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September 03, 2012

Labo(u)r Day.

It's Labor Day!  Today is the day after which people are threatened for wearing white pants (or at least in New England), and when people spend time with their families, enjoying the last few moments of summer.

Kid has inherited my carousel GLEE!!!!!

Which is why I wanted to share a few links to bits and bobs in the blogosphere, then go outside.  Bullets?  Yup.

And lastly, my thoughts are with Meri Schuhmacher and her family today as they grapple with the cruelty of cancer.  It's strange, how the passing of someone you've never met can break your heart.  Please give Meri and her family any support that you can.  And as you think of Meri and her family, please hug your own crew close.

February 22, 2011

Diabetes Terms of Endearment: Third Edition.

Diabetes Terms of Endearment:  Third EditionPeople living with and caring for diabetes have their own special language; it's a language that includes terms like "no-hitter" and "tsunami" that people without diabetes wouldn't understand, but those with it nod their heads and say "Yup.  Same here."  This dictionary is compiled from input from the fabulous diabetes community and is definitely a collaborative effort. 

Bring on the dTOES (Diabetes Terms of Endearment): Third Edition!!

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A1C twins
Two PWDs having the same A1C within the same week of endo appts

"Are You Unplugged?"
How to intimately ask if your partner has unhooked his/her pump site.  A way of subtly asking if it's sexy time.

Baby Bear number
When your number is in target, or juuuuuust right
ex. “It's almost time for lunch, go ahead and do a stick. What'd you get? Hey, great, you're Baby Bear!”

Basaling

The act or process of working out kinks in the basal rates 
ex.  “I was up half the night basaling.” or “We're skipping breakfast today because we're basaling.”

Bat Belt
The belt of a PWD (person with diabetes) who has all their diabetic accoutrements worn about their waist.  May include insulin pump, Dexcom receiver, and that grappling hook thing Batman uses to climb over buildings.


Beeg
The oral version of the abbreviation "BG" (for "blood glucose")  
ex.  “I’m checking my beeg!”

Bionic parts
A method of referring to diabetes technology instruments.  These items are often found on the aforementioned "Bat Belt."

Bolus-worthy
Food that is enticing enough that we'd take a ton insulin for it, despite any blood sugar results
ex. “That chocolate-covered cupcake looks bolus-worthy

BS-brain
aka "Blood sugar brain," the fog, agitation that seems to last all day and affects everything after a bad low or high blood sugar

Buddy Batteries

AAA Energizer pump batteries solely reserved for use in diabetes devices.  A lack of Buddy Batteries may result in an incident of D-Postal.

Case of the Ms
When your continuous glucose monitor graph looks like giant M's.  (Editor's note:  M's or W's.)

Case of the Shakies
A low blood sugar episode that causes shakiness


CDD
aka "Crappy Diabetes Day", when your blood sugar goes from 43 mg/dl in the morning, to 37 mg/dl an hour later, to 243 mg/dl at noon, to 321 mg/dl at 3 pm, back to 54 mg/dl at dinner, plus you might have an occlusion as well just to top things off.  See also: Gluco-coaster

Chaser
The bolus given when a PWD consumes a copious amount of food to treat a low blood sugar

Checka
A cuter way to reference a blood sugar check.  
ex.  “Time to checka your blood, mommy?”

Cluster-Beep
When you have to pull every single device out, from cell phone to CGMs, to figure out which one is beeping, buzzing, or just being a general pain in the arse. (It also applies to having to pull the same device out twice in 30 seconds)

D'Ambien experience
One of those middle of the night lows where you can't remember what you ate or drank, or how much, as well as any conversations you had. Quite similar to someone's night who takes Ambien.

D-Dumb
Term applied to people who just don’t "get" diabetes

D-Mom/D-Mama
The mother of a kid with diabetes, taking the disease on as their own.  See also:  Surrogate Pancreas

D-Postal

The act of lashing out as a result of societal misunderstandings of diabetes.  
ex. "You can’t possibly understand how hard it is living with diabetes, so I’d advise you to step down before I start beating you with my pump and a fist full of glucose tabs."

Diabadass
A PWD who does something awesome that non-badasses think diabetes should stop them from doing (e.g. having babies, biking across the country, playing in the NFL). See also: most members of the DOC

Diabetonese

The language of managing this madness! See also: all three editions of Diabetes Terms of Endearment

Diabuddy

A real life friend who also happens to have diabetes, too

Dia-
(can be an adjective, noun or verb) A prefix applied to any word when diabetes impacts said word.  Examples include "diafail," "diawin," and "diabadass."  Often found as Twitter hashtags and in the Clara Barton Camp dining hall conversations.
ex.  "I can't believe I forgot to bolus for the seven pancakes I ate for breakfast ... diafail!"

Diasecret
Those diabetes-related secrets that you have never told anyone

Diaversary
The anniversary of your diagnoses date, (aka the time you stick it to diabetes no matter what the blood glucose number is.  ex “We're having cake for dessert to celebrate your diaversary. You're 250? Then we'll just have to bolus extra.")

Disco Boobs
When a pump is hidden between a PWDs breasts, that moment of when it lights up and starts beeping, giving the chest area a look not unlike a disco ball.  See also: Iron Man

DOS Bag
aka "The D-Oh-Sh*t bag," the bag where a PWD carries around all of their emergency supplies (it goes everywhere) - extra infusion sets, insulin, extra strips, back up meter, juice, tabs, Glucagon, etc

Double Downing
When your continues glucose monitor graph has two down arrows, telling you you’re dropping fast

Double Rainbow Day
Means a line on the continuous glucose monitor that is inexplicably good and deserves ecstatic celebration.  See also:  What does it MEAN?

DSMA
aka #dsma aka Diabetes Social Media Advocacy.  Refers to a Twitter chat that takes place every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET, where members of the diabetes online community talk about diabetes lifestyle issues

E.T.

When your pump is still lit up inside your shirt

Exercise
Any form of physical activity, which most often effects blood sugar levels directly.  Such activities that may affect blood sugars include running, tennis, shopping, sexy moments, parking your car, lifting a pencil, and sometimes just the mere thought of exercise.

Flatlining
When your blood sugar is holding steady as seen on a continuous glucose monitor graph (see also: no-hitter)

Frankenbutt
When an old pump site is on the left side of your backside and you place the new one on the right, leaving the bum looking like Frankenstein’s neck with the bolts sticking out

Free Shower Day
Taking a shower on the day that your infusion set and/or CGM sensor are being swapped out, leaving your skin site-free

Glucocoaster
A crazy CGM graph.  Antonym:  no-hitter

Glucover
Diabetic version of a hangover. Is the after-affect of a bad late night low. Most often includes headaches and a bad taste of old orange juice and decaying glucose in your mouth. Cracker and candy wrappers and empty containers of food are often found lying around the person who is having the glucover. Most remedies include: brushing of the teeth, heavy applications of makeup to remove bags under eyes, Tylenol, and healthy binge eating.

Hard Low
There is a low and then there is a HARD LOW.  Most often coupled with standing with the refrigerator door open, eating the majority of a pound cake, and washing it down with half a bottle of grape juice.  Often followed by a Chaser

Hooked
When going about normal, everyday life and an inanimate object jumps out and grabs at an infusion set tubing, resulting in pain and/or cursing and/or the pulling out of said infusion set

H.A.B.
Huge Ass Bolus, usually taken in conjunction with huge ass meal

Insulin-Mama
The name my family calls me since my daughter regularly follows me through the house carrying crackers in her hand, saying "Insulin, Mama!"

Juicer
Another term for "insulin pump"

Lazy River Ride
An in-target CGM graph.  See also: flat-liner and no-hitter

Leaning
The act of standing quietly while low trying to hide a low blood sugar "lean" and someone notices you slightly tipping over

Liver Dump
When your blood glucose rebounds after a hard low (usually one in the 40s or below)
ex. "Hey, Mr. Liver ... thanks for the help, but it is a little too much and a little too late."

Make a Ladybug
To form that giant drop of blood that the old glucose meters used to require

Morning Boost
Refers to drinking coffee and the subsequent blood glucose spike the caffeine offers up

Mother-Birding
When a D'Rent feeds their young child glucose tabs or a sugar source

No-Hitter
A time period in which a diabetic does not hit their high or low threshold on their CGM. For a Dexcom user, they must be without any alarms during the entire day, and the day must be at least 24 hours. A diabetic who prevents their blood sugars from reaching a threshold is said to have "bolused a no-hitter."

No-No Cupboard
Where you (or your mom) keeps all your diabetes snacks that are off limits to others

Number
The glucose reading on the meter.  "Number" no longer refers to a phone number, jersey number, or the number you’re holding in line at the deli counter

On the Rise

When you're blood sugar has been low for so long, and then FINALLY shows signs of coming back up ex. "72. Thank goodness! I'm on the rise!"

Poker
Lancing device, also known as a "pokey"

Pump Envy

The feeling of T2/1'ers who are taking insulin injections 4+ times per day but do not qualify to receive a pump due to insurance issues or having a MiniMed or Animas or whatever-brand but coveting another brand or newer model

Pump-It-Up

What to do when you see a dessert that you just can’t resist (while simultaneously doing the raise-the-roof gesture)

SDD
aka "Shitty Diabetes Day."  May include any of and more than the following: feeling terrible due to blood sugar fluctuations, running out of low blood sugar treatment methods, needing to skip exercise due to blood sugar issues, and any and al instances that lend towards a "Diabetes: 1; Me: 0" day.

Sleep Treating
The act of bolusing, changing basal rates, or silencing ones CGM in the middle of the night without actually waking up to do so…(makes for interesting mornings…)

Stick
When ‘blood sugar test’ gets to be a mouthful

Sugar Baby
A name to call someone with diabetes, such as your daughter

Sugar Bloods
A more fun way to say blood sugar (especially with a southern accent)

Sugar Buddies
When you and another both have diabetes.  See also:  Diabuddies

Sugar Hang
The horrible headache that comes after a bad low or high

Sugar-Soil
When you get sugar on your fingers after treating a low which results in a falsely high re-check

Tsunami

A result of over treating a serious low blood sugar
ex. "Blood sugar at 38 mg/dl, can't hardly walk, grab the quart of OJ, not following the 15 rule. Result: two hours later a Tsunami blood sugar of 300 mg/dl.

Venom

What spews from our mouth when our blood sugar is off the charts high and we are less than sweet

"What’s off Limits?"
How to intimately ask where your partner’s pump site/continuous glucose monitor are located on the body
 
Winter Muted
When a pump or continuous glucose monitor is concealed under so many layers of clothes, its beeps are inaudible

Woodchuck
Safe word for “check your sugar” if you’re acting bitchy during a low blood sugar moment
(Editor's note:  Sounds like it could be "Wood-ya-chuck your blood sugar?"  PUNS!)

*   *   *

The first edition of dTOEs can be found on the old SUM blog, and the second edition can be found here. A compilation eBook will be available soon, with all three editions (and some bonus new terms) included!  Should be up in a few days.  Thanks to everyone for their input, and for Abby's help in compiling this edition.  :)

January 04, 2011

Late Night Post: Grazie!!

Thank you!!I just received an email from Gina telling me that I've been awarded a 2010 DOC Award for Best Photographer - thank you guys!!  What a nice, virtual "hug."  I think it's very cool when the diabetes community shows, time and time again, that we're more united that your average online crew.  We're all a bunch of buddies here, despite our differences and because of our "sames." 

So thanks for the very kind award, and I'm hoping to have my camera lurking at diabetes events in 2011.  :)

November 22, 2010

Expanding.

Abby the Person(No, this isn't a post about how I haven't been able to get to the gym, thanks to Chris's travel schedule, a lack of BSparl babysitters, and oh yeah, that rib I cracked while coughing for the last two weeks.  More on that later, but just for now, ouch.)

Because I am a fan of full disclosure and all that fun stuff, I wanted to let you guys know that I've sort of been losing my mind.   Life is full of good stuff, but insane stuff.  Between taking care of BSparl, my husband and I both running businesses from our home, and the regular ebb and flow of family and friends, time is tight these days.  I absolutely love being busy, but I hate falling behind on things.  And I've definitely been falling behind these days.

I needed to be able to count on someone for help here and there, and once again, the magic of Clara Barton kicked in. 

Thanks to a twist of fate that introduced me to Abby over the summer, I'm very happy to say that I've tricked her she's decided to come on board as part of my growing, happy mess here at SUM.  Abby will be helping out with some of the techy things (hello, badly-needing-to-be-updated blogroll) and helping to streamline my ragtag list of editorial needs.  Basically, she's going to help me retain the few shreds of sanity I have left.  And I am forever grateful.

So welcome to the chaos, Abby!  I'm very proud to have you on board, and I'm excited to be working with you! 

(And no, having an EA that shares a name with my cat is not a coincidence.  It's totally on purpose.  Fortunately, I do not know anyone named Siah.)

October 18, 2010

Social Networks: Compatible or Competitive?

I was in Las Vegas, but it wasn't all just spending quality time with blogging buddies.  There was work to do - we were there for the Social Health track (sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, MedPage Today, Alliance Health, Campaign for Nursing, and WEGO Health) to help inform others about the discussions taking place in the medical blogosphere, and the power of these communities. 

The panel that I was participating on was Social Networks & The Medical Blogosphere:  Compatible or Competitive, with fellow panelists Kevin Pho and Bryan Vartabedian, moderated by the fabulous Kim McAllister.  The big question was "Are these social networking technologies helping or hurting the blogosphere?" 

The BlogWorld Panel - Kerri Sparling, Kevin Pho, and Bryan Vartabedian
Our BlogWorld panel:  Kerri Sparling, Kevin Pho, and Bryan Vartabedian

We, as a panel, gave this a lot of thought as we prepared for our discussion, and we ultimately settled on the answer of "Well … both." 

Blogging was the first online venture I participated in.  Back in 2005, I started my blog to help me connect with and participate in inspiring a community of other people with diabetes.  At first, I started posting several times a month, then once a week or so, until I realized that I've been posting every weekday for the last three years.  The posts are written by me, for the most part, and the comments are from the readers I have been blessed enough to have over the years.

So I blogged for a few years, but then there was this whole crop of different social networking tools that came on the scene with prevalence and relevance, with Facebook and Twitter leading the pack.  Our panel was trying to figure out whether or not these new tools were helping move the blogosphere forward or assisting in clipping its wings.

For me, the blog is my online home.  It's public-facing, open to any reader (whether they comment or not - I love the lurkers), and it's where I write daily about my life with diabetes.  While I do have a Facebook page (two, actually - one for my family only and then one for everyone else) and an active Twitter account, I would delete both of those profiles if it came down to choosing between them and my blog.  I like having "home base."  It makes me feel safe.

But my blog is almost always a once-a-day post, with comment moderation and responses.  I don't have a running, real-time discussion on my blog, like I do on networks like Twitter and Facebook.  (Maybe because "social networks" have mobile apps?  Is it true that online adventures are going more mobile, and anything that's not easily accessible from a mobile device will be left behind?) 

One of the questions was about whether or not participating in social networks impedes content creation and participation on your blog.  While I do agree that lots of comments take place on Twitter and Facebook, instead of in the formal comments section of my site, I don't think this detracts from my site.  Actually, I think it helps extend its reach, in a controlled way.  Links are reTweeted all over the place and Facebook friends often leave comments on the Six Until Me page, so the discussion is taking place in a lot more venues, giving the chance for diabetes-related commentary to reach outside the confines of our little (but powerful!) blogosphere.

Sites like Twitter and Facebook help to drive traffic back to blog content.  Also, Facebook helps provide a more "shielded" area for health care discussions.  Twitter helps flesh out the patient personality behind the blog, giving real-time access to disease management strategies.  Twitter and Facebook also offer a place to share links that might not inspire a full blog post (or ones that don't have any diabetes relevance at all). Posting pictures and thoughts that I'd prefer to have either in short-form or "behind the wall."  Each different posting venue (i.e. blogging, Tweeting, or Facebook) has its own set of pros and cons.  But, without a doubt, all three can be time-consuming.

But there can be waaaaay too much naval-gazing on fast-paced sites - Twitter in particular - ("I just ate a croissant and am now covered in flaky bits.")  and it can be challenging to make a discussion point within the 140 character limit.  Also, applications like Foursquare can be very dangerous if people are givingThe battle of what tool will conquer the medical online community! too much information about their regular day's business.  Sharing information like that opens Tweeters up to stalking issues. 

What's the future?  I think blogs will remain in the mix, and a big part of the discussion. If a blogger can retain their editorial integrity and keep their online presence consistent, blogging and social media can and will go hand-in-hand.  I believe that people will phase out of the "Oooh, how many 'likes' do I have today?" and will move away from the popularity contest aspect of social media.  Instead, good content will rise to the top.  As it always does, regardless of the newest and shiniest tool.

Do you think Facebook and Twitter are going to kill the blogosphere? (Is a "blog" become like a rotary phone?) Or will dedicated bloggers stand the test of time and new technology?  

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 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 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!!

July 22, 2010

Search Term Soup.

Google sends some weird searches my way.I do so love the SEO terms that bring people clicking through my way.  Here are a few of the latest strange search terms sending people to SUM:

pic of face smushed against window - That just sounds plain scary.  Like these "real" versions of cartoon characters.  (I'll never be able to look at a Peanuts cartoon again.  Ever.  Charlie Brown looks like a murderer.)

wedding held at "clara barton camp" - Awwww, what a great idea!!  Whoever is searching for this, you rule.

cute cat that no one likes - Of course, this led straight to this post about Siah Sausage Face.

do you have a shorter life if you have type 1 diabetes - I hope not.  I really, really hope not.

I have diabetes.  How can I feel better about my life? - To whoever Googled this:  I know this search query led you to me.  I hope it led you to a bunch of other diabetes bloggers, too.  I hope you saw examples of a bunch of people who are living with diabetes and who are happy. 
six in me - I have heard rumors that this is some kind of very off-color, inappropriate film.  Of a genre I don't feel comfortable discussing here.  But needless to say, I get a lot of searches for this.  I wonder how surprised they are when they find a girl with diabetes instead of ... whatever the alternative would be.  ;)

anybody with diabetes get screwed by oxford health - HA!  Oxford is currently my insurer, and despite the fact that BSparl is over three months old, they still haven't fully acknowledged my high-risk pregnancy.  (They haven't covered all of my ultrasounds, as though I was just having them for fun.)  All insurers are in "just say no" mode, and they decline everything before covering it.  So yes, I'm sure there are plenty of PWDs who get screwed by their health insurers.  Good times.

insulin pump in my wedding dress HELP!!! - Gotcha, lady!  I hid my insulin pump in a pocket that was specially built into my wedding dress.  And I know other girls who have done the same thing.  I hope this HELPED!!!

larry bird living with diabetes - Larry Bird doesn't have diabetes (that I know of).  But he has been known to fictionally train some of us.  Because he rules. 

Seriously, poke through your search terms and see what kinds of wild, long tail searches are sending people to your blog!  It's always good for a laugh or two.  (And also insightful to see what people are really looking for.)

July 06, 2010

Finding Your Voice Online.

Last Wednesday morning, Amy from DiabetesMine and I co-lead a focus group at the Friends for Life conference called "Finding Your Voice Online."  The group consisted of a bunch of d-moms, d-dads, and some kids with diabetes who sat in on the session, not to mention some terrific diabetes bloggers (Heidi, Scott, Chris, and Bernard).  And then there was Amy.  And me.  (And my enormous iced coffee - so necessary.  Apologies to everyone who realized I was way over-caffeinated by the end of the presentation.)

Amy opened with an introduction to her blog and her work in the diabetes community, and I finished with my story of how I ended up immersed in the blogosphere.  (Slides below.)  We shared how we 'got started' with blogging, and what kind of opportunities have come as a result of our efforts.


I've spoken at different conferences before, but the Children With Diabetes conference is different.  Its core audience isn't someone with a Pharma agenda or something to sell - the people who go to the Friends for Life conference are people with diabetes, and the people that love them.  They're the people who are affected every day by diabetes, and if this conference had existed when I was growing up, I would have had a completely different perspective on my diabetes.  The FFL audience cares not only about new research developments, but about the real life of a person with diabetes.  Their kids are more than their disease, and I hope they found some comfort in seeing two adults who were more than their diabetes, too.

As I clicked through my personal slides, I talked about my life and my marriage and my stupid cat.  And then I shared with them what I was most proud of:  my daughter.  "When I was first diagnosed, back in 1986, my doctors told us that my having children would be near impossible.  But I am so proud to say that I proved that you can have a healthy baby, even if you have diabetes."  And her little face, grinning out from the slidedeck, proved to me once again why people with diabetes need more exposure to others living with diabetes.  It feels so empowering to know that you can do anything - have a child, drive a race car, fall in love, climb up Everest! - even if you are living with diabetes.

Bloggers at Friends for Life
Bernard, Amy, Kerri, and Scotty J!!

The parents in the audience had a lot of questions, and many concerns were about online privacy.  We talked about the decision to share or not share our child's name or photo with the online community.  "For me, I decided that a few photos here and there were fine, but I wasn't comfortable subjecting my kid's name to Google just yet.  I want her to make that decision for herself.  But I'm like any other parent, and it's hard not to share my little kid with everyone!"  

One parent talked about her decision to make a JDRF walk fundraiser video, and how she had mixed feelings about the level of exposure.  

"I think that we're all safe in this diabetes community, but I need to remember that there aren't just people with diabetes who are reading my blog."  I said.  "Sure, the patient and medical community might be reading our posts and watching our videos, but there are also some completely random people who might be logging on.  And while we're safe within the 'borders' of the diabetes blogosphere, the Internet as a whole isn't quite as safe."  

Some parents had questions about starting their own blogs and getting involved with the diabetes blogosphere.  Others had questions about how to raise the awareness of their existing online properties.  Amy and I walked them through different resources for developing their online voice.  

I have always been a huge supporter of the Children With Diabetes efforts, in particular the Friends for Life conference, and having the chance to speak at a focus group was more than an honor  - it was like coming home.  Thanks to Jeff and Laura for hosting us, and thanks to all of the discussion participants! 

May 04, 2010

Five Years.

Cheers to five years!I have a great guest post lined up for today that's going live in a few minutes, but it just dawned on me that May 4, 2010 marks the fifth anniversary of Six Until Me.  Five years ago today, I started this mess of a blog and found all of you guys - and my goodness, how badly I needed you guys!  I thought I was the only diabetic on the planet who was LIVING with diabetes.  Everything I found online pointed towards reasons why I would die as a result of diabetes.  Back in 2005, Google was a depressing place for chronic illness patients. 

But now.  :)  Now we have hundreds - literally, hundreds! - of diabetes blogs and diabetes-dedicated websites to fill the niche, and new bloggers add their voices to the chorus every month.  A big part of what I get from the diabetes blogosphere is that sense of community, that every one of us lives a very different, unique life with diabetes, but we're all in this together. 

And we aren't just sharing our diabetes lives, but we're tapping into the other aspects of our lives.  For me, just in the last five years alone, I've gone from a twenty something just starting out in a new relationship to a married thirty something with a little baby girl.  And there was a LOT in between that diabetes wasn't the focus of, but was more of the background. 

So cheers to you, all you diabetes bloggers and Twitterers and lurkers ... thanks for tolerating my goofy arse for five years!!

March 18, 2010

SEO-riously?

MORE diabetes SEO terms!If I'm looking for a laugh, I can head over to my Statcounter page and learn just how people are stumbling upon this here diabetes blog.  The top referrers are usually diabetes-related terms, and sometimes something involving my name, but other times - well, it just gets plain goofy. 

Here are some of the latest results from the SEO leaderboard. 

quippy phrase to sell adirondack chair - Honestly, this one is new.  I don't think I've ever even used the word "adirondack" on my blog before.  "Quippy?"  Yessir, I've used that word.  In my opinion, a quippy phrase to sell an adirondack chair would be "Ah, the wrong deck?  Get an adirondack!"  (It's good that I'm not in marketing.)

what is type 1 diabetes? tell me the truth - Okay, my child. Type 1 diabetes is a small, furry bird that lives solely on a diet of Cocoa Puffs and reality television.  It's most often found in temperate climates, and is actually the only mammal that is born knowing how to ride a unicycle. ... Oh, tell you the truth?  Fine.  Type 1 diabetes is a disease that causes the body to no longer produce the hormone, insulin. 

soxuntilme - Sounds like a Dr. Suess spoof.

Diabetes 365 project - YAY!  I love seeing the visibility of the Diabetes 365 project grow and grow. 

diabetes type 1 - when to go back to normal life again? - Define "normal."  Diabetes is a new normal, my lovely search term searchers.  If you've found SUM in hopes of finding "normal," you are out of luck.  But happy?  Score!!

oh no - Oh, YES!

six until me AND bret michaels - Were you looking for this post?  Or, perhaps, this?

Siah and Brett Michaels - boo yeah!!

March 08, 2010

Disclosure: How Much Is Enough? Or Too Much?

When I started blogging back in May of 2005, I used my real name.  Which didn't strike me as odd because I figured that the only people who would ever see my written ramblings would be people I knew and sent the links to ... so blogging as "Kerri Morrone" seemed like a fine thing to do.

But things took a different sort of path, and suddenly Google had a solid grip on my name.  Which, again, was okay with me because I'm making these personal disclosure choices on a case-by-case basis.  So for anyone willing to give Google a go, it's easy to find my photo, some of my health conditions and treatment choices, and that I've married into a new, more challenging name.  There's a lot of information out there that I have chosen to share, for better or for worse. 

What do you disclose on your blog?

In some cases, it's "better" for me to use my real name and share my real experiences because blogging has not only helped me achieve better health, emotionally and physically, in regards to life with type 1 diabetes, but it's helped connect me with you guys, and that has been a game changer.  Blogging has also given me some very special opportunities to help make a difference when it comes to diabetes advocacy, and that has been tremendous in fueling both my own health and my career.  And honestly, having diabetes and talking about it doesn't make me feel shy.  I like sharing my stories, and hearing yours, and connecting with people who really and truly "get it."  I felt alone for way too long.  The impact of blogging on my overall health is something I can't put a value on. 

In other cases, it's "worse" for me to not blog anonymously, because now any potential employer can send a query into Google and see that I have type 1 diabetes.  Would that make them less likely to hire me?  More likely?  No change at all?  Either way, that information about my personal health is out there, and I can't take it back.  And not just health information, but personal information.  Real life information.

Disclosure on a blog isn't just about letting people know about free samples, or advertisements, or sponsorship opportunities.  That stuff is important, on a level of maintaining integrity and letting people know they can trust you to tell the truth, the whole truth, and only add some crap about cats occasionally. 

But I've been thinking about how disclosure will be handled, going forward, when it comes to my daughter.  From the moment I found out she was blooming inside of me, I felt instantly protective of this little biscuit.  Chris and I have talked extensively about how we want to handle our child's identity in regards to our respective projects, and we both agree that she hasn't decided to become part of the Google matrix yet.  So we aren't going to put her there.  This is a decision that we, as a family, have made, but it doesn't mean that it's the right choice for everyone.  There is no "right choice," in my opinion - just varying perspectives and levels of comfort.  (And who know how I'll feel once she's here and her little face is just too chubby-cute not to want to post a photo of.)  It's a lot to think about.

If my daughter decides, when she's older, to have a Facebook page or a blog or whatever is the social networking "thing" to do by that time, she can make that decision for herself.  But I don't want her to Google her own name and find more than she's comfortable with. (... That is the weirdest thought ever, picturing myself talking about blogging with my daughter over like coffee or something.  The thought just made me grin.)  Hopefully she won't object to being called BSparl. 

How do you guys handle disclosure?  Are you comfortable sharing your full name and occupation with people?  What kind of information to you like to keep private, and what do you feel comfortable sharing 100% with anyone who asks?  Have you ever had any regrets about how you've chosen to present yourself online?  For those of you with kids, what helps you decide what to share, and when, and how much of it to share? 

Sorry for all the questions, but as the baby grows daily, so does my protective nature.  And so does my laundry list of questions. 

February 15, 2010

Disclosure: I've Got One.

Disclosure is the responsibility of the blogger, and we’re under more scrutiny these days than ever before.   But I’ve never had an issue with transparency here – actually, I think I tell you guys way more than you probably want to know.  You knew when I started and stopped working for dLife, you know what publications I’m contributing to regularly, and you know about my relationship with Dexcom.  This blog is about my life with diabetes, and even though I know this is my life that I’ve decided to share, it’s important to me that people know my professional relationships with diabetes companies.  I’d want to know that information if I were reading this blog, too.

So (long winded intro to this post, eh?), I wanted to continue to keep you guys in the loop.  I’ve decided to sign a sponsorship agreement with the Animas Corporation. This whole thing started a few months ago, when I was exploring the idea of a new insulin pump and was excited about the Animas/Dexcom integration (no, I don’t have a CLUE when that’s happening, but I’m mighty hopeful it does go through in 2010).  But I’m still under my current pump warranty, so my hands were tied.  Reps from Animas reached out, one thing lead to another, and now I’m working with Animas, not as an employee, but as part of their outreach program that includes country singer George Canyon, LPGA Golfers Kelli Kuehne and Michelle McGann, and former Miss America Nicole Johnson (to name a few).  The program tries to spread the Animas name by working with people who have diabetes who are doing cool things (pregnancy is cool, right?), can inspire others to consider pump therapy, and want to talk honestly about how diabetes impacts their lives.  Bless their hearts for daring to partner with a – gasp! - blogger.  As part of this program, I’ve switched insulin pumps from my Minimed 722 to an Animas OneTouch Ping and am receiving my pump and pump supplies from the company gratis.  (Don’t worry, my doctor is in the loop and my supplies and pump are still a prescribed item.  This agreement doesn’t replace my medical team – just my method of insulin delivery.)

My new insuiln pump.  With my new, mega-basal rates.  Holy pregnancy!
My new insulin pump, showcasing my new mega-basal rates.  :)

This agreement is similar to the Dexcom one from last year (which is still in effect), in that I’m still going to be business as usual here on SUM.  Like with Dexcom, during the course of drafting this agreement, I spoke at length with many of the folks at Animas and they're well aware that everything I write about won't always be favorable (nothing is perfect, and we’re still talking about needles and diseases here), but what I say about their product will always be honest.  That means that when the pump is behaving itself and working smoothly, I'll say that.  And when I’m frustrated by pump fashion challenges and tangled infusion sets, I’ll say that, too.  This agreement isn’t a filter, but I think it’s important that you, as readers who trust me to be straightforward and honest at all times, know what kind of lens my perspective is seen through.  Just like with anything else.  Like when I tell you that Buried is the greatest film EVER.  (It is.)  Or that my baby is the cutest fetus EVER.  (She does make me smile.)  Or that my cats are the most annoying animals ever.  (I can't stand that gray one.) 

Every blogger is biased, but not every blogger discloses their biases.  I’m trying to do right by you guys, as best I can.

So that’s the latest.  As always, if you have concerns about this, please let me know.  I’m happy to answer any questions (but, just like before, my answer might be “Honestly, I have no idea.”).  And, just like before, if Nikon calls, I’m answering without hesitation. 

February 01, 2010

Sundance: The Festival Itself.

(I've bombarded you guys with info on Buried and kept a running update on Facebook and Twitter, so I promise this will be the last post about Sundance. I'll go back to diabetes crap in a few minutes.  Or at least I'll blend them.)

We're back from Park City, and the whole Sundance experience was completely and utterly surreal.  I won't go on about the reviews that have come out about the film (i.e. New York Times, LA Times, Variety, Moveline, Slashfilm, Film School Rejects), and I have no plans to talk extensively about the Lionsgate purchase (holy crap).  But we were at the premiere of Buried at the Library Theater on Saturday, January 24th, and it was incredible.

