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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!]

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. 

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.  ;)

January 07, 2011

Photo Collections on my Blackberry.

The photos on my real camera are easily grouped - Thanksgiving dinner, putting up our Christmas tree, holiday dinners, trip to the aquarium ... clumps of photos fall neatly into event categories. But the photos on my phone are completely random.  Picking through these photos made me laugh out loud. 

THESE are the moments I chose to capture??

A drive to Boston
This was from a drive into Boston that was warm, sunny, and with a gorgeous blue sky.  Safe driver that I am, I snapped a photo.  SAFELY.  This was safe.  Ish.

Cat in antlers.  Like you do.
This photo was from a Reader's Digest cover in December.  I took a photo of it and sent it to Chris, saying "I promise not to become this festive with the cats."  And his response was "I saw that cover the other day and almost sent it to YOU!"  (Regardless of the addition of Ms. BSparl, I'm still sort of the crazy cat lady.)

Dexcom sitting pretty in the car
This is a shot of my Dexcom receiver, lodged above the gear shift in my car.  I usually have the receiver stashed in my purse, but for longer car rides, I like having it out and readily accessible.  This is the closest I can get to Charlie Kimball's set up, with the thing lashed to the steering wheel.  ;)

This cat needs a carseat.
And what Blackberry photo album is complete without a shot of Siah trying to hang out in the car seat?  (Even when we gave her the "No!  Get out of there, Siah!" admonishment, she just sat there, licking her paw and giving us an inferiority complex.)

The great Kissing Balls of Rhode Island
And lastly, the Kissing Balls of Rhode Island. Only $19.95!!  (I actually circled my car back to take a picture of this sign. Only in Rhode Island.)

After looking at all these photos, I'm itching to give the Diabetes 365 project another go.  Last year, I tried but failed miserably because I just didn't have the time to upload the photos.  (I have about 200 out of 365, lost somewhere on the multiple memory cards for my camera.)  But I really love the project, and the images that come as a result of it, so I think I'd like to give it another go.  Anyone doing Diabetes 365 this year?

January 05, 2011

The Patdown: Diabetes at the Airport.

Last week, we were at the airport to travel to Marco Island for the CWD Family Weekend.  And we were NOT traveling light, by any stretch.  Chris and I had our suitcases, our laptops, and my diabetes supplies (infusion sets, insulin, test strips, glucose tabs, etc) stashed in a carry on.  Oh, and we also had that giggly baby BSparl, plenty of clothes for her to spit up on, formula, bottles, wipes, diapers, water for mixing the formula, toys, Happy Baby puffs for snacks, her car seat, the car seat base, and the stroller.

Freaking phew. 

In addition to all the junk we were carrying, I was also wearing my Animas Ping and my Dexcom sensor (and carrying the receiver).  Which made me a prime candidate for the airport opt-out search from a TSA employee, thanks to the fact that these devices are better off not going through x-ray machines, etc.

I know some people have had some very troubling experiences with the full pat downs, but I'm thankful that I didn't have any issues whatsoever.  Both times (leaving Rhode Island and then leaving Florida), I was pulled aside for the pat down.  Chris and the baby went through security and waited while the (female) TSA employee gave me a good how-do-you-do.  

I have never been comfortable traveling by plane (anxiety about flying has been well-documented here on SUM), so anything that makes me feel like I'm "safer" is never frowned upon by me.  If someone wants to give me a polite pat down, I will let them.  I have never been assaulted or attacked in any way in my life, so my comfort level with this airport procedure is high.  (Note:  If you are on the "I am NOT comfortable with pat downs" side of the fence, that's great.  I'm just giving my opinion here.)

The female TSA employees in both circumstances were very polite and gave me a heads up before they even laid a freshly-clean gloved finger on my body.  "I'm going to check around your waistband and up high on your inner thigh.  I'll also be using the back of my hand for any sensitive areas.  Are there any areas on your body that feel particularly sensitive?  I want to make sure you are comfortable."  This is something both women said, so I think there's a very strict script in place for these opt out searches.  My response both times was the same:

"Nope, just those two medical devices attached that I had mentioned.  And if I want to have this done in a private room, I can, right?"  (Just checking.)

"Yes.  Would you like to go to a private room?"

"No, I'm fine, thanks.  Let's start so we can finish so I can help my husband wrangle in that wiggly eight month old, okay?"  BSparl waved from the stroller a few feet away, where she and Chris were waiting.

The search was courteous.  And diabetes-wise, it was not a big deal for me.  The TSA employee in Florida actually said, "My niece has an insulin pump.  She just had her second baby.  Now she has two little girls.  And a pump."  She smiled.  "It's an amazing piece of machinery."

The searches ended as quickly as they began, and we headed off to our gate as a family.

... scratch that.  We headed off to the gate with a laughing baby crammed into a giant stroller, a sizable diaper bag, my to-the-gills purse, our laptops, and those New-Parents-Traveling-with-a-Baby expressions on our faces.  You know the ones - where the bags under your eyes are bigger than the ones you've checked for the flight? 

Yeah.

So.  Many.  Bags.

November 07, 2010

Sunday Snapshots.

We visited the Berkshires up in northern Massachusetts this weekend, and our trek up Mount Greylock was amazing.  While I can easily ramble on for 1,000 words, I'd rather let the pictures do the talking:

I had to Google thing to remember what it was actually called.  At first, I thought it was a "looking thingy for far aways."  Not bright.

Two stately viewfinders stood at the summit of the mountain, even though the cloud had settled so low that you couldn't see more than 20 feet in front of your face.

Almost the moon.

And because of the cold, this frost was taking over everything at the top of the mountain.  It looked like we were on the moon, or had survived some kind of apocalypse (like I had mentioned yesterday).  Each tree, each little shrub, and each blade of grass was green at the very bottom and frosted at the tip. 


Even though it was a quick weekend, it was a nice one.  Nice to get away, nice to hang out with Chris alone, and nice to not get up at 7:30 in the morning with a burping BSparl.  (Even though we did talk about her a ton over dinner.)  And nice to spend some time taking photos of things we don't often see in the teeniest state in the country. 

October 27, 2010

The Big, Bad Wolf.

Yesterday, I was up in Boston proper for a meeting of health activists from the WEGO Health community, brought together as part of a panel of patients who were willing to share their perspectives with Pharma.  My fellow panelists - Alicia Staley, Rosalind Jaffe, and the diabetes community's own Karen of Bitter-Sweet Diabetes - and I talked with a group of representatives from Pharma who had questions about getting involved in the social media space.  (Did you know Pharma wants "in" on the social media space?  Can you tell?)

