Main

April 10, 2012

Rules Of Love.

In Austin two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to finally meet Josiah Hammer (known affectionately across the world as "The Hammer"), who works at Dexcom and is my direct point of abuse contact at Dexcom for when I screw things up.

During the course of an email exchange, The Hammer sent me a page from an old health book that he found - the Modern Home Medical Adviser: Your Health and How To Preserve It (edited by Morris Fishbein, MD [who, according to many online sources that may be less-than-credible-but-still-cracked-me-up said that Fishbein was originally aiming to be a clown, but realized there was more money in medicine], published in 1942) which included a chart, of sorts, dictating who should shag whom. 

Excerpts:  

Only four rules. The shortest rule list a PWD has ever seen, to date.  About dating. ;)

Of course.  Because all decisions of love are made with diabetes in mind.  There's something about this chart that makes me both roll my eyes and then picture a diabetes Punnett's Square.  Love is a tangled web as it is - plotting decisions against a diabetes graph makes things even more complicated.  Thankfully, good ol' Morris was there to help people sort out who they should be smooching on.  (/sarcasm.)

This book also featured "blameful" and "blameless" diabetes, helping to drive home the misconception that type 2 diabetes is something people should be beaten with a stick for having and that type 1 is the result of hereditary circumstances (just like in my case, where I"m the only diabetic in my entire family, of any kind ... /sarcasm once again).

The Blame Game sucks.

Sometimes I look at how diabetes is currently portrayed in books, television, and other media outlets, and I'm frustrated.  It's a potluck of misconceptions, facts, and always colored by opinion, but it is slowly becoming more accurate, and more "real."  People are learning about all different kinds of diabetes and the varying treatments, and the discussion about diabetes entering the mainstream is increasingly credible.  But iooking back at the so-called "medical books" from the early 1940s has blown my mind in a way that Steel Magnolias never will. 

We have come a long, long way.  And I'm grateful for that.

February 23, 2012

From Abby: Scared.

No intro needed on this one.  Abby shares her thoughts on diabetes, dating, and disclosure.

*   *   *

This weekend as I was working through some of Kerri's "Generation D" columns on dLife, and reading a few here and there while watching a Whitney Houston Marathon on Lifetime (judge me all you want, folks), there was one post that literally made me stop what I was doing and say, "Hmph, I think it's time I talked about this."

I am so afraid of being silently discriminated against because I have diabetes. So afraid, and I don't talk about it with anyone.

Luckily the field of work that I've chosen saw my dead beta cells as a resume booster, and my family is full of medical professionals, so they accept me. I also have some really great best friends (one of whom also has type 1 diabetes) who embrace the awkwardness of my pump tubing and the test strip trail. But boyfriends? This is where my anxiety lies.

I don't really feel comfortable talking about my dating life online - just not at that point in internet comfort yet. But I think there's an aspect of it that needs to be talked about more ... namely, that fear that I will meet someone and when they find out my body is dysfunctional, they will delete my phone number.

If you don't have diabetes, or a some chronic illness, you might think this sounds crazy. Heck, even if you DO have a dead organ, you might think this is ridiculous. However, I think it's fair to say, that there are a lot of us out here living in the dating world who are scared to death that Prince or Princess Charming will have a phobia of needles.

As strong as I am in other areas of my life, I will never feel 100% confident with anything that I do because diabetes looms in the back of my mind. Diabetes effects everything that I do, everywhere I go, and everyone I encounter. This can be extremely intimidating, and I'm not sure I could blame a guy for running at mach 3 in the opposite direction of my glucose tabs. That is what scares the c-peptide out of me.

I know that I should just tell myself that "The One" will accept my diabetes and probably be like, an Endocrine Fellow or something. I know that diabetes probably isn't as scary to the general population as it is to me. I'm fully aware that this fear is partially ridiculous.

But for right now, I'm scared.

*   *   *

My relationships in the past (and my marriage now) haven't ever been perfect, but diabetes wasn't ever an issue in finding love or being loved.  (I actually just submitted a vlog post to Animas about this topic - coming soon on their site.) But it can be an intimidating thing, bringing diabetes into relationships. It can impact sex and what you're comfortable sharing may vary depending on how you're viewing your health on a day-to-day basis. I've been where Abby is, and I know so many of us have been wary of how our health may impact our relationships. Any words of advice are welcome.

November 07, 2011

Guest Post: Love Story, with a Dia-Twist.

Jessica and I met, after emailing a few times over the last few years, at the Diabetes Sisters conference in San Diego in October.  She is contagiously optimistic, and hanging out with her was awesome.  Today, she's guest posting about finding love after diagnosis.  Thank you, Jessica, for offering to post today!
Jessica and Kerri, at the Diabetes Sisters event.

*   *   *
He stopped by to make a fool of himself and with that began to mend my fractured world.
 
A little back story…
 
It was December 1999. I had the flu and the world was going to end (Y2K, anyone?) The clock struck midnight and the world continued on just as before but I could not seem to shake my ever draining sickness. I was about to go on long trip from Sunny California to Snowy Massachusetts to visit my Mom and Gram. I stopped by the doctor on my way out the door for a steroid shot to keep my asthma at bay. It wasn’t uncommon for my colds/flu’s to linger so neither of us was too concerned.
 
My three and a half week trip went a little something like this: Visit, nap, eat, drink, nap, pee, drink, nap, pee, drink, sleep, sleep, and sleep.  The winter seemed to be taking a toll on me. The cold weather was making me extra tired and ultra cranky. It also seemed to melt thirty pounds right off my bones. It had to be all the heavy clothes I wasn’t used to wearing.

When I returned home, my dad picked me up at the airport and took me out to dinner. I drank a full pitcher of water before our order was even taken.  My dad looked at my intake and said “You have diabetes”. OK Dad, whatever. I laughed off his statement but did still feel like shit so the next morning I went and had some long overdue lab work drawn.

Fast forward a few days to February 2, 2000. I’m lying down for my 25th nap of the day and my phone rings. It was my doctor calling, at 7:30pm at night, with my lab results.  (Um, don’t you have office staff to do this during the day?)

“GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!” she yelled into the phone.  “YOU HAVE DIABETES AND YOU ARE VERY SICK!!”
So I did what anyone would do in this situation. I took a shower, packed a bag, made a few phone calls, cleaned out the refrigerator and then drove myself to the hospital.

It didn’t sink in until I was settled my hospital room and the nurses, needles, I.V.s, burning banana bags and oxygen came out.  It was then that it sunk deep into my soul. Would I ever be able to have kids? I have to do WHAT with needles? Will I get to keep my feet? Am I going to die? I cried the entire night.

February 3, 2000. My new life path is full of thorny bushes and endless rain or so I thought. I couldn’t see past the fog of my own fears and sadness to notice when he walked into my room.

“Hello! I’m here to take you for an x-ray.” He said.

“I just got my lunch and my medicine. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to eat. I’ll eat fast if you want to come back in 10 minutes.”

“Sure. I’ll be right back.” He strolled out into the hall.

Two hours later…

“Hello, again! Are you all set for your x-ray?”

“What took you so long? That was the longest ten minutes ever!” I snapped.

He gingerly moved me from my bed to the wheelchair making sure to not snag any of my IV tubing probably hoping I wouldn’t go all crabby pants on him again. He made leisurely chit chat through the halls of the hospital, during my x-ray and back again. I mumbled a lot of yes and no responses just wanting to get back to bed and wallow in self pity. He dropped me off in my room and said his goodbye.

Hospital shift change rolled around a few hours later and I heard the curtain by my bed rustle. He walked in and stood in front of me.  

“Do I have to have more tests?” I asked my eyes blurring with tears.

“Um, no. I am on my way home but I thought I would stop by to see how you are doing. You seem very upset. And to be honest, I’m here to make a fool of myself.” He shifted from one foot to the other.

I wiped the tears from my eyes and finally looked at this kind man who had shuttled me all over the hospital that day. He was my age, tall with dark hair and a lovely smile. Not too shabby. Suddenly diabetes no longer engulfed the room.

We talked for a while that night and he came back to visit me every day after. He brought me a chess set and tried to teach me how to play. When I was finally stable enough to head home we exchanged numbers and arranged our first date. I picked a d- friendly place for dinner and he took me to the movies. We held hands and when he brought me home we shared a shy, sweet first kiss at my front door.

He was now a constant in my life just like diabetes. He was OK with my diabetes and all that came with it. It brought us together after all. His acceptance helped me be a little OK with it too. My path of thorny bushes and endless rain was now a little sunshinier.

Our path together has not always been unicorns and rainbows. We have taken side steps, backward steps and even some swirly steps along the way. But we stuck with it and have persevered for nearly 12 years.  I look forward to every day I share with that kind man, who is now my kind husband. On the days when I get really down about diabetes,  I am reminded that I should be thankful for it because of the path it lead me to and the wonderful life that has grown out of a simple hello and a broken pancreas.

Fairy-tale ending.

*   *   *

Jessica was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 20 years old. She has used a pump for 10 years and recently added a CGM to help reel in the highs and lows. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two sons.  [Editor's note:  And she's awesome.  And has the prettiest wedding photo ever. :) ]

November 29, 2010

Late: Special Sib of a D-Kid Day.

I'm late to the party on this one, but I thought this was a great awareness initiative taking place across the diabetes blogoshere (and starting on Alexis' and Sherry's blogs:):  Special Sib of a D-Kid Day.

Special Sib of a D-Kid Day!  (Was yesterday.  Sorry for being late!)

I realize I am no longer a diabetes kid, but I used to be one.  And my siblings are still my siblings, no matter how old I get. 

I don't have a clear recollection of life immediately after diagnosis, but I know back in 1986, food choices ruled the roosts of diabetes households.  Once the vials of insulin moved into our refrigerator's butter compartment, gone were the Twinkies and Ring Dings and Yodels (and other snack foods comprised of 1/2 a gram of actual nutrient and then a whole pile of crap).  Our eating patterns changed as a family, and Diet Pepsi and food scales replaced the snack cupboard of days gone by.  My mother hid the ice cream sandwiches in the hollowed out box of broccoli in the freezer.  She had packages of E.L. Fudge cookies hidden between the sweaters stacked in her closet.  She was a food-hoarding squirrel, with delicious treats in every obscure corner.

For me, this was a smart approach that removed a lot of temptation (and also presented some very furtive treasure hunts with tasty rewards), and one that helped to keep me safe and healthy.  But for my brother and sister, both with perfectly capable pancreases (pancrei?), the lifestyle change wasn't necessary.  Didn't they get to have snacks, still? 

What I failed to realize is that my diabetes didn't have to be my brother and sister's diabetes.  There was so much about their lives as the siblings of a child with diabetes that I couldn't even wrap my head around.  I didn't know what it was like to have your sister come home and play host to something no one could see, yet gained so much attention (for better or for worse).  I've talked to some siblings of kids with diabetes and heard about the guilt.  "I felt bad for wishing I was sick, too, because I was jealous of the attention."  Or the worry.  "Was I going to get diabetes, too?"  Or the anger.  "I am sick of her diabetes being the sole focus of our family."  Or just plain fear.  "Will diabetes hurt my sibling?"