After a private pre-screening dinner (where there was a special "Buried" menu on tap - very cool), we headed off to the theater for the actual screening.  The film premiered at midnight, and it was something else.  Chris's (in my humble, wife-ish opinion) fantastic script was brought to life by Rodrigo's immense directorial talent, and Ryan's performance was emotional and real.  I don't want to ruin the story for anyone who is planning to see the movie (you are ALL planning to see the movie, right?), so suffice to say that the film was incredible.  I applauded wildly, and BSparl did the same from underneath my belly button.  (She's a big fan of her daddy's movie.  Man, that is bizarre to write.  Two and a half more months!  /diatribe)

So many friends and family members came out for the festival (including the majority of Chris's extended family and also my father), so the house was packed.  Chris, director Rodrigo Cortes, and star of the film, Ryan Reynolds were all in attendance, adding some extra excitement to the room.  This was the first time that anyone outside of the production team was seeing the film, so the air was electric.  And since this was our first look at the finished film, we could hardly sit still.  I found myself particularly fidgety during certain moments of the movie - you'll know when you see it.

Chris Sparling, Rodrigo Cortes, Ryan Reynolds
Writer Chris Sparling, director Rodrigo Cortes, and actor Ryan Reynolds

And it was over.  Ninety four breathless minutes later.  The audience sat back from the edges of their seats - literally - and then there was a Q&A with Ryan, Rodrigo, and Chris, where the audience peppered the trio with questions about the film. (Some video coming soon, once we figure out which suitcase the Flip ended up in.)

Buried screened a total of five times at the festival, and the responses from viewers has been overwhelmingly positive.  I mean, these three guys pulled it off.  A movie, taking place entirely in a coffin with one actor, was interesting.  For over an hour and a half.  That's pretty damn impressive.  ... but I'm not doing a movie review here.  Obviously my bias is impossible to contain. ("Most impressive script EVER!"  "Cutest writer of all TIME!!"  "Framing the movie poster and debating putting it in the baby's NURSERY!") 

I am so proud, as his wife, to have been there to support Chris as he made this huge career leap forward.  But I was proud before, when there wasn't a Sundance movie to talk about or a movie premiere to attend.  He's my best friend, and I'm so, so happy for him.

Now I need to upload a pile of photos and make sense of the suitcases that still need unpacking.  And find out why Siah is curled up around the toaster, purring maniacally.

January 29, 2010

Looking Back: The Beginning.

I am SO itching to write my updates from Sundance, including posting photos and really describing how unreal this has been for my husband, but Internet access is pretty crap here, and I've had a lot of trouble keeping up with the online world.  Monday, I'm all over it. :)

What did dawn on me is how much has changed in the last 4 1/2 years, since I started this blog.  Back then, I had a different last name, lived in my own little apartment in South County, RI, and worked at a job that made my skin crawl.  I didn't know another soul who had diabetes, nevermind having access to hundreds of other people with diabetes who really "get it," you know? 

It's strange, chronicling life with diabetes and seeing how much has changed in the last few years. So much has happened, from moving to Connecticut and then planning a wedding and then marrying Chris, and then all the stuff with our respective careers and now little Ms. BSparl?  Some really tough times, some really triumphant times, and all the gray (like Siah) parts in between, many shared with you guys. 

And it started with one crappy little post back in May 2005, when I was just learning what the hell a blog ("blaaaaaaaaahgh") was, and how it could help me heal, emotionally, in the ways I didn't realize I was a little broken.

*   *   *

My name is Kerri.

I could go through the hassle of establishing a non de plume, but I wasn't thinking when I set this up and I signed in with my real name. Note to Potential Stalkers: Please don't.

The purpose of this is to make contact with other diabetics. It's one of those diseases (or maybe they're all this way, I'm not sure) where even if you have the mechanics of it completely mastered, the psychological battle is just as daunting. Every time I test my bloodsugar, the result stirs me up emotionally. If I'm high, I feel guilty. Or surprised. Or angry. If I'm low, I feel anxious. And slightly panicky. Or confused. A normal reading level might make me feel cocky. Or successful. But they all make me feel something. And it's not just physiological. There is so much involved in the daily maintenance of diabetes that a support network isn't just nice, it's necessary.

Reach out. Ask questions. Answer the litany I'm sure to ask. Network network network. And when that doesn't work, just repeat repeat repeat.

*   *   *

Funny how everything has changed, but absolutely nothing's changed.  (Thanks for the line, Eddie Vedder.) How long have you been blogging, and what made you decide to take the leap into the online unknown?

January 28, 2010

SEO Bloggy Bits.

More SEO for bloggy bits.I love, love, love the search terms that bring people to my blog. As I've mentioned before, most of the terms are related to diabetes, but there are some real ringers that come through ... and those are the ones I want to share today. 

first man to describe type one diabetes - I thought, at first, that this said "first man to walk on the moon with diabetes."  It doesn't actually say that.  It doesn't say anything close to that.  The end.

sexy infusion set placement - What's sexier than an insulin pump infusion set?  Not much, actually.  No matter where you stick it, it's proof that you're aiming for good control.  Rawr.

is martini good for diabetics - Yes.  So is proper verb/noun agreement.  Next question?

baked and fried diabetes brains - I can't even respond to this. 

nothing says lovin' like a bun in the oven - And nothin' says lovin' like leavin' off the apostrophe.  '

no one understands how much I love Yanni - I do, dear friend.  Testing 1 ... 2 ... Yanni?

should I marry a man with type 1 diabetes - Yes.  It would be sweet.  (PUNS!  Love them.)

up to my ears in cats - Don't I know it, sister.

... I'm sorry.  I can't get past the baked and fried diabetes brains ones.  I'm going to have to talk to Google and find out what the hell sent that search term here. In the meantime, what's the weirdest search term to lead to your blog?

January 06, 2010

If They Only Had a Brain. Or a Heart.

Quick post to the PR professionals in the healthcare sphere:

When someone dies, it is terrible tragedy.  That person leaves behind a family, loved ones, and - especially when they die young - their future.  If someone dies as a result of diabetes, or due to complications from diabetes, or from something else entirely but they happened to have diabetes, and you decide to exploit their death to gain pageviews for your website?  (See also:  Brittany Murphy, Casey Johnson)

Come on.

There's a difference between passing on information that could help people improve their lives, and then there's pure, TMZ-style exploitation.  Diabetes advocates writing about their lives with this disease, like the blogs that many of us write every day, actually do some good for some people.  People reading it could be helped to feel less alone.  People writing could achieve the same goal.

It's important to consider the source of your information.  And it's important to remember that there are PEOPLE behind every news story about someone dying or getting sick or dealing with emotional or physical pain.  Have we become so immersed in the gossip that we forget how to treat people kindly?  And compassionately? 

You're better than that.

(It's also important to not mess with a pregnant woman.  Please don't email me shifty press releases.  You know who you are.)

/rant

December 30, 2009

The Year in Review: 2009.

Year in Review:  2009.This is part of my annual twofer roundup - a meme that gets me clicking all over the place through other blogger's archives - so here is part one: the first lines of a definitive post from each month in 2009. (And this meme is a good one if you're looking for a quick and dirty wrap up of the year!)

January:  Last January, I took the plunge and joined the inspiring photogs in the Diabetes365 Flickr group.

February:  A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Internet last week.

March:  Last night, I found a box of old diaries.

April:  Yesterday at lunch, I was browsing at one of my favorite stores and picking through a pile of spring sweaters. 

May:  Today Six Until Me turns four years old. 

June:  Even though I do not like the disease, there are some diabetes-related simple pleasures that make me smile.

July:  The catalyst that brought me to BlogHer was a conversation back in October 2008 with Lisa Stone. 

August:  Last week, Chris and I were in Barcelona to visit the set of his feature film, "Buried."

September:  Twenty three years ago, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And today, I've got nothing but hope in my heart.

October:  Dear baby, I've been thinking about you for a long time.

November: The first time we saw him (or her), it was at the emergency room back in Connecticut.

December:  BSparl is now the size of a large mango, according to the What to Expect site.

It's been a wild year, and 2010 is shaping up to be more of the same unpredictable chaos.  I can't wait!

November 20, 2009

Death of a Computer.

I loved my HP laptop.  Loved.  Seventeen inches (size matters) of shiny screen with plenty of memory and all my photos and my videos and my writing on it ... it was the technological embodiment of my life as a blogger and I took it with me everywhere.  Blood sugar logs throughout the course of my pre-pregnancy and now-pregnancy, drafts of articles I haven't finished yet, and a cache of photos spanning four or five years back.

But last week, the whole thing went kaput on me.  

It started at the beginning of October, when the browser windows started to crash on me.  Then I received "low memory" warnings, prompting me to back up all of my files on mMissing my PC, but loving the new Macbooky 500 GB hard drive and delete crap from my laptop hard drive.  "That should do it, " I mused, hopefully.

But then things started disappearing.  Photo edits slipped right off my desktop as soon as I saved them there.  Spreadsheets went from functioning to melting every time my mouse went near them.  Word docs became skittish, hiding in the trash without my permission.  Photoshop crashed.  My video editing software died.  And then, my email seized.

Unacceptable.  

After a slew of curse words and frantic backing up of the contents on my laptop before smoke started to stream out the sides, I made a very, very rash decision to replace my laptop.

So I've crossed over to the other side.  I bought a Macbook Pro, seduced by that little light up Apple logo and the promise of no viruses.  Brandy new, full of room for my stuff, and way above my pay grade.  But I'm considering this a business investment, or at least pretending it's one.

I have to admit - I feel a bit like a sell-out.  I liked my PC, and I am still planning to have it fully crashed and rebuilt.  All of my Dexcom software is on my PC and most of my diabetes-related programs only run on a PC.  (Note to diabetes software developers - maybe you'd like to think about making stuff for a Mac?)  I've never been the "OMG I must have an iPhone" and I'm perfectly happy with headphones that AREN'T white, but after working on an iMac at dLife for a few years, I did have a chance to see how fluid the Macs are when it comes to video editing, design stuff, and overall smooth usage.  So with a PC netbook in our house and a few other PCs floating around, I wanted to make the change to the ol' Apple.

Honestly, I do love it.  :)  There's something so nice about a completely clean computer, one without all the error messages that my wounded PC was throwing for the last few weeks.  It just feels like an upgrade from my four year old PC laptop.  I'm not going full-Mac,  but I am embracing the new computer and all it's jazzy features.  Only tricky part is that I need to replace my design software with the Mac version, but other than that, I'm ready to roll with this new Macbook.

Any of you guys make the switch from PC to Mac?  Do you feel those pangs for Windows at all, or am I just being weird?  What do I need to do to make sure I'm using this machine to its fullest capability?  Are there any websites you'd recommend?  Is iMovie where it's at for video editing, or is there something else I should be using?  Anything I should be careful NOT to do?  Newbie Mac'er here, and would love the advice. 

(And in completely non-geeky-computer-stuff news, "Buried" did well at the American Film Market, and has been called one of the hot sellers of the film market.  Go Team Sparling!!!)

November 11, 2009

SUM Diabetes Stuff to Share.

Oh, the diabetes interwebs have some things to share ... so here's a few I wanted to make sure I passed on to you guys.

Over the weekend, I saw a sneak peek of the final Making Sense of Diabetes video, brought to us by the Diabetes Hands Foundation.  (But for Gina and I, in the hotel lobby, it was bought to us by Manny and his laptop.)  I have to admit - and these aren't the pregnancy hormones talking - this video brought me to tears.  Not necessarily because it's depressing, but more because it's inspiring.  The people featured in this video are people with diabetes, and they're sharing the intimate details of what their life is like.  I'll admit it, I cried a little.  And Manny and Gina hugged me.  (Whoa, holy digression but bear with me, I'm an emotional mess this morning.  But the point is:  I needed a hug after watching that.)  Enough chatter:  Watch this video.  You'll find inspiration, even if you aren't looking for it.

Also, last night I had the chance to "hang out" with Chris from A Consequence of Hypoglycemia on his podcast, Just Talking.  Admittedly, I thought it would be tough to fill an hour with "just talking," but Chris (iam_spartacus) is cool and keeps the conversation flowing, despite the fact that we've never actually spoken before.  It's an hour's worth of random chatter (including some sound-effect editing over the less than desirable language), touching upon diabetes-centric stuff, the Red Sox/Yankees battle that wages in my own home, #voltron, BSparl, Buried, stupid Siah, and my grandmother's obsession with Orville Redenbacher. (Please excuse the phone that keeps ringing in the background.  It was making me NUTS.)

And Elizabeth Edelman (from Diabetes Daily) has created a diabetes cookbook just in time for the holidays.  It's called Thanksgiving with Diabetes: 17 Lower Carb Recipes Your Family Will Love and it is AWESOME.  The recipes look delicious, the photos are gorgeous, and Elizabeth Edelman is a staple of our diabetes community, so please visit Diabetes Daily and check out this fantastic endeavor. 

That's all I've got.  I'm out!

October 27, 2009

Diabetes Linky Bits: What I've Been Reading.

Due to some recent traveling, I've been falling way behind on my fellow diabetes bloggers.  But there have been some posts in the last few days that I think are must-reads.  So today, while I finish up my visit in Philadelphia at the ePatient 2009 conference, I wanted to share some of my favorite posts from the diabetes blogosphere:

Diabetes blogs rule.Lee Ann at The Butter Compartment is a longtime type 1-er and a lady who understands the trials of fitting an insulin pump into a fancy dress moment.  Thanks to some Twitter tips and some good, old fashioned ingenuity, Lee Ann managed to McGyver her way into a fashionable moment.  (And personally, I never underestimate the power of duct tape.)

Diabetes blogs rule.Wendy at Candy Hearts stumbled upon a Letter to the Editor from some idiot who saw a little boy take an injection at Burger King.  Apparently, the man who wrote the letter was horrified  by the drug taking at the table and felt the need to write to his local paper.  And while Wendy admits to having no idea what was in that syringe, she wrote a response to The Burger Grump, outlining why certain people may need to take an injection before eating (namely, did the kid have diabetes). 

Kelly at Diabetesaliciousness added her two cents, as well.  What's your take on this Burger Grump?  Do you feel that a PWD should be able to inject in public?  (Personally, I think it's no different than blowing your nose at the table.  If you can keep it clean and sanitary and discreet, it's fine.  People are allowed to manage their diabetes in public, so long as they aren't creating unsanitary conditions for others.)  If you want to chime in with your own letter to the editor, click on this link and visit the Pocatello Idaho State Journal website.

Diabetes blogs rule.And those of us here on the East Coast apparently missed an AWESOME event, at last week's TCOYD in San Diego.  Manny touted it as the best diabetes conference he's ever attended, Cherise gave it a definitive thumbs up, and George agreed.  I've never attended one of the TCOYD conferences, but apparently there's one in my homestate of Rhode Island next September, and BSparl and I will definitely be in attendance.  Will you be there? 

What have you been reading in the diabetes blogosphere?

October 19, 2009

BlogWorldExpo: Medical Bloggers Make Their Debut.

Last week at the BlogWorldExpo new media conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, the medical blogosphere staked its first claim, with the very first medblogger track taking place on October 15th.  The medblogger track was co-sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and MedPage Today, and they flew us out there and put us up, which was quite jazzy of them.  (Actually, the whole thing started with Kim on Emergiblog raising her voice.  She got this ball rolling, big time.)  I joined the BetterHealth crew and represented for the patient bloggers.

And by “represented,” I mean that out of four different panels totaling 16 participants, I was the only patient blogger panelist.  I stood out as the “one without a medical degree” and there are no initials after my name, but I did my best to show the medical blogosphere that patients are a powerful voice in this community, and that we are a growing group in the blogosphere as a whole.

I participated on the “The State of the Health Blogosphere:  We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” panel, with fellow panelists Kevin Pho of Kevin, MD and Nick Genes of Blogborygmi, moderated by the always-fabulous Kim McAllister of Emergiblog.  And we went first, which was both nerve-wracking and exciting - nothing like kicking off the BlogWorldExpo medblogger track!

Photo courtesy of Doctor Anonymous.

We discussed how we all started in the blogosphere, citing who was already out there when we started our blogs (and I mentioned good ol’ Scott Johnson as one of my favorite originals!), and how the public perceived blogs back in the day.  (Back in the day being like 2004/2005 – the Internet is a time warp.)   I talked about how I wanted to find others living with diabetes, instead of constantly coming across the internet health horror stories, and when I couldn’t really find what I was looking for, I decided to create it for myself. 

“It took me a while to say the word ‘blog’ without stretching out the ‘O’ a lot.  ‘Blaaaaaaaaaaag.’  No one I knew wrote a blog, and they didn’t know what a blog was.  It seemed a little bit like a joke – who the heck is going to want to read this online diary stuff?  But it turns out that I wasn’t the only one who was looking for other people living with diabetes.  And once the comments started, and the emails from complete, warm-hearted strangers started coming in, I realized the impact that patient blogs could have on other patients.”

“But I also realized the intense impact that blogging could have on me.  It made me feel like I had a place to share the emotional side of my disease, emotions that I battled constantly but doctors didn’t really ask much about.”

It was a very cool experience, sitting there as a panelist with Kevin and Nick, two influential medical bloggers who represent the practitioner perspective with class and confidence, knowing that patient bloggers are now part of this conversation.  It’s not just a bunch of doctors sitting around, talking about our diseases and our conditions without having a portal into what real life is like with that disease.  Now they can tune into our patient blogs and get that perspective, one that could help shape the way they deal with their patients.  Our voices, as patients and the caregivers of patients, are crucial in the greater medical blogging discussion.

I missed the memo on the crossed arms thing.

There was also a lot of discussion about Grand Rounds, the premier medical blog carnival created by Nick Genes.  Everyone on the panel pretty much agreed that Grand Rounds were an extremely effective way to get a weekly snapshot of the best of the medical blogosphere.  “I can’t remember where I first stumbled upon Grand Rounds, but it seemed like the perfect way for me, a diabetes patient blogger, to connect with other medical bloggers outside of my diabetes bubble.  It was like literary networking.”

Continue reading "BlogWorldExpo: Medical Bloggers Make Their Debut." »

October 13, 2009

Quick Blast Before Vegas.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be heading out to Las Vegas for the BlogWorldExpo conference, hanging with my medblogger pals (and meeting Dr. Anonymous after all these years - yay!).  I've never been to Vegas, so this is a first for me.  Hopefully I won't end up covered in sequins or some such nonsense.

A few things to announce before I sign off and relax on the new couch (that the cats are ALREADY picking, little jerkfaces):

Since it's starting this Thursday, I should mention it first:  BLOGWORLDEXPO!  I'm totally excited to be attending this event, and beyond humbled to be sitting on the State of the Health Blogosphere:  We've Come a Long Way, Baby panel.  Kim McAllister from Emergiblog is moderating, and my fellow panelists are Nicholas Genes from Blogborygmi and Kevin Pho from Kevin MD.  There's a whole slew of medbloggers representing, and I'll be there to rep for the patient bloggers.  I'm really excited to meet some of these bloggers, and I'm hoping to do right by the patient blogosphere.  (And I'm also looking forward to checking out the rest of the conference, which is shaping up to be pretty cool.  Anthony Edwards will be there - can I keep myself from calling him Goose?)

I'm happy to (finally - been waiting weeks to announce this!) say that I'll be speaking at the Diabetes Research Institute's Diabetes 2.0:  Connecting the Community event in November, hanging out as a panelist at the Connecting Online session, with Manny Hernandez, Scott Strumello, Ellen Ullman, and moderated by Jeff Hitchcock.  (I hear we're the lunchtime panel, so if someone can slide a sandwich onto the table about halfway through the presentation, that would be awesome. Chicken salad would be my first choice. ;))

Also, if you're in Philadelphia at the end of October and you're able to visit the ePatient Connections 2009 conference, please do!  I'll be speaking on Monday, presenting with Diane Bayer, on the Patient Opinion Leaders Panel, but will be hanging out for the duration of the conference, so if you'll be in the area, email me!

There are a few other conferences that are still firming up their itineraries, but I need to wait until those are all set before I blog about them.  For now, I need to get packing for Vegas, baby.  Vegas!!!

October 01, 2009

No D-Day.

(Read George's post on The Bad Blog to see what the deal is, but I'm not talking about it today.  Nope.  Don't want to.  Taking the day off.)

No D Day.  Not today.

In the theme of not writing about mumble mumble today, I was talking with my coworker about what I'd like to write about instead of mumble mumble.  Like what did I used to write when I was younger, and before the last four years had become focused on a certain health-related theme?

I wrote my first poem when I was a dust bunny of a kid, barely able to reach the kitchen counter.  It was about my cat.  And it was not profound:

My cat is big and fat.
Can you imagine that?
It likes to purr
And lick its fur.
I wonder why it does that?

Epic.  And sad, because here I am, 20-something years later, still writing about furry animals.  (But that's a digression I can't, in pursuit of avoiding the "lady with the cats" stereotype for five minutes, make.)  But honestly, my first love was poetry.  I used to fill notebooks with sonnets and I wrote couplets on napkins.  I wrote about my middle school political leanings (I know.  It was a little weird.)  I wrote about the environment.  I wrote about falling in love with that boy who say behind me in 5th grade and stole my pencil box.  I actually used a feather pen at one point because I thought that's what "real writers" used.  And I wanted so badly to be a real writer.

Poetry gave way to fiction (Now I'm really letting my inner-nerd out:  Did anyone else read those DragonLance novels and wish they had a Tanis Half-Elven to tuck them in at night?  No?  Just me?), and the fiction I wrote in high school hit a serious range, too.  I did the "young adult romance" stuff, but it was really just me writing about what I wish my high school boyfriend would have said to me.  And I did the "fantasy fiction" stuff based on my aforementioned obsession with Mr. Half-Elven. 

But despite all this angsty, elvish, tree-hugging writing, I always ended up defaulting to humor writing.  My mom always liked Erma Bombeck and she would buy me the anthologies.  I thought Erma was pretty entertaining.  And then I found Dave Barry (I know - you might be rolling your eyes but he had a "back up dog" named Zippy, which made me laugh every time), and then I found Bill Bryson, who had a subtler sense of humor but is exceedingly clever and makes me want to smith up some words.

And then:  David Sedaris.

I think I'd like to be a humorist. I like to make people laugh, and I like allowing my pen to write the thoughts that are really colliding around in my head.  And writing about mumble mumble can be distressing at times, so letting myself laugh at it all, and at just about everything else, helps me live a more balanced existance.  Besides, some stuff is just too funny to not laugh at.

I would just like to laugh for a while. 

And that's what I'm thinking about on this day of not talking about mumble mumble, my second-to-last-day at work, and two days before I embark on a whole new mess of adventures in my life. 

(For more d-bloggers who aren't d-blogging today, follow the #nodday hashtag on Twitter!) 

September 23, 2009

Patients For a Moment: SUM Edition.

Patients for a Moment:  Hosting at SixUntilMeFor many of us who are writing medical blogs and reading blogs like this one, we're patients every day. Being a patient isn't something we chose, and it's not something we can avoid.  But we can do is share our experiences with one another and show our readers how life as a patient can really be.  And that is a powerful experience.

This is where Patients for a Moment comes in.  This new blog carnival, started by Duncan Cross, puts the focus on patients, and lets us tell it like it is.  I'm honored to be hosting this week, and thrilled to have to many diabetes bloggers, both new and old, representing!!!  Here we go ...

Thanks for all of your submissions, and be on the lookout for upcoming editions of this patient-focused blog carnival!

September 22, 2009

Still More SEO.

SUM more SEO terms for this ol' diabetes blog.The SEO terms that lead people to SUM make me scratch my head.  Over the past few months, I've had some real winners, and a few that made me repeat the Google search just to see how the heck that was possible to get them from "there" to "here."  But poking through the search engine terms over the last few weeks has made me laugh - and question the logic of Google - all at the same time, and I wanted to share the latest:

can type 1 diabetic marry and live well - Yes, I believe that they can.

i wear a pump for my diabetes, what is my life span - I'm hoping a really, really long time, my friend.

type 1 diabetes and energy blog - I'm hoping this means that you think I have a lot of energy.  It was the coffee, I tell you.  On decaf, I'm decidely more docile.  (See also:  Zzzz ... zzzz)

what is type 1 diabetes insulin made of - Going out on a limb to guess "insulin" on this one.

clifford noodle soup - Can't picture anything other than a big bowl of Big, Red Dog.  With noodles.  Ew.

Kerri leaving dLife - True

cereal for dogs - Are you talking about the Barkfast of Chompions?  Guilty as Googled.

I am happy - You know what?  I'm glad that search brought you here.  I am happy.  I hope you are, too.

oh what an ocd morning - Oh what an OCD day!  I've got an OCD feeling that everything's going to be counted eight times today.

And the winner this round?

Cat in a banana - OH HELL YES!

September 20, 2009

Quick Note: Patients for a Moment.

Hey guys - I'm hosting the Patients For a Moment blog carnival on September 23rd, and I'm looking for your posts!  This is a relatively new blog carnival started by patient blogger Duncan Cross and the focus is to highlight blogs by patients or about patients.

If you are a patient blogger, or a medical blogger who has a great post focusing on patients, I want to encourage you to send your post to me at kerri (at) sixuntilme (dot) com so I can include your post in the blog carnival round up!

Please follow this format for submission and please email your submissions by midnight on Monday, September 21st:

Blog Name:
URL:
Author:
Post Name:
Permalink:
Synopsis:

Thanks, and I'm looking forward to hosting your posts!

September 09, 2009

The Weather -

- I'm under it.  See you tomorrow!

August 12, 2009

SUM Stuff.

I have a few things I just wanted to let everyone know about, because they're all items worth mentioning.  Problem is, I'm writing this before I travel and I'm sure I'm forgetting something.  Like a missed email.  Or potentially my toothbrush.  But before I spazz out completely, here's a quick list of SUM Stuff:

My new friend Mary Podjasek, who I met at the CWD Friends for Life conference this past July, asked me to help her get the word out about a Diabetes Scholars Foundation Event that's taking place at the end of August.  According to her email:

"I am planning a bowling/silent auction event which will be held on Saturday August 29, 2009 at the Brunswick Zone in Deer Park (Lake Zurich) Illinois. The event will start at 6:00 pm. The cost is $40 and includes 2 games of bowling, shoe rental, pizza, soft drinks and a great time. I also have some great auction items which include Inverness golf, theatre tickets, sporting events, trips and lots of other great items. The proceeds from the event will help me to carry out the mission of my foundation.  You can register online at www.diabetesscholars.org. Hope to see you there!" 

Visit the website for more info and contact Mary if you have any questions at all.

Also. the fine ladies of the NYC diabetes support group have branched out and started their own organization - and they're blogging.  :)  Their mission is simple yet crucial: 

We are ACT 1: Adults Coping with Type 1 Diabetes. We are a group of Type 1 diabetics who see a lack of service geared towards adults with Type 1 Diabetes. Through support group meetings, free services, partnerships, volunteerism and advocacy we strive to attend to the most vulnerable populations within our community with the understanding that all diabetics are equally deserving of quality care.  

To find out more about ACT 1 and the powerful women behind this organization, visit the ACT 1 website and poke around a bit! 

And lastly, one bit of JDRF news, from their press release last week:  "The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a leader in setting the agenda for diabetes research worldwide and the largest charitable funder and advocate of type 1 research, announced today that it has launched an on-line service for people with type 1 diabetes and their families to easily find information about clinical trials for drugs, treatments, and therapeutics for diabetes and its complications. 

The on-line service, JDRF’s Clinical Trials Connection, will enable people to search the database of trials of the National Institutes of Health (including JDRF-funded trials) that involve diabetes cures and treatments to get information, make comparisons, and – if they are interested – directly contact trial centers.  It is available at www.trials.jdrf.org."

If you are looking for diabetes-specific clinical trials, check out the JDRF trials website and see what grabs your interest.   

There.  Information purged.  Now you have it.  Now I can file this information away as "disbursed." 

July 30, 2009

Hanging with the BlogHers.

So the panel was why I was there, but there were plenty of perks that came with being part of the BlogHer conference.  Like meeting other BlogHers.  And exploring the fine city of Chicago.

I'd never been to Chicago before, other than layovers at O'Hare.  So I definitely stole away for the conference for an hour or two with Rachel and Julia to take in some of the artsy-fartsy sights.  

Take, for example, this enormous chrome bean: 

Rachel, Julia, and Kerri at "the bean."

I also had a chance to see the Chicago skyline from the top of a very sky-scrapey building where Ms. Poppy Buxom was hosting a fabulous party (Thanks to Julia for getting us all in!!!) with fabulous lady-bloggers such as Jasmine, Blackbird, Cinnamon, and the Hotfessional.  I couldn't resist having my photo taken with Ree, because she inspired the hell out of me at the panel that day.

The party at Poppy's.

There were people everywhere.  Tim Gunn was doing some Tide promotional stuff down in the Expo hall.  We listened as Elisa, Lisa, and Jory gave the opening keynoteRachel and I sat in on the Healthcare By Committee panel, featuring Kim from Emeriblog.

The BlogHer days were long, and the nights were even longer.  Sessions started early in the morning and the parties began right after the evening keynote.  This was exhausting, and I was constantly thinking about Leah Jones's post about "PTMO," or Permission To Miss Out.  After a very hectic travel day on Thursday and an early, kind of stressful Friday (including speaking on the PatientBlogger panel), I needed to chill out and take some time to recuperate.  I gave myself PTMO.

Kerri and Jenni and this puffy fella.
 
I spent a lot of time with Jenni from Chronic Babe.  We got to know one another very quickly, and in three short days, we hung out with the Michelin Man, lizards, had our own "fake Chicago skyline" photo opportunity, and beat our collective chronic illnesses into submission so we could make the very best of the conference.  (Note to Jenni's friends:  If she suddenly starts shoving her iPhone down into her shirt, forgive her.  She developed some serious insulin pump envy during BlogHer, and now she wants technology in her bra, too.)  And Jenni and I experienced what can only be called Mrs. Potato Head Effect, which may spawn a party for next year's BlogHer conference.  (Click through for an explanation.)

BlogHer '10 is in NYC next year.  No flight required for me.  That, plus the knowledge that many of these fine blogger friends wil be in attendance, makes my attendance almost definite.  Hopefully next year there will be more medblogger panels!!

July 29, 2009

PatientBloggers at BlogHer09.

The catalyst that brought me to BlogHer was a conversation back in October 2008 with Lisa Stone.  Lisa and I met at the BlogHer Outreach event in October and I talked with her about the patient blogging community and how we're truly changing our health outcomes through blogging about our illnesses and connecting with others.

Fast-forward to July 2009, when the PatientBlogging panel debuts at BlogHer, with Jenni Prokopy, Loolwa Kazoom, Casey Mullins, and me on deck as panelists, with Mr. Lady as our moderator.

I will admit to being very nervous before this panel, because it's one thing to write online behind the protection of a computer screen - another thing completely to speak candidly before an audience about our personal health issues.  But sitting there, in front of people who actively sought out the PatientBlogger panel, and elbow-to-elbow with some terrific patient bloggers, I felt like it was almost instantly comfortable once the discussion started.

(It helped that my fellow medbloggers Rachel, Lee Ann, and Kim were right there in the front row.  Familiar faces ease nerves!) 

The PatientBlogger panel at BlogHer.  More on this photo later.  Sorry I'm not smiling.  :)
The PatientBlogging Panel at BlogHer '09.  For some reason, I'm not smiling.  But I was v. happy.

