestled in the foothills of some grassy town), where we saw soldiers, ballerinas, and dragons brought to life one after the other.

This crew of chickens had no interest in being photographed. But I did see one tuning a violin, so they had their interests sorted.
The critters of Ireland dotted every field, from chickens running amuck behind a farmhouse, to cows lazily grazing in pastures, to the multitude of paintball sheep (dotted with color to mark their herd) literally mowing the lawns of Ireland. 

Kerri, in the county of Kerry.  Nice uniformity there.

It was a relaxing trip, with lots of beautiful scenery and very little access to the Internet.  We called home twice a day to check on the little Bird (who was with my mom for the week - my mom rocks) and checked email only twice (which is a big thing for me, seeing as how my inbox is both my favorite thing and the utter bane of my existence). Instead of being tied to the Internet and worried about all things worky, we focused on celebrating our third wedding anniversary and exploring the countryside of a country we'd never seen before.  I'm so glad we went.  It was gorgeous. 

Of course, there are like 500 photos on Flickr, if you have the urge to peruse a pile of greenery.  :)  

May 20, 2011

Interview: Leah Fox and Pennies 4 Pumps.

Leah Fox, 14 years old, lives in Fort Collins, CO and has had type 1 diabetes since 2005.  With determination and an attitude that tackles challenges head on, Leah approaches diabetes management with the same gusto. Pumping insulin since 2006, she continues to love and believe in this therapy with all her heart. Leah’s hope is that all kids who want an insulin pump can have access to this amazing technology.

And today, she's taken a few minutes to let us ask her some questions about her fundraising efforts.

Leah's smiley faceKerri: What gave you the idea to start Pennies 4 Pumps campaign?

Leah: I got my inspiration from a diabetes camp called Camp Sweet Pea. Camp Sweat Pea is designed for kids with type 1 to get together and just have fun. When I first went to camp I saw that many kids were wearing insulin pumps. I went home and told my mom about the pump and 6 months later I got one! I loved my pump so much because it allowed me to live an easier life with diabetes. I wondered why every child with diabetes didn’t have one. That’s when I found out that not all families could afford an insulin pump because their insurance may only cover a small portion of the cost. Something pulled on my heartstrings when I heard that. I really wanted to help these families, but I was only 9 and I didn’t know how until I thought of a way.

I taught myself how to make beaded jewelry and my business Dragonfly Jewelry was born. I hand make all kinds of jewelry and 50% of the proceeds get donated to my fundraiser and 50% went back into my business. Pennies 4 Pumps came later when I suggested this idea to my student council when I was in 5th grade. Though the jewelry making was effective, the P4Ps campaign got lots of people involved and helped me to reach my goal more quickly. In the last several years 3 other schools have participated in this campaign of collecting spare change. All the money goes directly to the insulin pump scholarship fund. Dragonfly Jewelry has become an ongoing fundraiser for P4Ps. Through everyone’s help over 7,000 dollars has been raised. I feel so blessed to be able to have opportunities like this. I can’t thank all the people enough who have made this possible.

Kerri: Since you have diabetes and a pump, you know how important having the right tools for management is. How does it make you feel knowing that you’re giving other kids access to helpful tools they wouldn’t otherwise have access to?

Leah: I am so blessed to be able to have a pump and a healthy life. It feels incredible to give back. Through these fundraisers I’m able to help kids just like me, and that means so much. No one really knows what a diabetic’s life is like unless they have diabetes. Since I share type 1 with those I hope to help I feel like I can understand and be a friend to them. Even when I am talking to kids who may be newly diagnosed I always encourage them to consider the pump. Being out in the public selling jewelry or running the P4Ps campaigns, I have had so many opportunities to share my story and hear others. Sometimes money isn’t the only hurdle someone has to make when considering a pump. Maybe they just need some encouragement! I love the feeling of knowing that I am helping someone in need.

Kerri: What has been your favorite part of the fundraising process?


Leah: The most fun part of this project would definitely be when I awarded my first insulin pump scholarship. That happened in December of 2009. That was my goal from the very beginning and to finally reach that after three years was amazing. Though I was in 7th grade at the time, we were able to arrange a school-wide assembly at my elementary school where we ran the first Pennies 4 Pumps campaign. I served as MC of the event and got to talk to all the kids about how they made a difference by getting involved and participating in the P4Ps classroom challenge. I encouraged them to pursue areas where they could help others and then got to award the scholarship check of $3500.00 dollars to the family and their little girl. A roar erupted as I handed over the check! That was a great day for that family and me.

Kerri: What has been your greatest challenge so far in raising awareness for Pennies for Pumps?

Leah: The biggest challenge of informing people about my fundraisers would be that I’m a teenage girl. I am so busy and it can put a damper on my work time and for getting the word out about Pennies 4 Pumps and Dragonfly Jewelry. I’m involved in many activities so sometimes it’s hard to make jewelry or get things accomplished for my business, but I try my best.

Kerri: How about when you look towards the future - do you have any plans to expand your awareness and fundraising plan?

Leah: Looking into the future, I hope someday that I could help many more families afford a pump. Currently, the scholarship is specific toward kids in Fort Collins. However, I have been thinking about expanding the scholarship to other kids in northern Colorado outside of Fort Collins. Recently, P4Ps has taken on a new look. A local middle school is selling t-shirts as a fundraiser and a portion of their proceeds are getting donated to the P4Ps fund. A choir organization is partnering with P4Ps and donating a portion of their spring concert ticket sales! I will get to show my jewelry at the concert as well and my middle school jazz choir will sing at the concert too! Accepting opportunities that come my way helps to increase awareness, so I will continue to make time to do interviews, radio shows, and blogs as much as I can! I also dream of owning my own jewelry store one day.

Kerri: Aside from all this diabetes advocacy stuff, what else are you into? Any hobbies, favorite movies, little bits of you that you’d like to share with the SUM readers?

Leah: I love to hang out with my friends. We like to go to movies or walk down to a local shopping center and get frozen yogurt. I’m also addicted to sports. I play basketball, volleyball, and tennis. Sports are a BIG part of my life. I love being outside, going shopping, and just chilling at home with my family. I’m a big travel bug. I really enjoy being on an airplane and going to new places. Recently, my family and I traveled to Costa Rica. This was my first time out of the country! My mom says I was born with a song in my heart…I would die without music. I sing in choir, jazz choir, honor choir, and was in Willy Wonka the Musical this year. I also play piano. In addition to having type 1 diabetes, I also have a severe case of “Bieber Fever”!!! God is an important part of my life. I believe He put the idea of these fundraisers in my heart and has been with me every step of the way. I am so thankful to Him and all the people that have supported a little girl with a big dream!

