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May 02, 2013

Time Warp.

I carry this around all day, hot-glued to my wrist.  What?My basal rates remain steady, throughout the day, except for a few hours in the morning when they're cranked up to almost triple the normal amount to take a bite out of the dawn phenomenon that I've experienced for years.  That pesky "wake up at 80 mg/dL but then go up to 200 mg/dL for no effing reason" phenomenon.  That midnight - 5 am at 0.45u, then all the way up to 0.85u at 5 am until 9.30 am, when it goes back down to 0.45u mess. 

It's something like a phenomenon

And it's definitely part of the reason an insulin pump works for me, because without the ability to tweak that morning basal rate, I'd be dealing with highs that frustrate me endlessly since they aren't the product of breakfast or stress.  They just are.  

I forget, though, how important that basal crank is for me.  I take basal bump from the pump (two points for rhyming, or for honesty) for granted sometimes, because once it's programmed, it's a done deal.  It's not until I travel outside of my timezone that I have to start juggling the dosing details again, making me run low at strange times of the day until my body clock adjusts to whatever timezone I'm in.

This happened last week when I was in Hawaii, which is six hours behind Rhode Island.  So noon here in New England is six in the am in Hawaii.  For me, that means my body wants the basal rate jacked up at the wrong time, and it results in blood sugars that are tough to track and attack.

Usually, I change the time on my pump as soon as the plane reaches cruising altitude, and I try to adjust to the local time zone as soon as possible.  This time, for the first time ever, I forgot to change my pump on the ride home.  And then neglected to change it until ... um, yesterday morning, when I looked at my pump at 11 am and saw it boasting a 5 am time.  Which explained the weird, ill-timed highs this week in the morning hours and the strange double-down arrows at lunchtime.

And the whole reason I didn't notice the time difference between the clocks at home and the clocks on my pump?  What caused this time-insulin conundrum?  What eliminated the need to peek at my pump to tell me what time it is?

It's almost too simple.  Too ridiculous. 

I bought a watch.

February 01, 2012

Guest Post: Julia Goes to Denmark.

Today's guest post is from a fellow Clara Barton Camp alumni, Julia.  She's spending some time studying abroad in Denmark, exploring her new surroundings with her insulin pump by her side.  (Sidenote:  Every time I've met Julia, she's been armed with a giant camera in her hands.  My kind of PWD.)

*   *   *

This past semester, I decided to test out my survival skills and study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

... okay so it wasn’t quite as dramatic as the Hunger Games-esque experience I was secretly hoping for, but I did have my fair share of diabetes moments that required some survival-of-the-fittest techniques (or as survival-of-the-fittest as a first world country can get). Prior to departure, I knew little about Copenhagen other than it has good pastries, lots of bicycles, free health care, and the largest number of happy people in the world. [Editor's note: Is this true? Are the Danish super happy?]  All things I’m strongly in favor of – so why not?

I knew I would encounter some challenges with diabetes, so I tried to take as many precautionary measures as I could. The biggest one was ending my nearly two-year pump-break and going on a shots-hiatus. I reconnected ole yeller [Editor's note again: I'm going on the assumption that Ole Yeller is the pump.]  back in July, about a month before leaving, while working at CBC, where I was surrounded by diabetes experts. This gave me time to readjust to pumpster and figure out some basals and ratios. I’m more in check with my diabetes while on shots, but I knew my life abroad would be hectic and I’d need some extra flexibility. Best. Decision. Ever.

For the most part, I feel like diabetes didn’t really impact my life in Copenhagen. I had an incredible time, and the majority of my daily life wasn’t too out of the ordinary. With the exclusion of:

  1. Weird carb counting (so this whole package weighs 534.7 grams and 100 grams has 29.8 carbs and each cookie feels like it weighs three billion grams soooo I guess I’ll just bolus for 12 carbs)
  2. Biking everywhere all the time (I love incognito exercise. Unless it’s 7:30 am and I need to bike 30 minutes to class and my blood sugar is 43)
  3. Living alone

The housing I chose gave me my own room, kitchenette, and bathroom. I lived basically completely alone for the first time. This was great because I secretly love being alone. But this also absolutely terrified me –What if I have a really bad low? What if I have a seizure? What if my pump breaks and then my back-up pump breaks and then my insulin all goes bad and I go into DKA and I’m too stubborn to tell anyone and then I slip into a coma? Thankfully, these things didn’t happen. I had my fair share of lows, but my dear friend Dexcom helped me catch them before they ever became too severe. And I had multiple run-ins with fairly massive ketones, but never to the point of needing medical attention. Phewf.

Julia in Denmark!! 

But my biggest dia-abroad-fail moment ended up costing me quite a hefty sum of money. One night, after leaving my meter and Dexcom in my apartment and with my pump was trickling on its last few drops, I lost my keys. My super intendant wasn’t answering his phone, so I couldn’t get the master key. So I coined some first world survival techniques and called a locksmith. But he ended up needing to drill through my lock, destroying it. Between the locksmith and the new lock, I ended up paying about 2500 Danish Kroner – around $500. Ouch.

This little fiasco was one of a few I’M GONNA DIE WHAT AM I DOING HERE moments. But they were always short-lived, thanks to this beautiful new thing called the Internet, where you can almost instantly talk across the globe to people with diabetes. I know my diabetes wasn’t as well managed as it has been in the past, and maybe I could have paid a smidgen more attention to diabetes. But looking back, I wouldn’t do it any other way. I didn’t let diabetes hold me back from biking everywhere or trying new foods or from traveling to seven different countries. I not only survived and avoided any real disaster, but I explored, learned, and grew; both as Julia-with-diabetes, and as just plain Julia.

*   *   *

Julia Romano has had Type 1 diabetes since the ripe old age of twelve, and is currently a junior studying psychology and theater at Skidmore College. In the summer, Julia ventures to Massachusetts to play with dianuggets (“dianugget”: a wonderful and adorable child with diabetes) at Clara Barton Camp. Julia loves elephants, knitting, and fanny packs – hoping to someday knit a fanny pack for an elephant. She isn’t sure where her life will end up post-graduation, but she knows it will probably involve grad school, laughter, and children with chronic diseases.

December 26, 2011

Vlog: Traveling with Diabetes.

Sometimes the iMovie little function things are too good to pass up, like the effect that lets you track travel as if you're Indiana Jones.  Which is what prompted me to do my last Animas vlog for 2011 on diabetes and travel.  (The last few months have been a little travel-heavy, which I'm glad is over for a few weeks, and I'm looking forward to being a complete homebody while Bird-watching.)

December 13, 2011

Adventures in Dubai.

Like I said yesterday, I didn’t sleep on the plane ride over.  Not on the leg from Boston to London, and not on the journey from London to Dubai.  I was too awake and too nervous to close my eyes.  Much of the flight from London to Dubai was in the pitch black of night, leaving me only able to tell my location by looking at the interactive travel map.  

But I watched the sun rise over the deserts of Kuwait.

“Huh.  Sunrise over Kuwait.  I can check that off my list.”

(It became one of those items I wrote on my “list” simply so I could check it off.  Because I never, in a million years, thought I would ever watch the sun rise over Kuwait.)

I’ve never been anywhere like Dubai before.  My exploration of the world has been mostly limited to the United States and Canada, with a few visits to Europe in the last two or three years, so culturally, I’ve never experienced anything truly different from what I grew up with.  Language barriers, sure (especially in Spain, where Chris and I ended up communicating with the cab driver through carefully drawn napkin pictures), but never a true shift.

Visiting Dubai was the furthest from home I’ve ever been.  My cell phone didn’t work.  My international cell phone barely worked (my fault – I should have bought a SIM card with more prepaid time on it).  Internet outside of the hotel was spotty, so outside of the scheduled calls home to check on Birdy and Chris, I was in this new world and out of touch with my world.  

There were a lot of familiar faces from the diabetes online community out in Dubai at the same time as me - Manny and David and Cherise - but I wasn't attending the Congress so much as participating in the Six Degrees event.  Since i only spent one day at the Congress, I felt like I was halfway across the world and tooling around on my own. 

And it felt liberating.

A few years ago, the airport was the scariest place on the planet for me; more so than the plane itself.  Something about thrusting myself through security and trying to get everything (diabetes crap included) through the x-ray machine without feeling anxious, coupled with my fear of flying, made travel something I didn't look forward to until I was at my destination and on the beach.  (And even then, I was sort of riled up about the trip home.)  But over the last five or six years, I've done a significant amount of traveling - alone, even - which has me more accustomed to the chaos. 

And last week, I went to the Middle East, by myself.  I navigated a completely new world without panicking.  Even though I had my fellow PWDs (when we were able to connect through email, that is), the Six Degrees team, and a friend or two to hang out with, I wasn't afraid to be alone.  I had my medical alert bracelet hanging off my wrist, enough glucose tabs to choke a camel, and an international cell phone that worked well enough to call home if I needed.  Almost seven thousand miles from home, I felt oddly confident.  To people who have been comfortable traveling their whole lives, this isn't a big deal.  But for me, this was a big deal.

The people I met along the way were incredible.  I have to admit to preconceived notions about the people of Dubai.  When your knowledge of a group of people is limited to Google search results, you are sure to only get a small bit of the bigger picture.  Most of my Internet research showed me lists of what NOT to do and examples of ways that my American cultural upbringing was going to be offensive in the UAE.  I should have known better - as a person with diabetes who was rattled by what Google had to say back in 2005, I should have known better than to believe everything I read on the Internet.  From the father of five and pilot that I met on the flight over (who offered his and his children's cell phone numbers, should I have any issues while traveling) to the cab driver who gave me an impromptu taxi tour on the way back from the Diabetes Congress to every single person who I encountered on my travels, the people of Dubai were very welcoming to this American mess.

Plenty of people go to Dubai every day.  And there are millions of people far more traveled than me.  But this trip really opened my eyes to the fact that the diabetes community has brought me to some incredible places, and has given me the opportunity to cross things off of a list I didn't even realize I had.

December 12, 2011

Traveling with Diabetes: I Can't Tell Time.

I traveled by small, wooden plane.  The flight from Boston to London took just over six hours.  The time change was five hours ahead of Boston, so when we landed at 6 pm, I was only ready for lunch.  The trek from London to Dubai was almost seven hours, pushing the clock ahead a full nine hours from Boston, making my head hurt because how was it Wednesday morning when I was still on Tuesday’s timetable?

(I wrote about the impact of changing time zones for an Animas column last month, but I seriously had no idea what I was in for when I decided to take the trip to Dubai.)

That first day there, the Wednesday, everyone gave me the same advice:  “Don’t go to sleep.”  (It felt like A Nightmare on Elm Street.)  “Work through the exhaustion and just go to bed on Wednesday night on Dubai time, and you should be good the next day.”  

For the first few hours after landing, I couldn’t make my body recognize the time change, and once it did, I had to force myself to stay awake instead of curling up on the hotel bed at two in the afternoon.  (Which is why I ended up foraging for coffee and meeting up with a friend to drag my jet-lagged body around Dubai for some exploring.)  And even when I started to adjust (a little), I still had no idea what time it was because of the freaking 24 hour clock.

“Just subtract twelve.” 

(This from the same people who told me not to fall asleep.  I should have told them that exhaustion made math impossible for my brain, but instead I just smiled and tried to remember my own name.)

I couldn't tell time.  Mentally, I was turning the gear on the back of an old cuckoo clock and watching the hands spin around the face.  Subtracting by twelve?  Simple, but somehow became this big mess and the only way I knew the time was after changing my pump to 24 hour time display.  

Telling time was one (sad) challenge; keeping track of my diabetes in this new time frame was entirely another. But I'm very determined to make small subtractions at least in my A1C, so I didn't want to apply the mindset of "Eh, I'll just get back on the ball when I get home," or "After the holidays is a better time to refocus."

Unfortunately, I had some problems with my Dexcom on the way over to Dubai.  The sensor I put in on Monday morning completely crapped out on me during the flight to London (complete with "???" and "SENSOR FAILED" and "Kerri, you're an idiot for not bringing a back-up sensor, silly fool"), so I was flying blind. 

On average, I blew through about fifteen test strips a day while traveling.  Seeing the number on my meter was one thing, but not being able to "see where it's going," CGM-wise, made me very insecure.  My alarm went off in the middle of the night (or, as far as my body was concerned, mid-morning) so I could test and make sure I wasn't tanking.  (But of course, once I tested, I was awake for the next hour and a half, watching Disney TV shows on the hotel television, subtitled in Arabic.)

