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Looking Back: Pizza (A Christmas Poem)

Getting into the holiday spirit?  Today I’m revisiting the ghosts of poems past with Pizza (A Christmas Poem).  Watch out for that pesky, fight-picking panc.

T’was the night before Christmas and all tinsel’s in,
Not a creature was stirring or making insulin.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that my islet cells soon would be there.
My children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of pizza boxes filled me with dread.
I took out my pen, assessed the amount
And settled my brain to complete the carb count.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I went with a fright
(And on the chair arm almost ripped out my pump site).
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Highlighted the … thing? there at rest down below.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear
But a miniature Panc, looking all cavalier.
He looked like a corn cob, or maybe a penis.
I knew that he saw me, despite distance between us.

More rapid than eagles my insults they came,
As I whistled and shouted and called out his name.
“You stupid old pancreas! Where have you been?
It’s been 30 dumb years since I’ve seen you again.
From my childhood years to now raising my own,
Diabetes is the only life that I’ve known!
And now you waltz back, sitting there on my lawn
Expecting me to give hugs or to kiss or to fawn …”

But while I was ranting, the Panc, he just flew
Straight to the shed roof while I shouted, “Go screw!”
He stood there, so regal, and then, the rogue mutt,
He pulled down his pants and he showed me his butt.
And it became clear, as I fumed and I seethed,
That he came here to fight me, is what I believed.
So I steeled myself there, as the doorknob did rattle
And my pancreas came in my house to do battle.

He took out his betas, I whipped out a spoon
We stalked one another in my living room
His eyes, how they narrowed, his islets, how lazy!
(I was glad Chris was out ‘cause I’m sure this looked crazy.)
His droll little mouth was all knitted with rage
As he jabbed with his right, then drown dropped the steel cage.
It was just me and him, in a fight to the pain
“If you won’t make insulin, I’ll go full hurricane!”

We fought there for hours, just me and that thing,
I had a black eye and he pulled his hamstring.
Until finally – finally – I landed the punch
That sent the panc reeling and hurt a whole bunch.
While nursing his knee and cradling his arm,
My pancreas said, in efforts to disarm,
“You’ve bested me for decades, and I owe you a prize.
So grab that there pen and now open your eyes.
There’s a carb calculation, a quest for the ages,
And in minutes you’ll know it, so mark up those pages.
You’ve won, fair and square, and I owe you some solace.
So Kerri, here it is: the coveted Pizza Bolus.

He spat out some numbers and fine ratios
And I scrambled to write down his mathematical prose.
By the time he was done, our fight fences were mended.
I would remain the Lead Panc while his ass just pretended.
And he reached out his hand to shake, sealing the deal
I extended mine back, not knowing how to feel.
But I heard him exclaim, as he limped out of sight,
“You’ve won this round, Kerri. Enjoy pizza tonight!!”


But while I was ranting, the Panc, he just flew Straight to the shed roof while I shouted, “Go screw!” He stood there, so regal, and then, the rogue mutt, He pulled down his pants and he showed me his butt. Click To Tweet

Trying out the Freestyle Libre System

[DISCLOSURE – PLEASE READ:  The team at Abbott reached out to me and asked if I’d like to trial the Freestyle Libre system.  I said yes.  After my doctor approved a prescription for the device, Abbott sent out the scanning device and two sensors at no cost to me.  This whole review needs that bias lens in place.  Good?  Good.  Thanks for reading.]

When I was first handed the Autolet lancing device back in 1986, I remember being completely freaked out.  And rightfully so, because that thing was a beast and blasted my fingertip to bits on a regular basis.

But over time, lancing devices became smaller and less painful.  And meters became smaller, less cumbersome, and more accurate.  In 2006, I tried a CGM for the first time and my mind was BLOWN because there was this device, stuck to my body, sucking out interstitial fluid and offering up a trend graph of my blood sugars.  And it alarmed when my numbers went above or below my personalized thresholds.  Streaming video of my blood sugars versus a polaroid picture version is progress in my book.