Diabetes is a disease that affects the whole family.  It's not just the person who is receiving the injections or pump infusion sets or finger pricks that's carrying the full weight of diabetes.  I don't know if my brother and sister understood what "diabetes" meant when I was first diagnosed, and if any of us understood just how big the words "without a cure" really felt.   But I know that we learned about diabetes as a family, and dealt with it the same way. 

In honor of Special Sibs of D-Kids, I raise a contraband Ring Ding to you in solidarity.  You guys are a very compassionate, understanding, and patient group, and we, as your diabetic brothers and sisters, are very grateful to have you in our lives.

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.

September 30, 2010

ePatient 2010: Are You One?

I spent the last few days at the ePatient 2010 conference in Philadelphia, and one of the terms (surprise, surprise) that kept coming up was "epatient."  I've written about my take on the term "epatient" before, and was surprised to hear that there was a negative feel to the term, like it was overused.  And overplayed.  (Like Chumbawumba.)  

I turned to Facebook to see how my friends felt about the term, and the feedback was instant and mostly positive.  Facebook buddy and fellow ePatient 2010 attendee, Susannah Fox, connected with me after seeing the discussion and sent me a link to a discussion on her blog about the word "epatient" and how that movement is going through some growing pains. 

Far be it for me to be ahead of the curve (I just started tight-rolling my jeans), but I'm still comfortable with the term "ePatient."  I find it to be empowering - another "e" word - and having it as part of my identity makes me feel like I'm part of a very strong, very forward-thinking community.  Having lived with diabetes for ... forever, it seems, I am so appreciative of the changes taking place in patient care.  I like the broad stroke of support that the Internet provides for patients, and the power of connecting outside of the perimeters of your zipcode makes an enormous change in how I view my health.  As I said at the conference, "People with diabetes take drugs, test their blood sugar, watch their food intake, but emotional support is just as crucial as the insulin we take.  For me, it's part of my health."  Empowered, electronic, encouraged, engaged ... ePatient.

My friends in the Facebook circles had varying perspectives, but most of them seemed to feel empowered to be using online resources to manage their health - or the health of their loved ones.  Here are a few responses:

With all of these varying discussions about the term "ePatient," how do you feel that you fit into the mix?  Do you think the term is overused and now weak as a result?  Are you empowered by the term "ePatient?"  Or do you have an entirely different opinion to share?  Are YOU an ePatient?

September 29, 2010

Philadelphia Diabetes Meet Up.

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

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

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

September 21, 2010

Buried in Things to Do.

Last week, I wrote about how much has been going on in our lives lately, and how the travel, moving, and general chaos has affected my diabetes control.  This week, I wanted to share some photos from our travels.  Because it's not all diabetes in this piece.  (Um, yo.)  And also because this whole experience has sort of been beyond words, so I'm hopeful that photos will do their "1,000 words" thing.


The Buried poster on the streets of Toronto.


Chris, Ryan, and Rodrigo at the TIFF press conference for Buried
Photo courtesy of Getty Images


The Sparlings looking mighty startled at the Buried pre-party (sponsored by Blackberry)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images


Chris and Rodrigo at the NYC special screening (with me hiding in the background)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The Toronto Film Festival was incredible - different from Sundance because this festival had a very upscale feeling to it (instead of a more casual, warm, go-build-a-snowman feel).  We were out until all hours of the night (BSparl was with my mom, so we took advantage of the time away) and just trying to take it all in.  And the NYC screening was super cool, with an entire theater filled with celebrities watching the movie that Chris wrote, Rodrigo directed, and Ryan performed the hell out of.  It's been nutty.  Nothing like eating dinner and having Clint Eastwood stroll into the restaurant.  Or seeing Helen Mirran leaving our hotel.  Or Paul Giamotti in the hotel lobby.  Or going for coffee while Chris spends hours talking to members of the press.  Or hearing that release of a collectively held breath as people in the theater watch the end credits roll.  (Sorry for the peacocking here, but I'm one proud wife!!!  This has been an incredible journey for Chris, and it makes me so, so happy to see his hard work paying off in such a big way.)

(And here is where I must mention the propeller plane experience.  Chris and I flew out on a direct flight from Providence to Toronto, and our tickets were very generously provided by the team at Lionsgate.  Foolish travelers that we are, we thought the seats "3A" and "3C" on our tickets were indicative of first class seating.  But when the teeny, 20 seat propeller plane pulled up on the tarmac - because it was too small to pull up to the gate proper - I turned ash white and said to my husband, "Oh.  That plane has propellers."  And then started to cry out of panic.  Dear readers, I hadn't taken any medication to help me fly since we were in Barcelona last summer - since BSparl was on board.  But I popped some right quick when that plane arrived.  And then we boarded the plane.  And I realized that I could see out the same window that the kind pilot was watching the world from.  I have never been more freaked out on a plane in my life.  And honestly, I have never been on a smoother flight.  Despite the fact that the plane was roughly the size of a minivan and my heart was in my throat for the entire two hour and eight minute flight, it was the chillest flight of all time.  I feel like I hit a milestone by successfully traveling on that prop plane.  Granted, I was especially thankful for the mega-plane that we flew on our way back home, but still - I flew on a prop plane.  That, for me, is a very big deal.)

Buried opens this weekend in select cities, and nationwide on October 8th.  If you're in the NYC, LA, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, or Chicago area, you can check out out on Friday, September 24th!   

September 02, 2010

Diabetes and Moving: Fun.

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

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

June 22, 2010

Pregnant With Pre-Existing Diabetes?

For anyone who has been reading my blog since my engagement three years ago, you know that motherhood has been on my radar for a long time.  Longer than marriage.  That quest for a decent A1C, that desire for a "normal" pregnancy, and that hope for a happy and healthy baby.

Buy this book!Part of the reason I wanted to write about my pregnancy here on SUM is because there wasn't a lot of information out there about pre-existing diabetes and pregnancy.  There was a LOT of information on gestational diabetes (obviously), and type 2 diabetes got some good press, but type 1 was sort of swept under the rug.  Thankfully, there were a few diabetes bloggers who had chronicled their journeys, and I wanted to add my voice to that hopeful chorus.   

But also thankfully, Cheryl Alkon had taken the topic to her publisher, and she penned the first book on managing pre-existing diabetes and pregnancy.  And I'm very honored to have been both featured in her book (as a women preparing for pregnancy) and to have her contributing here on SUM:

Doom and gloom. That was the message I got several years ago when I first thought about trying to have a baby while also dealing with my type 1 diabetes. Whether at the doctor's office, going online, or reading the very few books about the subject, trying to get and be pregnant while managing blood sugars, taking insulin, closely counting carbs (and avoiding a lot of low-carb proteins that were good for blood sugars, but bad for babies-to-be) all sounded like a nearly impossible task. One fraught with higher risks of birth defects, overweight babies, worsened diabetes complications, and more.

But I also saw type 1 friends who had healthy babies and sensed what could be possible. This spurred me to research, craft a book proposal, and eventually devote myself to publishing an insider's guide to pregnancy with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. I'm thrilled to say that, five years later, "Balancing Pregnancy With Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby" was published by Demos Health this spring, and has been enthusiastically welcomed by others who, like me, craved the inside story about how to have a healthy pregnancy and baby while managing diabetes.

I had the pleasure of receiving an advance copy of Cheryl's book just before my baby was born, and even though I was in my third trimester and just weeks away from delivering my daughter, it was so reassuring to read about all the things that could go right.  A diabetic pregnancy is a high-risk one, and the challenges can lead to some tough emotional roller coasters and some scary medical experiences (see also:  stuck in the hospital for a month) - but these pregnancies can also lead to a healthy, happy baby.  (See also:  BSparl)  Touching on everything from pre-conception to managing the months of the pregnancy to post-delivery recovery and how to wrangle in diabetes control once again, this book was exactly what I needed to read while pregnant with my daughter.  I only wish it had gone to press before I had conceived!

If you are a woman with diabetes and you're thinking about becoming pregnant, this book is a good resource for you.  If you are the partner of a WWD (woman with diabetes) and you want the full story on how pregnancy and diabetes can mix, this book is a good resource for you, too.  And if you are the parent of a woman with diabetes and you want to know that your child can have the same chances of a healthy pregnancy as any other woman, this book is a good resource for you as well.  

Cheryl will actually be speaking in Boston in the coming weeks (the first event being THIS WEDNESDAY - sign up!), so if you'd like to hear more from Cheryl in person (and meet my endocrinologist, who consulted on the book with Cheryl), you can attend a discussion this Wednesday.  For more details on upcoming events, check out Cheryl's post on her blog.

Thank you, Cheryl, for giving new moms and moms-to-be with diabetes a sense of peace.  And congratulations on your BIG ANNOUNCEMENT on your blog today!

May 18, 2010

Dos.

A little over three years ago, my best friend proposed to me as the sun was setting in St. John. 


We were married on a sunny afternoon in May, surrounded by our friends and family.


And today, as we mark our second wedding anniversary, we're a family of three.


Happy anniversary to the guy who is my hero, my inspiration, and who tolerates all my nonsense.  I've loved being his girlfriend, then fiance, then bride, wife, and now mother of his baby girl.  It's been a busy few years, Chris, and I am excited for what our future holds!!!

April 16, 2010

Looking Back: Between Dinner and a Movie.

I didn't appreciate everything my parents did for me as I grew up with diabetes, but hindsight being 20/20, I definitely have an appreciation now for their hard work and dedication to not only my health, but keeping the family's routine as "normal" as possible.  And now that I have a child of my own, that appreciation is deeper than I thought possible. 

This post ran here last summer, and I still mean every word.  (Including the bit about the alligators in the carpet.  I know my brother and sister and I weren't the only ones who avoided them!) 

*   *   *

Saturday nights when we were very small were the best. 

We made blanket forts and used every damn cushion in the couch.  Laying pillows on the floor, we'd jump from down-filled island to island, pretending that the carpet was infested with alligators and only by balancing on the pillows would we be safe.

The babysitter always promised to make healthy dinner, but usually we ate popcorn, chicken fingers, and drank diet soda by the bottle, filling the glasses to the very brim and frantically slurping the carbonated foam awayI loved this doll.  I even pretended she had diabetes.  Which is a  bit odd. before it could spill over.

My favorite babysitters were the ones who played with us, not just sat there and talked with their boyfriends on the phone.  Carolyn was my favorite one of all and I named my Cabbage Patch doll after her that year.  She was pretty and smart and the characters she pretended to be were so clever.  She was the perfect example, to me at seven years old, of what a 'hero' really was.

My parents had a standing Saturday night "date night," and they would go out to dinner either alone or with some friends, then maybe to a movie.  Usually they left when it was still light out, while we were still outside playing in the yard or just coming in to have a snack.  My brother and sister and I played and fought and made messes and told stories and generally destroyed the house, like little kids do.