Basically, I spent five full days completely confused.  What end was up?  I had no idea.  What was my blood sugar doing?  I wasn't sure, but I kept stalking it and thankfully avoided any highs or lows.  (I think my lack of appetite due to exhaustion helped out in that regard - hard to get high when you don't want to eat.  Conversely, treating lower numbers was kind of tough when you're full after two stupid Swedish fish.)  What country was I in? 

Oh yeah, the United Arab Emirates, visiting the World Diabetes Congress and participating in a project for Novo Nordisk.  Halfway around the world with only a carry-on filled with Swedish fish.

The Swedish Fish website is awesome.  They have chatty fish over there!

[Disclosure:  Six Degrees Medical Consulting, asked me to participate in a patient advocacy discussion with advocates from around the globe, covered my travel and lodging, and provided a per diem.  They worked with Novo Nordisk for this project.]

November 03, 2011

Uncle Traveling Matt ... Sort Of.

This guy rules, because he's super laid back and he ROCKS those green shorts.In the last few years, I've done a considerable amount of traveling, and this fall and winter will have me gone every week until mid-December.  This means a lot of air travel.  And trains.  And plenty of not-being-home. (But thankfully, Birdy and her daddy are enjoying some quality time together.)

I wish I was a more fluid traveler (maybe I should try a boat?).  But sadly, I am no Uncle Traveling Matt.  That guy was able to tool around on his little Muppet bicycle and explore the land of the Silly Creatures, never giving much of a care about how he got there or what he packed.  He was mostly concerned about sending postcards to Gobo.

Me?  I'm a maniac.  I am a fastidious packer for all of my trips.  I used to bring a gigantic bag with enough socks and underpants to outfit a minimally-clad army, but I've learned to streamline the process in the last few years, and as a result, it's always an exercise in "What did I forget?"  Of course, I don't play the "What did I forget" game until I'm about to walk out the door, or while I'm on that anxiety-inducing ride to the airport, where I convince myself that I left my cell phone/pump/license/arm/house keys at home and I have to keep checking, repeatedly, to ensure the safety of these items.  (The arm is easy to check for, thankfully. I just waggle it around a bit while I search through my bag for the other stuff.)

What always trip me up are the health-centric decisions.  Whether I'm in Philadelphia for two days or in Los Angeles for five, I bring back-ups of my back-ups.  Three day trip?  Three new infusion sets.  Three bottles of test strips.  A brand-new bottle of insulin.  The in-case-of-pump-failure insulin pen.  And let's not forget the corneal abrasion army of tools, including my (pass me my walker) Muro 128 gel, numbing drops in case my eye rips, and a sleep mask if all hell breaks loose.  

All this crap does not a light suitcase make.  

And then there's the mental dance of when to change the time setting on my pump. (When I'm traveling across time zones, I tend to change my pump as soon as we take off.  There's no rhyme or reason to this, but it's my routine.)  I also keep a close watch on my CGM graph, because it's almost comical to watch it SPIKE up after apologizing my way through the security checkpoints.  And then there's the constant water consumption and the airplane Jane Fonda'ing, all in pursuit of staying healthy while traveling.  

I seem like a crazy person, with all the planning ahead and bringing-of-stuff.  But I can't help it - it's the combination of my type 1 and my type A personality (would that be the Type D personality?).  It's part of my travel routine that I can't deviate from.  Regardless of where I'm going, all this health stuff comes along with me.  (And it always tries to steal peanuts from the flight attendants.)  It makes for a long mental packing list.  It makes me test the limits of airline carry on policies.  It probably puts me on a no-fly list in some circumstances.

But then again, I'm one of the Silly Creatures.

August 15, 2011

Bar Harbor 2011: Giant Spider Edition.

Every year, Chris and I pile our backpacks into the car, hope gas prices are low and traffic volume follows suit, and we make the long trek up to Bar Harbor, ME.  I don't know what it is about this little part of Maine that makes us return every summer (or fall, depending on moving and babies and other Sparling-type chaos), but we love it. 



Our days usually start at the 2 Cats Restaurant, where the food is endlessly awesome and they actually have two cats trotting around the place.  I like that.  They named it 2 Cats and they meant it.  I admire their commitment to Sparkle Motion.



In Acadia National Park, we found this staircase leading down from the main Park Loop road to a beach lined with sea-polished rocks.  Like others before us, we built some creatures (like this majestic ... rock rat) and we also saw a giant unicorn horn



We took some photos to prove that we were there.  (Only we don't have any photos together - such are the perils of traveling as a couple in a national park, without a place to set the camera and attempt the awkward self-timer shots where one of us is always blurry from running to make it into the shot.)  Basically, it looks like I went to Bar Harbor by myself.



Chris and I explored a lot of little side trails, sometimes ending up down a hillside and wondering how to get back up.

We also did the Jordan Pond hike, which is a really walk around the pond and then back to Jordan Pond Tea House for popovers and tea.  Only during the course of our walk, I saw the biggest freaking spider I have ever seen in my life.  I can't post a photo of it on here because I do not want to visit my own blog and see it.  But I did put it on Flickr.  Consider yourself warned - it's MASSIVE!!

Diabetes-wise, it was not an ideal trip.  Our full day at the park started with a low blood sugar (<60 mg/dL) that didn't give up for over three hours.  I spent the majority of the morning drinking juice and thrashing through test strips in efforts to keep tabs on my plummeting numbers.  Then, of course, the rebound high kicked in a few hours later, leaving me between 180 - 220 mg/dL for another few hours.  It was frustrating, and it kind of wiped me out.  I didn't have the energy to attempt some of the tougher climbs and hikes because I was drained from such a long low.  I was kind of bummed out about it, to he honest.

When we were on the rock beach, I saw that many of the rocks were this blue-ish, gray shade, all polished and nice and waiting to be united for diabetes

I took out my diabetes frustrations on the rocks, piling them up and appreciating the pun.  Because PWD, and the people who love them, rock.

[Looking for more photos that look exactly like other photos I've taken in Maine?  ;)  Check out the Flickr set!]

July 25, 2011

Crazy Train.

Oh hi! Are you reading the alt text?The past few days have been unreasonably hot in the northeast, making me wonder if that whole "fry an egg on the sidewalk" thing could have been a real breakfast option.  I visited the Animas HQ last Thursday and Friday, and when I left their offices late on Friday afternoon and headed to the train station at 30th Street in Philadelphia, the heat was relentless.  And apparently, the train station didn't get the note about air conditioning being a great idea.

"Acela 2172 to Boston delayed by 50 minutes" greeted me upon walking in the door.  Awesome.  

I milled around the train station for a while, sucking down an iced coffee and changing from my dress and heels into shorts and a t-shirt.  (Thankfully - more on that good decision later.)  The train was delayed again, this time to 75 minutes.  Many of the other trains on the board were marked as "Cancelled."  

I called Chris.  

"I'm not positive I'm going to get out of Philly.  The trains going north are all delayed or cancelled.  I'll let you know."

"Okay, be careful."

The Acela 2172 did end up boarding, so I jumped on with my fellow passengers, thankful to be in the air conditioned, comfortable seats on the train.  However, right after we started going, the conductor came over the loudspeaker:  "This train will TERMINATE in New York's Penn Station.  There is no further assistance offered by Amtrak.  All passengers must exit the train."

TERMINATE?  Spoken in all caps?  That can't be good.

I've never seen such a large group of people mobilize so quickly.  Within seconds, everyone was on their phone trying to secure a rental car, or a hotel room, or a helicopter.  (Okay, so one guy on this train had some serious money, because he was actually talking to someone about getting his helipad ready for take off.)  Me?  I called a friend, my mother, and then my husband, mainly just to confirm that I was indeed stuck on a train, and it sucked.

The short of it is this:  An accident in New Haven, coupled with wires down due to the excessive heat, shut down all of the northbound train service on Amtrak.  It also completely mucked with the Metro North trains headed north, as well.  This left a bunch of northbound passengers high and dry (actually, low and sweaty, if you're me), and streaming out into the streets outside of Penn Station. 

Part of living with diabetes is hoping for the best scenario, but planning for the worst.  I thanked whatever part of my brain had thought about buying a few bottles of water before leaving Penn Station.  I also thanked that same part for remembering to throw a pen of Humalog into my purse before traveling.  And then I thanked my subconscious for making me change out of my heels before I slogged it through New York City.

Because what unfolded next was a perfect storm of personal diabetes chaos:  While walking from Penn Station to Grand Central in efforts to grab one of the only running Metro North trains, my blood sugar plummeted into the 50's.  I cracked open a bottle of juice I had snagged from the Animas office, and drained half of it while walking with my new friends (aka my fellow 2172 passengers).  Between the heat, trotting along with my luggage, and the low blood sugar, I was drenched with sweat by the time I reached Grand Central.  Dehydrated, exhausted, and watching the now double-up arrows on my Dexcom, I stood in Grand Central and watched the Hudson line board, waiting for the departure track to be announced.  The train finally arrived and the collective throng of people waiting in the terminal moved towards the track.  The heat, again, was incredible.  The Dexcom started to BEEEEEEP! and wail.  And I realized I hadn't used the bathroom since leaving Philly, which meant that my body was sorely lacking in the hydration department.  

As I rode the slowest train EVER from Grand Central up to Stamford, I watched as my blood sugar rose and rose and rose.  Within a 45 minute span, I climbed over 280 points, eventually hitting 380 mg/dl.  The stress of the cancelled train, hoofing it to Grand Central, the low blood sugar, the rebound high, and the dehydration was sending me straight into  a dangerous situation.  I was drinking water, but the nausea was overwhelming, and I spent the entire ride trying not to throw up.  I've never experienced diabetic ketoacidosis before, but I knew that if vomiting started with a blood sugar that high and hydration levels that low, I was in for some trouble. 

I called Chris, who was on his way into New Haven to pick me up.  "Dude, I feel horrible.  My blood sugars are wicked high, and I feel really nauseous.  We may need to stop at the ER, depending on how this goes."

"When are you supposed to get to New Haven?"

"We have to change trains in Stamford to a diesel engine, because the wires are down in Westport and everything sucks.  Looks like I'll get to New Haven close to one am."

Thankfully, by the time we reached New Haven, my blood sugar was down to 117 mg/dl and the nausea had passed.  But not without issue.  Hours and hours passed, and the train crawled from stop to stop, the doors of the car opening and the hot air rushing in.  People were irritable and exhausted, myself included.  I had left West Chester, PA around 3:45 pm, but didn't smash my face against my pillow at home in Rhode Island until 2:30 am. 

  • Test strips used during my travels:  11. 
  • Bottles of water consumed:  4. 
  • Average temperature while traveling:  103 degrees.
  • Number of bouquets of flowers that Amtrak should send to my house as an apology:  2.
  • Glucose tabs consumed:  8. 
  • Humalog pen injections taken:  1. 
  • Number of hours it took to get from West Chester to RI:  11.
  • Number of times I texted and used the phrase "effing train":  14.  

Being home, safe and in the air conditioning?  Priceless.

June 28, 2011

Eye Love San Diego.

Birds have sharp little nails.  For the record.Back at the beginning of May, the Bird took a swipe at my left eyeball with her little birdie talon, ripping off a nice, solid chunk of my cornea and leaving me in some serious pain.  It was a rough couple of days, especially because Chris was away for the week on business, but my family and friends pitched in to help with the baby and to allow me to heal. 

I figured I was done with this issue.

"You may want to be careful about recurrence, Kerri.  With this kind of injury, it does happen."  My eye doctor warned me, handing me a small tube of eye goop stuff.  "This is Muro 128.  Pull down your lower eyelid and smear this in there.  It will help keep your eye coated while you sleep."

(Oh eyeball injuries.  You make me feel old, because if you Google "Muro 128," you'll see that this product is targeted at the 60+ crowd.  Throw in a few tennis balls for my walker and I'm ready for my debut at the bingo hall.)

I used the stuff, but it wasn't enough to protect me from San Diego's desire to blind me.  I don't know if the air conditioning was super-intense, or if the air was beyond dry, or if it was some perfect storm of eye effery, but on Friday morning, I woke up with my eye the size of a baseball and the cornea so ripped and red that you could barely see the blue of my iris.  

"Oh you pesky little whippersnapper," I said.  Verbatim.  Didn't throw in any curse words.  Nope.

I knew the cornea abrasion was back, with a vengeance, but I had no idea how bad it was going to be to manage this condition while traveling.  Something about hotel air and climate control measures taken by conference rooms (plus all that recycled airplane air on the flight from RI to CA) made for a very ripe string-cheesing.  And also impeded healing.  So on Friday, I spent the morning sitting on the floor of my hotel bathroom with the lights off and the air conditioning off, talking with my eye doctor in RI and hoping to have a prescription for numbing drops, anti-inflammatory drops, or a glass eyeball called in. 