Jenni opened up by talking about the highs and lows of patient blogging, including the notion of being defined by our diseases.  Easy for me to chime in there - "That's actually the tagline of my blog, and I think it's important to remember that diabetes is definitely a part of me, but it's only one part of me.  I'm also married, but that doesn't mean I'm only someone's wife.  There are many, many parts to the whole.  Diabetes is just a part of me."

We talked about what it was like to connect with people who "get it."  About connecting both on and offline with people who share our experiences and sharing best practices while making it clear that we aren't offering medical advice.  

"Big, fat disclaimer, guys."  I kept repeating myself, when asked how we deal with people thinking we're offering medical advice.  "It's not medical advice.  We aren't perfect. Just because we’re patient-bloggers and we’re writing about our illnesses, it doesn’t mean we’re awesome at managing them. I’m writing about diabetes every single day, I’ve been diabetic for 23 years, and I don’t have perfect blood sugar results.”

Loowa talked about her experiences with chronic pain, and how she battled the healthcare system to get the care she rightly deserved.  As a panel, we chimed in with our similar stories of what being a patient in this healthcare system is really like, from Casey fighting for insurance coverage for injections that would preserve the positive outcome of a previous surgery to Jenni talking about how her condition (fibromyalgia) isn't even recognized as legitimate by the medical field at large.   

It was like being in someone's living room, having coffee, only we were miked and people in the audience raised their hands to ask questions.  But it was intimate.  Comfortable.  We, as a group, were protected within that room.  People spoke their minds, and let themselves cry, without fear.

So much that Ree of the Hotfessional boldly took the microphone, introduced herself, at at the gentle urging of Mr. Lady (okay, Mr. Lady offered to make out with her but work with me on this, I'm in the moment), pulled off her wig and exposed her beautiful bald scalp to the room.  "I look like I have cancer, but I don't."  Ree lives with alopecia and despite her assertion that she doesn't experience "symptoms" of her illness, she is a professional woman in a professional environment, dealing with being bald as a woman.

"No one has seen me without this, except my husband and my children."  She was crying, along with almost everyone else in the room who was watching her in awe.  "The way you react mentally to your life with your illness is your own business, but putting it out there, you will get the support you want.  It will do wonderous things for you."   

Sometimes it's hard for us to blog about our diseases.  It can be really emotionally intense to log on to your blogging platform and post, for the whole internet to scrutinize, the real struggles we experience as we live with chronic illness.  Sometimes readers lash out and attack us for our opinions or our care regimen.  Sometimes we are forced to have thicker skin than we'd like.

But sometimes blogging about our conditions is what gets us through the day.  Sometimes it's the email from someone saying, "Hey, me too," or "You helped me feel stronger today."  Sometimes it's the comments from people who really understand what it's like to live with these diseases.  And sometimes it's simply knowing we aren't alone.  And that we never have been alone.

And now, with the support and love of our communities, we never will be alone again.

Patient blogging ... that's some powerful stuff.  This was an inspiring experience, I'm honored to have shared this panel with such inspiring women, and I'm humbled to be part of this incredible community.

July 28, 2009

Charlie and the Twitter Factory.

I have a lot to catch up on, including a post about Lee Ann and I braving the Indiana highways and then the BlogHer conference, but let me just say this first:  I like Charlie Kimball.  I like him as a person, as a fellow diabetes advocate, and as a race car driver because, really, that is just damn cool.  So there's my big disclaimer:  I like Charlie.  (I even have a post ready to write about meeting up with him at Friends for Life a few weeks ago.)

So I do not like to see Charlie, the guy, under such attack for the @racewithinsulin Twitter account.  Plenty of bloggers are up in arms about the Novo/Kimball union and its steps into social media, like John Mack from the Pharma Marketing Blog.  I felt a little protective of my fellow PWD, which prompted me to do a little investigating.  I wanted to know how Novo, the company, feels about this whole Twitter/marketing/Pharma thing.

So I asked them.

Charlie Kimball and Kerri Sparling.  Dressed almost identically.  Weird.

Ambre Morley, Associate Director of Product Communications at Novo Nordisk and I met at the Friends for Life conference, and I told her that I was concerned about the backlash towards Charlie and the branded Twitter account.  "I have a ton of questions, and I know some of the PR people who are questioning the account might do well to hear the answers.  Like why the account doesn't follow anyone.  And what's the deal with those blatantly branded Tweets?"

She agreed to answer my questions.  And since Novo is the first I can think of to jump in with a pharma-branded Twitter account with a "real face," I wanted to hear the answers.  (Note:  All links to pages within the answers were added by me.)

Kerri:   Charlie is a valued member of the diabetes community, so I can understand why you guys chose to partner with him. But what made you decide to start a Twitter acct?  

Novo:  When we decided to partner with Charlie, we explored a number of different opportunities. He was already "tweeting" personally, however, when he asked about tweeting about our partnership, which includes the insulin he takes everyday, Levemir and NovoLog, we knew had to figure out a way to do it right. We didn't think it was right to ask him to put the prescribing information on his page and monitor every time he tweeted about diabetes. So we created a new account that we could ensure met all regulatory guidelines. Why Twitter? He was already doing it, so we wanted to create something that would easily fit into Charlie's lifestyle.
 
Kerri:  Why are Charlie's personal Tweets and his Levemir Tweets exactly the same?  
 
Novo:  It's important to understand that Charlie does all of the tweeting, both on his personal page and on the Novo Nordisk Race with Insulin page. It's up to him. They aren't always exactly the same, but where convenient and appropriate, he uses the same tweets, as it's probably easier to copy and paste. There are times when the tweets are different.
 
Kerri:  Does Charlie write the Levemir Tweets or is there an editorial vetting proces? Can you explain the thoughts behind the "branded" Tweets?  
 
Novo:  Charlie writes all of the tweets, including the Levemir and NovoLog branded tweets.  We provided him with instruction for how to tweet about the brands and comply with pharmaceutical regulations. So, anytime he tweets the words Levemir or NovoLog, a link to the product prescribing information has to be included.
 
The reason? Take a look at the page from your computer. You see the patient safety information on the left, along with a link to novonordiskcare.com on the right, which contains all of the prescribing and other important information. The challenge is, because the majority of Twitter users read and update their accounts from mobile devices, we knew most people would not see that information if Charlie wrote a tweet. That's why the prescribing information is there. It's required. It's similar to when a company does any stand-alone promotion of a product, that information has to be there.
 
More importantly, it's important to understand that the branded tweets aren't random. Charlie takes Levemir and NovoLog, so when he decides to tweet that he just took his insulin, he really just did. We don't believe a pharmaceutical company has tried to do branded tweets before, much less with a spokesperson who takes the insulin. But we're still learning and trying to figure it out. It's been a fun and definitely interesting time.  
 
Kerri:  Why doesn't the @racewithinsulin Twitter acct follow or reply to anyone? What kind of regulations must be in place for a Twitter acct of this kind?  
 
Novo:  While Charlie is the face of Race with Insulin, it is a corporate account for Novo Nordisk.  At this time, we aren't able to follow anyone, as pharmaceutical usage of social media is very regulated and we want to ensure we do it right. This is just the first phase and as we grow and learn, hopefully we will be able to follow people in the future. We are also open to suggestion.

After speaking to you, we took your advice and set up an e-mail address for the page. (Editor's Note:  I suggested that the account would seem a bit more accessible if they, at the very least, had some contact information.)  You should see an image update in the next week with the new address. But as I know you know, social media moves in real time and we haven't quite caught up to that speed in pharma. We're making baby steps but we're trying to stay in the race.
 
Kerri:  We know you guys are breaking new ground with this Twitter account, so what should we expect as part of your growing pains?  
 
Novo:  We're still learning. We want to do a lot, but we also understand that the pharmaceutical industry is the most heavily regulated in this country. We won't be able to do things as easily as say computer or food companies, but you have our commitment that we do plan to try to engage. Stay tuned.  
 
Kerri:  How has Novo felt about the blog backlash to @racewithinsulin, and how has Novo moved to protect themselves and Charlie?  
 
Novo:  If no one talks about what you do, you probably haven't made much of an impact. That said, it would be nice if the talk was all positive and more importantly, true. We encourage people to ask questions and give us an opportunity answer. We're pretty transparent about our challenges and open to discussion about any ideas to make it better. There were some false assumptions gaining traction, but that's also the nature of this business. You can never please everyone, but you can only hope that social media will adopt some of the principals [sic] of traditional journalism and report the facts, before making assumptions. We're working to move quicker to respond but also encouraging anyone to just ask. As for Charlie, he has been great. He's in a profession where he already has a lot of attention on him and is working with us to help make the page a success.

Kerri:  What do you want the Twitter community to understand about the aims of @racewithinsulin?
 
Novo:  We are very happy to be working with Charlie and wanted to reach as many people as possible. Twitter was an application that Charlie was already using and we wanted to find a way where he could continue to do so and incorporate our relationship.

It's still new and we're just getting started, but we hope to continue to find new, innovative ways to continue to reach everyone with his powerful message that diabetes does NOT slow him down!

*   *   *

I'm glad Novo went out on a limb and dove into the social media space, and I'm also glad that they agreed to answer my questions.  Thanks, Ambre!  What are your thoughts about Pharma in the social networking space?  Don't just say "Hey, they're doing it wrong!"  If you think it's so wrong, what would make it right? 

July 27, 2009

Wait, You Wanted Pictures??

Wait, what's that?  You want to see pictures?  Oh hell yes I have pictures.

This event offered more than interaction with a seemingly open-minded Pharma company.  This event gave me the opportunity to meet and reunite with some of my favorite bloggers in the diabetes space.

Here's the standard shot that the crew at Roche took of all of us.  We look downright jolly.

Jolly bloggers

The night before our meetings with Roche, we went down to the hotel bar and hung out for a few hours (before getting kicked out, sort of, and ending up in Christel's room until the wee hours of the morning and being harassed by "Tim," who has been explained in several wrap-up posts from other bloggers).  

Here are three very special members of my diabetes family, even though this was my first time meeting Scott in person:

We are family.
 
But, of course, every family photo session has it's awkward moments where the big guy tries to toss the tiny blond in the air.  The Ninja and the me could only laugh and end up captured in awkward, eyes-closed grinniness:

Christi gets tossed.

There are plenty of wonderful people I finally connected with, but without formal photographic evidence.  Like Will from Life After DX, who I've been reading for years and am always inspired by.  And Bernard (spelled Bernard) from The Diabetes Technology Blog, who I should have met years ago but until this past week, had never had a chance to hug in person.  I had the honor of meeting Crystal (aka CalPumper), Christopher Thomas, Chris Bishop, Ginger Viera, and Brandy Barnes for the first time, too.  And there were also the several bloggers who I have had the pleasure of meeting before, like Fran, Amy, Manny, Christel, Scott Strumllo, LeeAnn, SuperG, Scott King, Kelly, Jeff, Gina, Riva, Kelly Close, Allison, and Bennet.

Also, my old friend Sandra Miller was in attendence, representing with Bennet Dunlap (again, I know!) and Jeff Hitchcock as the parents of children with diabetes.  David from Diabetes Daily was also there, on behalf of his wife Elizabeth (who is type 1).  Charlie Cherry and David Mendosa represented for the type 2 crew, and Kitty Castelinni stood as one of the few recipients of a pancreas transplant.

So we all met up. 

And goofed off.

A potluck of bloggers ... and this isn't even everyone.

Including Bennet showing off his fabulous pink camera (ooooh!), a late-night packy run, Kelly sharing stories from her diabetes past that made me want to give her a huge hug, a Blair Witch moment and, of course, Christel throwing down to "Tim," a random caller who was intent upon snuggling with Mr. Diabetic Rockstar.  Needless to say, all 4'11" of Christi kept Tim from making any fast moves, and to say that Christopher owes her big time is a gross understatement.  ;)

(Sidenote:  David, I still think it was you who called from the bathroom, but the world may never know the real truth.)

It was a true potluck of diabetes bloggers, representing from all sorts of different demographics.  Unfortunately, there were several bloggers who were missing from this group, and I'm hoping - no, damnit, I'm demanding - that there is an invitation sent to more members of our influential blogging family for any future meet-ups.

These people are my friends.  They're the people who understand what living with diabetes is really like, and they are the external support network I have been hoping for since my diabetes diagnosis in 1986.  So thank you to Roche for giving me the opportunity to say hello to, and hug warmly, the people in this community that I cannot wait to see again.

More of my photos are in Flickr, and there's also a D-Blogger Summit photo pool where you can grab the best of the shots!   

Roche Diabetes Summit: SUM Edition.

You have already read some great wrap-ups of the Roche Diabetes Blogger Summit from some of my fellow bloggers - Amy, Manny, David, Gina, Christopher, Bennet (Note: Mr. YDMV's updates are fictional.  Well, mostly.), and Sandra.  I just wanted to chime in with my thoughts and add my photos to the collection.  :)

We met up in Indianapolis on Wednesday afternoon, after I had flown from LaGuardia to Detroit and then to Indianapolis.  (Yes, I took two flights so that I could avoid taking the itsy bitsy plane that Roche originally had scheduled me on.  The travel people at Roche were very patient and understanding regarding my travel issues, and I really appreciate their compassion.)

But apparently my fear of flying wasn't kept within the travel coordinator circle, as several people from Roche mentioned at the dinner that "Some of us even traveled despite our fear of flying," and heads slowly turned towards me, to which my only xanax-laced response was "I walked."  

Good thing I don't mind being laughed at.  Or with.  More on that later.  

I'm no fool - part of what Roche wanted was to be talked about in the blogs.  Hence why they asked many of the diabetes bloggers to visit their headquarters and brainstorm about social networking and Pharma involvement.  But Roche did this right - they paid for our travel, they paid for our hotel, they made us feel as though we were valued guests, and they listened when we offered our opinions.  We didn't travel on our own dime and feel taken advantage of, but instead appreciated.  That's a good start, in my book. 

It was really a groundbreaking sort of event, with Roche having the balls (go ahead and quote me on that, Rodger the Social Media Warlord) to invite a pack of opinionated bloggers into their house to talk frankly about social media and Pharma - specifically, THEIR Pharma.  We talked about ways that Pharma can appropriately enter the social media space without being received by a mob with torches and pitchforks.

In my opinion, Pharma needs to simply embrace the fact that transparency, honesty, and being open to feedback can make a huge difference in how they are perceived by their patient base.  For Roche to sign on to a social networking site by creating a fake profile or pretending to actually live with diabetes, well that's just plain stupid because we'll sniff them out in a second and destroy them.  However, if Roche, or any other Pharma crew, is willing to put a face to their company and leap into social media by saying, "We aren't living with diabetes, but we want to help improve the lives of people living with diabetes - that's why we are here and that's why we want to be engaged" ... that kind of disclosure and transparency will go a very long way.

I gave the example of Albert Chen, a member of the Agamatrix team who, with grace, honesty, and class, joined the diabetes blogosphere with his blog "What Is Diabetes?"  He said, right in his bio, that he didn't have diabetes, but wanted to better understand the community he was working to serve.  That, Pharma companies who are reading this, is the way to work with the diabetes online community.  Get to know us.  See that we are more than just the sum of our co-pays.  Remind us that Pharma has a face, and more importantly, that you remember we are people, too.  

The Roche team didn't always directly answer the questions, but I can understand that "Why aren't strips cheaper" isn't a question that they can answer without sounding like a business.  However, they need to understand, and always remember, that their business is our life.  So while that chasm remains wide, I think this was an important step in beginning to bridge that gap.

The gap - we're making efforts to bridge it.

June 26, 2009

The Faces of the Philly Meet Up.

The conference I'm speaking at this week is about social media and how pharma and patient bloggers can work together to benefit the patient community.

My main points are to drive home the fact that even though we might be perceived as "target markets" and "diabetes consumers," we are people first.  We're people before we're patients, before we're anyone's consumer base, before we're diabetics.

People.

And last night, I had the distinct pleasure of hanging out in Philadelphia's Black Sheep Pub with a bunch of people who just happen to have diabetes.   Sitting among all these shining faces (because, holy crap was it hot in there), I wished that Big Pharma was there with us to see the real people behind the diseases about which they create power point presentations.

The D-Bloggers Descend on Philly
 Hey Pharma!  See us!  We're your "target market!"

It was great meeting everyone last night!  Thanks for coming out in that heat, and I'm looking forward to seeing you guys again!!

June 12, 2009

Community, Everywhere!

Earlier this week, dLifeTV did some filming for our upcoming new season.  And as part of a segment we're doing on online diabetes support, I had the chance to see Nicole Johnson again and to meet two members of the dLife community - Mark and Shauntaye.

Tune in to dLifeTV to catch these new shows!

We talked about our common experiences as people with diabetes, and how online communities have positively impacted our health.  I thought about all of us, writing our blogs and really sharing so much of our personal medical experiences, and how much this whole journey has helped improve my life with type 1 diabetes.  Our little community here has gotten so big.

I spent the better part of this week confirming travel arrangements for the next few months, and even though I'm not a very good (or calm) traveler, just knowing I'll have the chance to connect with more people who "get it" makes all the flight anxiety worth it.  I'm looking forward to visiting Philadelphia for a conference at the end of the month and hanging out with some fellow d-community members.  I cannot wait to go to Orlando in a few weeks and attend CWD's Friends for Life conference.  I'm excited for the Diabetes Summit in Indianapolis in July, and for the BlogHer event the next day in Chicago.  And I am so honored to be speaking at the BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas in the fall.  Lots of travel for a cause I'm still so passionate about.

But damn ...  I'm going to need a bigger suitcase.  ;)

Since I started blogging four years ago, I've had the opportunity to meet many fellow diabetics, either through SUM or TuDiabetes or the JDRF or dLife.  We're a supportive and inspiring crew, and I'm really looking forward to meeting more of us "in person."

June 09, 2009

Zombie Lows.

Weirdest dream.  Ever.The BEEEEEEEEP! woke me up from a dream about having my arm chewed off by a zombie that looked like Kevin James.  (Zombie dreams are common in my house, apparently.)

I wasn't sweaty and my skin didn't have that flushed, clammy feel, but my whole body was extra-sensitive and jittery.  Like being covered in sand, only every granule was touching a nerve.

For once, I didn't bother testing.  I knew I was low.  The Dexcom was howling from underneath the bedside table (where I must have lobbed it like a softball when it went off the first time.)  The display kept glowing "LOW."  I reached into the drawer of the bedside table and retrieved a tube of cake frosting.  Red.   

It's been a while since I've had a low in the wee hours of the morning.  I've woken up on the lower side a few times in the past several weeks (morning numbers in the 60's and 70's - too low for me), but there haven't been any low messes at 3 am. 

Until last night, of course.

Still unnerved from the Kevin James zombie dream, I consumed some cake frosting and let the sugar settle into my system.  It was absolutely silent -  not a sound coming from the roads outside or the cats milling around in the living room - and my brain kept screaming for more sugar.  

This is where I get stupid every time.  The frosting I ate was enough to cover my reaction.  After I tested, I saw that I was 45 mg/dl.  I'd already eaten about 20 grams of carbs, which would have brought me up nicely to about 100 and left me there.

But I had a brain full of zombie nightmare panic and low blood sugar, so I stumbled out into the kitchen. And proceed to drink about three cups of juice to quell my anxiety, checking in the hallway for zombies after each gulp.  It's so psychological, the way that juice calms the "low feeling" faster than anything else, purely in my mind.  Even if my blood sugar doesn't budge a bit, just drinking something sends my brain the "it's going to be okay" message.  (But I hate over-treating, because then I just end up high. See also: This morning's waking 290 mg/dl blood sugar.)

I wander back to bed, Abby circling my feet like a shark while I walk.  I'm starting to feel better, even though it doesn't dawn on me yet to maybe bolus for all the extra juice I drank.  Running my toothbrush under the water (because I can't stand waking up with that juice taste in my mouth and yes, this post-low dental hygiene thing happens all the time), I look into the mirror.  My hair is a disaster.  My eyes are wild, like a child who has been locked in a closet for days on end, pupils darting from side-to-side, panicked.  The bags under my eyes are distressing and apparently packed for a long trip.

God, I look awful.  Is this what a low looks like from the outside?

I remember the zombie dream and realize how ridiculous it was.  What kind of person dreams that Kevin James is gnawing off her arm?

I smile.  

And am startled to see my red teeth grinning back at me, stained from the frosting.   

May 13, 2009

Guest Listener.

I boarded the train in Connecticut and from the time I found Karen (of Bitter-Sweet fame), I was downing Dex4 liquid things, glucose tabs, and Smarties constantly.  The Dexcom kept BEEEEEEP!ing, my meter kept confirming, and I kept infusing the sugar.  I was under 70 mg/dl for the entire train ride, the cab ride, and then the first ten minutes of the support group meeting in NYC.  By the time the group arrived and we were doing introductions, I was punchy from the sugar rush.

"Hi, I'm Kerri Sparling and I've been low since Karen and I got on the train in Connecticut." 

This is how I decide to introduce myself to the support group in NYC?  Great.  Already off to a decidedly awkward start.  (But I'm nothing if not awkward.)

But these women were patient with my ramblings.  And they truly are something else.  Katie Savin, organizer of the NYC support group for young women with type 1 diabetes, has found some of the most compassionate, open, and well-spoken women in the NYC area to share her space with.  I was invited at their guest speaker, but I was humbled to be more of a guest listener.

They share openly.  Someone asked a question about CGMs and three people leapt up to show their sensors.  A woman shared her emotional journey with complications and guilt and the rest of the group immediately offered words of support and validation.  Another woman is getting married nine days from today and went on her pump barely a month ago, and the group offered tips on hiding her pump in her dress.  Another (with the best hair I've EVER seen) is marrying in November but proactively preparing her body for pregnancy, and I felt her frustrations intimately. 

We talked about what it's like to be newly diagnosed, or a diabetes veteran.  Some on pumps, some on shots, some on CGMs, some on the fence - it was a melting pot of personalities and passions, all lives laced with type 1 diabetes.

It.  Was.  So cool. 

(And I finally had a chance to meet LeeAnn from The Butter Compartment and author Elizabeth Joy. I love putting smiles and inflection to the writers I read, and I was very happy to say "Oh my gosh, hi!" in person.  They are two lovely and extremely talented writers, that's for damn sure.)

The hour and a half meeting ended too soon, and we found ourselves tumbled out onto the sidewalk and chatting out there.  Sidewalk chats lead to sidewalk photo shoots.

And photo shoots lead to "Are you going to put that on the blog?"  

Of course I'm going to put this on the blog, damnit!  :)

(Answer:  Yes.) 

And then we blinked and about ten of us were sitting at the Gramercy Diner and still talking our faces off.  I am constantly amazed by the steady and comfortable flow of conversation between diabetics, and how quickly the conversations stray away from diabetes stuff.  We are not short on things to say, it seems.  (Just short on islet cells.  :: rimshot ::)

Much like the Fairfield County dinners, the group is comprised of people who have nothing in common but diabetes.  But at the same time, that gives them everything in common that they need to sit and talk for hours on a Tuesday evening and become friends.

Thanks for having me, Katie - I was very honored to be your guest.  I hope to see you guys again soon!! 

May 07, 2009

Wrist and Shout: The Vlog.

I have a lot of things I need to follow-up post on (i.e. product reviews, the guy from Panera, guest posts, etc.), but I found myself recording a ridiculous lunchtime vlog about the cortisone shot, blood sugars, and my ridiculous wrist issue.

Thankfully, my wrist seems to be on the mend, but the shot wrecked some havoc on my numbers.  I'm hoping that this is the beginning of the end of this ridiculous problem.

Also - Siah?  Ridiculous.

April 22, 2009

SUM Grand Rounds.

Grand Rounds Submissions - due April 26th!Grand Rounds are being hosted here, on Six Until Me, next Tuesday.  Of course, there isn't a theme because that would wrongfully imply I was able to plan ahead even a little bit.  :) 

Submissions are due on Sunday, April 26th by 10 pm EST.  They can be emailed to kerri @ sixuntilme dot com.  Please put “Grand Rounds” in your subject line and include the following in the body of your email:

Blog Name: 
Blogger Name:
Blog URL:
Post Name:
Post URL:
Short description of post:

I'm really looking forward to your posts! 

April 07, 2009

Diabetics Running Amuck in New Haven.

I'm a road warrior ... or at least I was this weekend.  And it all started on Friday night, when I met Manny Hernandez for dinner in New Haven, and we were joined by Adam. 

Manny, Adam, and Kerri in New Haven.
 
Plenty of wine, beer, and coffee later (coffee was me - had to drive to Rhode Island after dinner), the three of us were knee-deep in discussions about Dexcoms, diagnosis dates, and our first low blood sugars.  These guys are true kindred spirits and excellent dinner dates. 

One thing that came up was our "before" and "after" with diabetes.  For Adam and Manny, they were both diagnosed in their late 20's, early 30's, respectively.  For me, I was diagnosed when I was in second grade.  Their "diabetes before" included decades of memories and a certain sense of self, not to mention memories without the disease.  My "diabetes before," for better or worse, doesn't include more than a handful of childhood memories without the disease, and my sense of self is coiled around some aspects of diabetes.

"What's better, though?  I mean, there are pros and cons to both and I don't see a definitive 'yay' to either, honestly."  I drank my second cup of coffee and let the caffeine spin around in my brain.

A lot of the people I'm in contact with that have diabetes were diagnosed in their childhood years - Howard at dLife, Christel, most of the Fairfield County dinner ladies - so they are dealing with the same "lifelong" diabetes as me.  But I've also met many late-onset type 1s - the LADA crew, as I fondly call them and then subsequently picture a fire engine - and their life-altering diagnosis must be so jarring, coming into their lives later.  Adjusting to diabetes wasn't much of a challenge for me because it's almost always been there.  I only had a year or two of elementary school before I was diagnosed.  I can't imagine finishing college and then being forced to change everything midstream. 

But I will admit to a bit of a pang of envy as I tried to remember my first low blood sugar while the guys described the recent memory of theirs.

"I'll have to ask my mom," I said.  "She'll remember." 

It's not a debate, believe me.  It's not a question of "Who has it worse?"  Type 1 diabetes, regardless of it's arrival date, is its own cyclone of discovery.  But the discussion made me realize how long I've had this and how old I'm not.  And when people talk about cures, how lives will be changed when a cure for diabetes is found, and even though I don't often think about a cure, I can't help but happily muse about "diabetes after."

I've kept the tags on for 22 years, just in case I need to make a return.  ;)

March 31, 2009

Townie Bar Meetup.

"What are you on?"Connecting with other d-folk!

Four sets of hands fumble for their hardware.

Me:  "I'm on a 522."

Karen:  "I have the other one?  The bigger one?  722?"

Erin:  "I've got Minimed, too."

M:  "Animas ping!"  (She reaches into her shirt and pulls out a pink pump.)  "I bet you didn't even know it was in there." 

Where does the question "What are you on?" get everyone to flash their pumps, other than at a dinner with fellow diabetics? 

Last night, four of us (me, Karen, Erin, and M) met up for another Fairfield County dinner at a townie bar in western Connecticut.   Despite the fact that none of us were locals, the townies in the bar accepted us and allowed us to occupy a table for two hours and chat about pumps, pregnancy, and coffee addictions.  (Dear Waitress,  Sorry I yelled to get your attention.  I was excited.  It was coffee!  I'm sorry.)  It's nice to hang with nice people who completely understand the need to briefly bleed before eating, and who get it when your "hose" is exposed. 

It has become a comforting tradition, with the attendees fluctuating dependent on the weather, the season, people's work schedules, etc, but there's always at least a handful of us who have a few hours to spare with new friends.  Note:  Beware of stories taking a decidedly non-diabetes turn, i.e. storing lipgloss without pockets.  ;)

Are you interested in meeting up?  Are you in Fairfleld County, CT?  Email me at kerri (at) sixuntilme (dot) com and we'll add you to the email list!

March 30, 2009

Trading War Stories.

It weird, because we originally connected through my diabetes blog and her diabetes podcast, and we spent a lot of time comparing war stories about our collective decades with diabetes. 

Diabetes was our introduction, but isn't the glue that holds our friendship together.

We grabbed dinner at Antico Forno in Boston's North End on Friday night with Christi and John, and I was again reminded of how good friends aren't necessarily the ones you talk with every day.  They can also be the ones who you go months without seeing but can fall right back in step with in minutes.

Kerri and Christel, reunited!

(We miss you guys already!!)

March 27, 2009

Diabetes Carnage.

I know my daily diabetes stuff produces a lot of waste, like the test strip I use every time I prick my finger and all the packaging that comes along with each disposable insulin pump infusion set. 

But it wasn't until I changed my pump and my Dexcom sensor at once that I realized how much carnage I leave in my management wake.  

Exhibit C (for crap, holy):

So.  Much.  Stuff!

If you scoot over to Flickr, you can see each item flagged in the photo, but the basic gist is that two small bits of technology attached to my body creates a lot of waste.  (The Blackberry is in the photo purely because I forgot to move it.  It isn't related to diabetes management.  Then again, with the number of emails I'm sending from that thing on an hourly basis on the climb, maybe it is.  Digression?  Yup.)

Other PWDs and parents of PWDs (POPWD?) have talked about the insane amount of diabetes-related garbage before, but this one night really showed me how so little goes such a long way - and not in a great way.  And with Earth Day coming up at the end of April, I'm extra-aware of the mess I make sometimes.  Do you guys put your stuff in a sharps container, or do you throw these things out?  I used to be so good about clipping syringe tips and filling those coffee cans and taping them shut with electrical tape, but the last few years have produced medical waste that doesn't look as "druggy" as the orange-capped syringes of my past diabetes life.  ;)

Once, in college, we had a party and threw out a lot of beer cans.  (There were seven of us in one house, okay?)  During the night, animals got into our garbage and we woke up to beer cans and - oh crap - syringes all over the front lawn.  I.  Was.  Mortified and have been paranoid ever since.  How do you guys dispose of your diabetes carnage?  I need some tips, because I'm getting sloppy.

(Also also, SUM may have some downtime this weekend, as I'm moving some web bits around.  So if you stop by over the weekend and hit a 404 or 500 error, please be patient.  I should be back up by Monday morning.  Thanks, and have a good weekend!)

March 26, 2009

SUM (More) Diabetes SEO.

Searching for ... Sausage?I went poking around in my Statcounter statistics for the search terms that are sending people to Six Until Me.  Most of the anticipated terms are there in full force, like "diabetes," "Kerri Sparling," and "blogs about insulin pumps," but there were some real zingers this week that I wanted to share. 

Another version of SUM SEO, right after this break tag! 

diabetes pun - I love that this term brought someone here.  I LOVE PUNS!!! 

aluminum foil in my aquarium hurt - I'm sorry, what?

i had a dream that i was diabetic - Funny.  I had a dream that I wasn't. 

why did my diabetic friend act crazy the other night - If I had a nickel for everytime my friends said this ...

making animals out of towels - This is a direct throw-back to the cruise I went on with Chris a few years ago, and I was enamored with the towel animals.  Still am - they amaze me!

can a type 1 diabetic ever drop down to just taking pills instead of insulin - Sigh.  Halle Berry, are you Googling for answers again?

xanax slogan - Makes Kerri "plane" happy!

snorkeling with an insulin pump - You may be better off using a snorkel. 

that cat Siah - Yes!  Siah is her own search term.  Now maybe she'll stop.  staring

type one diabetes weird facts
- We eat tree bark?  We can smell colors?  We can turn Jell-O into minature bicycles?  Oh, and we don't make insulin. 

frozen toast on a stick - FROAST!!!!