Only now, when my memory is jogged, do I remember the headlights pulling back in the driveway, between when dinner ended and the movie began. 

Dad would wait in the car while Mom ran in quickly to test me and give me my bedtime insulin injection.  Then she'd say goodnight to all of us and run back out to the car to continue "date night."

Only now do I remember those moments and wish I'd named "Carolyn" after my mother, instead.

February 14, 2010

Looking Back on Valentine's Day: The Peanut Butter.

I am all mushy this Valentine's Day, because I am very much in love with my weird and wonderful husband, and I can't believe that in just nine short weeks, we'll be meeting our little girl.  Chris has been a supporter of mine in so many ways, both here on the blog and in the diabetes scope of things, but also behind the scenes, in ways that we share together as a family.  It's by no means perfect, but we grow and learn through each tough moment, and that's what makes it feel right.  

So since it's Sunday, and it's Valentine's Day, and since the mush-factor is running rampant around the world today anyway, I wanted to revisit a post I wrote back in 2007.  Back before we lived together, before we were engaged, and before there was ever even the hope of a child.  

Because when it comes right down to it, it's all about the peanut butter.

*   *   *

Before we moved in together, I lived alone in a very cute apartment in South County, RI.  He came over one night after work and we made a trip to the grocery store.  As we unpacked the bags, I told him I had a very strange habit once I developed a crush on someone.  It was silly and childish, yet I was still doing it.

It involved peanut butter.

“If I buy a new jar of peanut butter, I peel back the foil and use the tip of a knife to write in the name of the person I have a crush on.”

He looked at me with an amused grin. 

“You do?  Really?”

I blushed.  “Yes, I do.  I know it’s a weird habit.  But I keep doing it.” 

“Have you ever written my name?”  He poked me gently in the ribs.

“Yes.”  Face on fire now.  Why was I telling him this?  I sounded ridiculous.

We finished putting away the groceries. 

A few nights later, as I was alone in my little apartment, I reached up into the cabinet and grabbed the new jar of peanut butter.  Knife in hand, I unscrewed the lid and prepared to etch his name.  I smiled to myself at the goofiness of it all.  My name in the peanut butter.

I lifted off the lid and the knife clattered to the countertop.  I couldn’t help myself from smiling and my eyes filled with tears.

In the top of my new jar of peanut butter, he had written my name.

He inspired me to start this blog and he supports every bit of this adventure.  He moved away from home with me so I could pursue a career at dLife. (He even helps me check for typos.)  He makes me laugh every day.  And he tolerates my idiot cats.

He is my best friend and I love him dearly.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Chris. 

I still write your name in the peanut butter.

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.

February 01, 2010

Sundance: The Festival Itself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 30, 2009

A Piece of Embarrassment Pie.

Diabetes police - :(Over the last few weeks, I have had a few run-ins with the gentlest of diabetes police - people who don't mean to be second-guessing me or asking me why I'm eating that, but still, they can't help but ask.  Sometimes their questions are subtle and we end up having a quiet, private discussion about what type 1 diabetes means to my life, and I welcome these opportunities as ways to help educate and advocate.

But other times, when I'm at the table with a piece of pie in my hand and about to sink my fork into it, knowing full-well that I am at a very good blood sugar and have bolused for the pie carefully, and someone asks, "Why are you eating that?" ... I feel completely defeated.  And embarrassed.  Can't a girl have dessert without being questioned?  And when questioned, why isn't my explanation good enough to justify my actions? 

I'd like to be a person with diabetes who sits down for dinner and eats with everyone without the scrutiny.

There's a difference, in my eyes, between choosing to be a diabetes advocate and being forced to explain myself.  I have no problem explaining to a stranger what the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is, or what this machine on my hip is, or why my purse keeps BEEEEEEP!ing, or why I'm carrying more candy than an Oompa Loompa.  I actually like having these discussions, because I feel like people are only familiar with one kind of diabetes and one linear explanation for "the sugar," and I like knowing that I'm helping to educate them about the different kinds of diabetes, particularly type 1. 

What I don't enjoy is having someone look at me like I'm doing something wrong, just because they are unfamiliar with the ways that my diabetes needs to be managed (or the way I'm choosing to manage it).  I've written about diabetes and guilt before, and my inability to ever be "the perfect diabetic," so this isn't a new gripe.  But what's made me particularly frustrated is how there seems to be this common misconception that "it's only diabetes" and it's okay to pass judgment on my choices.  Diabetes isn't viewed as a serious disease to those outside the bubble of understanding, and complications for a young person with type 1 can thankfully be hard to spot, so maybe diabetes just looks too easy to some people.  Maybe we are just too good at masking how challenging it can be sometimes.

What would my well-meaning diabetes police say if I responded to their comment of "Whoa!  Having pie?  You can't have pie!" with a dissertation:

"Yes, I can have pie.  If I'm willing to go through the necessary motions, you know?  I have type 1 diabetes, and I wear this pump to give myself the insulin hormone that I don't make for myself anymore.  Supplementing all day long!  Unlike type 2 diabetes, which I know you're more familiar with, I don't make any insulin at all, so every meal is a tight balance of blood sugar monitoring, carbohydrate counting, and then dosing my insulin in accordance with the meal I'm about to eat.  Then, after the meal, I'll keep monitoring to make sure that I'm not going too high or too low.  It's about balance, but not about deprivation.  So yes, I can eat this.  And I will eat this.  And so long as I'm able to keep my numbers in check, my body shouldn't rebel after a piece of pie."

The thing is, I've given this explanation before.  Many times.  And I've explained diabetes to so many family members and so many friends (and just as many complete strangers) that it frustrates me endlessly to see that they aren't retaining any of the information.  And not only are they missing what I'm saying, but they're constantly - albeit gently - calling me out for my actions.  It makes me feel like such a crumb, like everyone is watching me while I eat.  (Nothing like that to make you feel paranoid.  Not to mention pregnancy weight gain, adding insult to injury.)  I know they mean well, and I appreciate their concern, but they need to listen to me when I answer them.  And they need to trust me when I give a clear explanation.  I'm not asking them to explain their food choices or exercise decisions or the details of their daily regimen - it's not my business. 

I'm sorry if I seem frustrated, but the scrutiny is making my head and my heart ache.   I don't have a track record of being irresponsible.  I don't exhibit signs of disease ignorance or depression or unawareness.   I'm taking very good care of myself, especially now with the baby growing inside of me and my focus turned to diabetes the majority of my day.  I'm tuned in.  I'm careful.  I'm doing my best.

Yes, I can have the pie.  Next time, I might skip it for reasons all my own.  But whatever my decision, please don't assume you have a right to question it.  Until you are living with type 1 diabetes, you don't understand.  And I'm not expecting you to understand - ask me what you want to ask me.  I'm more than willing to talk to you about this. 

But if you don't have a question, and you only have those comments, I'm just respectfully asking you to be quiet.   Please.  I've had enough.

November 09, 2009

Two Heartbeats on D-Blog Day.

Diabetes Blog Day, 2009.  Holla ... and whatnot.The first time we saw him (or her), it was at the emergency room back in Connecticut.  We were only seven weeks into the pregnancy and barely had caught our breath from finding out when the bleeding happened and I panicked.  We spent five hours in the emergency room, poked and prodded and with an IV line at the ready, only to finally be wheeled into the ultrasound room. 

"Just relax, Mrs. Sparling.  And we'll take a look and see if everything is okay."

And the screen switched on and Chris and I saw our baby's heartbeat, strong and steady and fast, beating inside of me.  Everything changed forever, even though nothing had changed yet.

The bleeding stopped that day, and we moved forward, cautiously, frightened, and so hopeful.  A few weeks later, my mother and I (Chris was in LA on business) were at my Joslin appointment for the first "official" ultrasound, hoping to see the baby growing strong and steadily.

"Oh, there it is.  There's your baby.  Those parts there at the end?  The feet.  Those are the little feet, ready to kick."

And I watched as the teeny, hamster-looking creature inside of me kicked his little feet.  So small.  So ... surreal.  I couldn't wait to see him again.

Two weeks ago, Chris and I were at the Joslin Clinic for the first of a few second trimester ultrasounds, and from what my eight months pregnant best friend had already told me, this ultrasound was very different than the first one.  "It looks like an actual baby at that point," she said, her blue eyes wide.

Chris and I talked with Dr. T, the OB/GYN, for a while about how I've been feeling, my numbers, and overall how the pregnancy is progressing.

"I feel good.  Tired a lot, and doing a bit more traveling than I'm used to these days, but I'm feeling better now that I'm in the second trimester and past that fall-down exhausted bit from the first couple months."

"Good, sounds like you're doing great.  So ... wanna see the baby?"

"Yes!"

I hopped up on the examining table and Chris took a seat by the ultrasound monitor as Dr. T. moved in with the external ultrasound wand.  "A little bit of this warm gel right on your belly and ... okay, there we go!"

On the screen was a baby.  A whole baby, all big-headed and waving arms and kicking legs.  Our baby.  Hands with fingers, legs with knees.  This baby looked like a real baby.

"Oh my God, is that him?  He's so big!"  I couldn't believe this was the same little hamster from just a month or so ago.  He took up the entire space of my uterus, which was a big change from all the room he appeared to have a month ago.  Now he looked like he was out of room in there (and I knew that meant my own expansion was coming fast).

"Yes, that's the baby.  Calling him a 'him,' are you?  We'll find that out next month, right?"

I watched as the baby turned and squirmed, raising his arms up and his body lurching just a little bit every few seconds. 

"Dr. T, does he have the hiccups in there?"

She looked closely and smiled.  "Yes, that looks rhythmic and steady.  Looks like hiccups to me.  Would you like to hear the heartbeat?"

She turned a knob on the ultrasound machine and suddenly the room was filled with a steady whump whump whump sound - the sound of our child's heartbeat.  It was incredible, hearing my own heart thudding in my ears with excitement as my baby fluttered along inside of me.  Chris held my hand as I brought the other one up to my eyes to catch the tears that collected there.

Two heartbeats, both inside of me.  

And today, on D-Blog Day, I wanted to share this story with you guys.  You have been with me from when Chris and I first moved in together, back when the dream of a heartbeat other than my own was something I only hoped to one day hear.  Now, every day that passes brings BSparl closer and closer to meeting his mom and dad.

When I was diagnosed, they said that children would be near impossible for me.  And while I know that nothing is certain until that baby is in my arms, I am already so proud of where we've come, as a Sparling family and as an even larger diabetes community.  We have hope now, hope for lives that are wonderful and meaningful, despite diabetes.  Diabetes is a heavy load to carry, but with the support we get from this community, the burden is so much lighter.

Happy D-Blog Day, you guys.  And thanks for being part of my extended family.

October 14, 2009

Dear Baby.

Dear Baby,

I've been thinking about you for a long time.

My doctors told me it would be a challenge to have you.  They said that diabetes would be a tricky hurdle as I planned for you.  They said you might not happen.  There were so many reasons to be scared and so many reasons to doubt, but I never gave up on you, Baby.  I have always wanted you and have worked so tirelessly to make my body safe for you.