And for the last week or so, I’ve been trying out the Freestyle Libre system. (Note:  they asked that I always use it’s full name – the Freestyle Libre system – so please excuse my formality here on this weblog posted to the world wide web.)  I’m wearing this device in addition to my Tandem X2 insulin pump and my Dexcom G5 CGM, so I’ve gone full robot. Pros and cons?  Don’t mind if I do.

Freestyle Libre system PROS:

The insertion process is a cake walk.  To be fair, I’ve only put in one sensor so far, but it was as painless as this needle crap can be.  And the adhesive is amazing.  I’m clearly a fragile flower in the skin department, with rash reactions to lots of adhesives, and I’ve also spent a lot of money and time taping down pump sites and Dexcom sensors in order to get the approved time out of them.  But the Freestyle Libre system has been stuck to the back of my right arm for 8 days now without any puckering or shifting.

The wearability of this device is also very good.  The profile of the transmitter is very low, making it harder for door jams and bra straps to grab.  It doesn’t leave a giant lump underneath my clothes, and the completely circular shape leaves no snaggy sharp edges.  Subtle, and I like it, and it was harder for my son to grab onto and use to climb me, which was another bonus.  And if I had a child with diabetes, I’d be very inclined to check this device out for them, when taking into account wearability and pain factors.

No calibrations are required, which is kind of magical to me.  This thing goes on, stays stuck, and doesn’t ask me to do anything other than scan it when I feel like scanning it.  And I have scanned it like crazy.  The first day, I scanned a whole bunch of times and enjoyed the little BOOP! noise it burped out when activated.  And I also appreciated being able to add notes after checking my BG, citing food, exercise, etc.

The screens are nice, too.  Every time I scan, I see where my blood sugar is, where it’s been, and an arrow indicating where it might be headed.  I can also see a daily graph, average glucose for some time spans (7, 14, 30, and 90 day assessments) and also Time in Target, which is a real win for me, as time in range means more to me than my A1C results.  Unfortunately, the touch screen on my device sucks and I have to press the screen at least three times in order to get it to respond.  I assume it’s not like this on all devices.  I haven’t downloaded the software yet to see my data, and I could also take the Tidepool route, as they recently added the … Freestyle … Libre … system to their slate of supported devices, but I’ll explore those options in the coming weeks and report back ASAP.

And the basic operations of the device?  A big pro feature.  It’s supposed to make me check my BG regularly.  It accomplishes that goal.  Not having to prick my finger at all is a huge bonus, and it takes half a second to get a result.  (I was also able to easily and reliably scan the sensor through a long sleeved t-shirt, a sweater, and a heavy winter coat.  The thing has good range.)  I scan at least 10 times per day, and it’s easy and painless.  A huge plus.

Freestyle Libre system CONS:

It doesn’t alarm when my blood sugar is out of range.  That’s a big deal to me, especially since I don’t often feel my low blood sugar symptoms.  Also, after using a traditional CGM for over 10 years, I’ve grown accustomed to the data being not only available but LOUD.  The alarms have potentially saved me from dangerous situations, and I am grateful for them.  I also rely on them, as they catch me when I forget to check in on my BG.

The 12-hour warm up period is not optimal.  I’m already frustrated by the 2 hours I have to wait for Dexcom to get hot, so the 12 hour waiting period for the Freestyle (wait for it …) Libre system to ready itself for use is agonizing.  I put my sensor on at 9 in the morning and had to wait all day for data.  Granted, the sensor works for 10 days after it is inserted, but the 12 hours?  Not fun.

The scanner device is another separate piece of technology that I need to keep charged and have with me at all times.  I’ve left it in my car overnight, on the kitchen table when I meant to have it in my purse, etc.  I’m sure that I’d become used to remembering it, just like I did when I had to carry a Dexcom receiver, but at the moment, I forget more than I’d like.

My results seem to run on the lower side when compared to my Dexcom G5 CGM and my Freestyle Freedom Lite glucose meter.  Like just now, my Dexcom said I was 146 mg/dL, my meter said I was 145 mg/dL, and the Freestyle Libre system said I was 113 mg/dL.  I’ve been using the Freestyle Libre system for nine days now and it has been consistently lower that my other devices. I will report back after longer use times, but for now, that’s the trend I’ve seen.