Even though this is a diabetes blog, the non-diabetes search terms make me laugh the hardest.  Especially this one:

Was Grimace a dinosaur? - Of course.  Of course that sent you here.    

March 05, 2009

I am Spam. Spam I Am.

F spam.Well this has never happened before.

Click.

Subject line:  diabetes 

Email:  rid myself from insulin lowered glucose from 600 mg/dl to avg of 69 mg/dl to118 mg/dl with an A1C reading from11.8 to 5.8 in 190 days check it out [name and URL redacted] doesn't cost a thing...hard to believe but that's life.... 

Fantastic.  Another spam peddler.  But I'm not looking for a war this morning, so I just filed it into the email folder called "Spamtastic" and proceeded to check my other new messages.

Click.

Subject line:  sorry

Email:  I email you before I read your blog sorry that you have a difficult life with diabetes 1 and am sorry I tried to help by referring a wed site to you as you stated "don't e-mail you with snake oils" it's just that somewhere somplace there is help for us for me it's the referral, Your so positive please stay that way and keep helping others as i shall. Sorry for imposing on you

Wait, what?  An apologetic spammer?  They read the How to Pitch to Bloggers post and the one about snake oil?  And they admitted that they spam people for the referral bonus?  Someone who is sorry that they imposed?  And bothered to email me to follow up?

This is a milestone.  I'm not sure what kind, but it's definitely never happened to me before.  Are we getting through to these people?  Are our raised voices actually being heard?

March 03, 2009

More Things I Found.

I found this handbag online, too, and I love it.It's become apparent that I'm more scattered these days than ever before.  I think I need a personal assistant, but one who can tolerate my mood swings, coffee addiction, and propensity for making up my own curse words.  Maybe someone from California Closets would be a good place to start, judging by the crap I found this morning:

Things I found in my workbag:
  Two iPod shuffles (both of which I thought I lost months ago),  a bottle of test strips with Code 22 (like every bottle I’ve opened in the last three months),  a TubeGuard, the cord that connects my meter to the computer for blood sugar downloads, the electric bill (whoa), a moleskin journal that I drag everywhere with me, and one lonely penny from 1994.

Things I found in my car:  Three discarded test strips, two Elbow cds, and a center console crammed with Dunkin Donuts napkins.  (Does that sound like the 12 Days of Christmas to anyone but me?  No?  Bueller?)

Things I found in the grocery bag: 
  Ahem

Things I found in my email inbox that I forgot about:
  An email from my mom asking me to confirm that I’m alive.  (Whoops – sorry, Mom.  I’m alive!)

Things I found hiding between the shower curtain and the liner when I climbed into the shower this morning: 
Siah.  I yelled.  She purred.  It was an odd scene.

Things I found in the work parking lot:  One small bird who was trying desperately to get inside of a discarded coffee cup.  I watched for a minute to make sure it wasn’t stuck, and laughed when I realized it was trying to snuggle up to it.  Apparently this bird didn't dig yesterday's snow extravaganza!

Things I found in my coffee cup:
  A tea bag.  That was unexpected, and proved how tired I was when I was trying to get my caffeine fix this morning.

Things I found in my bed this morning:  One fat Abby cat hiding under a pile of blankets and a rogue Dexcom receiver floating around.

Things I found funny:  This link from SomethingAwful - Real Books That Look Like Photoshops.  The "Barkley vs. Godzilla" made me laugh so hard my nose threatened to fly off my face. If you can look at these books without laughing, you are way more mature than I am.

Things I found out:  That I am in dire need of a vacation! 

February 23, 2009

Health 2.0 and Bloggy Bits.

I'm so blogging this.  Dude.I wrote this post on Diabetes Daily a few weeks back, but I wanted to share this here, too.  When it comes to patient blogging, there are plenty of people who want to know more and who benefit from the collective sharing of our stories … including those of us who are blogging:

Who Benefits From Patient Blogging?
 
I blog, therefore I am … a better diabetic?

Not exactly.  Even though I’m blogging about diabetes, I am not “a perfect diabetic.”  My blood sugars still ping all over the place at times and I’ve confessed to consuming more than my share of E.L. Fudge cookies.  I am not a perfect patient, and I won’t ever be.  (Is there even such a thing?)  Blogging about a disease doesn’t make me any less “diabetic.”  There is a misconception about patient bloggers – that we have it all figured out.  

Patient blogging is so powerful because it isn’t about finding perfect control or flawless diabetes management, but about sharing what real life with diabetes is like. This was a topic I blogged about early last week and the response from the community was overwhelming.  Patient blogging brings people with diabetes together, confirming time and time again that we aren’t alone.  It’s about sharing best practices and little coping mechanisms and those resonating moments of “Hey, me too!”  It’s the support community we need when diabetes becomes a little “heavy.”

But patient blogging doesn’t just benefit the patients.  Writing daily about diabetes has connected me with doctors who read to better understand the challenges of diabetes “au natural.”  Even though they take care of us and help us make sense of our medical condition, the closest they get to “understanding” is through our blogs.  Patient blogs offer a window into the personal side of disease management, one that our doctors wouldn’t see unless they bugged our homes or camped outside our windows.  By simply tuning in to the lives of bloggers who represent their patient base, doctors can better understand, and better treat, their patients.

My own doctor at the Joslin Clinic reads my diabetes blog.  Sometimes she emails me links to articles she’s come across that speak to my personal goals.  Other times she helps me out with things like insurance appeal letters.  She knows what kind of insulin I’m on and how I attempt to dose.  But through reading my blog, she also knows that there is so much more to me than my diabetes.  She sees stories about my life – my wedding, traveling, stupid cat stories – intertwined with diabetes moments.  It’s not just managing my diabetes specifically, but helping me manage diabetes in my life as a whole.  

The beauty of patient blogging is that it touches so many lives:  the doctors who want to learn more about their patients, the parents of children who cannot yet describe how they feel; the spouses of people living with this disease; the friends and families; the readers who tune in every day; and the bloggers themselves.  “Health 2.0” and other buzzwords don’t properly capture the positive influence of the diabetes community.  Through these moments of sharing, we learn from and support one another, and live fuller lives as people with diabetes.

And my health - my life - is better for it.

Thanks for hosting my post, Diabetes Daily, and feel free to share how you've benefitted from patient blogging, either as a blogger, a reader, or as a medical professional.

February 19, 2009

BlogHer '09 - PatientBloggers.

BlogHer '09 - Are they ready for PWD??Hey guys - I've been wanting to share this news for weeks now but just received the "green light."  I'll be at BlogHer '09 this summer in Chicago as part of the PatientBlogger panel!  (I'm grinning so big right now that my face actually hurts.) 

Along with two other panelists (who are announcing their good news tonight or tomorrow, so I won't steal their thunder), I'll be representing the diabetes blogosphere PROUDLY, talking about the power of PatientBlogging.  Here's the panel description:

Identity/Passions: PatientBloggers - You Are Not Your Disease, You Just Blog About It Every Day: 

Chronic or acute disease can change your life overnight…and make you feel as though you’ve lost control of your own body. PatientBloggers find support, information and resources, and regain a sense of control via their blogging. But are there also down sides? Privacy concerns abound. Being identified as just a person with a disease can feel confining. And what if you’re cured or in remission? Where does your blogging (and more importantly: That close-knit, supportive community you've developed) go from there?
YAY!  I'm already a mix of nervous/ecstatic/honored/OMGWTFBBQ and I am so excited for this opportunity. 
 
If you are going to BlogHer '09 in Chicago, please let me know!  I'm looking forward to meeting you!!

January 27, 2009

Not Perfect, Never Claimed To Be.

Diabetes perfection?  Nope.A few weeks ago, when I was gearing up to hear my A1C results, I admitted freely that the wedding stress of eight month ago really left it's mark on my numbers.

And over that weekend, I received several emails from people that said, "Me, too!  I have trouble lowering my A1C too, but every step towards my goal is a step in the right direction!"  I also received emails just wishing me some luck on controlling these numbers.

Then there was the one that asserted "A person in your public-facing position should have better control of their numbers.  You are a role-model and someone that should set an example to these young children.  An A1C of 7.5% is not good enough."

And then there was a comment from Dr. Bernstein:  "An A1c of 7% corresponds to an average BG of 180 mg/dl.  Not a wise target for someone who wants to become pregnant.  A normal A1c is 4.2-4.6 % -- not what the ADA promotes.  Pregnant non-obese non-diabetics usually have blood sugars below 70mg/dl."

I'm not sure what kind of impression people get of me from reading this blog, but if I've made the mistake of fooling you into thinking I know how to perfectly control my diabetes, that unfortunately is not the case. I'm not a role model, not like that.  I don't have perfect diabetes control and on some days, I'm not sure what to do next.  I am trying to fill in for my islet cells, for an organ that went rogue on me, and it's not a science I've perfected.  I'm working hard, every day, to achieve a level of life and health balance.

So to the folks who think I should have an A1C of 5.0% simply because I blog about diabetes ... for those who are reading and clucking your tongue against the roof of your mouth - "Oh, her baby is going to be upset in there if she has an A1c that high when she conceives." - I invite you to stop clucking around.  (Puns.  Cannot resist.  Sorry.)  SUM is a public blog, and I've made the choice to make my diabetes life a public one, but I'm not a doctor.  My A1C is not 5.0%.  I don't have this "all figured out."  (And I sometimes eat E.L. Fudge cookies when I'm frustrated.)  

But blogging has provided me with a support community I couldn't have imagined.  I can't even begin to tell you what kind of an impact you all have had on me, proving time and time again that I am not alone with this disease.  You guys make me feel connected, secure, and confident that every bump along the way can serve to educate me and make me a tougher (E.L. Fudge?) cookie. I appreciate the support, and I appreciate the criticisms because they are more than valid.  But don't expect me to have this thing completely controlled.

I want to be healthy, and I want to enjoy a healthy pregnancy in my future.  I am working to bring my body to a state of optimal health, but I'm not lying to myself, or to my readers, along the way.  Shit.  Gets.  In.  The.  Way.  I can't pretend to be perfect, but I am honest about my shortcomings, and I am trying to do better for myself and for my family

If you want to leave comments about how you think I should be better controlled, I'll agree with you.  If you want to peck at my armor and find the kinks, you won't have to look very hard.  I put all of this out there knowing the risks and the judgments that come with a public-facing blog.  And I appreciate that people care and offer their opinions and perspectives (both good and bad), and provide that community I was craving when I felt alone. 

But my diabetes, shared with the Internet or not, remains mine. 

Remember that before you pick up a stone.  My house isn't the only glass one.

January 26, 2009

The Biggest Loser: Diabetes-Style.

The Biggest Loser:  Diabetes-StyleReckon that on these here diabetes blogs (spits into spittoon), we do a lot of sharing.  We share our best diabetes practices, our literal highs and lows, and we also have the common bond of this disease.  And through these shared experiences, we learn to take care of ourselves, and each other. 

(Is that Jerry Springer's line?  I can't remember.  But in any event, I mean it.)  

So when I heard about The Biggest Loser:  Diabetes-Style, I knew this was another example of the power of the diabetes blogosphere.  Turns out that 18 of our very own are taking on a "Biggest Loser" type challenge, and they're letting us follow their progress and become inspired by them along their journey. 

My friend Landileigh, creator of Landileigh's Little World and this weight loss challenge, took some time to talk with me about The Biggest Loser:  Diabetes-Style and how she's hoping it will rock their worlds!

Kerri:  What made you want to start The Biggest Loser - Diabetes Style?   And how long is the program?

Landi:  With having Chronic Kidney Disease, I need to be at a weight that won’t be so hard on my body for when the time comes for dialysis. My good friend George over at TheBADblog.com was also going through a similar weight realization and I knew he couldn’t go through this alone, and neither could I. The Biggest Loser ‘D’ Style was born with helping the two of us out. I never thought I’d have 18 people join up!  We’ll be following the schedule of the show … so 12-16 weeks.

Kerri:  What was the catalyst?

Landi:  Seeing this picture! I never realized I’d gotten so .. ummm.. large.

Kerri:  You say on your site that it's not about diet or exercise, but more about supporting one another as you work towards better health. How are you guys rallying the troops and keeping everyone inspired?

Landi:  I’m sending daily emails to everyone who is participating, and posting on my new blog at www.landileigh.com.

Kerri:  How are you holding one another accountable? How do you keep track of where people are "starting from" and what their goals are?

Landi:  No holding back, it is out there on the internet for everyone to see. If you can’t post it and show it, you can’t say to yourself that you want to do something about it.  I have a large spreadsheet in Excel that is keeping it all [the results] straight for me.

Kerri:  You have Other Diabetes, and many of the other participants are also diabetic, or the parents of diabetic kids. Does the same kind of inspiration work for all kinds of participants, or do you need to tailor your approach?


Landi:  I think the main goal is doing this for our health, diabetes or not. Obesity and being overweight is one of the largest health concerns there is today. I’m not guiding people on what their diet/exercise plan is. There are tons of them out there for them to pick from. But I am asking that people say, "Here I am! I want to do something about it!" Kind of like an AA program for being overweight. I also wanted to help my comrades in the D-force!

Kerri:  What happens when you guys cross the finish line?


Landi:  For every week that you completed that week’s challenge and sent in your weight, your name goes into a hat. At the end of the 16 weeks, names will be drawn and given prizes. So far I’ve gotten donations from Rickina at StickMeDesigns and AmyT at DiabetesMine will also be donating prizes.

Kerri:  What happens once the 16 weeks are over?
 
Landi:  Hopefully they’ll be less of us! And I’ve already been asked to start a Biggest Loser ‘D’ Style II for people that weren’t able to get in on it this time.

To follow the success of the Biggest Losers:  Diabetes-Style, scuttle on over to Landi's blog and stay tuned!  (And look out for some prizes from me here at SUM - hopefully it won't be a lock of Siah's fur.)  Thanks, Landi!!

January 23, 2009

MedGadget Awards: You Guys Rule!

THANK YOU!!!!The polls are closed and the results are in - and Six Until Me has been named MedGadget's 2008 Best Patient Blog!!

(Insert huge grin here.)

This happened because of all of YOU, and I am honored and humbled.  A huge THANKS to Manny, JaimieH, and everyone at TuDiabetes for rallying the community.  Huge thanks to Mark at Mark's Daily Apple, Val at Getting Better, Dr. Anonymous, Berci at Science Roll, David at the community at Diabetes Daily, the community at Diabetes Forums, and Jeff and the inspiring moms and dads at Children With Diabetes for their help in passing the word.  And the whole crew on Twitter (@landileigh!), at my homebase of dLife, diaTribe, and every other person who passed on the link and encouraged people to raise the visibility of diabetes bloggers.

And a special thanks to Chris, my mom, my brother, my mother-in-law, and my wonderful friends who offered their tireless support and helped make a difference. 

Even though it was my personal blog that was nominated, this is a big win for the diabetes community at large.  People recognize that patient blogging - what we do every day - is worth taking note of.  We are influencing the medical world with our patient experiences.  We are making a difference.  I can't say it better than Kevin, MD, winner of Best Medical Blog:

"Whether your vote was for me, or for one of the other worthy finalists, your participation in the Awards further cements the status of medical blogs as an influential voice to be reckoned with in the national health care dialogue."

Thanks so much, guys.  We've won as a community, and it means so much to me to know you're all out there.

January 07, 2009

FDA Petition For Diabetes.

A little patient perspective goes an awfully long way.

And this time, the diabetes community is rallying to make a lot of patient perspective go as far as it can - straight to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to urge them towards creating a Diabetes Advisory Council.

Members of the diabetes community, myself included, are co-sponsoring a petition to achieve this advisory council goal.  Here is the core goal of the petition, as written on the website:

"Due to the very nature of the severity and prevalence of diabetes, the following leaders within the diabetes community, who have signed this petition, implore the FDA for the immediate creation of a Diabetes Advisory Council, whose goal would be to improve options for patients. This council would include practicing endocrinologists, diabetes educators and others communicating directly with patients. Our experience, focus, and keen awareness of the needs of the diabetes community would be an invaluable resource to the FDA as it faces the arduous process of evaluating new diabetes treatments.  Our aim is to improve options for patients.

We urge the new FDA leadership to recognize the urgent need for more safe and effective treatment options for diabetes and to reduce barriers to innovation. More treatment options will benefit patients. The disease is progressive. Delays in the availability of new treatments will only result in tremendous cost to public health and the economy.  Our recommendation can benefit patients without sacrificing their safety."

- Ask FDA to Better Serve Diabetes Patients

This petition isn't about passing unsafe drugs and paving the way for companies to market crappy products to our community.  It's not about turning a blind eye to drug-induced cardiovascular issues.  What this petition does is give people with diabetes, and the people who care for them, a clear voice in these government processes.  As the petition states, our "experience, focus, and keen awareness" of the needs of the diabetes community would be an invaluable resource to the FDA. 

We want safe and effective treatment options.  Diabetes is a disease that affects my life every single day, and I work hard to stay as healthy as possible.  I believe that the perspective of patients like us and those who love us can collectively raise our voices and bring newer, safer diabetes treatment options into our lives sooner rather than later.

I want a cure.

But for now, I'll settle for progress.

If you want to see a Diabetes Advisory Council created, sign the petition and pass it on.  And for more information on the programs the FDA already has in place for patient advocates, check out this link.  Help spread the word on how the diabetes community can make our collective voices heard.

January 05, 2009

Dexcom Disclosure.

Dexcom is now a sponsor of SUM.I use a Dexcom CGM.  (This isn't new news, but bear with me.)  During the course of the last year, the folks at Dexcom took notice of my bloggish ramblings.  And thanks to my honest feedback (yes, I told them that their device is the most comfortable for me, but the adhesive still needs work) and their support of the diabetes community, they've decided to sponsor me here at Six Until Me and provide my Dexcom products gratis.

I am very, very proud to be part of this agreement, and I'm also very grateful.  Even though my sensors are now covered by insurance, copays and deductibles are still what they are, and I'm thankful for any financial assistance that can come my way during these tough economic times.

However, I wanted to let you guys know what the deal is because I don't want there to be any questions about my relationship with different companies.  Disclosure is the responsibility of the blogger, and I wanted you guys to know about this agreement as soon as the proverbial ink was dry on the contract.  To be clear, yes, Dexcom is giving me my sensors for free.  They are now a sponsor of this blog.  They are going to be placing an ad here in the coming weeks, and you also may see me in their ad campaigns.  And I am using their product.

But it's important to note that my decision to use their product did not stem from a sponsorship agreement.  As I've written before, I tested the CGM models that were made available to me and made my decision to move forward with Dexcom based on my actual user experience, and prior to any agreements between myself and the company.  During the course of drafting this sponsorship agreement, I spoke at length with many of the folks at Dexcom and they're well aware that everything I write about Dexcom won't always be favorable (nothing is completely awesome - these technologies are still in development across the board), but what I say about their product will always be honest.  And unedited.  (And hopefully spelled correctly.) This is the disclaimer that has been provided by the Dexcom legal team and is now living in the disclosure section of my site:

"DexCom is a sponsor of www.sixuntilme.com and provides DexCom products to Kerri.  All content is that of the author and not reviewed or approved by DexCom."

So I'll continue to discuss the pros and cons of Dexcom'ing, with honest feedback about its accuracy, the BEEEEEEP!s, how it makes me feel emotionally, the flipping adhesive problems, and the moments when it bails me out of a potentially difficult diabetes situation.  The one things I'm now biased on are the financial implications of using a CGM.  I will not be paying for my sensors during the course of this sponsorship, so when a sensor comes loose after just a day or when the accuracy is spazzing out, I can't properly convey that feeling of "Arghhhh, frigging expensive sensor waste!"  But I do know what it's like to use this device and to fight for its coverage.  And I also know what managing diabetes has been like for the past 22 years, so I'm no stranger to the expense of this disease.

There's my moment of disclosure.  If you have any questions about this, or concerns about anything, please let me know.  I'm doing my best to give a true and honest perspective to you guys, and I want to make sure everyone knows where I stand here at SUM.  I work for dLife.  I'm sponsored by Dexcom.  And, if given the option, I would sell my soul to Nikon for making such a stellar camera.  But I want to be honest with you guys and I also wanted to share this exciting (at least to me) news, so now you know.  :)

December 30, 2008

The Year in Review: 2008.

Year In Review:  2008Sticking with a meme that's been circling for a few years now, here are the first lines of a definitive post from each month in 2008:

January: Last night, Chris and I wrapped up on the couch and watched Signs.

February:  Six Until Me has existed for almost three years now and over the last three years, I've had the opportunity to meet some of the best people. 

March:  Last week, I was scraping snow off my car.  [Note:  This is the origin of the Siah in the banana bit.]

April:  I can hear you, loud and clear!

May: Dear Blogosphere, I'm off to get MARRIED!

June:  The night before my wedding, NBF and Batman holed up in a hotel room with me, keeping me company and aiming to keep me sort of sane.

July:  Dear Insurance Company,I got your letter yesterday.

August:  Last night, I started the long trek back to RI for today's Joslin appointment.

September:  There's a lot of buzz in the blogosphere today about insurance denials and appeals, starting with an article in the Wall Street Journal about "Pushing Back When Insurers Deny Coverage For Treatment."

October:  Anyone who hasn't been storing their brain in a shoebox underneath the bed has probably realized that the economy is tanking.

November:  Happy World Diabetes Day, everyone!

December:  As with everything diabetes-related (or maybe just life-related), there are pros and cons to this whole continuous glucose monitoring thing.

Picking through my posts from this year has revved up my brain to write the Year In Review Part Deux: 2008.  A full recap for tomorrow.  For now, have fun in ye olde archives!

December 29, 2008

Insulin Issues.

What to do about cheesecake??"Now I thought you couldn't eat that?  Or can you just dose for it and it's okay?"

She wasn't being the dreaded "diabetes police," but she was just asking a question.  Type 2 diabetes is a familiar disease for some of Chris's relatives, so I can understand his aunt's confusion about how my type 1 diabetes is handled.  Wasn't I supposed to just avoid sugar?

"I can eat this," I gestured to the slice of cheesecake on my plate, "So long as I check my blood sugar beforehand, take the appropriate amount of insulin from my insulin pump, and I avoid a high blood sugar spike afterwards."

"So you can eat anything you want with that insulin pump?"

And this is where I get a bit confused.  Being a type 1 diabetic since I was a kid, I've always taken insulin.  Always.  I don't know anything about type 2 oral medications and I have no concept of managing diabetes solely through diet and exercise.  It's either been multiple injections or the insulin pump. 

Insulin is cool stuff.  It keeps me steady and solid on days when I'm following "the rules," but for things like holidays (where there is a whole dessert table and all kinds of sugary treats), I do have the option to up the bolus ante.  But a cure?  Nope.  Using insulin requires a lot of work.

The thing is, I think that insulin makes it seem like I can eat anything I want.  While I indulged in that piece of cheesecake after Christmas dinner, it was a risk I took.  I took more insulin, and I've read all these obtuse reports about how taking more insulin is tougher on our bodies. (Is that true - does anyone have a study they can point us to that states how insulin ages us or something?  I'm so curious.)  I risked the immediate spike and the latent spike in my blood sugar after eating the cake.  I wanted to indulge and I weighed the risk of this indulgence.  It's a split-second decision that my brain is programmed to make by this point.  Diabetes is all about coloring in the lines, i.e. keeping blood sugars well-controlled to minimize the impact on my body.

But I wonder what people think sometimes when they watch me eat.  How does it look from their eyes?  They know I have diabetes, and from their less-familiar vantage point, they view it as "serious" because I take insulin.  I use Equal in my coffee and I never drink the eggnog or have regular soda.  I almost always avoid the mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, and at family gatherings, there is usually a "sugar-free" dessert.  They hear me talk about blood sugar control and they know I work in diabetes advocacy.  They understand as much as they can, not actually living with the disease themselves.

But what to they think when I reach for a piece of cheesecake?  Do they think I'm "off the wagon?"  Do they think I'm being irresponsible because I'm eating a sweet?  Responsible because I'm testing and shooting accordingly?  Does it confuse them to see me clamor for a glass of grape juice when my blood sugar is low?  Do they wonder why every time they see me, there appear to be new "rules" for managing my type 1 diabetes? 

Diabetes is a constantly shifting platform that we're trying to balance on.  Every day is different, every diabetic is different, and the rules do seem to change every day.  On Christmas, I ate cheesecake and never sported a spike.  Last night, a cup of tea tossed me towards 200 mg/dl.   

"A pump isn't a cure, though, right?  I mean, you still have to prick your finger and tell the pump what to do, don't you?"

She's learning, petal by petal.  And despite all these years, so am I.   

December 24, 2008

Christmas Puns.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and we're on the road.
Driving home to Rhode Island, the traffic was slowed.
The stockings were hung, but they weren't hung by us.
We're en route to see family, to bond and to fuss.

Flanked on all sides by the cars in their lanes,
We tried to distract ourselves with silly games.
"Let's sing a song," he suggests, and she tries.
But the lyrics that she knows are all improvised.
"A night moose?  What is that?"  He laughs as he steers.
And they're laughing so hard that they almost shed tears.

But then, in the distance, the brake lights do flash.
And our heroes press hard with their hands on the dash.
For what, in the distance, do they spy through the glass?
It looks like a sleigh, but what's that gray mass?

"That's Santa!"  she yelled, her hands through the sunroof.
"That's his red hat, his jacket ... but those aren't reindeer hooves."
And they stared out in awe as the wind gently tosses
A Santa sleigh lead by ... is that Siah Sausage?
"No way,"  he remarks, as he pulls to the side
Of the road as we watch Siah fly through the sky.

Her gray coat was dusted so lightly with snow
And her little gray nose had a slight reddish glow.
Behind her, the rest of the reindeer troop flewSiah Sausage leads Santa's sleigh!!
With Ms. Sausage in front of this Christmassy crew.

"Wasn't she sleeping when we left the house?
Wasn't she quiet, on top of the couch?
Is this really happening?  Or am I just low?"
"How she knows Santa is what I'd like to know."

They stared as the sleigh was pulling out of sight
With Miss Siah flying with all of her kitty might.
She soared above cars and she pulled the big sleigh,
She aimed to help Santa deliver that day.
And with the roar of a kitty who know a good pun,
She yelled, "Meowy Christmas to you, everyone!"

December 23, 2008

Thanks, SuperG.

Sometimes something makes me laugh so hard and smile so widely that it makes my face hurt, in that wonderful way.

Great video, SuperG.  I can't wait to see what YouTube Tuesday #200 brings!! 

November 30, 2008

Fin NaBloPoMo.

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

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

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

November 28, 2008

Le Food Meme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Who cooks more frequently at your home?

My husband, because he is actually good at it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 23, 2008

Birdhouse In My Soul.

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

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

I thought they were wicked cool.  And extremely random.

Birdhouse in my soul.

Sometimes you find beauty where you least expect it.

Sometimes, you also find birdhouses.  ;)

November 10, 2008

Waldorf'ing It.

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

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

Kerri and Chris, black tie and all!

Chris and I at the gala, feeling rather spiffy.

Fran, Kerri (me), and Gina

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

Gina, Tom, and Kerri (me)

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 09, 2008

SUM Diabetes Blogging.

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

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

November 04, 2008

He Made History.

History.

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

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

Siah Wants You ...

 

Siah wants you ... to vote!

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

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

November 02, 2008

Patients and the Web.

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

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

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

November 01, 2008

Shoot.

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

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

Who else is in this mess?

October 31, 2008

Red Riding Hood.

For those of you who have been with me from the beginning here at SUM, you've seen the Red Riding Hood costume before.  But due to the fact that I had no time to prepare a costume for work and I was in charge of wrangling things in for the dLife Halloween Party (my coworkers' costumes were FANTASTIC, by the way), I had to recycle.  Just call it a green Halloween.  ;)

Kerri "Red Riding Hood" Sparling

Happy Halloween, everyone!  And if you have a photo of your costume from today, post it in the comments section.  I want to see what everyone else dressed up as!!!  I'm off to my brother's house for the spooky festivities - pictures to come! 

Stay safe, and for crying out loud, eat at least one Snicker's bar, would you?  :)

October 30, 2008

Guilty Pleasure Time.

Today has been a day of awkwardness already.  To wit:Mrs. Kerri Clumsy

  • I tried to get into the wrong car this morning because I forgot that I don't drive the Jetta anymore.  Whoops.  But I'm trying to blame that on a lack of coffee in my system.
  • I walked into work with my skirt tangled in pump tubing, because I forgot to adequately tuck it all in before I got out of the car.  Argh.
  • Made coffee in my fancy pants SUM mug this morning without realizing that the remnants of yesterday's coffee were still floating around in there.  Yuck.  Had to rinse and renew.
  • Went to sit down in my chair while talking to someone and almost missed, nearly landing my arse on the floor.
  • (Mind you, it's only about 9:30 in the morning at this point.)
  • Fired up iTunes and blasted ... Yanni.  Yes, Yanni is sometimes the soundtrack of my editorial days.  I love him.  I want to put him on the cover of the romance novel of my life.  Yanni ...  (Awk. Ward.  But I love him.)
  • Laughed out loud at something when the office was completely silent.  Nothing like waking everyone up with my mega-decibel giggle.
  • Went for coffee downstairs and gave the lady a one instead of a five, causing me to stand there cluelessly while she neglected to ring up my purchase.  "You gave me a one instead of a five."  I returned from the mental moon.  "Oh, shoot, sorry about that."
  • And walking back up the stairs to the office, the thigh holster I was wearing to hold my pump started to slide, causing me to grab for my leg and hold the strap in place while trying to waddle to my desk, where I could hitch the holster back up.  Nothing like having the people in the board room thinking my underpants are falling down as I walk up the stairs.  Fantastic.
Grace:  Im doin it wrong.

October 28, 2008

Prepping For Halloween.

We're working on getting in the spirit for Halloween here in Sparling Country, and to help prep, we checked out a very cool jack o'lantern exhibit here in Fairfield County.  The layout was impressive - there were a few hundred jack o'lanterns on display, and they ranged from simple to simply amazing. 

The impressive pumpkin patch

There were dinosaurs etched into the sides of these massive pumpkins.  Political pumpkins.  A little Beatles action.  And each new pumpkin patch was accompanied by a specially selected musical track. 

Taking pictures was tough because it was so dark and I don't have a tripod, but we were able to catch a few pumpkins with clarity.  This one, with King Neptune on it, was very, very cool.

King Neptune, the PumpKing?

And other jack o'lanterns were just plain neat to look at.

We thought this one was cool.

The experience was amazing, and definitely has us ready for Friday.  Full photo set on Flickr, but be prepared - some of them are wicked blurry.  I'm getting ready for my Snickers bar - ahem, Bennet - are you?!

October 27, 2008

Do Something!

Mollie Singer is a sweet girl, a talented singer, and a fellow type 1 diabetic.  And like me, Mollie has the benefit of a really terrific support network that helps her better manage her diabetes.  In particular, Mollie has her twin sister, Jackie, who rises above all others to support her.

I'm happy to share that Jackie has been selected as one of the winners of the Do Something awards, and as part of a partnership between Do Something and Doritos, Ms. Jackie herself will be featured on the back of a nacho cheese Doritos bag.  Jackie is highlighting diabetes awareness and their organization, the Diabetic Angels

Mollie and Jackie Singer

Congratulations to Jackie, and thanks to her for her hard work in raising awareness for diabetes!!  And be on the lookout for these snack-tastic heroes in grocery stores today!

October 24, 2008

Le Pals at Les Halles.

I like when worlds collide. 