*   *   *

Leah Fox was named a Prudential Spirit of Community Award State Honoree for her great acts of volunteerism. Created 16 years ago, the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represent the United States ’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service, recognizing young heroes who have made exceptional impacts on the lives of others. Thanks for everything you do, Leah!

May 19, 2011

Guest Post: Diabetes and Eating Disorders.

Today's guest post is from fellow T1 PWD, Megan Roy.  Megan has gone though some difficult times with her health, and she's bravely sharing her story with us.  Thanks, Megan, for being so honest.

*   *   *



Megan RoyThe first couple of years with diabetes, it honestly didn’t even affect my life much at all. I took shots in my belly and pricked my fingers and that was about it. I still was very active in sports, running and playing tennis whenever I wanted to. It wasn’t until I got into college that diabetes really started to affect me in a way that I wasn’t expecting.

As my A1C began to creep up, my weight also crept up (it happens when you exchange long runs for nights out with friends). Emotionally, this began to weigh heavily on me (literally!). I did what all of my friends seemed to do at the time; I started trying to manipulate my food intake and exercise routine. I thought to myself about when I was first diagnosed, and figured out the weight/insulin connection as well. I minimized my insulin dose to that of a small child. My doctors were confused, but my sugars were improving, so they were happy.

I have always been a perfectionist. I have always been a Type A personality. Give me a challenge, and I will overcome it. So now we have the challenges of being a little different in college with the diabetes + the challenges of every college-aged girl (weight maintenance and awareness) + a perfectionist mind set + body image issues + spending hours researching and figuring out numbers = disaster.

My seemingly harmless diets spiraled over my college years into a full-fledged eating disorder. As hard as it is to talk about, I suffered from anorexia. Sparing the dark details as to how and why, let’s just say it was the worst time in my life. I didn’t feel like myself and I was fully isolated from everyone I loved and cared about. The eating disorder hospital was the hardest struggle I have ever had to take on. This paired with diabetes usually doesn’t turn out well.

Luckily, now two years later, I am not longer in this battle, but I feel like these sorts of issues need to be talked about. I know I am not the only one that has issues like this, and I feel like a conversation needs to be started about the emphasis put on diabetics and food. The main focus when I was diagnosed was put on food (or at least in my mind). It was the one aspect of this uncontrollable and frustrating disease that I had some control over. However, I now have a more balanced mind-set, and know different coping skills and tools that can help me when I have a tough day, week, or month.

Everyone has different struggles, but always know that there is someone who feels the same way, or has gone though similar issues. There isn’t one way to overcome an eating disorder, and it is something that can be a struggle your entire life, and is for many people, but I would say that having supportive, loving people around you makes it easier. It was the toughest struggle of my life, and at some times, I didn’t even know if I would be free of it. I would say the most important thing I can say is that if you are struggling, tell someone. Eating disorders usually come with a lot of embarrassment and shame, and they are hard to explain to people sometimes, but starting the conversation is the most important part.

*   *   *

Megan completed her studies at DePaul University in Chicago, majored in communications, and is now working for a vitamins and supplements company. She blogs at Type 1 Diabetes: The Stuff Doctors Don't Tell You!, so skip over and to read her posts and welcome her to the DOC.

May 18, 2011

Looking Back: Wedded...nesday.

Today is my third wedding anniversary, and Chris and I are happily on vacation, spending some much-needed time away from the Internet and together with each other.  And to mark my anniversary here on SUM, I'm revisiting a post from three years ago that answered (for me, at least) the age old question of "Where the hell do I hide my insulin pump in my wedding dress?"

*   *   *

Yesterday I wrote about my wedding, focusing on the parts that meant the most to me:  the man I love, our families and friends, the church service, saying "I do," and dancing ourselves silly at the reception.

But diabetes was a part of my wedding day.  We did our best to keep it quiet and unnoticed, though, using several tricky methods.  I'm like a diabetes wedding magician ... sort of.

First things first:  the dress.  Wearing an insulin pump is the easiest and least intrusive way for me to take my insulin, and I wasn't about to go off the pump just for the sake of fashion.  My solution?  Design a pocket to hold my insulin pump, hidden in my wedding dress.  I spoke with the seamstress at Ye Olde Bridal Shoppe and she and I designed something that left the pump accessible, yet hidden.

Insulin pump hidden in the wedding dress

Even if you were looking for it, the pump pocket was almost impossible to find.  Hidden along the seam of my wedding gown, it was held shut with a small piece of velcro.

Reaching into the pocket.

The hole cut in the seam was just big enough to fit my hand into, so I could reach for the pump.

Pulling the pump from my pocket

The hole was big enough for the pump to be pulled through. 

Wedding day bolusing

And once it was free, I could make whatever adjustments I needed and then slip the pump back into its pocket.

Insulin pump hidden in pocket.

The pocket itself was underneath the main fabric of the dress, attached to the petticoat.  It was sized to be about half an inch bigger than my insulin pump, leaving room for my hands to reach in and access the pump.  We stuck a safety pin to the top of the pocket so that when I reached in, I could feel around quickly for the pin and know exactly where the top of the pocket was located.  This made pump retrieval and replacement very easy.

Concealed!

The tubing itself went from the top of the pump, through a hole cut into the petticoat, and attached to the infusion site on my right thigh.  I had to plan ahead of time where my infusion set would be located so the pocket could be properly situated.

And during the entire course of my wedding, no one had any clue that I was wearing my insulin pump in my wedding dress.  Even my friends who know about it couldn't find it unless I pointed it out.  I felt empowered and like a secret agent ... only the bridal version.  

So insulin pump:  check.  And I had a few other tricks up my sleeve.  Like the flowers carried by my maid of honor:

Flowers with low blood sugar backup treater

After speaking with the florist, she devised a small pocket in the ribbon of NBF's bouquet.  This pocket could hold a life saver (as pictured) or even a tube of cake gel.  As I stood at the altar, I felt safe knowing that NBF had a quick dose of sugar at the ready, if I needed it. 

Diabetes, on the whole, didn't affect my day enough to matter.  I danced, ate cake, and experienced a wild array of emotions.  But there were a few moments when it required some attention.  Like after the ceremony at the church, when I tested and realized my blood sugar had cruised up from 156 mg/dl pre-ceremony to a whopping 380 mg/dl afterwards.  (Nerves - they hit me right in the A1c.)  Before the ceremony, I was running on the high end, cresting up around 160 - 180 mg/dl and holding steady.  And during the reception, I was too excited to eat much, so I let my numbers run higher there, too, to compensate for all the dancing. 

