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Guest Post: Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny.

There’s power to the “me, too!” moments for sure, but there’s vulnerability involved in raising your hand first to say, “Me.”  Today, I have a guest post from a writer who wished to stay anonymous but who is looking for others who may have experienced something similar to what they went through.  If you’ve ever passed out or had a seizure, or have experienced a pocket of time where you know something diabetes-related happened but you can’t quite explain it, please leave a comment for this writer.  They need community now, more than ever.

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The day was just like any other. Except it was a Friday before vacation where the afternoon is extra stressful to complete everything before heading out and not looking back for one week. That morning the Dexcom sensor was incredibly itchy, so I removed it.

When the work day was done I left with a bunch of errands to run before I could really enjoy myself. At the first stop I couldn’t find my wallet in my bag even though I knew it was in there. I was disoriented and didn’t know why. I kept apologizing.  I was so embarrassed about my lack of functionality that I returned to my car with nothing completed for my errand.

An hour later I “woke up” confused as to where my phone could possibly be. I found it in the trunk of my car. There is no memory of what happened after I sat down in my car (parked). However, as soon as I woke up I knew I had passed out. Presumably from a low blood sugar based on my actions during my errand. Based on the location of my phone, I believe it is possible I seized as well. I have no way to confirm or deny this assumption.

I do not know if this will ever happen again. I do not know how I came-to on my own. I do not know why I am lucky enough to have survived this. I do know that I reached out to my support system. I reached out to the people who would take it as is and not freak out. I was doing enough of that on my own. I do know that it is a hard event to move on from. I also know I’m not willing to let the whole world know yet.

But! Has anyone had this happen to them? Or something similar? How did you continue to live your whole life with diabetes without this always being in the back of your mind? Or front and center? Did you over treat? Or start treating almost lows, which weren’t lows but actually acceptable blood sugars? How do you keep your focus on your sugars and not raise your perception of what’s an “acceptable blood sugar”?

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I’m glad you’re okay, Anonymous.

Wet Paint.

I looked at my blood sugars in the last few weeks and my worst response was my lack of response.  In reviewing the numbers, my brain only shrugged in apathy.

A year or two ago, I would have looked at the dwindling number of finger sticks and the creeping trend of high numbers and been very, “Whoa.  What is going on here, and how can I stop it?”  The rational, tuned-in part of my mind would fire up like the boiler in my old house did, whirring to life in a flurry of noise and action and suddenly I’d be warm and en route to taking control.

Trouble is, I think my boiler blew out.  I just don’t give a fuck at the moment.  I slipped without meaning to.

I used to be able to detect this slippery slide into giving-less-of-a-fuck a bit better.  There were warning signs that made me take notice and then take action.  But this time, it’s not burnout that I’m feeling.  I don’t think it’s burnout, anyway.  And it’s not depression, or at least it doesn’t feel like it did a few years ago when I had trouble finding my footing.  This feels a little different, more like exhaustion than anything else.  I’m having trouble finding balance (ironic) in managing diabetes, work, motherhood, and marriage.  The travel on both sides of the family businesses has been especially manic, leaving a lot of random, loose ends flapping in the breeze.

Blah, blah, blah, life, life, life, right?

But they aren’t random loose ends.  For me, the frayed bits are my health management habits.  And I’m not focusing on the right things.  My laundry is washed, folded, and put away but my finger sticks have dwindled down to two or three per day.  I’m bolusing off my CGM way too often, but the floors are swept.  Birdy’s book bag is ready for school every morning, complete with a note in her lunchbox, but I’m not checking my fasting blood sugar until she’s already on the bus for school (two hours after waking up, mind you).

This is not cool.  This is not good.  And this feels both irresponsible and stupid.

Which, in turn, makes me feel irresponsible and stupid.

I have no idea what my A1C is.  I haven’t had it checked in four months.  I need to schedule an appointment to have my eyes looked at in efforts to keep tabs on the macular edema, but I haven’t made that phone call, either.  The diabetes to do list is painting me into a bit of a corner, and I’m having trouble stepping onto the wet paint.

But this morning, when I sat down to work, I realized that this feeling of defeat was keeping me from wanting to do anything.  I didn’t want to write.  I didn’t want to work on booking travel or on presentations I have to give.  My mind kept jumping to the next distraction, the next thing that would keep me from acknowledging that my disease, this serious health condition, was being mismanaged by me at the moment.