In efforts to truncate this tale, I ended up missing the last morning of the Roche Summit.  I also missed the entire ADA Scientific Sessions conference.  I spent early Friday afternoon in the care of my wonderful d-friends and then holed up in my second hotel for the rest of the day.  (It was a nice hotel, too, from what I smelled of it.)  Hours on end of trying to sleep, waking up with that feeling of razorblades in my eye, and trying to reschedule my flight.  The pain was one thing, but the inconvenience of not being able to see made me very nervous.  I couldn't see my meter results, my CGM graph, or the readout on my pump clearly at all, making me paranoid about managing my diabetes.  Total chaos.  I ended up finding a flight to get me out on Saturday afternoon, and it wasn't until Monday morning that I had my vision mostly restored in my left eye.

Oh, but that flight home from CA.  

Like I told a few of my friends already, the airplane travel made my cornea go from "bad" to "holy tumultuous clustereff."  Those little airplane personal fan things that spew out a ton of recycled air onto each passenger?  Completely dried out my eye on the flight from San Diego to my connection in Phoenix, so that I was in so much pain I could barely stand when I had to switch flights in Arizona. 

Thank God for the woman who sat next to me from AZ to RI.  Since I was wearing sunglasses on the plane, cupping my eye, and being escorted by the flight attendants to my seat, I think it was clear that I was damaged goods.

"What happened to your eye?"  she asked, taking out her knitting.

"Corneal abrasion.  Nasty one."

"I have this eye cover - would you like it?"  She pulled out one of those diva sleep mask-looking things and handed it to me.  It was black, and sort of velvety, and smelled as if it hadn't seen the light of day in quite some time.  

But I slapped it right over my eyes with vigor.  "Thank you.  THANK you," I said.  The mask perfectly protected my eye from being accessed by the bursts of cool, dry air.  Once we were in the air, I plugged in my headphones and sat there for five hours straight, in my own, personal sensory deprivation chamber.  And when the flight attendant walked me off the plane at midnight and into the care of my husband, I looked like a sloppy starlet at the end of her game, with my diva mask perched on my forehead and my sunglasses over my eyes, one hand up to shield my eye from the florescent lights of the airport.

"Oh my poor girl," said Chris, taking my carry-on off my shoulder and grabbing my arm.  

"No pictures, dah-link," I replied, so relieved to be home.

Note to all parents of small children:  For the love of God, please cut your child's nails.  Like every day.

June 03, 2011

From Abby: Vacation on Virginia Beach!

Abby was on vacation last week (and was missed - sorry for throttling your inbox!), and while she was on 'real vacation," she also took a pump vacation.  But diabetes wasn't playing according to plan, and she tells the story of how vacation wasn't all rainbows and ... you-know-whats.

*   *   *

So I graduated from nursing school, signed a lease on an apartment for the fall, and helped my mom pack up and move the house I grew up in … all in one week. I needed a vacation.  A good friend from College Round 1 and I had planned a trip to Virginia Beach about a month prior, and it came at the perfect time.  I just really wish I could have left diabetes in New York ...  I wouldn’t say that it ruined our vacation, or even really negatively impacted it, but diabetes made its presence known plenty of times.

I decided to go on Lantus and Humalog again, because I hate pump tan lines, I get eeked out that my insulin will go bad sitting on a hot beach in my pump all day, I’ve gotten some nasty pump site infections after being on a beach, and I didn’t want to have to disconnect and leave my pump under my towel when we decided to go in the water. I’ve done this plenty of times.  Lantus and I have gotten along really well in the past, but I guess we are no longer friends.  I have to say, I should’ve seen this coming. My basal rates vary from 0.60u per hour to 1.1u per hour, so that steady flow of Lantus just doesn’t work for me right now.  (Live and learn, I guess?)

The really cute middle of the night lows I had were fun. The first night at 3 am I was 36 mg/dL, and the next night around 2am I was 44mg/dL. That was cool. (Probably why I have a 0.6u basal rate from 12 am - 4 am … duh.)

We found this wicked cute restaurant across the street from our hotel that made these DELICIOUS drinks called “Orange Crush."  We went out one night after dinner and discovered these most wonderful concoctions, and that they were half off at happy hour – which meant we had to revisit.  That first night didn’t do much damage to the blood sugars (upper 200s with a 56mg/dL at 6 am).  It was the happy hour drinks that killed me. We also got some crab dip to go with our super sweet drinks, and I left my Humalog in the room (again, insulin on the beach seems bad to me) so by the time I got home I was 479mg/dL. This resulted in dinner at 9 pm when I was finally back in the low 200s and starving. I realize this was totally my fault, and that there were much smarter ways of having fun, but gosh darnit it’s frustrating to not be able to go to happy hour on vacation without a stupid blood sugar after.

And don’t forget about the pre-creamed and pre-sugared iced coffee that they conveniently have at 711 (which is on every single corner in Virginia Beach, yet not a Dunkin Donuts in sight).  Took one sip of that delicious liquid candy and had to pass it on to my friend while we set out on a hunt for some place that would hold the sugar for my pancreatic problems (McDonald’s to the rescue!).

Diabetes didn’t totally get in the way though.  We ate really sensibly (minus the one lunch out with a giant BBQ burger, and those two days of drinks) which helped things, and my sugars ran a bit high but I was okay with that.  (There’s nothing worse than a low on vacation on the beach while your hands are all sunscreeny and sandy.) I also made it out pump site tan-line free, and with only a few spotty sunburns. 

Lesson Learned: Practice with Lantus and Humalog for a few days next time, or bring pump for backup, or figure out a way to turn pancreas back on for a week.

*   *   *

Welcome back, Abby, and thanks for posting.  Also, HAPPY GRADUATION!!!!  We're very proud to have you as "one of the good ones" out there in the medical community. 

May 24, 2011

Time Travel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 30, 2011

Quick, But Much Needed, Vacation.

From the piles of snow that rested on the back deck for weeks on end to the adjustment to working from home while taking care of a rapidly crawling bird, I've been looking forward to a quick, sunshiny break for some time now.  And on Friday, a few of my friends and I took a wicked early flight out from Boston to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. 

Since BSparl's arrival, I haven't traveled at all for pleasure.  Only for business (which ended up being fun most of the time, but there was always some work component involved).  This was the first time in a long time that I traveled without Chris, without BSparl, and without a business agenda.  And while I missed my family, this beach trip was awesome:


We flew out at 6:30 am from Logan.  Which means that the day started very early.  And so did the party.


By the time we arrived in Punta Cana, we were giddy with excitement and celebrating the lack of snow on the ground. 

I could live right here, on this beach.
We stayed at the Dream Resort and Spa, and both the landscape of the resort itself ...


... and of the fruit displays impressed us.  And while we did our share of exploring the beaches and checking out the restaurants and bars, we were always able to find our way back to our room, courtesy of the accidental trail of test strips:

You knew which room was ours.

My blood sugars behaved brilliantly on this trip (except for that one 35 mg/dl as we were walking over to breakfast - more on that later) and I have never been more thankful for my waterproof pump (because I could clip it to the halter of my bathing suit and chill at the swim-up bar with my friends, without worry or disconnecting, but more on that later, too).  

It was a short trip, but more than worth it.  And when it snows (!) later in the week, I'll be able to console myself with pictures.  ;)

October 25, 2010

BWE10 Outtakes.

Every conference comes with dragging that camera around all day long.  And while the camera bag strap is digging into my shoulder (maybe my new 5 Million Dollar Home one from Crumpler won't give me that kind of trouble?) all the livelong day, I grumble about bringing the camera everywhere.  But when I go to upload the photos, I'm always glad I brought it.  Here's a quick look at BlogWorld 2010 through my lens:

Oh a giant cup of happy!

There was a giant cup of coffee that was aiming to break a world record for ... most giant cup of coffee.  And it broke both the record and my heart.  Oh I love coffee.  It's keeping me sane and productive these days.

Hanging out in Center City.

A group of us met up in Center City at P.U.B. one night in Las Vegas.  (And yes, that's George Simmons you see grinning in there - he drove out from LA to hang out!!)  Aside from the waitress hating us for not ordering much food (but many drinks - so she can shut it), it was a good night.

Kerri Sparling, Scott Johnson, Scott Hanselman, and Amy Tenderich

We attended Scott Hanselman's session on 32 Ways to Make Your Blog Suck Less, and afterward, the diabetics united for a quick picture (taken by our diabetic-in-spirit photographer, Jenni Prokopy).  Scott's session made me feel like I had a lot of blog work to do, from web redesign to URL structuring ... I realized that some of this is way over my head.  (Or at least over the head of someone who is doing both design and editorial on a site.  I would love to redo my blog, but I'd surely end up chucking half the useful stuff into the bin by accident.  So I'm leaving it alone for now.)  Check out Scott's blog for more details on making YOUR blog suck less so you can have a small anxiety attack about all the things you don't know.

Vegas at night.

And this photo is from the bar on the top of Mandalay Bay - I think it was called Mix.  The view of the Vegas strip was spectacular, and I joined the crew of people leaning against the railing and snapping off photos.

There are a bunch of other photos.  Like the one of the giant coffee cup in all its glory.  Or the shots we took in the Southwest Airlines booth, making it look like we were hanging out on the wing of a plane.  Or the Ford that we all signed with our handprints, leaving crazy trails of magic marker on our hands.  Or our photoshoot with the Chinese dragon in Center City.   Or the Grand freakin' Canyon from the plane.  (Ignore the one of Jenni with the wall boobs.)  More photos on Flickr!

September 20, 2010

Guest Post: From Pumping to Pens and Back Again.

Today I'm happy to host a guest post from fellow Clara Barton Camp alum Abby.  Abby helped orchestrate my visit to CBC this past summer, and I'm thrilled that she didn't mind telling some of her overseas travel stories here on SUM.  This post touches on that delicate dance between insulin pumping and pens ... and back again.  (And what the hell is in blood pudding, anyway??)

*   *   *

Abby and an adorable puppy.This past August, I traveled to Scotland with my family, and no matter how hard I tried to leave it behind, my diabetes tagged along. I’ve traveled overseas before, but not since I was 15 and then I was more concerned about which lip gloss to bring than how to best manage my blood sugars.  I had a lot of thinking to do this time. Working at CBC the six weeks before my trip really helped me figure things out.

I finally decided to take a pump break and use Lantus and Humalog pens for a few reasons:

  1. Call me crazy, but it makes me really uncomfortable to be wanded down by random strangers in blue suits because I have a pump in my pocket. 
  2. We decided to only bring carry-ons since we didn’t want to hassle with luggage at the airport (or pay the ridiculous fee to check a bag) and pump supplies take up a lot more space than a few extra pens and some needles. 
  3. I was concerned about re-arranging my basal rates to fit my new wake/sleep cycle and figured Lantus would give me a steady basal, and slightly less tight control; a sacrifice. 
  4. I was getting ready for a pump break anyway (I tend to take one every year or so, it’s nice to have your pants fit the way they should without a plastic lump in your pocket!)

Hurdle #2: For some reason, ever since I was a tiny human, I’ve always taken Lantus in my left leg (big fan of alliteration, I suppose).  This meant revealing my thigh on an airplane full of strangers while flying over a very large ocean. Awesome. Final decisions before boarding the plane: wear yoga pants for easy thigh access, give three other people in my family a bag with insulin pens and glucose tabs, and have the note from my doctor clipped in my passport at all times.  Oh and don’t talk to strangers.  Land of tea and scones here I come!

My blood sugars were high on the plane (sitting around for six hours made me stuck in the 300s for a while (awesome) and then the sleep deprivation caught up to me and decided I should be in the 60s until we ate dinner … or lunch … except it was 9am in Scotland.  (Oh silly time differences.)  Everything was going just swimmingly, until we went out to eat the first time … time to put those years of carb guessing - I mean counting - to work.

The food in Europe is, well, lets just say different than food here in the States. I ordered a ham and cheese toasted sandwich (nope, not a grilled ham and cheese) and hot chocolate, figuring I could fairly accurately carb count the bread and typically hot chocolate is either with or without milk.  Oh boy, was I wrong. The bread had butter on both sides, I’d never tasted cheese like that before, and I’m still not quite sure what was in that mug of steaming brown liquid. Forty-five minutes later, in the 300s again.  Sweet. (At least this gave me a good reason to pass up a sample of blood pudding, especially after the waitress couldn’t tell me what was in it because it was “just a mix of everything” … no thanks).

My family is very into trying the food at different places when we travel, and I’m totally down with that idea, but about three days after these uncountable meals and bouncing from 50-350 every few hours left me feeling like a slug and packing my own PB&J sandwiches whenever we went out to eat (I do have to give some credit to their equivalent of the FDA, because the carbs were counted on packaged food down the the 0.1g … If only my Humalog pen could accommodate!)