I did have a pretty aggressive low blood sugar just before our first dance, but thanks to my fast-as-lightning maid of honor, a glass of orange juice from the bar held me steady as we were announced on the dance floor as Mr. and Mrs. Christopher and Kerri Sparling. 

"I'm a little low," I admitted to Chris as the opening bars to "The Luckiest" played from the speakers.  He held me close and gave me a smile.

"You'll be fine.  Just focus on me.  As far as I can tell, there's no one else in this room but you." 

You may have had your moments, Diabetes, but my wedding day was mine.

*   *   *

And for more photos of ladies rocking their pumps in their wedding dresses, check out this post!

May 17, 2011

Guest Post: The Reasons I'm Healthy.

While I'm traveling this week, I thankfully have people like Alex Jordan, who are willing to jump in and offer up a guest post.  Alex is a PWD from England, and today he's sharing the story of two wonderful women in his life that made a huge difference in his diabetes care.

*   *   *

Thanks, Alex, for posting!I’ve been a type 1 diabetic for the best part of 20 years now. I have also lived in 5 different countries, only one of which had a decent health care system. Interestingly, it has also been the case that almost the entirety of my health care has come from that one country. Further, for a period of roughly 12 years, my diabetic care all came from one hospital, and mostly one person.

The reason for this is pretty simple. My father worked in the oil industry, and as such, where there was oil, he was duly shipped out to handle it. However, oil is rarely found in countries with a health care system anywhere near that of the UK’s. When I was very young (6-7) I had the relative luck of being a patient in one of the best diabetic hospitals in the country. My mother, being the woman that she is, quickly made friends with my diabetic nurse, and kept in regular contact with her, as only a maternal instinct can make people do.

Not long after that, a period of upheaval started occurring, culminating with us moving to Bolivia when I was 11. Even whilst in the depths of the Amazonian rainforest, my mother still managed to keep in touch with the diabetic nurse in the UK, and she was always available should anything have gone wrong. By rights, I was no concern of hers, as I was about as far away from Oxford as was feasibly possible. However, I was still her patient, and I imagine even to this day that’s how she’d view me.

Whilst in Bolivia, I still remained under the guard of the National Health Service as well, and was kept suitably well supplied by my father, during his many business trips back to the UK. For anyone familiar with a UK pharmacy, getting a prescription filled in under 48hrs was, back then, a minor miracle. And so life continued. I don’t think I ever saw a doctor in Bolivia about my diabetes, but instead went back to the UK twice a year, to see the same diabetic nurse. The continuity of care throughout this experience was astonishing, and could certainly not have been achieved without my parents, who, although I don’t tell them enough, I am eternally grateful to for all the work they did in order to keep me healthy.

At around age 15, I returned to the UK to attend boarding school, whilst my family moved to Brazil. My school was around 2hours away from the hospital, and yet I continued to journey there, in taxis funded out of my parents’ pockets. Since coming to College, that relationship has sadly ended, and I have not seen that hospital in several years. All I know is that the continuity of care made my diabetes bearable in a time of relative turmoil where by rights it should have wreaked damage upon my body.

And it probably would have were it not for that one diabetic nurse, and my parents. Its not every day that you get to look back and reflect upon how rare people like this are. But I think my mother, in her infinite wisdom, saw what a brilliant diabetic nurse this woman was, and held on tight. All I can suggest, is that if you do find someone like this, do as my mother did. Genuinely great healthcare professionals aren’t a dime a dozen, and I can only thank my mother for realising this. Between them, these two exceptionally strong women are the reason I am as healthy as I am. It is a shame not all can be as lucky.

*   *   *

Alex's bio (which I haven't changed because I like it just the way he wrote it, here, there and everywhere and all):  "I've been a type 1 diabetic since I was two, and haven't really experienced anything other than living with diabetes.  Since traveled here, there and God-knows-where, and have eventually settled back in the UK to pursue a Law Degree, with the possibility of specialising in Medical Law in the future. And you can find me (sporadically) tweeting about diabetes and soccer at @alexhjordan."

May 16, 2011

Help From the DOC!

Hey guys. I'm checking in from vacation as a favor to a friend. I received a request for assistance and I wanted to see if anyone in the community could help. Here's the email: "Does anyone in the D.O.C. Have experience with a 18 year old (and hence legally independent) who struggles with both bipolar issues and type 1? Particularly with regard to situations where the swings of bipolar are such that self distructive behavior is involved. Self destructive actions beyond but including even rudimentary type 1 care. Any references to expert help, or experience with legal proceedings that may facilitate loved ones intervening are appreciated." Due to the sensitivity of this request, I am closing comments, but if you can help in any way, please email me at kerri (at) sixuntilme (dot) com. I will forward your email to this reader, if that is okay. Okay, back to vacation mode. And, as always, thank you guys so much for your help. The DOC rocks hard.

Guest Post: Alissa Carberry, Gluten-Free Style.

A gluten-free life doesn't mean you eat rabbit food all day long.  And thankfully, today's guest post is out to prove just that.  Alissa Carberry is a Clara Barton Camp alum, fellow person with type 1 diabetes, and rockin' a gluten-free lifestyle, thanks to celiac disease.  Today, she's offered to guest post about life with diabetes, celiac, and the power of a good old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich.  Take it away, Alissa!

*   *   *

Alissa is awesome.  See post for details.  :)It’s a double whammy:  I’m standing at a birthday party for a friend, and there’s a large birthday cake, waiting to be cut up and devoured.  It’s like that scene in Office Space, where everyone’s passing slices around and there’s that one kid waiting and waiting for his slice.  When a piece gets to me, I politely refuse it, putting a hand out and saying “Oh, no thanks!”

“Ohhhhh, because of your diabetes, right? No sugar?”

And thus begins the difficulty of having two autoimmune disease- type 1 diabetes and Celiac Disease.

It’s one thing to explain why I only drink diet soda and have sugar free maple syrup. I pinky promise strangers that eating a candy bar won’t kill me.  But a slice of chocolate cake?  An entirely different story.

In the middle of my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance- no more wheat, barley, rye or oats, cutting out the staples of a lazy teenager’s life: no pizza, cookies, rice krispies, or sandwiches.  You name it and it’s sold in a box, it probably has gluten in it.  I had to re-learn food labels, hunting for the ingredients that are waaay down at the bottom of the list- who knew that lindt truffles needed barley to taste so good?

