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Sweet Little Lancet.

Sweet little lancet
You are so damn tough.
I keep you until
All your edges are rough,
Until your sharp peak
Becomes dull and harpoons.
Oh sweet little lancet,
I will change you soon.

Sweet little lancet,
You deploy with a thud.
It can take several tries
To get you to draw blood.
And at that point, you’d think,
I’d wise up and swap out.
But sweet little lancet,
You should have your doubts.

Sometimes I forget
I have a vast collection.
No need to reuse!
I’m inviting infection.
I should change you out
Before you get strange,
But it takes a reminder
(Like when the clocks change.)

Sweet little lancet,
I respect what you do.
My supply closet’s stashed
With an army of you.
But in the event
There’s a cure that’s clever,
I’ll repurpose your ass;
I’ll have thumbtacks forever.

Just a Job.

“I’m just a medical assistant, so my job isn’t as important,” she said as she took my blood pressure and entered the data into my digital file.

“Seriously?  How can you say that?  You probably have more face-to-face moments with patients than the doctors do.  You set the tone for the appointment.  What you do matters.”  I paused.  “Take my blood pressure again,” I laughed.  “It probably just went up.”

She smiled.  “I guess it is important.  But not as important as the doctor.”

It’s strange how people think their interactions don’t matter, don’t have an influence on the patient experience.

When the receptionist checks me in for my appointment, she contributes to the tone of my appointment.  Even if she is asking me for my insurance information for the tenth time, or informing me of an outstanding balance on my account, or telling me that the doctor is running late today, the way she delivers that information colors the experience.

When the phlebotomist is steady-handed and double-checks the information on the blood vial label against my file, their attention to detail and dedication to comfort colors the experience.

When the medical assistant makes eye contact, engages the patient, and acknowledges that the data they are collecting is from a human being, not a lab rat, they color the experience.

When the clinician is on time and the appointment is not an exercise in redundancy and checked boxes on an electronic medical record but instead a discussion between a patient and a provider that influences positive health outcomes, that interaction colors the experience.

And when I’m on time, and I have the necessary and requested data from my diabetes devices, when I have my list of questions and concerns, when I pay my bill or file my claim, and when I’m respectful of everyone’s time and expertise, I color the experience.

There is no “just a …” when it comes to the healthcare experience.  Even when it’s not medically coded as a “shared medical appointment,” the appointment is still shared between the patient and everyone their interact with.  Everyone involved makes or breaks those moments for the patient and the healthcare team alike, with each person playing a crucial role in keeping the process effective, efficient, and evolving.




“Do You Like It?”

“Excuse me … your, um, arm?  What’s that on your arm?”

Ninety-five percent of the time, I don’t care if people ask about my insulin pump or CGM.  More power to them for being bold enough to embrace the awkwardness and actually ask, instead of assuming.  (And even in the 5% moments of “argh – stop looking, don’t ask,” it usually ends up being a moment of discussion and disclosure I’m grateful for.  I should be more open to discussing diabetes in a public setting.  Hang on a second … let me start a blog real quick.)

“On my arm?  That’s my insulin pump.  I have diabetes.”

I was in line at Starbucks, grabbing an iced coffee (under the gestational lock and key of decaf for just a few more weeks), escaping the blazing summer temperatures for a few minutes before heading back to work.  I was wearing a skirt and a tank top, with my infusion set connected to the back of my right arm.  My body – thanks to third trimester expansion, has run out of subtle places to stash my insulin pump, so it was casually clipped to the strap of my tank top.

Kind of noticeable, but in a “who cares” sort of way.  It’s hot outside.  And I’m wicked pregnant.  And I have no waist anymore.  You can see my insulin pump?  Good for you.  You can probably see my belly button, too.

“No kidding.  Diabetes?  Is it because of the pregnancy?”

“No, I’ve had diabetes way longer than this pregnancy.  I was diagnosed when I was seven.”

The guy paused for a second, his eyes lingering on the infusion set on my arm.  “So you do that thing instead of shots?”


“Do you like it?”

That question always throws me a little.  Do I like it?  The pump?  I do like the pump.  I like not taking injections.  I like not whipping out syringes at the dinner table and exposing my skin.  I like taking wee ickle bits of insulin to correct minor highs.  I like running temp basals to beat back hypos.  I like people wondering what it might be instead of assuming it’s a medical device.