And at the end of August, at the Joslin Pregnancy Clinic appointment several weeks ago, I thought you could possibly be there.  I thought there was a chance, because your dad and I were ready to try for you, so we took that leap.

"It's so early, so the test might not show a positive result, but we should do one anyway.  But remember, it might not be positive because you wouldn't be very far along."  The CDE gave me a warm smile while the nurse went to test the sample.

Your dad went into the waiting room to sit.  We didn't know how long it would take to get the results back.  And while I was waiting, the CDE and I were talking in the hallway about how great it would be if you really were there.

Then the nurse opened the door of the lab and came out with the test in her hand.

"Oh, she's definitely pregnant.  Look!"

I'm pregnant!!!

And I saw two lines.  And the CDE began to cry.  And then the nurse began to tear up.  I cried, too, because I was so scared and humbled and in love with you already.

"Chris, Chris!"  Even though we were in a waiting room with people who were there for their own appointments, the world sort of stopped for a minute so we could have our moment.

Chris heard the commotion from the waiting room, and came over, his eyes shining.  And Baby, I wish I told him about you with even a scrap of grace.  That I'd whispered, "We're pregnant!" or "We're having a baby!" or even, "Oh my God!" 

"It's on!" is what I said.

Super classy.

We hugged.  And we kissed.  And the family in the waiting room burst into a quiet applause.

There have been many weeks that have passed, and they haven't been the smoothest.  There have been some very scary moments, and I'm still scared to be writing this all down.  There have been so many doctor's appointments since that day.  Thankfully, everything seems to be just fine and on track, and my diabetes is under the best control I've ever achieved.  (Last A1C, taken Friday, was 6.2%!)  You are growing fast, and we've slowly told our friends and family about you.  Everyone is very excited, and I'm working really hard to make sure that we both remain safe.  You're coming next spring  and we couldn't be happier.  Being your mom is the most important job I will ever have, and I'm ready.  

When I looked in the mirror this morning, I saw the rounded baby bump and felt such a surge of happiness.  I don't know if I'll be the best mom, or the most "together" one, or even if I'll be one who has any clue what she's doing.  But I'm so excited for you to arrive, even though I am scared and careful and preparing as best I can. 

You are so wanted.

Baby, I can't wait to meet you.  I've always wanted to be your mommy.  And in just under six months, I'll be able to hold you in my arms instead of just in my heart.

I love you so much.  And now everyone knows.

Love,
Your Mommy

July 01, 2009

Between Dinner and a Movie.

Saturday nights when we were very small were the best. 

We made blanket forts and used every damn cushion in the couch.  Laying pillows on the floor, we'd jump from down-filled island to island, pretending that the carpet was infested with alligators and only by balancing on the pillows would we be safe.

The babysitter always promised to make healthy dinner, but usually we ate popcorn, chicken fingers, and drank diet soda by the bottle, filling the glasses to the very brim and frantically slurping the carbonated foam awayI loved this doll.  I even pretended she had diabetes.  Which is a bit odd. before it could spill over.

My favorite babysitters were the ones who played with us, not just sat there and talked with their boyfriends on the phone.  Carolyn was my favorite one of all and I named my Cabbage Patch doll after her that year.  She was pretty and smart and the characters she pretended to be were so clever.  She was the perfect example, to me at seven years old, of what a 'hero' really was.

My parents had a standing Saturday night "date night," and they would go out to dinner either alone or with some friends, then maybe to a movie.  Usually they left when it was still light out, while we were still outside playing in the yard or just coming in to have a snack.  My brother and sister and I played and fought and made messes and told stories and generally destroyed the house, like little kids do.

Only now, when my memory is jogged, do I remember the headlights pulling back in the driveway, between when dinner ended and the movie began. 

Dad would wait in the car while Mom ran in quickly to test me and give me my bedtime insulin injection.  Then she'd say goodnight to all of us and run back out to the car to continue "date night."

Only now do I remember those moments and wish I'd named "Carolyn" after my mother, instead.

June 25, 2009

A Sparling Sighting in Variety: Buried.

This morning's Variety article reads as follows:

"After starring with Sandra Bullock in romantic comedy "The Proposal," Ryan Reynolds has lined up a much grittier proposition for his next film.

Reynolds will star in "Buried," playing a civilian contractor who's kidnapped in Iraq and awakens buried in a coffin in the desert, armed only with a cell phone, a candle and a knife.

Rodrigo Cortes will direct a script by Chris Sparling; production will begin this month in Barcelona.

Peter Safran will produce through his Safran Co. banner with Adrian Guerra of Spain-based Versus Entertainment, which is financing the film. The picture will shoot entirely in Spain, which is home to Cortes, best known for directing "The Contestant."

Reynolds takes the job after the showy role of Deadpool in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "The Proposal."

He decided to go the indie route as a way to stretch his acting chops in a movie with a claustrophobic premise, and one in which he holds the screen through most of the picture.

Reynolds, the writer and director are repped by UTA."

Wait a second ... is that a Sparling in there? 

Oh indeed it is!!!  That's a Chris Sparling right in there!!! 

I am so, so proud to announce news that I've been itching to share for a while now.  Chris's script, "Buried," is being made into a movie this summer.  In Spain.  Starring Ryan Reynolds.  More details to come here in a few weeks, but for now I remain a very proud Sparling.

Thanks for being part of not only the diabetes journey here, guys, but the life one.  I'm really happy to be able to share this news with you all!!

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.)

June 12, 2009

Community, Everywhere!

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

Tune in to dLifeTV to catch these new shows!

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

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

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

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

June 01, 2009

Let There Be Cake!

Even though our anniversary was two weeks ago, we had to wait until this weekend to score our cake.

This shit will set you back about 4,323 units of Humalog.

(Note:  Our original agreement with the cake baker was that instead of saving our wedding cake topper for a year and eating nostalgic, yet crunchy-stale cake, we would have a new cake baked on our anniversary.  Which was fortunate because our actual cake topper ended up in my Aunt Linda's back room for three weeks, stored with our wedding gifts, while we were on our honeymoon.  We returned to a box filled with cake that had sprouted what appeared to be ferns.  Thus, inedible.  And double-thus, we were thankful for the 'new cake' agreement.)

So on Saturday morning, Chris and I went to a cool little tea house in southern RI and stuffed our faces full of red velvet cake with butter cream frosting.

So delicious!

It.  Was.  Awesome.

And as irony would have it, my blood sugar was 130 mg/dl two hours after aforementioned gluttony.

The diabetes gods were smiling upon us.  Thankfully.  Because I've been wondering where the hell they've been lately.  ;)

May 15, 2009

Marking Our First Year.

A year ago this coming Monday, 

They helped me put my wedding gown on.

my mom and my two closest friends helped me into my gown.

The Sparlings, full-length this time!

And I walked down the aisle and married my hero, my love, and my best friend. 

Oh, and there was cake!

(Bonus: There was cake!)

 The Sparlings.

Almost a year ago, I became his wife.

I love you very much, Chris.  And I'm looking forward to growing old with you.
 
We're leaving for our cruise on Monday, so I'll be MIA from the Internet until the 24th.  I have some really great guest posts lined up that I'm honored to be hosting, so check back in and meet some new writers and some old favorites.  :)

Have a great week! 

March 13, 2009

My Mom Says Hi.

I love my mom.It's no secret that my mom is a huge part of my success as an adult with diabetes.  Her support, even when I rebelled against it with all my might, has made me confident in dealing with whatever diabetes has to throw at me. 

My mom has guest posted here a few times in the past (here are her archived entries), and she's offered to share her perspective again.  Reading her posts makes me think about how much the parents of kids with diabetes work so hard to maintain our "normal." 

From My Mom: 

Hello ... Kerri’s mom here! From time to time, Kerri will ask me to do a guest post.  What prompted me to post at this time is her recent blog regarding her old childhood journals. (Yes, she could write like a champ way back when. It’s always been a gift she has possessed.)

The fact that Kerri went to Clara Barton Camp from the time she was diagnosed until she was too old was a blessing in that I was able to hand over the responsibility of her medical care to a very capable and trusted staff at the camp. I don’t think I ever thought of it as “ok, now we can be normal for two weeks.” Maybe her siblings thought there would now be more sugary, tasty treats available during those two weeks that were not hidden in frozen bean boxes.

Parents are responsible for the well being of their children from birth to when they  are able to live on their own. (Not that it stops us from worrying.)  Throw diabetes into the mix and it can be overwhelming at times. We love our children and would do anything to keep them safe and protected. It is our “job.” I looked at sending Kerri to camp as a benefit to everyone in our family. She could bond with children who deal with the same issues she did on a daily basis. They can complain about how over protective their parents are and that we don’t understand what it’s like. No, we don’t, but as a parent these children don’t understand the fear that is ever present in our minds. Will we handle their diabetes care well enough to ensure that they don’t have serious lows or highs? Have we done enough to protect their future health from diabetes complications. It’s a scary ride we parents are on. I guess until they have children of their own … they can’t know how we feel just like we can’t know what it’s truly like for them.

Kerri used to get upset with me when I would say things like “we have to do a better job at…” She said it wasn’t a “we” disease, it was she who had diabetes. I beg to differ! When you are trying to protect your child from the consequences of diabetes or any disease it does become “our” disease as well. How can we let anything bad happen to them? You become the Lioness protecting her cub! I thought I was the only one that knew how to take care of her and I didn’t insist that others help out. If I could go back in time, I would certainly rethink that one! Everyone needs a support network. In a way, Clara Barton camp was that for me.

I needed that two week camp time to regroup. To take a mental health vacation. While she was at camp, I would often wonder how she was doing. How were her blood sugars running? Was she having fun?  But I can say that I wasn’t worried. She was in good hands. We both felt refreshed when camp was over. Kerri would come home having forged some long lasting friendships. She was more confident and determined. Camp allowed her to share feelings with other kids who understood what it was like to live with diabetes. No worries about acting weird when low…they all had been there and done that!

I lost my job as “Protector of the Kerri” a long time ago. She is very capable of handling her life and health. Will I always worry about her? Yes, like I do with all my children. That’s normal. But she is very fortunate in that she is married to Chris. My mind is at ease ... he is my Clara Barton camp!

Thanks, Mom.  For everything. 

February 19, 2009

BlogHer '09 - PatientBloggers.

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

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

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

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

February 13, 2009

Mushy Stuff: Diabetes Edition.

A little love and diabetes never hurt anyone.  :)I love Chris. 

Not that I need to tell you guys - I think it's pretty obvious - but sometimes I lose sight of how much I appreciate him.  I don't tell him how much he means to me as often as I should.  He is a wonderful partner.  There's all the regular relationship stuff- he pumps the gas for my car so I don't have to stand in the cold, he takes out the garbage, he laughs at my stupid jokes, he reads my written messes and helps me make sense of them - but our relationship has an extra, special component that others don't.

He is the significant other of a person with diabetes.  