After a few days of diabetes interrupting my trip we came to an understanding and my blood sugars leveled out enough for me to enjoy my time in Scotland.  My family was awesome and understood that we couldn’t eat out as much (which saved us a bunch of money too) and we had a fairly routine schedule the whole trip which really helped.  I only forgot my Lantus once, and remembered about three hours later, which worked out alright.  Will I take a pump break when traveling overseas again?  Most likely not.  I rely far too heavily on my active-insulin feature and my CGM sensor. But I don’t regret trying it this way, and things worked out just swell.

So after some minor ups and downs and a big fat fail at carb-counting, the trip was still a success. And even though I rarely use diabetes as an excuse, I sure didn’t mind saying no to the mysterious substance known as blood pudding.

*   *   *

Thanks, Abby!!  If you've taken a pump vacation, how did it fare for you?

September 09, 2010

Running with Diabetes.

I don't run.  Not well, anyway.  Running isn't my activity of choice because my body doesn't do well at high speeds.  But when I go walking or any other exercise that's outside and brings me far away from my car, I grapple with that whole "what the hell do I do with my diabetes supplies" issue.

For the most part, I usually carry a small bag.  Sometimes I bust out the meter from it's protective black case and throw it into a SpiBelt, adding in a tube of glucose tabs and my keys and cell phone and ... suddenly, I'm a pack mule, careening up the mountainside. 

I am not a "travel light" diabetic.  I'm a messy, throw-it-all-in-a-bag-and-hope-you-don't-lose-the-bag diabetic.  But some PWDs have figured out a terrific way to keep tabs on their diabetes while exercising.  Like my friend Melissa (a fellow Clara Barton Camp alum), who MacGyver'd her meter into her running shoes.  Here's a shot of her kicks, that she's graciously allowed me to share with you guys:

Melissa "Rebel" Kauffman and her diabetes running shoes.
Photo credit to Melissa K.  She also has a series of glucose stashes on her run route, in case of a low.  Clever girl!  (But no, I have no idea where she keeps the actual test strips.  You'll have to ask her.)

I think this is brilliant!  How do you keep your supplies at the ready when you're on the run - literally?  Are you like me, with an awkward bag of everything, or are you as streamlined as the pictured PWD?

July 02, 2010

Reaching the Summit.

On Monday afternoon, BSparl, Chris, and I boarded a plane bound for Orlando, Florida.  (It was our first trip with the baby - more on that later, because I'm still processing all the stuff required to travel with an infant.)  My trip was dual-purposed:  to attend the Roche Social Media Summit and then co-lead a focus group on Wednesday morning at Friends for Life. 

Like everyone else, I have a disclosure with this:  Roche paid for my plane tickets to and from Florida, and they also covered my hotel room for Monday and Tuesday night.  But they didn't hold me over a shark tank to gain input from me, and I am also still using my brain on my own, so basically they can only claim travel, food during the conference, and lodging.  They also didn't ask us to blog about the event (even though they knew we would).

But like I said last year, Roche is smart because they know by bringing together a pile of bloggers, Roche will be discussed on a pile of blogs.  And also in step with last year, Roche treated us respectfully and worked hard to make sure we were happy, as a group.  But I can't lie:  I was excited to attend this event because it would put me in "real life" touch with my extended diabetes family.  The invitation coming from Roche makes it a "Roche" event, and I can't hide my bias when it comes to being grateful to them for having the opportunity to socialize with my social media friends.  So that's the full disclosure. 

The event took place as a bookend to the CWD "Friends for Life" conference, which seemed to dictate the timing and location.  I think there was a total of thirty-seven bloggers, representing the type 1 community heavily, but with voices from the type 2 and caregiver crew as well, and we were hanging out in a conference ballroom at the Orlando Marriott all day on Tuesday.  

The Roche representatives were very cool to us, and didn't seem to have an agenda of expectations - just an agenda of events.  They had us engaged in discussions about meter accuracy and they also invited in representatives from the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators to talk with us.  I felt a little quiet during these discussions (thanks to the utter lack of sleep the night before, with BSparl not adjusting to the travel schedule and deciding to stay up until about 4 am), but I kept an eye on the RocheWANTED! reps during the chats, because I wanted to see what they were reacting to. (That, and there was this long table set up at the back of the room, where a few of the Roche team members sat, watching us.  So I went over to them and let them know I was watching THEM.  Now the student has become the teacher, grasshopper.  /Confucius rant)

Overall, discussions were interesting.  Meter accuracy has been a hot topic for a while now, with the FDA meetings and an explosion in the blogosphere, and it was a topic of utmost importance for me during the course of my pregnancy.  It amazes me still that meters are "allowed" to be 20% off, and that we almost have to choose accuracy over cost when it comes to test strips.  (More on that later.)  And while the ADA panel of guests answered questions, I still couldn't help but wonder how the ADA spoke for me, as a person with type 1 diabetes.  (More on that later, too.)  

But the Summit itself wasn't about the discussions or the agenda of our host Pharma company.  (Even though, and I'm being completely honest here - I'm impressed that Roche wants to sit in the same room with a bunch of bloggers.  We aren't known for being quiet or demure, that's for damn sure, and we don't have a penchant for butt-kissing.  So they get us and our opinions, raw and unadulterated.  Yet, this is the second year they've invited us to meet with them.  I remain impressed.)  The Summit is about bloggers getting to know one another offline, and whether or not Roche understands that aspect wins out over any Pharma agenda, it doesn't matter.  People power wins over scheduled discussions.

So thanks to the Pharma company that dared to play host to bloggers for the second year in a row.  And thanks to the diabetes blogging community, which plays a huge part in improving my emotional diabetes health. 

(Oh, and thanks to the Photobooth, which let Scott and I pretend to be lions in the first shot and let us see up George's nose in the last one.)

June 23, 2010

"When can she fly?"

"Um,   doctor?  When can she fly?"Summer tends to be a busy travel time for my family, so once Chris and I knew when BSparl was arriving, we started researching "traveling with babies."  We consulted different books, some websites, and asked around our collection of family members.  We also spoke with our pediatrician at her first appointment - and we asked her a ton of questions of all kinds.

"When should we expect her to start sleeping through the night?"
"Does she like us?"
"Should she be taking some sort of vitamin supplement?"
"Why is her poop, like, electric yellow?"
"When will she start crawling?"
"How do we get her to stop smiling when she eats, because it makes it hard for her to latch on?"
"Does she know we don't have a clue what we're doing?"

But the question that always made me laugh was this one:  "When can she fly?"

As though she was going to sprout wings and start flapping.

But apparently BSparl gets her wings next Monday, as the full Team Sparling travels to Florida for the Roche Summit and a few days of the CWD conference.  

And I have no clue how to truly travel with a little baby.  

As far as BSparl's safety and immunity goes, her pediatrician is completely fine with us traveling so soon.  BSparl has had her first round of vaccinations and we're breastfeeding, so her immune system is ready for travel.  But am I?  I'm a nervous traveling as it is, and the idea of planning for all my diabetes stuff and now BSparl's needs makes me feel like I'm certain to forget something.

So I would love some advice, if you have any.  What are some tricks for keeping a two and a half month old baby happy and content on a plane ride?  How do you pack for four days with an infant in tow?  What toys might keep her happy and quiet?  How can we keep the rest of the passengers from hating us?  Do airlines have special arrangements for teeny kids?  Is it true that breastfeeding is a good way to keep her content and to protect her ears from popping?  Do they have baby changing tables in the airplane bathrooms?  (Is there even room in there for one of those??)  Do you check the carseat as baggage or do you bring it on as a carry-on?  I HAVE NO CLUE!!!  (And please don't make your advice, "Don't bring the baby.")

If you have traveled with a little kid before and you have some sage advice, please, pass it along.  I'm still figuring this mommy stuff out and I can use all the help I can get!!

February 02, 2010

BSparl: She Likes to Make Me Work.

Park City is an old mining town nestled among the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains, and aside from buzzing with Sundance excitement and brimming with film-goers and celebrities, let me just say that the damn place is not flat.  Not even close to flat.  (See also:  built amongst the mountains)  The majority of the "stuff to do" is on Main Street, and I'm pretty sure that street is a 60 degree angle.

BSparl and her mommy (me), in all their frontal weight gain glory, were not amused.

Something about walking up and down (and usually up and down a few more times) that street had me more winded than if I'd tried to run a mile on the treadmill at a 6.0 incline.  I know that the air is thinner in that part of the country, being so freaking high above sea level, and I also know that having a little baby girl growing inside of me is compromising the room for my lungs to expand.  But I had not anticipated how hard it was going to be just to WALK around in Park City.  We'd take the bus from our condo down by the Yarrow Hotel and get dropped off at the city transit center, and then the huffing and puffing would begin.

We have HOW many more steps to go??

"I'm ... sorry ... for ... not ... keeping up."  I'd pant with each step as I tried to keep up with Chris.

"It's okay, baby.  We'll go slow.  We're not in any rush."

"Awe ... some.  Hang on while I lean against this lightpole for a minute ... and let my lungs ... do stuff."

(Thing was, we were late for two different dinner appointments because I couldn't catch my breath about 15 minutes into the walk.  I've never felt more awkward, or more yeti-like, than I did trying to plod up Main Street.)

Overall, little BSparl was a well-behaved fetus, doing her job of kicking and sleeping and rolling around in there.  I'm officially sporting a major baby belly, complete with visible baby movements even through my shirts.  And thankfully, my basals didn't need any adjusting while we were away.  I don't know if it was the time change or all the walking around or maybe it was just the grace of the diabetes gods, cutting me some freaking slack for the week, but my numbers ran relatively stable while we were away.  (Save for that f'ing 300 that came up as a result of overtreating two 48 mg/dl's in a row, pissing me off royally and causing me to have to skip dinner one night.)  I changed my infusion sets every three days like clockwork - mainly because I'm now using about 50u of insulin a day and that's the shelflife of one pump cartridge and also because sets left in too long are starting to get infected faster than usual - and I tested about 18 times a day.  In addition to Dexcom'ing. 

I may have left a trail of test strips on that there Main Street.

BSparl is proud of her daddy.  When I was trying to coax her into kicking at times, all it would take is a quick "Hi baby!" from Chris to get her scooting around in there.  And during the five screenings of Buried, she danced in celebration for her father's success.  I believe I may be building a "daddy's little girl" in there, and I think they're respectively smitten with one another. 

A sculpture on Main Street in Park City, Utah

Traveling at almost seven months pregnant was definitely a challenge, and I'm not sure I would have done it, were it not such a big freaking deal to go to Sundance.  Heparin before the plane ride was one thing (that shit stings going in, FYI), and not being able to lift my suitcase wasn't exactly heartbreaking, but moving around was a little awkward.  And having to pee every 30 minutes was also cumbersome.  (I know where EVERY bathroom is in Park City.  Thank you, BSparl, for making my bladder your pillow all week long.) 

But I wouldn't have missed this for the world.

January 25, 2010

What's Sexier Than Compression Stockings?

Thanks to the happy combination of Factor V Leiden and being pregnant, I'm rocking a higher chance than average for a blood clot while traveling.  Back in October, when I was just a few months along, a lot of my travel was on the Acela, cruising back and forth between Boston and Philly, in addition to some flights.  So I needed to take these clotting risks into account.

"You're telling me I should pick up some compression stockings, then?"  I asked my obstetrician, after we had discussed my upcoming travel plans.

Compression stockings are cool ... right?  :p

"Yes ma'am.  And wear them.  Not just for traveling, but as often as you can."

"Will do.  So I'll be potbellied and wearing compression stockings.  Hot!"

My feeble attempts at joking aside, these stockings are important.  Even though I'm working hard to get to the gym several times a week, I'm more definitively working hard on making money, so there's a bit too much time spent at the computer these days.  Heeding the advice of my doctors, I'm careful to keep my legs elevated as much as possible, and I'm sure to pop up and walk around every hour or so, in addition to staying hydrated.  (Note:  Staying hydrated makes getting up every hour easier, especially when BSparl is gnawing on my bladder.)  

And I'm also sporting these socks, purchased for $4.99 at my local CVS.  (Another note:  CVS takes too much of my money on a regular basis, from their clever selection of lip glosses - love me some Bonnie Bell - to their strategic arrangement of Hallmark greeting cards to their convenient pharmacy that's open 24 hours.  I have an intense love/hate relationship with CVS, as evidenced by their constant contact with my debit card.)  The socks aren't uncomfortable, they appear to be working well (no varicose veins yet), and they are black, so thankfully they go with my go-to flats of choice these days.  I'm safe, BSparl is safe, and CVS is safe because they will continue to get my money.