Suddenly, I had to make all the decisions on where we eat, and my friends were thrown into temporary insanities on remembering not to offer me most of the foods they ate-diabetes was tricky enough, but now they were worried they’d “poison” me too.  We joked I was part bunny-rabbit, eating carrots and lettuce, laughing that my parents wouldn’t need a lawn mower anymore because I could just eat the grass.

And then this little bunny rabbit had to go to college.  A school filled with tons of students and many a place to eat.  Within the first week of going to UVM (University of Vermont), a girl on my floor had found me a poster, advertising for the first ever meeting of ... A GLUTEN FREE CLUB?! It couldn’t be! I felt the cilia dancing in my stomach as I went to the first meeting a week later.

Entering the room, I found a group of people that were just like me- tired of eating lettuce and salad.  “No more!” we cried, holding our carrots in the air, waving them around. (Alright, so not quite, but you get the picture)  We used our hunger as a tool and began having bi-weekly meetings, cooking gluten free dinners together and trading tips on living the life on a campus where the dining halls made an almost half-hearted effort.

Within the year we became a student government recognized club, receiving a club budget and our own sga website. The dining halls have slowly but surely become more accommodating, although quite a few of the workers still haven’t a clue what the word ‘gluten’ even means.  We’ve used our voices (and our intestinal tract!) to make an impact, and are spreading knowledge all across campus.  Recently, we’ve teamed up with a non-profit, Feel Good, to sell gluten-free grilled cheese.  And let me tell you, there’s nothing better than the taste of grilled, savory inclusion.

*   *   *

Alissa Carberry is a junior at UVM, majoring in Early Childhood Special  Education, with a minor in sassiness and autoimmune education.  A very recent alum of Clara Barton Camp, Alissa loves talking about her diabetes, answering questions about her "pager," and drinking all the iced coffee she can get her hands on.  (Editor's note:  I'm drinking all the iced coffee Alissa doesn't have her hands on.)  Alissa loves all things poetry related, dress-related, and gluten-free related.  

May 14, 2011

D-Blog Week: Snapshots.

My next endocrinologist appointment is at the end of June, but I needed to spot-check where my A1C was at.  My last "official" A1C result was an 8.6, which for me is way too high and indicative of my attention being elsewhere (read: raising the baby, running my business, chasing Siah, etc).  I've been trying to reclaim my pre-pregnancy range of 6.8 - 7.0%, and I needed a little (hopefully) positive reinforcement that things were moving in the right direction.

After consulting with the Twittersphere to see if anyone else had tried the Bayer (not Abby) A1C Now test, and how it compared to their actual lab results.  For the most part, my fellow PWDs reported that the Bayer test was in the ballpark of their lab work, which reinforced my decision to spend $30 on this at-home test.

Even if this is off by a little bit, it's still a better number than where I was a few months ago.  And for that, I'm very thankful.  I needed some positive reinforcement.

This might not be your A1C goal, but it's much closer to mine than where I was before.  So reserve your judgment! Also, smile more.  It's fun.

I'm going to pick up another at-home test and compare those results to my June "official" ones.  (And yes, the test is resting in our Boon bottle drying rack.  I love that stupid thing.  Makes me feel like I'm growing the little wheat grass thing that Christian and Sean had in their Nip/Tuck offices.  Whoa, diversion. But damn, I miss that show.)

May 13, 2011

D-Blog Week: Awesome Things.

Diabetes has some seriously dark, rotten moments and doesn't add much to my life, but the few things it has given me are almost as priceless as what it's taken away.

Some of my favorite d-family.

Diabetes has given me an extended family of people who really understand.  And it's also given me a deep appreciation for my family at home.

We were outside sniffing the flowers in the garden, and when we came inside, she tried to sniff the flowers on the wall of her bedroom.  Sigh ...

Family, friends, and support are what get us through the tough times with diabetes.  You guys are the Awesome Things.  And this whole D-Blog Week has proven that a million times over.   Much love to the DOC!!! 

May 12, 2011

D-Blog Week: Ten Things I Hate About You, Diabetes.

It's not a list of "hate," but it's definitely a list of "Can't Stands."Kerri's Take on Day Four of D-Blog Week:

Ooh, let the ranting begin!

  1. I can't stand the doctor appointments.  I can handle the daily finger pricks and the discomfort of different diabetes devices, but I hate taking time to see my various doctors.  I know proactive care is important to my overall health, but sometimes I don't have the freaking time.  I hate scheduling doctor appointments into my already over-scheduled day.  And I hate the guilt that comes with not scheduling.
  2. Which brings me to the guilt.  I can't stand the guilt that comes with diabetes, the little added bonus of emotional upheaval.  There's enough to manage with this demanding disease, never mind the freaking guilt.
  3. As much as I am thankful for the diabetes hardware (the pumps, the continuous glucose monitors, the glucose meters), sometimes I just want to wear a summer dress and carry a teeny little purse and have that be the end of it.
  4. I can't stand overly complicated relationships with food.  It's hard to explain to people why grocery shopping makes me feel guilty in a million different ways.  (Apparently, you get a free subscription to disordered eating when you are handed your diabetes diagnosis.  Stellar.)
  5. I can't stand how lows make me a fumbling, crying mess.  And how they truly scare me, like nothing else can.
  6. I can't stand when people want to tell me how to cure my diabetes.  Just the other day, an older guy in a store struck up a conversation with me about how a green smoothie was "sure to cure me of my need for insulin."  And then proceeded to tell me that once my baby was three years old, I'd probably be off my injections, "especially if I buy those supplements over in aisle nine."  I respect people's opinions, but there isn't a cure for the need for insulin.  Everyone needs it.  It's just the method of how we "get it" that varies, depending on the functionality of your pancreas.  ;)
  7. I can't stand the worry.  Diabetes isn't just mine to worry about; this worry belongs to my parents, my husband, my friends, and now my child.   And the worry isn't just focused on the immediate repercussions of a low or high blood sugar.  Diabetes worries include moments far into the future that I hope to have.  It's weird to worry about not making it to those future worries.
  8. I can't stand being told "At least you don't have _____."  Yes, I'm thankful I don't have ______, but I'm not exactly thrilled about having diabetes.  
  9. (I can't stand how easy it is to make a list of ten things that suck about diabetes.)
  10. You know, sometimes I just plain can't stand diabetes.  It pisses me off like nothing else can, but at the same time, I have reached a weird level of acceptance that makes it easier to come down from those moments of rage.  It's not that I enjoy diabetes (nope, not by a long shot), but I'm not afraid to be mad at it.  And apathetic about it.  And even proud of what I've accomplished because/in spite of it. 