I don't know what it's like to fill that role.  I am the diabetic, so I only know things from my perspective.  But he makes it look so easy.  A 3 am low blood sugar that has me in tears?  He knows how to quickly give me juice and wipe the sweat from my forehead.  Weeks of working out with no visible results?  He knows what words will soothe me:  "You are healing from the inside out."  Those moments when I feel like I'm crumbling emotionally?   His hugs seem to put my pieces back together again.

And it's not just the serious stuff.  We aren't always talking about complications and fears.  He makes this diabetes stuff feel so normal.  He makes me feel like everyone is wearing multiple devices attached to their body when they climb into bed.  Disconnecting a pump before sex?  Who doesn't do that?  Attaching a new sensor becomes something we do together, with me inserting the needle and Chris wielding the hairdryer like Johan

Chris celebrates the victories with me.  When my wedding dress was perfectly fitted with a pocket to conceal my pump, he knew that was an important moment.  When my period fell perfectly into monthly step after going off the pill, we actually high-fived.  When the Dexcom shows a nice, nine-hour flatline, we do a dance.   And when my A1C dropped a full point, he knew it was a step towards success.

Even though his pancreas works properly, he lives with diabetes, too.  Just as every loving caregiver of a PWD lives with diabetes.  They don't feel the highs and lows as acutely as we do, but they have their own individual variations on these moments that are just as poignant and just as evocative.  Chris understands what this disease means and how it can unfold, but he's as committed to my health and to my life as I am.

Some would say that he loves me, and my diabetes

But I can say that he just loves me.  It's not about diabetes.  It's not like "Kerri" and "diabetes" have to be separate entities, just like "writer" and "uncoordinated" and "messy-hairdo in the morning" and "hot-tempered" remain parts of my whole.  I'm one big mess, and he loves me just as I am

This Saturday will be my first Valentine's Day as his wife

"What I really want is to celebrate a 50th anniversary with you, Chris," I said to him over the weekend.  "Do you think we'll do that?"

He knows what I mean.  Not "Will we be together," but "Will I be okay?" 

"Of course we will."  He knows this.  It's a certainty.  "You'll be 79.  I'll be 81.  And Siah will be 53." 

He's a ridiculous man and I'm lucky to have him.

(And I'll always, always write his name in the peanut butter.) 

February 09, 2009

Thirty Reasons.

Birthday!!!!!My birthday was happy.  I have thirty reasons.

  1. We stayed at a bed and breakfast that was so out of the way that it was like being in another country.
  2. The bed was king-sized with many fluffy pillow and ZERO cats milling about.
  3. Our room had a jacuzzi tub and a fireplace.
  4. I'm now mature enough to write "jacuzzi tub and fireplace" without feeling like pointing out something shiny.
  5. Hey!  Something shiny!
  6. (Being 30 doesn't mean I am devoid of the ability to blush.  Scratch off No. 4 - it's obviously a lie.)
  7. An early day-before-dinner included onion rings.  That, in and of itself, means certain joy.
  8. My cell phone stayed OFF for hours on end, only checking occasionally for birthday messages from my friends and family.
  9. An early birthday message from my oldest friend in the world included a link to this photo, which made me smile and think about first grade.
  10. I woke up on my birthday without setting an alarm, and had the most delicious coffee and eggs for breakfast.
  11. I didn't feel any different, and I felt good that I was marking another healthy year.
  12. The weather was edging towards warm, the sun was bright, and my husband is excellent company.
  13. I had a beer and French Toast for lunch.  That was a first.
  14. When we returned from lunch, we found that the woman who ran the B&B had left an African Violet for me as a birthday gift
  15. The woman who cleaned the room also didn't fuss about the used test strips that almost made it into the garbage can.  Instead, she stacked them up quite nicely on the bathroom sink, in case I needed them.
  16. This made me laugh.  I can't exactly explain why.
  17. We watched movies, took a nap, and talked about our future.
  18. You couldn't see my pump at all in the black dress I wore to dinner. 
  19. Thanks to the magic of the GPS, we made it to the restaurant for dinner without getting completely lost.
  20. We consumed eggplant, fresh bread with olive oil and sea salt, fried mozzarella, and lemon meringue dessert and my blood sugar stayed so well-behaved I thought I might be cured.
  21. When I mispronounced "meringue" as "merengue," Chris didn't die laughing.
  22. Birthday text from NBF:  "It's the beginning of the best part!"  Damn straight.
  23. Champagne makes the best POP! noise ever.
  24. My pump infusion site needed to be changed after only two days due to excessive time spent in aforementioned jacuzzi tub.
  25. I can't think of a better reason to have to change a pump site.
  26. We came home early in the afternoon and discovered that the cats cleaned up decently enough after the party they surely threw.
  27. In unpacking, I found a pair of shoes in the closet that I have never worn, making them new all over again.  Unintentional birthday gift to myself, it seems.
  28. I checked the Internet out and saw so many wonderfully kind birthday messages that I got a little bit emotional.
  29. My handsome husband gave me a hug.
  30. Life is good.
(Now I just have to wait a few years until my Larry Bird Birthday.  Look out!)

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!

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 08, 2008

My Parents.

I saw a mother and her eight year old daughter at the train station this morning.  It was kind of chilly out, so most of the conversations on the platform were visible, with little puffs of cold above the speaker's mouths.  The mom leaned over to her child and touches her finger tip to what looked like a cell phone.  The child drew back her hand and stuck her finger in her mouth.  The mom looked at the machine, furrowed her eyebrow, and  said something to her daughter.  Her daughter reached into her coat, pulled out another machine, then tucked it back into her jacket. 

Untrained eyes wouldn't see this action as anything of note.  Commuters weren't staring.  Everyone was going about their business - a regular Wednesday morning.  But I saw this mother's daily business - keeping her child alive.  I'm watching this from the sidewalk, not able to hear what's being said.  I can only imagine the words, but they sound so familiar.

I read a lot of diabetes blogs (I know - me?!) and some of the blogs written by my fellow diabetics really touch my heart.  Even though we're all working at different jobs, driving different cars, maintaining different values, and living in different families and skins, every last one of us is dealing with the same vulnerability.  We're all trying to pinch hit for our pancreases, and it can be a tough road at times.

Reading the blogs from the parents of children with diabetes ... they touch my heart, too.  But some times they break it.  

I forget that while I'm testing my blood sugar, wearing the pump, and doing my diabetes thing every day, my mother and father are still worrying.  My parents had to step in when I was diagnosed because I was a little kid who has more interest in climbing trees than climbing blood sugars. And I can't imagine what it's like to have a child with diabetes - I've only been a child with diabetes, and now an adult with diabetes.  Sometimes it hurts a bit to prick my finger or do an injection, but I can control and manage that pain.  I can't imagine what it must have been like for my mom to have me crying and hiding behind the dining room curtains while she drew up my shot when I was a kid.  It wasn't like that all the time, but I'd imagine that once was enough to leave a mark on my mother.

They are always our mothers.This mother this morning reminded me of my own mom.  Made me think about the other parents of kids with diabetes, and what they do every day to keep us safe, healthy, and able to be kids.  Just regular kids, even if we have to take a break from playing every now and again to test or shoot or eat.  Some of the blogger moms and dads write about their child's diabetes, and I have to really concentrate to find the bits of diabetes memories from my childhood.  And I prefer it that way - my childhood wasn't "childhood with diabetes" but instead just "childhood."  Our parents, they protect us and keep us safe from feeling scared and unsure.  They absorb those feelings for us and try to make our lives as normal as possible.  And I am so thankful for everything my parents did for me.

The train rumbled to a stop and the mother and daughter climbed on board.  And I went into my office and called my mom.  

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 03, 2008

Kerri in the Wild.

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

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

Cadillac Mountain sunrise

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

Bar Harbor boats

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

Best breakfast in Maine!

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

Thunder Hole - We had to bring our own waves.

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

Kerri conquers Gorham Mountain.

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

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

August 29, 2008

I Love The Dirt.

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

Stop laughing. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 15, 2008

The Diabetes Police.

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

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

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

July 16, 2008

Body Image.

What fits.Beauty benchmarks seem to be measured in what size pants you fit into and what designer hand bag you have draped over your rail-thin arm. 

This is the biggest bunch of crap I have ever heard.  In my life.

There's a lot of body image problems in our society.  Women are shown almost-unattainable media images and are encouraged - expected? - to achieve that look.  As a girl with diabetes and part of a family of curvier people, whittling my body down to that socially mandated size isn't easy ... and wasn't accomplished.  Life with diabetes puts a huge emphasis on food, making me unable to eat just a raisin for lunch.  Instead, I ate in accordance with the then-peaking of my insulin and tried to keep my weight, and my diabetes, under control.  This was difficult at times.

I was never a "thin" adult.  I've always had more of an athletic build than that of a runway model.  As a kid, I was scrawny, but once puberty hit, my body took on womanly curves and held fast to them.  I never felt shapely or feminine - instead, I felt fat. In college, I lived with six other girls (six until me?) and they were all teeny little things.  They had thin arms and thin legs and they shared clothes with one another, but I couldn't get in on that scene because I was about two sizes bigger than all of them.  If they were wearing size 4 pants, I was in an 8.  I always felt a bit bigger, a bit more awkward, and very shy about my body. Despite whether or not I looked as overweight as I felt, my mind was entrenched in thoughts that were self-conscious.  I was very unfair to myself, just like many other women are.  It sucks to feel bad about yourself.

Diabetes challenges my health, but it sometimes offers up a healthy perspective.  It took me several years to really come to terms with the fact that my body needs to have different priorities.  Going to the gym has become less about slimming down my stomach and more about improving my cardiovascular health, lowering my A1C, and reducing body fat so that I can make better use of my injected insulin.  It couldn't be about fitting into a smaller dress size because it needed to be about being healthier every day.

I'm not going to be teeny.  I will not be the girl who appears to be challenged by every breeze that blows through.  My body will be strong and curvy and ornamented by various medical devices, like a diabetic Christmas tree.  It's taken me a long time to achieve a level of confidence in how I look and how I feel about myself.  But I see myself now and realize that I don't look much different than I did in high school or in college.   I just feel different.  I feel like the numbers that matter aren't the ones on the scale or sewn into the tag on my skirt, but instead the ones stored in my meter. 

I feel happy, and that looks better on me than any stitch of clothing I own.

June 05, 2008

The Honeymoon.

After all the whirlwind wedding events, Chris and I were long overdue for a nice vacation.  We spent our honeymoon at the Excellence Resort in Punta Cana.  We flew out on Monday morning (early - so early that we only spent a few hours in our fancy honeymoon suite in Providence the night before) and landed in the Dominican around two in the afternoon.  It was so, so awesome to be greeted at the front desk of the hotel, after hours of traveling and a hellish cab ride across the island, by a woman who said, "Welcome home, Mr. and Mrs. Sparling," and handed us a glass of champagne. 

Arriving at the Excellence resort, looking a bit scummed up.  But whatever.

