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May 14, 2013

D-Blog Week: We, the Undersigned, Pledge to Run Like a Velociraptor is Chasing Us.

Run like this sonofabitch is hot on your heels.We, the undersigned, being of sound body and mind, need to go back to that "being of sound body" bit.  As a person living with type 1 diabetes, my insulin is of the utmost importance.  As is testing my blood sugar.  And don't anyone try to take away my online community or my emotional health may take a dive.  These are the things that keep me healthiest ... but wait a second ... what's missing?

Oh yeah.

EXERCISE. 

We, the undersigned, understand that exercise isn't just for bringing down a high blood sugar.  It's not just "for people who have diabetes."  Exercising your body is something that everyone, regardless of health status, should be attempting to do on a very regular basis.  Sitting at the computer and writing emails?  Necessary for work and financial survival.  But going for a walk - or even a run? - and getting your heart rate up and your blood flowing?  Necessary for the continuation of your life.

As a person with diabetes, I put an undue amount of focus on my A1C level, or on the snapshot blood sugar grinning back up at me from my meter.  These things matter - quite a bit - but there are a lot of other aspects of my health to take into consideration before stamping me with the seal of "good health" approval.  (That seal looks like this.) 

What matters, in addition to these diabetes-related health obligations, is my overall health.  The stuff that matters to most bodies, not just our pancreatically-challenged ones.  Namely, exercise.  

I feel that, growing up with type 1 diabetes, I regarded exercise with too much apathy.  "I have type 1 diabetes - it's about managing my blood sugars and my insulin, and making sure I'm eating foods that don't have a crummy impact on my blood sugars." But having diabetes doesn't make my A1C paramount over all other health issues.  It's part of a bigger whole, but an in-range A1C doesn't cancel out an unfit, untested, under-exercised body.

I petition - or am I pledging?  Hoping?  I petition to let go of the laziness, to make the effort, and to embrace exercise as something just as important as testing blood sugars and taking insulin.  I pledge to keep my body moving, even if I feel too slow, too awkward, too embarrassed, too big, too challenged.  I am hoping that our community can be part of the movement towards movement, a group of people who go against the grain of the laziness that's taken over our country. 

"Oh, you have diabetes?" 

"Yeah, and I exercise all the time.  Even on days when I don't feel like it, or when I'd rather sit in front of the television or muck around on the computer."

We, the undersigned, promise to keep moving.  Keep running, or walking, or swimming, or tennis'ing, or skipping, or yoga'ing, or footballing (of either kind), or dancing, or gardening, or lifting, or cycling.  We, the undersigned, know that our bodies need exercise as much as they need fitness, more than they need cupcakes. 

We, the undersigned, pledge to run like a velociraptor is chasing us.

October 17, 2011

To Palooze.

to palooze: v. the act of people with malfunctioning pancrei and their caregivers coming together for cupcakes, support, and fun

In the last few weeks, I've had the pleasure of meeting some old friends for the first time.  (That may sound like a peculiar sentence, but anyone who is part of the diabetes community and has found themselves immersed in a deep discussion about the emotional impact of this disease with an otherwise complete stranger understands the connection between PWD.) 

A few weeks ago, in Boston, I had dinner with Harry Thompson.  (He's @harrythompson on Twitter.)  Our diabetes is about the same age, and our daughters are, too.  Our spouses are supportive and amazing, and our collective appreciation for a good pun is unparalleled.  We spent a few hours exploring Boston and the North End, and we drank cappuccinos made from an old-fashioned coffee robot.  (More on that some other time, because if I try to explain it here, I'm sure to become confused again.)  But it wasn't weird ... it was comfortable, despite the fact that we hadn't met in person until that night.  Harry is awesome, in every freaking way.  (No photo, though, which I'm regretting.  We just forgot!)

And over this past weekend, I trekked into New York City with Briley and Karen to meet up with Simon and a whole pile of other PWD for what's become this strange Simponpalooza phenomenon.  It's hard to explain how and why people with diabetes forge a friendship that's instant and lifelong, despite differences.  It's harder still to explain to people why a man would want to fly halfway around the world to meet a bunch of strangers. 

But when you see photos, and read people's posts, and see videos, and take into account how much love is found in a disease that hurts so much sometimes, it makes more sense. 

I love that he has, like, a LOGO.
The "tour book," which served kind of as a yearbook for Simon's trip to NYC


Kerri, Jeff, and Briley, and Jeff OWNS this shot.  Owns it.


MOST of the group (because Kelly came running in seconds after the shutter clicked)

Kerri and Simon.  Simon says, "Look happy!"
"Simon says ... be happy!"

Actually, it makes perfect sense.

Thanks for coming to spend time with us, Simon.  And thank you to everyone who writes about the friendships found in the diabetes community.  Diabetes isn't exactly known for "giving back," but the community of people who live with it are

(More photos on Flickr here.)

July 11, 2011

CWD: Catching Up.

With early morning "fun runs" (note: fun never equals run, as far as I'm concerned), non-stop Friends for Life sessions, business meetings, excessive drinking of both the Diet Coke and perhaps a shot of Patron or two (don't judge - humans attend Friends for Life, too, you know), and a severe lack of WiFi in the Coronado Springs Resort down at Disney World, blogging was hard last week.

Actually, I barely acknowledged the Internet last week.  Once I was back in my hotel room each night, I face-planted into bed instead of doing some writing.  But it was amazing to be so present at this year's Friends for Life conference, instead of concentrating on emails and other online messes.  This conference was emotionally exhausting in the most beautiful way, and has completely and utterly revived my diabetes management.  (FFL : diabetes defibrillator as fun : not running?)  I've reconnected with some of my favorite diabetes family members, and met some new ones I have been itching to hug in person for months now.  So much to think about, so much to say, and so, so much coffee is needed to process this stuff.

The words are still queuing up in my head, but today is a travel day, so I'm still not reunited with my office.  However, while my blog collected a little dust last week, thankfully my camera did not. 

 Scott, Kerri, and George at Friends for Life.  They are indeed my "insert conference title here."
Scott, Kerri, and George.  [Insert name of the conference here.]

Creative Muscle 101
Me with Peter Nerothin of Insulindependence.  His organization is one I'm looking forward to sharing more details about here.  He's a brilliant guy with some seriously fashionable pants.

Me and my "first child." 

Sara(aah) and I thought we would wait until we were both completely exhausted and totally beat down to take a photo together.  :)  But we DID it!

Jacquie is awesome.  As you probably already knew.

Meeting Jacquie from Typical Type 1 was a huge highlight for many reasons, but once I realized we shared a common sense of fashion, it was total game on.  (Ann Taylor Loft skirts for the frickin' win.)

Scrumptious ... the FOOD he cooks, you perverts!  Not him!
As a person whose pots and pans are most often clean and covered in a thin layer of dust, meeting Chef Sam Talbot was mostly exciting because he's tall, has type 1 diabetes, and enjoys a good cuss now and again.  While I plan to purchase his cookbook, I am terrified to attempt the recipes and will most likely notify the fire station when I crack the spine of that book.  But PWD FTW once again.  :)

So.  Embarrassing.
And this sad photo.  Of me, stuck in the pouring rain in my CWD rain poncho.  It started pouring in the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, and I didn't notice.  (I was fiddling with my cell phone while waiting for Chris - who flew down on Friday night to enjoy the weekend in Disney World with his frazzled wife - to finish up a phone call in a different area.)  Then the sky opened up, and I ended up stuck underneath an awning for about 20 minutes, strategically positioned underneath a narrow window awning. Chris was across the "street" and safely in a shop, with several dozen people, all facing my soggy, soloist self.  He tossed the CWD poncho across the alley like a life preserver, and people waved at me while I stood there - completely by myself and being pelted by raindrops - across the alley. Most awkward moment, by far, of the whole vacation. 
 

I miss my PWD friends.  And I can't wait for next year's conference. 

November 24, 2010

Feeling Thankful.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the States, and I'm feeling pretty thankful.  While tomorrow is reserved for turning hand tracings into turkeys, today is a good day to highlight what I'm thankful for this year:

I'm thankful that we have a backyard that the cats can go crap in, because I was tired of cleaning that litterbox.  (And I'm also secretly glad that our neighbors have a ridiculous cat that comes over and starts trouble with ours, because when they pile into the bushes out back and cause the shrubbery to vibrate with their Andy Capp-style battles, it cracks me right up.)

I'm thankful for our family and friends, who have helped Chris and I adjust to our new lives as 'parents' and who make "home" a place that matters.  We're so glad to be sharing this chapter of our lives with the people and in the places we love the most.

I'm thankful for having good enough health to take it for granted, and to actually have the luxury of feeling frustrated when I'm "sick" because it's such a foreign concept.

I'm thankful for the wonderful work opportunities that have come up in the last few years, specifically for the companies and organizations that have embraced the voices of patient advocacy and who have decided to become part of the conversation.  

I'm thankful I have an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor that can help me make sense of the holiday meals.  Also known as:  Pie?  Yes, please.

I'm thankful that the lady across the street doesn't judge me when I wander in the front yard to check the mail, clad in workout clothes, slippers, a sloppy ponytail, usually with the baby strapped to the front of me a la Bjorn, my cell phone secured to one ear, pump tubing swinging in the breeze, and an army of cats weaving in and out between the maple trees.  She must think I'm a work-from-home crackhead.

I'm thankful that the Internet has brought a group of fellow PWDs into my life, and that I'm healthier and more informed as a result.  To boot:  I've made some very close friends through these bloggy blogs, and I'm grateful for their friendship every day.  Life is good when you're surrounded by those who don't make their own insulin. (And let's not forget that I'm also thankful for Abby the Person, who already rocks.)

I'm thankful for my husband, who is my best friend, my partner in parenting, my editor, and remains my hero.  And I'm thankful for my healthy and extremely happy baby bird, who wakes up every day with a smile, and helps me to do the same.  I didn't realize how much I missed her until she arrived.

And with that, I'm thankful for video:

November 13, 2010

NYC Meet Up.

After a long day of traveling into the city, and then meeting up with some of the diabetes crew for the Discovery of Insulin exhibit, and then joining a few friends at the JDRF Promise for a Cure Ball in Chelsea, I'm exhausted.  Like super exhausted.  (Like almost fell asleep in the cab on the way back to the hotel only I sort of woke up a little more when I came to the building and saw that they were filming Batman right on the street.  Saw me some quality Batmobile.)

I'll have a post that includes more words later, but for now, here's a photo from today's meet-up:

Diabetes meet up crew in NYC
Diabetes Meet Up crew in NYC, right underneath that really important word up there:  INSULIN

(And Lesley, it was great meeting you!  And I totally meant to get your email.  Drop me a note if you have a minute!)

November 01, 2010

First Walk.

We walk to show that we're in this together.  That we are an extended family of people with diabetes - young and old alike, all living as well as we can with this disease.   That we rally together and celebrate our lives, even when they're ornamented with insulin pumps and glucose meters.  We bring our moms and dads.  Our husbands and wives.  Our friends.  Our children.   It's an event crammed with people who love and who are loved, and we walk because we're part of this diabetes family.

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to this year's JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.  Your support means so much to me and my family!!

And the walk was a great way to kick off Diabetes Month, where (hopefully) the attention of the nation will be turned to diabetes in all its forms.  I know there are many projects and awareness initiatives taking place across the diabetes online community, and I'll do my best to help spread the word here.

In the meantime, BSparl enjoyed her first Halloween on the outside, and she charmed her mommy and her daddy by beaming out some smiles in her pink kitty costume:

Kid cracks me up.

I love being part of her life and seeing her smile every day.  I'm working hard to be around and bothering her for a long, long time.

... we walk because we want people to know there isn't a cure yet.  But there should be.

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 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!)

August 06, 2010

The Friday Six: Writer's Block.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 12, 2010

Diabetic Mommy.

I opened this gift that arrived in the mail, and almost burst into tears because I hope, hope, hope this is the case for my daughter.

Thank you, Lindsay!  For making me feel like I'm going to be a good "diabetic mommy."
(This photo is also part of today's Diabetes 365)

I was thinking about how much planning and effort has gone into this pregnancy, from a diabetes perspective - never mind the regular gearing up that parents-in-training go through.  Chris and I have worked very hard, as a team, to manage my diabetes in efforts to get pregnant, and now that BSparl is in there baking cookies (or whatever it is she does all day), diabetes focus has turned up even higher in our household.

