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Spare a Rose.

They’re so often a symbol of love and romantic relationships, but lovely as they are, roses wilt within a week or two, and eventually end up discarded.

Five dollars per rose, sixty dollars for a dozen. But the cost of those roses can provide life-sustaining insulin for a child with diabetes for an entire year.

Through the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign (February 1 – 14th), as a community we can raise awareness and donations for Life for a Child, an International Diabetes Federation program which provides life-saving diabetes supplies, medication, and education that children in developing countries need to stay alive.

Spare a Rose, Save a Child is simple: buy one less rose this Valentine’s Day and donate the value of that flower to children with diabetes. Your loved one at home still gets flowers and you both show some love to children around the world who need it.

One rose, one month of life. A dozen roses, a year of life for a child with diabetes.

Life for a Child









To learn more about the campaign, please visit SpareARose.org .  For specifics on how we can work together to make the biggest difference possible in the next two weeks, download this one-sheet.  You can grab a rose image from the image list, or the embeddable donation form that goes directly to IDF.  You can even download a “thank you” card for your loved one, explaining why their bouquet may be a rose short this year … or might be missing entirely.

We, as a community, often talk about helping one another and trying to make a difference for people with diabetes.  Let’s see how many lives we can change – how many we can save – through this year’s efforts.

Thanks for your participation, your support, and your love for our global community.

Looking Back: Hawkey Playah.

It’s a balmy 8 degrees in Rhode Island this morning, and we’re snapping icicles off of everything by the dozen.  Going out into the driveway and attempting to get into the car becomes an accidental hockey rink.  Which reminded me of the time a lady caught me changing my infusion set in a restaurant bathroom and then talking about her “hawkey playah” brother who had type 1, as well.  Which brings me to this throwback post from 2011.  Which brings me to the end of this intro paragraph.  Hi!

*   *   *

I clicked the button on my Dexcom receiver and saw a “212 mg/dl” with two arrows pointed straight on up.  This was the third effortless high in as many hours, and I was convinced my pump site had crapped out.

“I am going to run to the bathroom.  I need to switch out my site,” I said to Chris, moving my napkin from my lap to the table.  “Do you mind sitting here …”

“At this giant hibachi table all by myself?  Sure,” he grinned, gesturing towards all the empty seats.

“I know.  I hope this table fills up while I’m gone.  Otherwise this is going to be awkward, just us and the hibachi chef guy.”  I patted his shoulder as I stood up from the table, the small, gray inset tucked into my hand.

I am not a fan of doing site changes outside of the comfort of my home. When I’m at home, I prefer to put the new infusion set, insulin cartridge, the bottle of Humalog, and any other necessary accoutrements on the bathroom counter.  I like looking in the mirror to see where the site is going to end up, because I have specific preferences as to where it lines up with the waistband of my pants or the sleeves of my shirts.  Picky little parsnip that I am, I like putting my new sites on in a measured manner.

So when it became clear that my pump site has conked out on me and needed to be changed immediately, my first thought was “thank goodness I carry a purse big enough to throw a spare set into” and then “Oh shoot – now I have to do this in the public bathroom?”

I went into the ladies’ room and was greeted by very dark lighting, two large stalls, and no bathroom counter.  (The sink appeared to be suspended in midair.  I think it was deliberately trying to mess with me.)  I casually went to the stall and disconnected the infusion set from my arm.  The cannula was piped with blood, so I knew it was definitely uncooperative.  I set the pump to start rewinding, and the BUZZZZZZ of the pump motor echoed in the empty bathroom.

“Man, that never sounds so loud at home,” I said to myself.  “Awesome.”

I finished disconnecting and rewinding/priming the pump, and I stepped into the hand-washing area of the bathroom so I could use the mirror to line up my new site.  I pulled up the back of my shirt enough to see my hip, and then placed the inset against my skin.

And then bathroom door opened and a friendly-looking woman came in, just in time to see me pressing the buttons on the inset, pushing the infusion set needle into the skin on the top of my hip.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” she said.  “I didn’t mean to interrupt … what … whatever you’re doing.”

“No worries.”  I felt a little embarrassed – nothing like being caught with your shirt all gathered and a needle in your side.  “I am a diabetic and I have to fix my insulin pump.  I needed to use the mirror … it’s totally a medical thing.”  The words flapped out of my mouth like spastic birds.