The resort was just gorgeous.  We took hundreds of photos, with the white sand beaches and the thatch hut cottages as our backdrop.  We spent hours on the beach and in the pool, watching as a local hacked open a coconut with a machete, mixed up some crushed ice, rum, and assorted other goodies, and served us a Coco Loco to drink right out of the coconut shell.  And then there was a huge outdoor chess set, where my husband schooled me almost daily.

The outdoor chess set.  We loved this.

We ate at one of the fancy-pants restaurants every night.  We scrubbed off a day's worth of sand and sun and dressed ourselves up each day.  These dinners, my Faithful Readers, are where my diabetes bit the big one.  We had dessert with every meal.  And I don't even mean one dessert - there were multiple desserts with each seating.  My total daily dosage of insulin before the wedding was around 22 units per day.   On our honeymoon, my insulin needs bloated up to 40 ... 42 ... 45  units a day.  (That's an awful lot for me, as I usually eat low-carb and keep away from desserts.)  Thankfully, my blood sugars weren't crap the whole vacation.  They were actually pretty decent. 

Dressed up for dinner.

It was truly paradise.  They even had a different towel animal critter in the bathroom every morning - and you know how I feel about towel animals.

I love me some towel animals.

We had a romantic dinner on the beach, where we dined on French cuisine.  (This is also where little sand bugs dined on us until we slathered ourselves with bug spray, but that's a story for another post.) 

The view from our romantic dinner on the beach.

We relaxed.  It was so awesome, especially after such a huge event.  And it was definitely nice to disconnect from the "real world" for a few days.  No emails, no cell phones, and absolutely no internet access.  We didn't worry about blogs or media ventures or articles that were pending or any blasted deadlines.  Our focus was on each other - and that was it. We disconnected in order to reconnect.  And it was awesome.  Now I know why people do second honeymoons.

At romantic dinner.  Taken by romantic husband.  !!

(I'll add the rest of the honeymoon pictures to Flickr in the next few days.  I have plenty of Diabetes365 photos to upload!)

June 03, 2008

Diabetes On My Wedding Day.

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

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

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

Insulin pump hidden in the wedding dress

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

Reaching into the pocket.

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

Pulling the pump from my pocket

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

Wedding day bolusing

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

Insulin pump hidden in pocket.

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

Concealed!

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

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

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

Flowers with low blood sugar backup treater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.)

May 29, 2008

Sparkling.

Mrs. Kerri Morrone SparlingHey blogosphere!  I've missed you! 

I have so much to tell you all, from marrying my best friend to a joyous reception in Rhode Island surrounded by our families and loved ones, from our luxurious honeymoon in the Dominican Republic and our Coco Loco drinks by the ocean to our safe travels home and our return to work.

There are more than 1,000 pictures that need to be uploaded, giggled at, and enjoyed.  There are countless bottles of champagne in our house.  There are suitcases to be unpacked, cats to be wrangled, and a fridge to be restocked.  There are mountains of well wishes and gracious gestures.  There is so much love in our house right now it's just plain ridiculous.

(I've also been called "Kerri Sparkling" by three different offices I spoke with today.  This may be an amusing trend of miscommunication.  But it's a definite upgrade from "Nice to meet you, Miss Moron!"  I also returned to quite a surprise in my office this morning, but more on that later.  And I did happen to notice a certain Sausage on ICHC - I laughed my ass off!) 

For now, Chris and I are settling in to our new life as husband and wife (Husband! Wife!).  I will be updating as quickly as I can, as the photos roll in and the emails are sifted through.  I'll have plenty of stories coming in the next few days, but I wanted to stop in quickly and reintroduce myself to the blogosphere as Mrs. Kerri Morrone Sparling. 

You guys have been so wonderfully supportive.  Chris and I really appreciate everything you've done for us. 

I could not be happier!!! :D

May 05, 2008

3 am Paralysis.

Sticky sweet, from his head to his feet yeah.No sound woke me up.  I'm not sure how long I was lying there awake and staring off into nothingness, but eventually my shirt felt too sticky and my hands weren't responding to my commands.  Flat on my back and listening to the sounds of Chris's even breathing next to me, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.  Did I want to go back to sleep?  Did I want to try and get out of bed myself?  Did I want to flip on the lamp and finish reading my book?

I knew I was low.  I needed juice so badly and my torso was damp from panic, but I still couldn't stop thinking these completely ridiculous thoughts.  Was I ready to call the church tomorrow morning and confirm the readings we'd selected for our wedding service?  Was that the sound of one of the cats picking at the couch?  I really wanted to just read my book.  Or go back to sleep.  Could not focus on the task at hand.  My brain just wasn't operating.

My eyes slipped shut and I fell into a nervous few moments of sleep, waking to feel those waves of nausea and lethargy wrapping around my body like a snake. 

"Wake up, Kerri.  Wake him up.  Get some help.  Now is not the best time to finish your book."  Internal Motivational Speaker piped up in my ear, yawning.  It was 3 am and she was irritated I had woken her up.  "You're low, kiddo.  Wake him up and ask for help." 

"Chris."  

He woke up instantly, as though he had been waiting for me to say his name.

"Chris.  I need juice.  It's right there on the table but I can't get it.  Please?"  I sound so rational, like I'm in control but inside my body is rattling.

Seconds later, I've drained the bottle and am lying back down, the covers tossed aside and Abby prowling nervously at the foot of the bed.

"I'm dizzy."  My voice felt like it was stuck at the back of my throat, too timid to venture out in full.  "I feel very dizzy, baby.  I'm nervous I might pass out.  Okay?  I need you to know that."

He turned on the light and sat beside me.  "Stay awake, okay?  You drank the juice.  It's going to be better in just a minute."

All I could think about was that damn book, sitting on the bedside table.  I was about 20 pages away from finishing it and it seemed a lot easier to immerse myself in someone else's fictional life than to attend to this low blood sugar.

A few minutes pass.  Chris reaches for my meter and clumsily unzips it.  I can tell just from the sounds that he's not loading up the strip the same way I do, or clicking back the lancet device with the same cadence. Setting up the meter and testing has become autonomic for me and I do it without thinking.  I could hear him struggling, so familiar with the sights but not as fluid when he does it himself.

Shunk.

43 mg/dl.  After juice.  

"Whoa.  I must have been low.  That's after juice."  My brain works rationally, my sentences sound slow, deliberate, but not tangled.   "I can't lift my arms.  My fingers aren't working."  These are not complaints.  These are matter-of-fact statements, spoken to my fiance and hanging there in the air.  "I still feel dizzy.  Can you get the honey?"

Instantly, he's back with that little jar shaped like a bear.  I open the top and wait clumsily for the honey to trickle to the top of the spout.  I take a long pull, my mouth recoiling at the sticky sweetness. 

"Can I sleep?  I've eaten so much.  I'll end up at 300 no problem.   How about we sleep now?"

"How about you lay down and I'll stay awake with you."

I think about that book again.

"Okay.  Just a few minutes.  Then we'll go back to sleep."

Twenty minutes pass.  I regain control of my hands and they reach over to rub his shoulder.

"Thank you, baby.  I feel much better now.  It's okay to sleep now.  I'm better."

This morning, 108 mg/dl.  After all that juice and the honey, I should have been upwards of 270 mg/dl.

I have no idea what causes these late night lows.  Ive only had the Dexcom off for a few days but it seems that this high-stress time is the best time to be wearing it.  I'm dealing with the insurance companies tomorrow. 

(But, for the record, I finished reading the book while I was blow-drying my hair this morning, the little honey bear sitting on the bathroom counter, watching me.)

April 29, 2008

Licensed to Wed.

License to wed ... Yesterday we went home for my final dress fitting (and choose a veil as well.  I absolutely love the veil and plan on wearing it to work for weeks after my wedding), to get our marriage license, to confirm arrangements with our florist, and to attend our marriage classes.

The fitting was perfect, the license was quick and easy, and the florist was efficient.  But what surprised me most was our meeting with the priest.  I don't often discuss religion here on my blog because, to be honest, I am not a very religious person.  I have my beliefs but I do not have a specific church that I follow.  I've seen religion come between couples, refuse to recognize certain relationships, and alienate people who need support the most.  Needless to say, my view of organized religion is one that is respectful, yet highly skeptical.

However.

Last night we met with the priest who will marry us nineteen days from today.  He was warm and approachable, making me feel welcome in his Catholic church instead of feeling ostracized for being the only non-Catholic in the room.  (He was also a big Red Sox fan, so I liked him instantly.)  He talked to the group of engaged couples about the importance of communication and respect in a relationship.  "Talk to each other.  Be honest with one another.  There is nothing more important than the strength of your relationship.  Be lovers.  But also be friends.  There are so many different religions, but we're all on the same road."

I've never been married before, and most of my friends are unmarried, but I know that relationships are different now than they were in the past.  People spend more time working than they do having fun with one another.  There are more infidelities, or more time spent talking to strangers on the internet than people in their real lives, more time focused on things that, in the long run, don't matter nearly as much as love.  Relationships today seem far more selfish than those of the past, with couples more focused on "me" than "we." 

It made me think a lot about my own relationship.  I am thankful that my fiance and I have a healthy romantic relationship, but he is also my best friend and the person I trust most.  We share trials and triumphs alike, and he has made caring for my disease a seamless part of "what we just do."  The priest talked about communication as the cornerstone of a strong relationship, and I am thankful that I am able to talk freely to my future husband.

"The world is burning out there.  You need to hold one another close."

I am looking towards marriage with joy and excitement.  I am thankful for the opportunity to feel such hope. 

March 21, 2008

The Friday Six: Spring Edition

Friday Six!Yay for Spring!  Despite the chilly temperatures outside, I've switched over to my spring coat.  Granted, I froze my ass off walking into work today, but yay!  It's spring!  I'm beyond ready for winter to be ovah (thank you, RI accent that I wish I had) and I can't wait to hit the beach this summer.

Okay, on to The Six.

1.  This is wicked cute, just in time for spring, and courtesy of a fellow AisledasherClick anywhere on the screen and watch the flowers bloom.  It absorbed my attention for at least ten minutes.  And now it's absorbing it all over again.  Mmmmm flowers ... I mean, doughnuts ...

2.  And in keeping with the complete nonsense theme, it's been a walk down the proverbial memory lane here at work lately.  Between a co-worker bringing in her son's copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon and discussions about whether or not Lady Elaine was an alcoholic (look at that nose and tell me she's not drinking daily in the Land of Make Believe), it's been random.  This randomness led neatly into the rediscovery of this memory:  Meow Meow Telephone.  I've watched this clip so many times that it's permanently stuck in my head.  If I could make it my ring tone, I would.  If I could get it out of my head, I would do that, too.

3.  In diabetes news, there's a new site for young people with diabetes.  (Aren't there always new sites?  The Internet - it dizzies me.)  According to Daniel, the developer of the site, "Young Diabetics started with a few college students trying to make a difference for their diabetic friends, family, and acquaintances."  Check it out!