The WEGO Health Socialpalooza panelists and moderators
Kerri Sparling, Rosalind Jaffe, Jack Barrette, Karen, Alicia Staley, and Bob Brooks. 
(This is the happy photo. And because they all humor me, here's the serious one and the goofy one.)

The discussions were extensive, and we talked openly about what we, as patients, thought Pharma was doing "right" and then our opinions on what was missing from the social equation.  The WEGO Health moderators provided a few questions to the panelists prior to the panel, and my answers were sent off a few days earlier, while BSparl was taking a nap. (Which means I was too exhausted to craft up fancy answers and instead blurted out knee-jerk responses, which were included verbatim in the slides.  Which makes me reconsider using the "draft" option of my email to preserve mine and everyone else's sanity.) 

Here are the questions we were sent, and my answers:

What rules of the road should companies follow when they engage your communities online?

  • Always be authentic (aka don't be a big, fat liar)
  • Do not judge the actions of online communities (see also:  "Diabetes Police*")
  • Contribute to the conversation, don't just try to sell us stuff
  • Don't fear the blogosphere:  Show us your face!

What health or pharma company social media efforts are resonating with your community online? [I don't speak for "the community," so I instead listed efforts that resonated for me, personally.]

What would you tell companies to encourage them to support your communities online?

You need us.  In so many ways.  So come talk to us.  We want to hear from you.  Also, bring cookies (And with this slide, the WEGO crew had included a photo of some lovely chocolate chip cookies.  I appreciate being humored.  I also love cookies.)

Pharma isn't the big, bad wolf.  The industry as a whole gets a bad rap because there are some dodgy apples in the bunch that ruin Pharma's overall image.  I think that same principle applies to just about everything (there are always jerkfaces in certain groups).  I think that Pharma companies attending events in effort to engage with patients is a good thing. 

"But they only want to profit off our disease.  They want to tap us because they make money off us." 

Good point.  But while that is true on some levels, it's also true that just having them in the room with us is a start.  Because if they're in the room, they can hear us. And if they hear us, they just may start to listen.  

And damnit, there is a chance of cookies.

*  I hate being policed, especially by people who don't know me.  I can take criticism well, and constructively, but I do realize there is a certain risk that comes with putting my personal health information out there for all to see and analyze.  That kind of disclosure opens me up to a lot of scrutiny and judgment.  Part of what I wanted to convey to the attendees of this discussion was that judging people within these communities is a crap idea.  Unless they know what it's like to live with these illnesses, don't just pop in and make disease management suggestions or judgments.  And definitely don't jump in and try to link to your products.  Support and accurate information go a very long way in making a difference in our health and lives.  Don't rag on the diabetic who clamors for cookies.  ;)

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!

October 18, 2010

Social Networks: Compatible or Competitive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 15, 2010

Vegas Meet Ups!

Since I arrived here in Las Vegas on Wednesday morning, it's been a revolving door of some of my favorite people in the medical blogosphere.  And it makes perfect sense, since this is the BlogWorldExpo conference and the Mandalay Bay is teeming with bloggers.  Thanks to the Social Health track that ran yesterday (much more on that tomorrow), I've had the pleasure of meeting up with plenty of familiar faces.

There is so much to tell, and so much information to relay, but for now, I'm going to rely on the power of pictures (because this three hour time difference is seriously kicking my productive rear):

Taking a break between tracks.
Scott Johnson, Jenni Prokopy, Amy Tenderich, Kerri Sparling, and Manny Hernandez

Scott is our bodyguard.
Mollie Singer, Kerri Sparling, Scott Johnson, Jenni Prokopy, and Jackie Singer

They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I'm excited to share all the stories with everyone ... once I have a nap, that is.

(And, total sidenote - Happy Birthday to my little sister today!)

October 04, 2010

How Do You Bolus for Art?

Over the weekend, Chris and I took a trip up to The Balsams hotel in New Hampshire.  We were there for an event for Chris's side of the business, and part of the event included a dressy dinner with food that was far fancier than the turkey and cheese sandwiches my pallet is accustomed to.

The welcoming sign

So here's a problem I've never encountered before:  when the food looks like something from MoMA, how do you bolus for it?  Our menu included items like foie gras and tuna tartare with carrot gelee ("gelee" = carrots that enjoy Glee, at least in my head), and I didn't have a clue as to how to actually eat it, nevermind the concept of carb counting it.  It's moments like these that make the Dexcom indispensable.  By keeping an eyeball on the graph, I felt more comfortable going to bed that night, knowing that I wasn't bottoming out.  It was a tricky dinner, of plates with an architectural and artistic flair and I bolused willy-nilly for them.

And by "willy nilly," I mean that I cranked up a few tenths of a unit every course.  it was trial by foie gras fire.  I wasn't sure how to shoot for the salted caramel-tangelo sorbet, or jambom de Paris.  (Can you tell I'm copying these words right from the menu?  I was relieved when the tenderloin arrived, because I knew what it was.)  I mean, how do you bolus for art?

Thankfully, the grounds of the hotel were far less intimidating than the food, but no less impressive.  The garden alone, comprised of more than 1500 flowers that are planted during the course of one, single day (check out this time lapse video), held my attention captive for quite a while:

Part of the hotel - tell me that doesn't look haunted to you??

The hotel itself was a living, breathing entity with more history and charisma than your average Doubletree.  This place looked as though it was the inspiration for countless short stories, and we heard that Stephen King used The Balsams as his mental catalyst for The Shining.  Chris and I (directionally-challenged, as always) ended up happily lost in the beautiful halls of this hotel more than once during our short stay. 

The gardens at The Balsams.

And despite the five hour drive, the lack of coffee (I need to have a second pump just to ensure 24 hours of caffeination), and the fact that my infusion set rolled off my arm the precise second I lay my head down on the pillow to go to sleep (was awesome: had to leap up and put in a new infusion set at 1:30 in the morning), it was a leaf-peeping drive and a quality getaway.

September 29, 2010

Philadelphia Diabetes Meet Up.

Conferences are a good time and a great networking opportunity, but there's NOTHING like hanging out with fellow PWDs (and PWD caregivers). 

Hanging out with fellow diabetics (and their caregivers) in Philly!

Thanks for coming out last night, everyone!  It was awesome!!!

September 17, 2010

Diabetes Control = Hot Mess.