Overall assessment?

The Freestyle Libre system is easy to use, but it doesn’t replace the Dexcom CGM, for me.  Continued use would take a bite out of those annoying things, like forgetting the scanner at home.  Does it make checking my blood sugar easier?  Yes.  Are the trends useful?  Yes. But the fact that it doesn’t alarm is the biggest drawback for me, and I am not sure I’ll ever change my opinion on how important those alarms are for me.  Also, I have years of Dexcom use and trust, so it’s hard to accept new tech without bucking up against the idea of change.

These are just initial impressions, and I’m very happy to have the chance to check this tech out.  More on all this stuff in another week or so, after I’ve ripped off this sensor and checked to make sure my skin is still there.  For now, I’ll embrace this new method of diabetes cyborgishness and see where it goes.

Some pros and cons after trying out the Freestyle Libre system @freestylediabet #freestylelibre #disclosure Click To Tweet

Holiday Gift Guide: Diabetes Book Edition

Since you can’t curl up with a functional pancreas, sometimes you need to resort to different sorts of comfort.  Like a good book, dog-earing the pages with your fingers.  Or a good book that’s gone digital, wiping your finger sauce on the screen.  However you like to take in your reading materials, we’ve got you covered with this holiday gift guide:  diabetes book edition.

And while my bias is out in full force on a lot of these titles, I think there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy them, too.

Why We Revolt:  Healthcare has lost its humanity, but Dr. Victor Montori has started a revolution to bring kind and careful care back to the healthcare experience.  If you want to know more about the Patient Revolution, pick up a copy of Why We Revolt.  It’ll poke the parts of your brain that ache for progress.

Bright Spots & Landmines:  Adam Brown has written a super informative, beautifully designed diabetes book packed with information for both diabetes veterans and the newly-diagnosed.  If you’re looking for actionable diabetes tips, check out his book.

Sweet, Invisible Body:  This is the book that cracked open the concept of patient storytelling for me.  Lisa Roney’s real life take on life with type 1 diabetes made me want to start sharing my own story because mine, like hers, like everyone’s, was deeply flawed and completely human.  It’s a tough book to find these days, but if you can grab a copy, you should.

Think Like a Pancreas:  This book is amazing, and would have been the best blog title EVER.  Gary Scheiner takes his decades of diabetes lived experience plus his medical training as a certified diabetes educator and blends it all together to create this go-to resource for people with diabetes.

The Complete Diabetes Organizer:  Do you ever feel like the to do list of diabetes is sometimes the hardest part?  And remembering everything that should be on that list – and actually to doing it – is also ridiculously complicated?  Susan Weiner has a book for you, and her advice to help you get organized is streamlined and actionable.

My Sister Has Diabetes, and How It Makes Me Feel:  There’s a lot of discussion about how a child with diabetes might feel, but not enough about how diabetes affects siblings.  Grace Rooney is the sibling of a kid with diabetes and she’s written a “what it’s like” book about that experience.  Her perspectives are insightful, and worth a read!

Type 1 Diabetes Caregiver Confidence:  Author Samantha Markovitz is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach and the founder of GraceMark Wellness & Lifestyle Coaching (and you can be on the lookout for a guest post from Samantha here, coming soon!)  This book takes on what it’s like to care for someone with type 1 diabetes, offering tips, tricks, and strategies for managing diabetes from the outside.

Finish Line Vision:  Looking for motivation, inspiration, and to read the story of pushing a PWD body to the physical limits?  Jay Hewitt has you covered.  This book is one to curl up with if you’re feeling a little down in the dumps and want to dust off your running shoes … or start prepping to climb the employment ladder.

Carolyn’s Robot Relative:  Dana Lewis knows what it’s like to wear diabetes devices.  (Hell, Dana Lewis also knows what it’s like to build her own diabetes devices, but that’s a whole other post.  But if you have a child in your life who has questions about diabetes and all the hardware that comes with it, Dana’s children’s book can help address some of those tough questions.