I'm blowing through test strips like a champ, wearing the Dexcom to help me keep track of the constantly-changing numbers, using an insulin pump, trying hard to eat healthy (even though I'm currently weighing the pros and cons of a red velvet cheesecake - recipe link courtesy of my friend Elizabeth Arnold), and making feeble attempts to get a workout in here and there.  Managing diabetes has become, seriously, a full-time job as my pregnancy rockets into the third trimester.

But I wonder what she'll think when she arrives.  And how much things will change.  Will she understand when I need to eat before she does, sometimes?  Will she feel upset if I need a few minutes to get myself together before I'm able to play with her?  Will she think I'm cramping her diaper bag style if I shove my meter in there, alongside her wipes and her binky?  Will she wonder what's wrong with my priorities when I refuse to share my juice box with her on our future playground dates?

Will she understand that even though that t-shirt will only fit her for a few weeks and she may not even remember it, but will she know that her diabetic mommy loves her, and has loved her since the moment she knew she carried her?

(And will she forgive her for all the third-person dialog?  Maybe not.)

I'm heading to Joslin again today, for the first of my four seven-months-pregnant appointments.  Chris and I will see our baby girl through the magic of ultrasounds, and then I'll meet with my endocrinologist to discuss how my body is soaking up insulin like a sponge.  Just a few more months until she's here, in our house, in our arms.

Baby girl, I hope you know how loved you are.

(This is part of a gift from my friend Lindsay, who I've never actually met in person, but I feel like I know, though emails and Facebook and blogging.  Thank you again, Lindsay, for such a thoughtful gift!  BSparl says thanks, too, only I can't really hear here because she's muffled by my enormous uterus.  And potentially the sound of the oven *ding* as her cookies bake.  Who knows?)

February 04, 2010

What Defines Our Community?

What defines our diabetes community? 

At the Smithsonian, there is an exhibit called "Portraiture Now: Communities."  It's described with the following (edited) language:

"How do we define community today? Through new electronic networking, our connections with family, friends and acquaintances are increasingly widespread. And yet, we are still drawn to the idea of small communities and face-to-face interaction. Each of the three painters selected for “Portraiture Now: Communities” has explored this idea through a series of related portraits of friends, townspeople, or families. ... Seen together, the paintings by these three artists suggest the enduring power of personal communities."

I can't remember how I stumbled upon this exhibit, but the idea of it really moved me.  "Community" used to be defined by who lived in your zip code, or who went to your school district, or just what faces passed you in the hallway at work every day.  Back when I was a little peanut, my community was my family (there are a lot of us), my school friends, and my fellow tap dancers from Miss Jeanne's dance class.

Since second grade, I've always been part of the diabetes community.  Back in those days, there weren't many tell-tale tubings sticking out from underneath someone's t-shirt, and kids didn't test as often or as openly in the classroom.  But when another child in my school district was diagnosed, an instant bond formed between he and I, and between my parents and his.  Even if we hadn't met yet.  I had a sparse but crucial community of other Rhode Islander children with diabetes, and when I attended Clara Barton Camp in the summers, my community of "other kids who got it" expanded by leaps and bounds. 

But I grew up, and in those foggy years between 9th grade and my first job out of college, I was alone.  Alone with diabetes, yet still part of the diabetes community.  No one knew I was there, but just hearing someone at school mention "their cousin who has type 1" or "That lady they were waiting on at the restaurant who freaked out when the diet soda was switched - she said she had diabetes," made me feel like I was instantly connected to these imperfect strangers.  

And then I found you guys, drawn in by a desire to not feel alone anymore and wanting to share, out loud, the emotional burden of diabetes that I carried for a very long time by myself.  A whole community of people who were either living with diabetes themselves, or loving someone who lived with it, and who understood exactly what I meant when I said, "It's just ... ugh, you know?"

What defines our diabetes community?  Is it the common thread of syringes and infusion sets and the pile of test strips we leave in our wake?  Is it the shared fear of complications?  The universal celebration of a lowered A1C?  The muttering of "Lows are The Suck," and hearing, "I know what you mean," in return? 


I thought about what a "Portraiture" of the diabetes community would look like.  I pictured all those photographs so many of us have taken over the last few years, the ones that show a bunch of grinning people with their arms around one another.  It's only if you look really closely that you notice the pumps clipped to pants pockets or calloused fingertips.  

"Through new electronic networking, our connections with family, friends and acquaintances are increasingly widespread. And yet, we are still drawn to the idea of small communities and face-to-face interaction." 

Face-to-face interaction is such a huge part of feeling like a community, but it's not the only thing that makes us one.  Whether you want to be part of the diabetes community or whether you are rebelling against the very thought, the fact remains that it's there for you, and will always be there for you.  There's a certain comfort to knowing you aren't isolated or alone.  There are people who understand.  

The definition of our community is found in the people who are part of it.  Each and every one of us:  the bloggers, the lurkers, the medical professionals who care for us, the parents of kids with diabetes, the kids with diabetes who have grown up to become parents themselves, the lovers, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, friends of diabetics, the immediate family members and the ones who are slightly removed, the employers, the employees, the strangers who help us get juice when we can't help ourselves, the friends, Romans, and countrymen of the diabetics ARE the diabetes community. 

It's a far-reaching group of people who share more than just a busted pancreas.  

It's a true community of people who understand, despite different backgrounds and preferences and opinions.  We're in this together, and as I'm preparing to bring my daughter into this community as a "child of a person with diabetes," I'm thankful that she can find support as a caregiver in this sea of people who have been instrumental in helping me achieve the strength to bring her into this world.

November 03, 2009

Taste, Now With More Math!

I think this video is brilliant, and I'm not just saying that because I adore these two fellas.  George and Scott teamed up to create a Making Sense of Diabetes video for TuDiabetes and they focused on taste ... showing how we, as people with diabetes, don't get to taste much of anything without embarkng on some kind of blood sugar testing, carb calculating, math confusion adventure. 

As I said - brilliant.  These guys raise awareness using humor, but boy does this message resonate. See for yourself:

October 09, 2009

Ninjas in the Mail.

We had a package arrive in the mail on our second day in the new place.  A small, brown box without any descriptive markings.

Obviously this was the arrival of our housewarming Ninja.  Courtesy of one Ninjabetic, who spreads his yarny minions around the country.  (He's awesome, George.  We love him!)  And since his arrival, Ninja has been acclimating himself to his surroundings and becoming part of our new place. 

Ninja believes in the importance of exercise, and he's been using the ellipmachine day and night.  And then again in the afternoon.  Ninjas do not sleep.

He keeps his ninja muscles firm.

He's also environmentally-friendly, taking care of the banana plant in our bedroom.  

Ninja loves the greenery.

He's been an excellent influence when it comes to oral care, and he's been stealthily encouraging me to brush and floss ... sometimes threatening me with his ninja stars, but I can deal.  It's for dental health!

Ninja wants me to banish plaque!

Ninja has offered to handle the laundry folding, but he does NOT do the washing.  He doesn't like bleach.  I think he's scared the bleach will leave stains on his gi.

Ninja is good at keeping that one red sock out of the whites.

But his biggest battle so far has been against one formidable enemy, who apparently exists somehow without a brain.  Here, it looks like Ninja is about to be stalked by the Sausage.  But he knows she's there.  

You can't sneak up on Ninja.

He always knows.

Thanks again, SuperG, for this wonderful housewarming Ninja!!!  He's currently hanging out with Syn and plotting world domination.  Chris and I are thoroughly entertained.  :)

August 07, 2009

Karen is Awesome.

When Karen (from Bitter-Sweet Diabetes) was getting ready to go on her cruise, she realized she was tight on pump supplies.  But never fear - Fairfield County Dinner ladies are here!  I had some extra sets I could lend out to her, so she went on her cruise fully-stocked and ready for diabetes battle.

And because she is a sweetheart, she returned the supplies to me (and lent me some IV prep wipe for my trip to Spain) - and also presented me with a little token of thanks.

She made me a Sausage clone.  

Siah meets her Yarn Nemesis
Siah meets her Yarn Nemesis

Siah was not sure what to make of this little gray clone, but she sniffed it for a few minutes before walking away and sitting at the edge of the bed. 

Where she watched the yarn cat for any signs of aggression.

Siah stalks ... herself.
Siah stalks ... herself.

Thank you, Karen, for such a cute gift!  And if you want to check out the pattern for yourself, visit Karen's knitting blog

July 30, 2009

Hanging with the BlogHers.

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

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

Take, for example, this enormous chrome bean: 

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

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

The party at Poppy's.

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

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

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

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

July 29, 2009

PatientBloggers at BlogHer09.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 28, 2009

Weak Arms ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We drove past cornfield ...

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

... after cornfield ...

Photo credit Lee Ann

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

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

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

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

Ha!  Wacker.

"Hee hee.  Upper Wacker."

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

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

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

July 27, 2009

Wait, You Wanted Pictures??

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

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

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

Jolly bloggers

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

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

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

Christi gets tossed.

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

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

So we all met up. 

And goofed off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 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 18, 2009

Working On Working Out.

Way overdue on a new vlog post, but I was inspired by George's post yesterday about getting back on track with exercise.  So here's my vlog post about diabetes, working out, and what motivates me to move.

Some of my reasons are a little goofy, but I think whatever gets me to exercise is well worth laughing at myself a little bit.  What gets you to break a sweat?

June 15, 2009

Old School Diabetes: Diagnosis.

I saw my niece over the weekend.  She just turned seven.  She had a bit of a fever and wasn't feeling very well, so when I saw her snuggled up on the couch under a blanket, she looked every bit the little kid she is.  Poor little peanut, hiding out until she felt better.

I remembered that I was about her age when I was diagnosed.

I found an old school photo from second grade, with me sitting next to my friend Bobby (who I still talk to, which is a very surreal experience, hanging out with someone I've known longer than I've known insulin injections).  I was diagnosed in September, right as second grade started.

Second grade, 1986.
I'm in the blue dress, second row from the bottom, third from the left.
Swinging my feet.  Not much for sitting still, even in second grade.

Over the last few days, I've been reading some emails from the CWD parents as they gear up for the Friends for Life conference in Orlando in a few weeks.  These emails are sent out to a whole mailing list of attendees, and somehow I ended up on the list with all the parents.  (Or maybe the list just happens to be mostly parents and I just happen to be an adult "kid" with diabetes.)  These parents are comparing notes and reaching out to one another, looking forward to other parents who understand what they're going through every day as they care for their kid with diabetes.

And I wish that my mother had this kind of support when she was dealing with my diagnosis over twenty years ago.  My mom had a lackluster team of doctors at the Rhode Island Hospital (where I went for a few months before going to Joslin) and Eleanor (the only other mother of a diabetic kid that we knew of in our town and the woman who just happens to be my local Dexcom rep), leaving her with little to manage the enormous learning curve.

This weekend, I went on a bike ride with my sister-in-law, my father-in-law, and my husband.  I had to remember to test beforehand, bring my meter, stash some glucose sources on several people, and monitor as re rode.  A lot of thought for maybe an hour long bike ride.  And it made me wonder what kind of preparation and worry my mother went through when she sent me out to play for a whole Saturday afternoon.  Lot of work on my mom's part just to keep things normal. 

I forget this sometimes, how many people are really involved in keeping me healthy. 

I need to call my mom. 

(Granted, my diabetes diagnosis hasn't kept me from doing much at all.  And it definitely didn't keep me from being ... um, a bit of a goofball.)

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 08, 2009

Local Support.

Sitting at a table with five other type 1 diabetic women, I ordered a cheeseburger for dinner.

What?!  I didn't eat the bun!  And it was downright delicious.

Last night, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting up with the local diabetic ladies of Fairfield County.  Karen and Erin were there, as well as Julie, Rachel, and Judith.  Six of us at a big, round table being waited on by the world's nicest waitress. 

I was telling Chris - it was so cool and borderline surreal to hear six pumps beeping and six lancet devices shunking and six meters flashing results.  One woman was both diabetic and the mother of a boy with diabetes.  Another was 21 weeks pregnant.  One was about to mark her 30th year with diabetes.  Another was closing in on her second.  We're an eclectic and diverse group of women with different backgrounds and desires and families and lives but there's this one huge thing that we all share - diabetes.

I really appreciate having this in-person kind of support.  It stems from our interactions online, but putting faces and smiles and voices to these email addresses and blog posts really makes me appreciate what this community has become over time.  It's so nice to hang with people who really understand - and who are so much more than their disease. 

And this time we got ourselves some damn photographic evidence!