Something has to change.  And it doesn’t appear that my pancreas will be making insulin any time soon.  So I need to be much better about paying attention to my diabetes care.  The cyclical nature of my diabetes apathy is such that it comes and goes without much warning and is hard to prevent.  But that doesn’t mean I can surrender to it fully.  Because I like being alive and well, and I’d like to continue to be alive and well.  So hang on … let me do some quick follow through for a minute …

… I’ve just called my endocrinologist to make an appointment, and in the meantime I’ve asked for lab orders to be sent to my local lab so I can have an A1C run closer to home.  I need to know where I stand, and how I can move forward.  I’ve also called and scheduled another eye dilation to have my eyeball status checked.  And the last phone call was to my medical supply company to reorder some supplies.

Tomorrow, I won’t change everything.  I’m still tired.  Still tired of diabetes and ashamed that I’ve let other health focus points take my attention away to such a degree.  But I need to change something.  And the first thing I decided to change was the idea that I need to keep these feelings bottled up and hidden away.  I’m struggling something fierce these days – have been for a while – and I needed to say it out loud in order to push me to actually do something about it.

So I’m doing something.  I might end up tracking that wet paint all over the house, but at least I won’t have my back up against the wall anymore.

That Big, Effing Frog. #DOCtober

Busy weekend, with a pile of unrelated-to-diabetes moments and a few that were decidedly diabetes.  But to start, I’ll catch up on my #DOCtober photo posts.

How is your #DOCtober going?

Diabetes 365 Giveaway Winners.

Thanks for all of the comments on Wednesday’s post about burnout and “diabetes overwhelmus.”  There were some great strategies and tips on wrangling in the chaos and living well.

Congrats to the three commenters who won copies of the new book, Diabetes 365, penned by Paula Ford-Martin and Susan Wiener!

Here are the winning entries:

[When I am] Overwhelmed…I look around and count 5 blessing. It can be a good reality check and a notice that it could be worse.

I get most overwhelmed when dealing with a sticky high. I have learned that going for a walk will clear my head and help lower my blood sugar. A two-fer!
Colleen Grogan

Whenever I begin to feel “Diabetes overwhelmus” I remind myself that while it might be tempting to stop caring/trying, it is SO not worth the return of constant thirst (in addition to all of the other symptoms / complications)…there’s nothing worse then the relentless thirst of a high blood sugar! I just try and look at how far I have come, and everything I have to look forward to. When that doesn’t work, I try and see my diabetes educator- after getting to see or talk to her, I always feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

Bonnie, Colleen, and Erin, I’ll be emailing you this morning with details on delivering your book to you.  Thanks to Paula and Susan for offering copies of their book as a giveaway!


Photo Challenge: #DOCtober.

Taking pictures is something I like to do very much.  I’m not terribly talented when it comes to doing it and my equipment is pretty basic, but I enjoy framing something up and preserving that moment.  I used to take a lot of pictures, but I’ve tapered off in the last few years, and I miss it.




I am forcing myself to get back behind the lens with a daily photo challenge for October.  The twist – BET YOU DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING – is to see if I can find something diabetes-related to photograph for the month.  If I can, awesome.  If I can’t, that inability shows how diabetes can’t and shouldn’t always be front-and-center.

Want to join me?  I’ll be posting on the blog and Instagram under the hashtag #DOCtober.

For #DOCtober 1/31, I’m already cheating a little by posting a photo from last week.  The sign reads, “Unusual Pumpkins + Gourds.”  And it reminded me of you guys, the diabetes community.  The patient community.  The community of people who are touched by some kind of health condition but aren’t owned by it and are beautiful because of and despite it.

Well sheeeeeeeeet, if we aren’t all a pile of beautifully unusual pumpkins and gourds.

Guest Post and Giveaway: Overcoming Diabetes Overwhelmus.

Today, I am honored to have Susan Weiner and Paula Ford-Martin contributing a guest post to SUM, writing about diabetes burnout and their new book, Diabetes 365: Tips for Living Well.  I’m pretty biased, as I used to work for Paula at dLife (and with Susan), but their book and their message are a tremendous resource for newly diagnosed and veteran PWD alike. 

I’m also excited to host an opportunity for three folks to win a copy of the book.  To enter to win, please leave a comment with your best tip on dealing with “diabetes overwhelmus.”  (Be sure to include your email!)  The giveaway will be open until Thursday night at midnight EST, and winners will be announced on Friday morning. 

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Overcoming Diabetes Overwhelmus
Guest bloggers Susan Weiner and Paula Ford-Martin

The late, great Dr. Richard Rubin had a great knack for turning a quality phrase. “Diabetes overwhelmus” (a.k.a. diabetes burnout) was one of our favorites. Layman’s definition? When the continuous demands of diabetes, and the non-stop flow of diabetes-related information, simply become too much to deal with and you’re ready to throw up your hands and have a mad as hell moment.