These are my diabetes frustration points, but my list o' ten doesn't compare to the (mostly) anonymous feedback from the community on the Postsecret post a few months ago.  Revisit that post for some raw and powerful feedback about this frustrating disease.

Phew.  Today was a bit of a downer prompt.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow's "Things I Like" posts.  :)

D-Blog Week: Things Abby Hates.

Abby hates stuff.Abby's Take on D-Blog Week, Day Four:

I try not to think about these things all that often, but it sure does feel good to write them down and tell the world that sometimes diabetes just sucks, like, entirely. (Also, I realize I smushed a bunch of things into #10, so sue me.)

  1. I hate feeling high at the most inopportune moments. For example: any moment of any day, ever.
  2. I hate feeling low in the middle of something very important, like a lecture about trauma nursing which would probably be more beneficial to my future patients if I could focus.
  3. I hate the ugly marks my stupid pump sites leave on my body.
  4. I hate trying to find places to hide my pump in new outfits, and the way that a pump-in-the-pocket looks like I have an extra 5 inches of hips that I don’t really have. Cute.
  5. I hate waking up with a bg over 150 mg/dL and forcing myself to wait to eat my favorite meal of the day.
  6. I hate that I have to ingest so many more chemicals than people without diabetes in the form of fake sugar to drink a cup of coffee. (Truthfully I’d probably still use fake sugar without diabetes, but I’d like to have that choice.)
  7. I hate that I have to tell people I have diabetes, especially professors, employers, people who have a pulse, etc.
  8.  I hate that constant fear that people will not want to be my friend (platonic or otherwise) because my pancreas has been on strike for 13 years. Superficial or not, it hurts to think about.
  9.  I HATE NEEDLES AND NOBODY EVER GETS USED TO THE FEELING OF SHARP THINGS STABBING INTO THEIR SKIN EVER.
  10. I hate that so many people are living this way every single day and there is no cure. I hate that this disease causes so much worry, controversy, and pain. I hate that I've put a pump site into a 6-year-old while she was crying alligator tears screaming for her mom. I effing hate diabetes. #rawr
*   *   *
(This post is part of the Second Annual D-Blog Week.  To participate, check out the details on Karen's blog!  And thanks, as always, to Karen for organizing such a great advocacy effort.)

May 11, 2011

D-Blog Week: Diabetes Bloopers!!

Bloopahs:  They follow the imperfect and the awkward, and I am unfortunately a prime candidate for them.  While some seem to lead lives of graceful elegance, I'm more the one who calls out inappropriate things in crowded restaurants and unsettles apples at the grocery store.  (And may or may not have fought spiders in sweatervests and foreign girls in bathrooms, but that's a whole different post.)

For today's D-Blog Day post, I'm going vloggy and sharing some blooper reels from the vlog archives.  Because everyone needs to know where the garbage truck, garbage truck is (video two):



But these bloopers are just diabetes vlog ones. Real diabetes bloopers are the missed boluses, the tubing caught on door knobs, and the utter chaos of diabetes management. They are plentiful; some awkward, some dangerous, and some downright ridiculous. What are yours?

D-Blog Week: Diabetes Bloopers (From Abby)

Bloopahs!!Abby's Take on D-Blog Week, Day Three:

While sitting here thinking about my bloopers, and I am quickly realizing most of them concern my pump. So pumpy, I’m sorry, for all that I have put you and your mom-pump and gradmom-pump through.

One time I got into my mom’s car so quickly that I didn’t realize my pump had fallen out of my pocket. The tubing/site combination was conveniently located so that the pump sat right where the door meets the car. You guessed it, big ol’ smash-a-roo.  My green Minimed 508 came out of that debacle with only a crack but had to be replaced anyway. Whoops.

And then there were all those times I forgot my pump. Now, I know what you’re saying. “How could you possibly forget your pump??” Let me tell you, it’s easier than you’d think. I always took my pump off during dance class and cheer practice, unless I had been running high or we were having less-active practices.  This lead to many phone calls back to the studio/gym/school asking if they’d found my pump and if so to keep it safe for me until I got there. My dance teacher in college actually got to the point where she reminded me before I left to make sure I had it with me.

Embarrassing, but thank goodness for her, because it was a long trek to my dorm room from the studio in those cold Vermont winters.

I also distinctly remember one time in high school when my family and I went up to Lake George on a Thursday night to watch fireworks and get ice cream. Left pumpy on my bed for that one. Didn’t realize it until halfway through a small soft-serve cone. Double whoops.

Even though my pump currently dons a zebra print skin sticker from skin-it (which I got for free from camp because I refuse to pay $15 for a piece of fancy duct-tape with designs on it), my pumpies have seen less attractive days. Interesting choices including, but not limited to, nail polish, my name in sharpies, a sticker version of a picture of me and my 10th grade boyfriend, a collage of tiny stickers at camp thanks to my nurse-friend who I think majored in pump decorating in college, and the collection of neoprene zip-up cases I had in middle school to match every outfit/costume/uniform I ever wore.

Then there was that time I fully corrected a 370something at 10pm with no symptoms, and 15 minutes later was 45. Probably should’ve triple checked that weird high reading, rather than spending the night with small doses of glucagon and PB&J sandwiches.

How about when I forgot to bolus LAST WEEK for dinner. Yep, even after thirteen years, I forget I have diabetes.

In conclusion: diabetes bloopers are funny, but only in hindsight.

*   *   *

(This post is part of the Second Annual D-Blog Week.  To participate, check out the details on Karen's blog!  And thanks, as always, to Karen for organizing such a great advocacy effort.)

May 10, 2011

D-Blog Week: Letter Writing Day.

All the shit I wish I had known.  I mean, the stuff I wish I had known.Dear Littler Me,

I wish you'd known you weren't alone.  That even though you didn't have a bunch of friends with diabetes (YET) when you were growing up, you still had lots of friends.  And a family that loved you.  And people who didn't understand exactly what it meant to be "low" or "high," but they wanted to, and they tried.

I wish you had known that there were other kids just like you.  It wasn't until you spent your summers at Clara Barton Camp that you realized just how normal diabetes was for some families.  That some kids woke up every morning, just like you did, and shot up.  Or that some kids were hounded by their parents to "just let me check your pee for ketones, okay?"  

I wish you had known that doctors lie.  That when they said, "This won't hurt a bit," it was going to hurt anyway.  That when they promised not to draw blood from your arm unless your parents were there, they lied and instead stole into your hospital room at 1 am and woke you up with their midnight vampirism.  I wish you had known that when they said, "Kids may not be in your future," you didn't have to believe them.