I want to stop picturing these every time I test my blood sugar.Exhausted doesn't even begin to explain how I'm feeling at the moment.  Over the last few days, we've moved into a new house, worked and lived through some construction efforts in our home, traveled to the Toronto International Film Festival for the Buried Canadian premiere (by propeller plane, but more on that panic attack later), and then hoofed it to NYC for a screening (more on that later, too).  Our house is chaos, our schedules are all over the place, and my health management is under duress.

Even though all of this stuff is exciting and the journey to get here has been incredible, it's a lot to manage all at once.  I love to travel, but I hate the actual process of "getting somewhere."  I don't travel light, I have some physical limitations that make travel difficult (read:  tendinitis so bad that I can't lift a bag without wussing out), and I'm still not a fan of flying.  That, combined with the lack of sleep and a wildly varying schedule (including nights that push the 3 am envelope - hey, college throwback!), is a recipe for disaster with all the diabetes stuff.

Blood sugars have had pockets of success, like last night at the Tribeca screening, where I held rock solid between 100 - 150 mg/dl all evening long.  But there have been some disastrous runs, like the night of the Toronto screening, where I was over 280 mg/dl for four hours, despite boluses.  (I eventually took an injection and pulled the site, but the site seemed fine.  I hate when the cause of highs can't be nailed down.)  I'm testing a lot, but my body isn't responding to things normally.  Foods that I'm usually able to tolerate, numbers-wise, are now throwing me into the stratosphere  or tossing me into the trenches.  I'm living on a steady diet of coffee and lip gloss.  Infusion sets are staying in for four days at a time (instead of the three days I had committed to while pregnant - absorption is so much better when you follow the damn rules) and I think the last time I changed my lancet was when BSparl was born.  

I'm a hot mess.  And not in that cool way.  More in that "Geez, Kerri, you think you're cured or something, the way you've been acting lately" way.  (Note:  Haven't been cured.  Just a very scattered diabetic these days.)

I'm not sure if these hiccups seem more dramatic because they're in contrast to the very tight, very obsessive control I had while pregnant, but in any event, I'm not pleased with my lack of commitment to sparkle motion.  (see also:  hot mess)  But I have to get things back under control.  Events for Chris seem to be coming up every week, and I want to be physically ready to attend with him.  (As in, I don't want to be 39 mg/dl.  Or 399 mg/dl.)  And this is all without mentioning my smiley little daughter, who would do well to have a mom who isn't bouncing all over the blood sugar map.  

The next six weeks will be challenging for me, as both a diabetic and a new mom, because it's sort of non-stop until the holidays.  And even though the events are coming and going, the diabetes isn't.  I can't spend the next six weeks winging it.  I need to find a way to do these things without sacrificing all of my diabetes control.

I can do this.  If I was able to get my terrified arse on a propeller plane, I can wrangle in a blood sugar or two. 

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?

September 03, 2010

Bah Hahbah.

What's the smartest thing you can do two days before you move out of one place and into another?  Why, visit the grand old land of Bar Harbor, Maine, of course!

Just before we left on Friday afternoon, I was tweaking out because there was still so much to pack and so many work things to take care of and some really important travel arrangements to schedule and ... the list goes on.  But Chris and I have been making the trek to Bar Harbor every year, and dammit, we weren't missing this year just because of some pffffft move.  (Note:  We should have gone two weeks before the move, instead of two days, but that's neither here nor there.  Actually, it's there.  As in "the past."  Where I should leave all my bitching and moaning about this move.  Done and done.)

But the trip was a good idea because there is something oddly calming about Maine.  I love Bar Harbor.

The view from Cadillac Mountain

I love the vast beauty of Acadia Park.

Kerri at 2 Cats. YAY!!

I freaking LOVE the 2 Cats Inn.  They have the best breakfast of all time, I believe strawberry butter should be served with everything, and their coffee isn't too shabby, either.

This was a hard climb for my post-pregnancy messy self.

I love hiking up mountains that I had to skip the summer before (because there was a baby on board we hadn't told you guys about yet).  I also love that these hikes replace boluses more often than not.  Ah, the power of exercise and the crisp Maine air!

Whynahree in Bah Hahbah

I love the fact that Maine has a blueberry wine (and we have a bottle of it in our fridge downstairs).  

Bar Harbor is so serene.  I dig that feeling of being completely disconnected from work and Internet and all that stuff that sucks you dry.  The flowers are beautiful.  The popovers at Jordan Pond are delicious and the perfect way to rev up on carbs for the long hike around the pond.  The rocks that resemble butt cheeks are startling.  The blueberries are so petite and I cannot figure out why.  But I do - I love the place and I really enjoy that Chris and I have made this trip part of the miles we put on our cars every summer. 

Such a shame that we've left the beauty of Bar Harbor behind for another year ... and now we're bracing for this Earl fella to show up in New England.  Have a safe weekend (and if you're bored, there's a whole stash of Maine photos in Flickr)!

September 02, 2010

Diabetes and Moving: Fun.

Every time I look at this bit of clip art, I picture the cats driving it.You know you're a diabetic moving into a new place when:

  • You pack extra glucose meter test strips, baby diapers, and toilet paper into the same box because you know you will need both on the first day.
  • You're watching at the window for the cable guy so you can get yourself back online and immersed in the diabetes blogosphere.
  • You don't care that there's an ice maker in the new fridge, but more than there's a handy compartment that's PERFECT for insulin storage.
  • There's a whole box labeled "Diabetes Supplies."
  • You're grateful that the hardwoods are being installed because it will be easier to find rogue test strips.
  • The washer dryer combo looks like a spaceship command unit and you have no idea how to work it.  (Wait, that's just me?  Domestic goddess I am not.)
  • Even though the fridge is almost entirely empty, there's still a bottle of grape juice at the ready.  (And a pitcher of iced coffee.  Priorities!!)
  • You buy a smaller garbage can for the kitchen to leave room under the sink for a massive, red sharps container.
  • There's a space in the walk-in closet that's dedicated solely to stacking insets, insulin reservoirs, and test strip bottles.  Not to mention lancets, which I've had the same seven boxes for the last four years and I never manage to use them up.  (Something tells me I should change my lancet today.) 
  • And: You test the wall outlets by plugging the Dexcom receiver in to charge.
Diabetes plus moving totally equals fun.  :p

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.

November 29, 2009

Getting Into the Holiday Spirit.

This is the first holiday season in four years that Chris and I have spent within an hour's drive of our family - the last few years have been spent trekking up and down 95 for hours on end, battling traffic and boredom and every kind of holiday traveler.