The side effects of diabetes overwhelmus are a tendency to become less active in one’s own self-care. So diabetes management starts to slip, stress goes up (along with stress hormones and blood sugar), and then you’re caught in a vicious cycle of bad feelings – both physical and emotional. It’s a crappy place to be.

Now we want to take a moment to pause for a disclaimer here. We both work in diabetes, we support friends and family with diabetes, and we know a lot about the academics of the disease. But neither of us can say we have the intimate knowledge of knowing what it’s like to live with diabetes 24/7.

But stress, the broader idea of “life overwhelmus,” and the negative impact both have on the human body? We’ve got loads of personal experience there. The busier life gets, the harder you need to work to maintain your physical and emotional well-being. Yet most of us let life’s obligations push those things down in the priority list. And even though we’ve both worked in the health education field for many years, we admit we have let stress get the better of our health and well-being more than once in our lives. In fact, we wish there was a frequent flyer program for hospital visits and doctor’s appointments – we’d be Platinum Club Members.

A survey on stress in America found that almost half of the population has experienced a major stress in the prior twelve months, and health problems were cited as the most common source of stress. Thirty-six percent of people living with a chronic illness reported high stress levels in the prior month, with a whopping 60 percent of those in “poor health” reporting those same high stress levels. That’s probably not a surprise to anyone reading this blog post. Being “sick” makes you stressed, and stress makes you sick.

Susan has a patient, Tess (not her real name). Tess has type 2 diabetes, works full-time, takes care of a family, parents teenage children, and is the primary caregiver for her live-in mom, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Over time, she found herself completely overwhelmed and bombarded on all fronts. Eventually she stopped taking care of herself. She ate food on the run, sometimes skipped her meals completely, didn’t refill her medications, and didn’t keep doctor appointments.

Tess felt terrible and had high blood sugars. But she went to visit Susan because she was ready to take one small step to get out of her diabetes rut. Susan listened to what Tess’s biggest stressors were and her desire to address them, and they started with one simple goal focused on an issue plaguing Tess – taking time each night to pack up snacks and plan the next day’s meals. Over time, they added more small goals based on Tess’s real life problems, and now she feels in control of her life and health again. She isn’t eating out of frustration or anxiety, and is starting to gain better control over her blood sugar.

It was this small step approach that inspired our latest project, Diabetes 365: Tips for Living Well (Demos Health, 2015). We wanted to help people like Tess come at diabetes from a less intense, more manageable angle. Our intent was not to offer a soup to nuts guide on treating your diabetes; instead each day of the year offers a new start and a focused tip, idea, or action you can take to improve your health and happiness. In other words, it’s not the OED of diabetes, it’s daily Cliff Notes. As our friend Jim Turner says, “Diabetes is complicated and overwhelming enough. I like simple, straightforward suggestions.”

“Bite sized” diabetes goals may be your way out of diabetes overwhelmus. Or, you may find relief in other ways – diabetes support groups, meditation, or reading a daily dose of inspiration here at SUM. But at the root of it all is not letting life get in the way of living, and finding a way to co-exist with all of those personal, professional, and diabetes challenges. In the words of our gracious host Kerri: “I need to remember that I can do this. I can conquer this. I can design this and devour this and delight in this.”

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Susan Weiner is owner of Susan Weiner Nutrition, PLLC, in New York. She is an award-winning author, registered dietitian-nutritionist, and certified diabetes educator. Susan is the 2015 AADE Diabetes Educator of the Year, the 2015 Diabetes Health Monitor LifeChanger award winner, and the 2014 Alumna of the Year for SUNY Oneonta. She is also the 2015–2016 editor for On the Cutting Edge, a peer-reviewed journal for the Diabetes Care and Education practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Susan advises several nonprofit groups devoted to diabetes advocacy; she is on the advisory board of Diabetes Sisters, and is an educational advisor for Marjorie’s Fund. She is also the diabetes medical advisor for and is on the medical advisory board for dLife.

Paula Ford-Martin is an award winning health writer, editor, and content producer. She is the author of more than a dozen consumer health and parenting books, and currently works as a freelance content strategist and consultant. Paula was part of the core team that created and launched dLife, a groundbreaking multimedia diabetes consumer resource. She served as the Chief Content Officer of dLife for eight years, and her work on CNBC’s dLifeTV—the first and longest running primetime diabetes television show—garnered her 26 Telly Awards. You can learn more about Paula and her work at



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