So what's sexier than compression stockings?

Nothing.

Because without these blasted old lady leg warmers, I'd be risking a blood clot and varicose veins, thank you very much.

November 02, 2009

H1N1: Fighting for the Vaccine.

The one needle I can stand. :)Last week, I toddled my pregnant self up to the Joslin Clinic for my endocrinologist appointment and an ultrasound with my OB/Gyn.  And as excited as I was about the ultrasound and the opportunity for Chris and I to see our baby kicking around in there (more on that later), I was just as excited about the H1N1 vaccine.

I know. 

I can't believe I'm saying that, either.  Yes, this is the same Kerri who wrote about feeling "eh" about the flu shot a few weeks ago.  But a few things have come to light in the last couple weeks that have changed my outlook on things.

Like the fact that the Joslin Clinic has been riding me about getting this shot because of my high-risk situation, being both type 1 and pregnant.   

Or the fact that every healthcare professional I spoke with at last week's ePatient conference kept asking me, "You are getting the H1N1, right?" and the look of concern when I said, "I haven't received mine, yet."

Or the very scary fact that pregnant women, regardless of any chronic illness, are singled out as one of the highest risk groups out there.  

I'm not one to leap without looking.  But I'm also not one to put my baby at risk if I can help it, so when Joslin said there was an H1N1 vaccine available to me, I jumped at the chance to get it.  Seems like this vaccine, for some completely ridiculous reason, is not being made readily available to people who need or want it, so if there was one available to me, I was taking it.

It was unnerving, knowing they were injecting me with a virus.  A dead one, of course, but still, with all the information circulating out there about the pros and cons of the H1N1 vircus, it's hard to know what's true and what's just speculation.  Or, unfortunately, what's purely fabrication.  In any event, when I heard about a little girl in my home state who, at the age of 12 had being diagnosed with H1N1 and then died from it just a few days later, it was enough to scare me into rapid and determined action.

But even at the Joslin Clinic, I had to jump through a few hoops in order to be viewed as "eligible."  

"No, I'm sorry.  That vaccine is only for patients who are 24 weeks pregnant and up."

"Really?"  I said, my hands against the counter.  "I was told that being 14 weeks and also having type 1 diabetes made me a shoe-in for this vaccine.  It's like my prize for being the in double risk pool.  So there isn't one for me?"

She checked her chart again.  "Type 1?  14 weeks?  Okay, you can have a seat over there and we'll call you in for your injection in just a few minutes."

It felt so odd, fighting for something I wasn't even sure I wanted in the first place.  But I kept thinking about the pregnant women I'd heard about on the news who had died from H1N1.  And then I thought about all the public transit I'd taken in the last few weeks, and my upcoming travel plans for this week.  Did I want to take the chance?

If it was just me, I may have.  I may have waited or put off the shot or taken my chances.  But I'm responsible for this baby.  And when we heard the heartbeat, loud and strong, and saw him (or her) kicking around in there, I knew that I needed to do whatever it took to take the best care possible of my child.  

So they shot me up with the H1N1 vaccine.  Oddly enough, I felt grateful.

And that night, I promptly felt ill and slept for about 15 hours straight, waking only to test, snack, and drink water.   I wasn't experiencing any full-fledged sickness, but the weather was above me enough that I hid out all weekend long, missing any Halloween festivities and instead camping out at home with hot tea, chicken soup, and Kleenex.

Today?  Feeling much better and on my way to speak at a seminar in New Jersey.  But I keep hearing about others who are seeking out the H1N1 and still haven't been able to gain access to a vaccination.  What does it take to get protection when you need it?  How are there H1N1 clinics in some states but not in others?  Are you someone who is trying to get this vaccine but can't?  Or are you avoiding this shot, and why? 

I've already jumped, so my opinion is moot on this one.  I'm pregnant, my doctors told me this was best, and I (for once) listened.  But this issue is getting bigger and bigger, and with diabetes month just getting started here, I want to know how the diabetes community at large feels about this H1N1 vaccine.  

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 22, 2009

Diabetes, Lovenox, and Bathroom Jane Fonda.

The flight to Las Vegas from Boston is a long one – six hours on the way there and five on the way back.  I talked with my doctors before taking the flight, and being pregnant, I’m dealing with an increased threat of deep vein thrombosis.  The Factor V Leiden gene in my body is also a red flag, so these longs flights caused some concern for my medical team.

“We’re not worried so much as we have some rules for when you’re flying. The first is that you need to get up and move around about once every hour to keep your circulation steady and your legs moving.  And the second thing is that we’d like you to take Lovenox on the days that you’re flying.  That will help combat the Factor V risk.”

Take a shot?  No problem.  At least that’s one thing I can commit to without fear.

So about an hour and a half before my flights took off, I snuck into the airport bathroom and pulled out the pre-filled syringe of Lovenox.  Lovenox is an anti-coagulant drug that helps to prevent blood clots.  I don’t know much about it, other that it’s safe for pregnant women to take and it was one of the conditions set forth by Joslin, so I pretty much do what they say these days.  I’ve never taken anything like it before, so Wednesday evening was my first time.

Fellow diabetics, I just need to say that we have it good with our teeny, ultra-fine needles.  This Lovenox needle was clumsy, long, and thick.  “Inject it right into your abdomen, where you’d normally take an insulin injection,” the doctors recommended, so I did just that.  But it sucked a little bit.  One of the side effects of the injection is bruising and soreness, and they’re not kidding.  Within 15 minutes of taking the injection, a deep red thumbprint popped up on my abdomen, tender to the touch.  

But that seems to be the only side-effect I’ve experienced.  Except for a little bit of paranoia.  And now, a few days after the trip, I have the itchiest, red rash at my injection sites. 

Once a doctor tells me that I could be at risk for something, I do what I can to help mitigate that risk.  For these flights to Las Vegas, I took the Lovenox injections and made sure I was up and about once an hour, but I also did something else.

Every time I went into the airplane bathroom, I did some weird kind of calisthenics.  Thanks to BabySparl, the need to pee is hourly (making me test my blood sugar all the time, wondering, “Is this because of Baby or am I high?), so I’d use the ladies’ room and then face the mirror.  And then do this bizarre mix of high knee raises, running in place, and stretching.  Thankfully, being barely 5’4” gives me enough room to move around in there, but I felt like a tool.

“And stretch!  And stretch!”  I heard Jane Fonda in my head as I faux-exercised in the airplane bathroom.   

I prayed that the stewardesses couldn’t hear me thrashing around in there.  How the hell would I explain that?  “I don’t want a blood clot so I’m doing a little dance here in the bathroom.  That's legal, right?”

The itchy frigging rash from the Lovenox injections.
 
The flights were fine.  (If you don’t count the flight from Boston to Las Vegas, which included an extra hour on the trip due to a strong headwind, expired food, not enough meals for passengers, no movie, and no working radios.  US Airways, you sucked it up on that one.)  Lovenox was a success.  And now I feel like I’ve managed to fit in a workout, even at 35,000 feet.  But I’m curious to know if anyone else has ever taken Lovenox, or another kind of anti-coagulant.  And if anyone has ANY tips at all on dealing with this frigging itchy rash.  It's starting to go away, and I know it's just part of the side-effect fun, but it's making me scratchy-crazy. 

It’s all new to me, and I’d appreciate any feedback from someone who’s been there.  (And if you have airplane exercise tips, share those, too.  I’m heading to Florida in two weeks and am wondering how I’m going to embarrass myself on that plane, too!)

October 20, 2009

Vegas, (with my) Baby. Vegas.

In addition to participating in the BlogWorldExpo medblogger track, I spent an extra day in Las Vegas with my husband, checking out the sights.  

Yes, I went to Vegas for the first time, married and pregnant.

(Something tells me I should have made that journey a bit earlier in my life.)

So now that the pregnancy is out there, I can admit that I’ve been exhausted for the last three months.  Not falling-asleep-at-work kind of exhausted, but while I was working at dLife, I’d come home on my lunch break, take a nap, and then sleep again right after work was over.  The first trimester made me the kind of tired you read about – no morning sickness, no weird food cravings, but I was exhausted just about all the time.  And now, even though I’m into the 12th week, I still haven’t kicked that sleepy feeling.  So being in Las Vegas, dealing with the three hour time change and the general sleepiness that comes with attending a conference all day long, I was a little bit off my game.

But Chris, my ever-patient human xanax (Yes, he had to sub-in for my xanax because now that there’s a BabySparl, I’m not able to medicate before flying.  Thank God for Chris.  Without him, I may have lost my mind on both legs of the flight.  But that’s a whole other blog post.), was ready to explore Vegas with his knocked-up wife.  

We stayed at the uber-swanky Palazzo hotel, in a suite that made me sort of wish I lived in a hotel.  Huge, snuggly beds, flat screen TVs in every room (including the bathroom, which I thought was very fancy-pants), and posh restaurants all over the damn place.  Country bumpkin that I am, I was IMPRESSED.  And the lime-scented toiletries smelled just like Apple Jacks, which I’m now craving.  Using the soaps made me want to take a bite of them.  (No, I don’t have pica.) 

The Palazzo hotel - swanky town.

The view from our hotel room was awesome, both in the daytime and at night, overlooking the Treasure Island hotel and casino.  (And pirate ships.)

The view.  It was pretty spectacular.

Our hotel connected with the famous Venetian hotel, where we watched the gondolas glide by.  The ceiling was amazing - it actually looked like we were outside!  Oh Vegas, is anything here real??

The gondolas in Vegas.

On Friday night, we checked out the Blue Man Group, which I thought was awesome.  I’ve never seen them perform before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I just knew we could be in for it when we sat down in the second row from the stage and were advised to slip on the plastic ponchos, provided by the venue.  “You could end up covered in non-toxic paint, or cereal,” advised the usher.  “Um, okay?”  We slipped them on and tried not to laugh when the opening sequence involved drums that shot paint high into the sky with every beat.  I can’t begin to explain what the show was like, but I can just say that it involved an audience member dining out on a dinner of Twinkies on-stage with the three Blue Men, a makeshift xylophone made of white, industrial tubing, and massive rolls of toilet paper being unrolled from the ceiling in the back row and passed on up to the front of the stage, where it collected onto our fellow poncho-wearers in massive piles.
 
Upon my retirement, I think I’d like to be a Blue Man.

Knocked up in Vegas.  HA HA HA.

Overall, the trip was a great opportunity for me as a blogger and an exhausting one as a mom-to-be.  Vegas, I’ll have to return after my baby is born so I can drink from one of those two-foot silos and dance on a table somewhere.  You know, like a classy mom would.

(More photos on Flickr, if you’re looking to waste some time.)

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

Becoming Leafers.

What's the smartest thing you can do just a week after moving to a new place, new state, and new work arrangement?

Why it's getting into the car and driving 5 hours to bar Harbor, Maine, of course!!

Chris and I love Bar Harbor.  We love checking out the lobster pounds, driving along the scenic highways, and climbing up to the tops of mountains and watching the sun rise.

But this round, it was cold.  As I mentioned yesterday, Alaska-cold, and it kept us from climbing up any mountains because our extremities would have frozen right off our bodies.  So, instead, we went from active 30-somethings to actual "leafers."  We took more photos of frigging leaves that the memory card on my Nikon almost yawned.  

LEAVES!  There were many leaves.

But we thought they were awesome, so we didn't listen to the bored Nikon.  "Screw you, camera!  Just take the pictures."

MORE LEAVES!

Once again, we ended up at the top of Cadillac Mountain, only not in time for the sunrise this year.  (Because that would have been at 4:45 in the morning, and no thank you).  But we did see the finest of the New England fall foliage from the summit, looking down on the harbor below.

View from the top of Cadillac Mtn

Despite the cold, we really took in plenty of the brisk, fresh air and the natural beauty.  (I'll also have to post the outtakes with this stupid hat, because I looked like a complete tool.  More on that later.  But it was cold up there, so screw fashionable.)

Kerri and Chris hanging in  Bar Harbor.

But we didn't just sit around in the car and take pictures of leaves.  We did the 3.0 mile Jordan Pond nature trail again this year, and then rewarded ourselves with popovers and blueberry tea at the teahouse.  The views from the nature trail were spectacular.

The Bubbles at Jordan Pond.

And of course, before we left on Monday afternoon, we had a fantastic breakfast at my favorite place EVER, the 2 Cats Inn in downtown Bar Harbor.  The food is so delicious, and they have this strawberry butter that you can put on your fresh-baked biscuit that is just SO epic.  