Not this year.  

Finally- FINALLY - we're able to relax a bit and actually enjoy the holiday season.  Thanksgiving is behind us (excellent food all the way around, including the sweet potato casserole that Chris made and the key lime pie that I managed not to screw up) and I am so excited to spend Christmas close to home.  

Today we spent some time with my father-in-law at a local farm, getting ourselves into the spirit of things.  A few photos as evidence:

Holiday holly.
Red holly berries.

Red holiday flower-type thingies.
Rows of poinsettias on the farm.


Of course, I took more photos of these gorgeous red plants than was necessary. 

Even the tomatoes got into the holiday spirit.
And even the budding grape tomatoes got into the swing of things, rocking out some red and green action.

Not really holiday-esque, but I liked the shot.  :)
(This pink flower, though lovely and had my attention for a bevy of photos, wasn't Christmassy in the slightest.  Oh well.) 

Tomorrow, because I can't even wait until December proper, we'll get our Christmas tree and start readying our home for our (hopefully) last Christmas as a family of two ... because next year, we'll have a little BSparl tugging ornaments off the tree.

(And we'll find out on Tuesday if it will be a boy or a girl BSparl.  YAY!!!)

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.)

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 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 27, 2009

Wait, You Wanted Pictures??

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

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

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

Jolly bloggers

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

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

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

Christi gets tossed.

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

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

So we all met up. 

And goofed off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roche Diabetes Summit: SUM Edition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 17, 2009

CWD: D is for Disney.

Once the CWD Friends for Life conference was over, Chris and I took a few days of vacation to hit up The Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Words are one thing, but pictures are more fun.  :)

Kerri and Chris alongside what appears to be a big mouse hand flipping the bird.

We hit up the Disney Hollywood Studios, where a kind guest took our photo.  But instead of getting us in front of the Mickey Mouse hat, she only managed to work in the hand.  Now it looks like we're posing in front of a giant glove that's happily flipping the bird.  Go figure.   

I love me some Army Men.

This sign was in the Pixar area, which also had a barrel of monkeys gone loose. 

Ice cream is awesome.  Especially Disney ice cream.

And, of course, the traditional Mickey Mouse ice cream ears.  Quality treat, and perfect for bringing blood sugars back into range after traipsing around the parks all day.   

Thunder F'ing Mountain.  Yo.

This would be the ONLY roller coaster I like - Thunder Mountain.  This ride kicks so much ass that we went on it twice.  I like roller coasters that don't have huge drops in them but are still fast, and this one just does it for me. 

Plenty of other pictures on Flickr (warning:  there are so many shots of the Cinderalla castle that I'm actually embarrassed), if you're interested in checking out other people's vacation photos.  :) 

The fire-eating dancer at the Taverna Opa.

Oh, and one last sidenote:  This is a scene from the Taverna Opa, where Chris and I had dinner with friends on Friday night.  Of course, this fire-eating dancer lady was doing her thing.  And she was picking out men from the crowd to make them mimick her dance moves.  I'm not saying that Chris was pulled from his seat and encouraged to shake his hips for strangers.  I'm not saying the crowd went nuts.  I'm not saying I didn't laugh myself off my chair.  I'm also not saying that my husband has moves.  

That is all I'm not saying. 

CWD: D is for Disney.

Once the CWD Friends for Life conference was over, Chris and I took a few days of vacation to hit up The Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Words are one thing, but pictures are more fun.  :)

Kerri and Chris alongside what appears to be a big mouse hand flipping the bird.

We hit up the Disney Hollywood Studios, where a kind guest took our photo.  But instead of getting us in front of the Mickey Mouse hat, she only managed to work in the hand.  Now it looks like we're posing in front of a giant glove that's happily flipping the bird.  Go figure.   

I love me some Army Men.

This sign was in the Pixar area, which also had a barrel of monkeys gone loose. 

Ice cream is awesome.  Especially Disney ice cream.

And, of course, the traditional Mickey Mouse ice cream ears.  Quality treat, and perfect for bringing blood sugars back into range after traipsing around the parks all day.   

Thunder F'ing Mountain.  Yo.

This would be the ONLY roller coaster I like - Thunder Mountain.  This ride kicks so much ass that we went on it twice.  I like roller coasters that don't have huge drops in them but are still fast, and this one just does it for me. 

Plenty of other pictures on Flickr (warning:  there are so many shots of the Cinderalla castle that I'm actually embarrassed), if you're interested in checking out other people's vacation photos.  :) 

The fire-eating dancer at the Taverna Opa.

Oh, and one last sidenote:  This is a scene from the Taverna Opa, where Chris and I had dinner with friends on Friday night.  Of course, this fire-eating dancer lady was doing her thing.  And she was picking out men from the crowd to make them mimick her dance moves.  I'm not saying that Chris was pulled from his seat and encouraged to shake his hips for strangers.  I'm not saying the crowd went nuts.  I'm not saying I didn't laugh myself off my chair.  I'm also not saying that my husband has moves.  

That is all I'm not saying. 

July 06, 2009

Little Rhody.

It's been raining for weeks and we've been working like crazy people for weeks and stress is relentless ... but once Chris and I ended up in Block Island, it finally felt like summer.  And we finally relaxed.

Shoreline of Block Island

Block Island is only about twelve miles from the RI mainland, but it feels like it's miles away and also like a proper vacation.  The coastline is beautiful!  We spent the afternoon on the beach, soaking up (too much) of the sun and hanging with our friends.

Flowers on the island.

 Camera always at the ready, I - again - snapped too many pictures of flowers.  (Instead of people.  Not sure why that keeps happening.  Maybe because flowers sit still for five minutes?)  But thankfully, the flora is reasonable photogenic.

Cliff Walk in Newport
 
An evening in Newport with my husband made for some very pretty photos from the famous Newport Cliff Walk and dinner at Sardella's.  Our visit home was too damn short, but worth it!  Rhode Island has it's share of weird areas and quirky bits, but there are enough hidden treasures to amaze even a local like me. 
 
Already looking forward to next time.  :)

June 26, 2009

The Faces of the Philly Meet Up.

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

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

People.

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

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

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

June 22, 2009

Flu'd Out and Father's Day.

The end of last week was a bit of a bust, because I spent the majority of Thursday and Friday hiding in my bed with the flu. (Not the swine variety, though.  According to my doctor, "just the flu.")  I haven't read many blogs, I haven't answered any emails, and the only thing I've done is devour the first 3/4 of the Twilight book.