Christel and I originally met through our diabetes connection, about three years ago.  Conversations quickly stemmed from pumps and blood sugars to laughing our asses off at jokes and talking about our lives.  Nicole is a former co-worker who has had to deal with my ridiculousness at work and outside of work.  Two different parts of my life - work and the internet community.

Yet last night, they were both forced to hang out with me together.  Pals at Les Halles.  ;)  (Crappy pun, but when you mispronounce the name of the restaurant, as I often do, it rhymes at least a little bit.)

We dined at Les Halles (which is where Christel and I went last time she was up north) and the food was fantastic.  Steaks and frites and some wine and creme brulee (holy 273 mg/dl, Kerri) ... good stuff.  It was very cool to sit there with my "diabetes friend" and my "coworker" and realize that these two have stepped far outside of their labels and are true friends. 

Kerri, Christel, and Nicole at Les Halles.

Diabetes talk?  Sure, there was some of that.  Work talk?  Of course, some of that, too.  Plenty of silliness, as well.  Good food, good conversation with good friends. Worlds colliding, in all the right ways.  Thanks for the great night, ladies!

*          *          * 

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the DRI sessions on Saturday in NYC as yet another college roommate of mine is gettin' hitched in Newport this weekend, but I hope you guys have a great time!  And on Sunday, Team SUM will be representing at the JDRF Walk in RI, so if you are going to be at that walk, please stop by and say hello!

Have a great weekend!

October 22, 2008

Diabetes Goodie Bag.

Le Goodie Bag.  Le French.  Fronch?  Fronch fries.Over the past few weeks, I've received some terrific diabetes-related products and information from people out there who are aiming to make a difference.  Ranging from support groups to bracelets, it's time to help spread the word.  (Note:  I received all of these products as samples and have not paid for these items, nor have I been paid to talk about these items.)

This is a green dot.First off, some bracelets from Lauren's Hope came in the mail.  I had a bit of an addiction to beaded medical alert bracelets a few years ago, and this care package seems to have reignited my love for something diabetes-related and delicate.  The beaded samples were beautiful (pictures coming on Flickr later today) and there was also a very cool waterproof/adjustable/washable bracelet that would be great for active little kids ... or active grown ups.  :)  If you are looking for some medical alert jewelry options that are a little different and fun, check out Lauren's Hope.

This is a green dot.I also received a sample from Stephanie Cion at WellAlarm, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions about their unique service (interview will be posted later next week).  The charm itself is sleek and classy looking, and has a sophisticated look, considering it's intended for medical use.  There is a PIN on the back of the charm that, if someone called the number and punched in the code, they'd have access to my medical information. I think this is a unique service and has some potentially life-saving benefits, but I have to admit - the idea that dropping this charm on the ground leaves my information potentially vulnerable.   (Important note:  "regular medical information" can also be engraved on the charm, so it's not just a PIN code.)  WellAlarm has received some good press this morning already, being featured in this morning's HARO newsletter.  I'm curious to see where this product lines goes.

This is a green dot.Bob Hawkins sent me a copy of his terrific book, The Joy Of Diabetes.  I'm a huge fan of anything that helps to raise awareness for diabetes in a way that's easy for people to understand and identify with.  Bob writes about his 45+ years with type 1 diabetes in a way that isn't intimidating.  His little cartoon avatar explores everything from alcohol to exercise to aiming for the joy in life.  I definitely recommend his book, and you can order a copy from his website.

This is a green dot.And I heard from Katie, one of my readers in NYC, that she's starting a support group which is meeting fro the first time on November 18th at the Friendman Diabetes Institute.  According to the flyer, "This group is open to members of the public who are young women living with diabetes. There is no cost for participation. The group will be self-led however there will always be a staff member from Friedman Diabetes Institute available during the meetings. We are creating a place to talk with others about living with diabetes, particularly as young adult women. If you think this group is for you, it probably is. Please get in touch and let us know that you are interested and if you can make it to the first meeting."  For more details, check out this flyer and email Katie at DiabetesNYC [at] gmail [dot] com.

This is a green dot.One other thing, for all your vloggers out there: The JDRF, Discovery Health, and Novo Nordisk are calling for video submissions for their Young Voices: Life With Diabetes program. Videos are being accepted until November 1st, so get cracking!  The videos should be "highlighting your attitudes, wishes, and needs for how the next U.S. president can help defeat this disease."  Okay, easy enough.  The website states:  "For video submissions, Novo Nordisk will donate $10 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to help fund research leading to a cure for type 1 diabetes. For teams, group entries, or multiple videos submitted by an individual, a single donation of $10 will be made. Novo Nordisk will make a total donation of up to $25,000."  For more information, visit the Young Voices website and raise your voice!  :)

That's all for the goodie bag today, aside from piles of tissue paper that Siah is already dancing around in.  

Oh, one last thing:  I bet I'm the last person on the whole damn internet to see this video clip, but have you caught the drunken Orsen Wells commercial?  The moment at 0:51 made me laugh so hard that I watched it several times over.  "MmWaaaHaaa ... the Frensh!"

October 21, 2008

Shoes Never Sleeps.

Shoes, you need a pair of these.My Darling Shoes,

Hey girl.  I know you had a tumultuous summer.  Seems like your old roommate and DogShoes have moved out, and it's you and RoomieShoes.  I was mistaken in thinking BoyfriendShoes moved in - no, he's just coming by every day and adding his clompy shoes to the cacophonous noise. 

So this weekend was a wild one for you, eh?  We heard you guys come home at 1:40 am.  No problem there.  It's a Saturday night and going out for a few drinks and having some fun?  Go for it.  Been there.  Still there, actually.  

But.

At 4:48 am, I woke up with a start at the sound of Faith Hill being blasted through the ceiling.  It was like the speakers were up to eleven and directed at my face.  Shoes, this is not cool.  First of all, you are blasting music at my bedroom at 4:48 in the morning.  I was asleep, did you know that?  Secondly, you and RoomieShoes and BoyfriendShoes and Other Pals were apparently dropping blocks of ice against the floor, judging by the deafening noise.  Was this really necessary?  Were you out of ice cubes and absolutely needed to have cold drinks?  And thirdly - come on, Faith Hill?  This is what you choose to blast?  

Chris and I sat in bed for a bit, staring at the ceiling and wondering what exactly was up with you. I brought my hand up to my eyes and rubbed them, then shook a sleepy fist at the ceiling.  "Shooooooooes!"  You responded by tap dancing inside your bathtub while wearing coffee cans on your feet.

Shoes, we moved out to the living room and set up our blankets there.  We could still hear your stereo (now booming some obscure rap song from the 80's), but at least it wasn't throbbing over our heads.  "Maybe we can fall back asleep out here," I said to Chris, just as you and RoomieShoes decided to run giggling from one side of the apartment to the other, throwing rocks at the floor.  Mind you, it's now almost 5:45 in the morning.  And I'm sleepy. 

I'm kind of starting to hate you, Shoes.  I see your car and I want to peek in and see if it's crammed with boxes of stilettos and coupons for the ice factory.  I don't care if you're partying.  Seriously.  Don't care at all.  But 6 am?  You still haven't taken off your heels?   Don't your feet hurt, dear Shoes?  Maybe you need a pair of bunny slippers to help ease your tired feet.  I know I would be happy to pick you up a pair.  Would you prefer pink or white?  Just let me know.

And you know what?  I almost miss DogShoes.  At least he slept from time to time.

Kisses,
Kerri.

October 14, 2008

Fran's Diabetes Parade.

A cup of coffee with a fellow diabetic.  :)There's that instant connection between people who have diabetes, because we really know.  We know what it's like to test blood sugars, count carbs, wrangle in pump tubing, battle numbers, fear complications, and live life with this disease every single day.  We get it, physically and emotionally.

And then there are the people with diabetes who you connect with, regardless of the disease bond.  When I heard Fran Carpentier take the microphone at the Women's Empowerment, Diabetes, and Development event (sponsored by Novo Nordisk, World Diabetes Foundation, the MDG3 Global Call to Action, and the Global Alliance for Women's Health), I knew this lady was on my wavelength.

"I didn't cry when I was diagnosed because my mother was too busy fainting," she said with a loud laugh, filling the room with her warmth and charismatic spirit.  Type 1 for over 39 years and a Senior Editor at Parade.com, Fran looks healthy, sounds healthy, and has a seemingly unbreakable spirit.  And she's passionate about diabetes.  Diagnosed in 1969 and "Patient No. 2" of the landmark DCCT trial, Fran stated confidently, "You not only survive, but you also prevail!"

After the speakers finished their presentations, I made my way over to Fran to introduce myself.  Instant connection - we started comparing diagnosis dates, insulin pumps (we're both Medtronic users these days), questions about CGMs, and talking about those moments that only another diabetic woman can understand. 

"So my pump is here," she reached into her shirt and pulled out her insulin pump.  

I laughed.  "Mine, too.  In the bra is the best place to hide it in a dress!"  

We sat at one of the tables in the conference room and chatted without effort.  Life as a diabetic, life as an editor, growing up in RI versus growing up in NYC, insurance battles (at that time, I was mid-stream in my war with Oxford for the CGM), and diabetes blogs.

"I've been a diabetes blogger since May 2005.  It's a fantastic way to connect with other diabetics, and to help me feel like I'm not the only one out there who is dealing with this."  I grinned at her.  "It's what connected me to dLife in the first place." 

"I know!  I've read your stuff!  I'm starting my own diabetes blog next month at Parade.com."

The conference ended, yet we found ourselves at a diner down the street, sharing stories over many cups of coffee (don't worry - we switched to decaf to prevent off-the-wallishness).  Diabetes brought us together and gave us "war stories" to share, and we spent several hours chatting each other up.  It was like connecting with an old friend, even though we'd never met before.  

I sat across from Fran, a powerful career woman with a laugh that caused heads to turn at the diner and with her pump casually hanging out of the front of her dress, and I saw what I hoped would be my future.  Thank you, Fran, for being someone I can relate to, respect, and hope to be just like.

Editor's Note (read:  more from Kerri):  Fran's blog is live!  Check out Diabetes, Day-By-Day over at Parade.com!

October 13, 2008

BlogHer Boston.

The weekend was a good one.  I gave up my old car ("gave up" makes it sound like it was a struggle to part with ... I "tossed out" my old car) and picked up my new Honda Civic, which I love, love, love and it is such an upgrade from my fickle Jetta GLS.

Oh holy YAY new car!

After nabbing the new ride, I went to Boston and attended the BlogHer Out Reach conference, along with several hundred other bloggers.  This was my first adventure at a BlogHer conference, and I definitely learned a ton.  It was an interesting experience, having "What's your blog about?" as a socially acceptable "getting to know you" query.  Even more interesting was breaking outside of my normal comfort zone, as a patient blogger.   I met women who wrote food blogs.  Marketing blogs.  Book blogs.  Political blogs.  Mommy blogs.  Blogs about the environment.  And blogs about ... well, blogging.

The first session I attended was about how Social Media Can Save Media.  Moderated by Lisa Stone, the panel of Lisa Williams, Sarah Corbitt, Theresa Hanafin, and Colleen Kaman hit on hot topics like online communities, using social media to distribute knowledge, and the power of connecting through networks like HARO and Twitter.  The main reiteration was "content is queen" (it was BlogHer, after all), and how the best blogs are those with original and engaging content.  I agree - nothing stinks more than a recycled idea. 

Lunch was brought to BlogHers by Shine, Yahoo's new community, and the session focused on building web traffic, optimizing search engine queries, building a loyal community base, and CONTENT.  Again, content being the most important aspect of blogging was the focus of this discussion.  On my Flickr site, I have shots of all the powerpoint slides, if you want to poke through and get some tips.

The first afternoon session I attended was about how Social Media Can Save Your Business.  Susan Getgood, Laura Fitton, and Laura Tomasetti anchored this panel and the hot topic was definitely Twitter.  Everyone in the damn room was Twittering, from the girl behind me to the woman on my left.  Lisa Stone, who was in attendance at this session, was tweeting updates as we went along.  We talked about the usual suspects - Facebook, Twitter, blogs - and how businesses can make use of these new media outlets.  Bottom line appeared to be that good content goes the farthest.  Theme of the day for sure.  "Be genuine.  Post frequently.  Be original!"

The last session was about (this title made me laugh) How Social Media Can Save Dinner.  This lively discussion was hosted by foodbloggers Sarah Caron, Kalyn Denny, Nika Boyce, and Lydia Walshin.  As the only diabetes blogger in the room, I made sure I asked about where people can find nutritional information for online recipes - Lydia recommended SparkRecipes.  (dLife also has a database with full nutritional information, FYI.)  We also talked about food photography, which I thought was awesome.  Those foodbloggers work hard - they cook, photograph, consume, and then blog it.  One blog post can be a four or five hour adventure! 

Lisa Stone and Kerri Sparling at BlogHer

Closing keynote was with Elisa Camahort Page and included Dana Rudolph, Beth Kanter, and Isabel Walcott Hillborn.  They talked about blogging success stories and unique experiences, and I offered up my story of how blogging brought me from a crappy job to a great job in new media marketing.  After the keynote, there was an open bar (brave, brave BlogHer), where I had a chance to talk with Lisa at length about medical bloggers and our special place in the blogging community. 

Blogging - it's the great uniter.  (Hondas also appear to be a great uniter, but that's another digression I don't have time to make.)  If you haven't attended a BlogHer event, see if there's one coming your way soon!

October 10, 2008

Vroooom!

The Friday Six:  October 10, 2008 editionToday has been condensed into just a few little hours of productivity.  But I had a few things I wanted to share.  (Six things, to be precise.)

1.  Is anyone out there going to the BlogHer Reach Out conference in Boston tomorrow?  I will be there, proudly attending my first BlogHer event and helping raise the visibility of patient bloggers.  If you're in Boston for the conference, please email me and let me know - I'd love to say hello in person.

2.  Speaking of blogger ladies, my friend Dr. Val (formerly of Revolution Health) has launched her new site:  Getting Better with Dr. Val.  The site has an accessible tone, a great look, and is definitely going to be one of my regular Internet stops.  Val also offers up some seriously funny medical-themed cartoons, which I'm so happy to see because I feel that humor is a HUGE part of disease management.  A little laughter goes a long way.  Be sure to check out Dr. Val's new site!

3.  Dates and times for another Fairfield County Dinner are being tossed around - any new takers?  Looking to do something in the first or second week of November.  Meet-ups are happening more and more around the blogosphere (check out Scott's Second Annual one!) and it's a great way to put a face and a voice with the blogger's we're reading.  Email me if you are available, and interested!

4.  Just a reminder:  Have you signed your name to the Google Doodle petition?  As of this morning, we have 3,097 signatures.  Let's see if we can crack 4,000 by the end of the day!  So coworkers, friends, family members, random people reading this blog, and cats across the world (use those paws and claws for good), sign it and raise your voice!

5.  In completely unrelated-to-diabetes stuff, this link (found on Twitter - imagine my shock) made me giggle.  Actually, it made me laugh out loud, so loud that I think I startled co-workers.  Nothing like the relationship battles between what appear to be overgrown Dots candies

6.  And in just a few hours, I'll be making the worst financial decision of the year and heading off to RI to pick up my new car.  (THANK GOD - the Jetta and I have not even been speaking for the last month.)  I'm excited and terrified, all at once.  And I know I'm going to be a lunatic about keeping it pristine because, well, it's part of my OCD charm.

Have a good weekend!!! 

October 09, 2008

Political Chortle.

Twitter is a bizarre micro-blog networking phenomenon that is actually worth it.  It's not another profile you have to maintain.  It's something you can update hourly, or just update weekly, and you can still be involved.  It's like a constant stream of 140 characters or less that hits upon political hotpoints, social networking advice, medical advice, and some excellently random links.

SuperG (aka "Ninjabetic" on Twitter) offered up a true winner today.  It's a candid video peek at our current political options, offered up by some very verbose little kindergarteners.

"He has my favorite letter."
"Maybe he'll be a lot more ... good."
"Because he has the hair."
"My family is a Demo-crab."

Awesome. 

October 07, 2008

Doodle For Google.

A Doodle For Diabetes!You know those cool little drawings on the Google homepage?  The moaning man on Edvard Munch's birthday?  Or the one of the turkeys sitting around the dining room table to mark last year's Thanksgiving holiday?  (That one was pleasantly ironic.)  These doodles are done up by the Google crew to raise awareness for specific events and holidays.

And this year, the diabetes community is aiming to have a diabetes doodle for World Diabetes Day on November 14th.  

"How can I help?  I can't even draw a straight line!"

Yes, there is something you can do.  The advocacy crews at Diabetes Daily and TuDiabetes have teamed up to get Google's attention by providing a petition with 20,000 signatures by November 1st.  That means we only have the month of October (which is whizzing by) to get names added to the petition. 

Sign the petition by clicking here.  Add your name, then share it with your coworkers.  Send it to friends.  Family members.  Buddies from Facebook.  Your Twitter pals.  Ask your brother (Hey Darrell) or your sister (Hi Court) or husband (Hi Chris!) or your mom or dad to sign.  Maybe even send it to the nice man at the Honda dealership who is working to get you a new car at a reasonable finance rate.  (Hi, Bill!)  Either way, 20,000 signatures isn't going to be easy, but if there's any community that can pull it off, it's us.

I think it would be pretty damn cool to have our own Google doodle.  Let's make it happen!!

October 02, 2008

A Unified Front.

United by diabetesTmana wrote a post on TuDiabetes today that hit home and hit hard. An excerpt:

"I am concerned that these different outlooks and interests could, rather than unite us in the common cause of improved quality of life and life expectancy for people with diabetes, cause public conflicts that could rob all of our communities of the resources needed to assist diabetics, both within our online communities and outside of them."

I agree with this whole-heartedly.  While I'm an in-house editor at dLife, a member of several online communities like TuDiabetes, Diabetes Daily, a diabetes blogger here at SUM, and an active supporter of organizations like the JDRF, ADA, CWD, and DRI, these things all come second to why I'm doing this in the first place:  I am a person with diabetes, a diabetic, a type 1, pancreatically-challenged ... whatever you want to call me, I have diabetes, first and foremost.

What I care about is improving my life, and our collective lives, as we live with diabetes.  I want to see support communities do just that - SUPPORT.  The very concept of different online groups pitting against one another is ridiculous.  Aren't we all working towards the same common goal?  To live long, healthy, and well-supported lives with diabetes?  To see technological improvements?  To see a cure, maybe in our lifetimes? 

Everyone has different agendas and different goals - I understand that.  But I also understand that diabetes is not a business to me.  It's my life - our lives.  And anything that can improve that life should be supported and encouraged, despite whether or not I'm a member or if I participate in a fundraising walk. 

And while I understand the business aspect of different companies and organizations, I don't like the idea of division.  I don't like the idea that three different places are working their tails off to cure this disease, but not sharing the data.  I am not sure who crosses what communication lines, but I want to know that the JDRF, DRI, and other research hubs are sharing their theories on curing this disease.  That is happening, right?  We're all working together to cure this, right?  There are so many different diabetes organizations, but where is our unified front? 

In her post, tmana said that she didn't want different communities to assimilate in efforts to "merely to present a united front to the high-priced resources and partners," and I agree with that completely.  This disease is unique to each diabetic and their loved ones, and the various communities and organizations reflect that.  But I want the diabetes communities to mature and embrace one another instead of ostracizing and battling.  It sounds altruistic, but we're not talking about t-shirts here.  This is about a disease, a serious one, that we live with every day.  And while we rally behind all these different organizations, we need to remember - never, ever forget this - that we are really rallying behind one another as a community of diabetics, regardless of whose newsletter we receive or whose network we have a username in.

The "industry" of diabetes continues to grow, especially as more and more people are diagnosed every day.  But we can't lose sight of the most important aspect of these communities and organizations:  Support.   And I value the support I get from you guys here on the blog, outside in your blogs, in-person at dinners and events, and all over the internet and the Real World as a whole.

We are all living with diabetes.  Standing together does far more than walking alone. 

September 30, 2008

Hey Ma! There's A Ninja On TV!

This Sunday, if you tune in to dLifeTV on CNBC at 7:00 pm EST, you will see the one, the only, NINJABETIC himself grinning back at you from the screen.  That's right - our very own SuperG will be part of a dLife segment this Sunday about smoking cessation

Some people were born to be on the big screen.  And judging from George's vlog posts and his appearance on dLifeTV, it seems like he is destined to be a STAR!  Don't miss it!

September 19, 2008

Arghhhh, Me Hearties.

The Friday Six:  September 19, 2008 edition

Holy late post, but better late than never, right, me hearties?  (Oh, this pirate crap will be the very death of me.)  Jumping right into this week's Friday Six!

1.  Yes, it's Talk Like a Pirate Day.  In celebration of this silliness, I offer you the Pirate Translator, some pirate jokes, and a Twitter avatar, courtesy of my extremely silly brother:  Kerri the pirate.

2.  The JDRF is still taking applications for the 2009 Children's Congress - but not for long!  The deadline for application is October 6, 2008, so if you and your child are interested in applying and representing the diabetes community before Congress, now is the time to apply.  Visit the JDRF website for more information.

3.  Another D-related event is the First Annual Diabetes Rockstar Cruise, brought to you by the folks at Diabetic Rockstar.  According to Sara, a SUM reader and a member of the Diabetic Rockstar crew, "The most exciting part about the cruise is that Carnival has a program called Cruising for Charity, where we will be receiving a portion of the proceeds for Fight It! our charity arm at Diabetic Rockstar.  Our funding goes to uninsured, in-need and newly diagnosed diabetics who need supplies and additional help."  Unfortunately, I won't be attending this event, but if you're interested in learning more about this cruise, taking place next May, visit the Diabetic Rockstar website

4.  And in my own personal diabetes news, I've been embroiled in the battle with Oxford Health of Connecticut for CGM coverage.  Fun.  (Sarcasm.)  I have a solid insurance representative at Dexcom who is helping me get all the paperwork together for my external appeal - yes, this is the one I have to send them a CHECK for, greedy bastards - and I'm working with my endocrinologist on a letter highlighting pre-pregnancy planning and the need for tighter diabetes control.  This is a paperwork nightmare, and now I understand why lots of people never get to this stage of the appeal, because it's so damn complicated.  BUT I am moving forward and will file this external appeal by the end of next week.  Hopefully this will overturn my previous three denials.  In any event, I'm almost positive they won't refund the $25 filing fee.  Pricks.  ;) 

5.  On the Children With Diabetes site, there's a short video about Friends For Life 2008, and you'll find a smattering of diabetes bloggers in there, including Sara, Heidi, Bennet, and me!  (And I look seeeeerious, since they caught me in the pregnancy seminar and I was all panicked ears.)  Check out the video!

6.  And I'm still woefully behind on vlogging, but I'm hoping to get a clip up here by Monday or Tuesday.  Next week is pretty nuts - I have plans for dinner in the city, I'll be at a seminar at the UN midweek, and I'm gearing up the dLife crew for our JDRF walk next weekend - but I need a little face-time.  I'm sort of short on vlog topics - any ideas from you guys?  For now, all I have is this sort of crummy quality clip from The Swell Season show on Wednesday.  I have another one, of one of their new songs, that I can post this weekend after I pull it from my KerriBerry

For now, I'm off to RI for yet ANOTHER wedding this weekend (btw, Chris and I have been married for four months as of yesterday - holy cow!) and to spend time with the family.  You guys have a great weekend!!!

September 17, 2008

Fun Time With SEO.

SEO crap.Most people find Six Until Me by Googling something like "diabetes blogs" or "type 1" or "where the heck do I hide my pump?"  But sometimes they come to my blog via channels I never anticipated.  In checking my statcounter this morning, I saw some search terms leading people here that made me laugh out loud.  Case in point:

  • "define all i need is me and my bitch"
  • "you’ll know more about me than my gynecologist does"
  • "funny and diabetic is it possible"  (Yes.  Yes, it is.)
  • "monkey business, diabetes, baking soda"  (What the heck were these people concocting?)
  • "the diabetes pissed consumer"
  • "my cat knows about my brain"
  • "sausage time"  (Oh dear!)
  • "kerri sparling show me her face"  (Ahhhh!  Who the hell is typing that one?)

And the best of today's bunch?

"Nobody comes between me and my pump" 

Well damn straight! 

September 12, 2008

Le Friday Six.

(That title's for you, CALPumper!) 

The Friday Six:  September 12, 2008 editionI need a break.  :)  Here's The Friday Six, because if I had to string more than three sentences together, my brain would turn to ice cream cake.

1.  I'm looking forward to the fourth (had to edit - there have been three already and my brain went to mush on this fact) Fairfield County dinner on Monday, September 15th.  So far, there are about seven people coming and I'm excited to meet everyone.  If you live in the Fairfield County area and I missed your email, drop me a line at kerri (at) sixuntilme (dot) com and I can send you the specifics.

2.  Also, the first winners of the TuDiabetes "Word In Your Hand" project are up, and they are remarkable.  (My personal favorite is the "secret" one ... very cool photo.)  If you want to get involved and submit your photo, check out the details on TuDiabetes, and say hi to Manny and Landileigh!

3.  And I'm proud to say that Blogabetes turns one year old this month.  I've had the pleasure of working with Carey, Nicole, Julia, Lindsey, SuperG, Rebecca, Michelle, Kim, Andy, and Scott over the last twelve months, and I am always impressed and inspired by their writing.  If you haven't visited dLife to spin through their posts, you're really missing out. 

4.  In news I'm confused about, I've received several emails from companies asking to make me "part of their blogging team" by adding my posts to their RSS feed.  I don't mean to sound daft, but is that a good thing?  I know plenty of other bloggers have been approached by these kinds of companies and I'm still on the fence about whether or not that's a good thing, since I've also heard that Google penalizes you if you reproduce blog content across the wilds of the Internet.  For my fellow bloggers - how are you guys handling these requests?  Do you let them add your feed?  I am unsure how to handle these requests and I don't know enough about Google to guess if this is a good idea or not.  Help!  I need brain power from the blogosphere. 

5.  dLife has been subjecting me to cute overload this week, starting first with some of dLife's finest teeny dogs and culminating with a crate full of newborn baby chicks.  My co-worker has chicken business (I know) and he brought in a dozen baby chicks for the morning, so we could all coo and chuckle over them.  They are so damn cute.  I stumbled upon my co-worker, diligently answering emails with a baby chick in his pocket.  I love my office.  It's productive, yet eccentric.  I dig that.

6.  And thanks for your uplifting messages yesterday.  You guys, with a little help from Fudgy the Whale, made a bit of a dreary day much brighter for me, and I really appreciate it.  I know I've said it before, but this community is one of the best things to happen to diabetics since ... well, insulin, and you all make this journey a little easier.  So thank you.  And go get an ice cream cake, because damn that makes everything better. 

Unfortunately, no time to vlog this week.  But next week, I will definitely think of something worth waxing on about and will fill your computer speakers with nonsense once again.  Until then, have a great weekend and I'll bother you on Monday.  :)  

August 26, 2008

Corn On The Carb.

Elizabeth Joy Arnold(Editor's note:  Sometimes I like the title of a post so much it makes me smirky.  Man, I love a good pun.) 

Today's post is from my friend Elizabeth Arnold.   Elizabeth is the bestselling author of two novels, with a third due out next summer.  She’s been diabetic for over thirty years, and is the "proud, doting owner of two cats, a husband and an OmniPod, all of whom she considers her best friend forever."  I've had the pleasure of chatting with Elizabeth a few times and she's sharp, funny, and definitely on the level.  She offered to write a guest post for SUM, and I'm honored to have her contribution!

*   *   * 

I woke up the other morning, and my sugar was 287.  And my first thought?  Well my first thought was a word that can’t be printed on a “family” blog, but my second thought?  That I’m an idiot.  I’d eaten corn on the cob the night before (sweet New Jersey corn which has approximately a bazillion carbs), and I could only guess at the correct bolus as one cannot use Calorie King for this corn; it’s THAT sweet.  And I must’ve come up about 20 carbs short.  I know I shouldn’t really eat this corn because I rarely get it right, but you know, it is truly one of the world’s greatest foods.  I do happy dances in July when I see the cornstalks rising on local farms, and when the ears start to grow I fall on my knees in rapture, so giving it up is Just Not An Option.  So I eat and inevitably my sugar’s high, and then of course I beat myself up.   

I also despise myself for those nights my husband’s had to give me glucagon, knowing how freaked out it makes him to see me unresponsive.  (Although for some reason I never feel guilty when I catch a low myself, just think, Yay!  I get to pig out! eat 15 grams, test again and if necessary eat another 15 grams!)

But you’ve all been there, haven’t you?  You test and your number’s not where you want it to be, so you start blaming yourself for not being perfect.  I’d assume it’s twice as bad if you’re the parent of a diabetic, and–since you’re not superhuman–can’t keep your child in perfect control.  And even worse for many type 2’s who probably blame themselves for the disease itself.  The problems we face aren’t the fault of the diabetes, they’re because we’re just not working hard enough.

It can be the same with complications.  I felt guilty about my retinopathy, even though my A1C was in the high 5’s at the time I was diagnosed with it.  I blamed the teenage-Elizabeth for not being more careful, all the afternoons (and yeah, there were a lot of them) when I’d gone out with friends and not taken a shot to cover pizza or fries, NEVER testing in public because, when you’re 14 years old, exposing your blood to the world seems excruciatingly embarrassing.  Even when I was five or six, before the days of blood testing, whenever my urine tests read 4+ I’d be ashamed, and sometimes fudge the numbers so my parents wouldn’t see.

Does this make sense?  Well of course logically, it doesn’t.  We feel guilty because we do have so much control over this disease, but we all know diabetes can be a stubborn and temperamental (insert curse word of choice), trying to prove it’s stronger than all the time and energy we put into controlling it.  There are site issues and infections and stress and hormones, and just days our bodies decide to go wacky for no conceivable reason.

So what’s the answer?  Who knows?  I think it’s our tendency to want to place blame on things we're not happy about, and who can we blame for this other than ourselves?  I guess you could look at diabetes as a separate entity, pin a photo of a broken pancreas on the wall and throw darts at it, or something.  But that doesn’t work for me–I’ve been diabetic for virtually all my life, so it’s an integral part of who I am, which means hating it would be like hating my own right arm.

There probably is no real answer, except to remind yourself that you’re human, and humanness + diabetes = inevitable fallibility.  So I’ve been telling myself that I’m going to just relax when I feel like beating myself (or my meter) upside the head.  If my sugar’s high, I’ll make myself a cup of tea (or rather, take a correction dose, test for ketones and THEN make the tea.)  Put up my feet and go easy on myself until I feel okay.  The “bad” sugars aren’t bad, they’re just information I can use to make things better, and why should I feel ashamed of information?  Ashamed if I don’t test to get that information, yes, but not if I don’t like the results of that test.

So…here we go.  The truth is my sugar wasn’t 287 on the after-corn morning, it was actually 302.  (Eek!  That sounds so much worse, doesn’t it?  Even though it’s only 15 points higher?  Even writing it down was kinda painful.)  But I’m going to remind myself it wasn’t really my fault, just a mistake, and that making mistakes once in awhile is no big deal.

And dammit, I don’t care, I’m having corn again tonight.

*   *   * 

For more from Elizabeth Arnold, including information about her writing, visit her website at www.ElizabethJoyArnold.com

August 19, 2008

Grand Rounds 4.48.

This is an evil card catalog.  For real.When I needed information as a kid, I used to have to walk to the library downtown after school, talk to the librarian, and then paw through the card catalog until I found the right section to explore.  Dewey Decimal and his Evil System were the bane of my existence, because I'm terrible with numbers and I can't find my way out of a paper bag.  No sense of direction plus no math skills equals ... a reverence for Google.