I wish you had known about the impact of sorbitol and other sugar-substitutes on your little kid tummy.  Dude, that stuff will wreck you up right proper.  And for days.

I wish you hadn't written those notes on the backs of school quizzes and then stuck them into your Bible for safe-keeping.  The ones that included long diatribes about how some girls in your class didn't understand.  Or about how you were 385 mg/dl and you had eaten the cupcakes you claimed to have ignored, and you wish you felt brave enough to confess to your mom.  I wish I didn't find those notes 18 years after the fact.  I wish I hadn't remembered how isolated and guilty and scared I felt at those times.

I wish you had known that, despite the excuses you wanted to make, that every day matters.  I'm glad you know it now, but I need you to remember it more.  Every day matters, Kerri.  Yesterday may not have been the best diabetes day, but today can be better.  Stress and work and vacations and traveling and motherhood will always be there.  You need to learn how to dance between those raindrops and still give your health the attention it deserves.

I wish you had known that pumping insulin was going to be an easier transition than you thought.  I know you were scared about having an "external symptom" of diabetes, and worried about the implication of "robot parts" on your dating life, but it wasn't an issue at all.  (Your husband hasn't ever known you without the pump - who would have thought?!)  

I wish you had known, in that moment of diagnosis, that it was going to be okay.  There are ups and downs with everything, and diabetes is part of that ebb and flow, but there is life to be lived - a good life - even with diabetes.  You have some extra issues to deal with as a result of this disease, but you will be okay.  Remember that, especially when you feel overwhelmed now, as an adult.  Don't lose hope, even in that cure that's been promised to you five times over now. And don't, for crying out loud, let any kind of pity party overtake who you are.

I wish you had known that you CAN eat that, and you CAN do that, and you CAN work there, and you CAN love him, and you CAN be loved back, and you CAN be happy.  So go DO and BE, child.  Enjoy every minute, because it goes by in a blink.

Love,
Future You

*   *  *

(This post is part of the Second Annual D-Blog Week.  To participate, check out the details on Karen's blog!  And thanks, as always, to Karen for organizing such a great advocacy effort.)

D-Blog Week: Letter Writing Day (From Abby)

Welcome to the Abby Bayer mailbag.

Welcome to Abby's Collection of Short Notes to Key Diabetes Players, Volume 1:

Dear Pinky Fingers,

I know that my toes get all the press when it comes to diabetes, but I have to tell you, you are my favorite digit in diabetes land. You never result in an 'Err5' on my meter, I almost never get re-gushers from you, and no matter how cold my little fingertips get, you never fail to step up and give me blood. Thanks for everything you do, and keep up the good work.

-Abby
---

Dear Abdomen,

You and I don’t see eye-to-eye and haven’t since the Silhouette era when I used you, and only you, for about 5 years.  I get that you are tired of sharp things invading your space, but I have to tell you I think it’s time to stop complaining. Can we come to a compromise? You function without extreme pain and occlusions with the new fabulous pink Mios that I use, if I promise to never use you for a sensor? How’s that sound? Let me know what you decide.

-Abby
---

Dear Everyone I’ve Ever Known,

Sorry for talking about diabetes, camp, friends with diabetes, friends from camp, my blood sugars, my pump, my doctor appointments, and Diet Coke so much. I’ll try to tone it down.

-Abby

P.S. If I know you from nursing school, I’m sorry for the way I acted in every class that diabetes was mentioned.
---

Dear Mom,

You can have the vegetable drawer back in 4 months.

-Abigail

*   *   *

(This post is part of the Second Annual D-Blog Week.  To participate, check out the details on Karen's blog!  And thanks, as always, to Karen for organizing such a great advocacy effort.)

May 09, 2011

D-Blog Week: Admiring Our Differences.

Diabetes Blog Week = <3Kerri's take on D-Blog Week:

Heroes don't always wear capes.  It's not a requirement.  But if any of these people busted out with a bedazzled cape, I wouldn't be surprised.  :)

The people who take care of children with diabetes are my heroes.  Moms and dads, grandmas and grandfathers, aunts and uncles and siblings - all saving lives every day with their love, compassion, and dedication.  My parents - in particular my mother - helped me understand what diabetes meant and how to make it part of my life while respecting it, doing our best not to resent it, and recognizing that it doesn't own me.  The caregivers of children with diabetes are the kinds of people who change lives, and are the living illustrations of "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."

The people who share their life experiences with type 2 diabetes are heroes.  People with type 2 diabetes are the societal majority, but seem to be the online minority.  Their stories aren't often told, but need to be, because while their community is so much like the type 1 community, sometimes their emotional and physical needs are different.  I have high respect for the type 2 bloggers who share their stories and combat the blame, guilt, and misconceptions unfairly associated with their disease.

The spouses of people with diabetes are heroes.  Not just the spouses - the boyfriends and girlfriends and life partners and significant others - these people did not actively seek a partner with diabetes, but they live alongside this condition with us as though it is their own.  They don't have to ask about every blood sugar result or come along on every doctor's appointment to be our support system.  They love us, and in that love, we can find strength when we need it most. 

The lurkers are heroes.  (Hi, Lurkers!  You rock.)  There are a lot of people who write about life with diabetes, but there are even more who are living with it, and maybe quietly lurking on diabetes blogs and in patient communities, looking for perspectives to help them better understand their child's diabetes, or their co-worker's, or their own.

And my fellow type 1 PWDs are heroes.  Diagnosed as adults or as kids, we're living with a The diabetes community is crammed with superheroes.  Capes optional.  :)disease that varies so greatly but yet bonds so tightly.  We are parents with diabetes.  We are ninjas.  We're living with a mess of a disease that society barely recognizes and that is relentless in its daily requirements, but together, we keep research and awareness moving forward. Our numbers are small but our voice can be so LOUD.

There are a lot of differences within this one community, but so much is the same.  We all want to be healthy, inspired, and supported.  As a community, we're as tough as they come, and more unified than we think.  When the glucocoaster starts rolling, we call out our advocacy unicorns, lean on one another, and stay tough. 

(This post is part of the Second Annual D-Blog Week.  To participate, check out the details on Karen's blog!  And thanks, as always, to Karen for organizing such a great advocacy effort.)

D-Blog Week: Admiring our Differences (From Abby)

Abby's take on D-Blog Week:

Day One of D-Blog Week:  From Abby!I’m selfish. I’ll admit it. I’m 23 years-old, have never lived on my own (with the exception of sharing a house with 4 other girls – but I didn’t pay rent or utilities or even my own car insurance), and for the most part I have survived in this AbbyBubble my whole life. This past year has opened my eyes a little, though, to a LOT of the world around me. Especially when it comes to the perspectives of others with diabetes in their lives.