Note:  I kind of resisted reading Twilight because of all the swoony buzz over Robert Pattinson and vampires and all that stuff.  I'll admit it - I scoffed.  But then I remembered how rabid I was over the Harry Potter series, despite my best intentions.  And then my mother happened to drop the book off at my house.  And then I happened to get sick and have little energy for anything other than napping and reading.  This perfect storm of events now has me itching to get home so I can finish the book and pick up the next one in the series.  Sigh.  I'm a nerd.  A nerd who has digressed.  Hang on ...

I was on the mend by Saturday afternoon, thankfully in time to celebrate Batman's 30th birthday with her at the Ivy Restaurant in Boston.  (After some wicked traffic on 95 North in MA, leaving us almost two hours late for the event, but getting into Boston was worth it.  I love Boston.  And also, the birthday girl was stuck in the same traffic, so at least we were there before her!)

The carousel horses.

And on Sunday, Chris and I spent time with my father for Father's Day.  We don't often have the chance to hang out with my dad, so having a leisurely lunch (steaks and burgers - manly food!) and then some black raspberry ice cream from St. Claire's Annex in Watch Hill before our drive home to CT was a very nice, relaxing way to spend the day.

So what have I missed?  (And also, did you know that Sara actually has a paper chain counting down the days to FFL?  Go see ...)

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.)

May 18, 2009

En Route!

Cruisin'!!

I'm off on vacation this week to celebrate my first wedding anniversary, but thanks to the power of scheduled publishing, there are some great guest posts on tap. (Comments will be saved and published when I return - promise!) Have a good week, and enjoy the posts!

May 13, 2009

Guest Listener.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It.  Was.  So cool. 

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

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

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

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

(Answer:  Yes.) 

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

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

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

May 01, 2009

The Friday Six: May Day!

I must thankfully admit - blood sugars have settled down a wee bit (thanks to a 150% basal rate increase that I'm not changing until I'm sure the cortisone is out of my system) and my wrist might be feeling a little better, so things are looking much sunnier in my corner of the Internet today.  About damn time. 

It's time for a little Friday Six action:

1.  Last night I had the opportunity to attend the JDRF Spring for a Cure event at the Metropolitan Pavillion in NYC.  I haven't been into the city in a few weeks, so it was kind of fun to ride the train in and get a little "aaaah" over Grand Central again.  I met up with Gina Capone and we spent a few hours checking out all the trappings, from cheesecake to white wine.  We ran into my former coworker Jon and his wife Lindsey, fellow blogger Allison Blass, and some of JDRF's finest.

Kerri and Aida - chilin'.

The JDRF knows how to throw an event, as the place was packed with people all passionate about diabetes research and a cure.  Including Soprano's star Aida Tuturro, who I spent some time talking to.  (She's a hot ticket!)  Aida has type 2 diabetes and was featured on dLifeTV a few seasons ago.   

2.  Also, best-selling author Brenda Novak is a friend of the diabetes community, thanks to her Novak’s 5th Annual Online Auction for Diabetes Research.  According to the press release, "The auction is held each May is a labor of love for her son who has lived with the disease for most of his life. It is also a month-long online event featuring lunches, dinners and one-on-one meetings with celebrity authors, world-class getaway vacations and state-of-the-art gizmos and gadgets."  And this year, my friends at the Diabetes Research Institute are the sole beneficiaries.  Pretty darn cool.  Visit the auction site and start bidding.  It all benefits a cure!

3.  Today is the last day to enter the Diabetes Mine 2009 Design Challenge, so if you're still thinking about entering to win $10,000, you'd better get cracking!   Submissions can be sent in until 11:59 Pacific time, so there's still time to enter. 

4.  The new issue of diaTribe is out with an all-new SUM Musings - complete with cameos from my mother and my brother talking about diabetes awareness for those who aren't diabetic themselves.  If you aren't a subscriber already to diaTribe, sign up.  Seriously.  I know I'm a columnist there and am very biased, but Kelly and Co. do a fantastic job andThe Friday Six:  May 1, 2009 edition I'm a proud supporter of their work.

5.  In a little plug for my office, the production team at dLifeTV is looking for a few good diabetes stories to potentially feature on the show.  Currently, they're seeking college students with diabetes, married couples dealing with diabetes in their relationship, and diabetics struggling with alcoholism.  Check out the call for submissions and see if we're looking for YOU.

6.  And in a little plug for yetis, I think I may have spied one from the train last night.  We were just about to pull into Harlem 125th when I looked down and saw a person sitting on a bench outside.  Wearing a full fur suit.  Like a real fur suit - no joke.  I am not unconvinced it wasn't a yeti.  Which leads me to SkyMall.  Which leads me to this video.  Then this one.  Which leads me into a brain tangent I wasn't prepared for. 

Holy digression.

I'm off to buy a yeti.  Or maybe just take a nap.  :)  Either way, have a good weekend!

April 20, 2009

This Is Your Captain Speaking.

Last week I had the honor and pleasure of traveling to the Canyon Ranch Institute in Tucson, AZ with Dr. Val to co-lead a workshop about social media, blogging, and the hot topic of Twitter.  It was a beyond-cool experience, talking about the impact of blogging on people's health management, and showing how the patient blogging community can improve health both on and offline. (Val has a wonderful recap of the experience on her blog at Better Health.)

After our stay was over, we went took the shuttle back to the Tucson airport and checked in for our flight. 

"We wanted to make sure we were sitting next to one another on the flight," Val said to the This was the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me.attendant at the American Airlines counter.  

"You actually aren't.  You have good seats, though.  Do you want to try and change them?"

Val didn't even have to check with me.  (She had to fly out to Tucson with me from NYC, so she's familiar with my flight anxiety.)

"We'd like to sit together, if that works."

The attendant checked the system.  "We have two seats in row 31.  That's in the way back of the plane.  Is that okay?"

"Fine with us," we said almost in unison.

"I wouldn't want to sit in the back of the plane," said a man in uniform who appeared behind the counter.  "Right near the engine?  Awful."

I was nervous.  Who was this guy was just leaping into the middle of the conversation to offer his snarky two cents? 

"Hey, I like the engine.  I'm very pro-white noise, you know.  Love it.  Soothing stuff.  It's going to be a great ride."  Tried to flash him a disarming smile, hoping he wasn't sitting next to me on the flight.

He grins and walks away.  Val and I board the plane and settle into our seats.  My seat is directly next to the engine, as advertised.  