The Fairfield County Dinner crew
 
Thanks for coming out, ladies, and I'm looking forward to our next dinner!  (I promise to stick to decaf.  And I won't tell that stupid lip gloss story again.  Or the potato one.  Or mention the store down the street from dLife.  I embarrass myself with surprising regularity.) 

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

EDIT:  Is anyone from the Dallas, TX area?  Someone out there is looking for a fellow diabetic to share stories with, so if you're in Dallas, email me so I can link you guys up! 

April 13, 2009

A Little Pick Me Up.

Today was a bad day at work.  Not that anything particularly crappy happened, but I feel like I'm under several deadlines at once and not able to keep my head on completely straight.  Frustrations and to do lists keep piling up.

I returned from an iced coffee adventure (Yes, the iced coffee runs have already started.  No, I can't stop.) to find a priority mail envelope on my desk.  Return address looked a little familiar, but I couldn't place it.

"Who do I know in Minnesota?" I wondered, opening the envelope.

And out spilled three magnets, the first of which made me laugh out loud so hard that people at the Westport train station must have heard me.  Holy bad hearing flashback!!

Holy funny magnet.

Oh you wily Scott Johnson ... you know my affinity for puns, coffee, and hey, something shiny!  Could you be a better bloggy buddy?  

Thank you for such a thoughtful, hysterically funny, and completely unexpected care package!

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.  ;)

April 06, 2009

Bertalan Meskó: Of Genetics and Johnny Cash

Berci Mesko:  The Guy 2.0When it comes to Health 2.0, Web 2.0, and other Stuff 2.0, Bertalan Meskó is The Guy 2.0.  Berci and I have been bantering back and forth for the better part of the last two years, and I'm continually impressed by his dedication to improvement the landscape of health online and also his ability to be a normal guy. 

Kerri:  Berci, you've been a star in the medical blogging community forever (and a friend of mine for several years now), but many patient bloggers may not be familiar with your work.  Can you tell us a little about yourself, on a personal level?

Berci:  You're the first one who didn't start with a question about web 2.0 and medicine. So I will graduate from medical school in Hungary this August, then I plan to start PhD training in genetics because I've been dreaming about becoming a geneticist for almost 18 years now. But in my second life, I work online and try to help patients, medical professionals how to enter the web 2.0 world. That's why I've been running Scienceroll for 2 years and I also launched the first web 2.0 guidance service at Webicina. This service is totally free for patients. Anyway, I love playing football, squash, I'm a movie fanatic and try to learn to play the guitar in order to sing Johnny Cash songs properly.

Kerri:  What is ScienceRoll and what made you start blogging?

Berci:  Scienceroll is a medical blog where I focus on personalized genetics, which is my research topic, and the role of web 2.0 in the future of medicine. I launched this blog because I wanted to share my thoughts on science news and articles with people from around the world. Later it turned out it became my best channel so people with the same interest could find me easily and invited me to give presentations at several conferences and beautiful places (e.g. University of Yale or the centre of World Health Organization). Actually, I can travel a lot due to my work on Scienceroll so I feel quite lucky to be involved in the health 2.0 movement.

Kerri: What is your role in Health and Medicine 2.0?

Berci:  I feel I'm somewhere between medical professionals and e-patients. I think my job is to help them find reliable medical resources and useful web 2.0 tools from quality medical podcasts to educational Second Life sites. Through Scienceroll and Webicina, I really hope I can provide doctors and patients with tips on how to be productive online, which medical blogs to read and which medical communities to join. To achieve my aims, I created free packages for patients such as the Diabetes 2.0 or Depression 2.0 package in which I list the best blogs, blog carnivals, wikis, podcasts and many other web 2.0 tools focusing on a specific medical condition.Diabetes 2.0 package on Webicina

Kerri:  How can patients and doctors use the web to their collective advantage?

Berci:  Doctors can save time and effort by using RSS so they can keep themselves up-to-date in their fields of interest quite easily. Following hundreds of medical journals and websites takes only a few minutes a day. They should also build an online image for themselves as patients tend to do a search for the name of their doctors in search engines. So their practices should be represented online properly.

Patients can find support information about their medical conditions, or can find doctors via the internet. They can meet each other virtually in Second Life, or share their health stories through community sites. I could also mention the personal health records systems that are also going to revolutionize healthcare.

Kerri:  How is it that you are in your early 20's and yet one of the most influential health bloggers in the (dare I say it?) world? What's the key to achieving success as a medical blogger, in your opinion?


Berci:  I have 3-rules: openness, consistency and commitment. You have to be open to new things, that's why I try to answer all the e-mails I receive. Consistency is important, because if you blog regularly, readers will come back to check your content. Commitment is the No.1 rule as if you believe in what you write about, sooner or later, it will work. But to be honest, I think I spend too much time online (mostly at night) so I can be involved in several different projects from Wikipedia through medical blogging/microblogging to organizing medical events in Second Life.

Kerri: What do you see as the future of health and medicine on the web?

Berci:  I believe e-patients will change the way medicine is practiced and healthcare is delivered. E-patients are patients who find information online, want to communicate with their doctors via webcam or e-mail, blog about their health or just share their stories with other patients dealing with the same medical problems.

According to Pew Internet Research, the number of e-patients is exponentially growing, while the number of web-savvy doctors is not, so there will be a huge gap. I try to close this gap by launching the first university credit course focusing on web 2.0 and medicine for medical students. Now it's in the second semester and I hope no students in Debrecen will graduate in 5 years without finishing this course.

Today's physicians and medical students must meet the expectations of e-patients whether they are open to it or not.

Kerri: I know you don't just sit around all day banging away on your computer keyboard - what else do you do, besides shape the medical blogosphere?

Berci:  From morning until the afternoon, I do clinical rotation at local clinics as a part of my last year duties in medschool. In the afternoon, I spend all of my spare time in the genetics lab I've been working in for 2 years. I hope I can publish my research findings this year (my thesis: gene expression patterns of chronic inflammatory diseases). I'm a sport-fan and I like being with my friends so I try to live as normal and full life as possible.

Kerri:  Thanks, Berci!!  See you for tea sometime this fall.  :)

March 31, 2009

Townie Bar Meetup.

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

Four sets of hands fumble for their hardware.

Me:  "I'm on a 522."

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

Erin:  "I've got Minimed, too."

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

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

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

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

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

March 30, 2009

Trading War Stories.

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

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

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

Kerri and Christel, reunited!

(We miss you guys already!!)

January 27, 2009

Not Perfect, Never Claimed To Be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 21, 2009

Diabetes For The Day: Round Four

This past Monday and Tuesday, another dLife coworker volunteered to be "diabetic for the day."  (We'll call him Johnny CoWorker for the purposes of this post.)  He wore an infusion set (sans needle), a "pump," and tested his blood sugar throughout the day.  But in addition to the physical hardware of diabetes, I spoke with Johnny CoWorker about the emotional aspects of diabetes, citing how vulnerable highs and lows can make us feel, what the feelings/food conundrum is like, and what it's like to manage a chronic condition not just for the day, but for a lifetime. 

He asked a lot of questions.  And he listened.  This is his feedback about his experience with diabetes for the day:

Kerri:  You wore a “pump” and tested your blood sugar throughout your day with diabetes.  How did you feel about these devices?

JC:  The pump was not an issue for me, it was slightly weird getting used to it and when I had to decide what to wear for work. Other than my kids asking me what the wire attached to me was, I didn’t notice it.

I got the hang of testing after a little bit, and was very interested in how working out or what I eat affected my numbers.  A couple of times I got a bleeder and it stung and then one time I had to prick my hand four times to get enough blood to get a reading (rookie!).  I felt in tune with my body and was intrigued to learn my numbers each time.

Diabetic For the Day!

Kerri:  You wore the pump all day and overnight.  Was it comfortable?  How was sleeping with something attached?  Showering?  Was it difficult to dress for?  Did you almost drop it into the toilet at any point? 

JC:  Definitely the decision of what to wear was interesting – a button down shirt tucked in where the wire would be sticking out of my shirt or a sweater where the wire can easily go into my pocket.  I choose the sweater to avoid the tugging of the wire.  Relaxing, sleeping, and showering was much more comfortable than I expected.  When I bent over to tie my shoes, I caught the injection site the wrong way and it pinched, I can only imagine what that would of felt like with a needle injected.
 
Kerri:  How did testing your blood sugar affect the way you thought about food? Did you find the blood sugar testing to be painful? How comfortable were you with the process?


JC:  I ate healthy all day so no big swings high or low, but I was very cognizant of testing before I ate and then two hours after to see what affect the food had on my numbers.

A couple of times it was painful.  Initially when I first started I thought if I had to do this all the time I wouldn’t mind.  But as the day wore on I found it to be more of a burden to do and was struck with the realization that this was a 24 hour experiment for me vs. a lifetime for many others.
 
Kerri:  How did the blood glucose numbers make you feel? Did any of your results make you raise an eyebrow? 

JC:  Luckily no, I exercised and ate well all day so my numbers where in a range of 83 – 121, which I was pleased with.
 
Kerri:  Do you feel as though you have a better idea of what life with diabetes is like?  What else would you want to know?  What are you grateful for not knowing?  

JC:  I think I do, but I don’t know that I can truly appreciate what it would be like for others unless “I had” to do all of this.  I would be interested in learning more about if I had a heavy carb meal (like my favorites – pasta or pizza) and what that might of done to my numbers.  I am grateful that I don’t have to know how food, exercise, or stress effects how I feel on a daily basis.
 
Kerri:  Did this experiment make you appreciate your health any more?  Less?

Continue reading "Diabetes For The Day: Round Four" »

November 30, 2008

Fin NaBloPoMo.

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

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

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

November 09, 2008

SUM Diabetes Blogging.

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

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

November 08, 2008

Do You Disclose?

Do you tell people about your diabetes? How do you handle disclosure when it comes to employers, casual acquaintances, friends, and romantic relationships? Are you the type to slide it in there - "Hi, I'm Kerri. I'm recently married and I work in health media. I have a couple of cats and... hey, what's that over there? Ihavediabetes. Anyway, I also love Italian food." - or do you have in-depth conversations with people about your disease?

Disclosure is one of those tricky parts of diabetes management that doctors and certified diabetes educators don't often bring up, and it's this month's SUM Musings column over at diaTribe.  Check it out, if you have a minute, and enjoy this rainy and chilly fall Saturday!

November 03, 2008

Diabetes Crush.

I have to admit it:  I have a diabetes crush.  He is funny, upbeat, realistic, and is easy to identify with.  I've watched all his dLife segments and I think I speak for the entire dLife editorial team when i say, "Jim Turner ... sigh ... he's the best!"

And he came into the office on Friday, just in time to see us all decked out in our Halloween finest.  (Note:  I managed to ditch the red riding hood cape for the picture, but others weren't as quickly uncostumed.  The coworker on my left doesn't usually have this fluffy hairdo, for example.) 

Jim Turner and the dLife Editorial Crew
Swoon. 

Jim Turner has been living with type 1 diabetes for several decades now, but you wouldn't know by looking at him.  He looks healthy, seems happy, and has a wicked sense of humor that makes you giggle at things you didn't even realize were potentially funny.  If laughter is the best medicine, then Jim might be the ultimate endocrinologist. 

And of course he comes in on a day when we're all dressed up like goof balls.  

Thanks for entertaining us for the afternoon, Jim.  We remain your loyal fans!!  

Swoon again. 

October 24, 2008

Le Pals at Les Halles.

I like when worlds collide. 

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

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

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

Kerri, Christel, and Nicole at Les Halles.

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

*          *          * 

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

Have a great weekend!

October 14, 2008

Fran's Diabetes Parade.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 07, 2008

Doodle For Google.

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 02, 2008

A Unified Front.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 29, 2008

Walking The Walk.

Sunday morning, bright and much earlier than I was ready for, I found myself at Cranbury Park in Fairfield County for Connecticut's JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.  Despite the rain and the extremely muggy conditions, Team dLife represented and made me proud to be a part of the crew.

The walk, for some reason, wasn't along a track but instead was along a mild hiking trail.  This was fine for people who were able to traverse the rocky terrain, but for some parents piloting strollers, it was tricky indeed. (Note to CT JDRF:  Maybe you should have called it the JDRF Hike for a Cure?)

I had the pleasure of being escorted by my co-worker's daughter, who is four years old but wise well beyond her years.