“I do like it.  It works for me.”  I paused, already envious of the coffee in his hand.  “I like coffee more, though.”

He laughed and finished paying for his coffee.  “Can’t blame you for that.  Good luck with the baby, and try to stay cool in this weather,” he said.

I don’t like diabetes.  That’s for damn sure.  That shit is exhausting and I’m burnt out on the demands it places on my life.  But the pump?  Yes, I do like it.  It’s  a streamlined delivery mechanism for a hormone I wish my body would just cave and start making again.  It handles diabetes so I can go back to trying to put my socks on without tipping over.

Enjoy the Silence. Or Not So Much.

[Disclosure about my relationship with Dexcom]

During the first trimester of this pregnancy, lows were intense and weirdly symptomatic; a nice contrast from the hypoglycemia unawareness that’s crept in over the last five or six years.  (I ended up stashing a jar of jellybeans in the dining room hutch, only to have to move it into direct line of sight in the kitchen in efforts to keep up with the persistent low blood sugars of those first few weeks.)  As this pregnancy has moved forward, the lows have become slightly more predictable and the hypo-unawareness has returned, making the Dexcom BEEPS! and BLARGHS! more necessary.

Until that week when I noticed, “Hey, the alarms have been quieter.”  And then I realized, “Hey, the alarms aren’t working.”  Because overnight, my G4 receiver had been rendered mute.

When I received the Dexcom recall notice several months ago, it was very early February, and I was still using the G5 transmitter.  At the time, the only people who knew I was pregnant were my family and my medical team, but I knew, and I was stalking blood sugars with vigor (and a side of panic).  My endocrinologist, not a fan of the data output from the G5 application, asked if I would consider using the G4 for the remainder of my pregnancy.  Wanting her to check the “compliant” box on my chart (there’s a first time for everything), I switched back to the G4 the following week and have been on it since.

And for months, my G4 receiver was fine.  Alarmed all the damn time, vibrating and buzzing from my bedside table or my purse and alerting me to the changing needs of my baby-hosting body.  And then, all of a sudden, the speaker went full garbage, not working at all.  Only a vibration came from the receiver, making my phone* the best laid plan for alerting me audibly.

It wasn’t until I woke up one morning and saw the empty raisin box and the discarded juice box that I realized the night before wasn’t very comfortable.  And that I didn’t wake up because of alarms, but instead because of aggressive baby kicks.  I couldn’t ride out the rest of this pregnancy without replacing the receiver, because I was NOT waking up even with the phone alarms.  I needed high octane, receiver-in-a-glass-with-some-coins sort of jolting.  I needed to connect the alarms to Siah, encouraging her to walk across my face when I was low.  Or similar.

I needed the receiver to actually WORK PROPERLY.

So I went to the website – Dexcom has a special page set up for this particular issue.  There’s also a special hotline number to call: (844) 607-8398.  After a quick exchange with the woman on the phone, she asked me to confirm that my alarms weren’t working by doing the following:

  • press the center button on your receiver to access the Main Menu
  • scroll down to Profiles
  • select Profiles
  • scroll down to Try It
  • select Try It
  • scroll down to 55 Fixed Low
  • select 55 Fixed Low
  • verify that you receive vibrations first (vibratory portion of alarm), followed by beeps (audible portion of alarm).

And once we confirmed the alarm absence, a new receiver was scheduled to be shipped out.  Should be arriving in the next few days, in time for me to finish up this pregnancy as a G4 user (to make my doctor happy) and hopefully by staying in my threshold lines (to make my fetus happy).

If your G4 receiver suddenly craps out, sound-wise, call the hotline number and have a new one sent out.  Alarms that won’t alarm are alarming.

(* I follow myself on the Dexcom Follow app, along with one other person.  Yes, redundant.  In response to the dead receiver speaker, I changed the alarm settings on my phone so that I’d be alerted for highs and lows.  This worked, in theory, except when my phone was on silent or in the other room.)

Antenatal Moody Blues.

Back when we first talked about a second baby, Birdy was about three and it took us a few months to wrap our heads around the possibility of another kid.  But once we landed on “Let’s do it,” we assumed it would be a short process to conception.  We did not anticipate the wait that was on tap for this baby.