"It's cool.  White noise, right?"  I joked to Val.  She laughed, and we prepared to take off.

Once the plane was up to cruising altitude, the PA system on the plane chimed into action.

"Good afternoon, everyone.  This is Captain Frank [Name Redacted] and me and my co-pilot will be taking you all to Chicago today." 

I tuned out a bit, still trying to feel relaxed.  Val was already almost napping beside me in her seat.  The captain continued to talk.

"So we're at 31,000 feet and we'll eventually climb to 33,000.  Sit back and enjoy the ride.  And I'd also like to welcome Valerie and Kerri to our flight today and hope they're enjoying the wonderful white noise there at the back of the plane."

Val woke up with a start.  "Did he just say our names?"

I couldn't stop laughing.  "He did! That guy, from the counter!  He's the damn pilot!"

The flight continued on without incident to Chicago, and as we prepared to land, the pilot came over the PA.

"I want to let you know that we're going to start our descent into O'Hare, and the current temperature is 72 degrees.  We hope you've enjoyed flying with us today, and we thank you for choosing American Airlines.  And we hope the white noise wasn't too much for our back of the plane passengers."

Val and I erupted into laughter again.  The captain buzzed over the intercom one more time.

"That's just an inside joke today, folks.  Flight attendants, prepare for landing."

Once the plane landed, Val and I had to reintroduce ourselves to the captain.  "We couldn't help but overhear your messages!" 

The pilot laughed.  We handed him our respective business cards.  "We're bloggers," Val said. 

"Would it be okay if I wrote about this?" I asked.  "I don't want to break any rules."

"Sure.  I'm with it.  I am on Facebook.  I don't know much about the Twitter thing, but I am pretty savvy for a guy over 50."

We actually stood there for over ten minutes, talking about Twitter with the pilot of our flight. 

That has to be the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me.

April 07, 2009

Diabetics Running Amuck in New Haven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 11, 2009

Diabetes Back in the Day.

Last night, I found a box of old diaries.  I've been keeping a paper journal since I was seven years old and I have so many hardcover journals with cats and flowers and balloons on them, my handwriting maturing as steadily and awkwardly as my content. 

It's strange, though, to see how little focus I put on diabetes in my previous journaling.  Most of my earlier journals (eight, ten years old at the time) talk about a boy I had a crush on in fourth grade or roller skating on the weekends or battling with my brother and sister.  But there were a few entries in particular that spoke to life with diabetes.  And while I'm not quite ready to recount the long, dramatic entry about my first kiss (gah!), I wanted to share snippets of my diabetes diary from my teenage years (these entries are from when I was 14 and 15):

May 13, 1993:  Beavis and Butthead is over.  It was strange, because they were in school and in home economics.  Their assignment was to carry around a back of sugar as a "baby." But Butthead said he couldn't do it because he was "diatetic."  The teacher reprimanded him by saying, "That's DIABETIC, and yes you can do this."  I'm not exactly sure why, but that comment bothered me.  Alot.  I think it's because I'm so sensitive about being a diabetic.  It makes me wonder how handicapped people feel about 'HandyMan' on In Living Color.  If I feel offended about an off-handed comment, how would someone else feel about a recurring segment?

Was this one of the first moments of diabetes in the mainstream media that I can remember?  I honestly can recall being affected by this, and wishing Butthead had said "diabetes" correctly. 

June 27, 1994:  Today, my mother was talking with [name redacted] about diabetes camp and I couldn't help but overhear.  She said, "As soon as Kerri left, we all relaxed and lead a normal two weeks free of worries and medical stuff."  Am I a burden to my family?  Do they resent my diabetes?  Do I have a "normal" life? 

This isn't to call my mother out for saying this.  I've heard a lot of parents say the same thing about the weeks that their child is away at diabetes camp.  Diabetes requires parents to think on their feet all the time, so the reprieve of having their child away and under constant and capable medical care must have been such a nice break. 

Funny - I've always wanted a break from it, too.

July 6, 1994:  I leave for Clara Barton Camp on Sunday.  I love camp.  We are all incredibly goofy and loved.  It is such a cool feeling to have people who understand it to talk to.  Sometimes I feel alienated at home because I am the only diabetic around.  No one seems to understand the emotions I feel concerning diabetes.  I am frustrated and angry sometimes, and other times I feel bad for myself.  Sometimes I even want sympathy, and that's confusing because I say I don't want to be treated differently at the same time.  It's weird, though, because I want to be able to control every aspect of my health, so when my health emotions get all crazy, I feel like I'm going nuts.  At least at CBC I'm not the only one who feels that way.  If I tried explaining that to my friends, they'd look at me like I was nutso.

Ah, my longing for a diabetes community, even before I knew there would be one online.  :)

And this paper was shoved into my diary from 1991, written on school paper and smelling softly of pencil boxes and recess.  It speaks volumes about how much a 12 year old kid grasps about guilt and diabetes:

A 12 yr old's diabetes to-do list.

It's a lot to carry.  I felt so alone.  And as I read through these diaries late into last night, I was again grateful to know I'm not the only person out there living with this.  The power of this community is tremendous.  I also realized how everything has changed, but at the same time, nothing has changed.

(And some embarrassing diary snapshots coming soon ... once I get the guts!)

January 06, 2009

Holiday Train Show.

Last month, Chris and I found out about the Holiday Train show in the NY Botanical Garden.  But due to traveling home to Rhode Island every few days, we decided to put off this excursion until January.  You know, when we'd have more time.

So on Sunday, we got an early start and arrived at the entrance gate around noon thirty.  "Two for the train show, please." 

"Next tickets are available at 5:15."

"Excuse me?"

"Whoops, 5:20."

Quick Sparling conference.  

"Okay, fine."

So here's the tricky part: How do two (quasi) adults spend four and a half hours in a freezing cold botanical garden in the dead of winter? 

Goofing off.  In anticipation of this train show, we puttered around and looked at every dead branch in the damn place.  We rode the freezing cold tram ("And on your left, you'll see the magnificant magnolias in bloom ... in June.") and looked at sculptures that resembled the Beetlejuice table that comes to life.  We hid out in the library and pretended to explore the "jungle."  We even  weaseled in to the Gingerbread Exhibit and spied on the impressive gingerbread houses (this bakery was my favorite), but after all this, there were still more hours to kill.

"Coffee?"

"Sure."