The blog type that has opened my eyes the most are the ones from parents of kids with type 1 diabetes. I was a kid with type 1, and I have absolutely no idea how my mom dealt with that. Reading some of the blogs of people who are currently raising tiny humans with diabetes is astonishing.  I have no idea how you guys do it, and I really plan on never finding out if I can help it (yes, I have The Thought and I’m not having kids for a verrrrrry long time).  The blog that I read most often is Reyna’s, probably because I babysat for her a few times back in my SMC years.  I remember how fun those kids were, but let me tell you, by the time Reyna and Dave came back, I was tired. Seriously how do you do that 24/7 AND manage Joe’s diabetes? I don’t get it at all. Mad respect, yo. 

As much as I want to have kids someday, I’m really deathly afraid of producing another busted pancreas.  And I know that type 1 isn’t all that bad, I mean, I’ve had it for thirteen years and I’m still completely awesome, but I’d rather just not take that risk.  I also have a few really intense genetic issues in my family which I’m also not looking to pass on (which is a whole different story for a whole different day and probably a whole different blog that doesn’t belong to Kerri).I

have so much admiration for you, the parents of kids with diabetes. I can’t even put it into words. The way you bend over backward to make your children feel as normal as possible is the most selfless lifestyle I could imagine.  You all give me hope, that if I do decide to reproduce my mostly superb genes, that there is life after hearing “your child has type 1 diabetes” and a ginormous support group out there just waiting to help.

*   *   *

(This post is part of the Second Annual D-Blog Week.  To participate, check out the details on Karen's blog!  And thanks, as always, to Karen for organizing such a great advocacy effort.)

May 06, 2011

Bandaids.

September will mark 25 years for me with type 1 diabetes, but I still haven't learned that an afternoon of lazy 200+ mg/dl's that won't budge, even after multiple boluses (and one really solid rage bolus where I actually grunted "You. Frigging. Diabetes." as my fingers mashed the buttons), after repeated tests that showed climbing numbers ... wouldn't you think I'd inspect that infusion set?  Maybe just give it a peek?  See how things are doing there, on the back of my hip, where that 6 mm cannula is resting (hopefully) comfortably?

Oh, you mean I shouldn't have waited until I smelled that distinct scent?  The one that smells like a cross between bandaids and the dentist's office?  And then, when I dabbed at the gauze patch around my site and felt the dampness, I still didn't really hone in on it because I was so high that everything was on like a 20 minute delay?

Wait, you mean this isn't normal?

Yes, I should have responded to the alarms on my Dexcom but I was so spaceshot, I didn't.  Instead, I regrettably spent over three hours at about 300 mg/dl (the Dex was off, saying I was 400 mg/dl plus when I was actually 304 mg/dl). With, of course, the corresponding morning low this morning:

It's like watching my diabetes fall off a literal cliff.

And then the slight bounce after over-treating the low by about two sips of juice.  I understand the "glucocoaster," but this is frigging ridiculous.

Today is a new day.  Today is a new day.  Today is a new day.  (I need to have that tattooed on my hand.)

May 05, 2011

The Word ...

Sometimes, after a week of poked-in-the-eye chaos and being blinded for a few days and needing to declare email bankruptcy and a few tangled-up work projects and booking this summer's insane travel schedule and finding that huge spider in the bathroom (but then not being able to find it because of my crumbled cornea so now I live in fear of that spider climbing up on the shower curtain and cutting me with my Lady Bic) ... sometimes I just need to remember that Bird is the word. 

I really do love this little bird.

And that happily looking forward always helps.

May 04, 2011

Guest Post: Alabama PWDs Need Your Help.

This guest post is from fellow diabetes blogger Victoria Cumbow, and her message couldn't be more important.  She is a journalist by day and a diabetes advocate by night. She works a journalist for The Huntsville Times in Huntsville, AL, and is actively involved in her local diabetes community.  Victoria regularly blogs about her life as a young professional living with type 1 diabetes at Dia-Beat-This, and tweets as @victoriacumbow. And today she's writing about the tornadoes in Alabama and their effect on our fellow PWD.  Please read her post, see if you can help, and pass this info on!!

*  *  *

Photo credit to Victoria Cumbow and her cell phone.Last week, my state was devastated beyond belief after a series of tornadoes swept across the northern counties of Alabama. In Madison County, where I live, eight people died. In DeKalb County, 33 people lost their lives. In another county, 39 people died. In another, 35. So far, more than 230 lives have been lost, but in Tuscaloosa, more than 200 people are still missing and unaccounted for.
 
As a newspaper journalist, I've seen this devastation first-hand. It's beyond anything you can imagine. The pictures don't show the pain and the suffering. The pictures don't show the heartbreak and the loss. Volunteers have stepped up and answered the call, but there's another need people sometimes forget in moments of natural disaster and chaos -- the needs of diabetics.
 
In Alabama, 10 percent of the population lives with a form of diabetes, per the CDC. So what the pictures don't show are the dozens, if not hundreds, of diabetics affected by these storms. I spoke to a woman three days ago who called me desperate for insulin. She had enough Novalog to last two more days, but had been without Lantus for several days. She couldn't reach her doctor because there was no power throughout the county for six days. Through donations from the DOC, she now has a vial of both.
 
So in addition to the disaster left behind by the twisters, we were left to pick up the pieces in the dark. No refrigerators, no gas, no cell phones once they died. People lost every belonging they owned, and some lost every diabetic supply they had stored. No meters. No strips. No glucose tabs. No pumps. No way to test ketones. With no power, the only thing to eat were carbs and junk food. Most proteins were lost with the power of refrigerators.
 
I wanted to help, but from my newsroom, I couldn't do very much other than through my words. So I began to write. I blogged about our immediate needs and people began to respond. I blogged more, I tweeted more and I Facebooked more. People from across the DOC answered the call. And they're not finished yet. We are still in need of many supplies. For starters, the biggest needs include meters, strips and all types of insulin. Beyond that, anything else is appreciated. You can send:

  • pump supplies
  • syringes
  • lancets
  • alcohol swabs
  • batteries for pumps and meters
  • glucose tablets
  • glucagon
  • ketone strips

And anything else you can think of. Please make sure all supplies are unopened and not expired. If mailing insulin, please package properly. Also make sure any personal labels are removed from the packages.
 