Balancing Diabetes:  Yep, I included my own book.  Because I love the people who offered their perspectives and insight, and I think my life is richer for knowing their stories.  Which is why I want to continue to share their stories with you.

Looking for more for your library?  I’ll have another book list in the next few days, so be on the lookout!  And happy reading.  🙂

Finish Line Vision: An Interview with Jay Hewitt

I remember watching Jay Hewitt speak at a Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference several years ago thinking, “Why do people do Ironman triathlons?  And also, if you do more than one, have they done Ironmans or Ironmen?”  Grammar quandary aside*, Jay is a physical force to be reckoned with and he’s done the whole Ironman journey with diabetes alongside him.

I’m proud to call this guy a friend.

Recently, Jay published his first book, Finish Line Vision, and he’s visiting here on SUM to talk about the writing process, the final product, and what it’s like to cross that finish line.

Kerri:  For friends who don’t know you, who are you and what is your connection to diabetes?

JH:  I’ve had type 1 for almost 27 years, diagnosed in February, 1991, when I was 23 years old in my first year of law school.  Since then I practiced law for over 20 years, raced Ironman triathlons and three years for the US National Long Distance Triathlon Team in Europe and Australia.  Now I’m a husband, dad, speaker, and business consultant on overcoming obstacles and achieving goals.

Kerri:  You have spent a lot of your time racing professionally as an IronMan triathlete are you still racing?

JH:  No, after fourteen Ironman and eighteen half Ironman triathlons, dozens of marathons and cycling to win the Race Across America, I was tired!  Ha!  I achieved everything I wanted to achieve racing.  One of the points in my book chapter on work-life balance is “to have the time of your life, make it the right time of our life.”  My priority now is racing around after my three young kids, and building my business.  But I still keep fit.

Kerri:  And you’ve also taken on a career as a motivational speaker.  What’s that been like?

JH:  Such a privilege, and a challenge.  I love it.  It’s a privilege to meet people and hear their stories, their struggles and their dreams.  And I can see it in their faces from the stage.  I don’t give rah-rah cheers or cheap platitudes.  It’s real stories and real emotion and advice that people can use.  People deserve substance.  They want to know, “How can I use this in my life?” and they want it delivered well.

It is a fun challenge to speak to a room of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people of all different ages, and to people with diabetes and health care professionals and medical companies.  Next month I’m the commencement speaker at a college graduation- the last time I wore cap and gown regalia was graduating from law school!  Each member of an audience has obstacles and goals that are unique to them.  I try to tap into their personal motivation.  I also speak to business groups that have no connection to diabetes, but I always weave in diabetes about overcoming obstacles.

Kerri:  But now you’re an author!  Congratulations!  What inspired you to put your story to paper?

JH:  I’d been speaking for years, and people kept asking me for more that I don’t have time to give on stage.  More information, more stories – the good and the bad, the real stuff we all struggle with – and solutions and advice.  They also wanted to share it with others.  People may not remember what I said in a speech, but they will remember how I made them feel.  A book is something permanent they can share and refer back to.

Kerri: Your book, Finish Line Vision, has been a labor of love for the last few years. What does it feel like to have crossed this particular finish line?

JH:  Like the joy finishing my first Ironman, just not as painful.  I don’t do something unless I can give it my best.  I knew a book would be permanent.  Once it’s in print it is out there and I can’t take it down or update it like an online post.  I can’t go to everybody’s house and say “can I have that book back?  I need to add something.”  Ha!  I wanted it accurate and reliable for people to use as a resource, and inspirational regardless of your stage in life.  I hope that I have accomplished that.


Kerri:  What was the process of writing Finish Line Vision like?

JH:  It was first establishing an outline for the topics I wanted to cover, like a plan to race an Ironman, or build a house. Then insert the stories from my life and the lives of others, reading and studying a lot of books and researching the neuropsychology of achievement, diabetes, health and wellness and how high achievers overcome obstacles and succeed in life, business, arts and sports.  I don’t say it unless I know it’s true, and have the research to support it.  A lot of people read the manuscript and gave feedback and fact checking – endocrinologists, athletes, business professionals, and even an incredibly talented writer with diabetes who looks a lot like you, Kerri!  That girl is a genius writer!  [Note:  I helped Jay with some of the early drafting a few years ago and he’s been nice to me ever since.]