"Let's go in the wood!  We can camp in the woods.  I saw a movie about bears.  And snakes.  I saw a snakes movie.   Hey, there's a path - let's go that way and we can camp in the woods overnight!"

"No way!  Your mom would be mad if we went camping without telling her.  And why do you have so much energy?  Did you drink a whole pot of coffee this morning?"

"I drank ten pots of coffee." She turned to be and gave me a 1,000 watt grin.

I believed her. 

Team dLife 2008!

Working at dLife, as a person with diabetes myself, is a unique experience because I walk the walk and talk the talk.  But at the JDRF event on Sunday, it was nice to see everyone walking the walk, right alongside me.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the walk, and onward to the RI JDRF walk on October 26th!

September 19, 2008

Arghhhh, Me Hearties.

The Friday Six:  September 19, 2008 edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 18, 2008

The Swell Season in Central Park.

I play all tough sometimes, but in reality, I'm a complete softie.  Smiling babies warm my heart.  Sunrises fill me with hope.  The majestic beauty of the sharks at the aquarium make me all moody, for crying out loud.  I'm ridiculous. 

Glen Hansard of The Frames / The Swell Season

Some songs give me uncontrollable goosebumps.  Music is one of those things I need to have while writing, thinking, working ... living.  Last night, Chris and I and two of our friends went into the city to see The Swell Season in Central Park.  I've seen Glen Hansard perform with The Frames several times, and he performs with the kind of passion and convinction that would cause me to vote him President of Everything, should such an election come up.  And Marketa Irglova, his co-star in the movie Once, brought nothing short of the same passion.

Listening to music under the stars in Central Park ... hell of a way to spend a Wednesday night. 

September 16, 2008

Twenty Nine.

"Are you ..."The bond of diabetes between strangers.

"Yes.  Hi!  Are you ..."

"I am!"

When people who have never met before, yet know one another from the blogosphere, suddenly collide in person, it's always a fun mix of awkward, comfortable, and excited.  And last night I had the wonderful opportunity to have dinner with Karen from Bitter-Sweet Diabetes, R (who I have met several times before), and a woman I will call MW (for "MathWhiz" because she is good with numbers and I am absolutely not).

I've mentioned it before, but the diabetes connection is an instant and easy discussion, helping people who otherwise may have nothing in common to talk freely and comfortably about something that is a huge part of their lives.  Karen, R, MW, and I had trouble ordering our dinner because we were so busy chatting that we barely cracked open the menus.

What was really interesting to me was that MW was 29 years old, like me.  But unlike me, she was diagnosed 6 months ago.  I couldn't stop thinking about that.  R and Karen, also diagnosed as children, have spent most of their lives living with diabetes and for the three of us, life has always included diabetes management.  For MW, diabetes and all its bits and pieces were new to her life.  Life before diabetes for me is something I can barely remember, and it was all I could to do keep myself from quizzing her:  "How do you feel now that you have diabetes?  Do you feel like everything is different?  Do you feel like your life is completely restructured?  Do you remember sometimes that you didn't always have to do this stuff?"  I had to exercise restraint and keep myself from asking all the questions that were floating around in my head.

Diagnosed as a kid, this is just the way things have always been.  Soccer games always started with a glucose check, bedtime always involves a glass of water and a bottle of juice, and now, each skirt hopefully comes with a small, conveniently placed pocket.  For people who were diagnosed as adults, I can't imagine how their lives have changed.  Some people will say that being diagnosed as a kid is easier because you grow up with this disease and it becomes your "normal" without much effort.  Others say that an adult diagnosis is easier because you have decades without the disease, thus maybe lowering changes of complications.  From my perspective, I can't even wrap my head around an adult diagnosis.  I only know what I know.  But I am always eager to learn from others.

We sat at dinner long past when the chairs were put up at the other tables and past when the waitstaff was sitting, watching the football game at the bar.  We compared pumps, weighed out the pros and cons of different CGM systems, and when a quiet beep sounded, we all looked quizzically to see which one of us had "gone off."  The diabetes bond was enough to bring us to the table, but it was the company of kind people and easy conversation that kept us there.

September 10, 2008

Diabetes For The Day: Third Edition.

I've said it before, but I must say it again:  my co-workers are a rare breed.  They are funny, brilliant, and they actually care about making a difference in the lives of people with diabetes.  Another co-worker took the Diabetes For The Day challenge, and wrote about what it was like to test all day and wear the newest version of the "faux pump."  (This one was a definite upgrade from the Kool-aid box of yester-post.  We used a Freestyle flash meter as "the pump" and taped an infusion set, sans needle, to the back of it.)  Here's her take on a day with diabetes.

Meter, with infusion set attached, serves as a pump for our experiment.

Kerri:  You wore a “pump” and tested your blood sugar throughout your day with diabetes.  How did you feel about these devices?

Co-Worker:  At first I thought it was kind of fun to know what my blood sugar was, but after maybe the second prick, the novelty wore off. It hurt and seeing my numbers go up and down freaked me out. The pump was a huge pain. At work it wasn’t embarrassing but outside of the office, I felt like everyone saw it and wondered about me.

Kerri:  You wore the pump all day and overnight.  Was it comfortable?  How was sleeping with something attached?  Showering?  Was it difficult to dress for?  Did you almost drop it into the toilet at any point?  ;)  

CW:  It was relatively comfortable, comfortable enough that I would forget about it until I caught the tube on something and felt the yank on my “infusion point”. I was nervous about sleeping with it since I don’t own pajama bottoms with pockets but I was able to tuck it under my pillow. I slept fine but woke up with the pump halfway across the bed. I wore pants with pockets the day I had my pump so I didn’t have to worry about where I would stick it. However, I wear a lot of dresses and I could see that being a big pain. I didn’t drop it in the toilet but only because I was paranoid that I would.

The infusion set, without the needle inserted.
My co-workers put up with a lot from me, and they even wear fake pumps to help them understand.

Kerri:  Did physical evidence of diabetes (i.e. wearing the pump) make you feel self-conscious?

CW:  At work, I felt normal, even proud of what I was doing. However, the second I left, I felt awkward, especially when a friend nearly pulled it out and I had to explain what it was and what I was doing. 

Kerri:  How did testing your blood sugar affect the way you thought about food?

CW:  It made me aware of how many carbs I eat and that it is probably contributing to the fact that my blood sugar was all over the place. It also made me less likely to snack because I wanted to avoid testing.  I remember thinking, "A piece of candy is already in my mouth before I think about testing. Did I just mess up? Man, this is annoying. Diabetes sucks."

Kerri:  Did you find the blood sugar testing to be painful?  How comfortable were you with the process?

CW:  After the first or second time, I started to really wince every time I had to test. The sharp pain only lasts a moment but it made my fingers sensitive and bruised. I felt pretty comfortable with the process because I’ve tested before and I’m not afraid of blood or needles.

Kerri:  How did the blood glucose numbers make you feel? Did any of your results make you raise an eyebrow?


CW:  My blood glucose numbers made me feel anxious. I was like a roller coaster, relatively high and then a few hours later, relatively low. If I hadn’t had Kerri around to reassure me, I would have freaked out.  After a bagel with cream cheese and an iced coffee with Splenda, two hours later I was at 141. I panicked. 141, that’s bad! (Right, except you have a pancreas, give it a second woman). Kerri assured me that I was fine. 

(Editor's note:  Her blood sugars hit highs of 140 mg/dl after a high carb lunch.  So "high" by her standards was a little different than my highs.)

Kerri:  Do you feel as though you have a better idea of what life with diabetes is like?  What else would you want to know?  What are you grateful for not knowing?

CW:  I still don’t think I have a clue what it must be like. I did it for one day. I didn’t change my diet, I didn’t have to take action when my numbers went out of their normal range. I can’t imagine having to test every day. Given that experience, I would rather not know any more.

Kerri:  Did this experiment make you appreciate your health any more?  Less?


CW:  It made me appreciate my health tremendously. That my body functions and regulates things on its own is a blessing most people don’t take notice of.

Kerri:  Do you think other people who are close to diabetes, but aren’t diabetic themselves, should spend a day as a diabetic?


CW:  I think everyone should.

Kerri:  Anything else you want to add?


CW:  Kerri is pretty awesome. (Editor's note:  YAY!)  And diabetes sucks.  (Editor again:  Word.)

September 08, 2008

Code Word - "Shoot Up."

Code word:  Shoot up!We know we have a special language - it's been confirmed in several editions of dTOES - and almost all of us in this community recognize the different terms.

But sometimes, those terms drop from the mouths of our friends, and the sound always amazes me.

Like yesterday morning, I was having a marathon phone conversation with Batman, and she mentioned that she told one of her co-workers about me having diabetes.  "I was like, yeah, Kerri is a type 1 and she wears an insulin pump ..." and she kept talking but the phrase "a type 1" stuck in my head.  Batman and I don't talk about diabetes much, but she's one of my closest friends and this language has become part of her vernacular almost by osmosis. 

It's my diabetes and my disease to manage, but my closest friends and family members are so tuned in to it that they don't even notice anymore.  Needles in my purse are par for the course.  Looking at me and casually mentioning, "Ker, your wire is out," happens all the time.  "Whoa, that'll empty out a pump," after seeing a huge dessert delivered to a table.  Smooshed granola bars and stashes of juice boxes have found their way into everyone's glove compartments, and I'm not even sure they realize it.  Numbers like 98 and 112 become amusing - "Hey, that's like a perfect blood sugar!" - and people's mentions of "juvenile diabetes" are quickly corrected as "Yeah, they used to call it that but now it's type 1 diabetes." 

"Oh my gosh, that looks delicious  You think like 40 grams of carbs?"
"Dude, let's go in the water.  Throw your pump in the cooler!"
"We've got everything we need for the hike:  water bottle, sunscreen, and sunscreen." 

They "get it," but the best part is that they don't realize how much they've "gotten it."  Their level of understanding is so intrinsic and instinctive that they barely notice. 

I rely on these people so much.   My meter gives me blood sugar results and my pump delivers life-sustaining insulin, but my emotional health is nurtured and cared for by my outstanding support team.  It blows my mind to think about how many people are really needed to keep me healthy.  My endocrinolgist and my primary care physician monitior my physiological progress and keep me steeped in information.  My ob/gyn keeps tabs on my reproductive system and helps me prepare my body for baby.  My retinologist watches out for those pesky eye issues.

But there's so much more than just the doctors with initials after their names.  There's my mom and dad remind me that regardless of how old I become, I'm still their daughter and still their worry.  My brother and sister, who know how to support without smothering.  My close friends, who make sure my life is as free as theirs, but just in case, they keep juice at the ready.  And my husband, who loves me in sickness and in health, not letting diabetes define our relationship - or us.

"Oh, the food's here.  Time to shoot up."  

That's a phrase only a diabetic, or a person who cares for a diabetic, would understand.

August 26, 2008

Corn On The Carb.

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

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

*   *   * 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*   *   * 

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

July 28, 2008

CWD: My First Time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside:  "You are still YOU."

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

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

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

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

Thanks for the warm welcome, CWD. 

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

SUM Tags: , , , , ,

July 21, 2008

Blue Bird of Happiness.

We drive.  Friday night, after taking in the new Batman movie, we hopped in the car late at night and drove home to RI.  (Late-night driving means less sleep but also means less traffic, and we'll take the latter, thanks.)  Saturday morning had me at the beach with a few of my college roommates, then dinner out with family on Saturday night, then breakfast with Batman (my friend, not Christian Bale), then a cookout at my mother's house on Sunday afternoon.

It sounds like a lot of driving because it IS a lot.  Chris and I try to connect with as many of our friends and family as possible when we come home on the weekends because we don't have the opportunity to see them for several weeks on end.  Connecticut, though filled with career opportunities for us both, doesn't have much in the way of family.  And lately, family and friends are something I've been missing tremendously.

I've hit a very rough patch, diabetes-management wise.  My A1c came back the highest it's been in five and a half years, and I didn't take the increase with any grace at all.  Even though I can attribute the rise to wedding chaos and honeymoon laziness, I still felt so disappointed.  In addition to an elevated A1c, I've also been diagnosed with a disorder called Factor V Leiden, which can cause blood clots and has forced me to change some of my routine (read: birth control pills are now a no-no).  Despite the fact that this disorder is unlikely to cause problems, it's still a new blip on my health radar and contributed to my feeling of "eh" last week.  I was feeling overwhelmed with health concerns, frustrated with insurance issues for the Dexcom, and pretty damn grumpy.  Crumbs Morrone ... er, Sparling.  Crumbs Sparling.