So then we stopped at every cafe in the garden for a cup of coffee.  As 5:20 drew closer, I was so buzzed on caffeine that I couldn't keep my hands from fluttering around like little birds.  "Want to see the trains?  The trains?  The trains?*"  (*Note to self.  Stop drinking so much coffee.  You're starting to tweak.)

Thanksfully, we finally saw the trains.  And I thought the whole exhibit was pretty cool.

Holiday Train Show in NYC

The intricasies of the models were very impressive.  Even peering closely into the buildings, the windows seemed like they could open and reveal a fully-furnished living space.  I'm amazined at dollhouses and train sets and anything that replicates life in miniature.  Show me a tiny tea set and I'm amused for hours.

Train in the tunnel.
 
We have a video of this train somewhere, and I just have to upload it.  But this train in particular was cool because it passed through this tunnel lined with Christmas lights. 

Kerri at the train show.

And even though the light was tough to photograph in, Chris managed to snap this shot of me in front of the Rockefeller Center replica.  (And despite my over-caffeinated state, I managed to stand still long enough.)

If you are in the NYC area and have a chance to check this out, do!  And if you have already seen it, I'd love to see your pictures.  (Here are mine.)  And (I've had too much coffee today, too, as you can tell) if you know of any other train displays or miniature stores, or similar, tell me!  I love that stuff and am always looking for somewhere else to explore! 

October 28, 2008

Prepping For Halloween.

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

The impressive pumpkin patch

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

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

King Neptune, the PumpKing?

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

We thought this one was cool.

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

October 20, 2008

Crumbs Sparling. (Different from Crumbs Morrone)

The weekend weather was so excellent that we had to take advantage of it.  On Saturday, we took the quick train ride into NYC with a Chris-driven agenda:  hop on a row boat in Central Park and then devour cupcakes at Crumbs Bakery on Amsterdam.  (He saw the idea written up in InFlight magazine last week, and tore out the page.  We're easily persuaded, as a couple.  The mere mention of cupcakes is enough to send us on a cross country adventure.)

Kerri at the Bethesda Fountain in NYC

We stopped by the Bethesda Fountain (near the Boathouse), which I recognized from photos I've seen online but hadn't ever scoped out in person.  The park was busy, thanks to the beautiful weather, but we managed to grab a few photos.

View from the boat

I did not know you could rent rowboats in Central Park and tool around the Pond.  Chris rowed, rowed, rowed our boat and I did my best not to tip the boat over.  And after all that work rowing (and trying not to fall in), we had worked up quite an appetite.  It was time to bring on the cupcakes!  Trying to guesstimate the carbohydrate content in this sucker was an adventure in and of itself.  

Holy cupcake

"Maybe sixty?"

"Dude, a bagel has eighty-five.  I'm going to guess at least sixty-five."  I cranked up the pump to six and a half units, knowing that the frosting alone was more than my daily carb allowance.  (But it was DELICIOUS.  Easily the tastiest cupcake I've ever had, and almost worth the $4.00 price tag.) 

Dosing for high carb, high sugar dessert treats is always tricky, and I usually over compensate in efforts to avoid the spike.  I bolused and also requested that we walk back to Grand Central (I hate the subway, and I avoid it at every opportunity), which had me chomping on glucose tabs around 56th.

"Thwarted by that cupcake.  I guess I'll have to have another one sometime and see if I can fine tune the bolus."  I'll do my part, even if it means consuming another cupcake or two.  It's for science.

(Crumbs bakery + Kerri Sparling = Crumbs Sparling.  Very different from Crumbs Morrone.)

October 13, 2008

BlogHer Boston.

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

Oh holy YAY new car!

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa Stone and Kerri Sparling at BlogHer

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

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

October 10, 2008

Vroooom!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good weekend!!! 

September 03, 2008

Kerri in the Wild.

Maine was awesome.  Despite the crazy long drive (6 hours from Providence, where we left from on Saturday morning), Acadia National Park was gorgeous and Bar Harbor was the perfect little seaside town to explore.

On Sunday morning, we woke up at 4:33 (Larry Bird) in the morning and drove up Cadillac Mountain to see the sunrise.  According to the geniuses at Wikipedia, Cadillac Mountain is the first place in North America that sees the sunrise.  And we watched that sun come up, all right.  We were exhausted, but it was truly beautiful.

Cadillac Mountain sunrise

After watching the sun rise, we ventured down to Bar Harbor to rustle up some breakfast.  Since it was well before seven in the morning, we had plenty of time to kill.  The views of the actual harbor were so beautiful that we snapped a pile of pictures.

Bar Harbor boats

The breakfast place we found was AWESOME - 2 Cats Inn and Restaurant.  Among the very first patrons that day, we enjoyed an excellent organic breakfast (which included a biscuit with strawberry-flavored butter - so, so awesome) and woke up slowly.  I'd recommend this breakfast joint to anyone.  The service was a little slow, but the food was among the best I've ever had.  And there was a cat sauntering through the dining room, which I thought was cool.  Against health codes?  Sure.  But I don't care.

Best breakfast in Maine!

In Acadia National Park, we drove the Park Loop and tried to see as many parts of the park as we could.  We visited Thunder Hole twice, but the tides were never high enough to experience the full effects of the promised "Thunder."   We had to bring our own waves.  (HA - the puns never stop!)

Thunder Hole - We had to bring our own waves.

The hiking trails were great, too, and my blood sugars seemed to enjoy working out in a different environment.  We did the 3.3 mile loop around Jordan Pond (and yes, we had popovers at the Jordan Pond Tea House) and later in the day, we climbed up Gorham Mountain.  The views were incredible, and being the only people on the mountain at that time of day made us feel like we were real explorers (nevermind the cairns placed on the mountain).  We reached the summit after a hard 0.9 mile hike up.

Kerri conquers Gorham Mountain.

Even camping out was decent - we devoured s'mores (after taking a full hour to make a damn fire) and slept in our tent.  The dirt and I made our peace with one another.  And we have a whole slew of photos on Flickr, if you want to see more of the scenery.

The Internet is intruiging.  Work is comfortable.  And checking out what different cities have to offer is fun.  But being out there in the woods and seeing what nature has to offer - that's a whole different kind of existance.

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 05, 2008

SpiderWoman.

AHHHHHHHHHH!Last night, I started the long trek back to RI for today's Joslin appointment.  I threw my bags into the Jetta, queued up a few good driving cds, and began the drive.  Once I was on the road, I took a few minutes to call my dad back.  We were mid-conversation when I felt a little tickle on my left arm.  I looked over absently and saw an enormous gray spider sitting patiently, wearing what looked like a sweatervest.