Kerri: What part of the book is your favorite?

JH:  The book is funny and emotional, to entertain you and inspire you, and educational to inform you.  I tell the irony of the circle of life – the gripping emotion when I was diagnosed with diabetes, the worst day of my life, and how that motivated me to later race Ironman triathlons on the elite level – the best days of my life.  When I write about preparation and adjusting – people with diabetes understand that! – there’s a fun story of when I proposed to my wife during a race, and it didn’t go as planned.  It got kind of bloody.  But it worked!  Ha!  There are fun stories about elite athletes being scared and nervous, famous people failing and doubting themselves, and great quotes to remember when you feel that way.  I guess that’s more than one favorite part!

Kerri:  How do you want people to feel after they finish reading your book?

JH:  Motivated to take action.  Inspired to overcome an obstacle in their life and work toward a goal, even if that goal is intimidating and scary that they might fail.  I have a whole chapter on how high achievers have failed, and then succeeded.  I want people to feel “I can do this!”

Kerri:  And lastly, where can folks grab a copy of your book?

JH:  Order from my website and I will sign it for you!

Thanks for stopping by, Jay, and for sharing your finish line vision with us.  If you’d like to keep up with Jay, you can order a copy of his book and follow him on Twitter at @JayHewittSpeaks.

*  It’s Iromans.  I checked.  

What's your Finish Line Vision? An interview with author @JayHewittSpeaks about his new book. Click To Tweet

Traveling with Diabetes

With the calendar about to tip us right into the holiday season, I wanted to share a few “traveling with diabetes recommendations,” since many of our fellow PWD will be braving the roads, seas, and skies to get home for the holidays.  (How many of you travel by boat to get home?  Any PPWD [pirate people with diabetes] reading here?)

On the road with a busted pancreas?  Here are some tips for traveling when you don’t make insulin:

Pack back-ups.  Wearing an insulin pump?  Bring a few more infusion set changes than you think you’ll need.  Have a long-acting insulin and fast-acting insulin pen in your carry-on, just in case your pump craps out.  I always keep a few syringes in my bag, too, on the off chance that I’ll need them.  And if I’m planning on being away for a week or more, I’ll bring an extra vial of insulin, in case I smash one on the bathroom floor.  (Rarely happens, especially since adding this protective cover to my arsenal.)

And bring extra underwear and socks.  Just because.

Keep a solid glucose supply.  With airport security different in every city and country, you never know when a juice box will be tossed as contraband.  Keep your glucose supplies non-liquid, if you can.  I keep jars of glucose tabs in my backpack and one of those raisin box 6-packs in my carry-on in case of lows.

Wear a medical alert ID.  A medical ID speaks for you when you can’t speak for yourself, and with the unpredictable nature of diabetes sometimes peaking during travel, it’s crucial to have your bases covered.  Wear something that says you have diabetes – a necklace, a bracelet, a temporary tattoo, a REAL tattoo … whatever can help someone help you if you need it.  And the medical alert jewelry available today is an upgrade compared to the crap we used to have to wear, so there’s that bonus.

Know where you are.  As someone with a useless sense of direction and an equally useless pancreas, resources that help with directions are key.  Whether I’m trying to get back to my hotel or am in need of the closest medical facility, the Here WeGo app has been really great while on the road.  You can download maps of the cities you’re visiting before you even get on the plane and the maps work in real-time and don’t require cell service/wifi to use while you’re out.

If you’re not a fan of smartphone technology, do some research ahead of travel to scope out the nearest medical resources.  Either method will arm you with important information, if you need it.

Have fun.  Hell yes have fun, because traveling with diabetes is completely and utterly doable.  And there is fun to be had, and stuff to SEE.  Whether you’re taking an afternoon to roll up on a mountain and hike that thing or jet-setting off to another country to take in the sights, planning properly makes diabetes less of a Thing and more just a carry-on.

Safe and happy travels!!

On the road with a busted pancreas? Here are some travel tips! Click To Tweet

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