I needed some time with friends and family this weekend, to help take the edge off a roughish week.  And it worked.  Yesterday afternoon, I was hanging out in my mother's yard, taking pictures of her garden.  My mom is very whimsical and a little silly, and her yard is crammed with flowers and these strange little garden critters that she finds from the Christmas Tree Shop:  small ceramic ducks, little turtles, and garden gnomes.  It sounds like her lawn is littered with trash, but these creatures aren't just flung about haphazardly.  They're carefully placed, hidden between hydrangea bushes and underneath rhododendrons.  You have to look for them to find them.

Bluebird of Good Health 

I came across a big, fat, ceramic bluebird yesterday.  It was in her front lawn and guarding an azalea bush.  

"Bluebird of happiness!"  My mother came by, checking out what I was photographing.

"I see that."

"Well?  Doesn't it make you happy?"

I thought for a minute.  I felt revitalized after being socially reconnected with my friend and family.  I felt ready to make the medical changes necessary to accommodate the new condition and to take change of my diabetes management once more.  I felt loved.  Supported.  Happy.

"It does, Mom.  That fat bird totally makes me happy."  She grinned at me. 

Onward, right?  All I can do is get over the bad news and move forward towards something better.  Good health is one day at a time.

July 03, 2008

Diabetes For The Day.

Working in a diabetes company means understanding the culture and responsibilities of a person with diabetes.  This is easy for me, because I'm a person with diabetes.  But not everyone at work is living with diabetes.  My fellow employees work with diabetes every, but they don't live with it. 

People at work have taken a very active interest in becoming more familiar with the diabetes lifestyle - more than just understanding the "facts" of this disease.  They ask questions about the pump, or different insulins, or what a CGM does.  They ask how things "feel."  One of my co-workers decided to have "diabetes for the day," which included him testing his blood sugar several times and wearing a pump infusion set (minus the cannula - just stuck to his abdomen for "the feel" of it) attached to a makeshift "pump."  He spent the day thinking about carbohydrate intake, blood sugar results, and the constant presence of a device, in efforts to better understand the community he's trying to help.  Here's his feedback:

Kerri:  How did testing your blood sugar affect the way you thought about food?

Co-Worker: 
I'd love to say that I'm a changed person and that I look at the world through different eyes having worn the shoes of someone with diabetes for a day.  Truthfully I think it was the inconvenience pain of testing that caused the greatest hesitation and re-jigging  for me.   The event that caught me most off guard was when I returned home from work and passed up having a cookie before dinner.  My inner dialog went something like,  "Mmm cookies.  Wait, I'd have to test first.  Kerri said I had to test before eating anything.  Hmm.  I'm going to be eating dinner in an hour so I'd probably have to test twice.  BUT.  If I have it with dinner, I can test just once ... I think I'll wait."

I have to say, all those fake sugars [note from Kerri - he's talking about artificial sweeteners] are really yucky and drinking mostly plain water is no fun.   Give me my plain sugar in my coffee.  If I had to inject insulin (saline) I think it might have really changed the way I thought about food because it would have forced me to do more calculations and understand what I was putting into my body (both the food and the insulin).  With just testing, I only had to make simple yes/no decisions.  Maybe next time I'll get wired up for a pump.  Shooting actual syringes saline ... am I getting paid to do this?

Kerri:  Did you ever feel inconvenienced by the presence of the meter or the "pump?"  How so?

CW: 
Having the meter/pump on my belt wasn't too conspicuous as I think it looked a lot like a geeky cell phone belt clip.  (And I'm pretty geeky.)  However, I did almost drop it into the toilet once.  Unlike a cellphone, it's wired/tubed to me which created a bit of a juggling act and not one you're likely to see at the circus.  Thankfully all my years of playing frisbee came in handy and I was able to prevent a very embarrassing accident.  (Since it was just a meter it wouldn't have been too costly.)

I also think that if I wasn't at a place where we talk about diabetes everyday, I might have been a bit more self-conscious.

Kerri:  How did the blood glucose numbers make you feel?  Did you associate any "guilt" to a higher number?  Did any of your results make you raise an eyebrow?

CW:
  Since I knew that my body could "handle" the swings I wasn't too worried and thus not too guilty.  (I had pizza for lunch and pasta for dinner ... and two cookies.  Something that I don't think would be part of a typical menu for someone who was managing their BG.)  I did have some pretty high swings and it did make me realize that keeping your BG within an acceptable range is not a passive act that can be programmed like a thermostat and left on auto-pilot.  There's a constant feedback loop that occurs and I don't think a CGM talking to a pump would be able to easily and reliably handle the delicate balance.  (And that's coming from a programmer.)

Kerri:  Do you feel as though  you have a better idea of what life with diabetes is like?  What else would you want to know?  What are you grateful for not knowing?


CW: 
I think what I experienced is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  I was forced to stop and think a few times, but I didn't have to pay the "penalty" of being careless and I knew in the morning it would all be over.  Sort of like playing with tasers without the batteries.  "Don't fake taser me, Bro!" 

I am a bit curious as to what a high and low are like.  Is it similar to being hungover?  Like having a bad flu?  Is it worse than a papercut between the fingers?  (I really hate paper cuts.  How can something so small hurt so much?  I'll inject saline before getting a papercut.)  The insulin pump is still very intriguing to me.  Can you feel the insulin going in?  Can you "feel" your BSL/energy change?

No amount of simulation will ever help me understand what it's like to not be able to just disconnect.  There is no vacation from diabetes.  It doesn't sleep when you sleep.  I can't even imagine that.  Even as I type this, the concept is so foreign to me.

Kerri:  Did this experiment make you appreciate your health any more?  Less?


CW: 
I've been very fortunate and have been very healthy all my life.  I have my scars and stories, but overall I can't complain.  I don't think the experiment changed how I thought of my own health.  I think I appreciate how amazing the human body is to keep everything working properly, but I don't think I'll change any of my habits as a result of the experiment.  Don't get me wrong.  I'll continue to watch my weight and try to eat healthy food.  (I haven't been to a fast food joint, except to use the bathroom, in over 15 years.)   But it's about my general health and well being, and not specifically as a way to prevent type 2 diabetes.

The experience will stay with me longer than the lancet marks on my fingers, but I would not classify it as life-altering.  Something well worth the time and I'd recommend that other participate in the experiment.

June 02, 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Sparling.

Photo courtesy of Erick Browne Photography.  All rights reserved.The night before my wedding, NBF and Batman holed up in a hotel room with me, keeping me company and aiming to keep me sort of sane. 

"What if I fall on my face while walking down the aisle?  You guys know me - this is sort of likely."

"You won't fall on your face, Kerri."  Batman stuck her tongue between her teeth as she helped to touch up my nail polish.

"I could.  This is me we're talking about here.  I know I'm marrying the right guy and I know I love him, but I'm scared to death I'm going to take a digger in the middle of the church."

"You.  Will.  Be.  Fine."

I fell asleep with a racing, panicked mind and my nerves all bundled up. 

But the next morning, I woke up to bright spring sunshine streaming in through the window and a feeling of serenity.

"I'm getting married.  Today!"

NBF was throwing her clothes into her bag.  "You ready, future Mrs. Sparling?"

I grinned at her.  No more nerves.  I was a tumble of excitement and unexpected calm.  "Let's roll."

The morning cruised by on fast forward.  We stopped for iced coffee.  We filled NBF's car with sequined shoes, hair curling irons, make up bags, and bridesmaid dresses.  And since it was nine o'clock on the morning of my wedding, of course we blared "Baby Got Back" and sang along as loudly as we could.

We met up with my mother, my cousins, and the fine ladies in my bridal party at my aunt's house, where we spent the morning drinking coffee, doing our make up, and having our hair coifed by The Fabulous Liz.  Even though everyone was twittering about and fussing over different details, the world still had this warm, calm center to it.  The whole morning was a whirlwind, ending with my mother helping me into my beautiful , ivory-colored wedding gown and all of us scurrying into the white stretch limo outside of the house.

In a blink, we were at the church.  My bridesmaids guided me down a long basement stairway so I could enter the doorway at the bottom floor of the church, keeping me from being spied by my handsome groom.  Everything was moving so quickly - suddenly I found myself at my father's arm.

"It's time.  Are you ready?"

I nodded.  And the music swelled.

Every moment of our wedding is a crisp and fine-edged memory in my mind.  I remember seeing my college roommates in the church pews.  I remember my mother's face smiling at me as I walked by.  I remember seeing Chris as he stood by the altar and how my whole heart ached with happiness.  I remember our flower girl and ring bearer, nervously grinning as they walked down the aisle.  I remember my MOH's face as she adjusted the train of my wedding dress.  I remember taking his hand and promising to love him and cherish him for the rest of my life.  I remember him taking mine, vowing to love me in sickness and in health, just as he does now. 

And I remember how "I do" melted like cotton candy in my mouth.

"I now pronounce you husband and wife.  Go ahead and kiss your bride."

We kissed.  "We're married!"  We laughed.  We posed for pictures.  We rode in the limo by ourselves and drank champagne and fell in love once more.  We walked in to the reception hall as Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Sparling.  We danced our first dance to "The Luckiest."  We listened as his best man and my maid of honor toasted to our love.  We ate delicious food and cut red velvet cake with butter cream frosting.  We watched as my nephew did his seven-year-old version of break dancing by himself on the dance floor.  We took more pictures, only plenty of these were damn silly. 

With my insulin pump tucked safely and quietly in a pocket at my hip, we celebrated the biggest day of our lives surrounded by our families, friends, and loved ones.  I am so, so blessed to be the bride of this man who keeps me safe and makes me feel loved and takes care of me in a way that keeps my mother from worrying. 

My wedding day was the proudest moment of my life.  I am so happy to be his wife.

(And I did not fall on my face walking down the aisle.  That, my friends, is certainly saying something.)

April 02, 2008

Wedding Shower.

My wedding shower was this past Saturday, hosted by my wonderful bridesmaids and my family in South County, RI.  (Funny story about South County.  There actually is no "real" South County.  RI only hosts five real counties, with South County being something that residents of the southern-most portion of the state just plain made up.   But I've digressed.  Again.)

The shower was gorgeous.  I've posted a whole slew of pictures in my Flickr account (the ones in the Wedding Shower set), with the talented Batman serving as both bridesmaid extraordinaire and photographer.  NBF held down the fort by keeping me sane and keeping track of gifts.  I had the pleasure of my family, Chris's family, and friends from all parts of my life in one room, at the same time.  It was such an honor to feel so much love from so many people all at once. 

The gifts - holy crap are people ever generous. Chris and I received so many nice gifts and so many unexpected surprises, like this absolutely breathtaking quilt, handmade by my very talented Aunt Linda. (More pictures of the quilt to be uploaded later tonight.)  And the special purple frying pan, courtesy of my cousins. 

And yes, there was a hat made out of a paper plate and the gift ribbons.  And yes, I wore it.  :)

But if you want to know why I received a basket of fancy toilet paper, or why packages of Nutter Butter cookies were part of the festivities, you'll just need to skip on over to Flickr and see for yourself.  

Kerri and the Cookies.

THANK YOU to all of my bridesmaids, my family, and my friends who made this day so special for me.   

March 28, 2008

The Friday Six: Weekend Prep.

The Friday Six:  March 28, 2008 editionShannon tells me it's snowing like 8 inches up in her neck of the woods.  My mother reports rain in Providence.  And it's chilly with a side of potential frogs raining down here in Connecticut - what the heck is up with this weather?  Here's the Friday Six for this bizarre-weathered Friday.

As I stated in my earlier post today, Children With Diabetes is now a part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.  See it ... look closer - it's diabetes, right there on the map.  Nice.  I'm excited to see how this will affect the diabetes community on the whole.  Big news!

In other diabetes-related news, April 14th is Raise Your Voice: Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Day!  There's a Facebook event if you haven't seen it already (and it's not hard to "attend," seeing as how this is a virtual event.)  Now that the troops are rallied, all we need is a logo ... and here's where you come in.  Bill over at EatSmart has offered one of his nutrition scales as a prize for our logo contest - that's a $75 value!   Here are the rules:

  1. Design a logo (the size cap is 200 x 300 pixels). 
  2. Include the event name:  "Raise Your Voice!" 
  3. Have fun designing it.
  4. Maybe have a snack while you're designing - apples are tasty.   
  5. Email it to me as an attachment to kerri [at] sixuntilme [dot] com with the subject line "LOGO CONTEST" no later than 3 pm on Thursday, April 3rd
  6. Grin because it's done and submitted.