"HOLY CRAP!"

"What is it?"

"DAD THERE IS A HUGE SPIDER ON MY ARM OH MY GOD I AM FREAKING OUT."  My voice was at a fevered pitch but I was doing my best to refrain from completely losing it while I was driving.

"A spider?  Just brush it off, Kerri."  I could hear the laugh in his voice.  I was not amused.

"DAD I CANNOT DO THAT.  IT IS LOOKING AT ME."  Panic rising.  The spider laughed.  I freaked out and flung my arm against the window.  The spider yelped, then fell into my lap and ran down my thigh towards my feet.

"DAD, I HAVE TO GO.  I WILL CALL YOU BACK IN A MINUTE.  I NEED TO MELT DOWN FOR A MINUTE." 

He sighed.  "Kerri, keep it together.  Call me back."  He hung up.  I drove on in silence, screams trapped behind my tightly-closed lips.  I took the first exit, drove to a restaurant parking lot, and put the car gently into park. 

Then I threw open the door, half fell out before realizing I needed to undo my seat belt, and stumbled away from the car yelling something that sounded like, "Oh my God what a massive spider AHHHHH! I cannot believe AHHHHHH!  Ewww!!!"

My hands were scraping invisible ceilings above my head.  I kept touching my legs to make sure there weren't spiders crawling around on me.  My ponytail came loose and I was sweating.  Thankfully, there was a truck filled with guys just finishing their construction job parked right next to me.

"Um, miss?  Are you okay?"  The driver stepped cautiously out of the car, putting his hands in front of him and moving towards me slowly.

"I'm fine.  Spider.  There was a big spider."  Breathing hard.  Feeling so, so stupid.

"Is she havin' a fit?"  A voice from within the construction truck, followed by another man murmuring.

"Nope, just a spider.  Miss, do you want me to check your car for the spider?"

I'm sure I looked like a lunatic.

"Yes, please.  Please check.  It is gray and seriously huge.  It's wearing a sweatervest, for crying out loud." 

He laughed.  Two of the guys checked my car while I watched from a safe distance of at least fifteen feet.

"Miss?  There's nothing but these things," one of them lifted their hand up and showed me a collection of used test strips that were cached underneath the passenger seat. 

"No spider?  He was just there!" 

"He's gone now."  AHHHHHHHHHH!

I smoothed my hair back and thanked them with the most mature voice I could muster.  They laughed at me and told me not to worry, because the spider was more scared of me than I was of it.

Somehow I doubt that.

June 30, 2008

Radio City Music Izzard.

Our seats were, admittedly, kind of crap.  But being waaaaay up there in the third mezzanine of Radio City Music Hall wasn't the worst place to be on Saturday night.  I mean, we were in the presence of greatness:  Mr. Eddie Izzard was performing.

The view from our seats.  Gorgeous theater!

Thanks to the power of a wicked zoom lens and the fact that there really is no bad seat at Radio City, Chris and I took in our first Eddie Izzard performance this weekend.  And Eddie was fantastic.  It took him a few minutes to get rolling, but once his act was in full gear, we were hooked on every word.  From musings about keeping gazelles in a bag to a discussion about covering thy neighbor's ox, I realized that Eddie Izzard may be the cleverist comedian on the very planet.

Weird thing is, he wasn't dressed in drag.  Izzard normally performs in drag (see: Dress to Kill), wearing fabulous kimonos, high platform shoes, and a whole pile of make-up.  The first time I saw his act, I was like, "Who is this guy in drag?"  Now it seems strange to not see him dressed in women's clothing.  This past Saturday, he wore a tuxedo jacket and jeans.  No make-up.  He even had a goatee.  (Sorry, Hannah.  No fabulous shoes.) 

Eddie Izzard, that handsome devil.

It felt good to sit there and laugh.  Like the kinds of laughs that errupt out without permission and make you throw your head back a little bit.  We took in the performance, snapped a few pictures as Eddie ran up the platforms so he could bow to us folks up in the nosebleeds, and then had a nice quiet dinner at a place in Chelsea. 

We spent Sunday checking out the Beardsley Zoo and then visiting a few vineyards on the fine CT wine trail (we love the wine trail).  Sunday afternoon ended with us having iced coffees at a java house in the Middle-Of-Nowhere CT (where we caught part of a set by local musician Mike Griffin - surprisingly talented singer, considering we just stumbled upon him playing for a group of five people in this coffee house). 

I love spending time with my husband, disconnected from work and the internet and instead reconnected with each other.  That's the way life should be sometimes.  :)

June 10, 2008

Believe It, Or Not!

A few weekends ago, Chris and I found ourselves wandering through NYC.  Actually, we went to the city with intentions of being all educated and high-brow, venturing into The Met for an afternoon of "Oh, how educational!" and "Wow, my brain synapses are firing like maGarbage cans are art, right?d.  Aren't yours?"  If we were to drink tea, it would be with an extended pinky finger, for certain.

The planetarium was beautiful.  Because I was feeling so damn brilliant, I didn't want to miss any of the exhibits.  As we walked around the Hayden Planetarium, I motioned for Chris to climb the stairs towards another small display.

"Chris, come over here.  There's one more." 

"Kerri, there's nothing over there."

"There is.  Over here."  I walked confidently towards a black silo-shaped exhibit with hole cut out in the top.  Would it be a video of how the planets were formed?  Maybe something about black holes?  Oooh, what if it was about asteroids?  I looked inside as Chris followed behind me and saw ...

Garbage.  

It was a garbage can. 

"Kerri, that's a garbage can."  Chris was starting to smirk.

"I know.  I knew it was a garbage can."  I tightened my grip on my purse and started walking towards the stairs.  He followed, on the verge of laughing.

"You didn't know it was a garbage can, did you."  

I turned to face him.  We were in NYC, enjoying a great museum, all smarty pants.  

"Dude, I had no clue."

We laughed until we cried.  I was laughing so hard that a security guard looked at me and playfully said, "No laughing in the museum."   My gasped response:  "A garbage can ... I thought ... art!"

Recognizing the fact that we are just two ridiculous people, we left The Met and found ourselves at the Ripley's Museum (right next to Madame Toussaud's).  This was way more my speed.  We spent the rest of the afternoon oogling the oddities, including an iron maiden, a sculpture carved from camel bone, and a moment with the tallest guy in the world.

Mr. Robert Wadlow and Mrs. Kerri Sparling

At least considering the garbage can to be an exhibit here isn't much of a stretch.  ;) 

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