Preparing for this pregnancy was a process, different from my daughter’s creation in many ways.  Two years of trying, with heaps of doctors appointments both diabetes-related and decidedly non-diabetes related.  I’ve written about that a little bit here.  It wasn’t easy.  It was complicated on a dozen levels.  I’d do a version of it again to get here, but there’s so much I would change about the specifics of the journey.

But now.  This baby.  He’s in there and he’s healthy and kicking regularly and every time I go to the doctor and they do an ultrasound, I am honestly thrown to see this little creature happily rolling around in there.  I want to hug him.  To hear his little cries.  To meet my son and welcome him to our family.  He’s so wanted, so loved already.

Spent the weekend feeling showered with love for our in-coming kiddo. 🌷 #diabeticpregnancy

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

So why am I not filled to the brim with excitement?

My A1C is well in-range and I’m up to date with all the required doctor’s appointments.  The kid has a room and a crib already set up.  The closet is stashed with diapers.  My daughter has given him a name and we talk about him as though he’s already sitting at the dinner table with us, throwing green beans and reaching his toes towards the cat as she strolls by.  While I’m heavily pregnant and weirdly shaped for the time being, I don’t feel sick or unwell like I did with my daughter.  Pre-eclampsia is not a thing this round, and being in my home makes this third trimester easier than being on bed rest.

So what’s the frigging problem, Sparling?

It feels like I’m playing pregnant all over again, only this time there’s medical confirmation every week or so that there is indeed a baby.  It’s confusing.  I’m confused.  Where’s the joy?  The first time I was pregnant, with my daughter, I was diabetes-obsessesed, making blood sugars my main priority. That, and we were shocked that we were actually going to become parents.  The second time I was pregnant, it ended early in a miscarriage, which threw me for a very uncomfortable emotional and physical loop.  This third time – with my son – started off riddled with paranoia, every milestone met with trepidation and fear.  I had some bleeding early on, which brought me in and out of the doctor’s office to check on the safety of the developing kid.  The 20 week ultrasound to check the anatomy was one I held my breath throughout.  The fetal echocardiogram was another hour-long panic attack.  I know why I’m eager to have him out, because I want to see him, hold him, and confirm that he’s okay.  Right now, he’s this ambiguous creature who I love intensely without actually knowing him yet.  And as I prepare to know him, I’m distracted by the needs of my daughter and my family.  The ability to focus on Just the Baby isn’t an option this time around, which adds up to a different experience.

I’m emotionally lit up a lot these days.  With Birdy, I was in the hospital on bed rest around this time, so I assigned my emotional intensity to being trapped and lonely.  But it turns out I’m just as emotional this time around.  I’ve had some interesting outbursts.  More on that never.

(I’m going to take a stretch-guess here and assume it might be “pregnancy” contributing to my emotions at the moment.)

The emotions aren’t all negative, though.  I was at the Friends for Life conference two weeks ago and sporting a gigantically pregnant belly.  The year prior, I miscarried in the middle of the conference, so by contrast this year, it felt really, really good to be back with a baby safely ensconced inside of me, reclaiming a work/life experience that I treasure.

I’ve done some reading on antenatal … depression?  Anxiety?  Stuff.  And it turns out there are many links between people who have managed infertility before getting pregnant.  There are also links highlighted for people who have chronic illness and become pregnant.  And women who have experienced pregnancy loss are rolling along with their own loaded expectations.  So I’m rocking a threefer there.  And while I’m “aware” of feeling a bit off and a little less-than-optimal, I am still unsure of what to do with those feelings.  I can’t exercise at the moment due to some pregnancy-related discomfort, I’m having trouble falling/staying asleep, and I’m in a rotation of the same three outfits that sort of fit for the next six weeks, until he’s escaped.  Working through the emotions is a challenge, and I’m more in a limbo of (im)patiently waiting.

The point of this post?  I’m still here.  Six weeks left to go and doing my best.  And while I know his birthday doesn’t guarantee reclaiming my emotions (or decent sleep patterns), I do know that holding my baby in my arms and seeing his face will bring me the peace I’m seeking.  My house will be turned upside down and chaos will reign supreme as we adjust to life with this tiny biscuit, but he’ll be out, and safe, and huggable.  And I can’t wait for that.  

I look forward to that the most.


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