That's it.  The winner will be decided on Friday morning and Bill (thank you, Bill!) will send you an EatSmart nutrition scale of your very own.

And one last thing on the scale:  After I posted my review of the EatSmart nutrition scale yesterday, Bill over at EatSmart gave me a call and told me that if you guys want to order your own scale, enter "KerriSentMe" into the coupon field during checkout on the EatSmart site and receive 10% off your order.  I thought that was right-kind of him - so if you're thinking about ordering a scale, score your 10% off, damnit!

I know many of you have seen the Gaping Void cartoons (this one is my favorite today), but did you know you can get business cards with these quippy little suckers on them?  I was unaware.  Now I am intrigued.  I like my business cards, but it would be kicking to have something so bizarre.  Food for thought.  And just as a sidenote:  I love these cartoons. 

Tomorrow is my wedding shower.  (Yes, I know I'm not supposed to know, but since I live out of state, I needed to know what day to come home.  So I know it's tomorrow.)  I know I need to be there at noon-thirty.  And I know it will be fun, because with my mother and my terrific bridesmaids at the helm, it's sure to be an awesome time.  Everything is happening very quickly now:  the bridal shower, then bachelorette party, then the last meetings with our vendors, then the rehearsal dinner, then the wedding ... I'm afraid if I blink, I'll find myself on the plane bound for our honeymoon.  I wish I could slow this time down so I could actually enjoy it!  Instead, I will blog it.  (This may be the mark of a blogging addiction.)

And six.  Ahhh, the final moment for me today before the weekend cracks wide open and swallows me.  This morning, at about 3 am, I woke to the sound of scritch scritching, coming from the bedroom floor.  I ignored it at first, thinking that it was just one of the cats lolling around.  But it came again, louder this time:  scritch scritch.  So I leaned up, looked to the floor, and saw Siah completely wrapped up in toilet paper.  She had completely unraveled the roll from the master bathroom, dragged the bulk to the middle of my bedroom, and made a nest in it.  Like an enormous hamster. 

I do not need a dog.  I have a Sausage cat who laughs at me.

March 20, 2008

One Year.

We hiked up the trail to Ram Head, on the southernmost portion of St. John.  We had an intimate dinner on the porch of our eco-cabin

And after dinner, Chris asked me to marry him.

Today marks one year since Chris and I got engaged.  Our wedding is in 59 days (thank you, Facebook countdown that pings me every morning) and we're wrapping up so many of the final details now.  The invitations are being FedEx'd to my office tomorrow morning and we're sending them out on Saturday.  The wedding shower has been planned.  The bachelorette party is ... well, that's in full swing, too.  We've booked our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic.  My dress is having the finishing touches put on the pump pocket next week and I'm choosing my veil this weekend.  We're ordering our wedding rings on Saturday. 

(And I finished my March Madness bracket this morning, just in time for the 11 am deadline.  Priorities, no?)

But now the wedding is so close.  Just a few weeks away.  We've been engaged for a long time.  But if I think back to that night in St. John, I can clearly remember the shock of seeing him on one knee with that red box in his hands.  I remember seeing how happy he looked and how shaky my hands were when he put the ring on my finger.  My stomach still jumps a bit remembering these moments. 

Our wedding day will come and go (and hopefully I'll remember the majority of it).  But I'm looking forward to a long and happy marriage with Chris, one where we will celebrate successes together, comfort each other during moments of challenge, and laugh our heads off at all of life's silliness. 

Cheers to you, my future husband.  And to our long and happy life ahead. I love you dearly.

The beach in RI that I went to as a kid.  :)

March 14, 2008

St. Patty's Six.

The Friday Six:  March 14, 2008 editionWhat a week.  And even though Monday is actually Saint Patrick's Day, I'm observing the holiday this weekend.  So here be the St. Patty's Six. 

HUGE news from Abbott yesterday regarding their version of the continuous glucose monitoring system: The Navigator.  I am itching to try this system out, too.  I am looking forward to the day when CGM models all but replace traditional glucose meters.  The power of real-time results is unparalleled, but we just need a company to make it work.  I'm curious to see how The Navigator compares against what we've already seen from Medtronic and Dexcom.

Also, the JDRF website is featuring a Blogger Roundtable discussion this week - and there are plenty of people from the diabetes community that have been highlighted.  Read the insights and perspectives offered up by Bernard, Scott J, Sandra, Amy, Gina, Scott S, Allie, Manny, and me!  Thanks to Allison for compiling these profiles. 

And thanks to a tip from Bernard, the first human trials towards a cure for established type 1 diabetes are on the verge of starting.  According to the release, "The first step in the human study, which is currently enrolling volunteers, is to determine whether the same strategy using BCG vaccination can be used to modify the abnormal autoimmune cells that are present in type 1 diabetes, sometimes called 'juvenile-onset' diabetes."  This is tremendous news, and I'm already checking to see if I could be a possible volunteer.  Exciting times, but I'm reserving my hope for once the trials produce some results.  Still ... pretty darn exciting.

On a knitting note (stretching for the segue), I came across these neat little knitted ... bodily organs thanks to this week's Grand Rounds.   The blogger over at FreshMD is the source for these images and highlights the creators of these crafts.  I'm impressed, and personally, I like the little corn-on-the-cob looking pancreas in a pretty butter yellow.

And with the last of the invitation list sent out to the printer and our invitations en route, I'm taking the weekend off from thinking about anything wedding or diabetes-related. I'm off to Newport, RI to celebrate St. Patrick's Day starting with the big parade and ending up ... who knows where. :)  My maid of honor is in charge.  I'm just happily following her lead and will do my best to not stress out about a damn thing.

Have a great (and safe) weekend and I'll see you Monday!!  (Editor's Note:  I just realized there are only five items here.  Whoops.  As a quick sixth, check out this wonderful tribute by SuperG about his father.  His post brought tears to my eyes, and made me want to drive home to RI and give my dad a hug.)

March 13, 2008

Beyond Insulin.

Moving away from home has been tough. 

Almost two years ago now, Chris and I moved from our respective hometowns in Rhode Island and ventured out here to western CT.  Work for both of us has been productive and has advanced our careers, but socially it's been a little lacking.  We do have each other (and he is my best friend and fiance, so we can actually hang out and have fun), and Chris and I have explored so much of our new town and surrounding areas.  We've dined at great restaurants, found some fun new places, and created bits of comfort in this strange new place. I still really love my job and my co-workers have gone from "office mates" to people I feel are my friends. 

But at least twice a month, we go home to RI and hang out with our friends, visiting Boston or Providence or teeny seaside towns like Watch Hill or Narragansett.  Even though CT has great job opportunities and the excitement of NYC just a quick train ride away, Rhode Island and its sandy beaches will always be home.  And my friends will always be my friends, whether I live in the same town as them or I live thousands of miles away. 

I realize that RI is only about three hours away from our home in CT, but sometimes it feels like we're living out on the moon.  It gets a little lonely at times, and I've missed my friends and family tremendously over the past few months in particular.  As the wedding draws nearer, my bridesmaids call often and my mother and I talk several times a week, but I miss having these conversations in person.  Truth be told, I'm homesick these days and I miss my friends to the point where I'm starting to whiiiiiine about it.

Blogging, and the internet in general, does provide a certain social outlet.  I really enjoy writing and am grateful for all of the people I've "met" in the last few years.  But there's something sterile and a bit detached about the internet.  I feel very lucky to have met people like Nicole, Shannon, Julia, and Christel who have really stepped past blogging buddies and into the parts of my life that are beyond diabetes.  For me, it's about building relationships that actually mean something, not just collecting "friends" like they're baseball cards.  And so much of that real connection is possible within this community.

Last night, I had dinner with two women who I connected with through the Fairfield County chapter of the JDRF.  One I've met before and the other is actually the sister of a guy I work with here at dLife.  (Everyone here has some connection to the disease.)  It was terrific to hang out with new people - in person! - and realize there was way more than diabetes to talk about.  The three of us tossed around the idea of a Fairfield County monthly dinner or something, and I'm totally game.  So ... long blog post short, if you're living in the Fairfield County area and would like to join us for a monthly "It's More Than Diabetes" (or something like that) dinner, drop me a line at kerri [at] sixuntilme [dot] com.

In the meantime, I'll be analyzing how much time I spend online and how I want to reposition the internet as it relates to my life.  Life is short -- too short to spend more time face-to-face with a computer instead of ... a face. 

Too linked in?

March 11, 2008

A Good Tune.

I even own some Yanni.  I know...For as far back as I can remember, music has been such a crucial part of my little world.  When I was a little kid (we're talking like six or seven years old), I can distinctly remember listening to my mom's Elton John tapes on my Fisher Price tape player.  I also remember buying my first tape cassette when I was 10 - Beethoven's 9th Symphony.  I played that tape over and over until it wore out and the actual cassette tape warped.

In my mind, my life has a constant soundtrack.  If I trip and fall over my own feet while walking downtown (often right in front of a coffee shop window where people are sitting and, of course, looking out), I hear the sounds of a stumbling tuba, a la Droopy Dog.  When Chris proposed on the balcony in St. John, I heard the swells of some wildly romantic Italian aria.  Even as I sit at work and watch the emails file in first thing in the morning, "Flight of the Bumblebee" runs frantically through my head.

I LOVE live music and have seen plenty of awesome bands in person - The Frames, U2, Muse, 311, Jewel, Radiohead, Gomez, Damien Rice, Stereolab, and The Beastie Boys.  There's something so intense about hearing these musicians perform their songs LIVE, in front of my face, streaming right into my ears and dipping directly into my soul.  Gets me fired up, makes me feel alive.

There are definitive genres of music that are called into play when I'm trying to write, as well.  Regardless of whether or not I'm writing something upbeat or emotionally evocative, I always head to the same kinds of tunes:  moody sorts of music that is someone was going to guess my personality type by listening to my iTunes, they'd think I'm itching to off myself.  Radiohead, Damien Rice, The Frames (especially the new stuff from the "Once" soundtrack and tracks from "The Swell Season"), Nick Drake, Tori Amos ... and soundtracks.  Like "Schindler's List" and "Braveheart" and "Last of the Mohicans." 

I know - pretty damn moody for someone who spend the majority of her day laughing.  Looking at my iTunes library makes me look all emo and crap.  ;)

I spend the majority of my day plugged in to headphones or listening through the speakers, doing my job, and enjoying tunes.  Over the last few months, I've been listening to the same music, but I rec'd a mix cd from Carey a few bit ago that introduced a whole new cache of bands into my playlist.  Now I'm itching for some new songs and new bands - it's like I need a musical spring cleaning, shuffling out the old stuff I don't really listen to anymore (sorry, Snow Patrol) and bringing in the new blood. 

So, O Wise Internet - what are you listening to these days?  Anything worth sharing?  Can I usher in the Spring with your playlist?   

March 07, 2008

Early Weekend.

This morning I had the pleasure of sitting down for a great breakfast with Mollie Singer and her mom, Jackie.  (Yes, her sister is Jackie as well.)  Mollie blogs over at CureMoll and has been type 1 since she was four years old.

We sat down for coffee and eggs at Pershing Square (right near Grand Central) and gabbed about college, relationships, and our experiences growing up with diabetes.  There's something very unique about sitting down with another blogging diabetic and have that instant connection.  Mollie's mom reminded me so much of my own mother, talking candidly about how an upbeat attitude can make all the difference.  And Mollie, with her bright smile, was just as sweet and positive as I had anticipated.

To that end, we laughed, joked, and had a good time.  Maybe too good a time, because when Mollie's mother excused herself to the ladies' room, this guy came over to our table.

"Excuse me, but my friends and I have a bet that you aren't from around here."

Did I hear him right?  "What's that?"

"That you aren't from New York.  Are you?"

Mollie shook her head.  "I'm from Vegas."

"Me?  I'm from Rhode Island."

The guy laughed.  "So definitely not from New York.  I knew it!  You seemed to fresh-faced and happy to be from the city."

I couldn't help but laugh right back.  "You're telling me that we seem too happy to be from New York?  That we're too smiley?  Well sir, I take that as a high compliment then."

Kerri and Mollie - not locals!  :)

Cheers to you, Mollie, for being another happy face visiting NYC!! 

I'm off to get an early start on the weekend - have a good one!

February 25, 2008

The Blogs That Bond.