4.  Chris and I are heading home to RI (again) for Easter weekend.  I'm hoping that, between our nieces and nephews and younger cousins, we'll score some colored eggs to take home.  I loved coloring eggs as a kid.  The Paas tablets in my mother's tea cups, all lined up on the kitchen counter, are the concrete memory of Easter that I have as a kid.  However, since we've all grown up and are out of the house, so many of those traditions have been lost.  Traveling for the holidays has become an unfortunate trend in so many families, my own included.  How do you keep hold of those family traditions when so much time is spent flitting from house to house? 

5.  Busy, busy.  That's the trend, or at least it has been for several months now.  But a co-worker recently sent me a link that could help make sense of the mess I muck around in all day long - Sandy!  Sandy is touted as "your personal email assistant."  Looks like it works along the same model as Twitter (with the @todo sending messages directly toThe Friday Six:  March 21,, 200 edition "Sandy") and by cc'ing Sandy on emails with sentences starting "Remind me to ... ", this service keeps a running tally of crap you need to do.  I haven't really explored this, nor do I have the time today to teach myself how to make sense of a new service, but it's an interesting idea.  Having my own intern would also be interesting, but do interns clean litter boxes?  Hmmm...

6.  And lastly, today is Chris's birthday.  Happy birthday to my supportive fiance, my best friend, and my hero. 

Have a great weekend! 

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 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?

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.

February 12, 2008

No Cheese Steaks.

The drive to Philadelphia isn't long at all - about as long as it takes for Chris and I to travel home to RI for the weekend.  Unfortunately, Route 95 doesn't offer much more than the Bronx and NJ factories as the view.  (Save for one quick spot where you can see the NYC skyline - the only pretty view.)  But highways aren't known for showing the best that a state has to offer. 

It's the places off the exit ramps that are the best. 

Our weekend in Philly was very fun and we explored as much of the city as we could in our short jaunt down to Pennsylvania.   We stayed at the Club Quarters hotel on Chestnut Street (nice hotel, very small rooms) and were walking distance from plenty of restaurants and holy crap a lot of shopping opportunities.  We spent Saturday night at The Caribou Cafe, dining on French cuisine and listening to the live jazz band, then capped off the night with a few glasses of wine at Tria

Sunday morning, we were up bright and early and headed out to see some decidedly geekier spots (Well hello to you, Liberty Bell!) before hitting the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Franklin Science Institute.  The art museum gave us the opportunity to perfect our Rocky stances.

Awesome.

And the Franklin Science Institute had a giant heart display that you could walk through, exploring each section of the heart.  As you walked from atria to ventricle, you could hear the heart pumping and the sound of blood whooshing by.  Very cool. 

There also happened to be a huge Star Wars exhibit.  Not that I noticed.  Or got all excited.  Or grabbed a Storm Trooper for a Philly photo opportunity.  Nooo, not me.

Kerri and the Storm Trooper.  Of course.

(I have a full photo set of our trip to Philadelphia on Flickr, if you want to take a peek.)

The trip was awesome and I've been wanting to visit Philadelphia since we moved out here.  It's a city that's easy to feel comfortable in, which made it easier to explore.  We're already planning a trip back in the next few months, and checking out a few of the other restaurants that were tempting us.  :)

Oddly enough, we didn't have any cheese steaks.   

But the one downside to this trip was that we were still on crazy timetables.  Twenty-four hours isn't enough to really take in a city, no matter how hard you try.  We're still craving some downtime for the two of us, so we're jaunting off again this weekend for a quiet getaway to completely disconnect from our stressful schedules.  No phone, no internet, no "must be here at this time" schedule.  Nothing but rest and relaxation.

Sounds good to me!   

January 21, 2008

Every Bit the Bride.

Not my wedding gown, but sort of close.The dress gathered in beaded ivory folds at my feet.  I stood on the fitting pedestal while the seamstress sat, pinning up the edge of the dress and adjusting the seam of the beading so she would be able to hem my wedding gown

"Hemming this gown is tricky because of all these pretty edges," she said through clenched teeth, her hands busy folding and pinning with precision.

"It's going to be beautiful."  I looked in the mirror and felt every bit a bride, despite my smudged make-up and my rumpled hair.

"It already is beautiful.  That dress fits you perfectly, Kerri."  My mother grinned as she watched from her chair. 

"It's going to fit perfectly after I take it up a few inches, my friend."  The seamstress laughed a bit and stood up, admiring her pinning job.  "This will work fine.  Just a lot of work to move those beads!  Okay, now tell me about the pocket."

"It's for that insulin pump.  It will need to be off the seam and big enough to fit this,"  I reached down and lifted the edge of the dress so she could see the insulin pump, hiding out in my trouser sock.

"That?  Okay.  Do you need to keep that on or can you take it off?"

"It's for diabetes.  For her insulin?  It stays on all the time."  My mom asserted from her seat, shifting around a bit.

"Yes.  It can't come off.  And the pocket needs to have a hole in it for this tubing, so it can be fitted through all the layers and reach my thigh.

"Show me this tubing."  The seamstress put her hands on her waist and furrowed her brow.

I lifted the dress and removed the pump from my sock, following the tubing up to the infusion set on my outer right thigh.  "Here.  This is the pump itself, and this plastic tubing needs to be fed through the layers of the dress so that it can reach this, "  I tapped the plastic cap of the infusion site with my finger.  "It delivers my medicine this way and needs to be connected, but hidden at the same time."

"Okay."  She reached into her sewing kit and removed a seam opener.  "So we'll just open this here and," She opened up the seam of my wedding dress and placed pins on either side, pushing the pump through the hole.  "We'll sew in the little pocket.  Maybe add some edging to it so you don't notice it.  A bit of velcro to keep it closed.  Very small.  Very pretty."

I watched her in the mirror as she took her seam opener through the different layers of my dress - from the gown itself to the petticoat layers underneath and then to the slip.  I knew once she was done with the alterations that the dress would fit me perfectly, and would have the perfect hidden pocket for my insulin pump.  A little makeup would cover up the small red marks on my arm from the CGM transmitter.  I raised my chin proudly.  I have had type 1 diabetes for over 21 years, and I have found good health and strong love and support in those decades. 

I caught a glimpse of my mother in the mirror's reflection.  Her eyes were a little red and her smile was a little softer as she watched her oldest daughter fitted for her wedding gown, the seamstress holding my insulin pump in her hand.

SUM Tags: , , ,

November 16, 2007

One Moment.

We were talking about meeting with Christel and how long she and I have both had diabetes.  Over twenty years for both of us.  Over twenty years for so many of us.

We don't talk much about diabetes at home.  Sure, there's plenty of talk about the blog and work and different projects, but the disease itself is usually held at arm's length.  We understand how serious it is but can't face life with such a furrowed brow all the time.  It's just a press release.  It's just a URL.  It's just all these people blogging about different lives with the same disease.

There are moments I forget I'm living with it, too. 

"What about clinical trials?"  "What about generic insulin?"  "What about that guy with the thing in that country who cured the mouse?"  "What about helping people understand the differences between type 1 and type 2?"  "What about medical insurance?"  "We should think about a [insert project here] or maybe contacting some people for a [insert another idea here]."

And he's so excited about the possibilities for making a difference.  His eyes are shining in that way that reflects true hope and effortless love, in that way unfamiliar with what twenty-one years feels like, because he has barely known three.  He wants to make a difference.  And I do, too.  But tonight, I just wanted to make dinner.

He stops.We're in this together.  All of us.

"I'm sort of preaching to the choir, aren't I?"

I nod and smile.

"I'm with you, Chris.  I'm just sort of tired of singing."

My face feels hot.  My eyes tear up.  I'm not done fighting and not done advocating and not done trying to make a difference, but I'm feeling so tired at this moment, and so uninspired. 

"I'm with you, for all of this.  Forever, you know."

His words reach right into my heart, folding close around the raw parts of me that don't ever sleep.  I crumble in, held close against the man who will take care of me now, while I'm healthy, and who will care for me should body start to fail.  It feels intense and overwhelming.  And I cry, surprising myself with ragged breaths and burning tears. 

I forget I sometimes feel this way, all lost and tumble-dried.

I have a good cry.  He holds me and I feel better.  I'm grateful for my support system, both in my home, in the folds of my family, and in the wilds of the internet.  Love and support makes every shot less painful, every number less judgmental, every hurdle more surmountable.

I suddenly feel inspired again.

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 07, 2007

Sex - with a Side of Diabetes.

(Cue sleezy saxaphone music, dimmed lights, and the extremely uncomfortable mental image of my mother reading this post.)

Even though I've been thinking about writing this post for a few weeks now, I can't keep the blush from creeping up my face.  But I'm a twenty something, engaged woman, for crying out loud.  There is a sexual element to my relationship.  There is also a diabetes element to my sex.

I can't compare sex with diabetes to sex Sex and Diabeteswithout diabetes.  On the cusp of my twenty-first year with type 1, there's not much of my life that I've lived without diabetes.  Sex and intimacy dredges up a whole host of issues, diabetes notwithstanding.  Is my body appealing?  Am I feeling pretty?  Do I think my arms /ass /ears look fat in this shirt /skirt / hat?  Will the cat just freaking stop pawing at our ankles?

Now add diabetes to the mix.  Is my blood sugar at a stable level?  Is there juice within reaching distance, in case of a low?  Where is my pump infusion set these days?  Can I disconnect easily or do I have to go foraging around for it?  Whoops, watch those underwear on that infusion set ... don’t want to tear it out by accident.  Are the blinds closed?  (Okay, so the last bit has nothing to do with diabetes, but it’s crucial to make sure the blinds are drawn.)

Wearing an insulin pump adds a whole new level to sexual relationships.  It’s a machine.  And yes, being healthy is sexy and there’s nothing sexier than someone who is taking care of themselves, but once you have adjusted to that comfort level, it’s still a machine.  And it’s attached to you at all times, even when you’re feeling amorous.  I’ve received a number of emails about sex and an insulin pump.  Do I feel self-conscious?  Is it awkward during moments of intimacy?  Does it get in the way?  Does he notice it?  Are the blinds drawn? 

I wear my infusion set on my thigh specifically to keep it out of my way – away from the waistbands of pants and skirts, away from the abdominal muscles I am working furiously to uncover, and away from my fiancé’s hugging arms.  For me (I only speak for myself here), I feel sexier when my infusion set is safely adhered, working flawlessly, and out of my sight.  Diabetes incognito – still well-managed, but not the focus.

Since I have been pumping – almost four years now – I have always disconnected my pump during sex.  Whether it’s off before anything starts in earnest, or whether I’m discreetly disconnecting it and tossing it underneath my pillow or on the bedside table, I am not wearing it during sex.  (FYI - I also don’t wear my pump while I exercise.  And this is a form of exercise, no?)  I also make sure I keep a pump cap on the site during intimate moments, to keep the sharp edges of the infusion set from scraping up against skin, blankets, etc.  Occasionally, I’ve had the site get tangled up in the undressing moments, but it’s never been an issue.