She walked over to get a better look at what I was doiThis is a wicked hawkey playah.ng.  “Insulin pump?  My brother is a diabetic.  Has been for almost twenty years.  He’s forty and just got married.  I’m having dinner with him right now!”  She smiled and gestured towards my pump.  “I wish he’d go on that thing.  He’s been doing shots for like … evah.  He has thought about a pump but he hasn’t done it yet.”

“Whatever keeps you healthy is best, right?”  The new infusion set shot in with a quiet shunk, and I tucked the pump back into the pocket of my jeans after taking a correction bolus.

“True.  He’s done this for a long time.  He and his wife are talking about having kids.  Do you have kids?  Can you have kids?”

I have a nine month old.  She’s happy and healthy.  And so am I.”

The woman put her hand to her heart.  “Oh doll, that’s wonderful.  I hope my brother can have kids.  He’d be a good dad.  But if he goes on a pump like you’ve got there, he’ll have to be careful with it.  Gettin’ it knocked around, you know?  He’s a wicked hawkey playah.”

“Hockey is awesome.  Give your brother my best, okay?”

Back out in the dining room, a quick look at the Dexcom showed me that the correction bolus was working, and that the new site was on track.  And from across the crowded room, I saw the woman sitting at a table with her group, the wicked hawkey playah at her side.

Birdy’s Book Favorites.

At least a third of my books were bloated when I was a kid, because I read them in the shower.  (Hold the book against the wall and turn the pages with one hand, and shower/soap up/rinse off with the other hand.  Then, at the end of the shower, toss the book out and quickly wash the Other Arm.)

I read while having my hair washed at the hair dresser’s.  I read in bed underneath the covers with a flashlight, and I kept an extra flashlight on my bedside table in case the batteries on the first one ran out.  (I should have just kept extra batteries.  Or maybe put a lamp on the table, for crying out loud.)  Heaps of books, dog-eared and loved, dot the timeline of my childhood.

In raising my daughter, I want for her life to include books.  Plenty of them.  And because I can’t even stand to think about diabetes even one, little bit today, I wanted to redirect and share some of the books in my daughter’s bookshelf that we currently love best:

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler:  This is the best book to read out loud, about a witch who goes for a joyride on her broom, only her hat, and her bow, and her wand go flying off and she has to find them on the ground, gaining her some random pals.  The rhyme pattern is fun and almost renders you breathless because you want to move through the words and keep your cadence from catching your giggles.  Birdy is a little bit afraid of the dragon that pops up in this book – “That dragon really wants fries, and not the witch, right?  Say right.” – but she likes to shout out “The witch tapped the broomstick and whoosh they were gone!” line every time.

Knuffle Bunny, written and illustrated by Mo Willems:  The story of a much-loved stuffed rabbit who is left behind in a Brooklyn laundromat, I love the combination of illustration and photography in this book.  I also love how the child’s tantrum is described as becoming “boneless,” as this perfectly describes the fit Birdzone threw when I told her it was time for her bath.  (“A bath! I had a bath YESTERDAY. This is unfair!” and she collapsed in a sulky heap.)  Spoiler alertwhen the bunny is found, the relief is tangible.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by (the absolute genius) Oliver Jeffers:  Best.  Book.  Ever.  A box of crayons that belongs to this kid Duncan go full-on letters-to-the-editor and start airing their grievances.  Our family favorites are the curmudgeonly Beige crayon, the wistful White crayon, and the naked Peach crayon.  This book has made us rethink our coloring options, and has also increased our child-to-crayon politeness.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by (aforementioned genius) Oliver Jeffers:  This was the first book by Jeffers that I ever discovered, about a boy who wanted to be the smartest boy in the world and discovered that, by eating the books instead of reading them, he retained their knowledge.  Only trouble was, the more he ate, the more jumbled his thoughts became.  I have been reading this one to Birdy since she was two, and for a while, I was concerned she’d be inspired to taste a book.  Thankfully, she’s smarter than me.  (I briefly licked one, and haven’t felt any smarter as a result.)

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri:  Who wouldn’t want a bunch of dragons burping up fire as a result of eating spicy tacos?  Not me, which is why this book is a useful how-to on keeping dragons up to their talons in tacos without them burning your house down.  (Chris claims to think this book is ridiculous, yet he’s read it to Birdy more than I have.)  Fun Fact:  Dragons get most of their tacos from The Taco Cave.

I hope her love for reading is just beginning, and I’m always on the hunt for more books to share with my favorite Bird.  If you have any recommendations, please share them.  And if you know Oliver Jeffers personally, please tell him we recycle more, thanks to the inspiring green crocodiles he drew.