Breakfast at the 2 Cats Inn

I love Maine.  (Granted, my blood sugars did NOT love Maine entirely.  If I wasn't low - hello, 2 am blood sugar of 29 mg/dl - I was cresting up around 190 mg/dl.  I couldn't adjust to the food/exercise mess for the weekend, but I'm thankfully settled back into range now.  More on that later, too.)  Chris and I are already planning our trip for next year!

August 19, 2009

The Lows in Spain Stay Mainly on ... Me?

As I mentioned yesterday, the trip to Spain was lovely, but fraught with lows.  I'm not sure what caused what, but between the six hour time change, the excessively late nights and the corresponding late mornings, and spending hours walking around the city of Barcelona - my glucose levels spent a lot of time in the trenches.

Chris and I brought three big jars of glucose tabs (in grape, raspberry, and tropical flavors, of course) and four packages of Mentos candy with us for the trip, assuming this would be enough.  But I couldn't have anticipated the lows that followed us from landmark to landmark.  Aside from the initial high after the plane took off (Oh Kerri, you don't like to fly?  Hmm ... you've never mentioned that before!) and a spike after my mid-week insulin pump set change, my blood sugars were low the majority of the time we were traveling.  Nothing earth-shattering, but more a constant trend of 60 - 80 mg/dl, which sounds good in theory but when it's the result of constantly popping glucose tabs, that's a bit much.

Especially in the airport.

Leaving from JFK to head to Barcelona was fine. Our flight left NYC on time and things went smoothly, schedule-wise.  But coming home?  Completely different story.  

According to our itinerary, we had an hour and fifteen minutes between our flights from Barcelona and from London, so we thought we'd have enough time.  But when the plane left Barcelona 30 minutes late, we knew it was going to be a scramble to make our connection.  In Heathrow.  Which has to be the most confusing, unstructured airport I have ever visited in my life, more like a mall with airplanes thrown in as a bonus, instead of being a well-organized airport first.

Our plane landed in London and we had about 40 minutes to make our connection.  We stood in line to go through security again, and the Dexcom started to wail.  I dug it out of my bag and saw a blood sugar of 102 mg/dl and two double arrows pointing straight down.  (You can guess what that means.)

"Oh darn it gee wilikers, I'm going low," I said to Chris.  (Note:  This is the edited, non-Yosemite Sam version of our exchange.)

"You have glucose tabs?"

"Yup.  Chomping now."

We went through security - down to 23 minutes to catch our flight.  Raced to the board where the flights gates were being announced and searched for our flight.

"Shit, we're all the way across the airport.  We've got to book.  Keep eating, okay?"

So we start moving fast.  The Dexcom is continuing to vibrate, and I'm eating glucose tabs while dragging my suitcase behind me, my purse bouncing off my hip as we run. 

"You okay?"  Chris calls back to me as we're running while on the moving sidewalk.

"Sort of.  Are we close?"  Glucose tab dust covers my hands, leaving imprints on the railing of the sidewalk.

"Sort of." 

Time is tight.  So we start to move as quickly as we can.  We run until we get to the American Airlines gate and Chris goes to the counter to check us in.  I take my meter out of my bag with shaking hands and test, only realizing then that I've been crying.

30 mg/dl.

Oh that's lovely.

And then the panic hits with intensity.

"I'm 30.  I need something fast."  My mouth is dry and the idea of trying to consume glucose tabs with vigor makes myThank goodness for American Airlines kindness. throat close at the thought.

"Juice.  There's a machine.  Sit here, baby.  Sit and eat the tabs and I'll get juice.  You'll be fine ..."  He moves quickly to sit me in a chair, puts the bottle of glucose tabs in my hand, and runs to the Minute Maid vending machine.

Which only takes British pounds.  Not American dollars.  Or Spanish Euro.

"Gosh."  Chris said.  (See above comment re: edited version.)

I'm not sure what happened next.  My brain was in a complete fog and I'm sure I looked frightful to the unknowing outsider, surrounded by suitcases and crying and eating odd little dusty discs and looking as though I was jilted at the airport.  I know Chris ran to the check in desk and explained "medical emergency" and "needs juice from the machine" to the man in the American Airlines uniform.  I know that this stranger gave Chris all the money he had in his pocket as quickly as he could, without asking questions.  I know Chris said "thank you" as he ran back to the machine and I sat on the chair, still trying to choke down glucose tabs.  I know that a bottle of orange juice was in my hands seconds later, and I know that the plane was boarding and we were treating a really miserable low in the airport.

Twelve minutes. 

"Test, baby."

51 mg/dl. 

"You're coming up.  See?  That's already higher."

Still in a fog, but beyond pressed for time, we gathered our bags and started down the gate towards the door of the plane.  We were among the very last people to board.  I wasn't as much of a mess but I was wiped out, my whole body trying to recover. 

"Thank you," Chris said to the American Airlines employee who gave us the money for juice.  "Here, please take the money back."

The guy was behind us in line and smiled gently.  "No, it's fine.  Please.  I'm glad you're okay.  Don't worry."

I took the coins from Chris and pressed them into the employee's hand.

"Thanks very much.  But you might need this change.  You know.  For another diabetic who really needs a helping hand."

He took it.  We boarded.  And headed home.

August 18, 2009

Spain: The New Frontier.

It was great to visit the set of Buried while we were traveling, but Chris and I also wanted to see the beautiful city of Barcelona.  And while I didn't take 14,350 photos (I'm still laughing that you thought this was actually true - am I that much of a nerd?!), we did use that Nikon enough to wear out the battery.

This might be a bit of a long post.

Chris and I received so many great suggestions before we left, so once we arrived, we felt ready to explore.  (The only thing we weren't quite ready for was the price of cab rides, which forced us to explore the metro system, which actually turned out to be a good idea and eventually we were whizzing around Barcelona on the very efficient metro system, which has the trains timed to the second and everything is color-coded and good for people with a limited sense of direction and hey, a run-on-sentence.)

The first day we were there seemed to go on forever.  We flew over from JFK on Thursday night, arriving in London on Friday morning (with the time change), and then connecting to Barcelona.  By the time we arrived in Barcelona at around 2 pm, we were exhausted, punchy, and too wired to sleep.  So we explored our hotel.  And then we visited the set of Buried.

After a dinner out with the crew, we didn't get to bed until around 3 am (thanks to jet-lag, my new best buddy).  Which meant we didn't roll out of bed until around 1 pm the following day.   But once we had become semi-human again, we set off to explore the city for a few days. 

La Rambla.  Or Les Ramblas, depending on who you asked.  Don't ask us.  We don't speak Spanish.

La Rambla was one of our favorite places in Barcelona, because it was alive with shops, restaurants, street performers, and both tourists and locals.  We saw street performers who waited until you dropped a coin into their bucket before they'd make the skeletons ride their bikes, or before they would molest you with their claws.  There were baby bunnies for sale, the best of a florist's wares, and even some giant plastic sausages.  (Click through on the pictures to have that make even the remotest bit of sense.)

That market thing.

Off one of the side streets was Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boquería - which Chris and I couldn't pronounce with finesse so we just called it "that market."  This was an open-air market selling fresh fruit, fish, smoothies, and enough candy to ward off the lows of hundreds of diabetics (including candy shaped like hamburgers).  Just a few coins can buy a delicious snack!

It didn't seem like we slept much while we were traveling.  We were up late, on the set for some of the time, wandering around the city, and eating.  But there wasn't an issue with weight gain, because Barcelona is set up such that people are walking everywhere.  Even though we didn't make it to the gym at all that week, we got more than our fair share of exercise in by walking for hours on end. 

In Sagrada Familia, honey.  Don't you know that I love you ...

La Sagrada Familia is an unfinished Gaudi church in the center of Barcelona, and it came highly recommended.  The SEO guru at work told me that the church is built on keywords from the Bible, thus rendering me unable to think of Sagrada Familia as anything other than "the SEO church."  This structure has been under construction since 1882 and isn't slated to be finished until 2030.  (That's longer than the Big Dig!)  It was designed by Antoni Gaudi, who apparently dominated the city of Barcelona, architecturally speaking, as his buildings are everywhere.  (And some look like gingerbread houses.)

The Arc de Trimof.  With a hi from de Kerri.

We also saw the The Arc de Triomf in Parc de la Ciutadella, which was impressive.  The park also played host to one of the most ornate fountains I've ever seen, complete with golden horses and water-spitting griffinsLa Cascada was beautiful, and even when a lady threw her water bottle into it so that her dog could go diving madly after it, the fountain still retained some air of opulence.  

The Sparlings in Park Guell.  Photo credit to the nice guy from France.
 
We visited the beautiful Park Guell, designed by Gaudi.  This park provided some great panoramic views of the city from the top of one of the scenic lookouts.  The main entrance was made of enormous columns that supported a terrace where shopkeepers and visitors dining out could enjoy the view.  And in addition to the giant lizard guarding the front entrance by a fountain, there were people dressed up as said lizard and taking pictures with tourists.  Very cool.  This was one of my favorite spots we visited. 

Barcelona was beautiful.  Our reason for being there is still something I can't quite wrap my head around.  (And no, diabetes was not a happy camper on this trip.  I went through more glucose tabs in a week than I usually do in six months.  But that's a whole different post.) But I think that this was a great first European stop, and we're already planning our next trip.  :)

There's a whole mess of pictures on my Flickr account, if you want to take a closer look at Barcelona, but fret not - there aren't 14,350 of them.  (Note: Per usual, Chris wanted to keep photos of him for family only, so while I didn't go on vacation by myself, it sort of looks like it from the perspective of the photos.) 

(Another Note:  If you see photos of that little yarn cat that Karen made, forgive me.  We've named her Syn.  She traveled with us.  I'm blaming Karen AND Chris.)

August 17, 2009

First Things First: Buried.

Last week, Chris and I were in Barcelona to visit the set of his feature film, "Buried."  This trip was huge:  it included our first flights to Europe, first trip to Barcelona, and my first time on a real movie set. 

And it was beyond cool.  It was so inspiring to see my husband, who has worked tirelessly to move his career forward, be greeted by almost every member of the crew as, "Chris!  So glad you're here!  We love your script.  It is incredible."  People were asking him to autograph the script and when we went to dinner with the crew that night, it made me so proud to hear people talking about what a truly unique script Chris had written.  (Granted, there was that one brief moment when we were meeting Ryan and I wasn't sure if Ryan was going to shake Chris's hand or punch him in the face for putting him in the coffin.  Thankfully, it was the former.  Also thankfully, Ryan was very nice and down-to-earth.) 

The whole thing was surreal.  And I was definitely a proud Sparling.

But enough gushing.  I was trying to look professional, damnit. 

This is where I become sort of a Fangirl.  But that's okay.
An insulin pump on the set of Buried.

Ahem.  Moving on.

I wish I could post the pictures we took of the set and of the actual production, but it's in the best interests of the film for me to keep them under wraps for now.  I mean, even PopSugar is stalking Ryan on this, and I don't want to do anything that could possibly give away too much too early. 

But I can post this picture:

Kerri, Rodrigo, Ryan, and Chris
Director Rodrigo Cortes, actor Ryan Reynolds, and writer/husband Chris Sparling.  Oh, and me.

This experience was really amazing and I'm proud to have been a part of it.  More on Barcelona tomorrow - with La Rambla and Sagrada Familia and the epic low blood sugars that chased us around the city - once I load up the 14,350 photos we snapped!

August 06, 2009

Dexcom for Travel.

I spent a lot of time shoving unironed clothes into a suitcase last night, and I also spent a lot of time thinking about how to handle the time change while traveling in Spain.  You guys had a lot of great tips that you shared, and I really appreciate everyone's input.

One thing that kept rising to the top as 'priority' was testing, and testing often.  Even without a change in time zones, traveling can be stressful, and all that stress can do a freaking number on my blood sugars.  I felt very thankful for the stash of test strips at my disposal, and also for the Dexcom.  I remember back when glucose meters were brought once or twice a day, so knowing I can monitor my numbers at my discretion is fantastic. 

Wearing a CGM isn't the easiest, most convenient thing in the world.  It's an extra device, it's a bit of a cumbersome tool, and it's another external symptom of diabetes (much like the pump).  But when it's right (and thankfully, the Dex Seven Plus is a huge upgrade from the previous Seven ... plain, I suppose), it guides me in the changes I make when traveling.
Three bears ... plus two.  Where the hell is Goldilocks?
Like when the arrows point straight up before the plane takes off?  Yeah, that's stress.  And even though my meter says 98 mg/dl, I know to keep a close eye on my numbers because they're most likely about to orbit. 

Or when the trend is sloping down?  That's enough to prompt me to keep snacks close by in case I'm about to have a low.

And when that arrow is pointing straight across, I know I'm holding steady. 