Six Until Me has existed for almost three years now and over the last three years, I've had the opportunity to meet some of the best people.  And on Saturday afternoon, I had the chance to hang with some of my favorite bloggers and take in a play at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI.  Shannon, Julia, Nicole, and I watched a terrific play, took in some tasty sweet potato fries (okay, I had the fries), and chatted about all kinds of stuff.

The play we saw was Some Things Are Private,  which was a docudrama about "a provocative look at who determines 'what is art?'"  It centered on the work of Sally Mann, a photographer whose collection Immediate Family drew criticism from many circles, claiming the nude images of her children were not innocent or "slice of life" but instead pornographic. 

"What is private?" was a line that was offered up several times throughout the play, pointed at Sally and her decision to go public with her family's private lives.  What is private?  It made me think about the four of us and our decisions to blog, women sitting together who have decided to make their private lives public.  Whether we are writing about our children, our lovers, our disease, or what makes us laugh, we as bloggers are putting our private lives on display for the public to consume.  Some times, this is a terrifying feeling, knowing that your life is chumming the waters for people you will never know.  And sometimes, it is the most therapeutic feeling in the world, letting your thoughts float out freely and being bold enough to do it day after day, inviting strangers into a life they wouldn't otherwise even glimpse.

What is private?  Is it my moment with low blood sugar in the wee hours of the morning?  Is it an argument with my loved ones?  Is it being ushered into the flowing folds of my wedding gown as my maid of honor honor watches?  Is it dinner out with my old college roommates and laughing at our chaotic pasts?  Is it that moment of fear, that moment of laughter, that moment of insecurity, that moment of complete and unabashed bravery?

Blogging is a very unique undertaking, sharing our lives with strangers.  In rare turns, these strangers become our friends and part of our lives outside of the blog, letting us sit together for an afternoon of remarkable theater and easy conversations. 

Our photographer was the host at the pub. Sorry he was off-centered!
 

February 14, 2008

Falling In Love.

I have had diabetes for over 21 years.  Memories of life before diagnosis are scarce - just snapshots from years that were so few in numbers. 

Life has always included, for better or for worse, diabetes.  It is my reality, a part of my life that doesn't stop my world from spinning but does give it a decidedly dilgent tilt.  My family has always loved and accepted me, and I am very lucky for that fact.  New relationships, be they friendships or romantic ones, have always been laced with that slight fear of "Will they accept me?  All of me, including this condition that I manage every day?"

In many ways, I have been very lucky.  I have had the benefit of friends who love me for who I am and who also keep juice boxes in the glove compartments of their cars and find squashed "emergency" granola bars at the bottom of their purses. My employers have been understanding and patient with my scheduled doctor's appointments and my food items stashed in every desk drawer (sometimes in other people's desk drawers, too).  I am so grateful for these people who make my life exciting, fun, and accepted.

But now I stand here, barely three months from my wedding day, engaged to a man who has not only been patient, understanding, and compassionate with my diabetes, but he's made it a part of his life.  It's something we manage together - whether it's a middle of the night low blood sugar, our constant encouragement towards physical fitness, or his arms around me when I'm feeling crummy - and I feel so blessed.  I never feel like I'm carrying this burden by myself.  Knowing I have his support makes such an impact on my health, and my happiness.

We will make our vows to love one another in sickness and in health.  And I know, in my heart, that we already do.

Happy Valentine's Day to the man I love, and to my friends and family.  And to you out there in the blogosphere, for being part of a support network I could have never dreamt of but am so honored to have in my life.

Happy Valentine's Day from Chris.

December 26, 2007

Uncle Traveling Matt ... and Kerri.

From the far corners of CT to the nooks and crannies of RI, we've done so much driving over the last few days that Uncle Traveling Matt has nothing on us. 

It's been a very nice Christmas holiday here at home, with some time spent catching up with Batman, NBF, and my college roommates.  We spent the holidays with our families, opening gifts on Christmas morning with my mother, having breakfast with my father, and a big family dinner hosted by Jenn (Chris's sister).

New Pump and I are hooked up and getting to know one another.  So far, it's been a very smooth and seamless transition.  (Seamless in the technological sense -- there were a few wild blood sugars moments over this holiday - more on those later.)  And like my fellow 522 pumpers, I'm enjoying being able to see the time without clicking the button to the left.  I'm touching base with my Minimed rep this week, so hopefully I'll be linked up with the CGM by next week at the latest.  Very excited to try that out. 

Yesterday, I managed to catch a hometown tradition on my camera - the Route 78 Christmas Tree.  Someone, no idea who, has been decorating a pine tree on the side of a highway in my hometown.  Every holiday season, this tree ends up with tinsel and ornaments on the lower portion of it.  I don't know who has been decorating for the last ten years, but every year I'm impressed at the continuation of this bizarre tradition. 

On Christmas morning, we pulled over on the highway and snapped a quick picture.  I love odd little holiday traditions.

The mysteriously decorated tree on Route 78.
We're driving home to CT in a few hours, so this is my quick internet stop-over before the long drive.  I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and I'll be back to regularly-scheduled blogging tomorrow.

December 20, 2007

Tune Up.

I spend a lot of time thinking about health and fitness.  

There's my job, where I am often found perusing diabetes-related press releases, checking out the latest websites about endocrine health and wellness, and writing about what day-to-day life with diabetes is all about. 

Then there's my handsome fiance, who has spent time as a personal trainer, writes for various fitness venues (including AOL), eats a regimented, healthy diet, and has a physique that is evidence of time well-spent at the gym.

Oh, and then there is the whole "white wedding dress" thing, where everyone will be looking at me in a few months on a (hopefully sunny) May afternoon.  Not to mention my disease, which I manage with an insulin pump, my meter, attempts at healthy eating, and regular exercise.

So I'm constantly checking out different websites about health and fitness, as the themes touch so many different parts of my life.  My magazine collection is a mish-mash of Women's Health, Shape, and Modern Bride.  These pages are dog-eared and occasionally ripped out and pinned to my cube wall or my office bulletin board. 

Never mind the daily webcrawl I make, bouncing from my daily check of Women's Health online for some daily tips and inspirations, FitDay to continue on with my goal of keeping a food journal for a full month, Slashfood for some foodie snippets.  Recently, I've been checking out iVillage's Your Total Health site, Healthbolt, and Lift Magazine for some newer viewpoints. 

It's all bit-sized bits of health information, which fit into my multi-tasking sort of lifestyle.  But the part that I'm having trouble with is cutting down the workout to a sensible size.  Fitness doesn't appear to come in teeny bits for me.  I need to work out long and hard in order to see results, constantly fighting the uphill battle of treating low blood sugars and the demanding schedule of any fully employed twenty-something.  (Scratch that - the schedule of anyone is demanding, ranging from kids to senior citizens to circus clowns.)  I need to buckle down and make efforts to really reach my goals.  Bit of a tune-up.

A few months ago, I decided I needed to change my workout.  My legs were killing me.  But, as with anything else, my body adjusted and I needed to switch things up again.  I now have a few different methods of attack:  keeping a food journal, avoiding all holiday sweets until the New Year (it's like the Pre-New Year's Resolution), and making some awkward attempts at bringing running into my routine. 

Oh how I hate to run.  I feel awkward and like a great, traipsing gazelle.  But over the last two weeks, I've been trying to work in a circuit of running to help me tone up a bit more before the wedding.  (Five months!)  A combination of weight training and running was constantly touted by all those fitness sites as a killer fat loss program.  So I'm trying it.  First, I did five minutes running, five walking.  Then seven on, five off.  Last night, I did twelve on, five off. 

And I watched as my blood sugar fell from 160 (started the whole workout at 200 mg/dl) to 68 I only wear two sneakers, unlike my little pal here.mg/dl.  When my workout changes, my diabetes management methods need to change, too.  Hopefully I'll find a way to trot with a bit more grace.  And hopefully my body will shift into shape by the time I'm donning my white dress for my big walk down the aisle.

Oh hell, maybe I'll run.  Just to prove a point.  ;)

November 25, 2007

And the Cats Survived.

Pretty red leaves that lined the shores of the lake.

There was Fondue Night with my college roommates, dipping whatever we could find into cheese and then chocolate fondue (no, not at the same time), drinking wine, and gossiping like fools.

There was Thanksgiving with friends and family, spending time with our closest loved ones.

We had a delicious dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in the city and then explored Providence with the new camera, snapping shots of the Statehouse and the cityscape from an empty park at midnight.

A visit to my mother's house brought us on an impromptu hike through the woods and snapping pictures at the shore of the lake.

The loooo-ong drive back down 95, back to our home and back to work this week.  We're sleepy, inundated with emails, and toting suitcases crammed with half-folded laundry.

And even though they were all puffy-tailed, bored, and mewing when we came back home tonight, the cats survived.

November 15, 2007

More Than Diabetes.

We met up at Les Halles for dinner.  Four people, meeting up for the first of many times.  She greeted Chris with a huge smile and a hug. 

It was more than diabetes. 

Sure, she understood completely when I mentioned a botched infusion set or that sticky mouth feeling when blood sugars are swarming out of control.  We talked about technology and "old school diabetes" and what how things have changed over the last twenty-plus years.  Conversations about how diabetes influenced romantic relationships, or financial decisions, or career aspirations passed easily between us. 

She knew when I said "I don't think about a cure," that I was actually saying, "I can't think about it."  She's been diabetic for almost 25 years.  She knows exactly what I mean.

But after the talk about diabetes was tapering, we still had more to talk about.  Marriage.  Family, both being a part of one and starting our own.  Perspectives on writing.  Gossipy bits.  And she made me laugh - oh good Lord the girl is funny.  Our friendship is born from a diabetes connection but one that is rooted in so much more than that.  Talking with her was like talking with someone I grew up with, who understood where I was coming from and where I hoped to go.

So when Christel and her husband, John, came to visit NYC, it was more than diabetes.  It wasn't about comparing pumps or blood sugars or tales from our islets.  We had dinner with two people who felt like old friends, only she and I just happened to both bolus before the crème brulée was served. 

It was more than diabetes.

Kerri and Christel.

October 22, 2007

Walk in My Shoes.

I walked with the October sunshine warm against my back.

Kerri, Nicole, and Shannon.

I walked with Shannon, whose son knows what I know.  She shared moments with my mother that made me feel like my mother was less alone now, too.  I walked with Nicole, who shared orange slices with me as we treated simultaneous lows.  (I also wore the hat of a viking warrior princess, but that's an entirely different post.)  These were my fellow bloggers, my friends with diabetes, folding me into arms that know what it's like to have fallen down the well of a low.

I walked past toddlers in their strollers who offered their chubby fingertips to their parents for a quick blood sugar check.  I saw children holding hands with their parents, passing glucose tabs between their fingers.  I saw a group of teenagers and scanned their hips and their hands for evidence of their diagnosis, but I couldn't tell which one had it.  I walked past children with bright blue pumps clipped to their bodies, smiles even brighter.

I walked with my aunts and my cousins, who have always made sure there is diet soda at the family picnics and a sugar-free dessert after a holiday meal.  I walked with one of my best friends, who has learned about diabetes in the same breath that she's learned about my favorite bands.  I walked with the support of my other best friend, who is as quick to make me laugh as she is to count the carbs.  I walked with my fiance's sister, who by just showing up makes me feel like she understands.  I walked with my future niece, who knows I wear my medicine on my hip, but that I will also play teddy bears with her. 

I walked with my fiance, who loves me not because of or despite this disease, but simply because he loves me.

I walked with my mother, who was there the day I was diagnosed and who has lived with this disease as long as I have, only she feels the sting of a high without needing insulin, the tears of a low without needing juice. 

I walked proudly, surrounded by friends and family both new and old, taking steps towards acceptance, towards progress, towards a cure.

Team SUM, 2007.

Team Six Until Me.  2007 edition.

(Missing from photo:  My aunts, cousins, Jeff, and Superman.)

September 20, 2007

The Necklace.

When the mail comes around in the early afternoon, I don't usually receive anything.  Sometimes the occasional contract or W-9 from one of the writers, or a note from a diabetes educator, or my Shape magazine that, for some reason, is delivered to dLife instead of my home.

But yesterday, I received a nice, puffy envelope.  With a box inside.

The box.

Oooh.  Because I have no self-restraint, I opened it right up to reveal ... the little green bag. 

The little green bag.

(Cue Reservoir Dogs soundtrack.) 

I opened the bag and out slid the necklace from Moonson Artisans, courtesy of the contest I had entered on TuDiabetes.  After some back and forth with our own talented Beth, she created a necklace using the Six Until Me logo.