Thankfully, the Internet has given me a quick and relatively pain-free way to explore the vast expanses of information out there.  But on Sunday night, after all the Grand Rounds submissions had been received and I was fast asleep in bed, I had a terrible nightmare.  About Grand Rounds.  And the damn Dewey Decimal System.

In my dream, I couldn't find my laptop anywhere.  I was trapped in the library in my hometown, and for some reason, I was clutching printouts of every Grand Rounds submission I received this week.  I walked into a large room and was faced with ... The Card Catalog.  [cue evil music]

"Kerri!  We meet again."

"So we do, Card Catalog."

"And I see you have your Grand Rounds post to do, eh?  Well your task is to ..."  he wrung his card cataloggy hands together, grinning gleefully.  "Organize them using the Dewey Decimal System!"

"No!"  I threw my hands up in defeat.  "Not the System!"

"Yes!  And you have exactly one hour, or the Sausage cat gets it."  The Card Catalog opened the "Ca-Cu" drawer and I saw Siah sitting in there, meowing at me pitifully.

"Oh crap, okay I'll do it!"  And I sat at a desk, the submissions in hand, and attempted to organize.

Clinical Cases submitted a post about one of my favorite bloggers, Berci Mesko, and the relationship between genetics and surgery.

Ian at Wait Times and Delayed Care pontificates (his word, not mine) about whether or not security concerns will prevent Web 2.0 from really booming.

Tiny Shrink waxes philosophically with some feedback about the fine line between physicans and "quacks."

Leslie at Getting Closer To Myself reminds doctors to remember the emotional issues that their patients are grappling with.  (And she also mentions one of my favorite shows:  Nip/Tuck!)

Vitum Medicinus offers up that "it's sometimes the little things, just as much as the brilliant life-saving interventions, that will impress your supervisors ... and more importantly, your patients."


In Sickness and In Health sent in a post about a marriage where the partners have been each others' salvation for so long that they do not know how to take care of themselves as separate individuals.

Emily of CrzeGrl, Flight Nurse admits to the pain associated with constantly exposing herself to the tragedies of her profession

Touching upon the wonders of pregnancy, Martina of FreshMD writes about pregnant patients who claim they hear their fetus crying.

Canadian Medicine writes about a man who considers himself "on the side of compassion and on the side of the angels."


Doc Gurley hits on the hot economics of diabetes, homelessness, and food inflation and how we, as a society, can help. 

(And she's the only 300 I had.  She's the true Spartan.) 


Laurie, author of A Chronic Dose, hones in on the patient-to-patient relationship and how this language of understanding can make a huge difference in care.

Dr. Signout writes about how doctors don't seem to be entitled to the same emotions as visitors at the hospital - even when they are both checking on their loved ones.

Suture For A Living muses on why doctors aren't pressed for the reasons for their outbursts of anger.

Dr. Val and her Voice of Reason writes about the language barrier in some hospitals and how a few missed words can change the landscape of a diagnosis.

Kim at Emergiblog submitted a great post about the importance of an up-to-date medication list and how precision and precaution keeps you safe. 

Dr. Steinerman at SharpBrains offers his commentary on the definition of "dementia" and how the medical community can get "lost in the lexicon."

Health Observances is looking to spread the word about a teenaged girl who is stricken with atypical motor neuron disease and her family's quest to find answers.  They are speaking in the language of hope here - can you help Jenny?


Captain Atopic (great name) of Degranulated sent in a very enlightening post about knowing the difference between complementary medicine and straight-up snake oil.

InsureBlog gives us the play-by-play of which country is offering the best chances for cancer survival.

Paul Mason, writer of Neuroanthropology, gives us 10 steps to better brain health.  Ten steps to health - that covers both the "science" and the "mathematics" part of this category.

David Williams of the Health Business Blog gives a nod to the Wall Street Journal for their stent study coverage.


Dean Moyer of The Back Pain Blog gives some tips for avoiding back trouble (and the graphic on this page made me giggle).

Tech Medicine has a great post about creating an automated voicemail system for non-urgent messages from patients - eliminating the need for chicken scratch on notepads.

Walter at Highlight Health talks about recent advances in stem cell biology that may change the course of treating cardiovascular diseases.

Isn't this one of the basic things a doctor is supposed to know?  Medical Jokes, Cartoons, and Videos sent in a post about a medical student learning how to use a stethoscope.

The Cockroach Catcher gives us a post about lithium to treat bipolar disorder, and how only time will tell if this is the best method.

Susan at the Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good writes about a volunteer chaplain reflecting on the new and the old in the ED


Rachel and her Diabetes Tales talks about finding an acceptable breakfast joint for the carbohydrate conscious.  Breakfast, in this instance, is classified as "recreation."

If you're hiking, running, or generally traipsing around outdoors, Dr. Paul Auerbach offers up some tips on managing foot blisters.

Christine at the Corn Allergic writes on the day-to-day trade offs to be made in efforts to stay healthy and have fun in a world filled with allergens.


Nancy Brown at Teen Health 411 suggests that you see your doctor if you have a history (see?  HISTORY - it fits!) of stress fractures.

Henna has been kicking around since the Bronze Age, but the now-used temporary black henna ink is under scrutiny at Allergy Notes for causing scarring and allergies

These posts deserved their very own Dewey Designation for aiming at the funny bone:

Bongi deals with taunts for his pirate-wear headgear.  

Theresa Chan twitters with ease about the entrepreneurial possibilities of maggot therapy.

Dr. Jolie Bookspan blogs about the sports miracle that is the mustache.

And what could be my favorite post:  The Samuari Radiologist gives up some medical malapropos that made me laugh out loud.

"Evil Card Catalog?  I finished.  They're all organized."

ECC shuffled over.  I heard Siah rumbling around in the drawer.  "You're done?"

"Yes.  Can I post this now?  And can I please wake up, to my real life where there's internet and Google and all the modern conveniences of 2008?"

"I guess."  ECC opened the Ca-Cu drawer again and Siah bounded out.  She and I held hands (okay, I grabbed her paw and she stuck her claw in my palm) and we jumped out of the library window into the garden below, where we tumbled to safety.

And I awoke from this nightmare, understanding completely why there was no entry for "800 - Literature."  Because it was saved for me, and my ability to spin a pointless yarn. 

Visit Rural Doctoring next Tuesday for another edition of Grand Rounds!

August 15, 2008

The Diabetes Police.

The diabetes police are usually well-meaning, usually nice, but most often think they are the resident experts on all things diabetes. Frustrating for sure. Dealing with the diabetes police usually means supressing a sigh, carefully explaining the situation, and hoping it sinks in.  But when the person policing you is someone you love, it can be tricky.

My video post this week is a short cartoon about being hunted by the diabetes police and how Siah, a little iced coffee, and the support of some friends can make a difference. 

Stick people have it easy. They don't even have faces. And cookies fall from the sky.

August 12, 2008

Grand Rounds - Hosted Here Next Week.

Submit your best post!Quick afternoon post:  Next week's edition of Grand Rounds will be hosted here on Six Until Me! 

Submissions are due on Sunday, August 17th by 10 pm EST.  They can be emailed to kerri @ sixuntilme.com.   Please put “Grand Rounds” in your subject line and include the following in the body of your email:

Blog Name: 
Blogger Name:
Blog URL:
Post Name:
Post URL:
Short description of post:

There's no theme, because I can't plan that far ahead.  But I can safely assume that Siah will be an active participant in next week's Grand Rounds.  :) 

August 01, 2008

Flaking Out Friday Six.

The Friday Six:  August 1, 2008 editionWhirlwind doesn't even begin to describe the last two weeks, but I'm trying to recap bit by teeny bit.  From adventures with web-camming (There you go, Google. Just for you.) to Manny Ramirez being traded, it's time for The Friday Six.

1.  A few months ago, I mentioned a Fairfield County D-Dinner meet-up, and several people emailed.  Then, because I am hopelessly disorganized and was in the middle of planning my wedding, I lost track of planning that event.  I'm very sorry, and still hopelessly disorganized.  :)  But I'm trying to set it up again, and am looking at having the dinner sometime in late August or early September.  If you are still interested, would you please drop me (another) line at kerri at sixuntilme dot com?  If it's okay with the potential attendees, I can create an email list so we can figure out the details via email.  Thanks!

2.  Also, adding a little Canadian flair to the diabetes-theme, have you heard of Team Diabetes?  Skip off to Orlando this coming January and join Buzz Bishop and the 95 Crave Team Diabetes Crew to raise funds and awareness for the Canadian Diabetes Association.  For more information, check out the Canadian Diabetes Association and throw some support to our neighbors to the north.

3.  I'm very eh about this:  Manny Rameriz?  To the Dodgers?  Granted, he's one of the best ballplayers on paper, but boy is he a "wicked pissah" (thanks, Julia).  For the real-deal details, without even a smidge of bias, check out Boston Dirt Dogs.  (And keeping with the Boston news, do you want to see what your site looks like written in the ol' Boston accent?  Here's how SUM readsDo yours!  Valley Girl may make you laugh out loud for real.)

4.  Total side note:  On my way to lunch, I heard "Crazy In Love" on the radio.  As I was leaving lunch, I heard "Ring The Alarm."  I love Beyonce.  She is my musical guilty pleasure.  Please share yours, so I'm not forced to have my face burning in shame all alone.  I also like Yanni.  Help!!!

5.  In some TuDiabetes news, there's a new video about seeing diabetes through the eyes of children.  As a former child with diabetes (now a pseudo-adult with diabetes), this video helps me remember how I saw diabetes, and how I saw myself as a result, when I was small.  Click here to watch the video on YouTube, and click here to get involved with the inititative

6.  Lastly, because I bought a webcam and have nothing but time on my hands (What? Lies, Kerri - lies!), I'm debating starting to vlog (video blog) here on SUM.  Only - here's the problem - I have no CLUE what to talk about.  I'm much more the wordsmithy-type than the talk-to-the-camera type.  But I love meeting other diabetics and am always so surprised when I hear their voices or see their faces.  Words are just one dimension to our personalities - the way someone sounds or the way they laugh really tells you alot.  I'm curious to hear what you guys would be interested in (or should I just give the camera to Siah and let her do her thing?).  In any event, forgive me for talking too fast, moving too much, and using lions for my own personal gain.  (The password is "sixuntilme")

Chris and I are excited to host Batman and her boyfriend this weekend - yay for friends who will drive all the way out here! - so have a good weekend and I'll see you Monday!  :)
 

SUM Tags: , , , , ,

July 30, 2008

KerriBerry.

(We interrupt the CWD recap to bring you yet another moment in Kerri's graceless, awkward life.) 

A few months ago, a small crack splintered across the screen of my Motorolla Q.  It wasn't too noticable, but I resolved to replace the thing once my contract ran up in August. 

Monday morning, as I was talking with my editor-in-chief, the Q slipped out of my hand and smashed against the concrete dLife floors.  (I am so clumsy.)

Holy busted Q.

"Oh darn!"  I said, substituting "darn" with another, more colorful exclamation.  The screen was destroyed.  Just running my finger along the surface sent little sprinkles of plastic everywhere.

After consulting with my boss, my co-workers, and the fine minds at Twitter, I was urged to call Verizon and see if they could bump up my renewal date.

"Hi, this is Kerri Morrone."  (The post-marriage name change hasn't happened on my bills yet.)  "I just accidentally smashed my phone against the floor and now there are pieces of the screen in my ear as I speak with you.  Can you help me?"

The customer service guy laughed.  "Oh no!  We need to fix that!"

"Would it be possible to move my renewal date to today?"  I crossed my fingers, bits of screen stuck to my left cheek.

"Ms. Morrone, I'm making that change as we speak."

Twenty minutes later, I was buying my new addiction.  This thing: 

Crackberry for sure.

I am experiencing full-on TechnoJoy.  Instead of reading the manual cover to cover, I've instead just started banging away on the buttons and checking out all the new features, making up "how" as I go along.  My boss is blue-toothing me ringtones.  My brother is hooking me up with tips.  And I actually registered at a site called (God help me) Crackberry.com.  While I love a well-tended garden, waves crashing against shore, and the overall brilliance of nature, this little techy gadget thing has me completely enthralled.

Chris made fun of me and my new gadget addiction.  He called it a KerriBerry. 

I agree:  A life would be good.

In the meantime, if you have a suggestion for a Blackberry tips site, or a useful forum I should check out for fun bits, please let me know!  I'm hopelessly addicted already.


SUM Tags: , , , ,

July 28, 2008

CWD: My First Time.

My diabetes greeting card.Up until last week, I had never been to a CWD event before.  I had heard about them through the diabetes community, and I knew that many of the parents who were reading my blog were members of the CWD forums.

Now I know why people are so into CWD.  It's like coming home.

These people get it.  I've said that before about my best friends, who do their best to understand the subtleties of diabetes, and about my wonderful co-workers, who go to great lengths to know what a real "dLife" might be like. But the parents and children at the CWD conference are the ones on the front line, the folks who are living with this disease every single day, either as the diabetic themself or the caregiver of a PWD.

The CWD Friends for Life conference in Orlando is filled with parents who care.  With kids who boop beep boop and shunk and who know the carb content in their favorite breakfast cereal.  With grandparents who can proudly program a pump, or siblings who know how to treat their brother or sister's low blood sugar.

It's also filled with some of the diabetes medical community's finest, with Fran Kaufman, Bruce  Buckingham, Richard Rubin, and Barbara Anderson among the faculty.  I attended several focus groups about diabetes and pre-pregnancy planning, CGM use, and the artificial pancreas.  (The groups deserve their own posts, so more on those later in the week.)  I also had a chance to meet with some of d-blogging's most friendly faces, like Manny from TuDiabetes and Sara from Moments of Wonderful

The first focus group I attended was about Diabetes and the Web, which has people talking about websites they frequent for their diabetes care.  A little girl sitting in front of me, about 8 years old and with an insulin pump clipped to her shorts, said "I visit dLife to find recipes I can eat."  My heart swelled with pride. 

They asked us to envision cards we'd receive from our endocrinologists or CDEs.  "What kind of card would you want to receive from your doctor?"  Even though the group was dominated by children, there were several adults (myself and Manny included) who grabbed for the crayons with vigor.  

The front of my card read:  "Do you have diabetes?"

Inside:  "You are still YOU."

After sharing our cards with the group, the leader asked when we'd want to receive these cards.  On our diagnosis anniversary?  After we have an A1c done?  When we're feeling frustrated?

"I'd take these cards anytime.  Randomly, monthly ... daily."  I said. 

A father in the group laughed.  "Me, too." 

I've said it before and I'm sticking with it:  Diabetes doesn't define me, but it helps explain me.  And attending this conference drove that point home.  I was one of many, united by a common medical bond, but I was still me.  A pump in my pocket, a meter in my bag, and two decades of diabetes under my belt - but I was still me.  And I wasn't alone.

Thanks for the warm welcome, CWD. 

(I have a Flickr set of the conference online now - feel free to poke through if you have time.  More on the conference to come!)

SUM Tags: , , , , ,

July 14, 2008

Donald Trump Sausage.

(This is another bit of a grost (gross post), but it made me laugh too hard not to share.)

I had to groom Abby the Fat Cat on Saturday morning.  The aftermath included a happy Abby and a disgusting ball of AbbyFur. 

Somehow, the furball ended up on Siah's head. She sat there, patiently, balancing it like a seal.  And she looked so much like Donald Trump that it made me laugh.  Hard. 

Donald Trump Siah Sausage 

There is no reason for this cat.  No reason at all. 

Also, there was no reason for my entire morning today.  I woke up feeling fine (a bit tired, but overall fine) and headed into work.  Around 9 am, my head felt like it was splitting open on the left hand side and my eyes couldn't even look at the bright computer screen.  My co-worker, who has experienced migraines before, confirmed for me that I was enjoying my first migraine headache.

"You mean it's normal for me to feel like my eyes were dilated and now I can't see right?"  I asked.

"Not abnormal."

"This is crap."

After an hour of attempting to write and focus on work, I couldn't take it anymore.  I had to drop off the radar for a few hours to reclaim my brain.  After a nap in a cold, dark room in my apartment, I felt much better and returned to work.

Do you guys get migraine headaches?  This is the first one I've ever had and it was wicked.  I do not ever want to experience that again, and I have such respect for people who have these headaches regularly.  Is this a common occurance for people with diabetes?  How do you manage your migraines?  And what the heck can I do to keep this issue from cropping up again?  Any help you can offer would be much appreciated.

Headaches suck. 

(And, in case you haven't noticed the changes, I've done a bit of a reshuffling of the content here on my blog.  There's a new archives page and a three-column layout now, in addition to a bunch of other crap that I'm still muddling through.  Let me know what you think!)   

July 08, 2008

Technology Is Fun!

No energy for a real post.  Here's the rundown:

  1. I have spent the last few weeks preparing to move my site from Yahoo! (crap) to LiquidWeb (good so far).  This has been a tedious experience, but the folks at Liquidweb have been accessible, patient, and fast.
  2. Yahoo! has worked hard to muck up the process at every turn.
  3. Developed intense hatred for Yahoo!.
  4. LiquidWeb repointed my DNS in the wee hours of last night instead of the wee hours of tonight (oh shit), having me wake up to a stunted site and nothing newer on SUM than a stale ol' post from July 2nd.
  5. I got coffee.  Nothing can be healed without coffee.
  6. Exchanged flurry of panicked emails with LiquidWeb dudes.  Asked many questions, including several variations on "What does that mean?"  "How do I do that?"  And "Where the hell do I find that?"
  7. Received second CGMS denial letter in the mail.  Furrowed eyebrows, then filed away to deal with tomorrow.
  8. Drank more coffee.  Focused on work.  Tuned back in to the web crisis when the LiquidWeb guys rang me at work and started pouring their techy genius into my head over the phone.  Felt overwhelmed.  
  9. Likened myself to a "cavewoman banging her fists against the keyboard in frustration" in an email to tech support.
  10. Laughed when tech support signed their email back "Unga, Caveman."
  11. Discovered that my SUM email wasn't working. 
  12. Panicked and told co-worker that my brain melted due to site melting.  She retorted that her boyfriend rides a boogie board.  Her story made me laugh so hard I forgot about my email troubles.
  13. Turned focus back to work.
  14. Went home after receiving a promotion at work (yay!).  Also received phone call from TechGuy at Liquid Web, telling me that the site has been restored (also yay!).
  15. Danced small jig of glee.  Almost twisted ankle.
  16. Attempted to figure out new email system and the perils of a new FTP.
  17. Posted this blog.

I'm hoping that the site hiccups are minimal as I settle in to this new server.  Once the hiccups stop, I'll be rolling out a redesign - once I finish it.  :)  And at the moment, my email is being a bit wonky, so if you emailed me and I haven't responded, please resend. 

In the meantime - Siah!  Don't cut the red wire or the whole site will ...

Don't cut the red wire!

Site Maintenance.

Six Until Me is under construction for the next few days.  Updates will be spotty and you may see some bizarre blips for a bit.  I have a great team working on the issues, so stick with me and check in later this week to see the redesign!

-- Kerri. 

June 19, 2008

Cannot Deal.

It's been very busy at work this week and projects at home have been even busier.  (Try bringing piles of wedding gifts into an already packed apartment.  We're blessed to have such generous friends, lucky to have had such a nice wedding, and currently weeding through our belongings and tossing the old to make way for the new.) 

Thank goodness all three cats have simultaneously gone berserk in the last few days.  

Prussia has taken to jumping from windowsill to windowsill, trilling her little brains out until one of us claps our hands to quiet her.  She also has been making out with my shoes on a regular basis, which is making me slightly uncomfortable. 

Abby went from being fat and docile to fast-pawed and overzealous.  More often than not, I see her waddling at a precarious speed towards the other cats, trying to use her lightning-fast double paws to cuff them in the head and incite a riot.  She then attempts to hide under the couch, but realizes that she's about three hundred meals past not fitting.  (Poor Abby.) 

And then there's my arch nemesis:  Siah Sausage.  This annoying little biscuit has been clawing at the bedroom door every night, wailing to be let in.  She has successfully eaten half of the carpet outside of door and once I open the door for her in the morning, she proceeds to stalk me while I'm getting ready each morning.  Yesterday she ran off with one of my earrings.  Today she managed to snuggle up to the black sweater before I had a chance to put it on, leaving a furry little Siah-shaped furball on the front.  

"Sausage, I'm trying to get things done around here.  Please stop tipping over the laundry basket."  "Please do not jump up on the counter and trot off with half of my sandwich."  "Please refrain from sticking your cold kitty nose in my ear while I'm sitting, unsuspecting, on the couch."

Her response?

She's meeting Mick for sushi today.

She does not take me seriously. I do not know what to do with her.

May 15, 2008

Off Gettin' Married.

Dear Blogosphere,Wedding weekend!!

I'm off to get MARRIED!  I am very EXCITED!  (All of these all caps moments keep SNEAKING IN and ruining my attempts at this blog post.)

I'm signing off for the next next two weeks - with all of the chaos and festivities that are planned for the next three days, blogging is a pipe dream.  But I am so thankful for everyone's support and kind gestures.  You guys are a wonderful crew to be a part of, and I'm lucky as hell to have you.  I tried to send out thank you notes before I left, but if you haven't received a thank you yet, I SWEAR (holy all caps again) that it's coming in the next few weeks.

But for now, it's time to cut ties with the internet for a while and enjoy the biggest weekend of my life. 

On Sunday afternoon, I will walk down the aisle and say "I do" to my best friend.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend, or the rest of my life, right? 

See you in two weeks! 

xo,

Kerri. 

May 09, 2008

Computers Are Annoying.

This is my brain.  So last night there was another glitch here on SUM.  For some reason, I couldn't log in to my Movable Type database, comments were popping "500" errors, and my poor head - exhausted from weeks of wedding wackiness and a very busy work schedule - started to turn itself into (sugar-free) Jell-O. 

Now it seems that I'm back in the database, frantically posting something to let you guys know four things:

  1. There may be some downtime here at SUM for web maintenance.
  2. There will be downtime anyway, as I'm gone from both work and the Internet as a whole starting next Friday morning.
  3. I'm in the process of moving the blog to a new hosting platform because I can't deal with my favorite outlet for diabetes support melting every few months.
  4. Oh, and Yahoo! sucks.  

Hopefully things will stay solid for the next few weeks, but once I'm back from my honeymoon (and sporting a brand-new name and all!) I'll be making some big changes to the site here.  Hopefully Siah won't get her nose into everything and muck it up.  In any event, please be patient with me as I muddle through these last conversion hurdles and onward towards a website that's not hosted by yahoos.  ;)

But those are all future plans.  Boring until they actually happen.

For now, I need to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has sent their well-wishes to my office here.  I've received more envelopes marked with "Operation Wedding Shower" that are making me smile and making me so damn proud to be a part of this community.  (Formal thank you notes are en route - I'm hoping to have them out before I leave next week, but if you don't see yours by then, please be patient with me!)  I know I've said that very thing many times before, but it's proven time and time again how important, effective, and inspiring a group of commonly-bonded individuals can be on someone's life.  So THANK YOU and Chris thanks you, too. 

We're heading home to RI this weekend to finish up all the loose ends that need to be taken care of because the wedding is next weekend.  (Whoa.)  I'm having the trial "hair do" done this afternoon, then an evening out with the girls.  We'll spend Mother's Day with our loved ones, then bullet back here to CT to spend our last whirlwind week as an engaged couple.

I can't believe how quickly this past year has gone by.  And I can't believe how truly excited I am to become his wife.

Onward to the weekend!   

Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MOM!!! 

May 08, 2008

Pumps Are Good, M'Kay?

Pumps are good, m'kay?The Associated Press has issued an article about the safety of insulin pumps, claiming that deaths have been linked to insulin pump use.  What's that phrase again?  If it bleeds, it leads?  Our own Scott Strumello, research blogger extraordinaire, has provided a very fine synopsis of the article - you should definitely take a read.  I was contacted by Steve Sabicer, a representative at MiniMed, and had the opportunity to get a little feedback from their camp. 

How does Medtronic respond to the claim that "insulin pumps can be risky and have been linked to injuries and even deaths"?

Medtronic stands behind the many years of clinical evidence that support the benefits of insulin pump therapy in patients of all ages

  • Insulin pump therapy is proven to improve patient outcomes versus multiple daily injections (MDI) with long-acting insulin (glargine).
  • Insulin pump therapy has shown strong results in pediatric patients as young as one year old.
  • Insulin pump use in children and adolescents may be associated with improved glycemic control and improved quality of life, and poses no greater, and possibly less, risk than MDI.
Do you feel that this article could keep doctors and insurance companies from approving the use of insulin pump?

We don't think this will significantly impact physician or insurance company practices moving forward.  The clinical data in support of insulin pumps is very strong.  In fact, Medtronic has noticed that many physicians have proactively come out in support of the therapy in response to this article. That said, we anticipate patients may be concerned because of the lack of context provided by the AP story. Medtronic encourages every patient to speak with their physician before making any decision about insulin pump therapy.

It's important to note that the article conceded that insulin pump therapy is beneficial for adolescents. They only suggested vigilant training and attention by parents and physicians. Medtronic encourages significant parental/physician involvement and we have designed a robust product training protocol to ensure our patients receive optimal instruction on the use and functionality of their insulin pump therapy.

  • We have more than 3,000 certified product trainers
  • Comprehensive online tools (Pump School Online, web-based training modules) for general diabetes information and product specific training
  • Paradigm REAL-Time CD-Rom product training
  • Code and PIE classes

How is Medtronic planning to address this issue with the media?

Medtronic is available for comment and interview to any journalist, and we also encourage them to contact pediatric endocrinologists and patients who have experience with insulin pump therapy.

What can pump users do to show insurance companies and doctors alike that insulin pump therapy should be available to any insulin-dependant diabetic?

As I said before, we don't believe this story will significantly impact physicians or insurers regarding insulin pump therapy. The clinical data in support of insulin pumps is strong.  That said, if patients are having difficulty getting coverage for their insulin pump, they can visit our website for claims information and helpful tools to demonstrate the case of their therapy.

(End of interview)

I've made no secret that I'm a fan of Medtronic's insulin pump line and that I believe pumping insulin has been one of the best decisions I've made for my diabetes management. What makes me craziest about this article is this line:  "There were two possible suicide attempts by teens who gave themselves too much insulin, according to the analysis."  This statement makes it seem like an insulin pump holds a substance far more dangerous than what I injected for over 17 years.  Point is, pumps are not for everyone, but that decision should be made by the diabetic and their caregiver.  I'd hate to see an article like the one from the Associated Press be something that keeps an insurance company from approving use of an insulin pump.

Scott summed it up nicely by saying, "But blaming the pump itself for problems that are not clearly tied to these Adverse Events seems to be irresponsible reporting at its worst."  Hear, hear!

May 04, 2008

Three!

Don't worry - it's sugar-free.I had no clue it would end up meaning so much to me, this blogging thing.  I started SUM three years ago today, borne out of the frustration that I couldn't find anyone LIVING with this disease, but kept stumbling upon stories of death and complications without effort.  I wanted to find other people who were working jobs, driving cars, having children, trying to find a good vacuum cleaner, falling in love, drinking coffee - and YES, testing their blood sugar, taking insulin, and managing their diabetes all the while! 

I couldn't find much of this online, so I did my part to help create it.  But it's never been completely about diabetes.  It can't be - that's not my entire existence!  For the last three years, I've written about miserable high blood sugars, unnerving lows, experiences with my insulin pump, and my feelings about life with diabetes.  But I've also had the incredible opportunity to share my life with you guys ... writing about my friends, my family, my relationship with Chris (wedding ...two weeks from today holy crap), my foolish cats, and my even more foolish sense of humor. 

There's something highly therapeutic about blogging.  It helps me manage the emotional side of diabetes, the one that doctors and text books don't mention but you and I know exists.   

Thanks to all of you who have been with me from the beginning, and to those who may have just Googled "squirrels are in my pillow" and landed here.  Being a part of this community has improved my health, and enhanced my life.  So thanks to you guys, so much, for everything!

April 30, 2008

SEO: Get a Pancreas!

Get a pancreas, will ya?After checking my statcounter today, I saw too many search terms leading readers here that made me laugh out loud - I had to share.  Here are today's search terms that made my brain melt:

"finger tips hurt when urinating"
(What the heck?)
"insulin pizza party time"
"I believe in love and rockets" 
(I agree.  I love 'Love and Rockets.')
"squirrels are in my pillow"  
(This is an issue that should be addressed promptly, no?)
"diabetes don't want to prick" 
(Too much of an open door with this one.  Let your mind have it's way with it.)
"needles hurt and make me want sausage" 
(A Siah Sausage?)
"do not have a big wedding" 
(Too late.)

And my personal favorite:

"Get a pancreas!"

Damn straight.  :)

April 01, 2008

Raise Your Voice: Two More Weeks

No, I'm not going to pull any fast ones this fine April Fool's Day.  I'm all business today.  ;)

Two weeks from today, on April 14th, we'll Raise Our Voices for Type 1 Diabetes Awareness.  With "diabetes" being one term that covers such diverse territory, it's important to make the distinction that not all "cures for diabetes" or "new diabetes drugs" benefit the type 1 community.  We need progressive and aggressive awareness of type 1 diabetes.  But in order for people to listen, we need to be loud. 

LOUD!

So far, I've received several logo designs and they are wicked cool.  :)  The judging panel is assembled and ready to view your submissions (to win the cool scale).  Here are the rules, in case you missed them the first time around:

  1. Design a logo (the size cap is 200 x 300 pixels). 
  2. Include the event name:  "Raise Your Voice!" 
  3. Have fun designing it.
  4. Maybe have a snack while you're designing - apples are tasty.   
  5. Email it to me as an attachment to kerri [at] sixuntilme [dot] com with the subject line "LOGO CONTEST" no later than 3 pm on Thursday, April 3rd
  6. Grin because it's done and submitted.

So what can we do to raise awareness on April 14th?  You can write about your diagnosis story.  Maybe a post about your most challenging diabetes moment and how you handled it.  How about when you first explained diabetes to your date/co-worker/client/inquisitive family member?  When people ask you "Ah, you use insulin ...  you must have it really bad," how do you respond?  What do you wish people knew about the condition you, or your child, lives with every day? 

Here's our chance to raise our voices together - so let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions on reaching as many ears as possible!

March 28, 2008

The Friday Six: Weekend Prep.

The Friday Six:  March 28, 2008 editionShannon tells me it's snowing like 8 inches up in her neck of the woods.  My mother reports rain in Providence.  And it's chilly with a side of potential frogs raining down here in Connecticut - what the heck is up with this weather?  Here's the Friday Six for this bizarre-weathered Friday.

As I stated in my earlier post today, Children With Diabetes is now a part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.  See it ... look closer - it's diabetes, right there on the map.  Nice.  I'm excited to see how this will affect the diabetes community on the whole.  Big news!

In other diabetes-related news, April 14th is Raise Your Voice: Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Day!  There's a Facebook event if you haven't seen it already (and it's not hard to "attend," seeing as how this is a virtual event.)  Now that the troops are rallied, all we need is a logo ... and here's where you come in.  Bill over at EatSmart has offered one of his nutrition scales as a prize for our logo contest - that's a $75 value!   Here are the rules:

  1. Design a logo (the size cap is 200 x 300 pixels). 
  2. Include the event name:  "Raise Your Voice!" 
  3. Have fun designing it.
  4. Maybe have a snack while you're designing - apples are tasty.   
  5. Email it to me as an attachment to kerri [at] sixuntilme [dot] com with the subject line "LOGO CONTEST" no later than 3 pm on Thursday, April 3rd
  6. Grin because it's done and submitted.