... and now I realize, after reading those last few sentences, that the Dexcom is like my Goldilocks.  Testing numbers to see if they're "too high" or "too low" or "just right."  If this thing starts asking for porridge and complaining about the softness of the pillow at night, I might give it a slap.

But for now, I'm grateful to have this tool along for the ride as Chris and I travel to Spain.  The last thing I want getting in the way of this exciting trip is diabetes.  I mean, I need to be calm, cool, and mostly collected when I am dining with the staaaaahs.  I can just imagine it now ...

Kerri:  It's great to meet all of you!

Chris:  Yes, we're very happy to be here.

Dexcom:  BEEEEEEEEP!

Ryan Reynolds:  Um, did something just beep?

Kerri:  Noooo, no beeping here.  Nope.

I'll be checking in from time to time, but I don't plan on spending any real time online.  I'll be on vacation, for crying out loud!  I do have some great guest posts coming up next week, so be on the lookout for those.  But for now, I'm too distracted to end this post properly.  It's sort of trailing off into oblivion ... without any real direction ... and now I'm thinking about raspberry sorbet for some reason ... I should just stop now.

I'm off!  Adios!

August 05, 2009

I Heard the Rain There Stays Mainly on the Plain.

Tomorrow night, Chris and I are traveling to Spain to visit the set of his movie.  (Have I mentioned this?  ;)  Just in case I haven't, it's:  Buried, written by Chris Sparling, directed by Rodrigo Cortes, and starring - weee! - Ryan Reynolds.)

This is my first trip to Europe.  In preparation, I have paid the $200 for a rushed passport (stupid name change that I forgot to do on my old passport), had my script for flight-necessary xanax refilled, and I'm working my way through the pile of laundry left over from July's travel binge.  I have scheduled for someone to watch our house, our cats, and our mailbox. 

I've started to compile my diabetes supplies for the trip, including my old Minimed 512 as a back-up pump, two back-up meters in addition to my regular one, glucagon kits, and enough pump supplies, test strips, lancets, and glucose tabs for a month's worth of travel.  (Even though we're only going for a week.)  That's in addition to the bevy of snacks, that bottle of long-acting insulin, the bag of syringes, and ketone strips.  Not to mention my Nikon equipment.  And plenty of underpants. 

I also have dinner scheduled on Friday night with the production team, which includes the aforementioned Reynolds and Cortes, which may require a new pair of shoes.  (See the aforementioned:  weeeee!)  

It's a lot to pack, and my suitcase is already straining at the seams.  How on earth am I going to smuggle back Inigo Montoya? ;)

Getting ready for Spain!!!

I can barely figure out where I'm supposed to be next, but I do need to figure one last thing out for certain:  How am I supposed to manage the time change and my blood sugars while in Spain?

Barcelona is six hours ahead of my current timezone, and at the moment I'm working very diligently (and oddly consistently) to keep my blood sugars harnessed.  The last thing I want to do at this stage in the pre-pregnancy game is let things fall further off track.  So while I want to sample the best of the Barcelona tapas and see the sights (oh, and visit the set of the movie, which will be surreal), I want to keep the lows and the highs to a bare minimum.  I've been tracking my numbers on the "Kevin" spreadsheet, which is working out well.  I've got it saved to a flash drive and I've been bringing it back and forth to work and home with me, and it's also coming to Spain.  So I'm trying!

But I do need some travel advice.  If you have any experience with the following, I'd love to hear about it:

  1. When do I change the time on my pump and meter?  On the plane before I take off?  Once I land?  As we travel?
  2. Do I want to change my basal for that first day of travel?
  3. What can I expect after moving forward six hours?
  4. I'm bringing Levemir as my "in case the pumps break" back-up, so does anyone have any experience with going from pumping to Levemir? 
  5. Also, where should we go in Barcelona?  Any favorite places?
Thanks for any advice you can offer!  As always, you guys are life-savers.

August 04, 2009

Biking Block Island.

After the loooooooong day in Boston on Friday, I needed to work off some stress.  So Chris and I decided to 'sail away on the Block Island ferry.' (This is the theme song for the ferry, but I couldn't find a YouTube clip or anything.  If someone can find audio proof of this song, please send it to me!  Lyrics are "Sail away on the Block Island Ferry, take a trip back to carefree times.  Sail away, Block Island awaits you.  Just leave your troubles behind."  And thus ends this digression.)

Our ferry ride over was a little choppy, and we were ... green by the time the ferry docked at Payne's Dock, but we shook off our seasickness quickly after breakfast at the Mohegan Cafe.  Then we rented some dented bikes from the shop by Ballard's (I left my bike back in CT ... foolish Kerri) and got on the road.

I must admit:  July was a tough month for me, exercise-wise.  I was traveling way more than I'm used to and only made it to the hotel gyms a handful of times.  My own gym membership at home went virtually unused, save for a few ragtag workouts.  But I thought I was still in relatively decent shape, so I didn't think the bike ride would kick my ass.  I was even grinning before we attempted the hills, all hopeful. 

Oh how stupid I was. 

The first leg of the ride was all uphill.  We followed Spring Street straight up to the Southeast Lighthouse and by the time we reached the top of the bluffs, I was dying.  DYING.  My legs were wobbly and I was panting and my blood sugar was plummeting.   Thankfully, I'm a nerd and I chose the bike with the little basket on the front, and since I didn't have a small dog to stuff in there, I instead had a secure place for glucose tabs.  Which I ate.  Happily.  Next to the Southeast lighthouse. 

Exhibit A:

Tabs by the lighthouse.  Of course.

We hung out for a while at the lighthouse because my numbers just wouldn't budge, so I are a few more glucose tabs near the bluffs. 

Exhibit B:

Tabs on the bluffs, yo.

The Dexcom (also stuffed into the bike basket) finally stopped BEEEEEEEEP!ing and a quick test confirmed a number finally in the triple digits, so we ventured on our way.  Thankfully, the way down was easier on our legs, and we stopped at the Block Island airport to take a break and watch the teeny, tiny planes land.  (Note:  No.  I will never go on one of these planes.  They hold four people.  Including the pilot.  Oh hell no!)

Water Street in the background.

It was fun, though.  Chris and I had a great time - hard not to in one of my favorite places.  Even though my legs were burning and my wrist was a little aggravated from the ride, it was awesome to be out in the sunshine, taking in the sights of a beautiful place like Block Island as we whizzed by on our bikes.  (We also found the same pond three times.  Sad senses of direction, we have.) 

I already have a bike, but it's been sitting in our storage space for the last few years.  I used to ride all the time when I lived in RI because my apartment was across the street from a beautiful eight mile bike path.  Now I think I want to bust that thing out and toddle around town on my ridiculous bicycle with my equally ridiculous helmet (thank you, Nicole), maybe with Siah in a basket on the front. 

Or maybe just my meter would be more realistic. 

Either way, it was awesome to be outside, far from the glowing computer screen, pedaling away my stress on the summer streets of Block Island.

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 28, 2009

Weak Arms ...

... are why I opted not to fly from Indianapolis to Chicago.  Yes, that's why.  Not because of a fear of flying.  Nooooo ...

Thankfully, no one at the travel department for Roche thought I was unreasonable for preferring to rent a car vs. fly in an itty-bitty airplane from Indy to Chicago.   And double-thankfully, Lee Ann Thill from The Butter Compartment decided to come along for the ride.

We left the meeting in Indianapolis a little bit on the earlier side so I could make my Speaker's Orientation in Chicago.  Lee Ann and I are riding along to the airport with our driver when my heart collapses. 

"OH MY GOD we have to go back!  I forgot a bag!!"

And it wasn't just any bag.  This, of course, was my black carry-on bag that contained my Nikon D40, my wallet, and every single diabetes supply I needed for the next four days. 

"I'm so sorry, but we have to turn around.  Is that okay?  We have to go back because my medical supplies are sitting out in the luggage stack, baking in the sun."  I apologized profusely as we turned around, headed back to the building we just came from, I leapt from the car and actually hugged my black carry-on when I found it, then resumed the journey.

Thankfully, we passed this hemorrhoid sign on the highway several times while driving to and fro, giving Lee Ann and I plenty of time to zoom in for a shot.

Lee Ann and I had met a few times before and I always liked her, but we'd never had a chance to spend much time together.  Being stuck in a car with someone for hours on end gives you a chance to get to know someone.  :)  And we learned plenty about one another as Lee Ann busted out singing and dancing to a Journey song right at the outset of our drive, as we encountered traffic for hours due to an overturned "simmee" (read: semi-truck), and as we scanned the sky for potential tornadoes

We drove past cornfield ...

Photo credit:  Lee Ann Thill, getting used to the Nikon.

... after cornfield ...

Photo credit Lee Ann

... after cornfield, covering miles of Indiana turf until we finally reached our destination:  Chicago.  For BlogHer09.  We were so close!!!  Almost there!!

... and then we sat in traffic again as we eeked into the city limits.

Damnit, traffic!  Lee Ann and I were very well-acquainted by this point!  No need for extra time due to traffic!  And also damnit traffic, you made us wait so long that the rental car place closed!  And damnit traffic!  My legs were starting to ache from sitting down for such a long time!

Thankfully, we had the GPS.  (Chris and I have named it Linda.  Don't ask.) And once it turned us onto Wacker Street, we knew we were close.

Ha!  Wacker.

"Hee hee.  Upper Wacker."

I'm not sure which one of us said it, but we both laughed like immature eight year olds.  And I'm still not completely sure why.

But we were at BlogHer.  And that sets the stage for my next few posts.  :)

(Thanks for making the drive to Chicago with me, Lee Ann.  It was definitely an adventure!) 

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!   

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."

May 26, 2009

Back Home.

I'm back from vacation and slowly trying to catch up on all the stuff I missed (including reading all the blog posts, returning emails, and sucking down iced coffees now that the weather has finally made the turn to Officially Summer).  I'm not even sure where to start ...

... so I'll start with a quick and dirty rundown of our vacation, with photos:

Mega ship, yo.

The boat was enormous, and we never really quite got our bearings, and we always ended up late to dinner because we took a wrong turn.  (This is partially because the ship is huge and partially because we get lost in our living room at times.)  During the course of the week, we went from Miami to Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos and Half Moon Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas.  The weather was decent, but just being away was awesome.  

I liked the elephant best, I think.

Every night, we dressed up for dinner and when we returned to the room, a towel animal creation greeted us.  (As I've mentioned before, towel animals bring me unparalleled joy.)  The animals we could identify were a bulldog, a manta ray, and an elephant.  We also received what appeared to be a vagina walrus (judge not until you click through, love).

Our creation!

As a playful preemptive strike, we built our own towel animal - the rattlesnake.  Complete with eyes, tongue, and a scary rattle tail (read:  hairbrush shoved in the end of the towel).  We thought we had bested the housekeeping staff, but they trounced us with their cobra.

Damn talented Carnival staff.  We'll best you yet.

Stephen Wunder, perhaps?

And we also may have seen Stevie Wonder perform, but I'm not completely convinced it was him.  At the end of a talent show one night, the cruise director announced, "Okay folks, stay in your seats for a special treat!"  And the lights went down again, the stage was roped off, and this man who looked JUST LIKE STEVIE WONDER was escorted on stage and performed "Superstitious."  It may have been a lookalike, it may have been just some guy randomly named Stephen Wunder or something, but could it have been the actual Stevie Wonder? 

If anyone can confirm that Stevie Wonder was traveling on the Carnival Cruise ship "Destiny," please tell me.  Google is no help to me on this one. 

Not quite sugar-free, but the thought counts.

The food was tremendous.  And some of the many dessert options claimed to be 'sugar-free,' like the one pictured above.  Sugar-free?  Maybe.  But carb-free?  Oh hell no. 

Decked out for dinner.

We celebrated our one year anniversary in style and in love, and it was a good break from all things Internetty.  We needed a few moments from the chaos. 

It was so nice to get away. 

But it is also nice to come back home.  And take my blog back from that little gray Sausage cat.

(More photos are over on Flickr, but beware of many, many, many shots of the ocean.  I was overzealous.)

March 24, 2009

French Fried.

Chris has a crush on these things.Last weekend, Chris and I went out on Saturday night for his birthday.  And because he is a Francophile and borderline crème brulée addict, we revisited an excellent French bistro in Brooklyn (that we were introduced to by some wonderful friends). 

We drove in a found a parking spot right across the street from our destination (stroke of freaking good luck, that)- Moutarde in Park Slope, and we were right on time for our 8:30 reservation. 

And we ate.

Oh how we ate.

We started with slices of celery and peppers dipped into an array of spicy mustards.  There was freshly baked french bread with creamy butter.  A shared appetizer of escargot, entrees of duck confit and hanger steak with frites (read: fries) - we were beyond indulgent.  To round out our meal (and our bellies), we had not one, but TWO desserts - crème brulée and two profiteroles with ice cream and covered in warm chocolate sauce.