All supplies can be mailed to the Huntsville JDRF office at 2225 Drake Ave., Office 17, Suite K, Huntsville, Alabama 35805. Mark the box as D-Supplies for Tornado Relief. Address them to Victoria Cumbow and Karen Morris.
 
So far, this volunteer effort has been incredible as local JDRF and ADA offices are working together with local politicians, the Medical Reserve Corps and local endocrinology offices. As a friend said, a ripple is small, but many ripples make a wave.

*   *   *

To further these efforts, you can also help by making a donation to the local Alabama Red Cross at this address: 1101 Washington Street, Huntsville, AL 35801. People can also donate $10 to relief efforts by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999.  Help make a wave!!!

Six Since 'Six Until Me.'

Happy birthday, BloggyWoggyBoo!  (What, you don't have a pet name for your blog?)Six years ago, I was talking with my then-boyfriend about how I felt a little isolated with my type 1 diabetes, and how I wanted to connect with others who had it.

"How about you start a blaaaaaaaaaagh?"  (Which is how I heard the word.  Like it was the sound of someone vomiting.  Which I guess is one way of describing a blog - like a vomit of information?  Hmmm.  I went off the rails a bit with that.  /digression)

"Okay, what's a blaaaaaaaagh?"

And he showed me.  And I posted my first post over at Blogspot. And then I met other bloggers, like Violet and Scott, and this whole world of people living with diabetes was opened up for me.  I didn't feel alone anymore.  And now I had a place to talk about diabetes with people who really understood all the nitty-gritty aspects of this disease - people who spoke my language.  

Today is the sixth birthday of Six Until Me, and I can't thank you guys enough for sticking with me for six years, and for being such an integral part of my emotional health.  Managing the blood sugars of diabetes is one thing, but managing the psycho-social aspects of this disease is an entirely different animal, and for me, a good support system is as vital as insulin.

Over the last six years, my life has changed to include a proposal, a wedding, plenty of travel, some triumphs and tough stuff, and the birth of my daughter.  I've gone from a single 20-something to a married mama, chronicling each step and the diabetes impact on my blog.  I wanted to confirm for myself, and for others, that there is a life after diagnosis, and it can be a fun one.  (And I have to thank my very supportive husband, who lets me share a lot of personal things on this here blog - Chris, you are a brave soul, suggesting that I blaaaaagh.  Love you.) 

A big THANK YOU to all of the SUM readers and people who continue to support the outreach efforts of patient bloggers.  (And to Abby, for being so tolerant of my 2 am emails.)  Sharing our stories helps to bridge gaps between patients and their caregivers, and I couldn't be prouder and more grateful of this community.

(Now I'm off to don my pirate patch and see if I can get Siah to sit on my shoulder and politely ask for crackers.)

May 03, 2011

Cornea Chaos.

So on Sunday night, I finished singing BSparl her bedtime song and leaned in to tuck her into her crib.  But because she was giggling and reaching for me, I leaned in to give her an extra hug.

NEVER GO IN FOR THE EXTRA HUG.  

Or at least that's what someone should have whispered i my ear.

Because when I leaned it, she happened to reach up at the same time and her thumb met my eye with such force that it knocked me to my knees.  Apparently, her thumb nail scraped off a section of my cornea (or, as my eye doctor said, "You know when you eat string cheese and you pull a section of the cheese off?"  Thanks, Dr. S.  I will never, ever eat string cheese again.  Ever.) and severely damaged my eye.

"Oooh, okay bedtime now!  Night night, I love you!"  I said, and crawled out of her room.  I immediately went and called my NurseBestFriend and left her the most rambly, tear-filled message:  "I'm fine, the baby is totally fine, but she just scraped my eye mad and it's wicked painful. Should I go to the ER?"  I also called my mother and filled her in:  "Ma, the baby just tagged me in the eye and I'm in a lot of pain.  I may need you to take me to the eye doctor in the morning."  (Now is a good time to mention that Chris has been in CA for the last few days and isn't expected home for a few more.)

That night, I didn't sleep more then 45 minutes because it felt like my eyeball was on FIRE.  Every time I blinked, it was like razors were being dragged across my eye.  I didn't know such a teeny area could produce such pain!  Every time I was able to fall asleep, I must have moved my eye while sleeping, and it would wake me up in tears.  I texted my mother at 3 am with a cryptic: 'Haven't slept yet.  Eye is terrible. Please come by in the morning if you can."

I spent a sleepless night tossing and turning (I will mention that BSparl woke up for a rare 2 am screamfest, and then my pump site pulled out at 4:15 am, making it almost the perfect evening), and eventually fell asleep for about 30 minutes.  When I woke up to the sound of BSparl calling for "Mama" at 6:45 am, my eye was the size of a baseball and my whole body was freaking out.  Making her bottle and testing my blood sugar, I was like a blind mad scientist experimenting in my kitchen.  I have no idea how she and I both ended up fed and dressed before my mother arrived.

Long story condensed so that I can tell it before my eye starts to fade on me tonight, the my wonderful local eye doctor confirmed that it was a "helluva scratch" and that it would take several days to heal.  "Several days of discomfort are on tap, but I want to see you every day this week to make sure that you're healing okay." 

So for the last 48 hours, I've been flanked by friends and family, who have been staying here around the clock to take care of BSparl and to help me read my meter, dose my insulin, and take care of other diabetes tasks.  And the cast of caretakers continues to amaze me, making plans to be here 24/7 until Chris returns. (My family rocks.)

In the meantime, the best way to heal this corneal abrasion is to rest my eye.  Like lay in bed and keep my eyes closed. (See also: OMG boring and also very painful)  I have eye drops and antibiotics to prevent infection, and tonight is the first time I've been able to open my computer without literally tearing up and bailing.  But I'm a bit of a sight.  If I'm not laying in bed with my sunglasses on (like a wounded starlet on the bender of a lifetime), I'm sporting my jaunty little eye patch and some bedhead.  

Exhibit A:

Arggggg!!!  and stuff.

I can't wait for this crap to heal. Because eventually, I will run out of Photoshop ideas.

May 02, 2011

Out of Commission.

Thank you guys for your calls/emails of concern.  Everything is fine here, but I've been tagged in the eyeball by the little Bird's fingernail, and she scraped off a decent part of my cornea.  This experience has been extremely painful, and I'll be unable to see for the next few days as my eye heals, but my doctor thinks I'll make a full recovery by the end of the week. 

So thanks for the love and concern - it's much appreciated!!  I'll update once I'm further into the healing process (i.e. when I can open my eye without letting the eff word fly).  :)

- Kerri.

Visitors since November 7, 2005