How It Might Look.

Birdy tore by on a scooter and another little kid followed closely with a plastic shopping cart crammed with toy food.

“We’re superheroes!!!”  she yelled, out of breath as she zipped by.

“I can tell!” I answered, looking up from my papers.

I am the mom at playgroups who spends some of the time staring at an open Word document on my laptop, tapping away on the keys until the letters Centipede themselves around the screen and eventually come to form coherent thoughts.  I’m the mom who gets on the trampoline with her kid (and immediately wishes that she didn’t, mostly because I spend the whole time panicking about one of us falling off the edge).  And I’m the mom who occasionally fumbles through her purse and pulls out a piece of technology and stares at the graph on the screen, or grabs another piece of tech and bleeds with precision on it, or ferrets out a blue jar and eats several of those … giant smarties?

I am a mom with type 1 diabetes.

I sometimes wonder how it might look, through the eyes of the other parents and caregivers.  Do they think it’s gross that I deal with blood at playgroup?  Do they notice that I use hand wipes and carefully wipe down anything I’ve touched after testing my blood sugar, not because I’ve bled on everything but more because I want to demonstrate my respect for anyone’s potential concerns?  Do they think I’m a sugar-addict, sometimes popping glucose tabs into my mouth and simultaneously wiping beads of hypoglycemia sweat off my forehead?  Do they notice that my outfits always have a small pump bulge and usually some trailing tubing?  Do they think it’s unfashionable to have glucose tab dust smeared on the front of my shirt?

Diabetes parenting ... and a tutu.  Who doesn't love a good tutu?

Old school Bird

What’s most likely is that they don’t notice at all.  What feels like a big deal to me at times seems like an unremarkable blip on their overall parenting radar.  They probably see another parent, just doing their parenting thing, and are unaware of the small, tangible differences.  (I bet they’d notice if I didn’t shower, though.  That’s a hard one to miss.)

“Mom, come make pretend pudding with me!  In this little, toy kitchen with these real other kids!”

“Pretend pudding?  How can I resist?”

I am a mom with diabetes, not a-bunch-of-diabetes with a side of motherhood.  The proof is in the (pretend) pudding.

 

Food Reminders.

“Half a cup?  Let me get the measuring cups,” my mom would say, foraging around in her purse for the ubiquitous set of measuring cups she toted around.

She always knew what  “half a cup” looked like because she didn’t guess.  Her management of my diabetes was precise when she was in charge, back in the day.

I am admittedly not so precise. At diabetes camp, I knew exactly what “half a cup” of coleslaw looked like because we were forced to eat everything on our plates (rules and regulations of diabetes camp in the early 90’s).  And when I was pregnant, I measured the hell out of everything out of fear of blood sugars over 180 mg/dL.  But in the ebb and flow of regular, non-specific life, I forget what half a cup looks like.  Is that size portion supposed to be closer to a pack of cards or a baseball?  (I kept writing that as “pack of carbs.”  Appropriate.)  Is half a cup supposed to fill 1/4 of my plate or more like 1/3 and what if it’s mashed cauliflower – does that mean half a cup is more of a loose estimate – and if it’s mashed potatoes, if I spread it around with my fork, is it like half a cup gains more surface area and thereby the carb count is diminished?

Logic isn’t my strong suit.  What works for me is reminding myself every few months what proper portion sizes actually look like, using measuring cups and scales and taking a few minutes to actually portion things out properly.

I tried to do this the other day, but realized that the measuring cups we received for our wedding were so worn that the measurement specifics weren’t legible anymore.

“Is this the half cup?  Or the third?”  I asked Chris.

He leaned over.  “I think that’s a tablespoon?”

So, for starters, we bought some new measuring cups.  And for the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to refresh my portion size memories.  For some of my go-to foods, like hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and chicken, I’m not worried by the “how much?” quandary, but this reminder helps a LOT for higher carb foods like pasta and fruit.  (The banana conundrum forever haunts me – “one banana” is usually the noted serving size, but bananas range from five inches to like fifteen inches, so which size is best and does size matter that much when it comes to bananas and also get your mind out of the gutter.)

Knowing proper serving sizes helps me better SWAG (scientific wild-ass guess) bolus, which helps me make better diabetes decisions and improves my blood sugar outcomes.  Blah, blah, blah, right?  I just wanted another excuse to use the picture of Siah in a banana.

 

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