There have been a few occasions over the last few years when a low blood sugar has entered into my intimate moments.  Instant mood ruiner, as my low symptoms are crying, sweating, confusion, and irritability.  (Not a sexy scene, trust me.)  Once or twice, I’ve had to stop everything completely and treat a hypoglycemic moment.  This is a part of my diabetic sex life.  I can’t lie and pretend it hasn’t happened, but I will say that it hasn’t made a difference in my relationships. 

Sure, there have been awkward moments where I’ve felt self-conscious about my “hardware.”  I’ve also felt self-conscious about my fingernails – it all depends on how the proverbial wind is blowing.  Sex is a normal part of my life.  So is diabetes.      

I’ve asked Chris a few times if he ever notices the infusion set or the pump or any of the diabetes paraphernalia in our sex life and he has honestly answered, “No.”  I’ve also asked him if he’s lying about that.  Again, and this time with a bit of a smile, “No, Kerri.”  I’m not sure if it’s the way I handle my disease or if it’s the way Chris handles it or if it’s a combination of how we manage diabetes as a family, but it doesn’t affect our physical relationship.

So long as the blinds are closed.  ;)

September 04, 2007

Escaping the Stress

Our escape.

It was starting to get to me, I admitted to Nicole on Saturday morning before Chris and I left for our weekend away.  The stress, the chaos, the spin-cycle my brain has been in for a few weeks now - all starting to make me a small bit bonkers.

So we packed it all up and disappeared for a few days, to The Dutch Iris Inn.

It was perfect:  waa-ay in the middle of nowhere, with our laptops deserted at home and our cell phones turned off, Chris and I found ourselves feeling quite at home at this pretty little bed and breakfast in northern CT.

"Any special dietary concerns?" The innkeeper asked, after explaining that breakfast would be served at 8:30 the next morning. 

"I'm diabetic, so ..." 

"Ah, low-carb would be good, wouldn't it?  I'll make you something good and healthy."

Her husband nodded.

"She's a great cook."

The following morning greeting us with a delicious zucchini and cheese omelet and a fresh fruit cup instead of the high-carb bread pudding that was served to the other guests.  My blood sugar, which rang in at a solid 90 mg/dl first thing, stayed steady at 107 mg/dl two hours after my healthy - and damn tasty - breakfast. 

After breakfast, we explored the waterfalls in Enders State Forest.  I wasn't anticipating climbing over rocks and traipsing down steep hillsides, so my flip-flops made for treacherous footwear.  And I'm pretty sure I was the only living creature in the woods with a purse.  It was to keep bears away.  (It actually had our car keys, my meter, and some juice in it.  But I could swat at a bear if necessary.) 

Wave to the camera, Purse-Lady.

The purse is to ward off bears.  Silly.

We spied a number of waterfalls, watched the sunlight turn the surface of the water to copper, and saw a pile of discarded clothes near the bank of one of the inlet pools. (Yet there were no swimmers.  Perhaps they were eaten by bears?  Good thing I had my purse.)

Traveling further down Rt 219, the road opened up and we saw the impressive and completely breathtaking Barkhamsted Reservoir.  The view was remarkable.  And the gate house, stemming from the Saville Dam, had the most lovely and English-looking door I'd ever seen.  If only I had my wedding dress - I would have loved to have staged some photos.  Instead of wedding shots, Chris and I have a series of photos that eerily resemble some kind of English countryside trick-or-treating. 

The Gate House

We weren't completing articles.  We didn't answer emails.  We didn't think about the wedding guest list or what color the bridesmaid dresses would be.  (For the record, I'm leaning between lavender and green.) 

We explored.  We talked.  We took naps. We watched TV and lounged about on the king-sized bed.  We held hands.  We weren't attacked by little gray cats or their over-fed puffy counterparts.  We dined together.  We ate cookies and drank tea in the middle of the night. 

We chased away the stress.

Yellow flowers.

And now we're ready to get back in the game. 

August 28, 2007

Little Hands.

"What is that?"

Her little face breaks my heart on a regular basis.  She is funny and warm, always dancing and singing, and she is free with her hugs.  Her pretty face breaks out in a smile when she sees her Uncle Chris.  She's just recently started calling me "Auntie Kerri" and every time she does, my whole soul smiles.

"That's my medicine."

She's just five years old, Chris's niece MP.  Her eyebrows furrow and she pokes at the white gauzy infusion set with her finger tip as it peeks out from under the hem of my shorts. 

"Medicine?"

"Yes.  You know when I use that little machine for my fingers?"

Nods. 

"That's my medicine.  This is part of my medicine, too."  I pull the insulin pump from out of my pocket and show it to her.   "You've seen this before, right?  My medicine is in here and it goes into my body through that looo-ooong tube."

I'm never quite sure what to say when they're that small.  I don't want to overwhelm her with a bunch of medical jargon, and I don't want her to think of me as "sick."  She's only five.  I think about Emma.  And Charlie.  I think of my own self, as a little kid, living with diabetes.  I wonder if I ever looked that small.   

"Uncle B has that little machine, too.  But he doesn't have that."  She gestures towards the infusion set again.  "He takes shots."

"Right.  I use this instead of shots.  It's a different way to take the same medicine."Little hands.

She's so little but she's so wise.  Pats my hand as she's thinking, looking at the tubing snaking up from my thigh and hidden in the folds of my clothes.  The rest of the room is strangely quiet. 

"Okay.  Hey, let's go play in the parlor?"

Now it's part of her normal, too. 

August 20, 2007

The EnGAGment Party.

It was the perfect weather.

It was the hula hoop contest that Chris and I lost instantly (we were simply horrible) but my Aunt Dana won hands down. 

It was the delicious food and the chocolate fountain.

It was the bartender, who made the most delicious cosmo I have ever had, and also made non-alcoholic strawberry shakes for the kids who were belly-up to the bar. 

It was my mother and Chris's mother, wearing flowered leis and big straw hats, circling the tables on the lawn and coercing people to join their conga line.

It was my nephew C and my niece-to-be MP playing with little plastic army men while they sat at a teeny table for two.

It was my mother and father at the same table, laughing, after almost a decade of divorce.

It was my Baby Niece A, dancing (with her father's help) to YMCA.

It was my sister in VA, calling in to say hi to everyone.  (We missed you, Court!!) 

The beautiful Batman, my silly self, and NBF.

It was my two best friends, together once again, to celebrate with me.

It was the tireless work of Chris's mom and her significant other, making all the arrangements for our families to be together and celebrate.  (Diane and L, an endless thank you.)

It was a string of decent blood sugars, despite the cake, the cosmos, and the chaos.

Kerri, NBF, and Future Sister-In-Law

It was watching my friends getting to know my future sister-in-law, and leaning in to me and whispering, "Your new family is wicked cool!"

It was having my whole family together in one place.

It was Chris's speech, as he thanked everyone for coming to celebrate our engagement.  He stopped, mid-sentence, and almost confessed, "You know?  I'm really looking forward to getting married." 

You know what, baby? 

I am, too.

August 17, 2007

Coming Up For Air.

No cohesive thoughts this Friday morning.  Everything is completely tangled.  Life has been insane Unravelling, one thread at a time.lately (but fun!).  In efforts to unravel the threads:

Working remotely this morning.  I first tried to get online at my mother's office, but the Internet Nazis who set up her office's wireless wouldn't let me access anything resembling a social networking site.  Or my dLife email.  Or IM.  Or the goodies being worked through at Blogabetes.  So now I'm holed up in a Starbucks in Providence, drinking iced coffee and trying not to spill it on my laptop.  (So far, the "ctrl' key only has some crumbs from my Blueberry Nutrigrain bar.)

Tomorrow is our enGAGment party.  My mother, in charge of the cake, confided in me that she wanted to have a big cake with Cinderella and Prince Charming on it.  After seeing my face turn white with panic, she told me that she hadn't done that.  After seeing the flash of disappointment, she told me she still could, if I wanted.  (Note to self: Kerri, you are 28 years old.  Start acting your age.)  The enGAGment party will mark the first time that ALL of our family members will be at the same place.  I'm excited, and definitely charging my camera battery to make sure I don't miss a minute.  (Is it tacky to liveblog from your own enGAGment party?)

Siah's little paws are raw from typing, but she's doing a great job maintaining the LOL Diabetes site.  She's also building her own staff team - with the help of Kahlua from Rachel's crew.  Siah tells me that she's received many excellent LOL submissions, and she's readying hers for next week.  Damn silly cat.  Have you submitted something to Siah?  Email her and send her your LOL Diabetes moments.

After my grammie passed away, my mother and her husband ended up with Grammie's car.  My mom was driving it today.  When she was putting some tables for the enGAGment party in my car, I noticed a big wooden table leg in the trunk.

"Ma, what is that?"

"Oh, that's the beating stick."  She continued to load things into my car while I stopped and stared at her for a minute.

"I'm sorry - what?  The beating stick?"

She went over to the trunk and picked up the table leg. 

"This was under the front seat of Grammie's car.  She drove with it there all the time, in case she ended up on the side of the road somewhere and needed to defend herself,"

"By beating someone with a table leg."  I finished for her.

"Right."  She brandished it with a flourish, and then a grin.  She looked just like her mother - my grammie - for a moment.

I thought about my grandmother, silly and laughing and following through whenever anyone dared her to do something, like a handstand in the mud.  She once accidentally cooked a bandaid into an apple pie. She once was the star of a short movie my brother made called "Grambo," where she pretended to storm a military base (which was nothing more than a fort in our backyard.)  She hugged us a lot.  She was sweet and loving. 

And weird.

The mental picture of her, standing on a deserted roadside if her car had broken down, brandishing a wooden table leg for protection made me smile. 

It's true, that they're always with us.  I saw her today, reflected in my mother's smile.

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 12, 2007

A View from the Train.

They were older than me by decades, edging gently towards eighty.  They were just a few rows up from me on the train back to RI.  She wore a white blouse with a necklace of bright green beads, most likely awarded to her by a grandchild.  She kept fingering the beads as she talked with her husband, who sat close and leaned in so close to her that the brim of his hat touched her gray hair.

Their quiet conversation caught my attention as I read the bridal magazine I had picked up in the train station.  I cast a glance at them, smiled, and went back to flipping the glossy pages.  Until -

“Oh my goodness.  Oliver!  Did you …”

I looked up.  The old man flashed a grin to his wife and tipped his hat.

“Yes, yes I did.”

She waved her hand underneath her nose, her green beads shuffling around her collar like horses around a track.

“Oh Oliver!  That is the smelliest fart I have ever, ever smelled!  You are a disgusting old man!”

I didn’t expect it.  A laugh escaped me and I quickly ushered my hand to my mouth to cover my smile.

The old woman turned to me.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart.  You’ll know when it hits you.  He’s such a nice man, aside from the gas.” 

Her voice was smiling.  Her husband leaned over her and gave me a wave.

“Sorry, miss!  I had bacon for breakfast."  He took a little bow.  "Oh, a wedding magazine!  You must be getting married.  Is he gassy?” 

I laughed until I almost cried, hiding my face in my wedding magazine.

Chris, I look forward to being weird and old with you.

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!

Visitors since November 7, 2005