The Kerri Necklace - front

I think it is just beautiful.  This piece is so lovely and ... unique.  I am so impressed with their work.  She inscribed the back, too.

The Kerri Necklace - back

I have never had anything quite like this before, something from my mind made concrete.  It is exactly as I had pictured it.  Huge thanks to Beth and Daniel at Monsoon Artisans for their exquisite handiwork, and to Manny for putting the contest together at TuDiabetes

Wearing it proudly.
I'm wearing it proudly.

July 30, 2007

Thresholds.

Pastiche on the Hill.Thresholds.  Levels of tolerance.  For an English major like me, numbers take on a more connotative and emotional meaning.  And diabetes numbers play into a whole host of variables.

Like when I'm about to get behind the wheel.  I've heard people discussing what numbers are "safest" to drive at, and I think that's a personal preference.  For me, numbers like 131 and 92 are friendly and make me feel road-worthy.  I'll drive at 180 - 250 mg/dl as well, so long as I'm making attempts to correct it down.  But numbers close to 70 mg/dl or over 250 mg/dl are key-passers for me.  As in "Hey, you drive."  (See:  yesterday, when a freak incident caused me to throw a blood sugar over 400 mg/dl.  Chris drove.  I drank water and slept.  Miserable.)

Or when I'm going to bed.  Bedtime basals have been nailed down solid for just over a year now, allowing me to go to bed at 99 mg/dl and wake up at 110 mg/dl.  There's barely a flux.  A few years ago, I would have stolen a swig of juice or popped a few glucose tabs to keep me steady through the night.  At Clara Barton Camp, anything under 120 mg/dl warranted a "double snack" coupon (which was awesome when it was pudding and graham crackers night but sort of sucked on apples and peanut butter night).  My thresholds for nighttime sugars are much tighter now.

Different numbers at different times.  Go to bed at a blood sugar of 90?  Yes, please.  Go to the gym at 90?  No way - time for some crackers, a swig of juice, and a pump disconnection.  I don't like starting a cardio workout at anything under 150 mg/dl, because exercise hits me like a ton of treadmills. 

A blood sugar of 150 mg/dl at the beach?  I'd leave that one alone because the sun and just five minutes in the ocean makes me drop hard.  

Feeling anxious?  If I ring in at 120 mg/dl and I'm feeling very keyed up, I know that a half of a unit of Humalog needs to course in to counteract the stress hormones that hijack my A1c sometimes. 

Each number plays different offense in varying situations.   It's a challenge to follow the playbook. 

The human body is absolutely amazing in the way each organ works together with such precision, maintaining our homeostasis and keeping us kicking.  But the mind of a diabetic is pretty damn amazing, too.  We have trained our minds to think like a pancreas.  We are the people who know how many carbs are floating around in a bowl of pasta.  We are the ones who can take a blood sugar number and fold it into any situation - 140 on the soccer field means more orange slices while 140 at the dinner table means correcting the high and navigating the meal.  We are the ones who are trying to compensate for some cells that simply gave out on us.  It's not an easy task, crawling inside the thoughts of a working pancreas and trying to mimic it's performance.  There are moments of elation.  There are moments where we stumble.  And moments when we just plain fall flat on our faces. 

This is very tough some days.  I had a bad weekend, blood-sugar wise, hitting both the 442 mg/dl and the 36 mg/dl ends of the spectrum.  I felt like I had been hit by that truck with the penguins, who are all carrying suitcases filled with bricks.  It was a perfect storm of crummy conditions, sending my meter average into complete disarray. 

I felt damp and wrung out with frustration at a few points. 

But then I had a cappuccino and a fruit dessert with Chris at Pastiche on Federal Hill.  I tested before at 87 mg/dl and two hours later at 132 mg/dl.  And then I found this in Newbury Comics:

For Shannon and Darrell.

And thought of how much Shannon and my brother Darrell would enjoy it.  Toofuses for all!  (Toofi?)

My threshold for certain numbers varies every day, but my threshold for laughter is without boundaries. 

July 16, 2007

Hope, Dreams, and Reality - A Mom's Perspective.

Mom posts again.  :)Once again, my mother is making a cameo appearance on Six Until Me.  She has a permanent "right to post" on this blog, and it's always an honor when she voices her perspectives.  Thanks, Mom, for another "Mother's Perspective."

"So my daughter, Kerri, is getting married.

Wow!

When Kerri was first diagnosed as a little girl and having almost no knowledge of Type I Diabetes, the thought flew through my mind one day that maybe a wedding was not in her future. What did I know then? Not much! Through the years of experiencing the growing pains of a child with diabetes and educating myself, I knew on an intellectual level that it was indeed possible.

However, as a parent, I was always waiting for the “other shoe to drop” so to speak. Things go wrong, things happen. I would tell myself not to think “too” much or I would make her and myself crazy. After all, it was paramount in my mind that she be a normal child doing normal things and not being held back in anyway, shape or form because of her diabetes. (Not that she would allowed herself to be held back – she takes after her Grammie, independent!).  But, it was always there in the back of my mind.

I am so happy that she has found Chris who is a wonderful person who accepts the total package of Kerri Lynn Morrone as she accepts him. He watches out for her, not unlike I used to.   (Editor's Note:  Mom, you still do look out for me.)  She is very capable of taking care of herself but all the mothers and fathers out there reading this will know exactly what I mean. We could all use a second pair of eyes watching our children, it just makes us feel better. It makes them safer.

It will be a glorious celebration of love and life next May. Diabetes is a part of Kerri’s life and of her family that loves her. But, I will try to stop waiting for “the other shoe to drop” because no one knows what the future will hold and worrying is wasted energy. When there is something to worry about, then I will worry.

I have three wonderful kids, two beautiful grandchildren that are so dear to me, and I look forward to having more of the latter. (No pressure or anything!!)

-- Kerri’s Mom"

To catch up on my mom's other cameos, you can find them here and here.  Enjoy! 

July 10, 2007

White-Water Rafting.

I was completely terrified of getting on the raft.  Jenn (Chris's sister), Steve (her husband), Chris and I fastened on our life jackets.  Armed with a yellow helmet, a paddle, and a life vest, I looked like a Nintendo character and I felt like I was going off to war.  We carried the raft down to the edge of the Kennebec River and got ready to climb on.

"I don't know about this.  I am scared, dude."  I grabbed Chris by the arm and shot him a panicked look.  (I also briefly wondered why I called him "dude," but that's neither here nor there.)

"It's going to be fine.  Once we start, you'll love it.  I promise."  He rubbed my arm and we climbed into the boat.  Scott, our rafting guide, shouted to us from the back of the boat.

"Okay, so the pace-setters in the front," Chris and Steve took the front spots.  "And then file in behind them."  Jenn and I sat behind them and the other four rafters filed in behind us.  Eight rafters, one guide, and one jam-packed fanny pack filled with my meter, glucose tabs, tubes of cake gel, juice, and insulin pens. 

Two seconds into it, I was beside myself with fear.

About 30 seconds into it, I thought it was awesome.

And despite my terror, this whole trip was awesome.  I'm not the woodsy-type (contain your shock), so the idea of being out in the middle of class 4 or 5 rapids with nothing but a paddle in my hand and my legs locked against the center pontoons of the raft to keep me from falling out didn't sound terrific to me.  I was also worried about the diabetes-related implications.

But something about being in the middle of nowhere with water raging on either side and feeling scared, excited, and completely alive all at the same time was worth every damn second.

The great outdoors!

We stayed at the Northern Outdoors lodge in a cabin tent, so we camped out at night, cooked s'mores on the fire, and had the benefit of a bathhouse (read: cabin where there were flushable toilets) within walking distance.

We suited up in our wetsuits and conquered the Kennebec River (read: didn't fall out of the raft).

Chris, me, Jenn, and Steve.

After our day on the raft, we went out and drank with our rafting guide.  Here he is, rather drunk, telling me that I wasn't the only diabetic he's seen on these rafting trips and dagnabit, I did it!

Scott, lecturing me.

Diabetes-wise, this trip wasn't easy.  After spending the week reacclimating myself to Lantus and readying myself with insulin pens and syringes, I felt confident that my blood sugars would remain semi-stable.   My blood sugars were a little higher this past week, but nothing too obscene.   However, the anxiety and excitement of rafting sent my sugars skyrocketing, tossing me up into the 350 mg/dl range about halfway through the trip.  Thanks to the trusty insulin pens I brought with me, I came down quickly, but it was annoying to reach that peak (mainly because it made me have to pee and peeing in the woods is not my thing.  blech). 

After considering all the options, it was a good idea for me to stay off the pump for the trip.  I wasn't confident that it would remain dry, even if I had an aquapack or something similar.  Rolling pumpless allowed me to jump into the "swimming rapids," where we could swim in the class 2 rapids, let me leap off the raft when we were easing down the last part of the river, and I didn't have  that constant worry of "Is it okay?  Am I still connected?  Is it dry?"

My main (Maine?) concern was bringing enough reaction supplies.  Thanks to the terrific rafting guide and my traveling companions, there was enough cake gel on that raft to sponsor a Barbie birthday party.  Chris and Steve each had a tube in their pocket, I had three tubes on me, and the rafting guide had a stash of juice, cake gel, and an insulin pen in his dry pack. 

Testing on the boat proved to be a bit of a challenge.  I had my One Touch UltraMini encased in two plastic bags, so it remained mostly dry, but finding a moment to unearth it from within both bags, set up the strip, test, and keep things dry was tough.  I tested every 30 minutes or so, despite these conditions, and the Green Mini kept things controlled.  (Although the tampons would have been helpful from an absorption standpoint.  It was soggy on that damn raft.) 

I missed my pump terribly, though.  More on that tomorrow.  But pump and I have been reunited, I am now a white-water rafting veteran (or at least I can say I did it), and I'm looking forward to going again next summer. 

I DID IT.  I am quite proud of myself.  Diabetes be damned!

July 02, 2007

All or Nothing (once more).

Saturday afternoon, I removed the Dexcom sensor. 

For the record, that Dexcom is worth the design flaws and I was very impressed with the results.  (More on that later.)  But also for the record, pulling out the sensor was extremely painful - that adhesive is intense!  I had to use a damp cloth around the sticky gauzey bits to help alleviate that "peeling my skin from my body" feeling.   Why didn't I apply a new sensor?  Due to the upcoming July 4th holiday and the white-water rafting trip this weekend, I didn't feel comfortable toting around an additional gizmo that couldn't get wet.  So off it came, to be reintegrated next week.

Saturday night, I removed my insulin pump.

I decided to take a "pump vacation" for the rafting trip, based on my insecurity about being able toLantus in lieu of my pump. properly protect it and my fear of it being busted on the excursion.  (I thought a lot about the advice to order a back-up pump, use the AquaPack, etc. but I had to go with my gut on this one.)   So late Saturday night, I disconnected my pump and took my first shot of Lantus in almost four years.

I was at Batman's house, spending the night before I headed up to Boston to retrieve Chris (yay!) from the airport.  

"Ah, the red ladybug bag!"  Batman exclaimed.  (It was a Clinique "free gift" from several years ago - a red circular zippered case that was plastic and held my insulin bottles when I was on injections.)  "I remember that thing!  I also remember when you went on the pump in the first place.  Is this weird?"

"Definitely."  I uncapped the syringe with my teeth and put the needle tip into the new bottle of Lantus, drawing back 16 units.  "This is completely bizarre.  But it's only for a week.  Just until Sunday night."

It's been two days without it and I'm feeling pretty good.  I am back on my old dose of Lantus (15 1/2 units at 10 o'clock at night) and I'm bolusing with an insulin pen.  Between you and I (and the entire internet), I miss my pump and I feel like I'm walking around naked, but this brief vacation is just that:  brief.  Blood sugars have been closely monitored and in a holding pattern of about 150 mg/dl, which is higher than I shoot for but I'm happy to have them steady instead of bouncing.

This is weird, though, going from two savvy devices to nothing more than an insulin pen in my purse.  Weirder still (yet comforting) is the fact that Chris has never known me without my pump.  It's always been a part of our life together.

After rescuing my fiance from the airport (at 7 am in Boston - damn that's early), I gave him a huge hug and then shared my secret with him.  "I'm not wearing a pump today."

His arms circled my waist and he gave me a kiss on the head.

"I never notice even when you do." 

Welcome home, Chris.  I'm so happy you're home!

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