My blood sugars were screaming at the very notion of these noshes. 

"Nooooo!  Kerri!!!   You'll end up at 400 mg/dl, stupid!"

"Quiet, you.  I'm having a night off from your hollering."  

My husband and I cleaned our plates and topped our meals off with coffee (me) and cappuccino (Chris).   

"So how is your birthday going?"

Francophile Sparling leaned back in his chair, smiling.  "This is great.  I loved this.  I love French food!"

I reached into my purse and consulted the Dexcom, to see if my numbers were started to go berserk.  I saw a flatline - 142 mg/dl and steady.  

"Dude, I think I did this right.  After all that food, I'm barely 140."

"Nice.  Can we get another profiterole?"

I love a good night out with excellent food, excellent company, and excellent blood sugars.  A few hours later, when we were climbing into bed, I checked the Dex again and saw that I was 103 mg/dl with a little arrow pointing straight down, showing that I was falling slowly, but still falling.

Meter confirmed:  97 mg/dl.

"Bah.  I must have over-bolused.  I'm going to grab a swig of juice."

Face-planted into the bed and slowly digesting thousands of French calories, Chris murmured "Mmm hmm."

I took a drink from the grape juice bottle by the bed and settled in beside him, feeling cocky about our indulgent dinner and it's lack of effect on my numbers.

So didn't I feel like a tool when the Dex started singing at 5:30 in the morning, announcing my 271 mg/dl to the entire room?   Sweaters on teeth, that instant "Oh my God I have to pee" feeling, and my tongue weighing about 8 lbs - the whole mess. 

I never, ever remember that the fat hits my blood sugars so much later.  (And we ate a lot of fatty foods!)    Stupid overconfident Kerri.  You done been French fried.

"Kerri, we told you.  We so told you."

"Enough!  I am fixing this now and besides, it was worth it." 

"The high?"

"Nope.  The crème brulée!" 

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!!

December 11, 2008

Irony: The Thrice Edition.

(No, I'm not sure if that title makes sense either.)

After my last few days of completely screwing up, I tried to do at least one thing to improve my diabetes - I finally created a real emergency kit for work.  

This little gem has everything I need for a diabetes moment on the job:  I have a backup infusion set, some lancets, several boxes of test strips, a Humalog insulin pen, a spare One Touch UltraMini, and even a SkinTac wipe for any CGM sensors or pump sites that go rogue.

Neat and tidy and prepared.  Hang on .. let me adjust my Boy Scout badge.  It's the one for diabetes preparedness. 

But what's missing from this kit?  Fast-acting sugar?  Nope - my office has a handy stash of candy for low blood sugar reactions and sweet teeth (sweet tooths?) alike.  How about the Quick-Serter for the infusion set?  Nah, I live five minutes from my office, so if the site isn't working out, I can pop home and fix it right quick.  Battery for the pump or a just-in-case syringe?  Both are safely tucked into the meter case.  This little box appears to have everything I'd need for a short-term fix ... what could be missing?

Oh, I know!  Irony!

Godiva!  You saved me!

Irony once again:  keeping backup diabetes supplies in a Godiva chocolate box. 

November 24, 2008

Old School Insulin Storage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Turner's "insulin bullet" 

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

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

October 27, 2008

Diabetes Radar Blips.

We made it to the church just before the wedding started on Saturday afternoon, and the bride looked beautiful.  It was like a mini-roommate reunion, with all of my roommates in attendence and ready to celebrate.  But as we sat in pew and watched her say "I do," I noticed a run in my stocking. 

"Oh man!  A run.  In my stocking."  (I kept thinking about that lady in Lost In Translation, who encourages Bill Murray to "lip her stocking, Mr. Bob Harris.")

We had some time to kill between the service and the reception, so we stopped by CVS to grab another pair of stockings.  Being the awkward human being that I am, I managed to remove the torn stockings most ungracefully, ripping loose the infusion set that was (at one time) adhered to my left thigh.

"Damn it!"  Blood spurted out from the manged site, which was now fully torn out.  "Shit - I tore out the site."

"Do you have an extra one?"

"Yeah, back here somewhere." 

Thankfully, on our weekends in RI, we live out of our car.  My travel bag was in the backseat, where I had a backup infusion set and the Quick-Serter handy.  I prepped the site with an IV wipe and mutted to myself as I reprimed the pump.

"Thank God we had the travel bag with us, or I'd be screwed." 

"You have syringes with you, though, right?"  Chris asked.

"Yeah, but no Lantus.  I'd be dosing little weeny bits of Humalog every hour or so just to keep up.  Forget sleep - it would be a nightmare.  And even if we got a bottle of Lantus, things would be all mucked up on Sunday and Monday."

I popped the new infusion set in my leg and pulled on a pair of nylons.  New stockings, new infusion set - both "rips" were just blips on my radar. 

But it struck me how much I take this technology for granted sometimes.  I'm used to the pump being attached and everything just plain working.  A tugged out infusion set can throw my whole weekend into a tailspin.  I try and plan for unforeseen issues, but you can't plan for everything.  There's a lot of crap to remember!  Extra infusion sets, enough test strips, glucose tabs for a low, an insulin pen in case of a high ... and back ups of these back ups.  Diabetes pack-muling.

People have asked me why I bring so much stuff everywhere.  Why I'm always toting a bag that makes me shoulders ache after a few hours of carrying it on my shoulder.  Why when someone says, "Oh, do you have a pen?" or "Anyone have some gum?" or "Hey, would anyone happen to have grape flavored glucose tabs?" - I'm their go-to girl.  It's tough to pack light when you're trying to prepare for all the diabetes variables.

"Okay, so you're set now?"

"Set.  Literally."  (Oh, diabetes humor.)  "Want to stop by Second Beach before the reception?"

Second beach in Newport, RI

Diabetes can be a huge pain in the arse.  And sometimes it can just be a blip on the radar.  I'm thankful for the blippers.  :)

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!!! 

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!!!

August 29, 2008

I Love The Dirt.

The Friday Six:  August 29, 2008 editionIt's been almost a month since my last Friday Six, so I thought I'd dust off the photoshop file and revive it for this fine Labor Day weekend.  You know why?  Because I'll be in the woods this weekend.  Camping in the wilds of Maine.

Stop laughing. 

So yes, Chris and I are making the long trek to Maine this weekend to spend our holiday in a tree.  I mean in the wood, camping.  And before you collapse into laughter, I have camped before.  Back in high school, my friends and I used to go camping in the summer all the time.  I love hiking, and there's something so serene about being in a place where there's no television blaring, computer whirring, or people connected to any kind of network.  We're camping out in Acadia National Park one night, then staying at a bed and breakfast in Bar Harbor the next.  I'm very excited to disconnect from EVERYTHING for the weekend.  And it's my first camping trip with the pump, so I'm hopeful that I can keep it clean and safe from the freaking bears. 

In the spirit of camping, long car rides, and packing (oh my!), I've realized that a simple walk in the woods requires some serious backpack stocking-up.  We hit the grocery store last night and I bought several protein bars, high-carb power bars, and a few sports bottles of juice.  At home, I took quick stock of the supplies I need to bring "just in case," like insulin and syringes in case my pump craps out in the woods (i.e. stops working, not craps out in the woods ... you know what I mean), extra infusion sets, test strips, and a cooler to store all the cool-temperature supplies in.  Diabetes means hoping for the best and planning for the worst, and for me, that translates into not packing light.  (We did pack marshmallows, a chocolate bar, and graham crackers, of course.  We are going camping, after all, and what's a night around the campfire without s'mores and insulin?!)

In quasi-political news, a certain flash file made me laugh out loud.  Something about the iced coffee and the grinning faces made my day.  And Biden doing the Cabbage Patch in the back seat.  See for yourself and blame my brother for sending me the weirdest things on the internet.

Team Six Until Me is walking again at the Rhode Island JDRF Walk on October 26th!  If you are in the RI area and you'll be at the walk, please come by and say hello!  Just look for the rag-tag crew of silly people, anchored by my grinning head and the grinning heads of my friends and family. 

Last week, Chris and I visited NYC and went to the Top of the Rock.  Yes, it's a big ol' tourist draw and I can't pretend to be anything more than a tourist.  (I'm from Rhode Island - we hardly ever leave the borders of our own damn state! Living in CT is like breaking all the rules.)  Anyway, going to the top of Rockefeller Center was very cool.  The view, as you can imagine, is remarkable.  Of course we took a pile of pictures.  We haven't had much time to get into the city lately, but I'm always impressed with what it has to offer every time I go.

And unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to do a vlog this week, but I'll do one early next week.  And I think I may need to finally respond to the gauntlet laid down by Mr. Bennet himself - for the Whack-A-Meter challenge.  I have plenty of old school meters in my home that don't work and I don't think there are even strips being made for them anymore.  It may be time to take out my aggressions on those symbols of diabetes.  Anybody with me?   It may actually feel good.

Have a good three-day weekend, and I'll see you on Tuesday!  (After I pick the spiders out of my hair.  Oh good Lord.)

August 11, 2008

Beach Blanket ... Pumping.

Growing up in southern Rhode Island means having access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.   The sound of the ocean waves, and of the seagulls flying overhead.  The smell of clam chowder (chowdah), fritters, and onion rings from the beach stand.  The ancient woman who sold popcorn from the kiosk in Watch Hill.  The hot sand and the hot sun.  I love it all.

My best friend and I hit the beach in RI this past Saturday, drinking iced coffees, swimming around in the August ocean, and gossiping our heads off.  I'm very pro-pump when it comes to doing my diabetes thaang, so I do what I need to do in order to make it part of every day.  Wearing it at work or out to dinner doesn't present many issues, but the beach is tricky indeed.  Here are a few tips I use to keep the pump from interfering at the beach:    

Pumping can be a day at the beach.  Holla.

Top Five Beach Pumping Tips:

1.  Bring a bottle of water.  If you're like me and you love to swim around like an awkward little dolphin, you'll find that the infusion set can get covered in salt and sticky sand.  Sometimes I have trouble reconnecting my pump due to the slty build-up.  Using a water bottle to rinse off the site helps remove the stick and get me reattached without any trouble.

2.  Bring an extra towel.  If you are like me and you stay attached to your pump while you lay on the blanket, make sure you keep it covered.  An extra towel or t-shirt is handy to wrap up the pump in, keeping it cooler and away from the heat of the sun.  

3.  Have back-up insulin.  Whether it's the salt caked up on your site that's keeping you from reconnecting or if there's a malfunction with you pump, it's important to keep an insulin pen in your beach stash.  I have one of those Frio things that works great to keep the pen cool and collected. 

4.  Sunscreen it  up.  If you're an Irish girl who burns with the best of them, sunscreen is your friend.  This past weekend, I blew it a little and didn't wear enough sunscreen, and now my body is slightly crispy.  Pushing a new pump site into sunburnt skin is not very comfortable.  Also, wearing enough SPF keeps me from getting wild infusion set tan lines. 

5.  Be confident!  People are going to stare at the pump.  This is a fact - they can't help it!  It's probably not something they see every day, and it's hard to hide in a bathing suit.  Just remember that we're wearing this device to manage diabetes, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.  Let 'em stare.  ;)

What do you do with your pump in the hot, hot heat?  Any tricks you want to share?  (And any good recipes for chowdah?  I think I'm ready to try and make some at home!) 

June 12, 2008

Job Perks.

Should be a fun time!I've worked plenty of crappy jobs (none as crappy as the Poopsmith, but pretty crummy nonetheless), so I don't feel bad at all about enjoying my current job at dLife.  Aside from terrific co-workers who both inspire and entertain me, a quick commute, and the opportunity to be creative, I have the chance to make a difference in both my diabetes life and the lives of other people living with diabetes.  (Not to mention the traveling Frog.)

Oh, and they've decided to send me to the CWD conference in July.  :D  I am very excited!

I've never been to the Children With Diabetes Friends for Life conference, but I've heard some great things about it.  Chris and I be traveling on Tuesday and arriving early in Orlando, then attending as many of the events that we can.  Any suggestions on what focus groups are expected to be the most informative?  What are you guys most interested in hearing feedback on?  And if I have the chance to embroider my name on Mickey Mouse ears, should I do it? 

Maybe ears that say "Sausage."  I wonder if she'd wear them.

If you are attending the conference, I'd love to hear from you.  I'm excited at the opportunity to meet some of the people I've been communicating with over the past three years, to see what kinds of events are offered, and to walk into a room filled with the friends and family members of diabetics and think, "Everyone here understands."

Visitors since November 7, 2005