That's it.  The winner will be decided on Friday morning and Bill (thank you, Bill!) will send you an EatSmart nutrition scale of your very own.

And one last thing on the scale:  After I posted my review of the EatSmart nutrition scale yesterday, Bill over at EatSmart gave me a call and told me that if you guys want to order your own scale, enter "KerriSentMe" into the coupon field during checkout on the EatSmart site and receive 10% off your order.  I thought that was right-kind of him - so if you're thinking about ordering a scale, score your 10% off, damnit!

I know many of you have seen the Gaping Void cartoons (this one is my favorite today), but did you know you can get business cards with these quippy little suckers on them?  I was unaware.  Now I am intrigued.  I like my business cards, but it would be kicking to have something so bizarre.  Food for thought.  And just as a sidenote:  I love these cartoons. 

Tomorrow is my wedding shower.  (Yes, I know I'm not supposed to know, but since I live out of state, I needed to know what day to come home.  So I know it's tomorrow.)  I know I need to be there at noon-thirty.  And I know it will be fun, because with my mother and my terrific bridesmaids at the helm, it's sure to be an awesome time.  Everything is happening very quickly now:  the bridal shower, then bachelorette party, then the last meetings with our vendors, then the rehearsal dinner, then the wedding ... I'm afraid if I blink, I'll find myself on the plane bound for our honeymoon.  I wish I could slow this time down so I could actually enjoy it!  Instead, I will blog it.  (This may be the mark of a blogging addiction.)

And six.  Ahhh, the final moment for me today before the weekend cracks wide open and swallows me.  This morning, at about 3 am, I woke to the sound of scritch scritching, coming from the bedroom floor.  I ignored it at first, thinking that it was just one of the cats lolling around.  But it came again, louder this time:  scritch scritch.  So I leaned up, looked to the floor, and saw Siah completely wrapped up in toilet paper.  She had completely unraveled the roll from the master bathroom, dragged the bulk to the middle of my bedroom, and made a nest in it.  Like an enormous hamster. 

I do not need a dog.  I have a Sausage cat who laughs at me.

Breaking News: CWD and Johnson & Johnson

Big news for Children With Diabetes.  As of the announcement at 10:30 this morning, CWD is becoming part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.  According to his open letter to the CWD community, Jeff Hitchcock says "I'm pleased to tell you we have found a new home within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, a global health care organization also dedicated to families and children, and a home that will enable us to expand in ways that we are just beginning to imagine." 

Congrats to the Children With Diabetes community!

March 14, 2008

St. Patty's Six.

The Friday Six:  March 14, 2008 editionWhat a week.  And even though Monday is actually Saint Patrick's Day, I'm observing the holiday this weekend.  So here be the St. Patty's Six. 

HUGE news from Abbott yesterday regarding their version of the continuous glucose monitoring system: The Navigator.  I am itching to try this system out, too.  I am looking forward to the day when CGM models all but replace traditional glucose meters.  The power of real-time results is unparalleled, but we just need a company to make it work.  I'm curious to see how The Navigator compares against what we've already seen from Medtronic and Dexcom.

Also, the JDRF website is featuring a Blogger Roundtable discussion this week - and there are plenty of people from the diabetes community that have been highlighted.  Read the insights and perspectives offered up by Bernard, Scott J, Sandra, Amy, Gina, Scott S, Allie, Manny, and me!  Thanks to Allison for compiling these profiles. 

And thanks to a tip from Bernard, the first human trials towards a cure for established type 1 diabetes are on the verge of starting.  According to the release, "The first step in the human study, which is currently enrolling volunteers, is to determine whether the same strategy using BCG vaccination can be used to modify the abnormal autoimmune cells that are present in type 1 diabetes, sometimes called 'juvenile-onset' diabetes."  This is tremendous news, and I'm already checking to see if I could be a possible volunteer.  Exciting times, but I'm reserving my hope for once the trials produce some results.  Still ... pretty darn exciting.

On a knitting note (stretching for the segue), I came across these neat little knitted ... bodily organs thanks to this week's Grand Rounds.   The blogger over at FreshMD is the source for these images and highlights the creators of these crafts.  I'm impressed, and personally, I like the little corn-on-the-cob looking pancreas in a pretty butter yellow.

And with the last of the invitation list sent out to the printer and our invitations en route, I'm taking the weekend off from thinking about anything wedding or diabetes-related. I'm off to Newport, RI to celebrate St. Patrick's Day starting with the big parade and ending up ... who knows where. :)  My maid of honor is in charge.  I'm just happily following her lead and will do my best to not stress out about a damn thing.

Have a great (and safe) weekend and I'll see you Monday!!  (Editor's Note:  I just realized there are only five items here.  Whoops.  As a quick sixth, check out this wonderful tribute by SuperG about his father.  His post brought tears to my eyes, and made me want to drive home to RI and give my dad a hug.)

March 13, 2008

Beyond Insulin.

Moving away from home has been tough. 

Almost two years ago now, Chris and I moved from our respective hometowns in Rhode Island and ventured out here to western CT.  Work for both of us has been productive and has advanced our careers, but socially it's been a little lacking.  We do have each other (and he is my best friend and fiance, so we can actually hang out and have fun), and Chris and I have explored so much of our new town and surrounding areas.  We've dined at great restaurants, found some fun new places, and created bits of comfort in this strange new place. I still really love my job and my co-workers have gone from "office mates" to people I feel are my friends. 

But at least twice a month, we go home to RI and hang out with our friends, visiting Boston or Providence or teeny seaside towns like Watch Hill or Narragansett.  Even though CT has great job opportunities and the excitement of NYC just a quick train ride away, Rhode Island and its sandy beaches will always be home.  And my friends will always be my friends, whether I live in the same town as them or I live thousands of miles away. 

I realize that RI is only about three hours away from our home in CT, but sometimes it feels like we're living out on the moon.  It gets a little lonely at times, and I've missed my friends and family tremendously over the past few months in particular.  As the wedding draws nearer, my bridesmaids call often and my mother and I talk several times a week, but I miss having these conversations in person.  Truth be told, I'm homesick these days and I miss my friends to the point where I'm starting to whiiiiiine about it.

Blogging, and the internet in general, does provide a certain social outlet.  I really enjoy writing and am grateful for all of the people I've "met" in the last few years.  But there's something sterile and a bit detached about the internet.  I feel very lucky to have met people like Nicole, Shannon, Julia, and Christel who have really stepped past blogging buddies and into the parts of my life that are beyond diabetes.  For me, it's about building relationships that actually mean something, not just collecting "friends" like they're baseball cards.  And so much of that real connection is possible within this community.

Last night, I had dinner with two women who I connected with through the Fairfield County chapter of the JDRF.  One I've met before and the other is actually the sister of a guy I work with here at dLife.  (Everyone here has some connection to the disease.)  It was terrific to hang out with new people - in person! - and realize there was way more than diabetes to talk about.  The three of us tossed around the idea of a Fairfield County monthly dinner or something, and I'm totally game.  So ... long blog post short, if you're living in the Fairfield County area and would like to join us for a monthly "It's More Than Diabetes" (or something like that) dinner, drop me a line at kerri [at] sixuntilme [dot] com.

In the meantime, I'll be analyzing how much time I spend online and how I want to reposition the internet as it relates to my life.  Life is short -- too short to spend more time face-to-face with a computer instead of ... a face. 

Too linked in?

March 10, 2008

A Little Fitness Info.

The folks at Fitness4Diabetics contacted me with information about their upcoming webinar - with Hope Warshaw, who was at Divabetic last week!  Here's the scoop from the release:

"On Thursday, March 13th,at 7pm EST, Fit4D will be hosting Hope Warshaw, author of multiple books on healthy eating, including Eat Out, Eat Right, along with Fit4D Director of Nutrition Services, Susan Meeke, MS, RD, LD,CDE, for a very special presentation for nutrition month. This promises to be a lively and interactive discussion about healthy eating and increased activity levels as a means to long-term lifestyle change.

In honor of Fit4D's two year anniversary providing diabetes coaching services, Fit4D will contribute $5 to JDRF for the first 100 hundred people who register and attend the March 13th webinar.   We want to thank you for your help in promoting our monthly webinars. 

Participants can register at http://www.fit4d.com/newsletter.php?a=signup  or sign up for our newsletter and updates on future seminars including Mom, Can I Have Cookies? Diabetes in Childhood and Committing to Your Health.  For more information, please visit www.fit4d.com or call 866 411 0254."

March 07, 2008

Early Weekend.

This morning I had the pleasure of sitting down for a great breakfast with Mollie Singer and her mom, Jackie.  (Yes, her sister is Jackie as well.)  Mollie blogs over at CureMoll and has been type 1 since she was four years old.

We sat down for coffee and eggs at Pershing Square (right near Grand Central) and gabbed about college, relationships, and our experiences growing up with diabetes.  There's something very unique about sitting down with another blogging diabetic and have that instant connection.  Mollie's mom reminded me so much of my own mother, talking candidly about how an upbeat attitude can make all the difference.  And Mollie, with her bright smile, was just as sweet and positive as I had anticipated.

To that end, we laughed, joked, and had a good time.  Maybe too good a time, because when Mollie's mother excused herself to the ladies' room, this guy came over to our table.

"Excuse me, but my friends and I have a bet that you aren't from around here."

Did I hear him right?  "What's that?"

"That you aren't from New York.  Are you?"

Mollie shook her head.  "I'm from Vegas."

"Me?  I'm from Rhode Island."

The guy laughed.  "So definitely not from New York.  I knew it!  You seemed to fresh-faced and happy to be from the city."

I couldn't help but laugh right back.  "You're telling me that we seem too happy to be from New York?  That we're too smiley?  Well sir, I take that as a high compliment then."

Kerri and Mollie - not locals!  :)

Cheers to you, Mollie, for being another happy face visiting NYC!! 

I'm off to get an early start on the weekend - have a good one!

February 28, 2008

Diabetes in the News.

Newspaper IconThe internet is a-buzz with piles of diabetes-related newsbits, ranging from the good, the hopeful, and the downright distressing. Here's a recap:

The Good:  Our very own Landileigh was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article today about Google's online health records.  Congratulations, Landileigh!!

And also, TuDiabetes has surpassed 2,000 members.  Congratulations to Manny and the whole TuDiabetes family!

The Hopeful:  The BBC has reported that mice with type 1 diabetes started producing their own insulin after taking a cocktail of different drugs.  It's great to hear that those mice keep getting cured, and I'm cautiously hopeful that the clinical trials will prove to be inspiring as well. 

The Downright Distressing:  As reported by the New York Times this morning (and a big hat tip to Scott, who alerted me), the JDRF International in NYC is under investigation "after an internal audit showed that hundreds of thousands of dollars was missing."  While a few bad apples don't represent the entire organization, it's disconcerting to see the JDRF in this position.  After over two decades with type 1 diabetes, I am deeply saddened to see this organization stumble.

But, never one to leave things on a negative note, I did come across this YouTube clip of The Type 1 Mom Song, which I found to be both very well done and it made me giggle.  (Hat tip to Heidi.) After the range of news I've read in the last hour or two, I needed a good laugh

February 25, 2008

The Blogs That Bond.

Six Until Me has existed for almost three years now and over the last three years, I've had the opportunity to meet some of the best people.  And on Saturday afternoon, I had the chance to hang with some of my favorite bloggers and take in a play at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI.  Shannon, Julia, Nicole, and I watched a terrific play, took in some tasty sweet potato fries (okay, I had the fries), and chatted about all kinds of stuff.

The play we saw was Some Things Are Private,  which was a docudrama about "a provocative look at who determines 'what is art?'"  It centered on the work of Sally Mann, a photographer whose collection Immediate Family drew criticism from many circles, claiming the nude images of her children were not innocent or "slice of life" but instead pornographic. 

"What is private?" was a line that was offered up several times throughout the play, pointed at Sally and her decision to go public with her family's private lives.  What is private?  It made me think about the four of us and our decisions to blog, women sitting together who have decided to make their private lives public.  Whether we are writing about our children, our lovers, our disease, or what makes us laugh, we as bloggers are putting our private lives on display for the public to consume.  Some times, this is a terrifying feeling, knowing that your life is chumming the waters for people you will never know.  And sometimes, it is the most therapeutic feeling in the world, letting your thoughts float out freely and being bold enough to do it day after day, inviting strangers into a life they wouldn't otherwise even glimpse.

What is private?  Is it my moment with low blood sugar in the wee hours of the morning?  Is it an argument with my loved ones?  Is it being ushered into the flowing folds of my wedding gown as my maid of honor honor watches?  Is it dinner out with my old college roommates and laughing at our chaotic pasts?  Is it that moment of fear, that moment of laughter, that moment of insecurity, that moment of complete and unabashed bravery?

Blogging is a very unique undertaking, sharing our lives with strangers.  In rare turns, these strangers become our friends and part of our lives outside of the blog, letting us sit together for an afternoon of remarkable theater and easy conversations. 

Our photographer was the host at the pub. Sorry he was off-centered!
 

January 30, 2008

D Meets Facebook?

I received an email from Jens Christianson this morning about his new social networking DiabetesFriends.net space for diabetics called DiabetesFriends.net.  I joined up this morning and the whole space has a pretty cool look - very "Facebook" in presentation with the blue and white theme going on and similar Wall and Groups features.

Jens says, "I was diagnosed a T2 diabetic in 2007. It was quite a surprise and very frustrating, as I knew extremely little about diabetes. I had many unanswered questions and used the internet a lot to find more information about diabetes."

There aren't too many members at the moment, but it looks like it has the potential to become a fast-growing networking space.  Another feather in the Health 2.0 cap or a real trailblazing network?  We'll be the judges on that. 

January 17, 2008

SEO, Revisited.

Another crack at SEO.Back in November, during the trials and tribulations of NaBloPoMo, I posted about the popular search terms that lead new readers my way.  There's always the "diabetes" and "diabetic blog" ones, but some of the more random ones make me laugh so hard I almost fall off my chair.  Here's another peek into the search engine terms that are leading people to SUM. 

  • "uses for bacon bits"
  • "taking garlic with xanax"
  • "my wedding is coming - i'm freaking the f*&k out!"
  • "diabetics who are badass"  (Why, thank you, I think!)
  • "medtronic insulin pump when working out"
  • "who you calling diabetic" (Willis?)
  • "no one understands why I like sausage"  (Damn, Siah has finally been optomized.)
  • "dLife and the magic beans"

And today's best search term:  "Sex until me mom comes home."

Fantastic. 

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January 09, 2008

Thank You!

Thanks!  :)I was happy to find out today that Six Until Me has been chosen as a finalist for "Best Patient Blog" in the Medgadget 2007 Medical Weblog Awards.  I'm very honored!  Enormous thanks to those who nominated me. 

The polls are open, so if you'd like to cast your vote, please visit Medgadget and vote for SUM.  :)

SUM Tags: , ,

December 31, 2007

The Year in Review: Part Deux.

I'm not sure how it happened so quickly, but here we are again, on December 31st, peering out intoFarewell, 2007. the promise of the New Year.

This past year has cruised by at a speed unrivaled by any Volkswagen (or at least the VWs that I've owned).  Here on the blog, I marked my second anniversary blogging at Six Until Me, proud as hell to be a member of the diabetes community.  I also experienced a complete blogging disaster, when my blog was sucked into the vortex of the internet, but I learned to heal its wounds.  I muddled my way through NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo again this November, learning that sleep is hard to come by in that month.  I met fellow bloggers, like SuperG and Christel and Rob and Schuyler, who confirmed for me that the writers are as wonderful and kind as their words.  I wear a beautiful bit of the blogosphere every day, thanks to Manny and Beth.  And every day, I'm proud of what we've all created.

Blogabetes debuted as a new part of the blogosphere and brought some of the finest diabetes writers to center stage.  New blogs and new writers have been adding their voices to the chorus all year long and social networking platforms like TuDiabetes have turned up the volume of our message considerably.  And I have had the honor and the pleasure of joining Kelly Close's diaTribe team and also AOL's Aisledash blogger crew this past year. 

There were plenty of pump moments, from poetry to mucked up infusion sets to pumping meltdowns and upgrades and new site locations.  There were also moments when I ordered diabetes supplies and received ... something else entirely.  (But I did laugh hard.)  I spent some time as a Dexcom Warrior, and am beginning my journey as a Minimed Maven in the next few days.  I had some sad lows, some sweater-toothed highs, and several moments of diabetes burnout.   

There were rounds of beer and some difficult moments from my past.  We saw Broadway plays and sidewalk artisans, I spoke with one of my writing heroes, and had the pleasure of meeting another oneLarry and I kept up our training calls, and I have achieved new levels of fitness as a result of our fictional relationship.  Friggin' Shoes and DogShoes and the new addition, BoyfriendShoes, have spent the year taunting my sleep patterns.  I went white-water rafting, flew alone to St. Louis, and visited the West Coast.  We saw a handful of concerts, visited bed and breakfasts, and raced ducks.

And I took a life-changing vacation to St. John, where Chris proposed on the balcony of our cabin and I said yes through my surprised and excited tears.  We have spent many months planning this wedding, from finding the perfect dress to the EnGAGment Party, that I can't wait until May.  To be this in love feels good.

2007 has been a year of wedding crashing and wedding planning, love and laughter, and whole new chapter of my life.  2008 has already shown me a glimmer of what it's holding for me, and I can't wait to enjoy every moment.

Happy New Year, Blogosphere!

Have a safe and happy New Year!  See you in 2008.

SUM Tags: , , , , , ,

December 28, 2007

The Year in Review: Part One.

Year in Review:  Part One.To be consistent with last year, here are the first lines of a definitive post from each month in 2007:

January:  The microphone drops down and Mills Lane plucks it out of the sky.

February:  When I opened my email a few months ago and saw something from "Lisa," I sat there staring at the screen for a few minutes. 

March:  He insisted on making dinner, cooking up a meal of pasta accompanied by a bottle of wine, and we dined on the porch of our cabin, overlooking Salt Pond Bay and out to the southern-most tip of the island.

AprilWhile it left me be for the weekend, I had a very diabetes-bloggable evening.

May:  On a tip from Jill, I was itching for yet another new meter.

June:  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.

July:  I was completely terrified of getting on the raft.

August:  "This is our new normal, our new way of dealing with life."

September:  (Cue sleezy saxaphone music, dimmed lights, and the extremely uncomfortable mental image of my mother reading this post.)

October:  "Just lift your arms up and ... okay, dive in!"

November: We were talking about meeting with Christel and how long she and I have both had diabetes. 

December: It had just opened two weeks ago, but the Christmas lights around the door and the promise of fine, French cuisine drew us in.

Thanks, 2007.  You've definitely filled my memory with good moments.

November 29, 2007

A Blogging Nightmare.

Trapped in the blogs!Last night, when my fever was spiking and the chills were coursing through my body like contractions, I hid in my bed and tried to fall asleep.  Tossing and turning, thinking of talented writers of Blogabetes, columns that still needed to be looked at, and my own personal blog that required some attention, my brain was spinning with incompleted tasks.

I fell asleep, fretting.

And I dreamt that I was inside a computer screen.  Not trapped behind the glass, per se, but stuck right in between two open Explorer windows.  I was pinned and flailing and unable to just reeeeeach my hand around and press the "X" to close the window and let me out.

I woke up with a start and put my face against Chris's shoulder as he slept.

"I had a nightmare.  About blogging."

"Mmmmmmhmmm.  Do you need juice?" 

(Poor guy is on autopilot.)

"No.  I'm not low.  I had a nightmare."

"It's okay."  He fell back asleep.  I stared at the ceiling, still reaching for that "X" in my mind's eye.

And when I heard myself describing this nightmare to my co-worker this morning (Her response:  Your life is based on cartoons even in your dreams?  Oh great day!), I realized how grateful I was that November only has one more day in it.

One.  More.  Day.

November 18, 2007

Through My Lens.

In a fit of unmanaged funds and a moment of celebratory freelance gig elation, I bought a new fancy-pants toy.

I've become known for being the "one with the camera."  It is important to note that this statement doesn't mean I'm the one taking nice pictures, or the one who is marketing her photography to art enthusiasts everywhere.  I just happen to be the one at work who is always snapping photos at events, or the one at the bar who has the camera ready for a group shot while we do a group "shot."

I like capturing these moments in my life in the lens.  People's faces make me happy.  (And so do my stupid cats.)  I love going through photographs and I regret not regularly toting a camera around sooner. 

So I picked up a new camera - a Nikon D40 - and spent the first half of the morning reading the Spanish instruction manual -I was so excited I was only looking at the Oh holy techno-joy.illustrations and didn't notice that the instructions were not in my native tongue.

I've taken pictures so far of the inside of the lens cap, the ceiling, Chris at the computer, the flowers in my bedroom, and the cats battling in the hallway.  This afternoon, we're off to Brooklyn for dinner with friends, and I'll take pictures of their ceiling, too.  Maybe some decent shots of bits in Brooklyn, but I can't make any promises. 

And while I was told by the salesperson to take a photography class and to make sure I fully read the manual, I can't help myself.  I'm experiencing full-blown techno-joy!!  (Make sure you watch the clip -- I so love Eddie Izzard.)

November 17, 2007

Search Engine Optimization.

I was under the assumption that most people found my blog by searching for "diabetes" or "insulin pump," or even "medical blogs."

I did not realize how many other routes in there were.  How many silly routes there were.  People are Googling all sorts of terms and finding Six Until Me

Of note:

  • "Do I often pogo-stick through your mind wearing nothing but a smile?"
  • "my bra makes me itch."
  • "something found in a bathroom starting with letter y."
  • "basal rates in turkeys."I've also had them visit by searching for "silly blogs."  :D
  • "Your smile makes me have to pee."
  • "six in me."
  • "obsessive chihuahua with pillow"
  • "How do I prove that I'm not a vampire."

And my personal favorite, "Does Larry Bird have diabetes?"

Thankfully, no one searching for "sausage" has come my way.  Yet.

November 09, 2007

What Matters.

I live every day with a pump at my hip
A meter close by, and a smile on my lips.

So many moments there are in my day
When it seems that my pancreas gets in the way,
Be it exercise, cooking or sleeping or driving,
I’m constantly checking to keep myself thriving.
And while my fiancé, my family and friends
Support me and hold me and love to no end,
I started to blog because I felt alone -
The only diabetic as far as I'd ever known.
Needing to find others who understood
How a number was scary, how a food could be good.
How I worried my eyes were damaged from cake.
I worried my worries were too little, too late.
How I worried my feelings were strange and unique
And that my diabetes made me some kind of freak.

I wrote my first post, took a great gasp of air,
Hit the big publish button and from out of thin air
My words were set loose to the great world wide web
And I wanted and hoped to hear what others said.
Within just a week I had found several others.
Type 1’s and type 2’s and some fathers and mothers.
These people, they knew, and I felt less alone.
I feared less my future and all the unknowns.
The blogging took off and it chronicled things
Like my job and my friends and my engagement ring.
I poured out my feelings and dealt with my fears,
I let loose my laughter and reigned in my tears.
I felt so much stronger with all the support
Of the people who knew how my body fell short.

When I peel back the layers to what matters most,
It's not about how many readers I host.
It's not about statcounts and not about feeds.
It's not about fame and it’s not about greed.
It’s not about comments or big recognition,
It’s about all the challenges of this condition.
This community knows me where I hurt the most.
It makes me feel normal, supported, and close.

I'm thankful for every day towards good health.
I’m thankful I’m not doing this by myself.
Endless thanks to the people who read these brave writers
And for making the burden we carry much lighter.

What matters most is community.

November 03, 2007

Oh the Captions!

So here's the part where it gets tricky for NaBloPoMo - on weekends.  I spend my weekends spending time with friends and family, not necessarily blogging or ... internetting.  Ah, November.  You are the new monkey wrench in my plans.

No problem. 

I've got cartoons to keep me entertained.

Hat tip to Emily Hastings!

I received this in my email from reader Emily Hastings and it had me laughing out loud.  (Yes, aLOL.  For real.)  Darn internet cat memes.  Darn giggling fits. 

Off for some fancy Italian cuisine here in town -- must go get gussied up.  Don't forget - it's time to change your lancets tonight (and your clocks, if you are so inclined).  Daylight savings time ends today and now we're plunged into the darkness of winter. 

Good thing I have this handsome guy to keep me warm.  Oh, and like fifty thousand annoying cats.

November 01, 2007

A Month of Musings.

Last year, I signed up for this on a whim, mostly because I was sort of pressured by a co-worker.  To be honest, it sort of sucked.  It stole the focus from some other things I wanted to work on and it really came between the relationship I was trying to foster between my bed and I.  But it also helped me deal with the death of my beloved Grammie, and channeling that grief properly helped me really make considerable headway in a writing project I have been nurturing for several years. 

The lists of pros and cons go on for miles.  I should really just start paying back this sleep debt I've racked up, right?  I mean, isn't it time to focus on being stress-free and start whittling down the number of projects I'm tackling on a daily basis?  Hmmmm?  Isn't it?

Ahem.  Of course I signed up again:

A month of musings, comin' atcha.

And for this, too:

Oh for crying out loud.  Again?

If I think about the stress of it, my blood sugars start to rise.  But that's not the point of this exercise.  The point is to hone my skills as a writer and to dedicate a month - truly dedicate it - to becoming a stronger wordsmith.  (Please remind me of this mantra around, oh, say the 15th, when I'm only 3,000 words into my project and I'm blogging senselessly about cats and Larry Bird and blood sugars and ... shit, I do that already.) 

So cheers to you, my fellow NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo participants.  May your words be plentiful and internet connection steady.  Keep the coffee coming.

Game on.

October 25, 2007

Meeting Schuyler.

I've been admiring Robert Rummel-Hudson's pictures on Flickr for quite some time now, enjoying looking at the world through his lens.

I came across Rob's work first through a diabetes-connection, as he's a recently-diagnosed type 2 diabetic, and started reading his blog.  He writes rawly and eloquently about his daughter, Schuyler, who lives with bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria

Here is where I could insert a furrowed brow sort of serious paragraph about diseases and disease management, about the intricasies of a specialized condition and how it can affect a life adversely.  I could talk about different medical devices that are necessary and what kind of challenges a child may face when diagnosed with this condition.  There are many serious words I could use, and many serious discussions to be had.

We played with these jelly bracelets like it was our job.  And it should be - we were that good.

But.

It's very hard to see a disease or a disorder when I looked into the eyes of this beautiful little girl and saw her smile. 

Thank you, Rob and Schuyler, for making a drab Tuesday into something magical.

October 22, 2007

Walk in My Shoes.

I walked with the October sunshine warm against my back.

Kerri, Nicole, and Shannon.

I walked with Shannon, whose son knows what I know.  She shared moments with my mother that made me feel like my mother was less alone now, too.  I walked with Nicole, who shared orange slices with me as we treated simultaneous lows.  (I also wore the hat of a viking warrior princess, but that's an entirely different post.)  These were my fellow bloggers, my friends with diabetes, folding me into arms that know what it's like to have fallen down the well of a low.

I walked past toddlers in their strollers who offered their chubby fingertips to their parents for a quick blood sugar check.  I saw children holding hands with their parents, passing glucose tabs between their fingers.  I saw a group of teenagers and scanned their hips and their hands for evidence of their diagnosis, but I couldn't tell which one had it.  I walked past children with bright blue pumps clipped to their bodies, smiles even brighter.

I walked with my aunts and my cousins, who have always made sure there is diet soda at the family picnics and a sugar-free dessert after a holiday meal.  I walked with one of my best friends, who has learned about diabetes in the same breath that she's learned about my favorite bands.  I walked with the support of my other best friend, who is as quick to make me laugh as she is to count the carbs.  I walked with my fiance's sister, who by just showing up makes me feel like she understands.  I walked with my future niece, who knows I wear my medicine on my hip, but that I will also play teddy bears with her. 

I walked with my fiance, who loves me not because of or despite this disease, but simply because he loves me.

I walked with my mother, who was there the day I was diagnosed and who has lived with this disease as long as I have, only she feels the sting of a high without needing insulin, the tears of a low without needing juice. 

I walked proudly, surrounded by friends and family both new and old, taking steps towards acceptance, towards progress, towards a cure.

Team SUM, 2007.

Team Six Until Me.  2007 edition.

(Missing from photo:  My aunts, cousins, Jeff, and Superman.)

October 17, 2007

Me and SuperG.

From the moment he came into the coffee shop, I couldn't keep the grin off my face.  His smile takes up his whole face and it's impossible not to return it. 

"Hi, George." 

"Hi!  it's so great to meet you."  He looks around the Starbucks and barely takes a breath.  "I never come here.  I have no idea what to order.  Hi!"

Having read his blog for almost two years, I had a strong sense of what SuperG would be like - funny, charming, and friendly.  And I was right on all counts.  George is one of those people you hope there are more of.  Aside from being very, very funny and completely silly and entertaining, George is one of the most genuinely warm people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

And he knows stuff.  Like phrases I've never heard before, but will make considerable efforts to implement.  Like "trip on this."  And "honking."  And making my voice drop, a la Vera DeMillo from "In Living Color," when I say we're "writers."

He made me laugh.  He made Chris laugh.  And I think he made himself laugh a few times, which made me laugh all over again.  It was a cycle of giggles, serious discussions, jokes, and grins that went on for several hours underneath the palm trees in Burbank.  We compared pump hiding spots. (I revealed that mine was tucked into my sock and George said that Master P was in his pocket, causing Chris to raise an eyebrow in alarm until I turned to him and said, "No, Master P is his pump.") 

I laughed so hard when Chris realized that George was the "ninjabetic." 

"Oh yeah!  You're the guy in the meter, too, right?"

We talked about George's band and how they're not named The High Fives, as I had thought, because, as George stated - "We're not a boy band."  We talked about dLife and Blogabetes, about our health goals, our diabetes fundraising walks, and I confirmed that Nicole is, indeed, as wicked cool in person as she is in her blog. 

Reading someone's blog on a daily basis and identifying with what they write and how they feel about your shared medical condition creates a bond that reaches beyond your basic, "Hi, nice to meet you."  It's like meeting someone for the first time that you've known forever. 

SuperG and Me.

Trip on this:  George, it was honking cool to meet you and you are such a wonderful guy.  Oh snap!

September 21, 2007

Six Things - and Blogabetes!

In française, in honor of Shannon and her pretty pink prom dress.

Un:  We have a wedding this weekend, and I'm tousling between the blue dress or the black dress.  Is it too late in the season for bright blue?  Ladies, please help me out with this.  I'm a fashion nightmare.

Deux:  Generation D has been updated over at dLife.  This month's column touches upon what happens when technology fails.  Because it does.  And I was none too pleased about it.  (Also be sure to welcome Manny to the Viewpoints team!)

Trois:  Our home has been invaded by royalty - and he lives in our fridge.  Sir Strawberry of the Royal House of Trader Joe has become a silly, reaction-treating staple in our home.  Chris initially bought it because of the very stodgy looking knight on the label, but the juice tastes delicious and is all-natural, so Sir Strawberry is a win-win fella. 

Quatre:  I received (well, Siah received, but I read it to her) an email from Mark Neven from the Diabetes Federation of Ireland.  His group of diabetic kids went away on an adventure weekend and they've created a site so the kids could keep in touch.  The site, Diabetes Camp, has some very funny bits on it, and they've linked back to LOL Diabetes.  Check it out, and be on the lookout for some LOL contributions from the Emerald Isle!

Cinq:  Thank you, International Diabetes Federation (IDF) for mandating that blood sugars need to be under 140 mg/dl two hours post-meal.  I needed more pressure.Blogabetes!

Six (not very Frenchy, but that's what it is): 

And now for something fun! 

dLife has launched a new blogging forum - Blogabetes!  Staffed by some familiar faces from the Blogosphere, Blogabetes is diabetes, unscripted.  Check out the latest from Nicole, SuperG, Julia, Kim, Carey, Robert, Scott Marvel, Lori - and some new voices, like Andy and Rebecca! 

Check out the new posts and leave them some love!

And congratulations to all the Blogabetes bloggers - your hard work and dedication to this project makes it all worth it. 

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday!

September 18, 2007

Grand Rounds 3.52

Hmm.  Kitchen is looking a little bare.  (Or bear, as it relates to Rocco.)  Time to do some shopping, Grand Rounds-style.  Since I'm a New Englander, I'm off to Stop & Blog.

Grand Rounds v. 3.52

Always in pursuit of healthy foods, I headed into the produce section, where I saw a fantastic special on Healthline Pufferfish Salmon.  "But aren't those pufferfish?"  I wondered.  Maybe I'll pass on those.  Ooh, but what about a nice, healthy pomegranate?  Good for hypertension, which is on the rise in children, according to MedHelp.  And some organic lettuce, which is crispy and tasty but probably doesn't cure diabetes, right DiabetesMine?

Brrr.  It's always freezing in the produce section.  There should be a mandatory uniform for this arctic section, much like the new UK policy guidelines for healthcare uniforms, says On The Wards.

I need to warm up.  Off to the bakery, where I can grab a nice, hot coffee.  The lady in front of me is yapping away on her cell phone - doesn't she know too much cell phone use could cause cancerDr. Anonymous should give this lady a call (on her landline). 

"Hazelnut, please.  With Equal."  I tell the barista.  "No, Equal is okay.  There's that new study about aspertame - turns out it's safe.  I know!  Yeah, Tara at The Diet Dish told me, too."

She hands me my coffee.  "May want to cut back on this stuff.  Liana at MedValley High told me SUM Grande coffeethat."

Sipping my coffee, I hear Tony from Hospital Impact talking fluent hospitalk to Doc Shazam, who counters with a discussion about cervical spine injuries.  I push my cart towards the in-store pharmacy, wondering if there will ever be a mini-clinic in Stop & Blog, like the Health Business Blog was talking about.

The pharmacy is a unique slice-of-life jigsaw puzzle, with one woman talking about the ectopic pregnancies and methotrexate treatment that she read about on Healthline.  Her friend nods, countering with "Pregnancies?  Shoot, I can't even figure out how to talk about s-e-x with my teenagers.  And they need the Teen Health 411!"  They both nod in agreement. 

I pick up my script for insulin.  The pharmacist asks me if I'm type 1 or type 2.  Chronic illness can be invisible sometimes, like Laurie from A Chronic Dose mentioned.

"Type 1."  I wonder if he's going to blur the boundaries and tell me he's diabetic, too, like in the post from Diabetes-Wise.

"Oh.  Just checking.  I'm sure you've heard about that piece on DiseaseProof, where Dr. Furhman talks about insulin making things worse for some type 2's."

"I'm more concerned about making sure my insurance covers this.  I'm glad I have good insurance, but I think about what it's like to teeter between good coverage and crummy coverage.  Some people aren't able to enjoy good health benefits, like the military veteran from Reflections."

"Yup.  Rachel was just here, talking about that.  Hey, you heard about InsureBlog's post about Arnold-Care, right?" 

Grab some band-aids and toss them in my cart.  For Michelle, who had a cyst removed from her thumb and had all that trouble managing her blood sugars that day.  (Spiderman bandaids okay with you, Michelle?)

I scurry down the cat food aisle and grab some chow for my arsenal of animals.  These stupid cats are my buddies.  I remembered the post on Fat Doctor about the woman who was almost overcome with grief for the loss of her pet.  I'm not sure I'd be too far off. 

The security cameras are hidden in the ceiling along the aisles.  I think about the post I read on NY Emergency Medicine about the guy who swallowed the crack rocks.  I wave to the cameras, just in case. 

Cart filled to the brim with tasty bits for people and cats alike, I venture off to my favorite aisle - Magazinesthe magazine aisle.  All the news I can use!  I thumb through the latest National Blogger Weekly and check out an article from MedJournal Watch on the war on obesity.  I read about patients in the UK falling out third story hospital windows in an article from The Interested-Participant

Grabbing the latest Highlight HEALTH, I read up on how what you believe can kill you.  (Then I read a story about Batboy, but that had just about nothing to do with healthcare.  It was just an interesting photo.  But then I found Tara Smith's article on the history of outbreaks, which did involve both bats and healthcare.  Score!) 

This week's SharpBrains featured some interviews with neuroscientists and psychologists on the value of mental exercise.  I made a conscious effort to make my brain cells do some crunches. 

Blogger News National had a moving interview with an Iraq war veteran with PTSD, pulled from Healthline.  As I flipped the pages, I saw an ad for breast cancer genetic testing and remembered the article from Eye On DNA.  The post from Dr. Val's blog jumped to mind, about the doctor's friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer

A comic book featuring the funniest health journal articles is wedged between the shelves, probably stuck there by TechMedicine.  I read about medical professionals gettin' their hugs from their patients, thanks to an article by Hope for Pandora.  Celebrities with diabetes were on the front of several magazines - good thing I had taken that quiz on dLife!  Hiding underneath the latest SUM News Daily, I saw the Healthcare Zagat guide, complete with an article from How to Cope With Pain about a grading system for doctor's offices

Oh shoot - I mistakenly nudged a precariously stacked pile of HealthBlogger Magazine and all thoseSubscribe today! blasted subscription cards came raining out.  Little cards fluttered everywhere, each with a different article printed on them.  One from Emergiblog proclaimed Down with Stereotypes!  Another was about surgical blog carnivals, held at Surgexperiences.  Another was about the startling connection of dreams and reality from the Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good.  Shoot, there's another from ER Nursey about patient satisfaction scores.  And the last card I saved before it slid underneath the magazine case was about how to save a life from Monash Medical Student. 

I grab some Nutrigrain bars from the cereal aisle, a carton of milk for Chris's protein shakes, and then I'm off to the checkout line.  While I'm standing there, I notice the candy selection within arms' reach.  If I was ever to experience a low blood sugar while waiting in line, I'd be safe.  I thought about the irony of Type1EMT at the D-Log Cabin being chosen to demonstrate hypoglycemia for her EMT test

Ugh, this is a long line.  I practice stretching like I read about in the Fitness Fixer.  The checkout line is so random - some trashy magazines, assorted packages of Mentos, and a pack of lighbulbs.  The article from GrrlScientist, about light therapy, sprang into my head.  Stop and Blog

Finally, I'm at the cashier.

"Do you have your Stop & Blog card?"

"I do."  I hand her my keychain. 

She rings out my healthy foods, my mess of magazines, and the cat food. 

"Would you like a coupon for a free medical blogger's survey?  It's being offered by Envision Solutions and Trusted MD."

"Sure.  Would love to."  I swipe my debit card. 

"Here's your coupon for next week's Grand Rounds.  It's at Kevin, M.D.  Thank your for shopping at Stop & Blog." 

September 14, 2007

Six September Friday Bits

Banging out a quick post on a Friday afternoon, before heading home to RI for the weekend.  Here goes!

First off, I check out the I Can Has a Cheezeburger site all the time.  I'll admit it.  Many times, the pictures make me smile.  Occasionally, they make me snicker.  And once in a great while, I actually laugh out loud.  This is my favorite one of all time.  It makes me laugh every freakin' time.  I present:

Ha!  Ha ha ha ha!

Invisible Bike.

Secondly, Grand Rounds are hosted here next week.  Here's the call for submissions.  No theme, as a departure from the last time I hosted.  Send your post!  And in other calls for submissions, don't forget to send in your LOL Diabetes moment to Siah, or your diabetes story to Your Story

Chicken Soup for the Teenage SoulThricely, I'm proud to say that a story I wrote a waa-ay long time ago has been picked up by the folks over at Chicken Soup for the Soul and is being published in their third edition of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul.  The story is called "Our Masterpiece" and was written when I was in high school.  It's being released in early October, so check it out!

Fourthish, the JDRF walks are rapidly approaching.  If you are in the CT area, feel free to join up with Team dLife on September 30th (I'll be far from daisy-fresh, as I'll be coming straight from a bachelorette party in RI the night before, but I WILL BE THERE, damnit).  And Team Six Until Me is walking on October 21st in RI. 

Fifthesque, the hunt for a wedding photographer is on, big time, for our May 18th wedding.  I've been scouring websites and calling for quotes - apparently this venture is not as cheap as I had originally hoped.  Considering getting one of those court illustrators to draw pictures.  Or maybe a fleet of seven year olds will follow us around and create crayon renditions of our nuptials.  Either way, I need to buckle down.  This wedding, despite my encouragement, refuses to plan itself.

And Sixy, the weather is gorgeous.  Go out and enjoy it, for crying out loud.  Have a great weekend! 

September 11, 2007

Call for Submissions to Grand Rounds 3.52

Grand Rounds 3.52Next Tuesday, I will be hosting Grand Rounds - the weekly rotating carnival of the best of the medical blogosphere.  The theme?  HA!  There is no theme! 

Send your submission by Sunday, September 16th at midnight to kerri @ sixuntilme dot com with the subject line "Grand Rounds."  Please include the following in your email:

Blog Name:
URL:
Author:
Post Name:
Permalink:
Synopsis:

I'm looking forward to your entries! 

September 10, 2007

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Dryer Lint

I am so excited to try on wedding dresses.

After a weekend including completely ransacking our home office and trying to make sense of all the business/wedding chaos, I've come up for air.

Update on the Wedding Front:  I'm shaking the dust off my wedding planner hat (which is bright blue and has a long feathery plume, at least in my mind) and kicking things into high gear.  We've booked the reception hall, we've booked the church as of today, and we have chosen our bridal party.  Next on my list:  photographer, DJ, and try on wedding dresses.  I cannot wait to try on every wedding dress I can get my little hands on.  My mother is convinced that we'll "just know" which one is perfect, but I have a feeling I may try on several (read: is a hundred too many?) dresses before I can narrow it down.  I'm so excited, though.  Our wedding date is just a few months away! 

Update on Diabetes-Stuff:  To follow-up on my eye dilation appointment from Thursday, my eyes are looking very healthy.  I used to see an optometrist for my dilations, with bi-yearly checks at the Joslin Eye Clinic.  Since moving to CT, I've started seeing a retinologist, who shines that light into my eye to the point where I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience.  I wonder if I had any of these spots a few years ago, but my optometrist wasn't trained to detect them.    

"What do you see?"  I asked him, tears streaming down my face as my eyes revolt against what feels like the sun shining directly into them.

"Nothing, Kerri.  One teeny hemorrhage, but I can barely see that."  He hands me a tissue to blot my eyes.  "What do you see?"  I can hear the smile in his voice.

"I can't see a damn thing, Dr. Retina." 

He laughs and takes the light off my eyes.  "Looks good, kid.  No need for a three month follow-up.  Let's move to six.  I'll see you the month before you become Mrs. Sparling, okay?"For Darrell.

And on the A1c front, I'm hoping to have that result soon.  And taking a cue from the fact that a blood sugar of only 202 mg/dl makes me feel like I'm sucking on a popsicle made of dryer lint, I'm hoping it's a good result.

Update on Indiana Jones:  This is just as crucial as the wedding, and in about the same timeframe.  The fourth (and final?) Indiana Jones installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is being released in May 2008 and the title was announced last night.  I am a huge Indiana Jones fan - "You call him Doctor Jones, doll!" - and I can't wait until this movie is released. 

He is just too cool. 

August 31, 2007

Sam Talbot, US News, and a Senseless Purchase

Pearls from the blogosphere?  Don't mind if I do.

A pearl from the Blogosphere.Chris's mom originally pointed me in the direction of Sam Talbot.  "He's from Bravo's Top Chef.  He's been diabetic since he was a kid, like you!"  Of course I checked him out.  And, after a few family leads and some emails from Faithful Readers, I also noticed that Sam is up for "Glad's Steamiest Chef" competition.  According to the website, "For Sam's participation in the Steamiest Chef Contest, Glad is making a $5,000 donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, the leading charitable funder and advocate of type 1 diabetes research worldwide... If Sam receives the most votes in the contest, Glad will donate an additional $25,000 to help further the foundation's work."  If you haven't already, cast your vote for Sam!

A pearl from the Blogosphere.In other diabetes celebrity news, have you taken the dLifestyles of the Rich and Famous quiz?  I was stumped on a few of these - test your celebrity savvy and see how you fare.  Also, on the Halle Berry tip, the discussion about her diabetes has been rekindled over at LOL Diabetes.  (Thanks for starting the buzz up, Hannah!)

A pearl from the Blogosphere.Also, I've had the honor and the pleasure of being interviewed by a SUM on US News and World Reporthealth reporter from U.S. News and World Report.  Their "Profile:  Living with Type 1 Diabetes" is a look at the daily management tasks of diabetes.  I'd love for you to check it out.  :)

A pearl from the Blogosphere.Chris and I are off for the weekend - nice, long holiday weekend.  No laptops.  Cell phones will remain in the car, just for an emergency.  No blogging.  No email.  No roads to race.  No schedule to adhere to.  NOTHING but the quiet bed and breakfast we've booked, some nice dinners, and each other.  Not to sound completely unromantic, but I can't frigging wait.

A pearl from the Blogosphere.And in Senseless Purchase news, I now own this:Silly little electronic cat.  Oh why did I feel the urge to own you?

I have no good reason for owning an iCat.  However, I can plug my iPod into it and it dances, it meows when it's bored, and I'm guessing it will eat batteries faster than my pump.   It was $10 at Kohl's and I bought it and I'm a small bit ashamed, but it made me laugh.  (It's also a smidge annoying and if you grab its tail, it yowls.  My co-workers may kill me within the hour.)  I showed it to Siah last night and she puffed up like a blowfish.  It was worth the $10 just to watch that scene.

Onward to the weekend!  Have a good one, and I'll see you all on Tuesday! 

August 17, 2007

Coming Up For Air.

No cohesive thoughts this Friday morning.  Everything is completely tangled.  Life has been insane Unravelling, one thread at a time.lately (but fun!).  In efforts to unravel the threads:

Working remotely this morning.  I first tried to get online at my mother's office, but the Internet Nazis who set up her office's wireless wouldn't let me access anything resembling a social networking site.  Or my dLife email.  Or IM.  Or the goodies being worked through at Blogabetes.  So now I'm holed up in a Starbucks in Providence, drinking iced coffee and trying not to spill it on my laptop.  (So far, the "ctrl' key only has some crumbs from my Blueberry Nutrigrain bar.)

Tomorrow is our enGAGment party.  My mother, in charge of the cake, confided in me that she wanted to have a big cake with Cinderella and Prince Charming on it.  After seeing my face turn white with panic, she told me that she hadn't done that.  After seeing the flash of disappointment, she told me she still could, if I wanted.  (Note to self: Kerri, you are 28 years old.  Start acting your age.)  The enGAGment party will mark the first time that ALL of our family members will be at the same place.  I'm excited, and definitely charging my camera battery to make sure I don't miss a minute.  (Is it tacky to liveblog from your own enGAGment party?)

Siah's little paws are raw from typing, but she's doing a great job maintaining the LOL Diabetes site.  She's also building her own staff team - with the help of Kahlua from Rachel's crew.  Siah tells me that she's received many excellent LOL submissions, and she's readying hers for next week.  Damn silly cat.  Have you submitted something to Siah?  Email her and send her your LOL Diabetes moments.

After my grammie passed away, my mother and her husband ended up with Grammie's car.  My mom was driving it today.  When she was putting some tables for the enGAGment party in my car, I noticed a big wooden table leg in the trunk.

"Ma, what is that?"

"Oh, that's the beating stick."  She continued to load things into my car while I stopped and stared at her for a minute.

"I'm sorry - what?  The beating stick?"

She went over to the trunk and picked up the table leg. 

"This was under the front seat of Grammie's car.  She drove with it there all the time, in case she ended up on the side of the road somewhere and needed to defend herself,"

"By beating someone with a table leg."  I finished for her.

"Right."  She brandished it with a flourish, and then a grin.  She looked just like her mother - my grammie - for a moment.

I thought about my grandmother, silly and laughing and following through whenever anyone dared her to do something, like a handstand in the mud.  She once accidentally cooked a bandaid into an apple pie. She once was the star of a short movie my brother made called "Grambo," where she pretended to storm a military base (which was nothing more than a fort in our backyard.)  She hugged us a lot.  She was sweet and loving. 

And weird.

The mental picture of her, standing on a deserted roadside if her car had broken down, brandishing a wooden table leg for protection made me smile. 

It's true, that they're always with us.  I saw her today, reflected in my mother's smile.

August 15, 2007

LOL Diabetes!

When you think “chronic disease,” you don’t exactly think slap-stick humor. More like ketone-stick horrors. There is nothing funny about kidney disease or diabetic retinopathy. Testing blood glucose levels, counting carbohydrates, and keeping track of medications – all the daily tasks of diabetes care can become overwhelming, making it tough to find the humor in diabetes.

Which is exactly why we need to find the humor in diabetes.

This disease takes up so much of our time. There are very few moments in the day when I’m not at least considering my diabetes. And while I am not ruled by my condition, in order to survive and live a wonderful life, I need to focus on the details of diabetes to maintain good health. I need to maintain good mental health, too.

My grandmother used to tell me that laughter is food for the soul. My endocrinologist used to tell me that laughter is the waTake two and call me in the morning.y to achieve balance. Even Readers’ Digest told me that “Laughter was the Best Medicine.” This is true for people with diabetes, as well as people with other chronic illnesses.

I often find amusement in the places I find discarded test strips. Multiple daily finger sticks are a part of my daily duties, and the strips are expensive, so that’s not particularly funny. But finding a test strip in my shoe or seeing my little kitten trot by with one in mouth does make me smile. Priming my insulin pump is sometimes an arduous task, but my fiance walking by and saying I look like a mad scientist as I tap out the air bubbles from the cartridge makes me smile. It may not be funny to some, but it’s funny to me and it makes my diabetes burden far less heavy.

There are also phrases that other people aren’t able to toss around so lightly. The phrase, “I feel so high,” has a definitive meaning to a person with diabetes, but may raise the eyebrows of those who aren’t “in the know.” Or “Excuse me, I have to go shoot up.” Out of the context of diabetes, those words aren’t normally thrown around at dinner parties.

There are also the moments that you laugh because, if you don’t, you may burst into tears. I have experienced severe low blood sugar reactions where I’ve come to my senses and noticed juice staining my shirt, my hair stuck to my forehead with sweat, and my meter in a thousand pieces on the floor after having thrown it at the wall. Moments like these are enough to break you in two. But sometimes a laugh bubbles up from deep inside you, where you are the most scared and the most vulnerable, and it escapes. It gives you strength. It helps chase the fear away for a few minutes.

When diabetes gets a little tough, it’s hard to find that silver lining.

Laughter has a way of illuminating it.

LOL Diabetes

Therefore:  LOL Diabetes!

If those LOL Cats can make their home on the internet, why can't our diabetes humor?  Time to feed our diabetic souls with more than just insulin.  Siah, who has made it quite clear that she doesn't plan on paying rent any time soon, has chosen to earn her keep by playing Host at LOL Diabetes

Send your submissions to loldiabetes@yahoo.com.  Send anything funny:  Pictures, YouTube clips, essays, cartoons, one-liners, Overheard in the Endo's office-style comments - anything!  Anything that sends you into a giggle-fit and helps ease the burden of diabetes.

Please, keep Siah busy.  Otherwise she becomes very annoying and ends up dancing with the shower curtain at four in the morning.  Which rustly and loud.  And makes me crazy.  Make her earn her keep!

August 08, 2007

Bits and Pieces

BlogrollHousekeeping!  And other assorted oddities.

The New Blogroll.  I've built a new blogroll here, with a text-only version and an alphabetical breakdown including screenshots and descriptions.  If your blog is on there and you'd like to add a short description, please email me.  If your blog is missing entirely - oh crap!  Send me an email so I can add you! 

Reviews.  I receive a lot of emails from diabetes product development teams regarding reviews.  If you have a product that you would like to have reviewed, please check out the SUM Reviews page and drop me a line.   I'm proud to be a part of this community and if we can help spread the word about a product that makes our lives a little better, I'm all for it. 

Subservient Chicken.  Oh how I remember finding this a few years ago and being completely astounded.  You can tell this chicken what to do.  It's all tied back to Burger King advertising, but visiting the site is worth the marketing subtleties.

Your Story.  There is a new Your Story up every Monday - have you submitted yours yet?  Email your story and any pictures you'd like to include to story@sixuntilme.com.  I'd love to heard from you!Was "Worried Walrus" on the Sweet Pickles bus?

Sweet Pickles.  Chris and I were talking about Sweet Pickles - that book series from the early 80's with the theme song - "Sweet Pickles is great!" - and the bus filled with weird animals that supposedly delivered the books to your home.  Personally, if a bus with furry creatures showed up at my house bearing books, I would be terrified.  Did anyone ever order these books?  And was there a frog in that bus?  I can't remember and can't find any video confirmation on YouTube. 

Tomorrow - a chance meeting at the JDRF walk kick-off luncheon.  :)

July 20, 2007

Dr. Vineyard

Last weekend on our adventures, Chris and I visited part of the Connecticut wine trail.  We made our way up the western portion of the state, starting with the beautiful White Silo Vineyard where we had sweet rhubarb wine.  Our next stop was the Hopkins vineyard, where Chris found the "most delicious wine ever, seriously" (aka the ice wine they were featuring) and I tasted a wine that was more black pepper than grapes.  Lastly, we drove back towards the shore and stumbled upon a vineyard that wasn't on our Official Winetrail Map - DiGrazia Vineyards

View from the hilltop of White Silo Vineyard.

It was almost four in the afternoon and food had been spare so far, so when Chris and I took our seats at the wine bar and I spied the little plate of crackers, I couldn't keep my hands still.  Testing in at 90 mg/dl and knowing that there was more delicious wine on the horizon, I thought it would be good to snack.  So my fingers kept grabbing a few crackers, snaking them into my mouth, and then venturing back for more.

So many more that Dr. DiGrazia, the owner of the vineyard, came over with the box of crackers to refill our plate. 

"Hungry today, eh?"  His 70 year old brow furrowed slightly and he gave me a small smile.

I blushed, cracker crumbs on my shirt and one on its way to my mouth.

"Yeah." 

"Well don't be shy.  Eat up, and enjoy the wine."

Not needing to be told twice, I snacked on crackers freely and tasted a delicious blush wine, then a port, then a few dessert wines.  Blood sugar held steady at 130 mg/dl.  Feeling very smiley and wandering out into the vineyard garden with Chris, we were among the last at the winery that day. 

Dr. DiGrazia came out onto the porch and beckoned me to sit and chat with him while Chris wandered off with the camera.

"Did you enjoy the wines?"  He asked me, settling back into one of the Adirondack chairs.

"I did.  I enjoyed the crackers, too."

"That's fine.  Can't drink without eating."

"Agreed.  I'm actually a type 1 diabetic, so the wine definitely needs to be countered by something else."

He shifted in his seat and gave me a hard stare.

"Ah, diabetic?  Since you were a kid?"

"Yessir."

"Plenty of shots, then, eh?"

"I used to do shots.  I use an insulin pump now."  I pulled my pump from the pocket of my skirt. 

"Ah!  Never seen one of those before.  Aside from the vineyard, I actually have a practice in town.  I'm a doctor."

"No kidding!  Do you have any diabetic patients?"

He laughed.

"No.  I'm a gynecologist."

"Oh, I see.  Well, diabetics go to the gynecologist.  And they have babies.  So I bet you have some diabetic patients."  I gave him a wink.  He tipped his glass to me.

"Maybe.  I don't see many diabetics, or at least patients who talk about it if they have it.  So what do you do?"

"I work for a diabetes media company in Westport called dLife.  We have a tv show on CNBC.  And I also write a diabetes blog."  Chris came up and joined us on the porch.  "And we're getting married next year, so I'm a pseudo-wedding planner as well."

"Marriage, eh?  Well, when I deliver your baby in a few years, I can be on that dLife TV show.  And I'll talk about the health benefits of a good glass of wine."  He laughed.  Grapes on the wine vine.

"TV show?  Sure, once you deliver my future-baby, we'll put you on the show."  I smiled.  He was such a sweet old man and he made wonderful wine.

"But not on your blog."  He laughed at the kids these days and their blogs.

No, Dr. DiGrazia - never on my blog. 

July 19, 2007

A Handful of Items

Item One:  Arching in as topic one (oh ha, the puns!), I will be at the Annual AADE meeting in St. Louis this year.  (My poor editor-in-chief is my travel companion.  I hope she doesn't mind when I'm half on the moon from xanax for my fear of flying and rambling on nonsense about my cat until the medication wears off.)  Will any of you be there?  I'm very excited to participate in this event as a member of the dLife team.  And I'm very excited to see the big ol' Arch. 

Item Two:  Back when we went rafting, the raft guides has some rogue kayakers who skipped ahead, perched themselves on the rocky sidewalls, and snapped photographs of the rafters as we passed by.  Here is how we rolled:

Rolling down the river.

Item Three:  Wedding planning, though having taken a bit of a backseat to different work projects for both Chris and I, is in full swing.  We've booked our reception hall and nailed down our actual wedding date, so now it's time for all the other stuff - like the photographer, the church, dresses, and deciding how many flowers is really "too many."  Admittedly, I have no idea what I'm doing.  I have several books and have consulted with The Knot on several occasions (only to notice that my post about Oliver's gas was linked from their discussion boards - I laughed until I cried), but time is going by so quickly and I fear I'm falling behind. 

Our engagement party invitations came in, so that's all set to take place on August 18th (yay!), but aside from that, I'm sort of lost.  How exactly do you find a photographer?  (If anyone has any recommendations for a photographer in the RI area, I'd love to hear from you.)  How far in advance do you need to find a wedding dress?  How hard is it to wrangle all the bridesmaids into one style of dress or can I have varying styles along the same color theme?  How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, were he so inclined? 

Item Four:  Social networking is all over the place these days.  LinkedInTwitterFacebookNing networksMySpace.  Whoa.  (No, "whoa" isn't a social networking platform.  At least not yet.)  There are plenty of networking opportunities.  I'm sure there are plenty that I have no clue about.  Any new ones that you know about?

Item Five:  I don't know if you caught this link on my sidebar, but I want one of these in the worst way.  And I can't figure out why it appears to have a hand brake.  Bizarre indeed!

July 09, 2007

And the Award Goes To...

I will be loading up the rafting pictures tonight (including the one of the raft guide yelling at me to stay tough), but in the meantime, I've had the honor of receiving two very nice bloggy awards.

Thinking Blogger Award.Amy Mercer over at Dreaming of Water awarded me the Thinking Blogger Award.  She chose a handful of chronic illness blogs to highlight.  Since this is a diabetes-focused blog, I'm chosing to deviate from diabetes and highlight some of my favorite non-diabetes blogs:

1.  Aprigliano.  He makes me laugh, he's tech-savvy, and he's married to one of the only people who can make me laugh with a mere syllable. 

2.  M.O.M.  Monica paints pictures with her words that have the most vibrant colors.  Her perspectives always make me think.  And she tolerates the fact that cartoons are based on my life. 

3.  Breathe.  This blogger, new to the blogosphere, finds words for the moments that render others mute.  The moments that Lynn chooses to capture are beautiful and poignant.Rolling out the red carpet for my fellow bloggers.

4.  The Full Stop.  Nothing makes me happier than reading Kieran's musings.  His musical talent is undeniable and he quips about in ways that bring me great joy.  He makes me think as well as makes me laugh.

5.  Que Sera Sera.  I've been reading this blogger for about a year now and she makes me snicker at the most mundane things.  Definitely a blog to check out.

Here are the rules, should any of these bloggers choose to accept their mission to share their thinking bloggers of choice.  If the bloggers choose to participate, please make sure to pass the rules on to the next Thinking Blogs you tag:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

This award was began by Ilker Yoldas at The Thinking Blog. The mission is to create a linky thinky trail (my ridiculous phrase, not theirs, as they sound much brighter when they talk) to spread the word about great blogs. 

Rockin!And Julia at Major Bedhead has awarded me a Rockin' Girl Blogger award.  (YAY!)  Dude, I am so passing this one around the dBlogosphere.  My nominees are:

Birdie at Aiming for Grace.  She hits her target every time.  I am always impressed by her writing.

Shannon at Mom Wants a Cure because she makes me laugh, cry, and fear being poked on Facebook at all times.

and Jill at Navigum.  Diabetes doesn't appear to define her, either, and her stories about tofu pups and bizarre life happenings make her blog a must-read.

Thanks for thinking of me!  Cheers to the blogosphere!

July 08, 2007

Technical Difficulties

On July 4th of last week, my blog asserted its independence, the little bugger. 

It up and left me.

I went to sign in on Wednesday afternoon to publish some comments and leave a "Gone Raftin'" post.   When I logged into the Movable Type platform, I received this:

Couldn't load blog; perhaps you have not upgraded your MT database? - Loading data failed with SQL error Can't open file: 'mt_blog.MYI' (errno: 145)

Perhaps I had what?  Most of those words didn't make sense to me.  Beads of sweat on my forehead, I tried to log in again, only to have the computer flip me the finger and start making ticking sounds.

Addicted to blogging and having no clue how to access my portal to the blogosphere, I panicked and called the yahoos at Yahoo! customer service.  Press "one" twice.  Press "three."  Count alphabetically to 80, in German.  Juggle three cats and a chainsaw while humming the theme to The Facts of Life.  Oh, and don't put them on speakerphone because they'll hear you bitching once they finally pick up.

After being transferred seven different times, speaking with four different Yahoos, and allowing my voice to start issuing forth comments like, "You don't have a supervisor and you cannot transfer my call?  Unless you work at the bottom of a well on the moon, I am inclined to believe you are lying," I was transferred to Ryan.

"Hi, Ryan.  I was just told you didn't exist.  It's nice to meet you." 

All seven IT people had told me my blog was murdered by the Yahoo! mySQL (my Squirrel?) database and that I would have to rebuild the whole damn thing.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  I needed Ryan to tell me everything was okay.

"Kerri, your files were deleted during the course of the error.  You will need to rebuild your entire blog."

Ryan and I exchanged pleasantries.  In my mind, I was pinching him.

And then I went away on vacation, leaving my blog wounded and without updates.

So I apologize to anyone who has been trying to leave comments and received the "We cannot display this page because Yahoo! is run by third graders, thank you." page.  I'll be reposting the last few entries here for those of you who sent emails.  Unfortunately, old posts will not be able to receive comments anymore, but they will remain in tact in the archives.

And I apologize for leaving Michael Moore's goofy face staring at you since last Tuesday. 

Things should be in normal working order now, but if anyone runs into any technical difficulties on this new platform, please email me and let me know.  I'll be rebuilding Ye Olde Blogroll and Your Story this week, so bear with me for a few more days.

For now, I'm off to download the pictures from the white-water rafting trip (Jenn, I'm emailing them to you tomorrow!) and reunite myself with my insulin pump. 

More tomorrow! 

Visitors since November 7, 2005